Well, I have got to hand it to the groundhog, he is honest, if not accurate. February 2nd there was the promise of an early spring, but instead we have been left craving, needing, wanting, yearning for, and dreaming about sunshine, warm air, green grass, flowers, and budding trees for nine long, bleak, cold, dreary, colorless, monotonous, dispiriting, dismal, forlorn and depressing weeks (did I overstate the obvious??!!) And so, Punxsutawney Phil, our furry, feckless, floundering “friend” you may continue to hold up that sign until your prognosticating has been perfected………………..as in when hell freezes over (which might be soon given our recent weather forecasts!) !!! If it has not been made abundantly clear that I am suffering from a bit of “spring fever” or as my family would probably redefine it as…… “spring madness”, then let me take a few paragraphs to explain.
First of all, I am racking my brain trying to figure out how someone like myself, who only has a half day/week job (from which I am currently in the second week of a four week hiatus………LOL………….courtesy of vacationing employers), can not find a couple of hours here and there to put together a bi-monthly blog!!! What exactly is it that I do all day??? (a question Crick once dared to ask me without ever considering the consequences of the wrath of “a nut”!!) In looking back over the past few weeks, I have been able to reassure myself that I am not a complete slacker. For instance, during the past couple of weeks, I, along with a host of family members, was caught up in the excitement of the State high school and NCAA basketball tournaments. I watched my alma mater, the Watterson Eagles, win the semi-final game at the Schott (no one ever dares to call it Value City Arena!!!!) and then watched on TV from home as they took on LeBron James’ alma mater…..Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary……….where the Eagles pulled off a first ever State championship victory!! After that it was a series of nail-biting, fist-pumping, high-fiving, down to the wire wins for the Buckeyes as they advanced to the Elite Eight all the while keeping a close eye on my NCAA bracket (ended up eighteenth in a field of twenty-nine…my bracket fell apart after the Sweet Sixteen!). Then, while our family was seated in church for the two hour Easter Vigil and the Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation as Jessica was received into the Catholic Church; the Bucks, whose game started shortly before the liturgy began, apparently ran out of luck and failed to advance to the Final Four. And so I must thank you Jessica, for sparing the family from watching what was unquestionably a rather ugly Buckeye loss LOL!!!! Seriously though, the two hour Holy Saturday Liturgy, beginning outside the church with the lighting of the new fire and the Paschal candle, to the Liturgy of the Word and the Litany of the Saints, renewed for me the traditions and symbolism of our faith that I, at times, take so much for granted. Jessica and I will continue our Monday evening gatherings at I.C. until Pentecost Sunday as she and I will continue to learn more about the Scriptures and the sacraments, and to reflect on the Christian mission to serve Christ and His Church. As you can see from the above picture……….part of my time has been further spent sifting through endless family pictures, the purging and organizing of which has, as yet, seen little progress. I have opted instead to spend long periods journeying back in time wondering, “Who is that??” “Where was this picture taken??” “When was this picture taken??” “Why was this picture taken??”. I do, however, have the answer to all of those questions for this particular photo ……….the who is Dad, me, Kathy, Jimmy, Johnny………..the where is in front of the Chatham Rd. house………….the when is spring circa 1953………….the why is to show off all of our Easter hats (you will notice that everyone is wearing one…..ha, ha, ha!!!!). Fast forward sixty years from the date of this faded photograph to Easter Sunday, 2013 which found seven Clark siblings and forty-three of their closest family members :) gathered together at Ce and John’s home in Granville. It just so happened to also be Kevin’s twenty-ninth birthday and so there was a cake for Kevin, a cake for Jessica and a cake for Easter as well as cookies, jelly beans and of course, plenty of chocolate candy (especially the M&M kind!). We balanced all of that sugar with the traditional Easter ham along with pulled pork, a couple of briskets, pasta/potato/macaroni salads and “devolved” eggs (little inside Jessica typo joke!). While the weather was not exactly “sunny” or particularly “warm” (hint, hint Mr. Groundhog) at least it wasn’t raining and so the annual Easter egg hunt for the younger ones was able to proceed while the rest of the kids headed to the creek that flows behind the Downey house………I know, I know, Cecilia…….you warned me to suggest to the parents to have the grandkids bring along some boots!!!!! (I sheepishly observed several grandchildren leaving for home with a sugar hangover and in need of a nice, warm bath!)
And speaking of grandchildren and Easter and spring……………last week it was the Catholic schools’ turn to take a week long break from school, and since us “villebillies” (a nickname for those of us who had the good fortune to grow up in Clintonville) usually stay in the “ville” while others seek warmer, sunnier climates; I had promised the grandkids that I would have them and their cousin, Tori for an overnight outing. I split them up into the older group (Olivia, Tori, Sam and Luke) and the younger group (Natalie, Sophia, Sydney and Tommy) with each group staying over on a different night. Even during a school break finding the perfect evening was somewhat of a challenge given that spring sports are starting up and coaches have to get their practices in (don’t even get me started on that topic!!). I know the kids must definitely miss Crick at times such as these because he, and he alone, always made the evening an “adventure” by making tents from every possible sheet and blanket, turning out all of the lights, putting in a video, cranking the surround sound up to maximum annoyance and popping tons of popcorn to go with bowls full of M&M’s!!!!! What kid would not love this scenario??!! And did I mention that immediately after the childrens’ sugar high kicked in………….he would mysteriously disappear to the safe haven of our bedroom!! Anyway, I think they all managed to enjoy hanging out together even if they didn’t do anything that would make their teacher’s A list on the, “What I Did On My Spring Break Vacation”, homework assignment.
One of the main reasons that I was once again searching through my chaotic collection of photos was because one day last week Stephanie had e-mailed the above picture of Mayce who had climbed into the doll bed with her baby doll. It reminded me of an almost identical picture I had taken of Stephanie when she was about Mayce’s age and after poring over countless pictures, I finally found the photo. I am thinking that unlike her Mom, Mayce had brilliantly figured out that she was too big to actually lie down in her doll’s bed!! LOL. I believe that I am going to take great pleasure in watching the interaction between these two in the years ahead……………………..a few days ago Mayce walked up to Stephanie and said, “Tell me I am beautiful.” A bit surprised by this request from a two and a half year old, Stephanie played along and replied, “Mayce, you are beautiful.” Mayce grinned, said “thank you” and, in a princess like manner, walked away!!! Shortly after this exchange, I guess Mayce decided she needed to return the compliment and remarked to Stephanie that the top she was putting on one morning was beautiful. And so Stephanie good-humoredly said, “thank you” to which Mayce responded, “De nada”………………….w – h – e- r- e…………..do these kids come from??? I suppose if she is going to watch television, she may as well be learning to become bi-lingual through the efforts of Dora and Swiper!!! I am a bit concerned, however, that one day I will have to press #2 just to speak to my granddaughter!! I only hope her environmentally conscientious cousin, Natalie doesn’t yield too much influence over her (referencing Natalie’s reaction when she bumped into and broke the outdoor spigot and as water began spraying out all over the driveway, she ran away screaming for the entire neighborhood to hear, “I am wasting the environment, I am wasting the environment”!!!) Sheesh!!! (I am still not over that one!! LOL)
It was just about a month ago when I was putting away one of the toys that the younger grandkids had been playing with, that I thought to myself, not only did my pictures need to be organized and purged, but so did the thirteen year accumulation of children’s toys and games. I had recently begun to notice that Mayce and Josh had suddenly grown “too old” for the particular group of toys in the above picture. And then, while a bunch of family were over at Christine and Mike’s watching one of the tournament games, Natalie kept bugging me about something she had to show me. I figured the kids had made some impromptu video that they wanted me to see, but I kept putting her off until finally, after her third attempt, I got up and followed her into a hallway where she pulled out this picture:
Well, I saw that it was an ultrasound picture, but it looked a little worn, and so I asked her where she found it and what was she doing with it. Natalie sensing my “fake” blonde moment and grinning from ear to ear, with blue eyes shining brightly, started to trace her finger around the outside of the circle in the picture all the while saying slowly, (I guess so that the “dense one” could understand!!), “This…………………………is……………………………..my……………………………Mom!” I obviously was still not catching on quickly enough, so she then pointed to the date on the picture and said, “2-0-1-3-!”. Wellllllllllllll, the lightbulb finally came on as I said/questioned, “Your Mother…………………. is………………. pregnant!!??” Natalie began shaking her little “progressive” (lol) head up and down, giggling and laughing, so pleased that she had taken me by surprise. And so my plan to give away baby toys, a high chair, baby bottles, etc. has been put on hold……..courtesy of Jennifer and Jim, “Grandbaby” #10 (as Crick always called his grandchildren even after Olivia had turned eleven!) will be arriving the end of October :). Curiously, there is a bit of a population explosion occurring in the Clark/Schultheis families with a total of eight babies expected between now and November!! One thing is for certain……..you can never get too comfortable in your ways…………….we may have plans for our futures, but God has even greater plans for us! And apparently, as revealed in Jennifer and Jim’s news…………….He also has a quirky sense of humor!!! LOL
Oh, how I would have loved to have heard Crick’s roar of approval and to have seen the reflection of love in his eyes as Natalie was revealing the “big Secret”!! He would be elated at the mere thought of another grandchild to spoil and another set of little feet to walk on his back! Having just finished reading Proof of Heaven, I console myself with the belief that Crick is at peace, blissfully happy and in attaining heaven, has achieved perfect love. I believe that it is this love that is now present to me, so that my memories of him now bring not so much sadness, as they do comfort and joy :). The following is an excerpt from Proof of Heaven (a book that I highly recommend) ……… its words speak to the many emotions following the loss of someone who has been deeply loved, be it husband, wife, mother, father, daughter, son, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend:
When tomorrow starts without me, and I’m not there to see. If the sun should rise and find your eyes all filled with tears for me; I wish so much you wouldn’t cry the way you did today while thinking of the many things, we didn’t get to say. I know how much you love me, as much as I love you, and each time you think of me, I know you’ll miss me too.
But when tomorrow starts without me, please try to understand, that an angel came and called my name, and took me by the hand. He said my place was ready, in heaven far above, and that I’d have to leave behind all those I dearly love. But as I turned to walk away, a tear fell from my eye for all my life, I’d always thought, I didn’t want to die. I had so much to live for, so much left yet to do, it seemed almost impossible, that I was leaving you. I thought of all the yesterdays, the good ones and the bad; the thought of all the love we shared, and all the fun we had. If I could relive yesterday, just even for a while, I’d say good-bye and kiss you and maybe see you smile. But then I fully realized that this could never be, for emptiness and memories would take the place of me. And when I thought of worldly things I might miss come tomorrow, I thought of you, and when I did my heart was filled with sorrow.
But when I walked through heaven’s gates, I felt so much at home when God looked down and smiled at me from His great golden throne. He said, “This is eternity, and all I’ve promised you; today your life on earth is past but here it starts anew. I promise no tomorrow, but today will always last. And since each day’s the same way, there’s no longing for the past. You have been so faithful, so trusting and so true; though there were times you did some things you knew you shouldn’t do. But you have been forgiven and now at last you’re free, so won’t you come and take My hand and share My life with Me?”
So when tomorrow starts without me, don’t think we’re far apart; for every time you think of me, I’m right here in your heart.
P.S. WordPress……….would you please correct the font when I ask you to!!#@?%$!!!!!
P.P.S. By the time this blog went to press, Ohio had a sudden short burst of spring……..then temps plunged 14 degrees today…….still, the grass has miraculously turned green overnight & the forsythia has finally bloomed (according to my Mom, that means three more snows :)!)