Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Psst........Daniel Might Be Moving Out

There will be plenty to mow.
      When Daniel was about ten, he used to joke that when his eldest sibling Stephanie got her own home, that he was moving out with her. He loved our home and all that went on, on the farm, but he was also very close to Stephanie.  Stephanie also has been a juvenile diabetic, with Type I autoimmune diabetes, the result of an autoimmune reaction to a virus she caught when she was nine.  Daniel's devotion to moving with her was probably motivated in part to wanting to watch her and keep her safe in her new home someday. It was also probably motivated by the thought of what fun it would be to live in a new house with no parents, just a sibling.  Stephanie. Their closeness was nurtured I think by Stephanie's having been 12 when Daniel was born, and she always enjoyed each phase of his development and was always very close to him.
             Stephanie is now in her twenties and graduated from university several years ago. It took a lot of time to get a really good job, but eventually she did.  It is time for her to move out on her own.  We live in an unusual place in that there really are no apartments here, and rental houses are not only hard to find, but they are expensive.  So, she has been exhaustively looking at small rural homes to buy.  It has been quite an experience. As  many time home buyers, two time builders of our homes, and investors, we have been going with her, but this is her money, her loan, and the choices must be choices that she makes, and is happy with for a long time.  Moving up every four years or so, as we did, may not be an option for our own kids as they become homeowners. The world has decidedly changed. House hunting with her has been an experience especially since many area homes were damaged during the Virginia earthquake last August.  When she did find a home, and she tried to place a contract on it, someone else beat us to it.  I am also afraid we found a lot of homes that probably should be bulldozed.  This week however, the tables turned.  I received a notification a home which had gone up for sale that fit Stephanie's requirements.  I drove past it, as instructed, to rule it out if necessary, and then I e-mailed the data to Stephanie at work. Then she e-mailed me back asking me to make an appointment for all of us to go see it. The next day, my husband and I and Stephanie and her boyfriend, went out to look at it. Finally, we found a home that she can both afford, and that suits her.  She also may be getting married soon, and will likely not be there alone.  Stephanie remembered that Daniel said he would be going with her, when the time came for her to get a house of her own.  I wonder, with our homes being in nearby rural villages and towns, whether Daniel, on visits to Earth ,will spend his time on our farm, and at Stephanie's lovely new home.  I think I read that we are supposed to be ambivalent when our children strike out on their own, but I am not.  I could not be more pleased or more proud that she has saved and will have the chance to begin the journey of homeownership.  There is no ambivalence, just excitement and joy for me.  I'll bet Daniel and my Dad are as pleased as punch too !

She will have her own kitchen !

Prior posts on this part of the journey:



Saturday, May 19, 2012

If Daniel Were a Koala

A young koala

Daniel, I remember in a dream I had a couple of years ago, that I was crying in the dream, and that you were telling me that you were never intended to spend more than about 12 or 12 and a half years on Earth. You said you stayed as long as you could, but that it was time to go. I remember having this dream several times in those months, and hearing you tell me this, also several times.

 Today, I could not help but think of you, as I watched a documentary on Koala bears in Australia. It seems that koalas have a life expectancy of about 12 years. I see what you are saying. You were a koala of a boy. This is why you were born so alert, and able to turn over. This is why you were so bright and got teeth earlier than expected. This is why you learned to talk so quickly and were so articulate. This is why you had almost completely taught yourself to read using the computer, before we had even begun to teach you. This is why you were ready for college at 12. On Earth, you were always cuddly, sweet, resourceful and sometimes tenacious. You also wouldn't take any garbage from anyone, just like a koala ! You are still a beautiful human son, with koala bear tendencies.  If you were a "pouched bear", one thing is certain.  You would carry a laptop computer in a pouch to take with you everywhere.

After all, in real life, living on a forested farm, you always did love trees.   Love to you, Bug.   Missing you especially hard today.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I Am Sad That You Are No Longer Here

I enjoyed every moment of your life, from your babyhood and through to being 12 1/2, certainly intellectually, a young man.   (photo found at: sahdpdx.com)

     Mother's Day is always a difficult post for me here.  On the one hand, my own mother is gone, so the barrage of ads on radio, the internet and even television urging me to get my mother everything from dipped strawberries to roses, falls a little flat.   Most of all, it's a somber day for me as I remember my son who is no longer here. It also closely follows your birthday, which is a vulnerable time for me as well.  I understand that while we are alive, our soul dwells inside our flesh suits, and that after we pass from that body, that our awareness continues. Most faiths believe that we return to the God from which we came.  The difficulty for me is that even though I am abundantly lucky, and I hear from you and Dad, and occasionally others who have passed, in dreams, that I still don't have the easy and enjoyable exchanges with you that I did before.  I loved telling you things, about the world, about news, about my day, and I loved hearing what you would say, and seeing the expression on your face. I really enjoyed watching you grow and seeing all of the ways you were learning. You are so incredibly bright and talented, and I always appreciated the gift to us that you are.  I suppose, simply put, I miss you in the flesh.  I am simply sad that you are no longer here. This is true each day, and not just following your birthday, and not just on Mother's Day. The same is true of my mother, and my father, my in laws, my grandparents, and all my aunts.
         Of course, your siblings and your Dad remembered me on Mother's Day, although I always keep it rather low key.  I spent Mother's Day with someone elses mother.  We have a friend who resides in a nursing home, and whose family lives far away.  Taking our family members, taking her flowers and visiting, and hearing recollections of her wedding was special and important. Of course Daniel, you already know this.


In both Russian or in "Angliski", this is my favorite Mother's Day song:

Мама моя. Ольга Афанасьева, Lara Fabian, Игорь Крутой

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Expedition to the Bookstore

Stairs at the University of Virginia
The exterior of the University of Virginia bookstore.

             One of the things Daniel loved most, and this is probably also true of all of our kids, is that they love book shops.   This is probably the result of my father.  My father was terribly frugal in many ways, but a few times a year, he would order hundreds of dollars worth of books from Dover Publications.  My father would buy any interesting well written book on the subjects of history, archaeology, geography, exploration, natural science, medicine, anatomy, and anything on which we might have an interest, however fleeting.  Do you have any idea how many books three hundred dollars worth were in the nineteen sixties ?  In addition to that, he perused flea markets and garage sales finding excellent book values as well.   My mother was also a voracious reader, however, she was less devoted to owning books, and was content to borrow many of them from the library. This did not keep her from having an incredible collection of British history and  literature, some of which we still own here. This has left me with the subconscious attitude perhaps, that even an expensive book, is in fact, cheaper than the ignorance that may exist should you not buy it. This has left me also with a frugal attitude generally, but a generous leaning where books and the kids are concerned.
            Matthew will be taking a course over the summer at college, and so yesterday, I agreed to go with him and buy the book for it at the University of Virginia bookstore.  Of course, this small book is one hundred and forty-three dollars.  In years past, the UVA bookstore was a heady place.  There were lots of unusual books, including a section where authors who had visited the university had signed copies of their books, that were for sale there. This is always fun to look at because Secretaries of State come, and this can be a rare opportunity to buy an autographed book from them. I especially enjoyed the broad range of medical books there.  This time, it was an interesting visit.  It was a bit more reminiscent of Wal-Mart as everything from trash cans to bathroom supplies, toiletries and medicines was sold there. They also had a lot more in terms of toys. Unusual magnets, gag gifts, etc. were everywhere.  There was also a great deal of construction in their parking area, which made the visit a bit more confusing.  Still, our mission was accomplished and we went to lunch afterward.  Charlottesville, in general, is an excellent place to look at book shops. If you ever visit, and have time, please visit some of them.    I thoroughly enjoyed an afternoon with Matthew, though I couldn't help wonder what the day would have been like, had Daniel still been in the flesh and accompanied us.

University of Virginia bookstore.

Although this version of this song was uploaded to You-Tube, only a year ago, it was a song that was playing frequently before Daniel passed, although I often changed it, because it made me tearful  Daniel heard this song on the radio many times, as we travelled.
This is "Find Your Wings" Artist: Mark Harris

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lies Found on Birthday Cakes

And so, three and a half years after the sudden, unexpected, and inexplicable departure of Daniel from this Earth, we find ourselves actually celebrating what would be his sixteenth birthday.  All the kids, who are mostly grown, were home this weekend for the celebration.  We had a lunchtime pizza party with all different types of pizza so everyone would have a pizza variety they liked.   We had a huge salad with lovely fresh lettuce, chopped fresh carrot, chopped yellow, red, green and orange peppers, and homemade salad dressing. It was the type of family gathering Daniel always enjoyed.   The kind with lots of laughter and joking with everyone home. The cake was a large sheet cake variety  with Daniel's favorite chocolate cake with white icing. The cake was decorated with a lie.  "Daniel is 16"  it proclaimed.   Of course, we all know that time in Heaven is measured differently than here, and that you are likely older than 16 would look. Here on Earth,  we are simple, we Earth dwellers, we think in very concrete terms most of the time. As your mother, to me you are somewhere else, and you are in fact 16. (Except in my head and my heart when you are sometimes 12 1/2 still) When it was time to light the candles on the cake, our eldest son did so with a propane torch. Daniel would have been amused by this. I blew the candles out for you Daniel, because with my asthma recently, I am the closest person here to being dead, a feeble joke,  I know. Sometimes, death is a cruel joke, and sometimes we give in to it. (To the cruel joking, I mean.)  Sometimes we joke about death, not because we can't deal with it, but because it really is a falsehood. When we leave our bodies here, and are bodies are still and quiet, our energy, our spirit still exists and still moves on. We aren't really dead, our spirit just moves forward. Only then do we have the clarity which can only come with awareness and serenity devoid of trips to the bathroom, hunger pangs, pain, longings, wishing, and the other afflictions which bathe us while on Earth. It was all here today Daniel, both your parents, your animals, your siblings, and friends celebrating your life and your memory, and hoping you still recall the minute details of your life in the same golden light that we do. Happy Birthday. You are welcome here anytime at any age .;)


Kind friends and companions, together combine
And raise up your voices in chorus with mine
We will drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
For we may and might never all meet here again

Here's a health to the company and one to my lass
We will drink and be merry, all out of one glass
We will drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
For we may and might never all meet here again

Here's a health to the wee lass that I love so well
Her style and her beauty, there's none can excel
A smile on her countenance as she sits on my knee
There is none in this wide world as happy as me


Our ship lies at harbor, and ready to dock
I wish her safe landing without shake or shock
And when we are sailing to the land of the free
I will always remember your kindness to me

I have read that old proverb, I've read it so true
My love is as fair as the bright morning dew
I have read that old proverb, I suppose you have too
So good friends and companions I bid you adieu


Friday, May 4, 2012

Life After Daniel

(This photo:  Perseida, www.perseida.es    Please contact them and see their other fine photos.)

      Daniel, with this being your birth week, I always feel a little but vulnerable this time of year. I compensate by seeing that a good deed or a contribution is made to something you would like, in your name, each year.  I also make sure that the family has a good meal on your birthday, and we bake a birthday cake for you.  It's a low key party I suppose, and everyone is here for it.  I also weather the week by taking on tasks so that I am fairly busy, and this seems to help.

The Target concrete balls we mention in this post.

          This week James has been asking to go to Target.  He hasn't been there in a long time.  I must admit, that I don't enjoy trips there as much as I used to.  When you were here, I enjoyed the Target experience, and it was one of my favorite stores.  After your departure, they redid the Target in the city that we visit, to look something like a structure from "The Jetsons" including big red large concrete balls deposited across the front of the store, presumably to prevent terrorists from driving trucks into the building.  Target has also changed their stores.  I find I like the clothing, and the color choices of home decor items less than I once did.  In any event, James got his opportunity to look there, particularly at the books, the CDs, and the DVDs.  They had a fair number of unusual older TV series on DVD.   We found a couple of things, and after a visit to the pharmacy for band-aids, we went to the check out.   While we were completing check out, there was a little dark haired boy in a cart whose mother was checking out in the staggered check out ahead of us. He was about three, and had that very fair transparent skin which showed some of his blood vessels, as you did when you were very small.  As we picked up out bags, he reached out and touched my arm, smiling, and stroked it.  "Hi" he said, with a warm smile.  "Hello, sweetie", I said.  At that point, his poor mother, who had been busy with her purchases looked back to see her little son, stroking the arm of a stranger.  "NOOO, she said.   Don't touch people !"  It was one of those innocent moments where one human being connects for a moment with another.  I was reminded in that moment, that the day you departed from Earth did not mean that all innocence, and sweetness was gone.  Kind gentle, beautiful kids still remain on Earth, and oddly, for some reason, they seem to RECOGNIZE ME, and for some reason, acknowledge me.
        The other gift in that moment, is that James, as the result of having been less than nurtured as a small child, historically does not enjoy small children.  They apparently remind him of a time in his life in which he was powerless and unhappy.  This time was different.  "Hello Buddy !" he offered as the child decided I was a nice lady, he would like to meet and talk to.   Knowing that James is beginning to relate more normally to small children, is a gift in itself.
       I don't know why small children fixate on me, touch me and say hello, since your departure.  If you have anything to do with it, then I thank you.  It does remind me of the special and memorable times we spent together, before you grew up to be the fabulous brilliant young man you became here.    Happy Birthday, you incredible kid !

Daniel, I know you remember this !                                              Carolyn Arends "Seize the Day"

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy Birthday...You Would Be Sixteen !

From Phojoe.com      This is an age progressed photo of Daniel based on several pictures of him from age 12 and younger.  They will age progress a photo so that parents may have a picture which should somewhat resemble their child in the present day.  This was their age progression for Daniel for age 15.  I have not yet asked them to do one for Daniel for age 16, but I likely will, for Mother's Day.

     Had God not decided that your position in Heaven required you Home as soon as possible, this week you would be sixteen years old.   It's hard to wrap my mind around the idea that you Daniel, so brilliant at 12 1/2 and looking at colleges, would be sixteen this week.  I imagine you would be in college and taking a hybrid of computer, and graphics and animation courses.  However, you might have surprized us by finding other interests at college also.  Your brother Matt, loves History as much as Computers and Mathematics.  I can't help but resent that I don't get the chance to watch you unfold here on Earth to which  I had so looked forward.

I know this used to be one of your favorite kinds of cake. (Photo: eponware.com)
.       In some ways, you were very blessed while here on Earth.  You had an unusual birth, and were very "together" as a newborn, being the only one I had ever seen who could turn over completely from birth.   Your peer group became not those in your age group, but your older siblings.  This caused you to learn and progress at a rapid rate.  You kept up with them well, with a very few exceptions.  Because you homeschooled, you progressed academically rapidly, but you also had a much larger amount of time that you could devote to animals and to personal interests. You learned to value positive interactions with other human beings, much faster than most of us do, as young people.  You left special memories with all of your siblings, and with your parents and your friends as well.   We try to commemorate your birthday each year with a charitable act which would mean something to you.   This year, there is so much need.  We will find the best way of recalling you and how you would decide who to help.

       This year Daniel, if you were here, we would do a pizza cake.  It really does look like a pizza, but I assure you, it is a cake !

          Almost as soon as we completed this post, we found how best to commemorate your birthday this year.   In the past, as you know, we have given a substantial gift to a food bank, other years to a specific family in need, but this year, your birthday blessing will go to a young man who is in college in this country.  His father is very ill, and in his native Turkey.  Your gift will help to get him home to see his father, one last time.    Thank you for having been our son, even if you could only stay for twelve years, and six months.

This is a white cake with fruit roll ups as pepperoni, the olives are cut licorice, and the peppers are licorice cut sideways. (Photo:  kidscakes.webs.com )

 (* The topper at the top of the page belongs to:  thecandycottage.biz)

 We love you, Bug,     Happy Birthday...