Birthdays and Holes

Valorie and Daddy                                                           My daddy and me…1953.

Ninety-three is a ripe old age, but he didn’t make it. He died in 2003 at age seventy-nine, but I think he would say he lived life his way and as well as he could. Can one wish for more?

My father would be celebrating ninety-three years of life today. I miss him. He was many things, but always “daddy” to me. It seems that people either loved him or hated him. It also seems that he felt the same about most people. Does that make him any different than most of us?

I really want to tell his story, but it is like Swiss cheese, or a bucket full of holes, or a cake that I didn’t remember to burst the air out of before baking (this was his favorite kind of cake, heavy, and he taught me to drop the pans flat on the counter so the air bubbles would rise and burst!)…his story all falls to pieces, or just doesn’t fit together in the first place. As it turns out, those holes existed in his heart, and he died with them.

It would be his story to tell, but for the most part, he never did. Yes, we heard some stories…good, bad, and ugly…from his childhood on through his life, but it seems he kept some things secret and it actually has created some holes in my heart now! Those places in my heart are not so much about what he told or didn’t tell, what he did or didn’t do, but about the pain he held inside and how much freer he might have been. If he had shared more, how much would he have been judged? I doubt more than he was judged by some anyway. I know that what I have learned has only made me understand him better. It confirms my feeling that secrets only hurt, sooner or later.

When Harold Watson Smith was born on April 4, 1924 (or so says his birth certificate, though that is another story), he began a life in the hills of West Virginia, outside Charleston. He was the 10th child I have been able to document, with two more brothers to come along after him. He said there were more. I began work on a family tree in 2002 and he was very clear that he didn’t want me to search his line. Being so much like him, he had to have known that to say those words was like throwing a bone for a dog. I would be off on the search. Yes, being stubborn is genetic.

I lived across the country and would continue to call and talk and ask questions. He began to open up, bit by bit, and told me some things. One big item being that he never knew who his father was and that had left a “huge hole in his heart”. I will always remember him telling me that. At any rate, he finally agreed to tell me all he knew when we could sit down together, face to face, and talk. Unfortunately, not too long thereafter, he had a massive heart attack and died. I did get to his bedside before he passed, but was certainly not going to talk genealogy then. He was not able to say much at that point anyway.

So began my journey into his history. I was going to fill that gap that existed for him. I was on a mission, indeed. My mom’s line would have to wait, as I knew those folks already and had some sources for searching. Daddy’s story needed to be discovered. After years of research, and two trips to West Virginia with my sister and brother, I can say I have learned more. And yes, I have found some darkness. It exists in all families, by the way. Now what I wonder is if it is right for me to tell his story. I have shared my suspicions with many. I have had some confirmations and been left with more holes in other places. Personally, as mentioned, I find the information revealing and interesting. But, is it my story to tell? I am ruminating on that. It is part of my heritage, but he didn’t want some things told. He just didn’t tell me what those things were.

So, today, I will say Happy Birthday, Daddy! I love you, I always did, and I miss you.

More of this story to come…sometime…perhaps.

Remembering a Dear Friend

Yesterday was the birthday of a dear, old friend. He has passed years ago, but he wrote something that speaks to me today, as it did then…it actually made its way out of a storage box this morning…go figure!!!

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One Day

We move along, doing the best we can,

Occasionally testing the boundaries.

Some, more than others, become bored with the gift of life

and stray far away from the path of righteousness.

And the day will come when each of us will look into the mirror and say,

“It is I who I must wake up with in the morning

 and it is I who I must sleep with at night.

 It is I  to whom I must answer.”

So begins morality and a sense of values, which will deliver the owner a life-long high, which is greater than any chemical on Earth can induce.

Nobody knows for certain, but there is a belief among us that this character is not only carried through our mortal lives, but is also carried into the hereafter…and a clean conscience is a clear path to eternal peace.     BF

Happy Birthday, my old-soul friend. Thank you for these words and many others we have shared. I think of you often. Rest in peace.

It is Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

It IS a special day and I find it interesting how the thoughts about it evolve over the years. I have shared a post before about my mom, who passed away in 1999…here.

Of course, I think of her today and wish she was here, but I am especially thinking of my children and their children, my wonderful “grands”! This includes my daughter and my daughters-in-law.

There really is nothing like having children. The next phase, having grand-children, is almost better. You know, spoil them and send them home and all those cliches.

The truth is, in spite of all the ups and downs of life, seeing how my children parent is, indeed, a blessing for me. Hopefully, they do so well because of the way they were parented, but also in spite of that!

I am blessed with 5 grands ages 20 to 5 (and some very great nieces and nephews too)! We are all spread over the country, which can be sad, but I woke up to a text sending MD love and a request for a FaceTime chat today, so all is well in the world.

My husband commented that some of the hoopla is lost in the rush these days. I had to disagree…I don’t know a mother who would not be so happy to spend some quality time with her offspring and was reminded of that by a post by my DIL on FB this morning…

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Looks like they had a bit of all mom’s favorites!

So, again, to all the moms out there…love your kids and grands and remember how blessed you are today! And THANK YOU to the mom’s in my life!

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Love and hugs!

 

Valentine’s Day…Love is more than that!

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If marriage/partnership is part of your life, may it hold this level of commitment.

Love is not always easy, but it can be easier than some make it.

Share with your partner all that matters to you…trust him to listen.

Love you partner like you might not get another day to do so…you might not.

Remember that loving people is so much more important than loving things                                    …they can love you back.

Know that if you don’t have a “partner” now, you have many who you can love                              … family, friends, even strangers                                                                                                                 …love them!

Last, but not least, it is not selfish to love yourself…                                                                                 if you don’t, you can’t do much to love others well.

Love is what we need more of!

Happy February!

It is the month of LOVE! There are so many definitions; so many types; so many hopes, needs, worries.

LOVE_3528Love fills our lives with so much, and yet sometimes seems to drain us. Why is this? Is it because we have not learned to love ourselves?

I am not a young thing any more, but I must say, I feel great. It has been a hard road at times (perhaps by my own making), and I can’t say that I have not hurt others on my path. That I do regret. What I see now is that learning to be at peace with myself and not judging others has brought me a kind of love that is fulfilling. I love life, people, nature, quiet, lingering longer…I love things that matter, not things. Yes, I am thankful that I do not suffer or want for much, but that gives me security, not love. I am grateful for security, but I am most grateful for love.

What better day to start loving yourself, so you are better equipped to love others, than today? It is the first day of a new month, the month of love. And, it is the proverbial first day of the rest of your life.IMG_20150202_130216

So, go on, give yourself a great big hug, smile at that face in your mirror, dig deep, reach high, climb that mountain, listen to your heart, take that chance, dance, sing, smile and trust that love can win! I just dare you!

Photos @ Valorie Webster

 

Starry Nights Quilt Story

Every quilt has a story. This is the story of the first real quilt I made.

In the spring of 2015, Jennifer, Jessica or JJ…whatever name she goes by in any given group, asked me to make a quilt for her, as she had just purchased a new home. She is my daughter. I was thrilled. I had only done one quilt project, a small meditation mat in chakra colors, quilted with infinity patterns.

I asked what she had in mind and she mentioned the picture in her bedroom, Starry Nights by Vincent Van Gogh. Ok, now I had some guidelines for her queen-sized quilt. I began the search for fabrics and was excited to create something with that famous painting as a model.

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I didn’t ask her, but I never thought she would want a quilt that looked just like the picture. I thought of using the colors and the painting as inspiration. I began to try laying the prints out in a design that followed the trees, village, stars, moon, etc. That was not working!

I must give credit here to my friend, muse and sew mate, Jude Brown (www.judemadeit.com). She kept me on track and from getting discouraged with this big project I had taken on. I had decided on a random, traditional, almost scrappy pattern with what turned out to be very small squares for this large quilt. Oh well, this is part of who I am…I don’t usually take an easy path!

Finally getting my groove on, I had the squares on the design wall and was ready to sew the strips together. Next step…decide on the backing. Again, never taking the easy way out, I decided to use the same color story and create a modern quilt style back so the quilt would be more or less quilt backreversible. I think somewhere inside me I was afraid JJ would not like the top, so maybe she would like the back.

 

All this took several months! I did not actually start until her birthday, July 16! So it is a birthday and house warming gift at that point. I got the top and the back finished by late August. I was really happy with the outcome of both sides. Then another delay…we had planned a month trip to Italy. I had hopes of getting the quilt done before then, but nope!

Upon our return home, my next job was to sandwich the top and bottom and then the whole thing needed quilting. My hope was to do the quilting, but I soon realized there was no way I could work this large quilt on my small Bernina (the same old machine that had made so many of JJ’s childhood clothes)…20151213_162151_HDR~2

I took the “sandwich” to Kim McCray at Windswept Quilting and am so happy I did. I can’t say how happy I am with the outcome of her quilting on this project. I simply told her I wanted something swirly to go with the theme of the painting. She took it from there with her beautiful freeform work and this makes the whole thing so beautiful! Thank you, Kim!

So, the quilt is finished except for the binding. I am ecstatic and can’t wait to finish to see the completed project. The binding process was a time when I could reflect on so many things and I appreciate having this time mostly alone. Everything about this quilt evokes my love for my daughter. I have remembered, prayed, been frustrated, lifted her up, and more during the process, but during the binding I was particularly aware of how a quilt is like life, how it takes shape with trial and error (especially if it is your first one). The way you can take all these little miscellaneous pieces of fabric and create a masterpiece is kind of amazing. You see, that is what JJ is to me…a masterpiece. I know she, like all of us, is still a work in progress, but I am so proud of the woman she has become. Bumps and bruises, both self-inflicted and mom-inflicted (others too, but this is about us) have been taken in stride and she glows with talent, wisdom and beauty!

As I am writing this I think of a picture that was taken of us long ago…about 22 years…that reflects a bit of a starry theme…20151213_162047_HDR~2

 

 

JJ, may you continue to dream and reach for the stars. May you sleep under this quilt and dream of all your hopes and desires, knowing that I love you and that I am thankful for you and the opportunity to make this quilt, which has now become Merry Christmas too! How could I have known it would mean so much to me!

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