Tag Archives: family

Things I’m Thankful for Right Now

The love of my family.
The tired smiles of my children after a long, happy day at summer camp.
The smiles of my wife as she looks around our new home.
Our new home in the woods, where nature comes to visit often and I’ll be able to do some woodworking projects again.
My good health.
My friends, who continue to support and encourage me.
My job, which helped make the new home possible and is a great group of people to work with while providing the opportunity to impact millions of people.
My education, which continues to supply me with perspective as I adapt to a changing world.
My good fortune to have grown up in the Puget Sound area, a place of wonderful, natural beauty.

Enduring Memories

My sister-in-law’s husband’s mother died last night, not unexpectedly.

I only met her once at a wedding, but I’ll likely never forget the day. It was one of those crystal-blue days last summer when the mountains were out and I had the honor of marrying my sister-in-law to this woman’s son on the shores of a sparkling Puget Sound. It also happened to be my birthday and my two-year-old son fell out of a beached rowboat onto rocks near the waterline at some distance from me and began screaming, prompting me to race across the cantelope-sized, slick, green, round seaweed-covered stones deposited in the last ice age. In my haste, I slipped, painfully jamming  a toe between rocks and began to arc downward. Fearing having my face smashed in by the combination of gravity and polished, slimy glacial till, I semi-consciously performed a somersault at the cost of a fractured rib, bruised shoulder and skinned right shin. My heart pumping with adrenaline,  I come upon my sandy, damp, and shaken son, none too worse for wear.

She was a sweet, kindly lady generally experiencing one of the cruelest ravages of old age but was apparently having a more lucid day, and I chatted with her briefly about her family and the Northwest after the service over fruit. I spied her husband at one point watching her with one of those longing looks that only those truly in love have. I last saw her sitting in her chair overlooking the Sound, talking with family.

It was a good day.

The news of her death made me think of my maternal grandfather’s death. I was working a contract job at Starbucks headquarters, sitting in an open cube eating my homemade bean and cheese burrito with sour cream when I got the call from my mother. I sat at the end of the aisle towards the interior of the building next to a busy hallway almost constantly populated with highly caffeinated, generally chirpy people. It wasn’t exactly the place you’d want to be with tears running down your face into your lunch.

I was mourning, but I was also angry and relieved. I was angry at death in general and my mother in specific, and relieved that a once-vibrant man whose light had dimmed significantly in the past year or two was now beyond worrying about his impending end. But I was mostly angry.

Angry that I wasn’t there for him. Angry that I wasn’t told he was that close to death. Angry that he left in the company of strangers instead of with family.

Angrily hanging up the phone, I took my leave and raced north on Interstate 5 to Lynnwood, risking a speeding ticket, hoping to see him before he was collected.

I was five minutes too late. His room was empty.

Chasing down a nurse, I learned the staff of the funeral parlor hadn’t yet left and I briefly considered finding them and asking to see him, but I felt that would be too maudlin and in the end, pointless. He was already gone before I ever left to see him.

It was a bad day.