Monday, October 3, 2011

Big Sky

There's a reason they call it Big Sky Country

They say you can't go home again. I hadn't been back to Montana in several years. So, when the occasion of my Aunt Wilma and Uncle Ray's 65th Anniversary celebration came up, I decided it was time. Time to return to my birthplace,to the place where my first memories were formed, to the house my mother was born and to the family still there. My first home. MONTANA.

I convinced both my mom and my sister, Debi, to join me and we set off on our summer adventure. What an adventure it was. There were so many wonderful moments contained in a few short days, too many to recount them all here, but, so worth the remembering and giving thanks for...

Time with my mom and my sister in the place where our first memories as a family were we are on the steps of the Sacajawea Hotel in Three Forks, the first town we lived in as a family. We stopped to visit with Cotton and Madeline Todd. I remember sleeping over at their house with their daughter Donna when I was a very small girl. For most of my life, I thought I had imagined that they'd had a horse sleeping behind the sofa. Turns out it was for reals. Gotta love 'em. Good people, life friends.

Staying in the warm and beautiful home of my cousin Linda and her husband Mike. They were so gracious and hospitable! Reconnecting with her was such a blessing and such fun!

Visiting with many cousins, aunts, uncles and life long friends we seldom get to see.

Hanging out at the Garden Cafe in Manhattan, and visiting my favorite little vintage shop on Main Street.

Sitting on Wilma and Ray's porch, eating steak from the Oasis and laughing with loved ones who came from near and far.

Hearing the distant train whistle blow and running across the road with my sister to feel the whoosh of the train passing by as we stood along the tracks.

Attending the anniversary celebration in the basement of their church and realizing the minute I got there, that this was the place where I had attended Vacation Bible School as a child. Vivid memories of this room washed all over me!

Sitting up late with my cousin, sister and mom, having a glass of wine, (okay, maybe two) and hearing stories out of my mother's mouth that left me laughing so hard I was gasping for breath!

The sky. Oh, the sky. It's hard to explain, but, it's really different there. Expansive. Vast. Majestic. Expressive. Enormous. Unobstructed. God's creation shouting!

It was only five days, but, it was a little slice of heaven, and--you know what's next--I'm grateful.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Oh Mickey, you're so fine..."

Today is my beloved's birthday. Number 69. EGAD. Although, as he was quick to remind me, today, as is my custom, I will begin referring to him as "almost 70". (Just a little birthday gift from me to you, Dear).

It's hard to believe that he is on the cusp of becoming a septugenarian. He, who I met when I was but a teen, when he was a twenty-something and quite a handsome specimen. (I noticed. He didn't). It wasn't until many years later, when I was the twenty-something and he was a tad over 30, that our lives intersected again and we progressed to love, marriage and the road of a life shared. That was over thirty years ago. What a ride it has been.

We've travelled a "long and winding road" together, with no shortage of perilous turns, falling rocks, deer crossings and steep falls. Those very trials were a blessing in my life, driving me to my knees, causing me to rely on the only One who knew what I needed, and who could carry us through. For that, I am eternally grateful. But, we are here, today, having weathered the storms, and celebrating the gift of Michael Simon in my life.

So, today's a day to celebrate you, my love. But since it's all about me, let's talk about what you mean to me and why...

Because of you, husband, I am a wife, a mother and a grandmother. Further, I became a part of an amazing "bonus" family, who have become as dear to me as my family of origin. Because you believed in me, I have pursued things I might never have done on my own...I learned to live within my means and as a result, we've been blessed with financial security, or, as Francis Chan whould say, we are "filthy rich"! You've made me angrier than anyone I know, and yet, you've made me laugh harder, too. You are the one I fall asleep with every night and wake up to every morning. The one who washes the dishes after I cooked, the one who empties the trash (it's your only job, after all) and mows the lawns and fixes everything that can ever go wrong in our aging home.

You sit beside me at church every Friday night, welcome the many people I invite into our home and who sit around our table... you sacrifice your privacy in order to accomodate my love of fellowship. You are generous with your daughters, sharing your time, wisdom and resources to let them know how much you love. You give lavishly, with an open hand to those in need, whether to an unknown family in Viet Nam, or a young woman without a strong family to support her. You've opened your heart and our home to make it a place of refuge and joy for so many.

We have built a home, a family and a legacy. We have a past and a future. But--today we have the present. I'm so thankful for that, and for you. Happy Birthday, Mr. M. "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be."