Thursday, June 17, 2021

Remember When by Liz Flaherty

I'm writing this at a glass-topped table that seats 10 easily and more if TV watchers drag up chairs to join the conversation. The kitchen has room for several to work at once, a curiously small refrigerator, and a dishwasher we keep running constantly. There are anywhere between 10 and 14 of us here on the beach in North Carolina. 


Other than the husbands and wives among us, and the two who are in middle school and high school who still live at home, none of us would willingly live together. The personalities and opinions that surround this table and fill the house-crossing deck in the back are varied and...varied. They don't always mesh. Sometimes we clamp our mouths shout. Sometimes we should but don't.

But our six kids, half by birth and half by law and all by heart, in all their differences, love each other's children. On this trip, Uncle Chris has been 11-year-old Eamon's favorite plaything and Skyler and Fionn have done their best to shock Aunt Tahne. All "us girls" have personalized wineglasses and ankle bracelets that will serve as remember whens for as long as we have them. 

The kids love us and worry about us as we age. Whenever any two of them are gathered in quiet conversation, we ask if they are discussing putting us in "the home." Usually they assure me I'm okay, but Dad may have something to worry about. Or vice versa. 

The grandkids are fascinating and funny. They know so many different things and their personalities and interests are as varied and entertaining as their parents'. 

Like most other families, we spend a lot of time in front of screens. We all have phones, several of us work from wherever our laptops are, and there are televisions and games systems everywhere. Fourteen of us wear approximately 55 pairs of shoes, 33 hats, and 29 pairs of sunglasses (none of which can be found when needed.) Between us, we have at least 20 bottles of sunscreen but can never find the one we want. We have beach towels that are used for nothing more heroic than collecting sand but are very pretty and bright nonetheless.

We've said and done things that are inherent to us. One son slept "44 hours straight" according to his brother. In one day! (Not sure who said that...) Decades after our daughter declared the "tiny belt" on her car needed replacing, it is still the family go-to description of any automotive problem up to and including transmission replacement and blown engines. When my granddaughter and I walked the beach in swimsuits of matching colors, I mourned that no one thought we were sisters. They are not brilliant things, these things we still laugh at, but they are still ones we cherish. 


It is special this week coming up on Father's Day to realize that my favorite four fathers are here in one place. They are being reminded of their failures, whether real or imagined, and their successes are right here for us all to see. 

We are diverse in our religion, music, food and beverage choices, and--somewhat--in our politics, but share values complete with lines that cannot be crossed. Except that we cross them all the time. Voices are raised, much eyerolling goes on, and sometimes quiet falls between parties. That kind of quiet is heartbreaking at the age I am, because I know no matter how much time you have to spend with your family, it's never, ever enough. 

I'm writing this on Thursday, staying inside because no matter how much of those 20 bottles of sunscreen I used, it wasn't enough. We'll head back in a few days, to several parts of the country, using various modes of travel. We'll all be glad to be home, back to routine, to our own beds. We'll all have different remember whens, but no matter how individualized they are, every one of us will have them with us always, in one of those pockets in our hearts that we can open when we need to. 

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.


Saturday, June 12, 2021

What's Going On? by Liz Flaherty

I am on vacation this week, and it looks as if I might be missing a lot of things going on in Miami County!


#ColePorterFestival is this week. Go here for a schedule of events. http://www.coleporterfestival.org/schedule/

It's #SecondSaturday. A lot will be going on, including music at Gallery 15. 


It's time for Gilead Garage Sales. Pick up your map early!


Farmer's Market--with great vendors and more music!

Feel free to add more activities in the comments. Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Glory Days by Liz Flaherty

In church a few Sundays ago, Pastor Scott Mann said something that I want to remember. He said, "I can't believe in the salvation of anyone who doesn't long for the salvation of his neighbor. Be the church." 

He also reminded us later in the service that "the glory days are in the future," which--for me--meant the past is behind us. (As someone who is notoriously reluctant to let things go, this had a really big couple of meanings...)

Also on that bright and beautiful Sunday morning, a cluster of us arrived at the church at once, greeting each other and walking up its steps together. I was reminded of when I was a kid, walking into a different church with mostly different people, but with the same feeling. When I tried to explain it, Chris McGuire said, "Oh, happy day." And yes, that was it. 

I wrote those things because I want to remember what gifts they were. Memory gets sketchy with age. It's selective and faulty, but no less precious for all that. 

Change and loss become such parts of every day that we expect them. Even in expectation, we are blindsided by them. Loss still hurts and change is still bewildering. We learn to not miss chances and to not say "one of these days, I'll..." Not that we always act on what we've learned, but we know. We know.

We also know that into those changes and losses come the letting go part. Some friendships end--even old ones. Some lifetime scars are bumpier and harder to live with and open and bleed no matter how hard we try to let things go. 

We need to forgive ourselves. 

There are no words to describe how much I dislike dreary days or relentless wind. Both of those elemental events cause me to hunker down and pout, but into those gloomiest of days, the orioles, goldfinches, blue jays, and woodpeckers have flown in all their brilliant glory. Walking the Nickel Plate has become anticipatory because the colors and scents are different every day. More change. More loss.

This week has been a cacophony of change and loss and the delight of grandkids in the house. At the end of it, the sun is still shining, the birds are still singing and hanging upside down from the suet feeders--how do they do that?--and we still have the opportunity to "be the church" and to let things go when the keeping of them doesn't help anyone.

I realize the Window doesn't all come together this week. There's nothing new in that, I guess, although I wish I were a little better at wrapping things up neatly. But most things aren't like that, are they? Not that we can't wrap them up and be happy with them, but it's not usually all that neat. I think that idea's one of the things I'll try to let go.

Have a great week. Forgive yourself. Be nice to somebody.