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Jan 31, 2010

Family, Friends, Fragility and Fünf

The cold was a thief stealing our breath and assaulting our senses as Sam, Lena and I left the house, bound for Delaware. But the sun fought valiantly as it battled winter’s bitter bite. We picked up Lori and Grant and, armed with our favorite 77¢ gas station cappuccinos, we were on our frigid way to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Soaking up the sunlight that flooded the van with warmth, Lori and I chatted away about kids and friends and had one of our great road trip conversations. We quickly arrived at Arthur’s Place and hulled the kids into the Krafts’ apartment.

Grandma was in the midst of getting her hair done by Mom, both were happy to see our brood noisily make our entrance. Dad returned soon thereafter from the hardware store where he retrieved items necessary to complete one of the 847,643 tasks Grandma had on her list. Grandpa was at his normal post, sitting in the recliner vacantly staring at the television.

Other than her thinning hair and limited mobility, Grandma hasn’t changed much from the woman we grew up with. We all talked and laughed the morning away, as we have so many times before. We tried on Lena's baptismal gown and cheered together as she marked a milestone – her first rollover. That was a nice moment to share with my Grandma. Grandpa seemed unaware of anyone’s presence, however. He has been stolen away by dementia, his once sharp-witted and story-telling mind a causality of the ugly injustice of old age. His sweetness is still there, though, behind that empty gaze. I guess a truly kind, compassionate soul remains even when the mind retreats. How fragile we are…

Back out into the oxymoronic freezing sunny day we trudged, heading home. As the kids dropped off to sleep, Lori and I continued our conversation, shifting the topic to family. The trip was over too quickly, as usual...I should drive slower when we’re on our road trips together.

Later that evening, Mark and Ashley came by for dinner and board games, one of our favorite ways and two of our favorite people with whom to spend a Saturday evening. Close friends from childhood, Mark and Rich have that special energy that only the longevity of years and sharing of experiences can bring to a friendship, which is an amusing and wonderful thing to witness. Sam was in rare form after dinner, channeling his hidden extroversion while he tackled, jumped, talked, and played out energy that his 2 ½ hour nap had loaned him. Then sweet, sweet bedtime came, and it was just the adults laughing, farting and Jenga-ing into the wee hours, accompanied by Bud, Coors and Fünf. We ended the night with buzzed goodbye hugs and the inevitable and welcomed collapse into bed.

Everyday should be as blessedly full of family, friends, fragile moments…and Fünf.

Jan 28, 2010

Happy Birthday! Pass the Xanax.

Sam and Lena and I trekked to Newcomerstown on Tuesday to spend the day with Mom and Dad for Dad’s birthday. The morning sky was awash in bright winter sunshine that warmed the inside of the van as we drove. The kids fell asleep instantly, all snug in their car seats. I called Jen to break up the quiet monotony of the road noise. Lost in her heartbreaking story of unrequited love as I drove, I was suddenly snapped back to reality when my van stopped accelerating. In a panic I coasted to a nearby exit where, after a frantic call to Rich, I got the car running again. I was a nervous mess. But I drove on to Mom and Dad’s and made it without further incident.

Mom made a big lunch, and we talked and laughed and played until Dad came home from work. Then we ate and talked and laughed and played some more. It was a great, albeit too-short, visit and, even with the looming sense of dread that hovered knowing I would have to put my babies back in a van that may not be functioning properly, I’m glad we made the trip. My parents are the essence of comfort and joy and home to me. We are blessed that we live close enough and have schedules that allow us to spend time with them.

So it was with my nerves on the top of my skin, a prayer on my lips, and sweat pits the size of grapefruits that we started off for home. I was determined to get us back to Columbus. But that determination led to about 15 more breakdowns between Newcomerstown and Newark until, finally, I surrendered defeat alongside the freeway and called for help. A Jehovah Witness church just off an exit was our coasted-to refuge until Rich and the tow truck arrived.

In the end, we all got home safe and sound, had the van repaired, and our world is right again. But I learned a few things through this minor upheaval.

• I sweat. A lot.
• I can keep it together pretty well when I need to. (There were no witnesses to my meltdown as the adrenaline rush I was operating under finally gave way in that church parking lot, so I’m not counting that.)
• I am blessed to be surrounded by such a loving, supportive, concerned family.
• God is good. His calming presence and name (prayerfully and expletively) made many appearances in the van that day.
• My husband is my rock, and I love him to disgusting degrees.
• I should seriously consider seeking medical attention for the sweating thing.

Jan 27, 2010


My sister inspired me to start blogging. Her blog is a memorialization of her family's life, her thoughts, their crafts and activities. I talk to her nearly everyday and see her all the time, but I still log on to see what's happened in the Winger household that day. I have no idea from what corner of herself she pulls the energy to keep a blog, but that's nothing new for Lori. She is the mold from which God must have created mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, friends, neighbors, Sunday school teachers, room mothers, etc...I think I hate her.

So it's from those lofty heights that I, a begrudged secretary, zealous mother, amorous wife, proud daughter, adoring sister, loyal friend, avid reader, devoted day dreamer, and wannabe foodie, take the plunge into creating my own blog. Stay tuned.