My brother Lud passed away last August. His last request was to have his ashes scattered on his favorite beach. Solana Beach in San Diego. That is why my sister Karie and I are here this weekend.
I flew from Nashville and Karie – and Lud – flew from Cleveland. Seems that Lud has some trouble at TSA.
To quote my sister,
“So I separated Lud, between my carry on and my checked bag – in case my suit case got lost. And then, I go through the security line. I walk through with no beeping but then I hear the guy yell, ‘Bag check! Ma’am is this your bag? Do you have any sharp objects in it?’ ‘No. Just my brother.’ The guy looked at me like I was crazy and of course, I start bawling.
(When I questioned my sister on the Tupperware container she said, “It wasn’t used. I bought him a new one.”)
I had prepared myself for the emotions that I would feel this weekend while carrying out my brother’s request.
The ones from my own life, that I would have to encounter in this beautiful city.
You see, Jim and I lived here from 1988-1994. Fresh out of college, we both got jobs and started our careers here. (My brother Larry and his family lived here as well, so it was an easy decision.) We met life-long friends and enjoyed living in paradise. San Diego is expensive and we were young, working for a ministry that paid close to nothing and barely making ends meet. But the beach was free! So, every day, after getting off work, we would head to Solano Beach. About six months after we got here, my brother Lud relocated here as well and would join us on our daily beach trips. Lud fell in love with the ocean, which is why he wants us to illegally scatter him upon these shores. (Aside note… I am trying very hard to not have this go badly. I’m trying to not to picture the wind and the tears and Lud ending up all over me and my sister instead of in the ocean. Or…the very possible ending of us being arrested. Stay tuned.)
Yesterday I drove to the beach. But at every turn and every corner, I would see a flash back of my life here. Our life. What used to be. That was the gas station where we had that horrible fight one time. And that was the restaurant where we first talked about going into counseling. Oh, and that was the time we…. And on and on and on.
“Those were hard years, I cried. I’m so sad.” But instead of wallowing with me in my sorry she said,
Instead of focusing on that things that have died, why not think about the good that was and the good that remains?” This, I know, is such an easy and better way to live. And yet I forget all the time.
So yesterday I laid on a beach towel and stared at the waves, like I did so many years ago. Same beach. Same sand. And even the same beach towel. (It’s a great one.) As I let the tears fall, I realized the importance of looking at the whole picture and not just one scene. The truth is, Jim and I had some amazing, wonderful times here. We were young and motivated. We laughed and loved and planned for our future. We enjoyed life as best we could. The tears of sorrow turned into tears of gratitude for all the good times.
Relationships sometimes die. People die. Jobs change. Hearts break.
P.s…. My brother Lud could have never known that his last request would provide a huge opportunity for healing and growth for me. Circle of life. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Pray for us, and for the absence of a wind.
I was seventeen. She was fifty-six. And the doctor said cancer. Back then, it was a death sentence. And two months and eight days later, she was gone.
I have spent my entire life with mixed emotions about this day, and today is no different. I am honored to be James’ mom and I celebrate that gift! But this morning, as I sit here alone in the quiet, (James is spending half this day with his beautiful Grandmother) I am a bit sad and angry about the way it all went down. Okay, a lot sad and angry.
Those of us who lost our mothers young, we were challenged to handle the milestone moments in our lives with a big gaping hole announcing her absence. We walked down wedding aisles with our fathers, to look and see no one sitting where our mom should have been. We tried to duplicate recipes, and ended up with things that were “not quite right” because of the one secret ingredient she didn’t write on the index card. We took graduation photos with only one parent. We birthed children, held them in our arms, and for the first time understood how much our mom loved us, even though she wasn’t there to tell us.
(Okay, except maybe in regards to the recipe, I think she’s probably laughing her ass off that I still can’t make her Slovenian Cucumber gravy just right!)
But she did love us.
And she lives on in our spirits. In our smiles. In our determination. And In our resilient, grief-birthed strength. Strength that was forged in the pain. We are sad today, because she left us. But the loss of her has made us a much stronger version of ourselves then if she was still here to be a Grandma to our children.
If you’re like me today, with one foot in joy and one foot in grief, know that you are not alone. I know she’s right there with you.
I have been dying to write this post for months… and I finally can share the news. (This is primarily for all my Nashville peeps or those visiting this great city from out of town!)
I can’t tell you how often I am asked, “When are you ever going to play in town?” Well… the day has finally arrived!!!
Nashville now has an authentic, fabulous, awesome, fun, music-filled BAVARIAN BIERHAUS! Located at Opry Mills, you can now drink and eat like you are at the real Oktoberfest in Munich – all year long!
And I, along with my band – The N.P.G.’s (Nashville Polka Guys) – yes I bribed them to play with free beer – will be there multiple times throughout the month of May. (5,6,12,13,26 6-9pm)
Check out their website for more info http://bierhausnashville.com and come join the fun!
Bring your parents, your kids, your grandpa and see what all the fuss is about. There’s German Beer, German food, and if you twist my arm, I may let you tip us a lot to play the chicken dance. (hehe)
See you soon!
So today is Mr. Vince Gill’s birthday! I thought I’d post this video from a show we did together last year. It’s the song Tom Douglas and I wrote about James, “He Will Never Be” and it was perfo
rmed at a benefit for the Nashville Mental Health Association (Jammin’ to Beat the Blues) at the Ryman. You can’t really see me or Vince… but when the sol
o hits – there is no doubt that Vince’s talent is one of a kind and so recognizable and perfect! #grateful
Here’s a short video we did on what the memoir is about. It’s CRAZY to think that this book started just a few years ago on this blog and now it’s in bookstores and on bookshelves all over the world!
Take a look…someone with something extra makes a special appearance!