On Sunday mornings, there’s typically only one place you’ll find me: kicked back in bed on the phone talking to my mother back in Kansas City. As my comfy pillows and queen size bed support the weight of my body, my mother’s voice supports the weight of my heart and my soul. Continue reading “4.13.2016 ~ Soul Sessions”
I was sitting there one night not too long ago thinking, “Wow, the next time I’ll see my mom is going to be in August.” Continue reading “5.10.2015 ~ Happy Mother’s Day!!!!!!”
I’m thinking about something really cheesy and utterly nostalgic right now…my high school graduation song.
I graduated from Mexico Senior High School in Mexico, Missouri, in May of 2001, and since you’ve most definitely never heard of it, you can likely imagine how small of a town that really is. Not the tiniest village in Audrain County (it’s the county seat, as a matter of fact), but definitely the minutest of places to anyone raised in Southern California, the place I now call home. Continue reading “3.13.2015 ~ I Hope You Dance….”
When you’re young (or at least younger than the person you’re talking to) and are considering the path of your life, you will often be told, “No worries, take one day at a time! You’ve got your whole life ahead of you!” Continue reading “1.15.2015 ~ As You Get Older, JT, Remember The Cat…”
I sit at a table by the pool bar at The Atrium Hotel waiting for my dad. We’re meeting up for happy hour as we often do. It’s a Tuesday, and he won’t be there until six. I get off at five so I typically go ahead to the bar, order a beer and some food, and fiddle around on my phone until he arrives.
I’ve come to learn to leave half of my food for him. Because although he says he’s already eaten, he’ll nibble on anything that I have ordered. Plus, if he eats too, then I don’t feel so bad about putting the drink and the food on his tab. The bartenders know us there, so they don’t even give it a second thought when I say with a little smile, “Dad’s buying.”
When he arrives on this particular Tuesday, he looks a little weary, and there seems to be one thing he wants to know – how was my trip home to Kansas City?
He tells me he was worried. He said he read my last blog post before leaving on the trip, and he sat there wondering the whole time I was gone whether going home would sway me to return.
The thing that is truly funny about this situation is that the ONE thing that I really wanted to tell my dad that Tuesday was that I know now, completely, that moving to California was the exact right thing to do.
Because it wasn’t until I went home to Kansas City that I could really see how much my life there was over. This feeling has nothing to do with my family. I still miss my mom, my sister, my niece and my nephew. I will always want them in my life, and when they are far away, I feel their absence deeply.
No, this feeling comes from realizing that there is no real LIFE for me in Kansas City anymore. My real life is here. I am vibrant here in this life; I shine here in this life. I feel full in this life. I’ve sat down at the table, and I’ve gorged myself. But rather than feeling heavy and weary, I am energized by my insatiable appetite for this life.
And knowing this gives me a thought…there is more than one kind of home. Home can be where your heart is, home can be where your life is, home can simply be anywhere where you feel safe and loved. Tonight, as I write this, I am grateful to have so many places that I can call home.
At 10:22am on November 4, 2014, the loving, powerful, and irreplaceable matriarch of the Whan family passed peacefully into her eternal life. Evelyn Whan, my grandmother, was a woman like no other. She was creative, strong, brave, caring, passionate, beautiful, and a great many other things. She touched so many people’s lives, and she claimed the hearts of every person she came into contact with.
With her passing, there are now holes in all of our hearts that can never be filled. As we shed our tears as a family today, we all recognized the truth of that simple yet overpowering fact. But as I looked around at my family, my aunts, my uncles, my cousin, and my father, I realized that we are her legacy. We are the pieces of her that are left on this physical plane. We are parts of the same whole, her whole, and no matter what issues have separated us at one time or another, it is our love for her and our love for each other that will bind us forever.
Grandma, I am going to miss you terribly. Having you as a near daily part of my life for the last several months has meant more to me than anything. While you were facing your own battles, you loved me, you gave me strength and courage, you consoled me, and you supported me. I love you with all my heart. I won’t say goodbye, because I know I’ll see you someday, when hopefully I’ve lived a life as full and as meaningful as yours. Until then, I’ll find you in the stars…
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
– Mary Elizabeth Frye, 1932
Getting old is something we all do. We each get older with every passing day.
But reaching that point in your life where you know your time is near, knowing that any day might be your last day, and choosing to live your life with grace…well, that is heroic, and not everybody can be a hero.
My grandmother is a hero.
If there is one thing that I am most grateful for about making the move to California, it’s that I get to share and be part of my grandmother’s final days.
Several weeks ago, my grandmother was finally placed on hospice care, and while my Aunt Diane has been her caregiver these last several years, my Aunt Debi has also decided to take some time off from work and spend this time with her mother.
Since I moved here, I’ve immensely enjoyed the time I’ve spent with my grandma and aunts – home-cooked family dinners, lunchtime visits during the work week, playing dice until way passed Grandma’s bedtime, and hearing about all the wonderful things Grandma learned from Bob Ross that week – they are all memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
Grandma is trying to live her life as she see fits, but you can see that some days are very hard. So much so that sometimes it feels strange to even ask, “How are you doing today, Grandma?” Because I know every day is a tough day – between her breathing treatments, hospice care and physical therapy visits, and just generally mustering up the strength to get dressed and live a life undaunted by her circumstances…God, she is amazing! Every day that I spend with her I stand in awe of her strength and her courage.
And it was no different when we found ourselves, a happy quartet of Whan women, headed out to spend a day at the swap meet last Saturday afternoon. We weren’t sure if it was going to happen, these days you kind of just have to go with the flow. And while Grandma had not had the best of days leading up to Saturday, apparently this day she was determined to enjoy the California sunshine and a little shopping with her daughters and granddaughter.
As we prepared to leave and Aunt Diane was getting Grandma’s oxygen tank together, I heard Grandma say something that I’ll never forget. She said, “Well I’m not going to sit around here and just wait to die.”
I didn’t say anything to her, I didn’t acknowledge that I had heard her say it. I just looked away because it touched me so much. It was the first time I had actually heard her say the words. Sure, she had alluded. Sure, I knew that hospice had been called in. Sure, Aunt Debi and Aunt Diane had talked to me about what was going on. But to hear her say it, the truth of it all became very real to me in that moment. And the way she said it, well, she said it the only way I could ever imagine her saying it now that I’ve really gotten to know her.
“Death is coming, but I don’t fear it. I will choose my life, and I will choose it all the way to the very end.”
Instead of letting the dark cloud of the end cast a shadow on her remaining days, she chose to dance. And that gorgeous afternoon spent in the sun with my grandma and my aunts, will be one that I will cherish forever.
If all the “ya’lls” and my tendency to call everyone “sweetie” and “hun” wasn’t any indication, I’m a country girl at heart. Sure, I’ve spent my life traveling – born in Germany, lived in a variety of city and states across the country, mostly in the Midwest and California – but there’s a huge part of me that knows that I’ll always remember the country with a fondness that I’ll never quite be able to put into words. I guess because that little part of my heart is just for me, and there will never be a need to share how I feel about it with anyone else.
With the move to California coming soon, I had planned on taking a trip “home” to good ‘ole Mexico, Missouri, to say my goodbyes to my family and friends there. I hadn’t been there in at least a year or so, and it was important to me that I took that trip and that time to see the family that, despite only being a couple of hours away, I never really got to see that much. I thought I might just drive down there, and hop from home to home, but thankfully, my dear Aunt Linda and Uncle Tommy decided that Easter would be a great time to get the family together at their home in Santa Fe, Missouri.
The home, out in the country on five acres of prime, lush Missouri land, is one I remember fondly. They’ve lived on that property since I was just a little girl, and I can recall so many of the days and nights that I spent there as a kid when Mom and I would visit. When I wasn’t running from my boy cousins who were shooting BB guns at me, or trying to chase me down with catfish heads, I would spend the greater part of my childhood learning how to fish, riding four-wheelers, splashing around at Spalding Beach and The Landing, or cruising on my Uncle Russell’s boat out on Mark Twain Lake.
Some amazing memories, and I couldn’t be happier that this became the setting for the place that I would say goodbye for now to my family. It was a stunning Easter day. Though the trees and fields had not quite bloomed as is usual for this time of year, it was still so beautiful. And as is usual with my giant Fierge family, there was a fresh influx of young children running around the property, reminding me and my cousins of how we used to do the same thing when were little.
It was supposed to be 70-something and partly cloudy on Easter out in Santa Fe…it actually ended up being around 80 degrees and very sunny. The sun felt spectacular (even if I did come out of the day a little red), and it made me happy that I had decided against a lot of my usual garb, and instead opted for minimal makeup, my new Torrid bermudas, a sheer chiffon top, and a simple statement necklace that I just picked up on my last trip to Honey’s Child Boutique in St. Louis.
This is me, the authentic me. The little country girl with a giant heart, and the utmost love and respect for her family. Missouri, you reminded me that I will miss you. My family, you reminded me that I will always come back to be with you. I love you all.
Guys, it’s been a long and wonderful two weeks in the great state of California, and as I look over the time I’ve spent here, there’s so much to think about.
First, let me just say that I definitely overpacked! 🙂
I’ve spent a majority of my trip in my swimsuit, raybans, destructed boyfriend jeans, flowy tops, and my braided leather sandals. I guess I’m a little more of a sun-worshipper than I really thought. It’s so easy here to just lay in the sun, enjoy the breeze, and take in everything around you. I was after some peace and quiet, and I definitely found it here.
Second, I have to say that my dad is one amazing guy. It’s his birthday today – the BIG 6-0 – and I couldn’t be happier to have been able to spend this time with him, to enjoy his company, and to cheer him on through this crazy thing called cancer that he’s dealing with. You are one strong and unbelievably optimistic person, Dad! I love you so much, and I want you to have the most wonderful day today! Happy, happy, happy birthday!
And finally, as I sit here and ponder the past, the present, and future, I keep going back to something I remember hearing some time ago…
I don’t do this too often on Curvy in Kansas City, but I’d like to take a small moment to share with you something a little personal.
You all have been an amazing support system for me over the last year. While you may visit this site on occasion, or you just happened to stop by this once for a peek at something fun, I hope you know that as much confidence as you get from this blog, you also give to me.We are a wonderful community of women, and I can’t thank you enough for everything that you’ve done and said in support of Curvy in Kansas City! You all ROCK!
With that being said, it’s been a tough couple of months for me. With the holidays in full effect, work has definitely been on and poppin’! I’m more tired than I’ve ever been working in the retail environment, but there was something that happened recently that really took the wind out of my sails.
My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Now, some of you might be thinking, “Well, that’s not so bad.” And in truth, prostate cancer IS one of the most curable and treatable cancers around. I thank the Lord every day for that. What really got to me though was that this was the first time that I really had a gut-check moment – my parents aren’t indestructible. They can hurt, they can experience pain, and at any time, they can get sick or have something terrible go wrong.
Ok, I’m thirty years old and I’m not a complete idiot. I know that my parents are human, just like you and me. But there was a small part of me that always believed that there was nothing that could take them down. They’ve been my rock, my foundation, and they’ve always been two of the only people in this world who could bring me back from the brink.
My dad has a particular soft spot in my heart today. As a child of divorced parents, I didn’t see my dad often growing up. But as I’ve gotten older, our relationship has blossomed into something so completely special and dear to me. With his diagnosis came the realization that I miss him more and more every day, and that I appreciate our time together now more than I ever have in my entire life.
This post is dedicated to my father. I love you, Daddy. You are a stronger and more loving man than you may ever give yourself credit for. I was sooooo happy to spend some time with you this holiday season, and I will be praying for you and your imminent recovery! I can’t wait to see you again soon! Merry Christmas!!!!!!
Hello to all my fabulous readers! I just wanted to take a moment to say that I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday!
RJ and I spent the greater part of the day enjoying the company of our loved ones in our home here in Independence, and it was such a wonderful time. The sun was bright and shining, the air had that sweet smell of fall turning to winter, and it couldn’t have been a more beautiful day.
As always, we take the time to remember all the things that we are thankful for. For me, I am most thankful for my family, my friends, my faith, and all of you. I have the most spectacular support system on the planet, and the love that I feel everyday means the world to me.
Thank you for being a part of my journey. I’ll leave you to the rest of your holiday weekend with this:
“Some people are always grumblin’ because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr
The rain, thunder and lightning that has been pummeling the Midwest for the last month finally abated long enough this weekend to have a perfect family BBQ. But it wasn’t just any BBQ, it was a family event honoring the most wonderful woman in my life – my mother. Mom’s birthday is this week, and as she turns a year older, I got our family and friends together to show her just how much we love her and how much she means to us.
What can I say about my sweet mama? She’s loving, caring, and affectionate. I see her every single day and I can’t begin to tell you how much that means to me. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, sometimes she was the last person on my mind. But today, she is at the forefront, as so many members of my family are. Now, I couldn’t imagine not seeing her, talking to her, seeing that beautiful smile she gets from something as simple as a hug from her daughters, her grandchildren, or her son-in-law (who, by the way, I think she happens to light up for more than me!)
So this week I really just want to say, I love you, Mom. You are such a gift to me, and I know I haven’t said it enough. Thank you for everything that you’ve done for me. You are an amazing mom, and I am so grateful for you and the love that you have given me every single day of my life.
A special thank you also goes out to my sweet husband, RJ, my sister, Rachel, and my lovely niece, Kara, who got in on the fun this weekend and helped to make sure that Mama had an amazing time!