Joy Multiplied

I truly do love this time of year. From the big family Halloween party at the end of October, to the beginning of a shiny New Year, this is a season of incredible joy and special connections and marvelous fun. At the center of it all is family.

I spent the afternoon and evening with granddaughter Aubrey, on outing two of five of the annual Yaya and Grandchild Christmas shopping tradition.

I can tell my grandchildren are growing up, beyond my observations of how tall they are getting or how mature our conversations have become. Their shopping habits are changing.

As she did for her birthday shopping trip, Aubrey avoided the toy store for our Christmas outing, preferring the mall and a big box type store. She shopped wisely and with great care for her family members, not wanting to waste any time in shops that did not have what she was looking for.

She did pause to point out a cute outfit, in case I needed any gift ideas for her. However, her focus, for the most part, was on others and surprising them with thoughtful purchases.

I love these one on one excursions with each grandchild, following them as they browse, listening to their chatter and observing their gift selection process. Each child is unique and has his or her own way of making decisions.

Aubrey chose Popeye’s for dinner, hungry for their cajun chicken, mildly seasoned for her, mac & cheese and biscuits. We continued conversations we had started in the car, including one on the serious topic of bullying. I questioned her about bullying in her school, and was relieved by her answer. However, we discussed the importance of standing up for ourselves and for others who are being picked on, and that it is always okay to talk to an adult if she notices a child being treated unkindly.

After that conversation, Aubrey found a yellow wrist band on the sidewalk outside of a store, with “No bullying” written on it. She asked about the big word that describes when things connect unexpectedly, leading to a chat about synchronicities! I love the interesting flow of life, and I love Aubrey’s heart.

At my house Aubrey made quick work of wrapping her gifts, writing her own gift tags and selecting bags and tissue paper. And then it was time to take her home, after a successful and fun evening.

I thought again tonight about how magical this season is. For me there is deep gratitude, a recognition of blessings and Divine guidance, and appreciation for gifts that cannot be wrapped, only experienced and held in the heart.

I love the sights and sounds of Christmas, the crisp cold air, the warmth of home, the joy that surrounds me and overflows my heart. And, that joy is magnified and multiplied by these grandchildren who share shopping trips and stories and meals and dreams with me. This is my favorite part of the most wonderful time of the year.

The Heart of My Day

My day has been spent being Yaya to two of my grandchildren. As a grandmother, that is one of the best ways I can spend my time, investing in my grandkids and being loved by them.

Grandson Jonathan and I kicked off the yearly Christmas Shopping with Yaya tradition. I take each of the grandkids out to purchase gifts for their family members and treat them to the meal of their choice.

Jonathan is an excellent shopper who knows what he wants to buy for his family, and he wastes no time in accomplishing this task. We chatted as we made several stops, and Jonathan introduced me to Snapchat, creating a profile for me as I drove. This young man is my techie grandchild, and I laughed as he crafted a bitmoji to represent me.

Jonathan has such a tender heart as well. As we pulled into the Walmart parking lot, he noticed a family holding up a hand lettered sign, asking for gas money. We purchased Christmas gift bags and tissue paper in the store…and picked up a gift card to give to the family as we left. This was Jonathan’s idea, and I was happy to encourage and support his generosity.

We grabbed carry out lunches from Applebee’s and returned to the house to wrap gifts and watch an episode of Stranger Things together.

I appreciate Jonathan. He is smart, funny and easy to talk to. He has big ideas and he is working on being able to carry them out. Someday he will be creating apps that make life easier or more fun for people. In the meantime, he is expanding his compassionate heart by being mindful of others and making a difference where he can.

This evening my granddaughter Aubrey joined me for a sleep over. It’s been a while since she has spent the night and both of us were excited about this special treat. Her thoughts about it…”We are having a granddaughter and grandmother slumber party. Some might find that weird. I think it’s fun!” I agree, Aubrey.

This beautiful girl is growing up. As we dined together at Texas Roadhouse she kept up a very mature chatter about school, football, friends and movies. Her current favorite film is 47 Meters Down, a shark flick. Aubrey has interesting and refreshing views about life, people and situations and I always enjoy a conversation with her.

I left my phone unattended for a few minutes, and found this surprise as my new background!

Aubrey knows her way around a cell phone as well, and offered to further my education in Snapchat. After donning our pjs and getting ready for bed, Aubrey gave me some quick lessons in using this photo based app. We laughed over the special effects and she patiently led me through creating my first Snapchat pic.

These kids are precious to me. I enjoyed spending my day divided between two of the grandkids. This week I will set up times to take the rest of my group shopping for Christmas gifts. That’s a fun activity, watching how thoughtfully and carefully each child shops. The greater joy though is just spending time with them, hearing their thoughts, learning what’s important to them, and encouraging them to follow their hearts.

Yaya is a sacred title to me. I am blessed to bear that name in honor of these five adventurous souls.

First Thanksgiving

I have a pictorial post to share, of the first Thanksgiving. Not the one back in 1621, but the first one within my family this year. Because my son will work on Thanksgiving Day, and children will be with their other parents, Nate and Megan hosted an early celebration at their home today, when everyone could be present.

Members from Megan’s family and ours came together in a big, happy group to kick off this week that focuses on gratitude.

Lots of cooks in the kitchen…and one hopeful pug. Nate and Megan provided turkey and the fixings, and everyone else contributed side dishes, desserts, plastic ware and whatever else was needed. I brought plant food based options.

I love that Megan’s sign decor identifies what’s going on in several pics. There is a large KITCHEN sign in the photo above.

Adriel, Nate and Dayan. Our family has two Nates!

The very appropriate sign behind Nate says, Thank you for the food before us, the family and friends beside us, and the love between us.

Football crowd! Kansas City was playing.

The sign in this pic says it well. Eat. There was more food atop the adjacent counter.

Greg gave me a “What are you doing?” look just as I took the photo! He’s standing with child one and child two, also known as Elissa and Nate.

After our shared meal, it was outside into the sunshine, and slightly chilly air, for an annual tradition…the family kickball match.

Team One takes the field.

I caught a pic of the ball after it was kicked.

Team Two preparing to kick. Aubrey gets a bit of coaching from Megan.

Not all of us play…because someone needs to yell and cheer from the sidelines!

Although my family sometimes cringes or scatters, these photo opportunities are precious to me. All five of my grandkids were present. From the left, Joey, Aubrey, Jonathan, Oliver, and Dayan. I love these kids so much!

And the adult kids. I am grateful for each one, and I love and appreciate them. Back row…Josh, Elissa, Adriel. Front row…Megan, Nate, and Nate.

Family photo. What a beautiful group of people.

Big group family photo. What a wonderful blended family.

It was a fun day and it set the tone for the week. The love of family truly is one of life’s greatest blessings. When I list the things I am thankful for, family is always at the top.

Thursday will be Thanksgiving Two. It will be a more quiet day, with food and conversation and games. And it will be full of gratitude as well. May I be especially mindful this week, of all of my blessings, and pause each day to express my thanks.

I Love a Parade

Family fun continued today, kicking off early this morning with an event that has been held annually for 51 years. The Maple Leaf Festival in Carthage Missouri hosts a variety of activities each year, the highlight being the Maple Leaf Parade.

My son Nate was in the parade this morning, commanding the Color Guard as they led the parade. And three of my grandchildren, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey, rode on floats, along with their Tiger football teams and cheerleading squads.

I enjoy parades…the festive atmosphere, the camaraderie of the people gathered along the streets, the smiling participants waving from the colorful floats. And although Christmas parades have a beauty all their own, I am particularly fond of this parade that celebrates autumn. I marched in this parade during my years in high school band. I’ve watched my children and grandchild as they in turn have walked, ridden or marched by. I have a long history with this event.

Here are highlights of the Maple Leaf Parade:

This has become a yearly tradition, capturing a pic of my son with his wife Megan. Nate serves his community as a police sergeant. As a member of the Color Guard, it is their task to lead off the parade with a presentation of the American and state flags.

I watched my son, standing confidently, tall and straight backed, and remembered when he was a boy, standing with rapt attention as we watched various parades begin. He was there to watch the police officers and the police cars with their flashing red and blue lights. He dreamed of being an officer someday. Did he know that when that someday came, that he would be the one leading the parades?

This adorable dog, sitting calmly in the back seat as he sports a hat, seemed to love being in the parade.

Grandson Joey, with the sixth grade Tiger football team, stood up and waved so we could see him!

Grandson Oliver, with the fourth grade team, gave us a smile and a wave.

Granddaughter Aubrey and her sweet friend Karleigh, who is like another grandchild to me, with the Tiger cheerleading squads.

A crowd favorite the last few years, this float features characters from the Star Wars movies. The band marching in front of them played Darth Vader’s theme song.

My grandson Dayan marched with the Carl Junction band the last four years. I missed seeing him today, and felt compelled to snap a pic of the tuba section any way. There were many marching bands performing during the parade. I heard this band enter the square and I knew it was the CJ band without seeing the banner carried. I know this band. I recorded them as they played, so I can share with Dayan, who happened to be in a parade after all today. He rode on a float, representing resident hall government, in Mizzou’s homecoming parade.

A sweet moment between Nate and Megan, after my son completed the parade and returned to the square to find us before starting other duties.

Horses always signal the end of the parade, and today, there was a unicorn in their midst!

What a fun morning. The weather was the warmest we have had, that I recall. Usually I am dressed in layers and bundled up in winter gloves, scarf and hat in an attempt to stay warm. Not so today. Temps were in the 70s and many people took advantage of mild weather and lined the streets.

I combined the parade with today’s walking. Greg parked the car a distance from the square and we walked to our viewing destination. After the parade we walked around the square, looking at booths, and running into Nate again, who was chatting with friends of ours. The trek back to the car then completed a good walk for Day 23.

It was a gorgeous fall day, that began with an event that is fun to watch, and never fails to tap into warm memories. Yes, I certainly do love a parade.

Exeter Corn Maze

I’m getting in very late tonight, after an extremely fun evening with my son, Nate, daughter-in-law Megan, and grandkids Joey, Oliver and Aubrey. Greg and I joined this merry group in visiting Exeter Corn Maze, in Exeter, Missouri.

I have never been to this entertaining farm turned fall playground. I’ve been excited all week to experience it and to watch my grandkids enjoy the various activities Exeter Corn Maze offers.

Established 13 years ago, on an actual farm, this country place offers many activities for the entire family. There is a corn maze, a huge one full of creepy clowns and chainsaw wielding maniacs. The saws have the chains removed, so it is all good fun. We got lost in the dark cornfield, which seems to be my fate in corn mazes. And that’s part of the intended experience.

The kids bounced on giant inflated pillows, petted farm animals in the petting zoo and flew overhead on zip lines. These kids are fearless! They “swam” in the corn pit, filled with dried kernels. Joey and Oliver faced off with mock opponents in the archery maze, while Aubrey tried out the indoor swings and mini zip lines located inside a made over barn.

The adults joined in on the Spook House, which was scary fun, and the Zombie Shoot. We did the Zombie shoot late in the evening, and as a result, we were the only participants. A tractor pulled us on a trailer through more cornfields and another barn, where scenes were set up. Zombies inhabited those scenes. We shot them with paint ball guns. This was a first for me, both dealing with zombies and firing a paint ball gun. It was a blast, literally!

It was an incredible evening, with the highlight being watching Joey, Oliver and Aubrey exploring and playing and having new adventures. Exeter Corn Maze offers marvelous opportunities for all of those things and creates a fun environment for families to experience together.

I’m glad I got to experience it with part of my family tonight!

MIZ…ZOU

Today I enjoyed a road trip north to the beautiful city of Columbia, Missouri and the campus of the University of Missouri. It has been two weeks since I saw my grandson Dayan. I traveled to MU with Greg and our daughter Elissa to visit Dayan for the first time since he moved into the dorm, and I captured our trip in photos.

Photo by Elissa Adam

Crossing the Missouri River as we passed the state’s capital, Jefferson City. Columbia, which is 236 miles from Joplin, is not far from Jefferson City. It was a beautiful day for a drive and I enjoyed catching up with my daughter as we all chatted.

Dayan’s residence hall on the gorgeous campus of the University of Missouri. Mizzou is the affectionate nickname for this university. It is a form of clipping, or shortening, a longer name into a shorter one. In this case, Missouri to Mizzou. The first reference to the nickname was in a 1905 college publication. At games and events, it is customary for the fans on one side to shout MIZ…and the other side to answer ZOU! The university mascot is the tiger and the colors are gold and black.

And this is the young man we came to see! It was so good to hug him and talk to him and hang out for a few hours. We met Dayan’s roommate, Carlisle, who was kind and personable. I was impressed with the dorm room and with the hall’s casual meeting areas and laundry facilities.

On the way to lunch, Dayan guided us around campus. I loved the stone and brick buildings, the newer structures and the mature trees and many gardens. The campus is actually considered a botanical garden. I’ll be exploring the grounds on foot during my next visit.

Holding to a long established tradition between Dayan and me, we enjoyed Chinese food for lunch at a nearby Panda Express. I was able to select brown rice topped with mixed veggies, while Dayan had his usual orange chicken. Elissa and Greg both tried the kung pao chicken. We read our fortunes to each other. Mine said Important events are in your future. True!

After a trip to Walmart to get a few things Dayan needed, we wandered through downtown Columbia, on the way back to campus. I’ve been to Columbia several times, but this was my first time to the charming downtown. The city, which is about twice the size of Joplin, had a lively energy and the definite feel of a college town. Small shops and cafés lined the streets and this time of year, bistro tables and chairs provided outdoor dining.

Dayan’s favorite Starbucks.

I enjoyed getting to know Mizzou’s campus. I’m impressed with the extensive grounds and the halls. I look forward to attending future events and activities here.

It did my heart good today, to see my grandson. I have missed him. And it brought me great joy to see that he is thriving. He is happy and having fun. His classes are interesting and challenging. Dayan has learned his way around campus and around the city and he is making new friends.

College life agrees with Dayan and it shows. He was confident and relaxed and excited to show us around and share about his classes and activities. I could drive away after our visit, knowing he’s not so very far away and that he is doing well and thoroughly enjoying this new adventure. And that brought peace to the hearts and smiles to the faces of his Papa, Yaya and Mom. The boy has become a man.

Love, Laughter, Wine & Good Food

From the title, you might surmise that I have had a really good Monday! However, the reality is that I felt drawn back to the travel journal I am creating, after the recent trip to Italy. As I wrote about previously, I didn’t have time to journal the way I thought I would, during the trip. Instead, I decided to journal about the experience after the fact. 

I am appreciating how the acts of sketching and writing are allowing memories to surface. Like bubbles, they rise up and pop, surprising me and making me smile. 


On day two of our tour, we left Rome, and entered Tuscany. We stopped at the little medieval village of Lucca for lunch, and later enjoyed a wonderful tour and five course meal at a vineyard. As I flipped through photos on my phone today, I felt inspired to capture Dayan’s first Italian pizza in a sketch. I also drew the bell tower of Lucca, with the trees growing at the top, creating the illusion of hair. 

Although I would not learn about the significance of Italy’s bell towers until later in the trip, Lucca’s towers were the first to catch our attention and our interest. 

Love, Laughter, Wine & Good Food
We capped off our day at Fattoria Il Poggio, a Tuscan farm featuring vineyards and olive groves. What a magical evening. Our group dined al fresco, at long beautifully set tables under twinkling white lights. The wine and the food flowed freely. I learned that night that I would be fine, eating plant based in Italy. The food was marvelous. 

Love, Laughter, Wine & Good Food
As I wrote in my journal, I realized the true magic that wove itself through the evening involved relationships. That night, over a long and delightful dinner, strangers became family. Perhaps because of the wine, or the music, or the incredible beauty that surrounded us, 43 people bypassed the acquaintance and friendship stages and connected on deeper levels. 

We laughed, we sang, we danced, we dined on amazing local foods and drank wines created right there at the vineyard. We fell in love with Italy and ourselves and each other. 

The memories from that night warmed my heart and made me smile as I wrote in my journal. 

And then they jostled another memory, that sent me searching for a piece of paper. 

Love, Laughter, Wine & Good Food
My family! My Globus family! Judy and Chelsea and Hilda, Norm and Rohini… We all wrote our names and email addresses on a piece of paper labeled “Traveling Companions”. Let’s all stay in touch, we said. I’ll email you, I promised. 

I have not contacted my traveling companions, my new family, since I have been home. I found my paper with their names and email addresses. Perhaps this is why I was drawn to journal today. Perhaps this memory needed to surface. Regardless, I am grateful for the reminder that this day of the trip was full of so many good things, including gaining 41 new family members. 

I will begin emailing them tonight. It is time to catch up with my family! 

Love, Laughter, Wine & Good Food

Christmas 2016

What a beautiful day! This Christmas was different from last year, in that none of my grandchildren were present. All of the children spent the day with their other parents. Today, I missed the kids…and I had a joyful afternoon with my adult children, their spouses, Greg, my mom and my sister. 




My younger daughter Adriel and son-in-law Nate hosted the family in their beautiful home. We had a true smorgasbord for our shared meal, rather than a traditional Christmas dinner. Each of us brought a dish or two. There was taco soup, hash brown casserole, cheesy peas and other tasty offerings. I brought what has become regular fare for me, so my family could sample a variety of plant based sides. Included were seasoned potato wedges and brown rice pasta, served with marinara sauce, homemade hummus, lentil curry with brown rice, and roasted apples and pears, along with pomegranate bark. I loved the lentil curry that I made for the first time, using my slow cooker. 

My Christmas meal today…lentil curry with brown rice. 




After our meal we gathered in the living room, where the kids spent a couple of hours rummaging through boxes of their childhood artwork and flipping through old photo albums. Much laughter filled the room as drawings were revealed and the artist remembered the story behind the art. My children are all talented and creative artists, and my mother’s eyes could see that potential, even in their earliest works! 

My funny son-in-law, Josh. 

Our gracious hosts for the day. 

Six of the most beautiful souls that I have the pleasure of knowing. I am grateful to be their mom and mom-in-law!

I sat back today, watching the adult kids in my family, listening to their easy banter and peals of laughter as they pulled drawings or photos from the boxes. I love hearing my children and grandchildren laugh. I love seeing them interact with each other. It was an incredible time of celebrating together. 

I received special, and unexpected, gifts today, that include coloring books, gift cards, cookbooks and a pressure cooker that I am eager to try out. Greg surprised me with an art print that speaks deeply to my heart and ignites my creativity. Painted by a local artist, who is also a friend of mine, the piece is called “Incandescence” and contains my symbol for 2017 and an old fashioned typewriter, which represents my writing. I am thrilled to own this limited edition print. Hanging in my studio, it will be a daily reminder of the path I am on, and of the invitation I have been given for next year. 

Gratitude fills my heart tonight and overflows. I have so much to be thankful for…health, happiness, wonderful family and friends, and another magical Christmas captured in photos and memory. 

Merry Christmas…and truly, God bless us, everyone. 

Maple Leaf Parade & Olivers Superbowl

Family fun continued today, after a beautiful wedding celebration last night for my daughter Adriel and new son-in-law Nate. Early this morning a group of us gathered on the square in historic Carthage, MO for the 50th annual Maple Leaf Parade. 


On this unseasonably warm morning, I waited for the parade to begin with Greg, my sister Debbie, niece Ashley and her husband Jon and sons Ethan and Kaleb, my daughter-in-law Megan and granddaughter Aubrey, and my daughter Elissa and her husband Josh. We made a merry group! 

Leading the parade was my son Nate, with the police honor guard. This year, Nate carried the American flag. Standing tall and at attention, Nate made eye contact and gave me a small smile as I snapped a pic. We cheered as the parade got under way. Grandsons Joey, Oliver and Dayan were all participants this year in the parade. We settled in to enjoy the morning and watch for the boys. 



There were elephants in the parade, from the Tarzan Zerbini Circus. They winter in Carthage. 


Josh picked up a box of Hurt’s Donuts to share. These colorful dessert type donuts, known for their outlandish toppings, are the creations of a Springfield based store that is growing rapidly and expanding its franchise. Hurt’s will be opening a Joplin shop soon. 


I said “no thank you” to a donut. But Kaleb said a big yes! He snagged the Cookie Monster donut because blue is his favorite color. 


The kids scored big at the parade, collecting candy, pens and pencils, bead necklaces and coupons and advertisements of all kinds. 



The Tiger Football floats rolled past. Joey was seated on the opposite side of the float but his teammates got his attention and he waved to us. I captured the moment by snapping a pic of his arm as he waved. 

Oliver sat facing us on his float. We waved and clapped, as he smiled and darted his eyes toward his mom. He played it cool, but those big eyes shone. 


Joey’s arm and the bill of his ball cap!


Oliver and his charming smile. 



We enjoyed more floats and bands, and then the Carl Junction Marching Bulldogs appeared at the end of the block. The band, one of the largest there, looked and sounded great! They played Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones and wowed the crowd. Apparently they wowed the judges as well. The band took first place in their division. 

The Maple Leaf hosts a marching band competition after the parade, drawing participants from a wide region. The Bulldogs took third place overall today, a great accomplishment and a fantastic end to their marching season and Dayan’s time in band. 

Dayan, on the far right. 

Tonight I completed a day of family fun by attending Oliver’s final football game of the season, his Superbowl, held in Joplin. As a third grader, this was Ollie’s first year to play Tiger football. 



Greg and I watched, proud Papa and Yaya, as this boy moved with confidence on the field, playing on the defensive team. He assisted in several awesome tackles. What a change in the team, during one season of play. I was impressed with their skill level, acquired in such a short time. 



Oliver and the 3rd grade Tiger team won their superbowl game, 14-12. It was a great, close game, well played, and the win was well deserved. We got to visit with Joey during the game. Papa gifted him with money for an after game snack. 

As the clock ran out and victory was assured, we moved down onto the field to congratulate Oliver, get a hug, and slip him cash for his snack. And we took a selfie, of course. 

What a fun day, another to add to the weekend’s cherished moments. I wouldn’t trade this journey, full of these incredible moments spent with family and friends, for anything. 

Surrender 74: Putting the Keep in Keepsakes

Today was another Monday spent in Arkansas. While Greg worked outside today, doing some needed repairs, I had the inside of the house to myself. The children have taken the items that they want, or tagged the bigger pieces for later delivery. Greg and I have also picked out the mementos that have significance for each of us. 

Today I started the task of the final pass through. Beginning in the spare bedroom, I once again sorted through boxes of items, creating three stacks: sell, keep, throw away. By far, the two largest piles were in the throw away and the sell categories. 

In the still house, in this stripped down room, I felt a mix of emotions. Is this what’s left at the end of life? Piles of stuff that no one wants or needs? I threw open windows and let sunshine and warm fresh air in, to dispel the gloom and chill, of the room and of my thoughts. 

 

I know, in my heart, that Bob and Leta Moore leave a much greater legacy than these boxes of knick knacks, piles of papers and stacks of photos. And those memories and stories and character qualities are passed on to their surviving son, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  

I sorted through the items, hauling out four more large bags of trash. From that room, I only toted home one small box. But, what interesting items I found. The tiny gold ring, a baby’s ring or a pinky ring, pictured above, obviously belonged to someone. The little wooden frame is handmade. Unfortunately, there’s nothing written on the back to tell the ring’s story. And now, no one to ask about it. Into the Keep Box it went. 

 

My grandson Dayan helped me properly identify this cow bell! I sent him a pic and an inquiry about the country of origin. I was thinking Peruvian. It’s Swiss. He’s such a smart young man. One of Peterson’s world traveling sales reps must have brought this piece home to Leta. Her home is an international bazaar of goodies. I kept this quirky bell too. 

 
This cute little chick, made from modeling dough allowed to hardened and then painted, brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. On the bottom is scratched “EM”…Elissa Moore. There’s no date but she was a just wee girl when she made this for her Mimi. And Mimi loved it and kept it. This big-eyed guy went into the Keep Box, to be given to the artist. Elissa was happy that I found him. 

 

I found this unusual item, made of brass, that I had never seen before. I picked up the duck head, wondering where the rest of him went!  On closer examination, I discovered it is a pencil sharpener. That made me laugh. I can use this conversation starter with my colored pencils, and think of Leta every time I use it. 

 

As I was finishing up in the spare room, I picked up one last item. I didn’t want it. The kids didn’t either. It had no value at all. The beach ball, still inflated, had been hidden away, in the closet, for at least 25 years. That’s no exaggeration. My children are all in their thirties. It has been many, many years since they have batted this colorful ball around. 

As I held the somewhat squishy ball, a thought struck me. Papa Bob, or perhaps even Mimi Leta, blew this ball up for the grandkids, long, long ago. I was holding their breath, literally in my hands. Breath…air exhaled from the lungs…synonymous with life. 

In that quiet, now sacred space, I slowly pulled the plug on the ball. Hesitating for just a moment, holding my breath, I squeezed on the beach ball, releasing the air within, releasing so much more. Fearing the air would be stale, I nonetheless directed that pent up breath into my face, inhaling deeply. The air was cold, sweet, with no hint of staleness. 

I stood there, eyes closed, breathing in the air that Bob or Leta used to inflate that ball for my kids. Their beautiful grandchildren. What fun and loving grandparents they were. What precious people who enjoyed life. I breathed in the essence of their lives, spent now as this ball was spent, an empty shell. 

The tears started. I surrendered to them. Releasing tears. Cleansing tears. Grateful tears. It was time to go home.