Be good to each other

Last night after celebrating their birthdays my mom was looking at photographs from my parent's trip to Italy in 1991. She asked my dad if he remembered the names of the people in one of the photos. Dad responded with names, paused, then said, "They were good to us." Mom agreed. 

I felt like they were passing on 86 & 85 years worth of how to live - "Be good to each other." 

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Mom and Dad's 62nd Anniversary

My mom, dad and I celebrated their 62nd anniversary yesterday. My pops is old school so I had to put my foot down (funny, right?) to convince him to let me take them to lunch. I guess when you raise 11 kids you get used to taking care of things.

After lunch we played cards with my brother Dan. I ended up owing the bank a.k.a. dad. Mom loves draw poker and when she would call "sevens" as wild cards I kept thinking it was because I am the seventh boy in my family and no matter what I am her baby. 

Later in the day mom showed me photographs from their trip to Italy in 1988. I remember that time well...It was my freshman year of high school and I threw a "small" party. Long story short - I got sick, passed out and had a lot to clean up the next day. 

Since Jennifer passed I have watched my parents with different eyes. I see how they take care of and understand each other, how they laugh together and how they love each other. I am amazed every time. 

 

Role models

Today is my parent's 62nd anniversary. I have mentioned before that I am the last of their 11 children. My parents joke that the reason their marriage has lasted so long is the agreement they made - Who ever leaves first has to take the kids.

It's wonderful to see the love they still have for each other. I'm thankful to have had such a great example of what it really means to say "I do."

 

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Yoga

From the beginning of our relationship Jennifer told me I should try yoga. "I promise you'll love it," she would tell me. It took a few years but I finally gave it a try. We were at a yoga retreat and Jen was right, it was incredible.

For the next few months our friend Kendra, a yoga instructor, would come to our apartment and we would have a private session. Some days Kendra would put us in restorative positions. Jen and I would hold hands while our body and mind slowed down. I still can feel Jen's hand in mine.

Yesterday my sister Mary Ann signed the two of us up for a yoga class. It was very emotional, Jen was with me the entire time. At the end of the practice I felt a calm that has been missing since Jen passed.

Another gift from Jennifer. 

 

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College graduate

In 2010, not long after her cancer metastasized, Jen walked across the stage and received her diploma. Jen worked so hard to finish school - Marriage, full-time job and oh yeah, cancer. I was so proud of her. 

When I start to get overwhelmed I think about this and I reach deeper inside to find the strength to keep going. 

Jen NEVER gave  up.

 

Jen Graduation.jpg

Mom and Dad

Yesterday I spent the afternoon visiting my parents in the house I grew up in. This house has also been the only home my mom has ever lived in, save for a few months after she was born. This month mom will be 86. 

As I pulled out of the driveway I kept wondering (like I always do when I say goodbye) if I told them everything I am feeling. Did I tell them I love them enough? Have I thanked them for putting up with and raising me...I know I was difficult.  

Maybe it's the point in life I am at and the thoughts that come after watching a loved one pass, I don't know for sure. I do know that I cherish every second I spend with my them.  

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Jen, 2 years ago today

Sunday I was photographing a concert when a young woman who recognized the tatto that runs along my collarbone introduced herself. She told me she knew about Jen and me and has been folllowing our story. She then shared a challenge she is facing and that our story inspires her to not give up. 

This is one of the biggest reasons why I keep posting to this page. I always admired how Jen turned difficult experiences into something positive that helped others. That's how I want to live my life. 

Another lesson from Jen. 

 

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