Friday, October 19, 2012

What if this is goodbye?

March 27, 2012
I kissed my son goodbye this morning before leaving for work.  And the day before that.  And the day before that, too.  For more than a month now.  Yes, my 6'4" almost 21 year old adult son gets a kiss on the forehead from his momma every morning.  And he hears that I love him.  And I hear that he loves me back.  And that makes my heart smile.

I have some friends who would give anything to be in my shoes right now, even for a day.  They are moms who will never have the privilege of shedding happy tears at their sons wedding, who will not warn him when he gleefully tosses her grandchild a little too high in the air, who will not marvel how her son handles the joys and struggles of manhood.

For these moms who have lost a precious son, there are no more days to treasure.  Only the days they have already stored up in their hearts and will remember for the rest of their lives.  When someone close to you endures this kind of indescribable pain, it tends to knock you into reality.  What if? What if I am called upon to walk this road someday?  What if I become that mom? THAT mom.  The one who has suddenly, tragically and without warning received notice that her son or daughter has died.  It is unthinkable.  But the unthinkable happens sometimes.

I had two friends lose their precious adult sons within 3 days of each other a few weeks ago, which sent me reeling into mourning their losses.  It doesn't matter that one died as a result of a tragic accident and one died at his own hand.  Neither mom saw it coming.  Neither mom got to say goodbye. Neither mom was prepared.  But they both shared something profound.  An unwavering faith in a God Who KNOWS.  A God Who knows their pain, Who sees their sorrow, and Who meets them in their darkest moments and is able to bring something equally unfathomable: light to their darkness and hope to their hurting hearts.  Life is forever changed, and the days ahead will be so very hard.  But God knows, and He heals.  He is our Hope.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Memories for Sale

If you remember, I started this blog more than a year ago with the intention of writing about my mom and dad as I sift through the remnants of their lives together.   Well, not much sifting has been done.  At least not in the sense that I thought it would happen.  Oh, I had the best of intentions.  And so did my brother, Ron, who lived in their house.  We'd talk about getting together to look at photos and sort through their things that were still there and box them up or give them away or...Or?

When Ron died suddenly last month while napping after work, all that changed.  All those good intentions went right out the window and now became sudden necessities.  Now there was a mobile home that must be sold.  Sorting ensued, but not the kind of leisurely sorting I had envisioned.  This sorting was the kind done with a goal and focus on the prize.  And what was that prize? Three days of selling off my parents' lives in one dollar increments.  The Estate Sale.

Phone calls were made.  Photos sent by text messages to family members I want to make sure are included in the process.  Ron's worldly possessions were packed in two boxes for us all to look at together.  More boxes were packed and brought home to be unpacked and reviewed by the family at a later date.  God forbid one of them should say, "What ever happened to the ________ grandma/grandpa/mom/dad/Ron used to have?" and I have to reply that I sold it for five bucks at The Estate Sale.  And that still may happen, for my memories are not their memories.

The enormity of the task was daunting.  I systematically began in one corner of the modest mobile home where they lived and touched each and every item in that place.  Yes,  EACH and EVERY item.  I'm not kidding.  Treasures were found, to be sure.  Memories were resurrected, sometimes prompting a smile, sometimes tears.

And while it was painful and overwhelming at times, I wouldn't trade the task or give the tiniest thought to having someone else do it for me.  For in dealing with the possessions of my family, I was reminded of how very blessed I am and what an adventure life is.  The mugs my daddy bought on one of his train trips, my brother's swim fins he used for bodysurfing the California waves, the silly round tins containing my mom's sewing notions, a vase she picked up in the Old City of Jerusalem while on a pilgrimage to Israel.  Life, as they knew it, was GRAND!

Countless neighbors have stopped by to shop and give their condolences.  One couple even told me of plans to sell their mobile home and live in their motor home in the coming years until they find a small place to live out their final years.  They want to spare their kids the agony of what I must be going through.  Agony? Their comment took me aback as I realized I must face this task not with dread, but with joy in honor of the lives these few earthly possessions represent.

No, there is no agony here.  For their children's sake, I hope that sweet couple change their minds.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dear Mom and Dad ~ a Christmas Letter

 My mom was very big on sending out a Christmas letter to family and friends.  They were always short and to the point, sometimes even just a little poem.  Apparently, short and to the point is not exactly my gift:

Dear Mom and Dad,

A year ago today, mom, you walked from this earth into eternity, and I’m sure daddy was there to meet you. I know that in heaven a thousand years is like a day ~ so I suppose this year has been just a blink for you.  For us, 365 days have turned into a year just like they always do, so I thought you might appreciate hearing how we’ve passed the time.

We waited till after the holidays for your memorial service, mom, so more people could make the trip.  Well, let me tell you – that celebration of your life also turned out to be quite a reunion!  Many dear friends from your Victory Chapel days were there and we had a party that would have made you very happy!   Stories about you two were shared by several people; it was beautiful to be reminded how much you were and always will be loved.  A few of the loved ones there that day have joined your party in heaven since then.   I’m sure you were both there to welcome them!

Mom, your little brother Howard turned 80 in March, and there was a surprise party planned!  You’ll be happy to know that we three kids and cousin Becky decided that after saying goodbye to both of you and aunt Norma within 11 weeks’ time, we’d had enough funerals for awhile and it was time for a party!  And so, we went on a road trip.  Daddy, you would have been so proud!  I drove almost the whole way, and we made it straight through to Portland in less than 17 hours, including snow through the Shasta area.  And yes, we did stop to eat!  Uncle Howard was really surprised and it was such a fun party and a great chance to reconnect with so many cousins we hadn’t seen in years.   We laughed an awful lot on that trip, and even took a driving tour of all the houses our family lived in in Portland, and even found a few that you had built, dad.  It was a very, very good thing to do. 

Nikki graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University in May.  You would have been so proud of your granddaughter that day! We had a great group of family and friends there (even Kristin came out from Charlotte) and we made lots and lots of noise, just like you would have.  It was the first big event without you, and you were missed!  Ron gave Nikki your beautiful silver candelabra and we made sure to decorate the table with them at her party, so your practice of always using the nice things instead of storing them away kept your memory alive for us.

Daddy, I celebrated your birthday on May 18th in one of your favorite places – Yosemite!!  As I rode my bike around Yosemite Valley that day, my mind wandered to how very important it was to you to share that beautiful place with your family.  I was awestruck, still, at the majesty of Yosemite.  It made me wonder about how you discovered it long before I was born, and what made you return there again and again.  It’s a story I guess I will never know. 

Meanwhile, Chris started working at Albertson’s as a courtesy clerk and really likes the job and his coworkers   They seem to like him very much, as well, which I know wouldn’t surprise you in the least.  He managed to save almost everything he earned over the summer to help reach his dream of going to Europe in the fall.

Speaking of Europe, the four of us spent a whirlwind 10 days in Italy in early June.  What an amazing experience!  I so wish I could sit with you and share our photos of Rome, Florence, Venice and everything in-between.  You gave me the “travel bug,” and guess what?  It’s contagious.  The kids have it now.

This fall brought a true empty nest for us, at least for a few months.  Nikki went back to San Diego, got a job in a physical therapy clinic and is taking classes to prepare for graduate school where she will study to be a physical therapist.  She is sharing an apartment with two friends, and is doing it all on her own.  Her future is bright, indeed!  Chris left on September 9th for London where he learned to truly be an independent adult while living in an apartment in Kensington and attending classes at the University of London Union.  He earned 12 units for college while there, and was happy to earn the best grades of his life!  He came home in time for Christmas and will return to APU in January.  He’s on his way to a great future, grandma & grandpa!

In November, Jim and I spent a week in Florida not watching the last launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery.  We were invited by an astronaut.  No kidding!  As of this writing, the Discovery is still not in space.  I know, I know - better safe than sorry.  But letting go of a dream is very tough sometimes, and I'm still holding out hope that when it finally launches in 2011 I will hop on a last minute flight to be there!

Not that you were worried, but I just want you to know that all in all, we have had a pretty good year.  Jim finished building a couple of beautiful custom homes and is waiting to begin remodeling a house in San Marino.  We are looking forward to having the family over for the Christmas Eve ravioli feast, and anticipate all good things in the New Year.

Most of all, I want to thank you.  Thank you for being such a wonderful mom & dad, and for the endless memories of our times together.  Thank you for the legacy you bestowed on our family.  Thank you for consistently living your lives according to the scripture,  “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)  

Until our joyful reunion some day, those of us left here on earth will continue to occupy our space as best we can.  We’ll be just fine.

Your loving daughter,
Tami                                             12/21/2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Walking Mom Home

It seems there is no end to the words I am constantly putting together in my head.  I "write" all day long - life is a running narration for me; that's just how my brain works, I guess.  Unfortunately I seldom actually put it down on paper or electronic media.   During the long weekend that we were in waiting for my mom's imminent death, I read a book, mindlessly flipped through magazines and glanced at photo albums.  Finally, I pulled out the laptop and started typing.  My mom took her last breath 7 minutes after I hit the "save" button.   I think it's time to share it with you:

This is hard. This business of watching someone die. Really, really HARD. But as with all things that are hard, it has had its joys, as well. Right now I suppose I can’t think of any, but I am sure they are there. My dad went quickly, just over two months ago. We barely said good-bye. Now it’s mom’s turn, and the good-byes seem endless. It’s a paradox, really. You want it to be over, but you never want it to be over, for that means your beloved mom is gone. But I promised myself I would walk my mom Home, and, along with my brother and sister and my husband, that is what I’m doing.

Sitting for days watching the natural progression of death, or THE PROCESS as we have come to know and hate the phrase, causes a person to evaluate life at its most basic level. What will my children be saying to me and about me when faced with this same scenario?

Actually, that was the easy part. And possibly the joyous part, as well. Aside from some silly quirks that we loved to tease her about, my mom was darn near perfect. I’m not kidding. This woman, born on a farm in the midst of a great flu epidemic, was tough as nails. A self-described tomboy, she grew up in a family of 5 girls and 3 boys. Her dad nicknamed her “Johnny.” Always joyful, smiling, and full of life, she had great stories, and what a storyteller she was!

And yet, she was an enigma. By the time I came along she was 40 and had lived nearly half her life. She was polished, educated, and well versed in her parenting and pastoring skills. She always said I was a compliant child, so I guess that didn’t hurt, but she had this way about her that just made me want to please her. Spanking wasn’t necessary – it was THE LOOK that made me want to do the right thing, and never disappoint this amazing Woman of God. I wouldn’t be truthful if I said I actually accomplished that….. But that’s another story.

Yes, I was the youngest daughter of a lady preacher. It made for an interesting life, to say the least. She was a tell-it-like it is, no-nonsense person who continually believed in her children and their greatness. Some of the most important lessons and biblical truths I learned were from watching my mom.

There was the time a man came to the door, asking for a handout. We lived in the house next to the church, and everyone knew it. I stood back as I watched her tell the man to sit on the front step while she went to the kitchen and made a sandwich. Bringing it to him with a drink, she shared Jesus’ love in a tangible way and he was grateful. When I asked her why she didn’t give the man a couple of bucks and send him on his way, she told me the Bible says that we could be entertaining angels, unaware, and proceeded to tell me a story from her childhood during the great depression. One of her most vivid memories of God’s provision was when her family sat down to eat at a table with no food. After saying grace, there was a knock. The man at the door said he was from a new bakery in town and they were delivering bread samples to the local families. That night, the large family gave thanks for a generous businessman. Upon asking around the next day, though, they could find no one who knew of this bakery. It didn’t exist. So, the family story has always been that an angel brought the loaves of bread that night. For the rest of her life, she never wavered in her belief that God would always provide what they needed. And He always did.

Being the daughter of a lady preacher in the 60’s and 70’s gave me a sense that I was part of the Women’s Movement long before it became the mainstream. I could do anything. There was no boundary that would hold me back from what I wanted to do because my mom had blasted through the ultimate glass ceiling. She was a woman doing the work of a Man of God. And she did it well. Her sermons were compelling, her counseling wise and her prophesies accurate. At home she was just “mom” to us and “Mrs. J” to my brother’s buddies, but to the rest of the world she was a force to be reckoned with.

The authority with which mom prayed and preached was not lost on me, even as a young girl. Without saying a word, she taught me about spiritual warfare and the dire consequences of taking it lightly. It seemed that the enemy was constantly on the attack, and she handled each one with a firm grace that defied what must have been going on inside of her. I knew, without her ever telling me, that if her bedroom door was closed, she was in prayer. And not the sit on the edge of your bed God Bless Yous, either. She was in the fervent, groaning in the spirit kind of prayer that turns God’s ear a little bit closer.

Her favorite saying was, “But God!” When things looked hopeless and bleak, she would say, “But God!” When she would write in her journal about the destruction in the church brought by people with jealous spirits, she would write, “But God!” When she was discouraged about family members she had prayed for without an answer, she would say, “But God!” Her faith and confidence never wavered. Ever.

So I guess walking my mom Home really started when we began our walk through life together. I have gleaned 50 years of experience and knowledge from her. Some I have used already, most I suppose I have yet to draw from. But now, in these final moments of her life they come crashing through my brain like a flash flood. It is almost overwhelming, the legacy she leaves me. I only hope I can do the same for my own children.
(December 21, 2009)

Thursday, June 3, 2010


As I happily flipped over to the next page of my scripture-a-day-little-spiral-flippy-thing the other morning, the words caught me off guard:  "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." (Psalm 116:15)

I've always heard it - at funerals, mostly.  Death is precious. Go figure.  Babies are precious...but death? Not so much.

It's so hard for us mortals to even comprehend -- how could God count as precious that which causes the rest of us such pain?  And yet, it reminds me of the time I asked my mom if it bothered her that so many of her friends were dying at this stage in her life.  Her face literally lit up and she exclaimed, "Oh, no!  That's our HOPE!"  My perspective on death was instantly changed that day.  As the days of mom's life grew dimmer and she had her sights fixed on heaven, it became clear to me that the death of a saint is not only precious in the sight of the Lord, it is precious to the saint as well.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lookin' Up

It's funny how memories come flooding in when you least expect it. Sometimes they are sweet, evoking a tender smile or even laughter in response. Sometimes they are bittersweet, with a grimace or twinge of regret coming along for the ride. And sometimes, those memories are just so vibrant and real that you'd swear your loved one was about to step into the room and join in the fun. That happened to me today.  Most unexpectedly.  I was completely taken by surprise.

No forethought of avoiding sweet Easter memories of mom and dad's church days went into the decision to visit my niece and nephew's church in Glendora and enjoy Easter worship with the whole family.   It never occurred to me that Easter would be anything other than the big, busy worshipthenhavefamilydinnertogether day it has always been.   No matter that usually my birthday is celebrated along with that day, or that mom and dad have shared every Easter with us since the beginning of time.  Nosirree, there were no misgivings about the day at all.

In the six months since daddy went to heaven so quickly and unexpectedly, I have barely had time to reminisce about his contributions on this earth. But one thing I will always, always remember fondly is the way he led the congregation in singing. Normally a bit of a wallflower, when my dad was behind the pulpit leading worship - he was a force to be reckoned with! There was no one like him... I find it almost impossible to describe. He would begin a song with the normal old-school arm waving to the time of the music, then progress to engaging everyone in the room with his enthusiasm and genuine love for the hymns and choruses, old or new.

I saw a glimpse of my daddy today.  At 10 o'clock sharp, the band started in with a solemn, "Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior, waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord." Now mind you, this was a very contemporary worship band playing a very updated version of the old (written in the late 1800's) hymn, yet I could see my dad on that platform, gearing up for the song's climax, "Up from the grave He arose; With a mighty triumph o'er His foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!"

I don't know if the tears flowed because of the overwhelming sweet memories and missing my daddy at that moment, or if I was just so grateful to Jesus for rising from that grave and rescuing us from our lost lives, or maybe a combination of both -- but there was now no point to having spent 15 minutes on makeup that morning.   No going back now; and besides, as the very next song began, "Christ the Lord is risen today....." (late 1700's, Charles Wesley, by the way) another flood of memories swept over me.  Those two songs set the tone for me, and gave me a chance to remember some very sweet moments about my dad.  Though not a musician, his love for music was contagious.   From my earliest memories I suppose his love of the hymns instilled in me a sense of excitement for worship; of anticipation that this is the place where God dwells ~ this is what He longs to hear from us.  This is God's party.  And He wants us to revel in it until we join Him in the ultimate celebration in Glory. Party on, dad!

"Praise the Lord, O my soul.  I will praise the Lord all my life, I will sing praise to my God as long as I live."  Psalm 146:2 NIV

PS: don'tcha LOVE the photo? It was taken at mom & dad's retirement service in 1988.   It just occurred to me that all the people visible in this picture are together in heaven right now - most recently (and prematurely, by our earthly standards) John on the accordian.  Sure do miss you all...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Gift

This is a little something I wrote on September 1, 2009.  I thought it would be appropriate to post it here to give some insight to the past few months... tami

The drive to my parents’ house never seemed so long. Three a.m. phone call – dad’s going to the hospital – stop by to pick up his I.D. and insurance card on your way. Someone has to stay with mom, and truth be told, her care is more involved than I feel able to provide. So, I elect to be the one to meet dad in the E.R. All I know is he was having intense abdominal pain in the night. The doubled over, Jesus Help Me kind of pain that you just can’t ignore. Driving along, I pass a convoy of fire trucks from various California cities and counties on the freeway. Must be relocating to another fire, I think. They are heading away from the Big One, the Station Fire, which has doubled in size every day since it started. Or maybe they are going around the mountain to the backside to catch up with the advancing flames in the high desert. As the crow flies, and as the flames burn, the town of Acton is just the other side of that ridge. But driving there, as we humans must do, is another matter.

Arriving at my parent’s house to pick up the documents, I find every light on. It looks like a place the paramedics have just invaded. My brother is giving mom a breathing treatment for her acute emphysema, sitting by her bedside with his head in his hands. I can’t help but wonder about all the lights. It seems like such a harsh environment – so different from the calm I encountered while visiting the afternoon before. I decide it’s just because of the commotion tonight, and I’m on my way with the promise to call as soon as I know anything.

A paramedic ambulance approaches in the opposing lanes of traffic; I think they must be returning to the station after dropping off my dad. No one’s around, I guess it won’t hurt to go 55 on a city street just this once. As I drive, I’m strangely calm ‐ yet the tears well up. Dad’s 90, I tell myself, it’s just a matter of time. . I know all this in my head, but losing my precious daddy and mommy will be a tough pill to swallow one day. Please God, just not today. My son starts his freshman year of college this week and it would be nice to get him settled and grounded before he has to deal with such a loss. And my daughter has just started her senior year of a very demanding college major. I’d really appreciate giving her some more time, as well. We never have time to mourn a loved one’s loss, do we? It’s just something that we DO. I know my thoughts are selfish, yet practical at the same time. But when has God ever been practical? No, He is all‐knowing and just, but practical? I think not. I give up my trivial pursuit and give in to God’s omniscience. A prayer, “he’s your child, Lord, take him home in your time,” wells within me and I know that’s exactly what will happen. Whether it fits my schedule or not.

At the hospital, I find dad sitting up, apparently pain‐free. It must be confusing to be 90, your body constantly in competition with your mind. He wonders why I’m here, wonders why he’s here, then wants to know if I brought his hearing aids. I didn’t. Still, he seems to be able to hear the doctor and me if we speak loudly. We’d know for sure if his answers made any sense. First thing I notice is it’s time for me to give dad another pedicure. Which, I might add, we both enjoy immensely. Something about the silliness of laughing our way through foot soaking and nail trimming is comforting. I'm wondering, though, how could his toenails have grown so long in a few short weeks? And how does he manage to wear shoes with those things?

A girl seemingly too young to be working the E.R. night shift asks for dad’s I.D. and insurance card. My big brother sure knows the drill, I think, and hand her the documents he’s prepared for me to bring. She asks whether he was admitted two weeks ago when he was here. My foggy non‐caffeinated brain finally connects with the information she needs. No, he was just here for a foot x‐ray. I notice the bruising across his toes is subsiding. Another mysterious pain and evident injury of an unknown source. He thinks my frail little 90‐year‐old mom kicked him in the night to cause the foot bruising and suspected fracture. If that’s even a possibility, I should only hope she had that kind of strength in the daytime. Oh, and there’s the black eye. “All I did was scratch a little scab,” dad says.

Dad keeps asking the time; 4:45, 5:00, 5:11, 5:13, and finally is distracted by the radiologist taking him for a CT scan to locate the source of his pain. He still insists he’s fine, which I hope he is, and just wants to go home. I don’t blame him. At this point I’m thinking it’s a good thing I forgot the hearing aids; the beeping noises are enough to give me a headache ‐ they would only serve to confuse him even more. Back from the CT scan and lying down now with a warm blanket covering him, he seems resigned to staying here until they are done with him. His incessant “I want to go home,” has stopped and he is resting peacefully. He has also stopped apologizing for causing me the trouble of coming here.

Like most medical emergencies, we have good news and bad news. The good news is a pesky hernia caused the pain. As the doctor, a man of infinite grace and patience even as his long E.R. nightshift comes to an end, shows me how to gently press everything back into place he mentions the bad news. The CT scan has revealed an aortic aneurysm of epic proportions. Anything over 5.0 centimeters is considered a ticking time bomb. Dad’s is at 7.1 centimeters and is long, thoracic and abdominal.

When I think of my many friends who have lost a dad, mom, or even a spouse, I am reminded of how blessed I’ve been to still have both my dear parents at 90 years of age. They will celebrate their 71st wedding anniversary next week. I was their late‐in‐life baby surprise. Although they are frail of body and weak of mind, the spirit keeps holding on to life with a vise grip – perhaps for each other. Our days are indeed numbered by Almighty God. In the flesh alone, both mom and dad should have been gone by now ‐‐ but God has more for us to learn from them. More about ourselves, perhaps. Or maybe, more about Him.

As we wait, and wait, and wait for the discharge papers, I help dad to the restroom a few times. Even that doesn’t seem like a chore anymore. He laughs when his hospital gown touches the toilet water. At least he still knows what’s funny. And I realize God has used this morning to remind me that each day is a gift, and I will cherish those gifts with my heart and soul.
Tami Romani

Exactly one month after this little trek to the hospital, I was back there again – for the last time with my dad. The hospital staff lovingly and with great care helped us walk through the last few hours of my dad’s life after discovering a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Dr. Lee knelt and prayed with the family, nurses came to express their condolences, and it was a peaceful, quiet and painless home‐going for my sweet dad. His heart stopped beating on October 1, 2009 at 10:09 p.m.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

To Blog or Not to that a question?

Blogging. Seems like everyone's doing it, but I certainly never intended to.  BUT I do like to write.  So, with a whisper in my head first compelling me to write a little something about a trip to the hospital with my dad last September, I began.  My daddy passed away suddenly a month later.  Unfortunately, the next time I wrote was as my mother lay on her deathbed a few weeks after that.  Grim, huh?  But not without purpose.  As I shared those two very personal narratives with friends and family, I was overwhelmed by the positive response.  People forwarding my writing to their family and friends and saying, "you really made me think."  Huh?  I am stunned, but also humbled at how God directs my life sometimes.  (I will post those two items shortly, if only to keep it a permanent record of my writing journey.)   

God's whisper to write has now become something I can't ignore: As I sort through the writings of my mom, I am feeling more and more the compulsion to write - mostly about the little bits of treasure I am finding, but I'm sure I'll throw in some random thoughts about life in general now and then, as my thoughts tend to be a running narration anyway -- maybe finally those insights will see pen to paper ~ or at least fingers to keyboard!

My dear mom was a pastor in active ministry for more than 60 years by the time of her death just before last Christmas at age 90.  As we go through her things, I find myself grabbing every single piece of paper, notebook and folder containing anything she wrote.  Another whisper from God, another compulsion... write!  Write WHAT, God?  Mom wrote so much -- it will take months to organize and figure out what to do with it all, but the thing that overwhelms me the most right now is that I must write!  Some days I sense I am to co-author a book with her, perhaps.  A prospect so overwhelming I can't imagine where to begin.  For now, though, I will write -- and share with you some of the treasures I find along the way.  Mostly this blog will be dedicated to my mom, Gladys Johnson, and of course my daddy Lloyd, too.  I hope you'll forgive me if I occasionally delve into other random topics that tickle my fancy. (For WAAAAY random topics, I'll be posting at my other blog, Blondemonium.)  In the process, I aim to follow after love the way my mom taught me by her example, and maybe encourage someone in their journey along the way.  Here's to an interesting year!