“Thank you, Aunt Pauline “

Ba, bi-ba…di-da. Bum, bi-bum…di-dum.

I remember her singing the made-up melody, rubbing my back to help me sleep.


I think only God knows why Aunt Pauline is the way she is. Her body grew up, but the rest of her never did. The mind of a child…the heart of a little girl.

She went to school. Rode a bus to work. Lived on her own as much as she could. But her life, I think, has been free of so many of worries the rest of us have. Like a girl playing house. Giggling, humming, singing her made-up melodies.

Like any little girl, she got herself into some trouble, too.  Lying here and there, hiding food in her room, maybe even a few fights.  Also like any little girl, she had dreams. She watched us all get married, “Mmmmaybe one day, one day I’ll get married, too.”

She loved us well. Love with five dollars in a birthday card. Love by doing the dishes as cousins ran off to play. Love by watching us swim from behind the cabin screen door, then hanging our wet forgotten beach towels on the line. Playing Royal Rummy late into the night, carefully counting every penny she won.

To this day, I hear her chiming “Telephone!” a sing-song reminder whenever a phone goes beyond the third ring. And “don’t slam the door!”  one second after a screen door smack. I can’t imagine that those things bothered her. She just was saying what she thought a grown up should say.  A little girl playing house. Singing and humming through her chores. Singing me to sleep.

Her life has been a gift.  Her joy and laughter, giggles and dreams have been a gift to us. Towels on the line and bedtime stories and games of Go Fish have been gift to us.  So many in our family who have taken care of her, made sure she was safe, made sure she was provided for, have given her gifts as well. Dignity. Independence. A lifetime of memories and a song in her heart.

Soon she’ll be singing for Jesus.

Bum…bi-bum…di-dum. La-la-la hmmm hmmm.

So Much More Than Pictures

Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest. Today we can photograph a moment and it will disappear within a day. You can share a story or an album that may get some likes and shares but after a few hours it’s been buried deep in your timeline and forgotten. We take so many, many, pictures. These snippets in time are easily captured, but just as quickly discarded. When you only have a few photographs to hold, a few moments to look back on – they become so much more precious.
I have three, maybe four pictures of my dad. And even fewer memories. I was only two when he died so I don’t have much to remember him by. But I can tell you what I do have. I have a handful of photos taken of him with people that I love, doing the same things that I love, in a place that I love.
I can go and stand where he stood and walk where he walked. I can hear the same waves and dip my toe in the same water. I can watch the same sun come to rest at the end of the day. And lie back watching stars come to life under the same night sky.
So keep taking the photos, please. But leave more than that in your path. Wander, explore, and adventure around this wonderful world. Take the vacation. Hike the mountain. Share the joy of your favorite places. Leave a trail for those who follow behind you. And when you are gone, they will have so much more than pictures.
more than pictures

Text Me When You Get There

It’s a simple game, Peek A Boo. We’ve played this game with our babies, hundreds of times. We hid behind the blanket, and popped back out. They seemed confused for a second and then giggled when they saw us again.  We were having fun, but we were also teaching them that even though they can’t see us that we are still there. We were teaching them that they exist separately from us, and we exist separately from them, and that’s okay. That’s how it is meant to be.

As they grew, the game became more involved. Hide and Seek. Maybe we hid behind a curtain, or snuck into a closet. The search took a little bit more effort. The time apart was a few minutes instead of a few seconds. But we always found each other again.

When my kids first learned to ride their bikes, they wanted to adventure around the block. I would walk with them down to the corner and watch them ride away down the long side of our street. I kept my eye on them until they turned out of my sight. It would be a minute or so that they were on the far side. I would walk back to where we started and then could see them as they came around the next corner riding towards me again. The time apart got a little longer, and the distance a little further.

With time, came bike rides across town, and then their driver’s licenses. Text me when you get there…check in at nine…let me know before you leave. It was just a bigger, more complicated game of Peek A Boo. I exist without you. You exist without me. That’s how it’s meant to be. But I’m always still here if you need anything.  

As they move out, the distance grows farther. There are now miles between us and our children, hundreds, sometimes even thousands. The time apart can be days, weeks, or months. It can leave us parents wondering, waiting, and worrying. We have to lean on the lesson that we taught them long ago. I can’t see you, you can’t see me, but I’m here. And then soon enough, it’s time for a call, a text, or a weekend visit.  

Again, we are pulling back the blanket, jumping out from behind a door, and seeing them return down the street on their brand new two wheelers. Our hearts skip with joy.  I am here. You are here. Whether you can see me or not, I’m always close by.

Peek a boo, I see you.