Guardian Angels

Each night, when Ian finishes his prayers, he says “Thank you for my guardian angels, Rusty, Lauren and Aunt Rita.”   Each of them occupied a place in my heart and when they were taken from this world, so was a piece of my heart, and a small void remained.  Over time I learned how to fill that void by honoring their lives, their personalities; “talking” to them when I need a special kind of guidance; and when I am lucky, visiting with them in my dreams.

I think of Rusty especially at this time of year, not only because his birthday is tomorrow, but because of the role that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 had in his life.

Rusty did not perish on that tragic day in 2001.  As Special Forces in the US Army, he was deployed and did several tours in Iraq in the years following.  We did not lose him in active combat either.  We lost him to something much more sinister.  We lost him to the darkness that follows so many of our military; a darkness that settles within their souls.  They see things we would never want to see; sometimes they are forced or commanded to do things we do not want to know.  Their sacrifices are glorified in country western songs; but seldom acknowledged beyond designated dates on a calendar.

I miss Rusty.  It’s not like he was here all of the time; but I always knew he was somewhere.  The world changed  when he left it.

I miss Lauren and Aunt Rita too – Lauren who could always call me out with a wink and a smile; Aunt Rita with her relaxed nature and comfortable use of the term “babe.”

Ian is so lucky to have these guardians watching over him.  They were warriors; each in their own right; yet they were compassionate.  They each had  a sense of humor and sense of adventure.  They would always tell him he could do anything he set out to, and would never let him be discouraged by circumstance, age, geography or odds.  I believe they will tell him these things in some way.

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heros among us

Lions Club Award Dinner

The Professor and I crack up most days when we catch each other, or even better, when we JOIN each other in singing some children’s program theme song.  In our home it is typically from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Doc McStuffins, or Higglytown Heroes. We know the melodies … and most of the words.  Our whole family erupts into a chorus that ends in giggles as we acknowledge, “This is what it has come to…”  We recall days of riding along Route 97 in the jeep, windows down, Keith Urban serenading us with “Who Wouldn’t Want to Be Me?”

OK – Enough … Let’s stay with the Higglytown Heroes for the  moment.  The premise of the show is pretty straight forward: Everyone is a hero.  Higglytown Heroes have ranged from firefighters to dentists to snow plow operators to bakers.  “The series encourages involvement in the community, and means to inspire children to consider the importance of individuals who contribute to the world and make it a better place.”  {Higglytown Heroes website}

This is the kind of hero I want Ian to aspire to; a regular, thinking beyond themselves, unassuming kind of person.  I am so lucky to meet these kind of heroes every day. Where we live, in Bethel, we have many heroes.  This past Sunday we attended the Bethel Lions Club dinner to celebrate Dad aka Pop Pop and to some Al, to others Funzi, who was receiving Lion of the Year.  Along with his award, John and Rose Bogaert were honored as Citizens of the Year.  Among their collective contributions – fundraising, sight and hearing programs, volunteering for food pantries.  The lists went on and on.  I remember Rose, (to me, always Mrs. Bogaert) as the leader of my girl scout troop.

What would we do, in our community, without volunteers like John, Rose and Al?  I hope we thank them again and again.

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Ian with Pop Pop Frangipane

     “a portrait of my child | once a week | every week | in 2014”

Ian with Pop Pop, having a snack.  This was one of those sweet moments, they didn’t know I was there.

Pop Pop came to hang out while the Professor and I put Ian’s new crib together.  He has grown so much that he was quickly outgrowing the crib that we have been using that was designed for small spaces.  His Godmother warned me that he would stop growing, like a gold fish, if we didn’t get him a bigger crib.  She is quite the comedian.