Memories….

Tomorrow she will be laid to rest. And although I live hundreds of miles away, I’m already missing my Aunt Trudy. Over the last couple of days since I learned of her passing, I’ve been flooded with all the memories of holiday dinners, hot summer days spent splashing in the pool with Rick and Scott (my cousins) and family gatherings where she worked hard to make everything so perfect that she barely sat down for more than a few minutes.

Everyone marvelled at how tirelessly she supported and worked at my uncle’s side in church running the Port Credit congregation for so many years. She never chased the spotlight, never tried to keep up with everyone else, and never stuck her neck out for praise. In fact, when people tried to give her credit, she would blush and heap it back on those around her. She was the most amazing mother as well. Rick, Scott and Uncle Heinz towered over her. They picked on her. They made fun of her. She put up with her share. But as tiny as she was, she kept them in line…and gave them a good swat on the ears if they deserved it. She was grace. She was dignity. Right to the end.

Of the many wonderful memories I will keep of her, none can come close to how I felt the moment I walked in her house for a holiday dinner. The smell of her cooking filled my nostrils instantly. No matter how busy she was, she dropped everything to give me the warmest hug. We would all sit around watching the football games while she ran here and there getting the dinner table ready. Her smiles were always the brightest when she saw how happy we all were when we finally sat down to eat and were blown away at how awesome her table looked. I’m feeling hungry again just thinking about the holiday ham she always made. It would melt in your mouth, literally.

I wrote a story entitled Look Out Below! which I dedicate with love and respect to her because it tells of how it was going to her house during the holidays. After dinner, she would shoo us young ‘uns out to play in the snow while she got dessert ready. Remember how I said she was small in stature? Well, she also had this little high-pitched voice, and when it was time for us to come in, she would yell out the door at us, and believe me, we could hear her clear as a bell even if there was train roaring by (they lived close to a Ford plant with railway tracks) It was a yearly tradition for my cousins and I to have a fairly vicious and drawn out snowball fight, so when we would come in bruised and covered with more snow than there was on the front lawn, she would let out this infectious shrill laugh that had all of us in stitches!

I did get to see her a few years back when she came to Raleigh with Uncle Heinz to visit Tante Martha, a family member who has since passed away, and I will never forget her last words to me as they left. She hugged me tightly and whispered in my ear, “Mike, never forget, we love you…”

So Aunt Trudy, this is my tribute to you. Thanks for all the wonderful memories. Thanks for the many, many times you let me sit in the kitchen watching you whip up your magic. Sure I’m sad you’re gone, but for all the pain you’ve had to endure the last few months, I am happy that the suffering is no more and that you’ll have a wonderful family in heaven to hang out with. If anyone deserves those angel wings, it would be you. I do have one last favor to ask of you: I know how you like to do all the work, but for goodness sake, take a break and let the angels cater to you for a bit…you deserve the rest. And to steal and put a spin on your words: Aunt Trudy, never forget, I love you…

Bring it on!

Congratulations! If you haven’t noticed, we’re still here. Pretty amazing considering that if the hype was true, we’d all have been blown to bits on 12/21. 2012 was one heck of a roller coaster ride with all the ups and downs, but I do have to say, it could have been much worse. I entered the year starting a temp job not knowing when it would end. The uncertainty ate me up inside every day for months, but it could have been worse. I only spent 6 months on unemployment which given the economy, is amazing. I feel blessed for that. When the temp job ended in June, a permanent job came right on behind it. Again, no words can describe the relief I felt being able to move on to a job that has gone great!

22013 is now here. Sure, the number 13 is at the end of it, but hey, that doesn’t have to mean that the year will be unlucky. I take it as a challenge, and I’ve already taken up my first challenge of the year. A good friend of mine challenged me, and all his friends, to come up with a theme song for 2013. After much thought, I chose Working On A Dream by the one and only Bruce Springsteen. I figured if I’m gonna work on anything in 2013, it might as well be a dream! 

What is my dream you may ask? Well, I’m planning to blog at least once a week and work on being a better writer. In 2012, I took a freelance writing course and have learned a lot hanging around my writing group, so now it’s time to take what I’ve learned for a spin and see where it takes me. Will I fulfill my dream by next week? Not on your life. Will I fulfill it by 11:59 on December 31, 2013? Maybe. Great thing is I’ve got a plan, and a whole year ahead of me to work that dream and make it happen. We are all masters and drivers of our own destiny, and I’m taking firm hold of the wheel of mine and heading towards making that dream a reality. Just writing this post has me one step closer to that.

So, 2013, if you’re reading this, I’ve got one message for you and I’ll put it in block capitals: BRING IT ON!! I’ve got my plan, got my dream, and I’m ready to take you on!

*Picture courtesy of WRAL.com