My kids....My heart

My kids....My heart

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

I say Merry Christmas with a heavy heart this Christmas Eve. Seldom do we ever know when the *last Christmas* will come. There are so many levels to that thought. Tomorrow would have marked the third week from the day my dear neighbor, Cammie, was driven away from her house by her son who happens to be a nurse. A few days after her arrival at Good Samaritan Hospital came the diagnosis of cancer; fifteen days later she departed this earth for her real home. For the last 23 Christmases there has always been a walk next door to deliver homemade cookies or pictures or some simple gift. Last year we made that walk with no thought that it was our last.

Today is Christmas Eve. This is a day that has so much tradition in our house and in our hearts. Traditions of old would have the entire family at my mom’s tonight. Never in a big house, so you would be sitting up against someone. The house would be so noisy with countless conversations between sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts & uncles. We never knew that one of those Christmas Eve’s would be the last as kids grew up and married. Traditions slowly changed over the years. My kids have spent the last several years hanging out at Misty’s on Christmas Eve. Misty, Katherine & the girls spend most of the day baking. They can recite the routine: wake up & make cinnamon rolls, roll up a cheese ball for snacking throughout the day, mixing and baking cookies and pies, making peanut brittle and other assorted candy. All of this going on, no doubt, with Christmas music blaring from the Ipod.

Tonight we’ll gather at Sharon’s (a new tradition, but a beautiful night with my family). My mom & dad, Connie & her children and grandchildren, and my family will share precious time and a few presents! This year particularly, I will take a moment to truly immerse myself in the joy of being surrounded by this growing family.

Tomorrow – Christmas Day -
Early morning with my husband and children – a day that starts with gratitude and always ends with stories and laughter – ALWAYS. I think Katherine & Jes love each other more on this day than any other day of the year. There is not a second thought to how we’ll spend the rest of our Christmas Day, of course we’ll be with our entire family at the Carden residence. My kids have never known anything different on Christmas Day. Some day I guess they will, but I pray those days are far in the future.

This year I am profoundly aware of the fact that we are fortunate to have not lost a member of our family. Christmas Day always brings an overwhelming love from my family that feels like a warm blanket. It is a blanket I wish I could wrap myself in all year long. I want to hold these days tight and not let them go. I want a guarantee that they’ll never change but my heart is wise and tells me different.

Fifteen days. A family’s life forever changed. Last year, I’m sure, was full of tradition for Cammie & her family. Cammie will be in my heart and on my mind as I celebrate this holiday with the people I treasure most in my life. I will honor her memory by expressing an abundance of love and heartfelt gratitude to my family while being keenly aware that we never know when it is our last.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

When You Love Someone

I can’t imagine a life without love. I have been so incredibly blessed my entire life. At a very tender age, way too young to admit here, I found someone to share my life with. Love is not easy, love even sometimes twists your heart and blurs your thoughts. But love never destroys.

For days my mind has relentlessly tried to make sense of why a woman would stay in what appears to the rest of the world as a destructive and painful relationship. The answer came to me, not in words, but in pure emotion. As I lay with my husband, cuddled in a very tender moment, I realized how beautifully peaceful love is. Those moments of perfect connection to another human being are a small glimpse of the full Glory of God. Perfect love. I realized that those fleeting moments of intimacy are so perfect and so full of love that for the emotionally battered it must make up for the abuses and ugliness that emerge in the rest of the relationship. That realization brought me to tears.

Our hearts and minds crave the pure and unconditional connection to another human being so much so that we’ll accept all the pain that goes with it. Love does blur the mind. I can not sit in the chair of judgment. I have been blessed to have unconditional love reciprocated. My heart breaks for all of those among us who have never basked in the glory of someone else’s pure love. My sincerest prayer for those who have suffered abuse disguised as love is for the healing of the heart, strengthening of the mind and the ability to love fully and to be loved fully in return.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thank you Erica Dyer for sharing this incredibly beautiful and thought provoking poem.

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love for your dream for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon...I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain mine or your own without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy mine or your own if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful to be realistic to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence. I want to know if you can live with failure yours and mine and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon,“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Today is the 8th anniversary of the day we said our last goodbye to you, Grandpa. It’s seems impossible that that amount of time has come and gone. Eight years is 2,922 days! Our family has been blessed with the miracle of new life during that time. Your legacy continues through them.

Grandpa, I miss you. The day that you went to meet my grandma was painstakingly hard. Everyone in your room knew that we were preparing our last goodbyes – but there was no preparing our hearts for the sorrow that followed. I wanted so badly to be with you at that time – Something inside of me whispered that my grandma would be there to meet you – to see you through. I prayed, secretly, that I would get another moment to be in her presence. I am eternally grateful that I was there.

2,922 days….. Where did they go? What did we all do with our lives in that time? Our lives have changed in many ways since you left us. We have grown together and we have also grown apart. The growing apart, for me, has caused such deep sorrow. But, in those moments when I am able to watch the next generation of “Ribordys” interact with each other, love each other and develop that inner relationship – that sacred bond of sharing the same genes, my heart sings and I delight in those moments. Family – the incredible – unbreakable bond of truly belonging to each other. There is no greater gift on earth than the gift of family. Thank you for the lifetime gift of my family.

Grandpa, I think about you often. Today my thoughts are centered in gratitude. I thank you from the very core of my being for making it possible for me to be surrounded by the family you & my grandma created. I am quite sure that there is not a word that fully describes the depth of my love and appreciation for the family I was blessed to have been raised with.

Eight years....unbelievable.

I love and miss you Grandpa - please hug Grandma for me.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Simply Amazed

I am amazed and somewhat awestruck this morning. Yesterday was an incredibly emotional day. My Uncle Bill underwent open heart surgery. He not only had to have his aortic valve replaced but he also underwent by-pass surgery and had a portion of his aorta replaced. Every time I think or say or write “aorta replaced” I feel stunned. Can you imagine that that is even possible? Most of my family spent the day waiting, wondering and I’m quite sure, praying. I have been praying harder these last few days and really I’m grateful for it. Even prayer takes practice! My amazement does not stop, however, with the medical profession.
You would have to know my Uncle Bill to understand that even in the most stressful situation, and yesterday our stress level was at full peak, he will find a way to crack you up. I’m a full believer, even more today than yesterday, that making people laugh may be his purpose on this earth.
I want you, the reader, to try to imagine this scenario:
His family is sitting nervously in the surgical waiting room and about an hour in to his surgery, a surgical nurse comes in to give us an update. She tells us that Bill is doing well and he has a team of doctors working very hard but they did not get the procedure going right away because they encountered one difficulty. She definitely got our attention! Then she proceeds to say, “We had a difficult time getting this dress off of him!” Yes! It was MY RED DRESS! Can you imagine the laughter that broke out in that room? Bill – even in surgery – OPEN HEART SURGERY - found a way to make us laugh! I have always said he had the “anything to make you laugh gene.” It did not end there – of course Kathy & Candy (who may also have inherited the “gene”) video taped the nurse’s report & we watched it again & again. I’m thinking this video is hilarious UNTIL they break out with more of Bill’s classic work. On the day before his surgery, he had to go for a pre-op visit at the hospital. The perfect opportunity to create history….. He not only takes the Famously Funny Red Dress, but he and his accomplices find a way to persuade nurses, medical staff and even cafeteria workers to take part in wearing the dress and/or sending messages to me to be watched while he is having his heart repaired! Can you imagine it? Can you see us all sitting there – surgical waiting room – stressed that our uncle, brother, life partner, dad is having his heart repaired while we wait and he has us laughing our guts out to a video he made the day before? Only My Uncle Bill could or would do that – I love him for it.

This morning, I am totally amazed, and grateful and fully aware of how blessed I am to be in this circle. My family sat in a room yesterday that was full of love and engulfed in laughter. During an incredibly scary surgery we got through it by laughing hard, hugging a lot and being with each other. Bill made sure of it.

This story is definitely not over – I thank God and thank my Uncle Bill for that!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

2009 Ribordy Family Reunion

In our family, family reunions used to happen every Saturday, without planning. It wasn’t a once a year event that took phone calls and planning. We all showed up at Kathy’s or Joyce’s and just hung out all day long enjoying each other’s company. It’s the way we grew up and it’s the way I always thought it would be. In 2001, when we lost grandpa we started to lose those regular Saturday get togethers. They seemed to slip away slowly without anyone noticing or trying real hard to keep them going. We decided, as a family, that we needed to designate one weekend a year that belonged to nobody else but “us” not friends - just us. Tomorrow marks the first day of the Eighth Annual Ribordy Family Reunion. I can’t believe grandpa’s been gone that long and I can’t believe that what used to be a weekly event has now become a yearly event that’s difficult, at best, to pull off. I yearn for the time I spend with my family – they are who I am. They are the people who know me best – they are a reflection of me and I, a reflection of them.

We’ll all gather this weekend and we’ll soak up the love, the laughter, the friendships “Our Family." When the weekend comes to an end, we’ll believe, of course, that we’ll do it again next year. But we can’t say with certainty that this tradition will continue each year. We can’t know for sure that we’ll all be here next year. There was never a time when I gave thought to Saturdays not being spent surrounded by family. It was just us being “us.” But slowly those Saturdays slipped away. Our family has grown tremendously and there is always a good excuse to be somewhere else.

I pray that the time spent between the end of this “Family Reunion” and the next will be filled with a lot more Saturday get togethers; that we will treasure the moments when we are lucky enough to share each other’s company and we realize how blessed we are to have each other.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Katherine!

When I think about what it means to be your mother, I think about my own mom. The only words that can express the way I feel about you both are pure, unconditional love. I think about how my mom has always been the most influential person in my life. She has always been my strength. For many, many years I wanted so badly to be a mom. For so long, I wasn’t sure if that dream would ever come true. Since my own mother was the very best God had to offer, I prayed that I could be at least half the mother she was.

Just about 16 years and 9 months ago, I had the most incredibly real dream. I was holding this beautiful baby girl in my arms. I felt like everything in the world was simply perfect. When I woke up, I told your dad about the most amazing dream I’d ever had and how incredibly happy I was. That was on Mother’s Day, 1992. When I got out of bed that morning, nature sent me a crushing blow and all signs were that I could not possibly be pregnant. For some unknown reason, about a week later, I had a strong feeling that I needed to confirm whether or not I was pregnant. Three pregnancy tests and one doctor’s appointment later; I received the news that would forever change my life. There are no words that can describe the overwhelming joy I felt that day. Your birth was not just a gift to your dad and me. Katherine you truly have been a blessing to our entire family. Thank you, Lord.

Now, here you are on the threshold of 16! The thought of it takes my breath away. I remember so vividly how at that age I was trying to figure out who I thought I was meant to be. I know now how excruciating it must have been for Nana to realize that she must let me go, to let me grow. I know now how she felt when she realized that children really don’t belong to their parents, they are gifts sent from God, to be loved, nurtured and guided in to adulthood. It’s not easy letting go….

So, please forgive me when I hold on too tightly, it is only because I can’t imagine that you are no longer my little girl. Forgive me when I embarrass you by bragging about your accomplishments, it is only because I am so proud of you. Forgive me when I set such high expectations that they seem impossible for you to reach, it is only because I have so much faith in you.

Katherine, you amaze me. I am proud to be your mother. You are compassionate and loving. You are kindhearted, honest and loyal. You are so much smarter than you believe yourself to be. You love your family with your whole heart and that fills my heart with joy.

Katherine, you are my daughter and you represent the very best part of me. I know that your light will continue to shine and will always brighten the lives of those around you.

I love you. Happy Birthday.