My kids....My heart

My kids....My heart

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I miss you Charlene Thane Weaver

Today I woke up thinking about a blonde haired girl whose smile was electric. I don’t remember the color of her eyes and that makes me sad. I do remember the sound of her laughter and the way she clapped her hands together when she laughed and that makes me smile. And of course, I remember her remarkable cat eye glasses. They were like the ones my grandma used to wear.
I miss those glasses – and the sparkle in the eyes they sheltered.
Charlene Weaver spent a lot of time laughing, especially while she hung out in the office during her prep time or before or after school. You see, I was fortunate enough to be her school secretary. Nurturing new teachers is what I do. Their purpose is to grow children, mine is to support them while they do it. When I first met her, she was a bit nervous as she was starting her first days as a special education teacher at Conchos School. I remember those days so clearly, as I absolutely love the innocent faces of bright eyed but apprehensive new teachers on the first day they enter my building. They are full of anticipation and so eager to change the trajectory of the little lives entrusted to their care. And change lives they do.
Charlene came to Conchos through the Teach For America Program. I absolutely admire all the young people who have come into my life through this program. Like the others before her, she was incredibly smart, compassionate, and she possessed the desire to make a difference in our world. But I have to say, Charlene had this incredible uniqueness about her –as unique as those delightful glasses she wore so proudly. She was from Middle America – Iowa to be exact. Charlene had a wholesome, honest and down to earth personality. Her hero was Jimmy Carter. I can remember her telling me on more than one occasion that she aspired to be the first female President of the United States. America missed out, because she would have kicked some ass.
Charlene is always on my mind at this time of year– near my son’s birthday. In November, 2003, we were leaving his birthday party in Laveen when I received a call from someone who had just left the party before us. The message was to avoid 27th Ave & Baseline because of a horrible accident. I took a different route home that night but could still see all the emergency vehicles in the area. The next morning I received a heart wrenching call from a mutual friend telling me that Charlene had been in a serious accident. She was just minutes from home when the accident happened. I can feel my heart forming a knot and becoming heavier every time I think about it. The accident happened on November 1st and we lost Charlene on the 6th of November. It’s almost incomprehensible to me that eight years have passed since she departed this earth, leaving a gapping whole in so many of our hearts.
There is now a traffic light at the intersection where her accident occurred and every single time I am stopped there I think of her. Admittedly, it pisses me off that the light was put up too late.
Charlene Thane Weaver was 24 years old when she died. It is not possible for us to know the full impact she would have made on the world had she been given the opportunity. I am truly honored and grateful that I was blessed to share the extraordinary, ordinary days of her life for two of those 24 years.
Charlene Thane Weaver ~ There will never be a day that I stop missing you.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dixie Jeanette Ribordy

Time does not really heal all wounds.  Time allows a scar to gently grow and cover the gaping hole in one’s heart that is created by the loss of someone you love.    Today I woke up thinking about the young lives of my students who have just lost their mother and their grandmother and I thought about the loss of my own grandmother.   Today would have been my grandmother’s 93 birthday. This November will mark the fortieth year we have had endure without her love, wisdom and guidance and I still miss her every single day.  
It is astonishing to me that someone who walked this earth for a short fifty three years and said her final goodbye nearly forty years ago could still have such an incredible impact on the way we live our lives, the way we interact with each other and the pride we have in sharing her genes.  

Dixie Jeanette Ribordy, an absolutely amazing woman is responsible for generations of unconditional love.
I was seven when I heard the words, “Grandma has cancer.” I knew immediately in my heart, but probably not in my innocent child’s mind, what that meant. You see, in 1974, cancer meant certain death. It didn’t matter that the beautiful woman who was diagnosed would leave behind grief stricken children, a broken hearted husband and three young granddaughters, each desperately needing her wisdom, guidance, unquestionable devotion and not least of all her amazing ability to love. Cancer doesn’t care. I really don’t know how long it was between the time I first heard those words and that fateful day when I witnessed every one of her children walking through that front door as they came home from the hospital for the very last time. That memory is as clear in my mind as though it was yesterday.
I had an unusually close bond with my grandmother. Her children were more like siblings to me than they were aunts and uncles. They still are. Most of our years were spent living under the same roof – or at least that is the way it seems. Seriously, I think I was a teenager before I could whisper the word “grandma” without welling up. Today, as I sit in front of this computer, fingers furiously typing, my heart is beating a bit faster and the tears I am fighting to suppress are there - just under the surface. When I lost her, I felt like I just wouldn’t be able to go on without her. I have, but only because I have a permanent place where she dwells and that is very squarely in the middle of my heart.
This pains to me say and I am quite sure it will be equally as painful for her children to read, but over the course of the past few years that incredible, unshakeable and absolutely unbreakable bond of being an offspring of Dixie Jeanette Ribordy seems to have lost some of its strength. I know there is no less love than there was before, but the bond has cracks and if they are not tended to, I am afraid those cracks will lead to a permanent break. Acknowledging that is painful – painful in a way that feels like I have a broken limb that won’t ever heal completely. I don’t know how to fix it….and I am a “fixer.”

On this day, the day of her birth~ My wish is that when you are finished reading this blog, you will take a moment to give her the gift of acknowledging the love she would be sharing on this day and every day she lived her life. I ask that today and every day for the rest of your life, you continue to share her love.
Love is her legacy and it is up to every single one of us to continue her legacy.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Hope

I don’t really know what I believe. I often refer to myself as a “hoper.

Where many say with absolute certainty that they know where life came from and where it will ultimately lead us – I can only say I hope one day I’ll know.

My mom will tell you with absolute certainty that she’ll meet her own mother in heaven again some day – and, I hope.

Hope. No, its not a religion…. I don’t have one of those.
Instead, I have a deep yearning to connect to something bigger than myself.

I long for the faith of others that indeed there is something out there more magnificent, more forgiving, and far more loving than all of us.

Just weeks ago I found myself on a small boat in a big ocean. While totally immersed in the beauty of the pristine water all around me and the cold pouring rain sprinkling all over my cheeks, my breath was taken at the amazing sight of a whale dancing in the ocean. Of course I didn’t see the dance in all its magnificent glory, but that large tale flying through the air and crashing into the water showed me he was there. Moments later its breath made its way into the air. Overwhelming and pure joy rushed over me and soaked my soul as quickly and as efficiently as the Valdez rain. At that moment, my whole being was immersed in nature’s glory. In that moment, I felt more than just hope.

A few days later on that same small boat in the same large ocean, I watched the dolphins skimming the surface as they played and raced along just feet in front of our boat and I was dazzled by jelly fish waltzing below the surface of the water in all their illustrious colors – magnificent yellows, brilliant greens and extraordinary oranges. Nature – exhilarating, pure and yes, perfect.

There is not a church in the land with more proof of a creator than the absolute beauty of nature. I continue to ask myself, “Is there a supreme being who created this perfection?”

I hope.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Katherine & Jes

As clear as crystal, I remember a moment shortly after Jes was born when he was crying as I cradled him in my arms. Katherine crawled up into my lap and began crying for no apparent reason. Within moments, I felt the warmth of tears falling from my own eyes.

I don’t recall why Jes was crying, but my heart whispered to me that Katherine’s tears were brought on by the fact that I was no longer just her mommy ~ from that moment on she would have to share me with this crying little boy. My tears were a little more difficult to name, but in retrospect I believe they were tears of separation. I knew instinctively that the little boy in my arms would never be as close to me as he had been the previous nine months of his life, nor would his sister. Those nine months when you carry a child inside you are precious and nothing short of a miracle. For nine months your unborn child belongs to you and you alone. For that miraculous period of time you are the source of their nourishment, their security, their life. Your body is their home.

So, in a strange but very simple way, my tears that day were shed for those days that would never come again. Those days when my body served as their shelter ~ their home. My tears were shed for the changing relationship I had with this beautiful bright eyed baby boy and his sister who wasn’t quite three years old yet. She knew and I knew that my whole world belonged to her before her brother’s grand arrival on that early Halloween morning. My heart was crying for her and for me. As the tears streamed down my cheeks, they were as warm and tender as the everlasting love I have for the beautiful and innocent babies I brought into this world.

Nearly sixteen years have passed since that quiet tear filled moment we shared on our living room sofa. The years are strung together by moments when those same loving tears have come to the surface but were not allowed to fall. Moments when you have to let them go to allow them to grow. Moments when you want to protect them from every harsh event the world may send their way. Each milestone they achieved brought joy but also the stinging sense of separation. It’s just the way it has to be.

Now we are sitting at the doorstep of their adulthood and the truth is it is really hard letting go. The urge to protect and shield them from the world is innate. It is what mothers are meant to do.

I miss those tender moments when their world was no larger than our living room.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The beauty of friendship

It’s amazing what and who we take for granted in this life. I’m guilty of it myself. We shouldn’t for a minute take for granted that our friendships will endure without being properly nourished. Real, authentic friendships are born in the heart but grow only when tenderly cared for. I know for a fact that when tenderly cared for the love of faithful friends can sustain you for life.

I have taken many opportunities to openly express the love and gratitude I feel for the amazing family I was born into. I am beyond grateful for the love and devotion of those who share my genetic make up. I am not sure who I would be if not for them.

But how often have I said thank you to the women in my life who have nurtured me? I don’t know how often I have thanked these ladies who have given me courage, encouragement, strength, love, and unbiased, unconditional love. They are the same ladies that have, at times, been there to share those glorious moments of uncontrolled, hysterical laughter. Oh my goodness the laughter! You know, the kind of laughter that begins in the center of your stomach and then erupts uncontrollably ~ that kind of laughter is simply delightful.

I don’t know what bonds friendships more – the tears or the laughter, but I know being able to share them both openly and without hesitation is a true mark of friendship.

My family has no choice but to love me but my friends have made a conscious decision to nurture our friendship and that is such a beautifully powerful thing. Today, let me thank you for your friendship. Thank you for loving my crazy, un-rehearsed, raw, truthful, and yes, sometimes, fragile soul.

To know that I have an absolute safe place to expose my naked heart without fear is comforting. Upon returning from a long needed and decidedly heart-healing visit with our friend’s mother, my loving friend Marni wrote, “How wonderful to bare your soul and have your heart filled to capacity at the same time.” I am tremendously blessed to have that safe place that allows me to bare my soul and have my heart filled to capacity because of the unconditional love of some very amazing women that I am fortunate to call “friend.”

I treasure those authentic friendships that life has blessed me with. Today, from my heart to yours, I say, “Thank you.”

Monday, March 28, 2011


The eternal truth is there shall never be dark so long
That it is not followed by dawn.

I always thought you knew
When I gave you my heart
I also promised to spend the night with you.

I didn’t question how dark or how long it would be
I knew I could cradle your spirit
And it would always be safe with me.

I ask of you now to place your heart in my hands
Relinquish your thoughts and
I promise to heal you where I can.

I know your heart well and I feel the burn in your soul
Life’s cruel reality has left you shattered and torn
I promised you long ago that you would never be alone.

The darkness of night has swallowed a year
But the sweet smell of daybreak is gentle and near.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cletus Joseph Ribordy


Today would have been your 81st birthday. I think about you on days that aren't your birthday - but today you are especially close to my heart. It has been nearly ten years since the day we said our last goodbye to you, Grandpa. It seems impossible that that amount of time has come and gone. 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.

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 – the 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, on this day that marks the 81st anniversary of your birth, 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 and my grandma created.

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

**this is an updated, condensed version of a post that was originally created on the 8th anniversary of my grandpa's passing. If I could have one more conversation with my grandpa, I would start with the words, "Thank you."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy Eighteenth To My Beautiful Baby Girl

This is a condensed version of the blog entry I posted on Katherine'e sixteenth birthday. Her dad and I have been blessed with a daughter who has an amazing spirit and very kind soul. Over these last two years she has only grown into a more beautiful young woman.
* And I've added a few more photos :)

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 wsn'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.

There are no words that can describe the overwhelming joy I felt the day your dad & I confirmed we were pregnant. Your birth was not just a gift to your dad and me. Katherine you truly have been a blessing to our entire family.

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 baby girl. Happy Birthday.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

There is no such thing as "Used to be an Anorexic"

There is no such thing as “Used to be an Alcoholic” similarly there is no such thing as “Used to be an Anorexic.” On January 1, 1985, I went on a diet. Some five or six years and probably thirty or so pounds later, I found a way to finally quit that damn thing. So, I no longer diet, but my brain is still Anorexic. It was never about the weight, really. Addiction, self loathing and absolute control. These words are the heart and soul of an eating disorder. I have searched my own mind and soul for the truth to this disease for many years and frankly I am not certain I have discovered the truth or that I ever will. Recently, I took a mental journey back to those treacherous days; many days that I lost completely to a very cruel disease. It is a disease I still do not fully comprehend

Along that mental journey I revisited:
v Hours of mental planning to make a meal look eaten
v Flushing expensive nutritional drinks down the toilet
v Sneaking to the restroom to do push ups and jumping jacks
v Tuesday mornings spent in the nurse’s office drinking as much water as the bladder could possibly hold to fool the scale and my mom. Tuesdays were “weigh in day”
v Filling my empty stomach on lettuce alone
v Staring down the scale, anticipating a read of 85 pounds
v Severe leg cramps waking me through the night. My legs curled and bent looked much like that of a handicapped child
v Arms from elbow to wrist turning black from lack of nourishment
v Size 10 – children’s
v Facial hair
v Brutal and repulsive thoughts that I could not turn off - Ever
v Psychiatric treatment that had me convinced the psychiatrist needed psychiatric help
v College study on the affect and treatment of Anorexia. Could you imagine watching an 88 pound woman lecturing on the dangers of Anorexia? A 30 page report no less
v 3:00am work outs followed by crawling back into bed to wake the husband up at 4:00am as though the alarm just went off
v Arguments, tears, and lies ~ lots of lies
v Unsuccessful interventions

How in the hell did I ever get to that place? I was a well adjusted teenager, right? So then how does one fall into the hands of this hideous disease? I don’t have the answer to that question. But I have a few theories. Did you know there is a connection between sexual abuse and developing an eating disorder? The connection is guilt, shame, self-punishment, soothing, comfort, protection and rage. Those words flood my mind, suffocate my soul and make me seethe with anger all at the same time. Years ago the school nurse where I work mentioned the correlation to me and it pissed me off. Honestly, I am still pissed off. Just recently I read an article which recited 40- 60% of people with an eating disorder have been molested and/or sexually assaulted in some way. Another article recited up to 80%. I am not sure if this information is accurate but it still makes me want to throw up. It does make some sense to me that the eating disorder is used like a tool to change the body image and therefore provides a defense against future abuses. However, such an explanation, tends to over simplify the disease. I’m quite certain that there is no one cause for a young lady to throw herself into the evils of Anorexia. I do know that once thrown in, the reality of making it out is incredibly bleak. As I look back, there was no rope long enough for me to grab to pull myself out and believe me everyone I knew was throwing a rope my way. The dictionary does not include a word that accurately expresses the guilt I feel for the suffering and absolute anguish I put my family and friends through during that dark period of my life. I despised every single moment of it. But even the guilt was not powerful enough to allow me to overcome such an ugly disease.

I am here today – and I am not anorexia free. Just as an alcoholic should never proclaim he is no longer an alcoholic, the survivor of an eating disorder should never be so bold as to proclaim themselves disease free. I can proclaim, however, that I am no longer abusing my mind or my body. I will never, ever diet again. My willpower is too killer. I now work out to strengthen, love, and show appreciation for my body~ not to admonish it. Today, my mind and my heart have been healed in some pretty fractured places, but the journey is not over.