Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A New Stage of Life

To say that the last two weeks have been full of change, transition, stress, action, travel, and people is being very understated with the truth.

So, to go way back to November 26, incidentally my dad's 97th birthday, which he spent in the hospital with his third bladder blockage but recovered from ok...that was the day Amanda arrived.

And the next day Nevin arrived.

Yes, after waiting for years while my children's friends and cousins obligingly grew up, dated, married, and had babies, in which I kept busy with praying, making mental lists, hand-wringing, and the occasional nudge or caution, two of my children, Amy and Ben, are dating.

Or maybe courting. We don't try to fit any particular mold or model here, but suffice it to say that Ben is pursuing a young woman in a determined and Christian manner, and Amy is likewise being pursued by a young man, and things had come to the point where it was time for them to come to the Smuckers for a holiday.
Matt flew in from DC for the occasion, but Emily wasn't able to work it out to come home from SMBI, so she was the only one missing, which was very sad.

But, oh, what detailed preparations beforehand, what excitement, what lists, what baking, what scrubbing of bathrooms, what buying of name-brand breakfast cereal, what hauling of embarrassing excess belongings out of the back hallway, what stuffing of them into the unused playhouse outside!

Not wanting awkward early-morning collisions while going to and from our small upstairs bathroom via a narrow hallway, I had my generous friend and next-door neighbor, Anita, over for tea and she agreed to keep all the guys at her house for the duration so the girls could have the upstairs to themselves.

The guests were here for about a week.  Wednesday evening we had our big Thanksgiving dinner, and from Thursday to Saturday we were out at the coast in a cozy rented house a short walk from the beach.  The weather, in answer to Jenny's prayers, was warm and calm, and the days were full of hiking up mountains, walking on the beach, eating, games, and much discussion.

Amanda & Ben in an ice cream shop
I thought this should be Amy & Nevin's official Facebook photo
Well, maybe this would work better.

Which brings me to a very new angle of this very new phase.  My children are used to being written about.  Sometimes they read what I write and often they don't.  They are very blase about it all.  I have a pretty good feel for what's ok to say and what isn't, and if I write something that's not ok, they tell me, and I do a quick edit.  Or I pay a bribe.

I do not have this easy relationship with the significant others, so I find my head full of stories and my writing process going like this:

Oh, it was so interesting how this all came about. . . but I guess that's not for public consumption.

The first day or so. . . oh wait, better not go there.

It was so funny when. . . oops, better not go there either.

I was so impressed by . . . hmmm, probably shouldn't say that.

But then Jenny insisted that. . . oh, never mind.

But when I told Emily about it on the phone, she figured that . . . never mind that either.


I will say this: Amanda and Nevin are both astonishingly nice, Godly, kind, smart, helpful, hardworking, responsible, mature, and a list of other adjectives as well.

And I can't tell you how blessed that makes me feel.

Resting in the shelter after the hike up Cape Perpetua: Jenny, Matt, Nevin, Amy, Amanda, Ben, and Steven

Despite the newness of our interactions, the time was surprisingly fun and relaxed, thanks to the admirable adaptability of the visitors.  Amanda worked with me in the kitchen a lot, especially on Wednesday, making Thanksgiving dinner while Ben still had classes, and she slipped into the role like she had done it for years.

Matt left for the airport early on Saturday morning and we came home from the coast later in the day.  While Jenny and Steven and I put coolers and leftovers away, the two couples went off by themselves for the evening, away--no doubt to their vast relief--from watchful parents and teenage siblings who always seemed to be everywhere at once.

On the beach, Paul demonstrated to the young people that you can still be romantic this far into the story.

Hiking on the slick rocks at Alsea Falls

 We walked over the long bridge at Waldport, and I may or may not have quietly hummed "Go-o-o-in' to the cha-a-a-pel. . ." as I took these shots.  It was that pretty arched opening, that's all.


Paul, Steven, and Matt.  If you want to play Settlers of Catan with Smucker men, you have to place your arms and elbows and hands in a certain position.  It's a requirement.

Nevin, Amy, and Jenny played Take One.

Sunday morning I woke up at 5:30 and decided to get up to prepare my Sunday school lesson and Sunday dinner and all the other things best done alone and quiet.

My sister Rebecca called me.  My mom had just passed away, back in the nursing home in Minnesota, very swiftly and peacefully and quietly.

And just that quickly can life completely change.


  1. "Life is what happens when you are making other plans!!" So glad you could have the wonderful time with your family. Future possibilities. God bless you and remind you of your strong bonds an memories with your parents and siblings.

  2. So glad that you had a great time with the kids, and life does change as each of us grows, ages, and loves.
    The pictures are so obvious (to me) a family, it warms my heart and reminds me of my own family memories and changes.
    Thanks I needed that reminder and God used you. My favorite picture of the batch? Paul's message to (you) the world.

  3. It was interesting to read about the difficulties of a writer who writes about her life and actually has readers. I pretty much write anything on my blog...not much of anyone reads it, and certainly not my family! So I don't have to adapt my writing process too much...

    BTW, I came to your blog by way of your column in the Register Guard--the particular column that contained your very apt description of "literary" short stories. Not only do I completely concur with that description when it comes to contemporary stories, but I find it applies double to 21st-century television dramas...

  4. I know it's a bit late, but I'm so sorry to hear of your mom's passing. My grandma died of cancer in June this year. My mom had been looking after her for the last few months before; we don't live in the same state, so she and us kids basically moved down there for three months and my dad would come every few weeks to visit. It was hard at times, but everyone's okay now. The last twelve years had been hard for my grandma -- first my grandpa died in 2001, then my brother was stillborn in January 2007; in February 2009, her daughter (and my aunt) died of cancer, leaving three young children. The oldest was 15, I think, and the youngest, 5. And then my grandma herself got cancer, after already getting it in 2006 and being cleared. And during those twelve years sometime, two of her four children divorced. It was very hard for her. But she was so strong….

    Well, I guess you have no clue at all who is writing this comment. I'm just a 15 year old girl from Australia and I've been reading your blog for a while now, but this is the first time I comment. I enjoy your stories and have watched your videos on YouTube. I sent them to my friend too, and I think she really liked them. So thanks for them as well.. :)

    Blessings to you and your family.