A Decade

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When you think about it, a decade seems like an eternity, ten years, 3,652 days.

But when a date shapes every aspect of your life, sometimes those decades slip by in what seems like an instant.  That’s what the last 10 years have been for me.

Between 4:30 and 5 AM on February 21, 2010, my mom passed away in her sleep.  That moment changed my life forever.

In some ways those 10 years have felt like an eternity, but the hole in my heart, that still causes me to cry without notice still burns fresh and seems like just yesterday.

I was and will always be a mama’s boy, my mama’s baby.  I cherished those roles.

In the decade since my mama passed away, the world has continued on, but without her as part of the day to day, it often doesn’t seem as bright, exciting or joyful.  I miss my mama as much today as I did on February 21, 2010.

As I have been anticipating this milestone, I have thought a lot about what’s happened in the past 10 years…..

  • I won my re-election as a City Commissioner in Lake Park, FL just a couple of weeks after she died.  A job that just a few months later led to me being named acting Mayor after our Town’s Mayor also passed away.
  • I got the best job I have ever had, one that I loved and eventually was promoted to East Coast Marketing Director for a national retail management company.
  • I enjoyed some of the best times of my life, with friends who are “chosen family” on Hawthorne Drive in Lake Park, FL.
  • Chelsea graduated from college.
  • Zach graduated from High School and College.
  • We had family vacations to FL and the Grand Canyon.
  • Daddy lived a number of years at Cannonwood where they took amazing care of him before he passed 5 years later.
  • I moved home to Clayton, she would have LOVED that!
  • I quit my high income, awesome benefits job and started a business with Chelsea, eventually buying her out so she could return to Real-Estate & then starting a brand “Of These Mountains,” which now is becoming its own retail store.
  • Chelsea fell in love with Brett, mama would have liked Brett, even though he is a Georgia Tech fan…. she wouldn’t have liked that part!
  • Hadley Rae came into our lives, twisted us all around her little finger and became the light of all of our eyes.
  • Chelsea and Brett got married, bringing us another bright light into our lives, Jaydynn.
  • Donna stopped teaching and went to work with Sam.  They continued to thrive in Real Estate and other ventures, eventually buying and developing their own RV Park.  Mama loved to camp and she would absolutely love Willow Valley.
  • We got closer to Puddin and Sherry.  Puddin becoming the brother that we always needed.
  • After graduation, Chelsea started her career in Real Estate and now thrives as one of the top salespeople in the county.
  • Zach, graduated college, worked in hospitality in Athens and eventually moved to Atlanta with a wonderful career.
  • Zach fell in love, finding a guy that makes him happy, enriches his life and fits in perfectly with the craziness of the Rumsey family.
  • Chelsea moved into the house I grew up in, has kept the love of that old house in tact and now is raising her family amidst old memories and making her own.
  • I have settled into life back in Clayton nicely.  I have renewed old friendships & made new ones, but most importantly I have a deeper sense of family than I did when I lived away.  We have fun together and our lives intertwine just enough, without being too much, to keep life interesting.
  • We still argue about politics, but just like mama, Donna doesn’t let us do it on holidays or at the dinner table.

As I think about it, there are lots of things that happened since mama left us.  Not everything has been great, but for the most part, I have no doubt that we as a family have lived the example she taught us.  We put family first and try our best to be good citizens and neighbors.

I say mama left us 10 years ago today, her physical body did, but not her spirit, she remains a constant in every aspect of my life.

Rarely does something happen that I don’t think about picking up the phone to talk to her.  I would give my arm to receive just one more hug from her, she was my light and with her passing that light dimmed, but it’s never out.

I know my mama is with me every day, and she has been in every moment I listed above and the thousands not mentioned.  I feel her presence, I just hope I have done her proud.

Ten years seems like a lifetime, until something happens that shakes your life to the core.

I miss my mama.

 

Christmas 2018

2018-12-25_19-46-57Another Christmas has come and gone, my heart is filled with love and my stomach with goodness.

Watching the joy of Christmas through the eyes of a 9-year-old and a 4-year-old is about as good as it gets.  Their glee-filled joy at every gift, while their kindness and appreciation for everything they receive is heartwarming and their genuine excitement to give the gifts they have picked out for others is even more of a blessing.

Christmas is my favorite time of year, we honor traditions that have been part of my life since day one and create new ones each year.  My favorite day of the Christmas season is Christmas Eve, now at my house, on that day I feel closer to my mother than any other day of the year.

I do my best to make it as special as she always did, I don’t come close to her expertise, but I do my best.

As a child we always opened our gifts on Christmas Eve and had Santa on Christmas morning, now, we have turned Christmas Eve into our “tacky sweater” competition, and like most things we do, we all compete hard to win!

Christmas Eve is also filled with lots of laughs, at some point everyone is the butt of a joke as we tell old and new stories on each other.  As the night ends, we depart, hopefully with memories of fun and love that will be called upon again and again in our minds and hearts.

Christmas morning, everyone heads to my niece and nephew’s house for Santa, breakfast and gifts.  An embarrassment of riches fills the floor of my childhood home, now made anew by my niece’s family.

The giggles and joy of sweet girls now fills the room where rambunctious boys once played.  More memories are made and heartfelt gifts with special meaning get interspersed with toys, clothes and housewares.

After breakfast, we all return to our respective homes, I usually take a nap while my sister-in-law is busy preparing one last Christmas feast.

In the early afternoon, we gather at my brother and sister-in-laws home for a traditional meal and more laughs.  Another new tradition we have incorporated over the last few years is board games after we eat and clear the table, once again we fight to win and play hard to come out of top.

As evening approaches and the sun sets on another Christmas we make our way to our respective homes, filled with love, laughs and stomachs bursting after the consumption of more food than humans should eat.

Now in my mid-50’s Christmas memories are even more precious than when I was young.  It no longer has anything to do with the brightly wrapped gifts, the real treasures I get on these days are the memories and gifts of time that I am able to enjoy with my family.

We aren’t perfect, we all know how to push the buttons of each other and sometimes do, but overall, I can say we do a pretty good job of celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, the one where love prevails and the joy of that first Christmas miracle is celebrated.  We’re definitely not Normal Rockwell, but we are about as good at being Rumsey as you can get!

I hold these memories close to my heart, I try to remember each word, each laugh and each expression of love, I hold these memories in my heart in hopes of many more with the people I love most.

Merry Christmas friends and to my family, thank you for another great celebration, filled with the magic of Christmas!

Friday’s Hero ~ 5.10.13; Aunt Beck, Sara Singleton and Donna Baribeau

For the past three years Mother’s Day has been a dread for me.  Since losing my mother it is just a painful day that I would prefer to skip.FRIDAY’S

This year, I have decided to try and make the best of it, while I don’t have my mother on this earth any longer, I still am able to carry wonderful memories with me that help ease the pain.

I have decided this year, I will honor three “mother figures” in my life, women who have helped to fill an unfillable void since my hero was promoted to Glory.

This Week’s Friday’s Heroes are my Aunt Beck, Sara Singleton and Donna Baribeau….. Fill-In  Mothers.

My Aunt Beck has always been a major force in my life, she was mama’s only sister.  Aunt Beck lives in Florida, so growing up as a kid, she was who we would visit on Spring Break and Summer vacation.

As I grew older, Aunt Beck was a confidant and became a friend.

Once I moved to Florida, and Uncle Larry passed away, Aunt Beck became my traveling buddy.  If I were going to be in God’s Country, Aunt Beck was going to be in the car beside me heading that way.

Aunt Beck was with us in God’s Country during that final week.

Aunt Beck has always been a force in my life, but since mama passed away she now fills a bigger role.  We talk on the phone more, we share more and I look to her more for those “mama” talks that I miss so much.

Sara Singleton was my mama’s best friend.  Mama and Mrs. Singleton met shortly after we moved to God’s Country and they remained friends until the day my mama died.

Mama and Mrs. Singleton had parallel lives, both teachers, both mother’s of boys, both Coaches wives.  Mama and Mrs. Singleton would travel to games together, they would console each other through victories and defeats and as they got older they just talked.

Mama and Mrs. Singleton had a ritual of afternoon coffee, every day Monday – Friday.  Their afternoon “chat” time started out at Mrs. Singleton’s house and moved to McDonald’s after they both retired.  Mama and Mrs. Singleton continued the tradition for most of their adult lives.

When I go to God’s Country for a visit, I reconnect with my mama through a visit with Mrs. Singleton.

We talk about what is going on in our lives and the subject inevitably will turn to my mama.   I feel a connection to my mama through Mrs. Singleton, and as she has been a constant through most of my life, I feel a motherly love for her that has seen every season of my life.

Donna Baribeau is my Florida mother.  Donna didn’t have kids and she has adopted all of our Florida Family as her own.

I met Donna years ago in a business meeting and got my first “Donna-look,” a half-smile, half you have got to be effing kidding me stare.  From that moment on, I fell in love with Donna.

For years now Donna has provided a motherly shoulder to me and the other members of my extended Florida Family, while she isn’t as strict as our own mother’s she still likes to rule with a velvet fist.

Donna’s love and compassion have found me when I needed it most.  When mama passed, I came home to a clean from top to bottom, organized, rooted and planted, new towel and sheets home…. even a new mattress pad.  That is just the kind of person Donna is, she doesn’t love just a little bit but with her whole heart.

When I had the opportunity to interview for my present job, it was the first interview I had after mama died.   For every interview of my life before this one, my mother would encourage me and tell me how proud of me she was, this time my mama wasn’t there to tell me.

Donna was.

Before my interview I saw Donna and she knew exactly what I needed to hear and she sent me on my way to get my dream job with a motherly love that I will always appreciate.  Donna and I were in the car together when I got the call offering me the job.

Donna is a friend, a confidant and a mother figure, someone I appreciate for just being Donna.

Mothers come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes they are here for specific moments of our lives.  No one will ever replace my mother, she was one of a kind and I am proud to say she was mine, but it is comforting to know that there are other women who step up and help fill a void that seems to grow wider as the days go by.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there and especially to three women who have helped me when I needed it most, Aunt Beck, Sara Singleton and Donna Baribeau, my heroes of the week!