Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Family Reunion - the joy of children

Maureen's thank you two years ago reminded me how important it is to stay connected to the Gaeke's and take time to enjoy the children in our lives.  She wrote, " We totally loved it and PJ can't stop

talking about it and asking when he can go back for another sleep over.  Since my kids never got the chance to meet Mom and Dad or visit Cottonwood it means even more that you take the time to get to know them."

A week in McCall proved to be a great time to get to know the kids and each other.  

Most of us haven't changed much in two years, but you know time marched on when you look at the 2010 vs 2012 pictures


One year it's water balloons, the next year Poker chips!
Grace 2010

Grace escaped swollen lips this year, but Kennedy scared us all with the goose-egg that formed after she fell against the coffee table!

Somethings didn't change, such as reading books to the Gaeke kids, roasting marshmallows, playing in the sand, eating licorice, enjoying the water, and staying up late!

The kids did experience new adventures and success at paddle boarding and tubing!

It seems like we must work hard to ensure these cousins get to know each other and go fishing with each other as teenagers and then as adults.

Thank you all for ensuring this grandmother has young people in her life.

Next year Ryan will be my co-pilot for the annual kayak picture!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dad's Birthday and Reunion Memories

Today is Dad's birthday - a celebration that started this family reunion business back in 2010, which was the 100th anniversary of his birth.  I'm filled with gratitude for several things this day as I think about my Dad and look at all the pictures taken during our family reunion last week.

Thank you to  Zeke, AnnMarie and Kennedy for their warm and welcoming hospitality!  Their lovely home became home base for meals, hiking and fishing plans, and all water sports!  

Thank you Karen, for organizing the sleeping arrangements and planning the meals, and encouraging the hikes, bike rides, and trips to the Secret Pond.

Thank you, Allan, for joining us this year and generating lots of great conversation and discussions.

Thank you, Paul and Maureen, for making this weekend a priority.  Your children delighted us and we hope this annual event is enough to keep them connected to the Kopczynski relatives in Idaho!
Thank you, Marilyn, for making it down to the beach this year!

Thank you, Connie, for sweeping the floor!

Thank you, Dale, for making this picture possible!  We wouldn't have made it without your scouting, encouragement to go just a little further, and help scrambling up the boulders!
Thanks, Jeremy and Amanda, for giving us the opportunity to surprise you with books for your baby, and the joy of learning what to do with breast pads!
Thank you, Dad, for all the sacrifices you made to start this big family over 65 years ago!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Remembering Margie Goodall

Some phone calls are just not easy to make or to receive.  My sweet brother, Larry, made a dozen phone calls to notify our siblings that our Mom had died in a traffic accident.  Yesterday he called to tell me his mother in law, Margie, died suddenly.  He could barely get the words out while his sweet family huddled together in disbelief.  Today, I, too am overwhelmed with grief.  And I have some questions! Why Margie?  It's Bob, her husband, who has the health problems.  I could hardly find any comfort, even in my morning prayer time.  But then I read a commentary on the gospel which tells the story of finding Jesus in the Temple.  We call this event one of the Joyful Mysteries when Catholics pray the Rosary.  But it could've easily have been a Sorrowful Mystery - the agony of searching for a child.  The author suggested that joy and sorrow are inseparable.  So, then I thought about my own Mom, perhaps welcoming Margie into heaven.  There is some joy in knowing these strong and loving women have no more suffering in their lives and will be available to help the rest of us continuing to muddle through here on earth!  But for now, it's the sorrow that consumes me.

I wished I'd taken a picture of Margie last week when we celebrated Kaitlyn's high school graduation, but I did find this one taken on April 13, 2008, when Kammryn made her First Communion.  Margie was a strong and beautiful woman that often saved the world of Holly's family.  She might as well have been living there because there were not many days since those Kopczynski babies started arriving that Margie was not there for them. Not only did she take care of the children, but she took care of the menagerie of animals that also lived in the Kopczynski home.  I think she even adopted a kitten a two over the years.

When I moved back to the Valley  in 1999 I lived in Clarkston and every day during the school year I saw Margie leading children across 5th Street.  She took her job as a crossing guard seriously.  All those children were safe in her caring hands.  I looked forward to her waves and smiles as I drove to my job at Juniper Meadows.  She touched people by her caring attitude - young and old!

Margie was a humble woman, free of all pride and presumption!  Her goal in life seemed to be loving and caring for her family.  She loved those grandkids so unconditionally.  I sat with her last Friday night and listened as she talked about Kole when he played in the Jazz Band at a recent dance at the Elks.  Nothing made her more proud than telling those grandkids how special they were.    Even famous musicians have not received such glowing affirmation.  She gave up her own desires over the years for holiday celebrations in Lewiston to be with her Dad in Weippe, who wanted to celebrate holidays in his home.  She devoted her life to her dad, Ken, to her husband, Bob, and her girls, Lanette and Holly, and then the grandkids.

Larry just sent this picture via Email - it speaks volumes for the love Margie had for Kaitlyn.  

The lyrics of the song The Rose remind me of the way Margie loved and lived her life.  She gave love unconditionally, never afraid her heart would break.  The flower of her love nourished the Kopczynski kids from the moment they were born.  There will be some lonely nights ahead for this sweet family, but the seeds of Margie's love will sustain them and give them the courage to pick up the pieces of a life never the same without her.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Happy Birthday Marilyn

One of the most popular songs in 1948 was Ella Fitzgerald's rendition of "My Happiness."  Marilyn and I remember Connie Francis singing the same song in the late 1950's.  I have to say that Marilyn has brought me a lot of happiness over the years and "whether skies are gray or blue, anyplace on earth will do," just as long as I can talk to Marilyn on the phone every day.  

I don't remember a thing about her original birthday, but I must've been delighted to have a baby sister.  Mom and Dad worked long hours to get the old house remodelled and ready for the new baby.  I guess she slept in the crib in Mom and Dad's bedroom, or maybe in that old black buggy.  I was just 20 months old - where would I sleep?  Too bad we never heard the stories of moving us to bigger beds.  There was no such thing as a toddler bed way back then....

One thing I do know - we loved to play house and play with our dolls....

There were many things we enjoyed doing together over the years, even though our approach was much different.  Marilyn is more social, likes talking to people.  I'm more serious and engaging in conversation with others is difficult for me sometimes.  I learned about our difference early on when I had to go door to door in Cottonwood selling chances or raffle tickets for some school event.  I begged Mom to let Marilyn go with me because she was not afraid to knock on doors and tell people what we were doing.  A real salesperson.

That trait came out in her several years ago when her parish leaders decided to serve the disadvantaged people living at the Delaney House in Spokane.  Marilyn agreed to get up to the microphone at St. Augustine's  and encourage people, especially families to sign up to serve Thanksgiving Dinner, bring food, or help clean up.  She sold it!!  I was there - even Father Bob showed up!  There were as many helpers as guests!  She's encouraged her office co-workers to donate appliances, gifts, and even cash for people just down on their luck.  Her prayer group purchases fleece and makes over 300 blankets every year for the poor families living near Airway Heights.  She definitely has the gift of motivating people to help in all sorts of situations, which brings happiness not only to the poor, but also to those who do the serving.

One year she talked me and her sisters into making 10 Christmas wall hangings.  No problem she said!!  It took us forever to cut out all the pieces, then applique them on the blocks!  Connie's emphatic statement at the end of the project, "we are never letting Marilyn pick the Sister's Weekend projects ever again."  So, for some years after 2002 we found happiness in getting pedicures or perusing yard sales in Genesee instead of working on sewing projects!

Sometime in 2008 Marilyn suggested that we celebrate what would've been Dad's 100th birthday in 2010.  She wanted the whole family to be there - should it be the Oregon Coast?  Should it be Priest Lake?  She searched the Internet until she found Priest Lake Haven.  Talk about Happiness!!!  We played cards, we built fires, we cooked and ate wonderful food, we shared memories of our Dad, we enjoyed the Gaeke kids, we shot off fireworks, we hiked and we took lots of pictures!
Marilyn did talk me into helping her make aprons for everyone!

Marilyn also loves yard sales.  She always knows someone who needs something.  Just tell her once and she never forgets what you are looking for.  She found playhouses, sand boxes, and legos for Colin.  She finds the best books, puzzles, and games for the Gaeke kids.  She's always shopping for the Eddy kids (her surrogate grandkids in Spokane).  If she can't find it at a yard sale, she looks on Craig's List or EBay.  Recently she bought me a hand made plate by my favorite crafter!  Gift giving is truly a love language she understands and practices.  She genuinely finds happiness in the search and the gift giving.

Marilyn has always been able to get more projects finished and in less amount of time than I have.  She's just not as fussy about sewing, knitting, cooking, baking, or cleaning.  I often complain about how long it takes me so she found this great picture for me!  So, tonight, I'm fussing about getting the right pictures in the right place so I can publish this posting and I'm looking at the picture and saying to myself, "it's not perfect, but it's about to be finished."  That makes me happy!

May the real gifts of this birthday be the blessing of a long life and good health and the love I have for you.  "A million years it seems have gone by since we shared our dreams."


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Thanks Be To God!

These are words we Catholics say after the first and second readings and at the time of dismissal.  Theresa Rickard, OP, writes in the Living With Christ periodical, "these words help us to stop, to notice, to appreciate our daily blessings, and, most importantly, to give thanks always and in everything and everyone."  I had planned to ride my bike to Asotin this morning, but it's raining!!  In everything give thanks????  When I was a little girl I remember the rainy days of summer being a kind of a respite from the busy, work days.  Those memories came back to me today and I looked at the day ahead in a whole new way.  Maybe I could put the Easter decorations away.  It would also be a great day to wash windows.  Or read.  Or go back to bed.  Or get out the quilting project.  Or bake banana bread. Or organize pictures and work on my archives.  Way more choices than I'd have if it was a beautiful, sunny day.

Theresa Rickard also suggests that we embrace one of the Rules of St. Benedict and say "Deo Gratias" or thanks be to God whenever a stranger knocks at the door or a beggar asks for assistance.  I've been back at work at Juniper Meadows for about six weeks now. One resident named Phyllis is very happy that I'm back.  Her face lights up when I walk in and she always reaches out her hand to touch me.  Yesterday she must've come to my office door 10 times!  For some reason she has the need to tell me where she is.  I had a lot of "work" to do and found myself getting a little irritated by her constant interruptions.  Why?  She always tells me how much she loves me or how special I am.  Wouldn't it be better if I could just say thanks be to God the next time she shuffles to my door?

So, on this rainy June morning, I'm inspired to blog my "thanks be to God" moments, beginning with this rainy day and my sweet Phyllis.  Who knows what else might end up in this journal by the end of of this rainy day?