Beautiful Ride

The somewhat self-indulgent rantings about the beautiful ride that is my life!

Lending a Hand September 30, 2012

It has been quite some time since I posted a blog…quite some time indeed. No reason other than time, or rather a lack of time. I’ve been busy…busy with the kids, busy with the business, busy with work, busy with life. It’s been a juggling act on a tightrope trying to balance schedules, meals, orders, laundry, etc., etc., etc. I will even admit that while I feel immensely and unbelievably blessed to be doing the things I’m doing (ok, maybe not the laundry), I also sometimes feel like I just cannot take on another thing. With a husband that travels weekly for business and the sons that can drive living in different states, the daily run of dance classes, voice lessons, theatre practice, groceries, doctor’s appointments, etc., etc., etc. has left me feeling a little out of breath!

Facing the daily tasks we have to do, or want to do, can be exhausting, but we generally find a way to tackle the beast and get it done. Until that one time, that one time when we are faced with that one thing that we didn’t plan for … that we don’t want to do … that we just might not have the energy to face …  certainly not alone.

And that’s when your friends step in. And that’s why I’m finding the time to post a blog today. Today, my friends, and my little community of little businesses are working together for one cause. Under the dierction of the dear, sweet Barbara of Shabby Cowgirl, we are lending a hand to a family that just doesn’t have the energy to think about the busy-ness of daily life. A few days ago, Barbara used the power of social media to reach out to a small number of businesses that have been extremely supportive to each other. Although most of us have never met face to face, we have developed real and lasting friendships through our facebook connections. We’ve discussed our businesses, our families, our hopes and dreams and frustrations. We may be forging our friendships over virtual cups of coffee, but it is no less real than if we were sitting together at the kitchen table or at the local cafe. And when one friend falls, we want to do all we can to help pick her back up.

So when Barbara reached out to let me know that our Amy over at  Junk Love and Co. was sitting by the hospital bed of her son who had been injured, along with her father-in-law, in a severe accident, miles and miles from home, I was more than happy to help her in any way. Not because we’ve met, not because my sons have played with her son, but because she was suffering. And afraid. And she needed our help, even if we could only do the smallest of things. We wanted her to know she could lean on us.

Miss Shabby Cowgirl had an idea, that maybe a few of us could donate an item to an online auction, and we could raise just a little money to help with the cost of gas and food while Amy’s son was being treated in the pediatric intensive care unit of a hospital far from their home. Maybe we could just lift the burden a little bit so that they could focus all of their time and love on getting their family well and home. One little idea…the thought of one friend reaching out to a few more friends…has grown into an amazing online auction with well over 30 businesses participating with donations.

So won’t you join us on the facebook page of Shabby Cowgirl today, September 30th. The auction will run from 12 noon until 7 pm, PST. You’ll find the bidding rules and payment instructions, along with the amazing auction items, all listed on her page. Everything from jewelry to baked goods to autographed books and so much more, including a few items from my very own Cowgirl in the Sand shop. If you aren’t able to participate in the auction, maybe you could lend a hand by sharing the Shabby Cowgirl link on your facebook or twitter page. We can all lend a hand, and together, we can do amazing things!

 

To Love, and to Be Loved February 15, 2012

Filed under: beautiful ride,Family,Home,Married Life — beautifulride @ 1:42 am
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Remember Valentine’s Day back when you were a young, school-aged child? Staying up the night before to make sure you had all of your cards filled out, ready to be delivered to the little hand-made “mail boxes” of your classmates. Remember the feeling of opening all of the cards, hoping maybe the special someone you had a little crush on would write “love” instead of “from” when they signed their name? How it made your stomach jump just a little, even in the 4th grade?

Remember Valentine’s Day when you were in junior high? Like so much of being a tween, you were never quite sure of how you were feeling, and moods and emotions could change on a dime during those years. On the one hand, you were grateful that you no longer had to pass out cards to everyone in your classroom, that kind of Valentine celebration ~ a party of cupcakes and “Be Mine’s” on 3 x 5 cards printed with super heros, princesses, and Winnie-the Pooh ~ well, to a 7th grader that was definitely beneath you. That was for little kids. But on the other hand, maybe secretly, you hoped that someone would slip a little note into your locker that said “I think you’re sweet, be my Valentine.”

Remember Valentine’s Day in high school? I remember in my high school, you could order flowers for your classmates. White meant “friend,” pink meant “I like you,” and of course, red meant “I love you.” I remember hating that day. It was so stressful, because it was all so public. Would you get a flower, would you get several, would you get none. When you’re in tenth grade, getting that flower means everything. At least in elementary school, you go down the list and you hand a Valentine to everyone in the room. By high school, Valentine’s Day, and the number of “flowers” you were given, could be a very defining event.  Were you the “lucky in love” girl that got many flowers, all reds and pinks; or were you nice girl that got some white ones from your friends; or were you the girl that went home flowerless, convinced that love and romance and that very special boy would never come your way.

For many, what happens on Valentine’s Day is a test. A test of whether or not we are liked…or loved. A test of how much we are liked…or loved. A test of whether or not our significant other loves us enough to remember the flowers, or the candy, or the card. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and a lot of pressure on our loved ones, in the middle of every February. And why? I think it is because, deep down, we are all looking for the same thing. The reassurance that we are special. The promise that we are loved. And I think that we believe this outward expression of love from another to us will put to rest all of the self-doubt that we are worthy of that special love that we all wish for.

When I started this post, I thought I would write about my own Valentine. How special I feel, how loved I feel, how lucky I feel. And, as I started writing, I realized that instead of writing about how wonderful my Valentine’s Day was, I really started to remember how less-than-wonderful many of my past Valentine’s Days were….because a fourth grade boy didn’t sign my card “love”….because a seventh grade boy didn’t slip a note inside my locker…because a tenth grade  boy didn’t send me a pink or a red flower.

I wish I knew then what I know now. That not having a date on Valentine’s Day does not mean I’m not special. That not getting flowers or a card or candy does not constitute a broken promise of love.

I wish I knew then what I know now. That I should treat every day like it’s Valentine’s Day. That I shouldn’t wait for the middle of February to come around to tell my love how I feel about him. That I should be grateful for the smallest gestures ~ the look that says I understand, the steady hand that calms my fears, the warm embrace that brings me comfort, the gentle kiss that promises love.

I wish I knew then what I know now. That diamonds and romantic dinners are wonderful gifts, but the most amazing gifts are to love, and to be loved. To love and be loved by our friends. To love and be loved by our families. To love and to be loved by our children. To love and to be loved by our soul mate, our one true Valentine. In the every day, in the quiet, in the messy, in the funny,  in the real. That’s what I wish I knew then. And that is what I know now…what I have now. I love, and I am loved. And that’s what makes every day Valentine’s Day.

 

All Is Calm, All Is Bright December 26, 2011

Filed under: beautiful ride,Family,Holidays,Home — beautifulride @ 12:49 pm
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All is calm, all is bright.

It is the morning after Christmas, and these words couldn’t be more true. As I started my day early this morning, my home was blanketed in the beautiful silence and stillness of the morning that I have grown to love. My family was sound asleep, hopefully still dreaming of sugarplums and Christmas memories. The light of the sun was just beginning to glow, slowly bringing to life another day. The traffic was slow and quiet, as it is on a holiday…no commuters rushing to the train…no school children headed to classes. I started a little laundry, picked up a few dishes that mysteriously appeared after I drifted off last night, took care of my mama chores. I stepped out into the chilly morning to bring in the milk and yogurt and bread dropped off by the milkman, impressed that he had already stopped by and a little disappointed that I didn’t get my empty bottle out for him. And then I poured a fresh, warm cup of coffee and sat in the living room, with the tree lights twinkling in the corner and the remnants of yesterday tucked into tidy little piles of boxes and surprises on the floor.

The piles are a bit smaller than years past…and that’s ok. In fact, it’s more than ok. Perhaps it’s because the boys are getting older, and gone are the days of large, brightly colored plastic playthings. Those were great days, and magical mornings, but now they are older and their gifts of choice come in much smaller packages. Perhaps though, it’s because they had much smaller lists this year…more modest, more thoughtful, more practical. Maybe it was all the talk of the economy and it’s downturn this past year. Or maybe it’s that with every passing year, they look more and more toward our family traditions of Christmas and less and less at what’s under the tree. Don’t misunderstand…the surprises under the tree, in their beautiful wrapping and fancy bows, are still a huge part of the anticipation of Christmas morning; but, I’m finding that they are becoming more appreciative of the gifts that we give that speak to who they are…less so with the idea of stuff for the sake of getting stuff.

They would probably say, just about now, that Mom is sappy…just being Mom…and that none of this is true. That they would want to find iPads and laptops and flat screens and whatever is the latest and greatest under the tree attached to a gift tag with their name on it. But from what I saw yesterday, and from the thank you hugs and conversations about what an awesome Christmas it was and what cool stuff they got, I would say that they are more grateful and more grounded than they would want anyone to believe.

It has been a roller coaster ride of a year for our family, both good and bad. We’ve watched those we love struggle with illness and tough times. We’ve felt the beginnings of a shift in our own lives, as one son moved to the other side of a neighboring state, and another got a letter of acceptance that will soon take him north. We’ve been blessed with work, but it has kept us very, very busy…and apart…as Rick travels a great deal for business. We’ve seen my little business grow, but not without the growing pains and time commitment that come along with that. We’ve seen our other sons work hard and find success in the activities that make them so happy, and their willingness and devotion to doing what they do. We’ve experienced an earthquake (slight), a hurricane and an autumn snowstorm that left us with damages we didn’t expect. We have cried and we have worried and we have prayed…and we have lived and we have laughed and we have loved.

One of my favorite images of this holiday season happened this past Friday, as we took our annual train ride into the City to see the tree at Rockefeller Center, the windows at Macy’s, and the crèche at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We were walking down the street, and I was in the back of our little crowd. And I watched them together, brother to brother and father to sons. They were laughing and talking and enjoying their time together. My heart was so full I thought it would burst.

A little later, the very next night, we attended Christmas Eve services together. We sang the words to “Silent Night.” That hymn, sung at that time, in that setting has always made me well up just a little. I become flooded with memories of Christmases past…my grandparents, my parents, my husband and our children as babies…those that are with us still and those that have moved on. And I was reminded that things change. That time does not stand still. But for that one moment, as I looked to my right and saw them all standing there together, singing together and creating a memory that they may share together in a Christmas yet to come, I felt truly happy and truly blessed. And all was calm…and all was bright.

 

If I Had a Hammer August 13, 2011

On a warm July morning, just a few weeks ago, my husband, my son, and 16 other volunteers loaded up a few trucks and vans with tools and toolbelts, divided up some road snacks baked and bought by friends and family, received a few last-minute medical instructions, reviewed their maps, and joined hands for prayers and blessings for a safe trip and a safe return. As I waved goodbye to Rick and Max and the others, lyrics to a folk song kept playing in my mind, over and over….

“If I had a hammer…I’d  hammer in the morning…I’d hammer in the evening…all over this land.

I’d hammer out danger…I’d hammer out a warning…I’d hammer out the love between my brothers and my sisters….all over this land!”

Why this song? Because that, in sense, was the mission of this group. To hammer out the dangers of an unsafe structure, to hammer out a warning to those who think these conditions don’t exist in our country, and to hammer out the love for our brothers and sisters by bringing them the helping hands they needed in order to live in the warmer, safer, drier conditions that most of us take for granted. This very special group was heading to West Virginia  to do just that!

This was Max and Rick’s second Appalachian Service Project Trip with St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. Imagine my pride in knowing that my husband gave up a week’s vacation to work alongside our 17-year-old son in a program that means so very much to him. Imagine my pride in knowing that my son feels compelled to crawl under a stranger’s home during the hottest week of the summer and help steady a foundation. Imagine my pride in each and every one of the volunteers that travelled with them and did their absolute best to make things right, or at least a little more right, for a handful of souls that swallowed their own pride and asked for help. Imagine the pride of a work crew that stopped a home from slipping into the creek, added indoor plumbing to a home where there had been none, or built a ramp for a man confined to a wheelchair because he lost both of his legs to diabetes and the use of his arm due to a stroke–a man who was now able to come outside of his home on his own for the first time in years.

Imagine.

We live in a country where both sides of the political spectrum spend so much time trying to prove they are right and our own citizens are  living with no plumbing, no heating, no way to see the outside world. We spend billions of dollars nation-building in countries that don’t want us and we ignore the problems right under our own noses. I am not trying to be political here–not trying to wag my finger at one side or the other–in fact, I try to keep politics out of my writing, because that’s not what I want my blog to be. But it’s hard to remain quiet and still when you see what these volunteers have seen. Despite your political views, it’s hard to dispute that we live in a country where every day the wealthy are given the gift of opportunities and the poor give up one more dream. We talk about the growing gap, we talk about the growing inequality, we talk and we talk and we talk and we are so exhausted from all that talking that we forget to DO.

Force your eyes open to see the poverty and the inequality; force yourself to see that sometimes it just isn’t possible for another to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps; force yourself to see that we all have a responsibility to DO what is right, not just preach what is right. Offer a hand of help and hope. Do it in the spirit of love for your brothers and your sisters and watch how things can change…all over this land.

*Become a fan of Appalachia Service Project on facebook and see how you can help–there are links on the information page for volunteering, donating and shopping their general store. You can also visit their website for more information at http://www.BuildANewYou.org.

*Photos from St. Johns Evangelical Lutheran Church’s 2011 ASP Trip courtesy Rick Braden. Group shot at beginning of blog courtesy of Susan Colby

St. Lukes Lutheran Church in Beckley, WV hosted our group on the way down

Orientation at the ASP Center in Brenton, WV

Picking up supplies at the hardware store

Taking a break!

ASP Center in Brenton, WV

Sleeping arrangements at the Center--NOT the Hilton!

The ramp Rick's crew built

Rick giving a thumbs up on a job well done

I am so proud of our son, Max

Dam at the park where they had a final gathering with the families they helped

The hand of God in the beauty of a sunset

 

Any Dream Will Do July 22, 2011

Filed under: beautiful ride,Family,Home,Music — beautifulride @ 8:51 am
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Last week, I had the pleasure of watching our son, Aaron, perform the lead of “Joseph”  in the musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. And as I sat on the edge of my seat, nervous for him, yet beaming with pride, I was taken aback by his ease on the stage, his comfort with the other actors, and especially the expression on his face — the one that said to me “I’m living a dream!”

If you’re not familiar with the show, you should know that “dreams”  are an overriding theme.  The musical is based on the Biblical story of Joseph, Jacob’s much loved son, you know — the one with the beautiful colored coat. Joseph was a dreamer — in the literal sense of the word — meaning, he had amazing dreams of his own, and he was able to interpret the dreams of others. These skills came in handy when Joseph found himself sold into slavery by his eleven jealous brothers, and when he was imprisoned by his irate master for unwillingly messing around with the lady of the house. Interpreting Pharoah’s dreams are what got him out of “the joint” and led to his dream life as Pharoah’s right-hand man. When his brothers show up to beg for food during the famine, Joseph’s own dreams of eleven stars bowing down to his finally made sense. The family is happily reunited and Joseph sings a reminder to the audience — a reminder that “Any Dream Will Do.”

This, of course, got me thinking about dreams. Not so much the kind that happen when your head blissfully falls upon the pillow and you drift off to peaceful slumber, but the dreams you hold in your heart and in your soul.  The kind of dreams that are so unique and personal to each and every one of us that we share them only with our closest confidants, and usually with great hesitation, almost afraid that to say it out loud will cause them to not come true. The kind of dreams that get us out of bed at the crack of dawn and keep us up until the wee hours of the morning — working, and waiting, and hoping that our dream will come true. And what I love the most about Joseph’s message is the idea that ANY dream will do. Sometimes I think we don’t give our own dreams enough validity…we tell ourselves that our dreams are too small to matter or too big to achieve. But we’re wrong. Even our smallest dreams are worth something…because they come from that place in our heart that drives us to better ourselves, our situations, our environments, our relationships…do you EVER hear anyone say they dream of a messier home, worse grades, a demotion at work. No, we dream of strong relationships, professional achievements, peace in the world, love in our hearts. And big dreams are really just the result of a series of little dreams coming true, one at a time, step by step, moment by moment. So keep dreaming those dreams that speak to you. Dream of mending broken relatiohnships, dream of doing the best job you can do, dream of changing the world for the better, dream of singing your song and dancing your dance…dream YOUR dream…ANY dream…ANY DREAM WILL DO!

 

Just Doing What They Do June 15, 2011

Filed under: beautiful ride,Family,Home,Music,Pets — beautifulride @ 8:01 am
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One of my favorite things about being a Mom is watching my boys find the things that make them truly  happy…the things that  light a little spark inside of them, and then watching that spark turn into a passion and a fire that they feel deep down in their soul. I’ve been lucky, because my guys seem to have each found something that they love to do…something that they keep doing because, for whatever reason, it is so vital to them that they can’t NOT do it. In our home, at this moment in time, the breakdown is something like this. Grant, my youngest, has happy feet–can’t stop dancing, running, jumping. He has 5 years of dance classes under his belt at the tender age of 11, and although he plays football, and wants to add basketball and baseball to his list, he tells me those sports are “only the appetizer, dance is still the main course.” Aaron is 15, and he is also all about performing. He sings, he acts, he dreams of movies and television and stage. And he doesn’t just dream about it, he really works at it. He’ll audition for anything, take the smallest role and work it with everything he’s got. He practices, studies, takes classes. And when I see him performing on the stage, I can see that he is happy. Max, at 17, prefers to stay out of the limelight, but is no less passionate about the things that are important to him. A quiet, but avid activist, Max is the first to volunteer for something that could improve the life of another; whether it is teaching children, heading to Appalachia to improve homes, lending a helping hand in New Orleans, or doing a task for me at home. Even as a little boy, he would get so angry about  injustice and inequality–even if he was on the winning end of the stick. He questions the status quo, speaks out against intolerance and prejudice, and truly believes that we can BE better, DO better, LIVE better. Zach, my oldest at 20, has a real passion for music. Back in the day, when he would do crazy things like cut school, it wasn’t to hang with friends or get into mischief. He would come home and practice that guitar for hours and hours and hours, racing home to it like it was a Siren calling him to the sea. He practiced everyday, studied different styles, bought every instrument he could get his hands on…and telling him to put down the guitar would be like telling him to cut off his right arm.  

Now, before I come off as THAT Mom…you know…the one who is convinced that her children are  THE most beautiful, wonderful, talented, perfect, smartest, best thing since sliced bread, let me just say that I do TRY to keep my Mama Rose tendencies in check. It’s a difficult, fine line we parents walk when our children are passionate about something. As the Mother Hen, we want to protect them from criticism, hurt feelings, and rejection. We want them to always get the part, the lead, the gig, the job. We want to put them in a safe little bubble, where nothing can hurt them, where no one will challenge their opinions or destroy their confidence. BUT, we don’t do them any good when we tell them they are perfect at everything they do. So we try very hard to walk that line, reminding them to dance for the love of dance and to sing for the love of the song. Not to write a song with the hopes of winning an award, but because you have something to say–and lend a helping hand to those that are struggling and suffering through injustice and intolerance not because it’s the cause of the month, but because you know in your heart that it’s a wrong that needs to be made right. And we remind them again and again that if they really love it, to dig in and work hard and don’t take anything for granted.

I believe (in my crazy Mom mind) that is why my guys just do what they do…they sing and dance and act and write and speak out because they can’t help themselves. And Lord knows, their areas of interest do not necessarily lead to the most lucrative futures, but you know what, I would rather see them make a modest living doing what they love than make a fortune doing what they hate. I hope they always, always have the courage to chase their dreams!

*Ok, now the “Mama Rose” posting of the talent! Actually, Aaron just had a recital and he asked me to post these songs for his Grammie, especially his duet with his friend Marnie (whose voice is spectacular). I apologize for the video quality, the spotlights mess with the flip camera, but you get the idea! Aaron knows how much Grammie loves “Phantom of the Opera” and he also knows that she is not on facebook, but does read the blog. Actually, I think my wonderful and supportive Mother-in-Law is my biggest blog fan–how cool is that! So Grammie, get out the tissues, and have a seat–this is from Aaron for you!

 

 

The Legend of Lyle May 31, 2011

Filed under: beautiful ride,Family,Pets — beautifulride @ 9:27 am
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Rewind back to January 2002…the holidays over, the kids back in school, the decorations boxed up and put away. At the time, our children were 2, 5, 7, and 11. I had been up to my elbows in diapers and bottles and sticky fingers and sleepless nights for over a decade now. I had laundry to do, meals to prepare, school buses to catch. I had a toddler and a tween…life was busy and crazy, but great. We lived in a cute little house in a cute little neighborhood in Delaware, Ohio–had moved there from Pittsburgh, PA in May of 2001. I wasn’t working outside the home at the time, just hanging with my boys, having fun being Mom and Wife. In the previous 8 months, I had spent quite a bit of time feathering my nest. The boys were big enough that the toys were no longer strewn across the house like a landmine of colorful plastic; yet, they were young enough that I still had control over the chaos that their bedrooms have become now. At the end of most days, things were picked up and organized, neat and tidy…just the way we control freaks like it. After the first decade of parenthood, control (or the magical, unsuccessful quest for control — like looking for a unicorn, or a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow) was something I would strive for, every day. That’s why I said “no” when they would ask for a dog (we tried that, and a weimaraner + pregnant mom + three small kids + travelling husband = just too much — he was happy to be back on the farm with his original family!)

And then…one sunny, cold winter’s day, I heard this crying sound. I ran up to check on my napping baby boy…sound asleep. Back downstairs, I heard it again…and again…and again. Finally, I opened the door that led to the garage and there he sat…this tiny little orange and white cat. Cold and hungry. Crying for attention, just like the boys. Now what was I going to do….

I really did not want a cat. They shed. They make messes. They need to go to the doctor. They need brushed and fed and cared for…and I was already doing that for a whole house full of needy little darlings. I honestly wasn’t sure I could care for one more thing. I didn’t want any harm to come to the little fuzz ball, but I didn’t want to add one more thing to my list either. So I called a no-kill shelter. They were full. Could we please just tend to the cat for 5 days or so, then call back and check for an opening. Really, 5 days. Like the boys weren’t going to get attached in five days. Ok, fine. So, couldn’t let the cat starve, and I opened the only thing I could think of…a can of tuna. Who knew that if you fed a cat tuna, they would never leave! Next, I called a vet. I had babies in the house and he was a stray. What if he was sick? Who knew if you spent $250 at the vet for neutering, shots, and a good once-over, the cat would never leave! My husband, my sons, the vet, the shelter–they all said the same thing–“couldn’t you just keep him? He’ll be no trouble. We promise.”

What is a woman to do??? Compromise. Yes, we can keep him. But he will be an outdoor cat. Our youngest was suffering quite a bit with asthma and eczema issues at the time, and I didn’t want to make it worse by adding a possible cat allergy.  The vet said we could make a lovely home for him in the garage. We got food and water bowls and a litter box and a bed and a heater. He had a really warm and cozy spot out there. The garage door would stay open a bit during the day so that he could come and go, and we made sure he was “home” every night, safe and sound and snuggled in his bed.  He loved roaming the neighborhood, lounging in the garden and chasing after the kids. He didn’t mind having his tail pulled, and he loved having his chin scratched. He came home every day, and they fell in love with him. He really was a great cat, really no trouble at all. He would come in the house and play for a short time most days, but he seemed content and happy to be in his little home in the garage.

In 2003, we moved to Arizona. I couldn’t believe how quickly he adjusted from garden cat to desert cat. He had the same set up (except we couldn’t leave the garage open during the day–scorpions, rattle snakes–just not a good idea! So he would come in the back door and go to his food, water, litter box and bed in the garage. I think this is where he gained legend status. He travelled in the back of the van across the country, survived adventure after adventure in the great southwest, and came home every night to tell the tale! A white cat outside at dusk in the desert–let me just say coyotes and owls–but they never got Lyle! He was a master hunter, bringing us “gift” after “gift” and he was tough–got into many cat fights–but NEVER lost!

Things changed when we moved to New Jersey in December of 2004. Our garage was detached from the house, so I had to finally give in. He became an indoor/outdoor cat. Litter box and food moved to the basement, but he still loved to be outside. And like all the other places he lived, he became king of this neighborhood. We would find him lounging on lawns and porches up and down the block, clearly in charge of all the other outdoor cats! The other families loved him and told us they thought it was great that he felt comfortable enough to lounge where he pleased. He wouldn’t wear a collar, but eluded the animal control van that goes up our street every day. He never lost a fight in Jersey either. He spent his days lounging in the sun or the garden, chasing bunnies and catching mice, and every night, he would tap on the family room window when he was ready to come in for the night.  The kids created a facebook page for him, and he made friends outside of the Park Road block. He was a superhero. A rock star.

Lyle and I had our own special relationship. I didn’t want him to shed on my furniture or cause me any extra work. He got that. He respected my space–didn’t tear up the sofas or the curtains. If I walked into a room and he was on a table or a counter, he would get down right away–I didn’t even have to ask. He sat on laps, but not the couch; he slept on beds, but only in the one bedroom he was allowed to go to. He didn’t get sick–never. Only had to go to the vet for fleas once, and regular shots. He really was no trouble. And over the years, the last one in particular, my heart softened a little and our little understanding grew deeper. We were friends, without a lot of pomp and circumstance. We had a mutual respect and fondness for each other. And sometimes, when no one was watching, I would talk to him and scratch his little chin.

Three weeks ago, Lyle was lounging in the garden and killing mice. Two weeks ago, our fuzzy little friend got sick. Really sick. But in true Lyle-style, he let me take care of him and he didn’t cause any trouble. I gave him his IV fluids and he sat still for me. I gave him his pills, and he would just open his mouth and swallow them. No trouble. And as he became physically weaker, he was still no trouble. He sat on laps and had his chin scratched. And in true Lyle-style, he didn’t want it all to end in the vet’s office, where he never had to go, because he was never sick. Nope–not for him. In true Lyle-style, he picked a morning when everyone was home. He laid down, and drifted off. In his own house, in his own bed, in his own time.  After just a few hours of “love rubbins” and farewell wishes from his favorite friends, he just drifted off. No trouble at all.

Our hearts are broken, but we know the legend of Lyle will live in our hearts and our family lore forever. We placed him in a special spot in the garden, with his favorite things. There will never be a cooler cat, and I’m sure that he’s already become king of the neighborhood in his new peaceful place, chasing mice and chillin’ in the sun. When Grant was 7 or 8, he wrote a little card that still hangs in our kitchen. It said, “To myself, from myself. Peace is a cat. Meow.” Now we are sure that Lyle is not just a peace cat, he is the peace cat. You were a good cat, Lyle, really no trouble at all. And I bid you farewell, my fuzzy friend…farewell.