Making Peace with October

My father with our cat Sylvester

My father with our cat Sylvester

Today marks nine years since my father passed away. Sometimes it feels like more time than that and sometimes less time than that. Either way, any amount of time without my father has been difficult. However, as the years have passed, the actual day of his passing has lost some of the heavy weight it had upon my heart and I’ve learned to make peace with October.

Feeling sad without my father after his passing used to come around certain dates such as holidays, his birthday, family birthdays, and the day he walked on into the spirit world. It would also come at just random times when I’d be struck with a wave of sorrow that nearly knocked me off my feet. But time has lessened the pain and I’ve learned to enjoy holidays and birthdays again. While I miss him every single day and will always miss him, I also know that he doesn’t want me to dwell in pain and sadness. After all, when my father was alive he was very much into celebrating holidays, birthdays, and all special occasions with as much happiness as possible.

This year leading up to the anniversary of my father’s passing, I’ve been distracted by various things. I was working hard to save up for my recent trip to New England and the week before I left for that trip, I was battling wasps that had come through the wall of my closet. The wasps were an unexpected and unwanted adventure and the trip to New England was my little reward to myself for surviving that harrowing escapade. I think those distractions served me well, even though one was far less pleasant than the other. I had a strong feeling that I needed to go to New England this October because I hadn’t been out in October in many years, and I’m so glad I went! I know my dad was with me in spirit as always and sharing in my travels.

Today I spent the time just enjoying a lazy Sunday with my daughters. My mom stopped by briefly to drop off a new coat for my youngest daughter and we had a nice little visit chatting about various things. I’ve also been playing a bit of World of Warcraft with my oldest daughter, which is always fun and interesting. Then I did some beading of a new Halloween themed pin and had a nice talk with my youngest daughter about the tablet she uses for school and how it helps her with her homework.

This evening will be more along the lines of just spending time with my girls and being grateful for the blessings and happiness in my life. I know my father would want it that way and I know that he’s always with us in spirit. He watches over us, laughs with use, and most of all, loves us all.

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Love Is An Apple Pie

heart apple pie

Love is an apple pie

Today marks eight years since the day my father passed away. As my father was a great cook and baker, I felt that an ideal way to honor his spirit this year was to bake an apple pie. I don’t actually remember my father baking many apple pies, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t. That just means that my memory is getting foggy in my “old age.”

What makes this pie lovingly special is that I made it with apples that my daughters picked just for me. My favorite pie apples are Gala apples because they’re so sweet and juicy. The girls went apple picking with their father last weekend and picked several apples that they thought were Gala. My youngest also picked some smaller “mystery” apples and I used all eight apples of various sizes in the pie. I have a favorite peeler I use when making pie and I’ve gotten quite good and fast at peeling. Once I peeled all the apples, I cut them  into thin, small pieces to ensure that they cooked through completely and were nice and soft. I use the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook recipe for apple pie with a few changes to make it my own.

The house smelled wonderful yesterday while the pie was baking, but as usual a bit of the pie juices leaked out and dripped onto the bottom of my oven. That didn’t smell so good, but it seems to be part of the process when I make pies so I’m used to it. I used a bit of the extra pie crust to make a heart on the top of the pie because everything I cook or bake is always made with love. To make sure the pie was “safe” for human consumption, I tried a piece last night and found it quite yummy. The apples in it were a bit more tart than I usually use so perhaps they aren’t Gala after all, but as they were picked by my daughters and used in a pie to honor my father, they are the best apples in the world!

Finding Light in Darkness

candlelight in darkness by JulieAnn Corbin

On this day seven years ago, my father walked on. It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been that many years, but I know it has. Although the pain and sadness of losing him will never go away, it has faded over the years. His spirt is always with me and I can still hear his voice and his laughter in my mind whenever I think of him.

This October has been the first October since his death when I didn’t feel overwhelmed with emotions of grief. I’ve been focusing on the blessings in my life and creating as much positive energy as possible because I know that’s what my father would want. It’s also what’s best for me and my girls.

I think my father would be proud of the woman I’ve become and how I’m raising my girls. He’d appreciate the fact that I haven’t settled for someone just to avoid being alone. He was a role model for the kind of man I deserve in my life and I’ve yet to meet his match. If I never meet his match, then I’ll remain single, simple as that. I am a tough, strong, independent woman and I’ve learned to enjoy every moment of my life. I cherish the time with my daughters and I make the most of my time when I don’t have them. Life is a blessing and must never be taken for granted.

My father with our cat Sylvester

My father with our cat Sylvester

On this day and every day, I honor my father’s eternal spirit. I recall all the wonderful memories of him and remember how tightly he always hugged me and that we always said, “I love you” when we parted. I will light candles in his memory and smudge my house with sage to cleanse the space and bring healing energy within. Even though the sadness of losing him is eternal, there is always light to be found in darkness and I will do my best to be that light.

Writing to Honor My Father

My father and I in the Adirondack Mountains. He's wearing the bobcat shirt I remember well.

My father and I in the Adirondack Mountains. He was always supportive of my writing.

Occasions like Father’s Day today have been difficult for me since my father walked on in October of 2009. Quite often, I feel sad and cry during the days leading up to the event, but then on the actual day, I’m okay. Surprisingly enough, I haven’t really been sad leading up to or including Father’s Day. I still miss my father immensely and always will, but I think I’m finally in a better place now and able to focus on all the positive aspects in my life that come from having him as my father.

One of the things I remember my father asking almost every time I saw him was “How’s your writing going?” I’d usually reply that it was going okay or some such thing, but I always felt like I was letting him down because I wasn’t published yet. He was one of my biggest supporters when it came to my writing and losing him made it so hard for me to continue writing in any of my books. I think the fact that I now make my living as a freelance writer would please him, but it’s not quite the same.

Yesterday was a wonderful day that started with waking up to my daughters coming into my bedroom and included beautiful sunshine, a conversation that made me smile and laugh, and an afternoon and early evening spent visiting my mom. I felt so elated and inspired that I actually felt like writing in my newest fantasy novel (now over 4 years old and only containing one chapter). When I told my oldest daughter Jordan of my desire to write, she smiled broadly and was genuinely excited for me. She’s blessed with the gift of writing as well and is a far better writer at 13 than I was at her age. In her enthusiasm for me writing again, I saw a bit of my father and I knew I couldn’t let either of them down.

Alas, I was a bit too tired to write last night, so I decided that I would write today. My girls won’t be back until the late evening and it’s too hot and full of deer flies to do much outside so writing in my fantasy book entitled “Unbroken Flames” sounds like the perfect way to spend the day. A lot has changed in my life since I started writing that book and it’s past time that I start incorporating that into the story.

One thing that will never change in any of my writing though is my love for breathing life into strong female characters who are willing to fight for what they believe in, have faced challenges that made them stronger instead of destroying them and who still believe in love and all of the amazing gifts that come with it.

So here’s to you, Dad, your little girl will finally get going again on her writing!

Celebrating Strong Spirits

dad and girls august 2006

(Featured image: My father holding newborn Jaycie with 4 year old Jordan on his legs)

Today is my father’s birthday. He would have been 75 years old. The last birthday we celebrated with him on this earth was his 68th because he walked on in October of 2009. He was more than my father; he was my best friend, confidant, supporter and a man who showed me how I deserve to be treated and cared for by a man. I’ve yet to meet his equal and I probably never will. I was blessed to have him for as long as I did and I’ll always be “Daddy’s little girl” no matter what age I am.

Special occasions like today are always hard without my dad and his birthday marks the first of many special events during the spring and summer. Every summer birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Memorial Day feel a bit emptier without him. I miss his hugs, his laughter, his smiles and his voice giving me sage wisdom and advice that I still hear in my head to this day. I feel him in the sunshine, the glow of the moon and the scent of spring flowers. I see him on the wings and in the watchful eyes of hawks as they fill my world. I’ve inherited a lot from him, including his strength and determination and I know his spirit is with me every single day.

My father’s spirit sticks around with more than just me, he’s with everyone he loves. He had a special connection with my youngest daughter, Jaycie. After my father’s strokes, he had physical limitations and his mind wasn’t ever quite the same. Jaycie has had mental and physical developmental delays all of her life, but she’s finally catching up! There always seemed to be a sense of camaraderie between my dad and Jaycie, as if they both understood what it was like to face challenges and rise above them. For a while after my father walked on, Jaycie would occasionally say that she saw him or that she knew what he was doing in heaven. She may not see him anymore (or not tell us if she does) but I know he sticks close to her and the amazing light that she is.

dad and jaycie reading by JulieAnn Corbin

My father and Jaycie reading.

Jaycie is participating in the Special Olympics today and it’s her first time doing so. I’m sure she’ll have fun, do well and that it will be a great experience for her. I think it’s a perfect way to celebrate both her and my father’s eternally strong spirits. I went to the send off for the Special Olympians at the school this morning and Jaycie marched out all by herself looking like a movie star with her sunglasses on. I wished her luck and gave her a kiss and she was all smiles!

Jaycie marching in the send off for the Special Olympians this morning

Jaycie marching in the send off for the Special Olympians this morning

 

jaycie sign

The sign teachers and fellow students made to encourage Jaycie.

My father’s spirit will watch over Jaycie today, urge her on and beam with pride, of that I’m certain. He used to volunteer for a horseback riding program for children with Cerebral Palsy and whenever I would go with him to help, I could see how much joy it brought him so I’m sure Jaycie doing the Special Olympics today is a birthday gift he greatly appreciates. Although he can’t physically be here to help Jaycie shine, I know that today, his spirit shines even brighter as he watches over all of his greatest gifts: his family.

An Emptiness that, at Times Seems to Burn

One of my favorite pictures of my father and I.

One of my favorite pictures of my father and I.

On Wednesday, October 21st, 2009, my father passed away and my life and the lives of my family have never been the same. I think about and miss my father every single day. He wasn’t perfect (nobody is) but he was a great man and he loved me unconditionally. He showed me how a man is supposed to love a woman and I’ve yet to meet his equal. I learned how I deserve to be treated from my father and because of him, I will never settle for less than I deserve.

I have written several blog posts about my father and always post something on the anniversary of his passing. With it falling on a Wednesday again this year, it feels harder to deal with, but I know I’ll be okay because his spirit is always watching over me. For this year’s honoring of my father’s memory, I wanted to quote a favorite excerpt from a movie. The movie is Practical Magic and in it, Sally writes her sister a letter that in essence sums up how I feel since my father left this world.

***

Sometimes I feel like there’s a hole inside me … an emptiness that, at times seems to burn. I think if you lifted my heart to your ear you could hear the ocean.

And the moon tonight, there’s a circle around it, a sign of trouble not far behind.

I have a dream of being whole, Of not going to sleep each night, wanting. But still sometimes when the wind is warm, or the crickets sing, I dream of a love that even time will lay down and be still for.”

sallys letter

Taking a Day

Father and daughter love

My father and I on his 43rd birthday in 1984. I was 7 years old.

Today is my father’s birthday, he would’ve been 74 years old. He died in October of 2009 and I miss him every single day. The ache of missing him gets even stronger starting about a week before his birthday and continuing through the summer birthdays of me, my brothers and my daughters and the holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day because they all feel partially empty without his physical presence. Memorial Day is a hard holiday too because my dad served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, but thankfully that weekend I’ll be at the MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-Wow in Randolph, MA, surrounded by great people and lifting my spirit by dancing to the drums in the circle.

I’ve been working hard to finish up most of the week’s work so I could just take a day for myself and do what makes me happy. Although I’m sad without my father, I know his spirit is with me and that he wants me to be happy and so I focus on finding and doing things that give me positive feelings. I didn’t quite succeed at getting all the work I wanted to done so I’ll be doing some of it today, but as I work from home and no longer in an office, it’s a rewarding experience.

I have to take Jazzmin to the vet for some booster shots and I purposely made the appointment this morning because I didn’t really want to bum around the house all day. I’m also taking my mom out to dinner this evening so we can celebrate my dad’s life and be together. We’re going to Olive Garden, one of his favorite restaurants and I plan on toasting him with a cappuccino (no alcohol because I’m driving ;)). In between those two scheduled things, I’m going to squeeze in some work and take Jazzmin for a nice looong walk to enjoy the fresh air on what promises to be another beautiful day!

Taking a day to honor and remember my father is actually something I do every single day, but on his birthday I want to work a bit harder at putting positive energy out into the universe to honor his spirit and thank him for being such an amazing father to me.