Saturday, July 05, 2014

Happy Pictureless Fourth!

Well...I did it again...totally forgot my camera when I wanted to have it with me.  Guess I'll have to paint a picture with words, something that is always a struggle for me.  First though, I have to catch up because I was a bad girl and didn't post much this week as other things occupied my time and heart.

I didn't write here about our special anniversary last week, though I posted on Facebook about it.  28 years married, 32 together, and we rarely do anything special for our anniversary. Usually, we can't afford it, don't want the hassle of finding someone to watch five kids, or have been in a place where we didn't feel comfortable leaving the kids.  This year though, the kids gave us an anniversary that was beyond a cruise or high end night out on the town.

We were debating whether we should go out to dinner or not, and the kids all told us to plan on it.  In the days leading up to it, they kept asking us where we were going, etc.  Saturday comes along, and we knew we were going out to eat but were in the great "Where do you want to eat?" debate when Josh and Olesya each come up to us and hand us gift cards they had purchased for us.  One was for Outback Steakhouse, which is too far away but will DEFINITELY be on the agenda, and one was a Visa gift card.  Neither was aware of what the other had bought, so it was a funny moment...and terribly sweet...when they gave them to us.

Off we went to a local Mexican eatery, where we enjoyed just sitting and visiting without others present.  Many might think that is rare for us, and in some ways I guess it is, but we are pretty lucky to be able to find the time at home often to talk.  We just tell the kids we need some time without them interrupting, and they occupy themselves. What we don't often get is the time, period, where we are both awake and alert, where schedules are not such that it is squeezed in between the next thing to do on the list, etc.  After dinner, we went for a long drive in in the evening "golden hour", traveling off the beaten path and winding through ranch land with a mountain landscape in the background that I still never take for granted.  What we can have at a moments notice is what others pay dearly for a vacation to experience. Believe me, it is worth the money...it is also worth the effort it takes to make it here, for it is soul filling in ways a typical city can never, ever be.  We may some day have to move from here, but my heart will always live in this place.

Arriving home, we pulled up to find a sign greeting us, wishing us a "Happy Anniversary", and once inside the door, it was obvious that a lot of work had been put in to cleaning up the house, setting the table with a tablecloth and wine glasses with root beer waiting to be poured.  While we were gone, a cake had been baked and frosted, and the viewing area prepared as Angela had a special surprise for us.  We all gathered in the TV room, where Matt the Tech Man had her computer hooked up to the TV, and we were treated to a slide show she had put together for us that told our story along with some tender and funny comments mingled with the photos.  It was darling, humorous, and so, so sweet.  We watched it twice, both Dominick and I with tears in our eyes.  When it was done, we hugged and thanked her, and she dissolved into tears herself, saying she had no idea why she was crying but she was so glad we loved it.  We stood there, the three of us in a long, slow hug, each of us with tears streaming...filled with a gratitude that only those who have been through the fire of trying to help Love Win can understand.  We knew why she was crying, and that alone was the best anniversary gift a parent could ever have.

We found one another in this world, and our love was hard fought for...and damn, it is good.  Angela's hesitation four and a half years ago was logical, her actions were painful but understandable given her life circumstances to that point.  Today, her love for her family is fierce and intense.  She has a soul deep appreciation for all that Team LaJoy is, and loves us with great zeal.  It was an honor to feel the love that flowed through her that night, to know it took her two weeks and many hours to create "our story", all the while savoring what she is a part of...she belongs somewhere and she belongs to someone.  She now has "her people" and she knows their story, having folded it into hers.  Words alone can not express the power in that, and once again we were humbled to have the Spirit flow through our home in a big "Whoosh...".

That was not all, over cake we opened cards from each of the kids.  More tears.  Our kids really, really put things into words beautifully, and more than one person has told me that when they receive a card or note from a LaJoy, it is a "keeper".  Kenny's touched us so deeply as he wrote:

"Your love is wider than the roaring seas. Your love is deeper than the abyss. Your loyalty for each other rockets into space. Your marriage is the eighth wonder in this world. It burns bright, showing all those that seek it.

Together you laugh through thick and thin. As one you pierce through life with laughter, joy, hope, vision and love. As a body of one you give life and form to a family of your own. With encouragement, support and love you create a life that transforms other people's lives. You were made for each other in every way possible."

We are truly not "all that", but to know our son sees us that way is quite special.  That he would put it into words is even more so.  I want to preserve his words here, as I often do other things the kids say or write, because paper might one day disappear, and I never want to forget these little things that made up our life.  Oddly, this blog is our family journal and scrapbook, and I as the kids mature and grow older, I am ever more grateful that I have continued to blog and save this bits of treasure from our life here...and I am thankful for a dear friend who saves it every month for me by backing it up!  How I'd hate to lose all that is recorded here.

So, needless to say, it was a lovely anniversary.

But wait, there's more celebrating to be had!!

I am still so mad that I didn't bring my camera!  Life conspired against me to keep me from running back home and getting it.  Yesterday friends cooked up a 50 1/2 birthday celebration for Dominick to coincide with the 4th of July, so he would never guess.  And he didn't :-)

We spent the late afternoon and evening with an outdoor BBQ, and Dominick sitting on his "throne", a new office chair that the kids purchased for him.  It was an old fashioned Fourth, with an egg toss, water gun fights for the kids, and believe it or not, "Cut Throat FourSquare" was played for a couple of hours by adults and kids alike. It was a hoot, and the adults took it very seriously, sacrificing our bodies to the cause as many of us, including myself, took tumbles.  Dominick was spoiled with several gift cards for JCPenney, so he could purchase some new clothes for himself and was warned not to use them on the kids.  This man has put himself last on the list, year after year, and has always insisted that everyone else get what they need despite my haranguing that he needs new clothes, too.  He lost a lot of weight this past year, and really desperately needs some pants that fit...but along came his own root canal and still-in-need of implant, my own recent crown after a shattered tooth, and on and on and on.  Because he works in grubby conditions, he has always worn grubby clothing because logically, who wants to pressure wash greasy gunk and ruin good clothing?  But it has left him without anything very nice for non-work wear as he hasn't replaced anything.  He will be well outfitted now, as friends showed such generosity and love for him.

Having no plans to go the fireworks, Angela and a couple other kids in attendance expressed their dismay, so at the last minute, three cars ran off to find a somewhat secluded location from which to view them.  There, in the evening summer glow with a light breeze caressing us, we adults pulled out the yard chairs while the kids ran ahead and giggled, oohing and aaahhing with each colorful explosion.  We spoke softly, we adults who have now shared many years of friendship and many other happy 4ths together.  We have created a history for all of these kids and grand kids, memories of holidays shared, of adults and kids playing together, of shuffleboard and horseshoes and Killer Foursquare.  Kenny's first 4th of July was spent with this crew, and every one ever since.  These people have wrapped their arms around this rag tag family who is just trying their best to make it, they have loved us thoroughly, and hopefully, they have felt the love coming right back to them from us.

So, pictures or not, we had a splendid 4th of July week...the entire week has been a celebration of love and all things 'Murica...which to me really means family and friendship, as well as sacrifices big and small.  Next time, I won't forget the camera!!


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