Sunday, June 30, 2013


Life is good!

Twelve days ago Mike and I headed to Dallas to begin a new and exciting time in our lives.  We were bringing my Mother In Law, Nancy back to Olney to live with us. 
Oh my, the reactions the three of us have received are so interesting.  From looks of awe, to comments like "is this a good thing?", to big smiles, lots of hugs and many good wishes.

We are blessed to live in a comfortable home which overlooks East Fork Lake in Olney.  We have lived here for 10 years and love it.  We do have to do some updates and now is a perfect time to do it and make it "our" home. 

Soo, what does this mean?  Well, it is time to reorganize, remove much clutter and refresh the walls, carpet and layout.  We have a wonderful (2 month usage) screened in porch which I hope to turn into a beautiful year round family room with a wonderful view of the lake.  As I have mentioned in previous blogs it is so peaceful here when the windows are open and the sounds, smells and views of the gifts of nature God has provided us are at hand.  This renovation will make it even more of a blessing.

We have to create one home from two.  We have shared many emotions since we arrived in Dallas.  We have laughed, been serious, cried and reminisced as we got Nancy ready for the move.  Her brothers, her "roomie" Grandson Brad and her son Tom and family all live in Texas, so it has been difficult and of course this is where Nancy and Jim lived together until he passed away in 2010, which made it even more sad for her to leave their home.  However in Olney she has in addition to Mike and I,  her Grandson Jeff and his family: Reagan, Emery and Lyndon.  Her sister in law  and nephew are here too.

Nancy has many wonderful friends which she made during her 26+ years of living in Dallas.  They gave her a surprises farewell luncheon with much love and many hugs and tears and promises of visits.  When we arrived back in Olney her core of Richland County friends immediately reached out and brought her back into their fold.  That is the magic of Nancy, she creeps in and remains in your heart because she is a kind, loving, fun and God Fearing woman. 

Mike had to return to Dallas via his Harley (he was NOT upset) for the final load of belongings.  Nancy and I have rested up and are now starting to plan just what we want to do here.  We have touched base with insurance agents, the Drivers License facility, she even went back to her former hairdresser.  We have done a bit of shopping, gone to lunch and dinner and we run in to so many friends that are happy she has come home. 

There have been several fun episodes here at home which made us laugh so hard, a safe moving (ask for details), our trio of Chihuahua's welcoming her, cooking together, it has been yummy!  Driving tours around Olney, cleaning The McClure Guesthouse (our cleaning crew is now Fifi, Franz and Fiona) and starting to go through her boxes. 

Yes, I am excited to have Nancy here she is a NUMBER ONE Mother In Law and I am lucky.  We can be open with each other and we know if there are any problems we will talk to each other to solve them.

It is almost been a year since my Mother passed away and no one will EVER take her place; but it is nice to have Mike's  Mother here with us, it helps me with that void in my life and most of all she is my friend.  I am indeed blessed!

My thoughts for those of you with a MIL  reach out and hug her and know that she is FAMILY!

Thursday, November 22, 2012


As I sit here reviewing the past year and what I am Thankful for, I have much passing through my mind.
To start with I am Thankful to be able to Love our Lord with all my heart and soul. I know he is with me always and loves me too!
Next I am thankful for my husband, he is always there for me and that is a blessing on good days and on bad days for sure! He is my rock, my soul mate and I love him so much!
I am blessed to have a wonderful family. My brother, 4 sisters, Mother in law, 2 stepsons, 1 daughter in law, 2 grandsons, 7 nephews, 9 nieces, 2 sisters in law, 4 brothers in law, 7 aunts, 7 uncles, & cousins (there are many), I am thankful they all are a part of my life.
I have many wonderful friends, if I ever need anything there is always at least one who will be there for me. Many friends have been in my life since Grade School, Jr. High, High School, & College and  although we are not physically in touch, through the magic of cyberspace we can and often do touch base weekly.  I have many dear friends who just happened into my life, they are blessings indeed!  Through my work with the area schools I have many friends and in my involvement with Girl Scouts, the Olney Arts Council and some other community endeavors in the past I have great friends. Now isn't this a wonderful blessing?
As I said at the beginning, our Lord is number one in my life and because of that I have the treasure of my Church Family, they are wonderful and so important to us. We are blessed indeed!
There are many four legged friends in our life and the joy they bring to us is so much fun, I love them a lot, and you know they love us back with no strings attached. Isn't that the way it really should be ?
Finally, we lost our Mom this year and I am very sad, however it is so good to know that she is in Heaven with my Dad and all of our family members that were awaiting her.  What a Blessed, Thankful table they sit at this year and I am sure they are sending their love to us here on earth this Thanksgiving.
Wow as I count my blessings I realize I am rich
Thank you God for Enriching my life, I am Indeed Blessed.
Have A Wonderful Thanksgiving. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

There Really Is No Place Like Home.

I began this blog in early May but did not finish it, however it is now time to complete it.

For the past SEVEN Months my Mom has been very ill.  She has spent many of these days in the hospital and at a Rehab Facility.  She returned home May 1st because that is what she wanted.  Now she is settled in her living room, in a hospital bed. Mom has lived in her home for 56 years and that is where she is most comfortable.                                     Since coming home, yes she still suffers, is weak and unable to do very much for herself but she is home.  We have seen her more at peace now and not having to return (as she did many times in the past while staying at the Rehab Facility) to the hospital with yet another health problem.  She has her dog Rascal,  he does not live up to his name, he is a loving companion although he too is suffering with age issues.  In addition Mom has Caregivers around the clock.  These women have a compassion for Mom and for her family.  There are six children in our family.  Three live within 45 miles and two of them are devoted to Mom.  God Bless them and their families for the care and love they are giving her.  Two of us are away: Patti is in Florida and I am in Southern Illinois.  We know how hard this is for the two sisters that are there for Mom, but getting away is difficult, my husband and I own two business' and Patti works for the University.  It is my sincere wish that I could be like Samantha of BEWITCHED and twitch my nose and be there to help.  However when my schedule permits I will try to get up there.  In late March we all got a call to come home as things were not good with Mom.  Things calmed down and Patti and I were there for several days in April, however Mom was not home just yet.

It has been two and a half weeks since my Mom went to be with the Lord. It seems like ages ago and then a very short time. It is a nightmare too. It was about this time (6:40 am)  Friday July 6th,  that Mike came in to where I was taking a shower and told me Mom was gone. WHAT????? I was shocked, I had just looked at her and she was sleeping, not gone. As I rushed to dry off and get dressed I thought Mike was mistaken. As I came into the living room where Mom was in her hospital bed, she appeared to be asleep without her oxygen on. I went to her and embraced her only to realize it was true, although she was still warm, she was gone.
Adeline, Mom's caregiver was in the room with me and urged me to call my sisters , so I would not be alone with Mom. Oh my to make those calls was horrible, to hear their grief was heart wrenching. I was so upset that I called Nancy my mother in law by mistake. I then sat there holding my Mom's hand and waiting for my sisters and brother to get to our home. As each one arrived it broke my heart to experience their grief as reality hit them. 

We are so very blessed to have my Husband, Mike as a part of our family and before Mom left her home for the final time he prayed with us and for Mom. Mike is a  Deacon in the Anglican Church and as he prayed  I really felt  God and the Holy Spirit in the room with us as  Mike's gentle, caring voice prayed for Mom and for us.

For the next 24 hours we went through the process of planning to lay Mom to rest.  We were all numb but were able to plan well together.  My brother bless his heart had to put up with five sisters and he managed quite well. We planned with Mom's wishes in mind and always agreed on every decision we made.  We were back at our home Saturday evening and I walked back into the room to be told I had been selected as the oldest, to give the Eulogy.  At first I did not want to, but we were all going to work together on it so I then felt honored to do this for my dear Mother. 

After the visitation the next day, we all came together to prepare our farewell to Mom, we cried, laughed and remembered fondly all of the wonderful, crazy and  loving things we experienced growing up in the home Mom and Dad had made for us.  I doubt many can say they were able to  come together as we were that night, in our Family home of 56 years.  We finished it at 3 AM so it most certainly was the final act of love we could give our Mother.

As it came time for the Funeral, everything seemed to go by very fast, we did take our time in saying our good byes before the casket was closed, that was so hard!  At the church which was Mom's church for over 68 years we had the Mass and my niece sang the Psalm which warmed our hearts and I am sure all the angels in heaven heard, then it came time to deliver the Eulogy.
This is our Eulogy:

We come here today to Celebrate our Moms Life. Last night as we were attempting to create this remembrance to honor her we laughed, sighed, shared a few tears and a lifetime of wonderful memories. Mom was the best and brought out in each of us the best we could be.

Mom was born in 1934 in Boston Mass, she moved to Evanston at the age of 9 attended and graduated from St. Athanasius. In 1953 Mom graduated from ETHS and that was the year she also met Dad. They were married for over 50 years and were blessed with 6 children.

We wish to share with you a few of our treasured memories.

Mom loved Christmas, she went all out for us. Mom saved all year to fill under our tree with plenty
of presents and she delighted in watching us open each and every gift.                                                Mom had the best darn whistle and we knew we better get right home, we could hear that whistle all the way up to Willard playground. I would love to share the whistle but would not be able to do it any justice at all. Mom was proud of her children's accomplishments, I will never forget her smile and big hug after my speech at my HS Graduation.

Kathy shared how Mom would make light of stressful situations with a gentle joke. Can you imagine, she asked Kathy if she wanted to stop for a burger while on the way to the hospital due to Kathy's ruptured appendix. Mom and Kathy had a special relationship when traveling in the car, Mom always sat in the back  seat of the car and Kathy was able to chauffeur her very own special "Miss Daisy". She also cherishes her one on one vacation times in Florida with Mom.

Patti shared her eventful trip to St Marten with Mom; they had signed up for a boat trip across the island expecting a large boat only to find out that it was only a bit larger than a row boat, but Mom did it any way. Thanksgivings at her home with Mom & Dad, great spring vacation times when Mom & Dad were in Pompano. And a wonderful hug and I Love You from Mom after the typical highly emotional wedding week all Brides and Mothers experience.

Maureen had many special memories of ways Mom has helped her in her life and a specific one was when she stayed with Mom for a week and before she left she overheard Mom say she had to get off the phone because her room mate was leaving. Mom then turned and told Maureen "I love you honey".

Betsey shared how privileged and blessed she was to have Mom help her raise Matthew, and could not have done it without her help and guidance. Betsey also loved all the special quiet times with Mom during the past 8 months.

As you know, Mom has had 8 months of significant health issues and fought hard to survive. We came together to rally around her and believe it or not we had crazy times to get us through the stress and keep laughter ongoing. We played Charlies Angels, had hospital slumber parties, and enjoyed nicknaming most of the people we met along the way. When we brought Mom home we fell in love with her dear caregivers who treated her as if she was their Mom too. They proved to us why they are called  CARE giver.

In addition Mom had her very own personal Care givers, Kathy and Betsey have shared themselves totally these past 8 months loving, caring and making each day better for Mom. The rest of us knew how lucky we were to have them there for her.
Mom instilled in her children love for family. I witnessed it last night as we said our Good nights to Mom after the visitation, each of my sisters and brother embraced their children as they went up to Mom. It touched me deeply to see this and know that Mom will live on in each of us and her grandchildren because of this love.

We Love you so very much Mom, rest well.
My brother Tim was to say something else when I finished, but he did not.  In the Limo on the way to the Cemetery he told us I had said everything he wanted to and then he told us how he wanted to finish, well I think once again God had a hand in how this turned out and we encouraged Tim to have his talk in the chapel at the Cemetery. 
The procession from the church to the Cemetery went by and stopped by our Home one last time for Mom, it was so meaningful to all of us.  At the Cemetery  in the Chapel, Father Libera said the final prayers and then Tim stood up and talked about Mom and shared her whistle and told us we now wait to hear that whistle to call us home to be with her and Dad.  A perfect way to leave Mom, knowing she will one day whistle for us to come home.
God Bless you Mom and I am so happy that Dad was waiting to Welcome you to your New Heavenly Home!
Oh and by the way, We have decided to keep our Family home for the time being, after all:
There Really Is No Place Like Home........

Monday, October 17, 2011

In The Still Of The Night......

I can not sleep tonight. I am not sure why, but I just can not sleep. It has been almost 9 months since my last post. Why? I really don't know.....
Much has happened during this time, in our Photography business, our family life and in our personal relationship.
We continue to work hard in the Photography business as we have found a new dynamic lab to work with for our school division, In addition to that, every day brings new and challenging options for us to implement for our photography clients.
Our family is still trying to adapt to the sudden deaths of John and Jim at the end of last year, I am not looking forward to the first anniversary of their deaths. Our hearts ache so very much and they are both missed daily. I am amazed at the strength Nancy appears to have in dealing with her loss. She is a loving Mother in Law and I am blessed. Just wish we were closer to her. We have spent much time together in the past 9 months but still being able to just "drop in" would be great. Wish we lived in the age of the "Jetsons" it would make life so convenient when distance is a concern.
We just returned from a great 5 days with my family, celebrating my Mothers 77th birthday. It was great to see my Mother smile, laugh and enjoy her children and grandchildren. Family times are so nice.
Our personal life has been great, we discover and remember so many wonderful things daily. Our love continues to grow each minute. Yes there are trying times, but you know, our love for each other seems to diminish the trying times. I want to say I an so very blessed, but I will say WE are so very blessed. We will celebrate 25 years in April 2012. Where has the time gone, it seems like yesterday when we took off to Gatlinburg to "secretly" get married on April 1st. Mikes boys knew but thought it was great to be able to keep our "April Fool's Day" wedding a secret. And when our family and friends received the announcement on April 1st they were surprised, but were happy for us..."No Foolin" ! Yes 25 years; my we have grown, loved and lived and I hope for at least 25 more!
So in the Still of This Night, I can not sleep, but I can relax and reflect. And I thank God for all my blessings.
Good Night, Sweet Dreams!

Monday, January 31, 2011

It Is In The Eyes & The Soul.......

I call my blog SMILING EYES for many reasons. When I was a child, one of my friends Mother told me I had a great smile with high cheek bones and I even shared this smile with my eyes. I remember that my Grandpa Ward would set us on his lap or next to him and challenge us to remain sober and not smile. Then he would stare us down and we would forever break out with a smile and giggles as we failed his challenge, Grandpa stared at us with a twinkle and a grand smile in his eyes that we could not resist responding to.
On a side note.....I love to tease people but can not get away with it too much because of my eyes, I must have inherited this from Grandpa.
There is a saying that goes something like......Smile and they will wonder what you have been up to. Hmmm I believe this is true.
When we were in trouble at home as children, we did not want to fess up, a smile most generally gave us away, unfortunately we could not win our Mom over with the smile so a punishment was inevitable.
This past weekend we had a SNOW BALL for our Service Unit's Girl Scouts who range in age from Kindergarten through Juniors in high school. There were many girls there with oh so many smiles, one little girl told a leader "this is the Best Night of my life!" Wow what a way to make an adult smile, when a child smiles.
As a parent I am sure there is a joy when their infant smiles for the first time. As a photographer, it is an accomplishment to make a child smile to make a parent happy. Somehow I feel this is related. I am not a parent so my joy does come from making a child smile for their school picture as each year passes. I have been a school photographer for 30 years now and have photographed many children during this time span. I have realized that I have to smile as I take each and every picture. Oh my, I sure am glad that it takes less muscles to smile than to frown or I would have so many more crinkles in my face.
The past two months have been full of emotions for us. We have lost loved ones, shared a wonderful surprise at Christmas and are now learning to accept the loss of our loved ones. There have been smiles through pain, joy and even sorrow. Smiles of thanks and most especially smiles of love. God knew what he was doing when he allowed us a smile as an expression to be shared.
When my Nana died the priest spoke about Jesus laughing and how it was rare to see images of him laughing in the bible or other art work portraying Him. After we left the cemetery we stopped at a Religious store to look for a book. My Mother remained in the car and as Mike and I went through the store we came across a framed picture of Jesus laughing. How fitting to come across this at this particular time, we purchased one for us and one for my Mother. We went out to the car and I saw the sadness my Mother was experiencing, I handed her the picture and she smiled and we all knew God had reached out to give us this smile to help our heavy hearts.
And in this picture Jesus is smiling even with his eyes!
My wish today is that with your mouth or with your eyes, share a smile today!

Monday, December 20, 2010

We Will Get Through It, Because Of HIM

He will hold our hand or carry us as we move through the next two weeks of this nightmare. Yes it is a nightmare, my husband stated this the other evening and I agree.
The Christmas Season is to be a season of celebration with family, of the Birth Of Christ. Our family is devastated this Christmas season with the loss of a Brother and Father all within two weeks. Both deaths unexpected and crushing our spirits. Yet I have a firm belief that these two fine men are with our Lord and will be helping him to get us through the holiday.
My Mother in law believes that Jim and John were meant to be together and I believe this was God's will. It is comforting to know that a son was awaiting his father as he passed into the next life. OR that this father went to be with his son who had passed into the next life. This next life is with our Lord.
We wondered about John's religious strength and when his apartment was cleaned out, my husband was comforted to find bibles and religious books that John had. Yes, he believed. When it comes to thoughts of religion and Jim my father in law, there is no doubt that he believed. Last spring when my husband had some meetings with the Bishop in Katy Texas my Father in law went with Mike. I believe he was very proud of my husbands journey with Christ. Jim wanted to be a part of it, even in this small way. And when he took Mike to the airport and embraced him, Jim told Mike he was proud of him. This was the final time Mike was with his Dad in person, how wonderful it is, that this memory will be with Mike forever, thanks to God.
We carry on a photography business that was started in 1921 by Mike's Grandfather and passed on to us by Mike's Dad in 1982, we have worked diligently to continue this tradition and it was a given that we just do it, no need to be proud of that. But to watch as your son became a Deacon and very involved in the church, yes that made Jim proud.
As Jim attempted to deal with his son John's death he turned to his minister Harold and more than likely turned within, to our Lord for comfort. Jim called me and told me he had talked with Harold because he wanted to help Nancy, even at this time he reached out to God through Harold to help his wife of 58 years, get through the funeral for John.
Alas it was not meant for Jim to be with Nancy at their sons funeral, but it was his desire to help her through it. I hope she knows that.
Jim and John will be present in our hearts at the funeral but I would rather think of it as a Celebration of their lives both separate and together. We will get through it, it will be tough, but how fitting that it will occur during the season of Christ's birth. Christ who was sent to us as our Savior. It gives me much comfort to know that John and Jim are with our Savior and as the Christmas season passes they will be with us in our hearts.
Yes, HE will hold our hand or carry us as we move through the next two weeks and I am glad HE is here for us. And I know PEACE will come.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

If God Had A Wallet, Your Picture Would Be In It!

The room was dark except for a light over the table at the back. He welcomed me and asked me to have a seat, thus the interview that would change my life forever began.
It was 1978 and I was a recently divorced woman without any focus for my future. I was working at a hospital as a darkroom tech in the X Ray department, I had worked at a photography studio briefly before this job and for another photography company before that. I knew I wanted to be a photographer so when the Studio job was listed in the paper I applied.
Little did I know what was in store, but I believe God did.
I got the job and became an employee of Spieth Inc. Mr. Jim Spieth became my boss, now back to the interview, this man was a quiet, somber gentleman. He hardly spoke and asked me very few questions, gave me a test and told me I had a job.....possibly, he had one more interview and would call. Once again may I say this was a very different type of job interview. But I did like meeting this quiet gentleman.
I waited to hear if I got the job and on the day he called to tell me yes, I had also received a call from another photography company I had interviewed for offering me a position with them. I told Mr. Spieth this and we did a bit of negotiating about hours and pay and I told him that I would accept the position. And again as I remember this, I do believe God sent me on this road for a reason.
I enjoyed my job at the Studio Photique located in the mall in Mattoon. I rarely saw my new employer as he was in Olney some 80 miles south. As time passed and I got more photography skills under my belt and also moved up to managing the studio I felt content. Then one day I received a call from Mr. Spieth and he told me that since the Studio was not doing exactly what he wanted in addition to my job as manager, I would begin taking pictures in schools for Spieth Inc.
Wow, this became something I really enjoyed. Children are gifts from God and being able to capture their youth in my pictures as they grew, was wonderful. As in a previous blog I call this Memory Insurance.
As time passed and the business structure changed Mr. Spieth, now Jim became my dear friend and his son became my boss. We began a new venture called SPIETH PHOTOGRAPHY and I moved to Olney.
Eventually Jim became my father in law, when God blessed me once again with my marriage to his son Mike.
So boss, friend, father in law who would ever know this would happen, but I am sure God did.
Yesterday God brought Jim home to him, we are numb as we have not even had the funeral for John, his son. But I am sure God has a plan and it is a blessing that Jim is with him and not here in a permanent injured state from his tragic accident.
Perhaps God needed a new photographer to help him take the pictures that God Keeps In His Wallet.
I will miss you my dear father in law, friend and boss. I Love You, God's Peace Always and THANK YOU so very much for bringing me into your life. You were a gift in my life.
And one more favor, would you please make sure that God has my picture is in His Wallet?