Graduation thoughts – decades later…

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“Keep in mind that neither success nor failure is ever final.” – Roger Babson

So today, June 13, is the 33rd anniversary of my graduation from high school. Wow. I know, I know… I just dated myself…

Maybe I am nostalgic because my third child graduated last month, and baby number four will graduate in two years. Maybe I am nostalgic because my granddaughter graduated kindergarten on the same day of my graduation anniversary. Maybe it’s hormones. But today truly has been a day of reflection.

First, how on earth did 33 years fly by so quickly? I haven’t done half of what I had planned to accomplish on that sunny day back in 1980. My plans were to head to college and become an accountant. Fame and fortune and a corner office downtown were waiting. Those plans changed quickly when I bombed pre-calculus and realized I didn’t love accounting enough to waste the time on trying to pass the class a second time around – on my dime. (Yes, I am one of those rare breeds that paid for my schooling.) So when I saw that the accountant gig wasn’t going to pan out, I fell back on to my childhood dream of being writer, and I was going to be the next, best reporter. Ever.

But then, marriage and four kids came along, and I never finished that journalism degree. In hindsight, maybe that was good, as print journalism took a nose dive. The military life had us moving around, and by the time we finally settled back home and my brood started to enter school, I had left the world of newspaper advertising and began freelance writing for local and daily papers and magazines. It was a wonderful balance.

I married a great guy – my soldier, a true hero – and we have four great kids of our own, and two recent additions – our son-in-law and daughter-in-law. We have two beautiful granddaughters. We receive wonderful accolades on our children – better than a Pulitzer or a byline in a newspaper.

The gal with the diploma didn’t have a clue that she’d meet her husband on a blind date, become a military wife, a mom times four, a military mom or a struggling writer. She didn’t know she’d live in Hawaii or visit other areas of the world. She didn’t know the joy and pain of being a parent; how hard it would be to watch her children struggle, face disappointments or to send a son off to basic training; she also had no clue as to how it would feel to have her husband and son deployed back-to-back in a war zone. She didn’t know she’d watch her dad succumb to the ravages of the worst disease ever – Alzheimer’s.

She didn’t know that she’d realize what her faith meant to her, and that she’d echo the same sentiment as her dad – that the only thing that really mattered was that her children came to know Christ. She didn’t realize what her mother went through, until she, herself, faced similar life situations and drew on the strength of her insanely strong mom.

That very shy graduate, the one who rarely opened her mouth back in the day, couldn’t possibly have known that one day, she’d have op-eds published in two Detroit dailies. That she’d defend her babies and march right into the school on two occasions, confronting teachers that bullied her daughters. That, paid or not, she’d keep her dream of writing alive. That she could face her fears and shyness and actually perform a few skits on a stage. In front of large crowds. That above all, God, family and love would be the priorities in her life.

She couldn’t have known that her fellow graduates would also face life struggles: divorces, deaths, job losses – and that they’d find fellowship in supporting each other as they grew older. That the smaller, more intimate gatherings weren’t to see who was the most successful, but to support each other and cheer them on – during the good times and the bad.

When I think back to the 18-year-old girl grasping the diploma, I wonder – did I disappoint her? I didn’t become the bang-whiz accountant or the ace reporter – that’s for sure. But, what I didn’t achieve for her career-wise, I sure think I made up for in other ways. She has a Master’s in the school of hard-knocks, which went a long way in developing her character. You see, that young kid is pretty damned content with how it has all turned out, and she learned that true success is measured in love.

And by that measurement, she knows that she has been repeatedly and abundantly blessed.

Do you ever reflect on your high school graduation? Let me know in the comments below.

© 2013 – Lynne Cobb

Reflections on July 4th

I skipped our neighboring town’s Fourth of July parade this morning. It isn’t quite the same since my children are older and aren’t real concerned about collecting the candy loot along the parade route. Instead, I enjoyed the quiet of the morning along with a cup of coffee.

The air was already humid and hot as I placed the our flag in the holder. Of course, like every minute of every day, I thought of my dad while I adjusted the flag. He was such a patriot – he put the flag out everyday. When we surprised him with an awesome flag pole one year, complete with a light so he could leave the flag up at night, you wouldn’t believe the smile. His entire face lit up, and he tended to that flag faithfully. The landscaping and lighting were always perfect. He’d have it no other way.

We used to have a blast – pun intended – on the Fourth of July. When we were young kids, we would go to my dad’s brother’s house for the day. It was great: grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, awesome food, sparklers. In the evening, we’d sit at the foot of my uncle’s driveway and watch the fireworks. The smell of barbecued burgers, fireworks and cigar smoked enveloped us.

If there was a ball game on, you can bet it was being listened to, with an adjustment to an antenna to reduce the static. And you can safely bet my dad, uncle and grandfather would gripe about what the Detroit Tigers were doing – or not doing – that particular season. Words were peppered with expletives, making us kids laugh and our mothers blush.

As time went on, the trees in the park grew, and we lost our vantage point view at my uncle’s house. We moved the event to the park, and as us kids grew older, we went our own separate ways with our own friends. Eventually, there were weddings, moves across town and across the country. The passing of time and relatives changed the face of the Fourth of July.

When my little (at the time!) family moved back “home” after our military moves, we started our own tradition of attending parades and fireworks. Our town sponsored both, and so our house became like my uncle’s: filled with relatives, kids running, barbecue and water balloons. All day long, our house had continuous movement, anticipating the fireworks at night.

With each flag I see today, I’ll think of my dad the patriot. He loved the military, for which he was not called to serve.  I often imagine that if he could have gone to basic training, he would be the guy who was super buff because he’d have done thousands of push-ups due to smart-aleck remarks made to his drill sergeant. As fiercely protective he was of his family, I bet he would have been an outstanding non-commissioned officer. His guys would come first – I know that in my heart.

Of course, he’ll be missed this evening when we toss the burgers on the grill. We’ll laugh about the year my dad ran off like a bat out of hell to correct an ignorant punk who  stupidly threw a firecracker towards my young children as we walked home from the fireworks. Boy, did that guy mess with the wrong family 🙂

Dad, enjoy viewing the fireworks tonight from your new vantage point. I bet it will be awesome.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Mixing it up again in Lynne’s Lab

Yes, making my own household cleaning and personal care items continues in my kitchen. So far, the results of the deodorant, laundry detergent and liquid hand soap have been favorable. They have also inspired others to give it a try… like my mother, who thought I had either too much time on my hands or went all-out hippie. (Okay, so I do make my own granola and have made yogurt. Does that make me a hippie?) I digress.

A few Sundays ago, I made my monthly stock of deodorant, and figured that now was as good as time as any to try making toothpaste. My granddaughters were fascinated. I assume most kids watch their Mema make cookies. They helped me count and seemed to enjoy watching their favorite mad-scientist in action.

The toothpaste was super simple to make. I found it on Crunchy Betty’s blog, and modified it – of course! My concoction: 3 Tbsp of baking soda, 3 Tbsp of coconut oil and 25 drops of peppermint essential oil (I used more peppermint, but omitted the stevia and glycerin, as I don’t care for sweetened toothpaste.) Soften the coconut oil a bit, and mix everything together.  I found little travel containers at Wal-Mart to put the paste in (one for me, one for hubby) and stored the rest of it in a small container to use as a refill. The batch cost about 38 cents to make, and  it looks like it will last two weeks for two people.

After hearing our rave reviews, my mom made her own toothpaste as well, and she is also enjoying the results. If you are not used to the baking soda taste, it is kind of salty/grainy at first, but it took me only two brushings to get used to the taste and texture. My mouth and teeth feel so much cleaner, and I think they look whiter, too.

Have you been inspired to try any of my “lab-tested” stuff? Let me know in the comment section below.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

This one’s for you, Dad

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… Ecclesiastes 3:1

My favorite time of year is upon us. School is starting to wind down, the weather has been spectacular, and the strawberries are beginning to ripen. Those beauties in the photo came from my yard!

A few years ago, I bought four little strawberry plants. Because I really have no idea what I am doing in the yard, I planted the them behind the garage. Apparently, there are better ways to boost one’s harvest if you just, um, do the research. But even with my mix-up, the plants are taking over that patch of ground and we are getting some decent-sized berries, which are absolutely delicious!

June has always been one of my favorite months, and one of the main reasons: strawberries. For me, just going to our local farmers’ market is like visiting a small space in heaven.

Growing up, these little tastes of heaven were a mainstay in our home. With Father’s Day and my dad’s birthday about a week apart, it was a sure guarantee that something bearing strawberries would be on the menu.

Our family has a rough stretch to get through in the very near future. This will be our first Father’s Day without Dad. On June 25, he would have been 77. And just a few weeks after that will mark the one-year anniversary of his death.

It hasn’t been easy, and I imagine it won’t be easy in the weeks to come. I seek comfort in prayer, in my family and friends. I look for joy in the little things – my granddaughters’ laughter, a pathetically bad joke, a sunny day, flowers in bloom.

I found joy in the warmth of a beautiful and sunny day in May, picking the first two berries of the season, smiling at the little miracles in my hand: from the frozen ground to the leaves pushing through the damp earth, to the pretty blossoms to the berries in my grasp. Life, indeed, goes on.

So, Dad, here’s to you! I will consume as many as possible in your memory

… a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecc. 3:4

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb