Notes from Jan

Group Therapy

June 3, 2021

Maggie and I watched the white-haired couple seated near us at a table for two. They exuded interest in each other, not cellphones. Maggie caught my wistful look. She knew I missed Jud. Especially, since it was May 31st, our wedding anniversary. Which was why Maggie, Kate and Rose, their friend, lunched with me at Davio’s. Because sometimes you just have to hunt new ways to affirm life as it is, not was.

When the server stopped by with menus, she asked, “Are we celebrating anything special?” I said,”Just being together.” And Maggie said,”Her anniversary and her birthday in two days.” Then I added like it mattered to anyone besides me,”Well, my husband died a few years ago and this was one of our favorite places so I brought my Grands to remember and party with me.” The server responded with the usual, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Then added,”How nice you could be together.”

Nice. One of those catchall words. Like, “Have a nice day.” Or, “You look nice in that color.” The OED defines nice as “pleasant, agreeable, satisfactory.” And our anniversary lunch was all of the above, except for two incidents. The first incident came when Poco, half way through her meal, announced, “I don’t feel well.”

Well, that put Maggie on red alert since she’s playing Elsa in her school’s production of Frozen this weekend. And justifies why Maggie recoiled in dramatic horror and warned, “Poco, don’t breathe on me! I can’t get sick!” Rose, a doctor’s daughter, calmly felt her friend’s forehead and pronounced, “She’s fine!”

But Poco didn’t feel fine. So I opened my arms, inviting her to my lap to curl up and breathe, guilt free. Which she did all over me. And as Poco proclaimed on my 80th birthday,”So far, so good.”

However, the other incident was on me. In an attempt to elevate the conversation, I made the mistake of saying more than necessary. It’s one of my lesser gifts. So I turned to the three girls, ages 10, 12 and 13, and announced in somewhat biblical language, “It’s appropriate that you Grands are celebrating this anniversary with me. You are the fruit of our love.” (I didn’t say “loins.” ) Nevertheless, Maggie, age 13, responded with, “Eww!”

Well, I laughed. Why not?! Life’s a mix of “Eww!” and “Wow!” and all the in-between moments. Ordinary days, like today. Life as it is, not was.

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  • Reply Mark Taylor June 3, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    I can just imagine how the girls would have responded if you had said “The fruit of our loins.”

    “Loins? What are loins? You mean pork loins? That makes no sense.”

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 4, 2021 at 10:46 am

      And that’s one reason why I didn’t go all biblical language. Still, the teenager caught on, as kids often do. Love hearing from you, Mark.

  • Reply Marty Lefever June 3, 2021 at 7:03 pm

    Now, that was “nice” and very sweet! Those Grands are a precious gift!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 4, 2021 at 10:50 am

      Yes, they are! And so are you…with your always-on-time cards and good wishes. You are my “faithful philodendron”…green, growing and a faithful friend with so little tending.

  • Reply Marylou Habecker June 3, 2021 at 7:04 pm

    Happy anniversary date and remembering in this special
    Way….!and happy 80th beautiful birthday . What a life you both lived and served so well and showed so many what a Godly marriage looks like. May the Lord be near to you and hold you close. We love you .

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 4, 2021 at 10:52 am

      Thanks, dear Marylou. Actually I’m eighty-won! Or as the Grands prefer 18!

  • Reply Kristina Harter Harter June 3, 2021 at 7:05 pm

    Life with you as it is, is such a gift. Thank you for all the love and support.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 4, 2021 at 10:53 am

      Thank you, my precious daughter-in-love. Your daughters and YOU are everyday gifts to me.

  • Reply Julie Mozena June 3, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    What a lovely post, Jan. “Because sometimes you just have to hunt new ways to affirm life as it is, not was.” Truer words could not have been said. I’m so glad you got to celebrate your life with Jud, your birthday and your grands, all in one fell swoop. And I hope sweet Poco is feeling better now! xo Julie

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 4, 2021 at 11:00 am

      Hey, Julie, with the best laugh and hair! Love seeing your name pop up. Poco’s “fine”! As for me, I keep soaking up all the love and attention. Thanks for adding to my stash. I’m grateful you, Trevor and his cardamom cocktails are part of “life as is.”

  • Reply Shirley Westrate June 3, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    “So far, so good” indeed, dear Jan. You and your musings are a welcome gift for all of us today. Thank you, as always, for the quiet wisdom and lovely humor of your posts.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 4, 2021 at 11:02 am

      And you, dear Shirley, are a welcome gift to me. Thanks for reading, responding and plotting our next get-together.

  • Reply Myrna June 3, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    I so enjoy reading stories including your grands. I couldn’t help but laugh at this one!What a wonderful way to celebrate your birthday. Happy Birthday, Jan!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 4, 2021 at 11:08 am

      Thanks, Myrna. I do feel celebrated and grateful for all, family, friends and strangers who infuse me with humor, hope and chutzpah to “faith” each day. And then to welcome and enjoy today for the gift it is.

  • Reply David L Smith June 3, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    I think we don’t celebrate enough in this life, so good for you. Happy anniversary, and belated happy birthday. I’m glad you could have a “grand” time with the tutti frutti of your, ahem, “love”!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 4, 2021 at 11:09 am

      This made me laugh out loud! Thanks, David. I agree with you on celebrating life and appreciate that you read the blog and respond with your wit, wisdom and creative writing skills.

  • Reply Nancy Vecchio June 3, 2021 at 9:50 pm

    You dear Jan! First of all, I’m a bit late, forgive me, Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday! … your Judd will always be in your heart until you meet again in that beautiful heaven we look forward to! What a grand reunion we will experience “that day”.
    How fun you got to celebrate both with your grands and their friend, “ the fruit” I love it!!
    Can’t wait to meet up with you one of these days for coffee and hugs!
    God bless you!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 4, 2021 at 11:11 am

      Thanks, Nancy. I look forward to face to face with you soon, as well. What a year we had in Community Bible Study. It was a meaningful time to read and study the Gospel of John. I look forward to next year…in person. Until then, Happy Summering.

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe June 5, 2021 at 5:28 pm

    Jan, how I wish Jud had been there with you and the three girls. How he would have laughed! I also wish I had realized it was both your anniversary and your birthday just a few days ago. Your life is a blessing to so many, including me. Pastors or priests who officiate in sacramental times are often called the “celebrant” and you, Jan, are our dear Celebrant. You minister to us through your words.

  • Reply Jan Carlberg June 6, 2021 at 8:19 pm

    Well, dear Maggie, that’s both deeply touching and challenging. You and I know words matter, written and spoken. So, I’m especially grateful for your affirmation. They are deeply encouraging to my heart and mind. Thanks, Maggie.

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