Saturday, May 29, 2010

We Are Family

On Monday this week (I am a little behind), I attended the funeral of a great man.  My Grandfather’s brother (my Great Uncle for those of you keeping track!), Gene, passed away on May 20th.  He was 92, lived an incredible life and always had a story to tell with a smile on his face. 

Even though I am an only child, I actually come from a rather large family.  You may remember this same branch of the family tree from previous posts about Thanksgiving.  My Grandfather was one of seven boys and until May 20th, five of the seven were still with us.  My mom is one of six children, and my dad is one of seven.  And while some people don’t know their uncles and aunts very well, I am blessed to say that I know all of mine AND most of my Great Aunts and Uncles as well – including Uncle Gene and his wife, Aunt Greta (who is one of Tatiana’s favorites!) – and it doesn’t hurt that they are practically my neighbors!

The Clarkson boys from top left:  Lock, Gene, Lee, Jule.  Bottom left:  Lyle, Wayne and Arden.

I never knew my Grandfather, Lawrence “Lock” Clarkson.  He passed away in January 1969, before I was born.  I am thankful that I got to experience what I can only imagine he was like, through the eyes of his brothers.  Another cousin said it well this week by stating that if our Grandfather was anything like Uncle Gene, he must have been wonderful!  And that’s saying A LOT.  Uncle Gene’s funeral was packed.  Not many people can say that – let alone a 92 year old.  4 SEPARATE religious leaders got up to speak – from 4 SEPARATE churches! 

As with many people, I assume, family over the years has come to mean more to me than I realized.  My Great Uncle’s passing coincided with a conversation I had with a co-worker who is VERY driven to be promoted.   He seems boggled sometimes when I don’t have the same goal.  And honestly, years ago, I would have been boggled as well.  However, the older I get, the more important family and friends are to me.  I am sure Tatiana’s arrival has something to do with that as well.  I am thrilled that she is growing up around so many family members!  She sees her Gramma Darlin on a daily basis – along with some of her cousins.  Her GREAT Gramma lives a mile from us and she has the pleasure of knowing some of her Great GREAT Aunts and Uncles.  For someone who started out her life with NO one claiming to be her family, that’s pretty cool. 

Over the past year or so, my priorities have shifted.  I find myself thinking of ways I could work where I didn’t have to travel as much so I could be even CLOSER to home more often.  My cousin Jennifer and I plot about opening up our own business at times, but what that is, we aren’t 100% sure yet.  We’re both fabulous dreamers – it’s got to be genetic!

So while I am sad to say Good-bye to my literally GREAT (as in fabulous), Great Uncle Gene (as in my mother’s Uncle!), I am thankful for the time we spent together;  the stories he told (like many of our family members, he could talk and talk and talk – a habit I *OBIVOUSLY* did NOT inherit, ha ha); the glimpse into what my Grandfather was like; and the life lessons that I didn’t even know I was receiving.  Say hi to Grandpa for me, Uncle Gene! 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

You’re A Real Mutha, Ya’ Know?


Tomorrow is my second Mother’s Day with Tatiana.  She’s now been home in the United States for over 13 months.  It’s hard for me to believe it’s ONLY been 13 months, as I feel like we’ve been together forever. 

While I wish I could tell her someday that I was there for every moment of her life, I am so eternally grateful for every moment we have spent together.  And so tonight, I have to give thanks.  Thank you to all who made my life with Tatiana possible. 

First to my mom, aka Gramma Darlin, who helped with SO much, and continues to help everyday.  It truly does “Take a Village to Raise a Child” (props to Hillary Rodham Clinton for that!).  Gramma Darlin was the silent, behind the scenes success during Tatiana’s adoption – with all kinds of support, emotional, physical and financial!

I cannot forget Aunt “Whonda”, who flew around the world TWICE to bring home this special little Russian sprite.  Not only did she tolerate my midnight ramblings during VERY strung out adjustments to new time zones, but she helped keep me sane on BOTH trips during stressful moments – and there were LOTS! 

Of course I have to mention Lorien, specifically, at Lighthouse Adoptions.  Yes, I am biased, but I think she’s one of the best in her field.  Having adopted twice, she GETS IT, from the perspective of the adoptive parent.  And along with Lorien, the entire LSS staff in Vladivostok:  Ivan, Sergei, Kate, Elena and Luba.  You are my Russian family!

To you, my fellow bloggers and friends… you also helped me more than you know.  I lived vicariously through so many of you while waiting the horrible wait.  Angie & Tamara, my Lighthouse sisters – you are fabulous!  Sara/Stephen, Heidi/Mike, Phyllis/Ed, Lisa/Andrew, Daniela/Chris & Jeanette, who all helped make Vladivostok special for me, thank you!

And finally, the largest thank you of them all.  On this, my second Mother’s Day, while enjoying the wonder and beauty of my precious girl, I have to thank Svetlana K.  Svetlana is the woman who gave birth to my gorgeous girl.  While I may not love all the things that transpired during her pregnancy and shortly thereafter, she made my dream come true.  We may never meet, and I have no idea what her life holds for her right now, but I wish her nothing but the best.   In your honor today, Svetlana, I donated on your behalf to the SPOON Foundation, a non profit organization that helps with nutritional issues of orphans around the world. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mother’s out there, present and future.