Libby Baker Sweiger

Weaver of Everyday Tales

Archive for the tag “children”

Christmas: Sadness Mixed With Joy

Christmas is a time of great joy.

“For unto us born a Savior who is Christ the Lord.

It is also a time of sorrow. For many people Christmas, Thanksgiving, holiday celebrations can overwhelm them with a sense of loss for those who aren’t there to celebrate with them. They have loved ones who have gone on before them in death, have left in divorce, have died prematurely before knowing a Christmas, or perhaps only knew one. People who lose children are very susceptible to the blues I think, being one of them. So how to handle the holiday blues before they handle you?

Sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you just have to let yourself experience them. But, fight going too low. The healthy hurting of a partly broken holiday heart is manageable. Full blown depression, no matter the time of year requires treatment immediately.

Well I’m writing in the abstract, let me just say, I’m having a bit of trouble this year. I’m missing my little girl and little boy who have unfortunately and unnaturally gone ahead of me. And as for the daughter I delightfully got to raise, it’s not looking as though she will be coming home for Christmas. Nor is my dad coming up.

So right now I am telling myself to snap out of it which is kind of a joke in our family. We are all so sympathetic and empathetic it’s rather the opposite of the way we relate to each other, but we’re fond of saying it to ourselves!

And I’m counting my blessings. I’m so thankful Mike came through his recent surgery so well. And I’m taking the focus off of myself and focusing on others and my Christmas projects, like Christmas cards and decorating and normal things like work.

And I’m praying for my friends to be well for Christmas. Friends who have much more challenging lives that I. Like Heather Siebens who lives in constant pain and Mary Triviski who has recurrent viral Meningitis.

And I am thanking God for the fullness of my life. The new client whose project I start in two days. And the Birthday party we’re having for dad in our party room on the 29th of December that will gather the whole family at last. I am the hub of party planning central.

So now I am smiling. Writing always makes me happy and I found this great quote about the bittersweet emotions surrounding Christmas:

β€œIn this way Penelope’s happy and sad feelings got all mixed up together, until they were not unlike one of those delicious cookies they have nowadays, the ones with a flat circle of sugary cream sandwiched between two chocolate-flavored wafers. In her heart she felt a soft, hidden core of sweet melancholy nestled inside crisp outer layers of joy, and if that is not the very sensation most people feel at some point or other during the holidays, then one would be hard pressed to say what is.”
― Maryrose Wood

Mike & I Thanksgiving πŸ™‚

I wish all of you a very Happy Holiday Season, whatever you celebrate and a very Merry Christmas too! Here is a picture of Mike and I taken at his cousin Becky’s at Thanksgiving. Isn’t he looking well? Love to you all! Libby

The Arrival

The Mother’s Ring on my hand, babies Abby and Davey on Mantel

β€œYou’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey

I love this quote. I saved it for one of the last posts. It is how I try to live every day. I feel the key to loving is to love unrestrained with your whole heart and not let past hurts get in the way. I don’t dance much anymore, this is a good reminder. My daughter’s dog Spunky loved to dance with me to the praise songs on the radio! They both live in Duluth, MN now. I always sing (off-key some say) at the top of my lungs. I am certain living your life as if it were heavenly will give you the attitude to make it so.

My story has almost come full circle. I loved being in my family as a child in whatever form it took. I love my parents, and the extra parents God gave me in the form of ministers, grandparents, uncles and aunts and two dear step moms. Trisha is still with us and loving this family. I have two aunts and an uncle still here. I am so blessed to have my wonderful parents! I am thankful every day that I can call my mom and she still knows me. I call my dad often and we wise crack together, and tell each other I love you.

I am most grateful for my little family. My husband is without a doubt the best in the world. He loves me and spoils me rotten. He made me cheesy eggs this morning even though I overslept and he’d already made and eaten his hours before.

There have been some tough things to endure. My dad says he thinks I’m the strongest of his children. I don’t know about that. The stomach surgery I had in 2010 when my brain swelled afterward was about the worst thing that ever happened to me health-wise. I endured intubation. I was taught by a wise and caring nurse how to breathe with the tube my throat when I started to come out of it. The Lord brought me through that one. Whew!

The very hardest thing for me was losing my babies, Shirley and Davey. If you missed that story you can find it earlier in this blog. I think about them all the time and thank the Lord that I had the privilege of being their mom. Which brings me to today.

It had been a rough week. You know the type these days, groceries not going far enough, gas not lasting long enough, working a project to earn some money and it’s really slow going. Wait. God is with us. Let’s try this again. It was a glorious week! The Lord showed his faithfulness in providing for us in every circumstance.

Today, Saturday was a perfect day. Besides sleeping in and getting cheesy eggs, we went with Mike’s sister Cindy to get a gift for a cousin’s wedding next weekend. We all went for a late lunch together. We always have so much fun talking together. We talked for hours. It was a beautiful sunny, wonder-filled Saturday.

I was tired when we got home, but I remembered to get the mail. There was no mail the day before due to Veterans Day 11-11-11. I brought the mail including an intriguing package in and put it on my kitchen table. I got a scissors and opened it and there was MY MOTHER’S RING! A beautiful ring with the names: Shirley, Davey and Abby etched in it and the birthstones of each of their birth months: October, November and January!

I will never take it off. My life has come full circle. I have my family together, including Shirley and Davey. I am ready for new beginnings. My past has been glorious and challenging, my present is satisfying, productive and expanding the muscles of my heart, the future? Well the future will be in my next book. Thank you so much for listening. Love to all! Libby

O Christmas Tree!

I love Christmas! To me it is a magical time of year. It always has been. The birth of baby Jesus — Savior of the world tops everything and is truly the reason for the season — but I’d like to talk about Christmas’ trappings for a bit. The little things that make a child’s Christmas never-to-be-forgotten. My dad was the master of Christmas magic! First of all we never went to a tree lot. From the time I was very young, old enough to walk through the snow and have dad carry Suzy on his shoulder we went out and chopped down our own tree.

Now maybe this was a common occurrence in those days for many people in rural Minnesota, but we were the only ones in our suburb carrying out this ritual. We had to drive a long distance to get to a tree farm. It was a long Dad Hike to find a tree worthy of our living room and decorations. It had to be magnificent! It was such an adventure every year. We waited with such anticipation and enjoyed every second of the day spent with my tall, handsome, knew-how-to-chop-down-a-tree dad!

We didn’t look at any of the little trees. They were not to be disturbed on the tree farm. We walked past them all until we found a tall one with a wider trunk. My dad knew the names of all the kinds of trees and just the kind we liked. Norway pines. They were a very pretty green and had long needles. They lasted a long time.

Finally our quest was over. My dad had spotted our tree! We ran over and found a good sized tree covered in snow. I held Suzy’s hand and we stood back. My dad took his ax out and started to chop down the tree. Now it’s a very easy matter to cut down a tree properly and push it the direction it should go when it’s time for it to topple. And my dad knew exactly how to do it. He would never risk knocking a tree over on one of his children, so it’s hard to imagine where they get this stuff they put in the movies. But I never felt any warnings of danger or mishap when my dad was around!

Soon Suzy and I were standing back further and Dad was giving the tree a nice little shove. TIMBER!!!!! We all yelled (the most fun part!) and down came our Christmas tree. Dad laid down parallel to the tree to measure 6 feet and then added a bit more in length for our living room. On cue Suzy and I followed suit and began making show angels. A small snowball fight and many giggles followed. Then back to the business of cutting the tree to the right length, tying a rope on the trunk and wrapping it around the branches so we could pull it back to the car.

When we got home after singing merrily in the car it was time for hot cocoa and Billy and Mom to join in the decorating after we untangled the lights and got the tree in it’s stand. Still my job to this day!

β€œNever worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all thirty feet tall.”
― Larry Wilde

Our Tree and Us

Saturdays at Dad’s

LtoR: Scott, Suzy, Pop, Dad, Sara, Me and Bill

β€œA writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin

Every Saturday, many Sundays after Church, every Christmas Eve and Father’s day were my dad’s and nobody questioned it! My dad had many qualities that made him a great dad, he loved his children, he loved to be outside and play with us and was the best story-teller. I could listen to my dad’s stories by the hour. I still can!

He loved us so much, my mother told me later, that the night they realized that a separation was going to happen he cried about not living with us kids. It breaks my heart to think of it. My poor parents, both loved us so much. My dad in tears, I could hardly bear it when she told me.

But on to the fun stuff. We lived in Minnesota. My dad was from Mitchell, South Dakota. Two cold places. He never let that stop him from being outside, or from taking us on hikes as he called walking up and down whatever hill or mini-mountain we could find.

On a Dad Hike! Me Bill and Scott!


He played football for the University and taught all for of us to go out for passes. Suzy first, she was the fastest, then me, then Bill and then Scott. He had us running, catching the football, throwing a nice spiral back to him so he could fire one off to the next kid in line. It was a blast. We went as fast as we could. Suzy set a pretty fast pace. She’s the beautiful blond girl in the pigtails in the picture. The baby is my sister Sara. She’d watch at first. Eventually she joined us for basketball. I don’t remember her playing football.

Sara was a delight as was her mom. Pop is my dad’s dad, also known to tell a good story. My dad loved words and chose his well. I loved to hear my dad talk about anything, but most especially his childhood. His childhood friends had amazing names, like “Liver Lips” Johnson! My dad could really made us laugh as you might well imagine! He told the stories of how he and his brother fought that are the stuff of family legend. He has golf stories that would make you laugh ’til you cried. You’re probably wondering why I’m not telling you any, well my dad is an author, currently working on his memoirs! I don’t want to steal any of his thunder!

I will say this, my dad taught me to love words and books and writing and speaking. When I was in high school he had a regular column in the Minneapolis Athletic Club magazine the Gopher for local business. It was funny, witty and I read it every month. His book, “The Guide Shoots First” about his hunting adventures is selling well on Amazon.com

There was one thing I envied my brothers. Well two, I guess. 1) every year they went hunting with dad and 2) they went down to the Athletic Club every Saturday morning with dad to workout, play basketball, etc. Dad would pick us up after. It was a men’s club back then with just certain hours that they allowed women’s swimming, which we did! But I wasn’t to envious. One big drawback, they couldn’t be a daughter of dad’s which is a precious thing!

All sports at my dad’s house were strictly co-ed. Other places, it was another era. There weren’t many sports for women back then, and my gym teachers were amazed at my basketball prowess when they began to “teach” us the game. Too bad they didn’t teach football too! Dad would have loved that story!

Made For Each Other

Mike and I -- A Dream Come True

β€œBe who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
― Dr. Seuss

I have thought hard over the past years about why I survived all the loss that I had in my twenties. The obvious answer of course is God and His Supernatural love and power in my life. The second was my will to live and continue on and be a part of my own little family again, and then there’s the old, I came from hearty stock argument. I do not dismiss any of these and rather think it was a strong combination of the three factors that pulled me back from sorrow, and depression, kept me from self-pity and bitterness — and helped me rebuild my life on a the rocky foundation of a condition that reared its ugly head 9 months post-partum with my son: bi-polar disorder. That was the hardest battle. When it hit, it hit very hard. I was very sick and it took the best minds and hearts in the psychiatric community in the Twin Cities to put together the plan that saved me. And it took an enormous force of will on my part. Pure fight and will to live and build and have a new life. Get my job back, get a family again, be a whole person again and I really didn’t know or care in what order. The quote above was like an echo for me. I was stripped bare in every way. Lost my nuclear family: my husband and my boy, my job was on hold, my mind was in turmoil and not my friend as it had always been. I was just raw Libby. So I was honest about everything. I put up no fronts, sugar coated nothing. No more cockiness of my youth, my smart mouth had been replaced with bare bones honesty…what you saw was what you got. My best girlfriend and I were remembering this time today together at lunch. She said she felt inadequate to know what to do for me. I said, “You were great! You were there for me. You visited me in the hospital. The cage. How much better does it get?” We laughed together. The first guy she met in the hospital told her he was Jesus Christ. She told me. I said yeah, he told me the same thing too, his name is Michael.” We laughed again. Boy if you can laugh about your life, not just later, but during the nightmarish times, you have been given the greatest gift of all. Which brings me to my other theory: I come from hearty stock. My paternal grandmother was the strongest woman I ever met. And she could find something funny in any situation. She was a survivor. My dad, now that I’m older says I remind him more and more of her and honestly I couldn’t be more complimented!

I don’t have a picture of her, but I’ve got one of dad and I which is almost the same thing, the three of is look alike!

Dad and I


Well my dad saw me making a new life for myself. I had a new job at a different company. I didn’t like the old place when I tried to go back to it. And I was doing some writing at this job. I was happy and fit, jogging, that sort of thing. He said, “Would you like to meet someone?” I said, like a guy? He said yes. and I said sure. So two weeks later he picked me up at work and drove me to his place and introduced me to the man I was made for: Mike Sweiger. Needless to say we hit it off and were married approximately 4-1/2 months later, all the while planning a beautiful wedding. How did things progress so fast? I don’t really know. We were best friends from the start. Fell in love and were engaged within weeks and started to plan the wedding. Mike even asked my Dad to lunch to ask for my hand! In all solemnity, my dear dad said yes, but promise me one thing Mike, make her wait at least 3 years before she gets pregnant again, her body and mind need the rest. And I did! And he was right. Both Dad and Mike. I was married to a dear man, one I could trust to look out for the very best for me. One with a heart who loved God and loved me and loved and would always protect and keep strong our little family. It was the happiest end to a really tough story and all I can say is we were made for each other.

A Mother’s Ring

Davey and I Laughing!

β€œA baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”
― Carl Sandburg

Davey was not my first baby, he was my second. I think about this story often in the fall. My first baby was a girl named Shirley Deborah. Though sometimes people talk about little Davey who lived nearly a year and was a joy to all who knew him, no one ever mentions little Shirley and she is all but forgotten, except to me. She was a lovely dark-haired baby girl like her sister Abby who was born healthy and strong 7 years later. Little Shirley appeared healthy, but was a preemie, only 7 month gestation and she died, unfortunately while I was in labor in October of my 23rd year. They were preparing for a preemie and I’ll never forget when the inconsiderate doctor yelled out when she was born: No need to get ready for a preemie! But the nurses who tended me were angels. Their names: Shirley and Deborah. They told me just what she looked like and encouraged me to hold her and bond with her and mourn her passing. I couldn’t do it. I was so young. I felt she was torn out of me like the infected placenta that had cut off her blood supply and killed her. I didn’t want to bond. I was afraid my heart would break. Now I wish I had. All the memory I have of her is of a tiny casket on a hillside, that is until now and the mother’s ring, but I’m skipping ahead.

The very foolish small town doctor that delivered her so insensitively said we could get pregnant right away again and we did. This time we went full term. Davey was born. At 6 pounds 7 ounces he was no giant, but he looked healthy and we rejoiced. Our joy was short-lived because the next day the pediatrician said he must be moved to Children’s Hospital downtown because he had a bad heart murmur. We stayed in a hotel near the hospital and I stood with him every day and barely cared for myself, hoping and praying him back to health. At two weeks he went into heart failure, we called my now ex-husband from school (seminary) and kept vigil. I tried and prayed so hard to put him in God’s hands during his angiogram. He did not die, he started to improve! We had him for 11 glorious months. He was a precious gift! But our little angel was not made for this world, he had a very complicated heart problem and what we didn’t know….didn’t have a spleen. His first cold killed him. No one’s fault. No one could have known. Our precious Davey was gone. And so it would seem was my ex. Still wounded from the loss of Shirley, he couldn’t bear to look at me, so I was without my little family. But not alone. My own family rallied around. My faith in my Lord gave me strength…eventually I began to live again. And now I have two stones for my ring.

A year after my divorce I met and later married the dearest man on the planet. Three years into the marriage, we got pregnant with my darling Abby girl.

Me, Abby and Mike

She was and is healthy and strong and a treasure for her dad and I. Abigail in Hebrew means her Father’s joy or Initiator, Life Giver of Joy! And she truly is!

Last night I ordered a mother’s ring at my husband’s encouragement. In it are the names and birthstones of your children. No longer will Shirley be my secret and Davey rarely talked about for everyday. I will wear on my right ring finger a gold band with the names: Shirley, Davey and Abby on it and each of their birthstones. Now this mother’s heart won’t be kept in darkness, but live free in the light of day!

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