Libby Baker Sweiger

Weaver of Everyday Tales

Archive for the tag “family”

Life Is What You Make It

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“This life is what you make it. No matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes, it’s a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you’re going to mess it up. Girls will be your friends – they’ll act like it anyway. But just remember, some come, some go. The ones that stay with you through everything – they’re your true best friends. Don’t let go of them. Also remember, sisters make the best friends in the world. As for lovers, well, they’ll come and go too. And baby, I hate to say it, most of them – actually pretty much all of them are going to break your heart, but you can’t give up because if you give up, you’ll never find your soul mate. You’ll never find that half who makes you whole and that goes for everything. Just because you fail once, doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, sweetie? So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.” ― Marilyn Monroe

I have said it before in other posts that I know Marilyn Monroe was a very wise woman. These words prove it. And they are very much similar to the way I feel about life. It is tragic that her life ended so tragically and a terrific blessing that mine is still going strong at almost 60 years old.

I have been blessed with wonderful sisters and girlfriends I call my sisters because they are so dear, Heather Siebens and Mary Triviski to name two. My sisters Suzy Miller and Sara Zeiss both Baker girls like me are dear and have been since the day they were born. Days I remember well, seeing as they are my younger sisters.

I have not had certainly the string of men in my life that Marilyn had, but I have an ex. He was not the best for me and I have a wonderful soul mate now whose life I cherish and celebrate and thank God for with each passing day.

She had a great attitude about failing. She expected it to happen, as do all great minds, Thomas Edison said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” when inventing the light bulb. You just have to pick yourself up to start once more and try again.

She had a zest for life that I feel. I wake up every morning anticipating the surprises the day has in store. For each day is a surprise waiting to happen, a blessing from the Creator waiting to unfold. It is up to us to discover it and live it.

Believe in yourself. I do. I also believe in the One who made me and gave me a purpose on this earth. I believe I am here for a reason. For a plan. To give to others. To share love and life and joy. I live that plan every day. His plan for me. Because He believes in me, I have confidence. Lots of it. For if He who built the Universe has a plan for my life I can flow with it, love, live and fulfill it.

Now there you see a departure from the wisdom of Marilyn and the wisdom of Libby. And maybe the key to why I am here, about to be 60, and the world did seem to swallow her at a much younger age.

Perhaps a strong Faith is the difference. His presence, His Love, His Strength, His Peace and His Power. Ask me about that sometime. I will be glad to elaborate! Love to all….Libby

The Happiness Attitude

“Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine.” 
― Gordon B. Hinckley

Libby

A Happy Day, Taken by: Someone who makes me happiest: Husband Mike

My parents taught us to be happy. Can you always be happy? Joyful? Paraphrase: You can always cultivate an attitude of happiness, by being optimistic, rejoicing in the beauty of God’s creation and living by design with the Divine who gives perfect joy! This makes for happy living. My mom believed in it. My father found much peace and happiness in the majesty and intricacy of God’s creation and taught us to both enjoy and appreciate it. He and my grandfather taught us how to look at the funny side of life. My cousins, we kids, taught each other to look at the whimsical. My dad helped us learn how to play. My sisters and brothers and cousins perfected it. With much laughter from my grandfather, encouragement from our mothers and the help of our collective imaginations!

Life was good for all of us, not without difficulty, but very good. Sure things went wrong, but optimism was easy to cultivate in our family and happiness too. You might think the divorce might have put a damper on our mood. Well my mom and dad were both very smart about it. That summer, the first summer we were to enjoy my dad’s company in a different place they did two things. My dad bought me a wonderful dog, our first, for my birthday and my mom got a summer girl for the summer. It’s hard to say which was better!

My dog was a delightful, a bounding white and caramel bundle of fun, a toy collie puppy! She trained easily, loved all the kids, housebroke fast and followed me everywhere on my bike. It was awesome!

Our summer girl Geri was like a big sister. She was going to Nursing College in the Fall and was from the Iron Range. She was a lot of help. She talked my mom into my first girl’s slumber party for my birthday. She did equally cool things for all the kids. She took us on long walks, bike rides, to the pool (mom came) and general helped cart the four of us around so mom could enjoy herself too! We had a blast!

Every weekend we went to my Dad’s new apartment and she stayed home with mom. And we had fun with Dad who still joked and played with us, but his spirits improved when he married Betty and they moved into a house. She was very nice to is as I’ve said. I loved her and the little sister Sara that followed a while later.

All this to say: Attitude is Everything. If you embrace the new and different in life with love, excitement and anticipation, you will be happy and not disappointed about anything.

I have a new job in my near future. Rather than be nervous, that’s how I’m going to approach it. Watch Out World! Here I Come!

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:

“In 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 🙂

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

“You’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

Spinning On The Brule River

“People travel to wonder
at the height of the mountains,
at the huge waves of the seas,
at the long course of the rivers,
at the vast compass of the ocean,
at the circular motion of the stars,
and yet they pass by themselves
without wondering. ”
― Aurelius Augustinus

My Dad Can Handle a Canoe

My dad was a great outdoorsman. Being raised in the great open country of South Dakota, he couldn’t stand being in a city for long. He’d have to go camping, fishing, or canoeing. One of them or all three. Of course, being a family man he’d take Suzy and I with him. Billy was still too young for the adventures, poor kid, so was Scotty.

I remember our trip into Wisconsin. We set up camp and it started to rain. We were all cozy and snug in our tent, having already eaten and had our fire. I love to watch my dad build a fire. And I loved to sleep in a sleeping bag. Suzy and I could snuggle and sleep in the same grown-up bag and stay very warm.

It was fun to camp with dad. He would tell us stories, not ghost stories. My dad hated what he called spook stories. He told us stories of his growing up with our Uncle Dick his little brother and his mom, Grandma Dorothy. His little brother was a big kid and a scrappy fighter. So he held his own if my dad and he ever fought. My dad always told these stories smiling and laughing so you knew it was all in fun and no one ever got hurt, except the time Dick got mad at my dad and threw a tin can at him in the back alley and cut his head open. We would squeal when he told us that because he told it with such good humor. He said he wasn’t mad at his brother. But the next night at dinner he thew a fork at him and it stuck in his fat cheek — wobbling up and down. Then we’d laugh uproariously because Dad was laughing until a tear came down his cheeks.

This may have been a tall tale, I don’t know. It’s hard to imagine two brothers who loved each other like my dad and Uncle Dick could ever carry on like that, but boys are different, so I don’t know. We sure laughed!

The next day we were going to take our canoe downstream to fish. We got up nice and early, had our breakfast and started on our way. Suzy and I were of course wearing life jackets. The water was a little high. We were in Wisconsin and I don’t remember if we knew how much rain they’d had that Spring or not. We were about half way there and our canoe hung up on a rock. We were caught pretty good. Dad was in the center, I was in the back and Suzy was in the bow. We started spinning on the rock. It was kind of like a ride in an amusement park, but a little scarier, because it was real. Dad said, “Poncho, Cisco, Hang on tight. I’m going to have to get out of the canoe for a minute and lift us off of this rock. Libby, you watch your little sister.” He used our pet names so we knew it was an adventure.

It sounded okay to me. I noticed Suzy’s eyes were a bit wide, so I waved at her. As I have said before, I have never felt fear in the presence of my dad and I didn’t that day. He gently eased himself out of the canoe. The water was deep. I was surprised by that. It was almost to his chest.

Then Dad asked us to lean our weight to middle of the canoe. Which we did, schrunching forward until we could touch our feet and hold on tight. He grabbed it in the middle and at the bow and worked with the water and pushed, pulled and lifted. We were off the rock! We were no longer spinning on the Brule River. We were moving, because my dad had the boat and he was taking us to shore.

When we got to shore we laid in the sun. My dad dried off a bit and took of his wet shirt. We just laid there and enjoyed the beauty of that early summer day. I always felt close to God on these excursions with dad. The beauty and power of His creation all around us.

We decided to fish right there and then bring the canoe back up to the car and head home a bit early. We were all in the mood to lay our eyes on Mom and Billy and by that time, little Scotty. They were happy to see us, too and to hear all about our adventure.

I thought that day my dad could to anything. As I got older my opinion didn’t change much. If it’s humanly possible, or even requires some help from God, Dad can do it. Because he tries. He loves his children and he looks out for them. He leads from the heart. He’s the same kind of grandfather as he is a father and we are all so fortunate to have him. Love you, Dad!

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!

“Never 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

Nothing To Fear

In the Depths God is There by Mark Chatwin

When we were kids we believed in things that go bump in the night. We had our dad check under our beds for the boogey men. Not every night, but some nights when TV was too scary or 2nd grade too overwhelming. And there was an old wives’ tale going around that said if you were falling in your sleep and didn’t wake up before you landed you would die. Now I believed that one for sure. I don’t know what reliable soul told me that one, but I believed it. I fell in my dreams, but I always woke up before I landed. Whew! I’d think to myself and go back to sleep. I used to dream all the time I could fly too. I had bad dreams, but also very fun, freeing, wonderful dreams.

Now I’ve mentioned that I was very ill with bi-polar disorder when they first discovered it. Probably because my boy Davey was very sick and I had to keep him going. I used all my physical and emotional stores to care for him, so that when the illness hit me, I didn’t have a lot left to fight it with. It hit me hard. And then little Davey died after I’d been in the hospital about 1 month or so. With that to absorb I got worse. I had excellent care, and many people loved me and were praying for me. Yet many days it felt like I was fighting very hard and going nowhere.

Before I got sick my favorite Psalm was 139 and when I was feeling really bad I would recite it to myself, as much as I could remember:

Psalm 139
1 O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

One night I was lying in my bed trying to sleep. Sleep was the hardest thing for me, because it was hard for me to quiet my mind and get peaceful. I was just lying there fretting about this and that. All of a sudden, I heard the still small voice within me say “let go”. Let Go? That isn’t right I’ve gotta fight this thing. Persistently the thought was there, “Let Go.” Finally I let myself relax and inwardly say okay. Suddenly I felt myself falling fast and hard not like in a dream, more like in a horror flick. I thought, oh no I’m going to die. I’m not ready to die. I don’t want to die I want to live, please Dear God, let me live. I kept falling and falling and falling. Then I landed, not hard, but soft and gently. And I didn’t die, nor did I feel awake. I felt surrounded by the warmest, strongest, most all-encompassing, dearest love I had every felt or even imagined. I knew it was the amazing love of God.

Then it struck me I had hit the very depths and God was there. I had gone as low as my soul could go, and God was there surrounding me his love. And then I knew like the Psalmist, that I could climb to the highest heavens and descend to the deepest depths and no matter where I went the love of God would be there before me. “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea, even there will thy had lead me and thy right had will hold me.” I was sick, but I was no longer afraid.

My doctors said that from that night forward, I started to get well. They didn’t need to tell me, I knew I was, but it was very nice to hear.

Daddy’s Girl

I adore my dad. I love him fiercely like a bear cub and gently like a baby dear. He taught me to sing “America the Beautiful” while we were driving up the Rocky Mountains on the way to Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Driving through the Rockies (Courtesy of Photobucket)

He took me across the street to the park every Saturday when I was only 3 to explore and hike and experience nature. He taught me to love the outdoors, the beauty of God’s creation and probably caused my heart to hunger for more of God. He taught me Astronomy when I was only five and made me feel smart and wonderful always. I loved to hear his stories. My dad is a great story-teller and a natural author. He is 81 and working on his third book. I am so proud of him. He has accomplished so much in his life, not the least of which raising three girls and two boys of which I am the oldest.

I know I said in an earlier post that I felt a shift in his behavior toward me after the divorce to a more grandfatherly pose as a disciplinarian. It’s true he wasn’t as strict, but we cherished all of our time together and he was always, always there for me. I knew I could count on him in any kind of crisis and experience bore that out. But I don’t want to talk about crisis now, I want to talk about my dad and his stories and our great times together.

He could and does tell the very best stories. And he has a wonderful laugh. I love to hear it and I love to make him laugh. He’s told me he thinks I’m brave and that is music to my ears because he is. He was born in the Great Depression. His parents separated when he and his younger brother were very young. I’m sure it was very hard, but the way he tells it they had a great deal of fun and fought as brothers will. They would get into the movies for the cost of a gunny sack each he used to say. And one day, he and his brother found where they stored the gunny sacks and went to the movies quite easily from then on! On they reminded me of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. I loved to hear about their adventures.

My dad was always a very hard worker like his mom. He worked on the railroad when he was only 14 pounding spikes which he said may have stunted his growth. Hard to say when he’s 6 feet tall! 🙂 He worked his way through college after being in the Army at the end of World War II on the GI bill. And went to work for an insurance company. He worked his way up to heading a large local Insurance brokerage house and had traveled on business internationally before he retired. All on the strength of hard work, good salesmanship, and smarts. I’m very proud of my dad and all he’s accomplished in life, while being here for us kids.

Now I call myself a Daddy’s Girl, not because I don’t love my mom to pieces, because I do. And it’s not because I’m spoiled either. It’s just when I looked up for help in the times of my life I really needed it…I always saw my dad’s face. Always.

I relate to my dad. I understand him. I want to make him proud and I want to make him happy more than anything I guess. I want to somehow pay him back if I can in some small way for always being there for me.

I’m crying now thinking of all the times he’s been there for me. I ran away after a bad experience when I was 16. He was the one who found me. I didn’t go into the hospital willingly when they first found the bi-polar, because I didn’t want to be separated from my son…so I had to face a commitment hearing. My dad went with me to that. His calm demeanor and praise afterward kept the experience from scaring and scarring me. Also I passed and became a voluntary admittance which is much preferred, believe me. When my boy died he held me up. He held me at my daughter’s funeral. He gave me away with such joy when Mike and I married. He paid for my college, when I finally made it at 28! He was there for my awards dinner with my mom when I scored high grades.

Here’s a birthday card I had made for him last year. I will never be able to show him how much I appreciate all he has done. But like me, he loves celebrations, and birthdays! His is 4 days after Christmas!

Sis Sara, me, Niece Kimmy, Sis Suzy

Happy Celebrating Every Day, Dad…with all my love, Lib

When God Found Me

I was always really curious about God. I remember driving my Sunday school teachers down at Hennepin Avenue Church crazy with questions. How can we talk to God? How does He talk to us? How do we know He will answer our prayers. How can we get into Heaven?

It bothered me a lot that they didn’t have answers for most of my questions. I had asked my grandmother Meme, a Methodist — and all I got was — try your best and be a good girl and hope you get in. The vagueness of the reply troubled me greatly. Also I didn’t think I was a particularly good little girl. I teased my little brothers, sometimes my sister and didn’t help my mom enough! When I got older, 7th grade I remember getting mad and saying bad things in my head at the minister’s sermons because he sounded so vague and irritatingly non-committal about everything. When I thought about my questions and my thoughts later, I was sure a girl who was mean to a minister — even in her head — was not headed for anyplace too good at all! This continued on until I turned 13 and was in the 8th grade in Jr. High.

Now let me preface this by saying that I believe I had a big old hole in my heart. I believe I was missing God and I also know I was missing my dad. Now my parents had separated four years earlier and divorced when I was 10. I saw my dad every weekend and intellectually I comprehended the thing and was even behind it. I did not believe my parents belonged together. My dad was also much happier with my step mom, who I really liked and who really liked me and all the kids. My sister Sara, their only child hadn’t come along yet. But despite all this, I was a daddy’s girl. One who had followed my dad around every minute of my life until the day he left and I just plain missed him fiercely. After he moved out he treated us more and more like a grandfather than a dad I thought. He wanted all our time together to be special I imagine, so he spoiled us a bit and didn’t discipline us much…well we were probably on our best behavior too…at least that was my child’s impression. So I missed my dad. The one who used to YELL, Elizabeth Diane Baker if I was in trouble! The firm hand of guidance, and the safety I felt in that.

I didn’t know what to do with my new-found freedom, so a big part of me was looking for God. Probably the best idea I could have had. That all brings me back to the year I was 13 and in the 8th grade. I was walking home from school one day. I probably missed the bus because it was a two mile walk and I didn’t usually make my way on foot. I was passing by a church and noticed some pretty cool looking kids hanging out, playing in the side yard. I went over and talked to them, liked their banter and decided I’d go there the next Sunday when they asked. As the oldest child in the family I had certain privileges, as well as the safety of our neighborhood and those long ago times. When I told my mom I was walking to a new church on Sunday she let me go! My family drove down to Hennepin Avenue and I walked on a sunny spring day to Colonial Church of Edina and sat myself down in one of the pews.

Well, what did you know but my quest had ended? God had found me! On that sunny side street among friendly, playing children He had set the stage for me to walk right into a place that didn’t intellectualize tired old dogma, but told the story of the New Testament and the love of God in His son Jesus. I was home!

So that’s why I say God found me. Sure I was looking. But I think He set a pretty attractive trap and caught Himself a Libby and changed the course of her whole life! What do you think? Oh, by the way, my mom and my sister and brothers followed me to that church. It was great driving with the family again. We all felt we were home.

Growing Up Close!

I like this quote because it reminds me so much of holidays and Sunday dinners with my brothers and sisters, my cousins, auntie and uncle, mom and dad, Grandpa and Meme — as we called my maternal grandmother:

“I like to see people reunited, I like to see people run to each other, I like the kissing and the crying, I like the impatience, the stories that the mouth can’t tell fast enough, the ears that aren’t big enough, the eyes that can’t take in all of the change, I like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone.”
― Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

We had such fun together, such incredible fun. We all talked at once when we first got together as if we hadn’t seen each other in ages. Things never quieted down from there, but we did organize. We each had matching cousins. Somehow my mom and her sister had managed to have their children at about the same time. We each had a cousins in our same grade in school. Linda and I came the closest, the first-borns, being only one week apart in age! Now that had to be a little miracle! I think then everyone liked it and tried to keep it up from that time on. 🙂 My sister Suzy had Marnie, my brother Bill broke with tradition and had little Muffy for his twin cousin and my brother Scott had David. Then my parents separated and broke the streak — and my cousins kept coming with a delightful bonus: Danny!

Here is a recent picture of my beloved childhood playmate and lifelong friend…my cousin Linda and I at my brother Bill’s wedding this summer:

Linda and I

When I said we got organized at our family gatherings I meant we broke into groups and put together plays and entertainment for the grownups as we always called them! How this got started I’m not sure, but it was in our blood. My grandparents were both wonderful at acting, Meme in school and Grandpa was the best Scrooge ever in The Christmas Carol at Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church for many years! We performed for their delight, praise, laughter and applause. And our parents’ too of course. Whose did we covet the most? My grandfather’s. He had the biggest, deepest, most wonderful laugh in the world. What a fabulous time we all had and the love was thick in the air! Of the nine of us, I acted in High School and College and my brother Scott went on to act professionally!

The bonus for me was that years later — when I was hospitalized for bi-polar disorder — that hit me at 9 months post-partum with my second child, Davey I had a this wonderful hugging bunch of people in my corner. Meme came to visit me nearly every day and brought me my favorite: red licorice. My grandfather was too sensitive. I cannot imagine he would have been able to see me in there, but perhaps he did. His heart was so tender that he wept when he said grace for our brood on Sundays and every holiday I remember. He loved us so much. So did Meme, but I think she was made of sterner stuff.

I’m so happy they lived long enough to see me happily married to Mike. We were a happy foursome for two years before my grandfather passed at the age of 83. He loved Mike. And why not? They are a lot alike! Tender-hearted family men who laugh and cry at the triumphs of their family!

My grandfather had many wonderful sayings. He loved to scramble words up and say things backwards like, “You’re feeling well, how are you looking?” And we would howl with laughter! His best one ever was after we had spent a glorious wonder-filled, laughter-busting-out-all-over hugs and love fest day together at he and Meme’s house he’d say goodbye with a big smile and tears in his eyes: “Come again when you can’t stay so long!” Hahaha Love you Grandpa! Next time I see you we will be seeing each other forever! 🙂 Love, Lib

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