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Friday, September 30, 2011

40 years of living

Today I celebrate 40 years of life.  Not sure where all that time went, but it's gone.  I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to take my birthday off and spend the day going to places where I have a lot of memories.  So that's what I have been up to today.  I have been all over the Salem and Keizer areas looking at the places that hold so many dear memories.

I started this life at Salem General Hospital on Center St in Salem.  It's great that where I took my first breath is now part of the state mental hospital.  I find this kinda funny....  I drove around and looked at the schools I attended and let my mind get lost in the memories of days long gone.  I remembered friends and teachers, playing on the playground and skipping school in high school (best 4 1/2 years of my life) the skipping did come with a cost!  :)  

I went and looked at the houses of grand parents, aunts & uncles.  I saw the houses where we would get together as a family, share meals and good times.  I went to the house where I learned to ride a bike.  I remember my aunt baking in the kitchen and us kids playing in the yard.  At each stop I would say a prayer of thanks for the people who God put in my life, the people who made me who I am.

My next stop was at another house, this one is the home of my God Parents also a aunt and uncle.  I remember playing in the big back yard and many holidays spent in this house.  I remember my cousin Donald taking me for rides on his motorcycle in a field close to the house.  In this house I played Atari 2600 and had a blast with my cousins.  This was also the place where the family gathered after the passing of my Grand Father.  There are many great memories in this home, a few sad ones, it's a place where life has been lived.

I stopped by the places that are special to me because of the ties to me and Melissa.  I stopped by the state capitol where we would walk around the park.  It was here where we held hands for the first time (it was our fifth date).  I stopped by Toy's R Us, the place I met Melissa.  Yup all the magic started at Toy's R Us!!  I spent some time at Corbin College which was Western Baptist College when I was dating one of it's students.  There are many good memories if this place.  I spent some time at Salem Alliance Church.  I grew up in this church, 35 years and counting.  In this church I was baptized with my mom, married to Melissa and my kids were dedicated to God.  This church has been my church home, the men who have been it's pastor's are some of my spiritual hero's.  Thanks to men of faith, who have taught me about Jesus and prayed with me in the times I needed prayer.

As I continued my trek it became very clear to me that this journey was not about seeing homes or places but was about remembering and honoring people.  I am who I am today because a group of people loved me.  They gave me guidance, wisdom and encouraged me along the way.  Today I am me because they were each a piece of the fabric I am made from.  With this in mind my trek took on a whole new significance, the new goal was to go to the places and give thanks.  To say a blessing for the people attached to the place.  The emotions was overwhelming each place lead me to another, there was no way I could get to every place or remember every person.  I decided to grab some lunch and make a plan.  So with my bacon double cheese burger from Five Guys, I planned out where to go next.  Not to go off topic but that burger was amazing!!

I spent some time in front of Salem Hospital.  This place has a few memories, both my kids were born here.  This also is the place I would spend 18 days a year ago getting my guts re-engineered.  It is because of the doctors and nurses that work in this place that I am still alive.  I gave thanks for them, I prayed for the hospital and the people in it.  I thanked God for my children!  I will never forget the two times I would go into a O.R. and come out with a child.  My kids are my life, I prayed God would give me wisdom to be the father they need and deserve.

I spent some time in a few other places and gave thanks for many people.  In total I stopped at about 20 places and allowed myself some grace to know it was not possible to go to every place.  In the end I would stop at Restlawn Cemetery where I placed roses on the graves of the family who have passed.  I thanked God for them, and that I would see them again.  This separation is only temporary.  I am happy I come from a long line of Christians.  My faith in part was learned from these people.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

The table

It's funny how you can do things over and over again with out giving them much thought then for some reason you actually think about what your doing and it hits you how cool it is.  Tonight I was up at my parents house where we enjoyed dinner as a family.  For the past 35 years we have done this and I have given it little thought, but something tonight was different I had one of those deep moments where I thought about what was happening.

To say my mom enjoys cooking would be an understatement, mom loves cooking and loves even more entertaining people.  A meal at mom's is always big, lots of different foods and the table must be set just so.  Tonight we all dished up our food and sat around the table eating.  Our family eating together is a normal thing we do it all the time, almost once a week we gather together and share a meal.  Tonight I reflected on what has changed and what has stayed the same.  Over the past 35 years who is at the table has changed the Great Grand Parents and Grand Parents have passed, but we have welcomed some new people to the table.

Melissa joined the family 20 years ago and claimed her spot at the table.  Vince came along 16 years ago and Ananda joined the fun 3 years ago.  Tonight was Ananda's first night at the table with out a high chair or booster seat, she thinks "big" kids don't need them. Both my kids have there places.  I do miss the people that are no longer at the table, I miss hearing them talk as they eat and listening to the conversation.  There will always be an empty place at the table for them, I know I will see them again and I hope we share another meal.

This old table has been the place for several great conversations.  There is no better place to talk then at a table filled with food.  The table has heard many great debates, when I was young and looking to spark a debate all I had to do was tell dad that I thought big corporate farms were good for America, or that the democrats had the right idea.  Yup good times!!  Not sure how many of the debates I won, but it was a good time.

Tonight the Garner clan was together, 3 generations all 7 of us around the table, nothing special or different, just together for a meal.  After deeper reflection I take back the nothing special comment, it is special, while its normal for my family its very different from our culture.  In an age when we hurry through life and don't take the time we should as a family I love the fact my family spends so much time together sharing meals.  I know that as the years go by who is at the table will change, it's a part of life.  I hope as the characters change the love never fades.  My challenge to anyone who reads this silly blog....spend time with your family, share meals together, it strengthens the family.

As I write this the table is cleared off all the food put away, the chairs are pushed in the center piece is still there but everything else is removed.  The table waits for the next time we gather together as a family and spend time together around it.  I hope it's not too long until we share another meal and spend this precious time together.   ~Rick