Holiday Letter 2021

Season’s greetings! We hope this letter finds you safe and well.

As with many things in 2020, the holiday letter went out the window. So, this will be a two year recap. 😉

Little did I know that taking a leap of faith into my own business in 2018 would prove helpful during a worldwide pandemic a year and a half later. I was already accustomed to working from home and had clients who relied on some of my services even more-so without in-person events. The 50-50 in 2020 organization had made the decision to dissolve after the candidate training cycle that concluded with the Blueprint for Winning Academy at the end of January 2020. We were able to wrap everything up neatly well before the pandemic hit. I knew this would be concluding when I first signed on with the organization, and the timing of everything proved to be impeccable.

Covid affected each of us differently. My favorite saying pertaining to this strange time has been, “We may all be in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat.” Each of us experienced a different reality. Thankfully my life was not disrupted to the extent others’ were. I was able to mostly work from home and stay safe and covid free. When the derecho hit Des Moines in August 2020, I experienced two and a half days without power and a fridge full of spoiled food. Once again, I counted my blessings.

My fifth niece Mary Josephine was born on July 18, 2020. With Covid restrictions in place, I was not able to visit the hospital and instead spent two days and one night as Nanny Mel for her older siblings in Bennett. We had a blast! And then, when my sister Sarah and brother-in-law-Jeremiah arrived home from the hospital, the kids surprised me by telling me that I would be the first to hold sweet Mary. So I am 6 for 6 with holding my nephew and nieces first after their parents!

The most trying part of 2020 was my mom’s 70-day stay in hospitals and rehab facilities after aspirating on food and enduring multiple complications from Parkinson’s disease. You can read previous blog posts for all of the details. She and my dad left home for routine appointments and errands on August 28 not knowing that she wouldn’t return until November 6. So thankful to have Mom at home again, albeit with a lot of new caregiving requirements.

Percy, Gemma, and I moved from Des Moines to Davenport on November 4, 2020. We found the perfect rental house in the McClellan Heights neighborhood complete with a porch and swing, fenced in back yard, and an amazing front room for our office. We love being back in the Quad Cities and closer to family. I enjoy more frequent visits from my nephew and nieces, as well as my once or twice weekly trips to Durant to see my parents.

While concert going and cross country and overseas trips were put on hold during these past two years, I was able to enjoy a few other fun times:

  • I read 67 books in 2020 and have read 55 books thus far in 2021.
  • The pups and I have explored many new trails and parks across the state of Iowa.
  • I took one weekend trip in 2020 to Omaha/Council Bluffs for cousins Allison and James’s high school graduation and great aunt Marilyn’s memorial service.
  • I visited my bestie Jen and her family, along with a few of my college friends, in Lee’s Summit, MO in July 2021.
  • I treated myself to a long weekend in Milwaukee when visiting the city for cousin Tess and Eugene’s wedding in August 2021.
  • My favorite kids resumed their weekend visits to my place in December 2020. While we were not able to venture out during the first round of visits, we are now visiting more of the Quad Cities including the Quad City Symphony Orchestra at the Adler Theater, Cafe d’Marie, Figge Art Museum, Freight House Farmers’ Market, Me & Billy, Putnam Museum, and multiple River Bandits minor league baseball games at Modern Woodmen Park.

As 2021 comes to a close and I reflect back on these past two years, I am amazed by all that has happened within a short window of time. I have learned to embrace change while becoming more resilient. By going through the tough times, I am learning how to better enjoy the good times. Let’s all unleash the joy during this holiday season, and let it carry us into 2022.

Love,
Melissa, Percy, and Gemma

Advertisement

Bev and Kirk

Bev called me twice that evening.  Something was up, and I only hoped it was a good something.  It must have been about ten days before Christmas and we had just elected a Republican Governor, so I was guessing she had a juicy scoop on either her family or Republican politics.

When I finally called her back, I could feel Bev’s enthusiasm from the moment she said, “Hello!”.  She received a Christmas card from University of Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz that day.

iowa hawkeyes

Iowa football didn’t even occur to me that day, but it should have.  Bev is a die hard Iowa fan and always knows the scoop on the team.

Bev watched in disgust as player after player was in trouble with the law in one way or another during the weeks prior to this and sent Coach Ferentz a card.  She told him to hang in there, that she was thinking of him.

And then he sent her a Christmas card.

Bev had no ulterior motives when sending the encouraging card.  She was just being Bev, tough-but-soft-on-the-inside Bev.  She called a few fellow Hawk fans to tell them of her cool card that day, and one demanded proof.  See, this one was mad because he was a top dollar contributor and never received a Christmas card.

So Bev asked him if he had reached out to Kirk when he was down.  Silence.  Exactly, she thought.  Most people do things only when times are easy and/or they know they will get recognition for it.

Bev is an amazing person.  She’s my self-proclaimed adopted grandmother who can drink me under the table.  She tells it straight up, with a few f-bombs dropped in for good measure.  Bev has a heart of gold though.

I met Bev while working on a political campaign in Des Moines, and we connected immediately.  She was my favorite volunteer, and we enjoyed recapping the week over a big juicy steak and beer.

How often do we reach out to people when they are down?  How often should we reach out to them?  Once again, Bev has given me something to think about.

The (R)Evolution of Mel

My mind has been racing since I last posted on my New Year’s resolutions, and it has been frustrating about 90% of the time.  I surrender to my crazy thoughts during the other 10%, and that’s when I really reach conclusions.  I have been in the midst of an evolution, a reinvention of sorts.

The word reinvention makes me think of Madonna over the years – from her “Like a Virgin” album cover, to the short haircut in the “Papa Don’t Preach” video (back in the glory days of MTV), the interesting wardrobe choice and long ponytail during the Blonde Ambition tour, and finally the amazing-looking middle-aged woman.  Is she really the same age as my mom?!

I am in the midst of transition, reinvention, evolution, and every other synonym you can imagine with it.  My new year began on January14 this year.  I thought I had turned a corner on January 1, but alas, the true realizations became apparent a few days later than I thought.  That’s the fun thing with evolving and moving through life: just when you think you are there, you have just a bit further to go.

My journey is nowhere near complete, but I do think I have reached the peak for at least a few months.  A lot has happened to build up to this point.  I wonder if Madonna had these moments as she was approaching a new album, look, or tour.  Hopefully I am cool and famous enough to get to ask her that in person one day.  Say what you want about her, but she is a force of nature.  And I love fascinating people.  I seek to be fascinating by simply being true to myself and doing good in the world – or maybe just my little corner of the world.

My new career path that started on October 1 was just a starting point, as was this blog.  I began to prioritize differently, only to find myself slipping back into old habits of saying yes too often and feeling stretched too thin.  When first coming to this realization, I thought my additional ventures, added on since November, were to blame.  Not so.  It was my initial plan that needed some tweaking.

I took a part-time church lady job to supplement my SendOutCards business.  A few red flags presented themselves early on, and while I did not ignore them, they have built up to a present discontent with the situation.  What began as a 20-hour-a-week-stress-free-part-time job has turned into playing a management and human resources role in which I have no authority……and has limits on pay rate and hours.  It’s quite an interesting situation, really.  And I will definitely work it into one of my future novels.

Side note: I have no regrets with the decision to take this job, as it has guided me to where I am today.  And I have made a couple of great friends, on which I can place no price tag.

By the end of November, I was back at Target, working part-time at Target Optical.  When presented with the opportunity I nearly dismissed it without a thought.  Luckily I did not and had a good heart-to-heart chat with the team leader.  And I love working at Optical!  It’s that “happy medium” job I was looking for.  I can say that today with total confidence, but if you would have asked me a month ago, I would have struggled with how I felt.  I briefly wondered if this job was going one step too far in stretching myself too thin.  Actually though, it’s the church stuff that is truly wearing on me.

So, what does a girl do?  No drastic action is underway, but a daily methodical  and persistent approach to the church job is a key to survival.  This comes during a time when our church is approaching its annual meeting, along with its standard one or two controversial decisions to be made.  And like most things in life, it all tends to work itself out in the end.

And then all of the other extras made me think more.  My political involvement is now mostly limited to Republican women meetings, events, and duties.  Here again, I have two parts: the state and the county.  One is functioning beautifully and the other is not.  Since I have responsibilities in the good and the bad, I can’t simply walk away from the one I don’t like.  But here again, I can identify the issues, persevere, and then make a note to make some changes down the road when appropriate.

I also took on a committee assignment with the Red Cross, but that is very limited in scope and beneficial.  So no agonizing over how that plays into my reinvention.

My entrepreneurial endeavors need some tweaking.  I am doing the right things with SendOutCards but have more services I can provide in conjunction with the theme of adding value to others’ lives by making things easier.  I love to organize, write, and plan.  So I need to integrate these into a business and work toward filling my time with fun things that also make me money.

I preach prioritization left and right, but it turns out I have a tough time practicing what I preach.  I have become better at prioritizing people.  It’s the things/jobs/organizations/situations that have been more of a struggle.  I get so wrapped up in the day-to-day task list that I forget to look at the big picture.

And, speaking of people…..  Those have played an integral part of reaching my peak during these past weeks.  I had a rather nasty revelation with a couple of members in my immediate family on Christmas Day, of all days.  The occasion caused me to do something very out of character – swallow my words, bite my lip, drink some wine, and bury it inside.  (OK, so drinking wine is actually very much in my normal character.)  But you can bet I made up for that bottling up of emotion during the weeks ahead.  As with the other yucky stuff in this post, I’m refraining from airing the dirty laundry with specifics and names – more material for the novel or a separate post.  The main point is sometimes it takes a while, but people can hit you with a blow to the gut.  What I thought was a paranoia on my part was an undercurrent of lack of support and respect from family.  So now that it’s out in the open, I can decide how much time and energy to give to those people.  And I can stop worrying about it and move along.

And then my Grandma Gesing went into the hospital on December 27 – two years to the day of my Grandpa Fosaaen’s funeral.  And during my mom and dad’s divorce many years ago, those two parents were on opposing sides of a big battle.  I was always close to Grandpa Fosaaen as a child, but was only close to Grandma Gesing for a short while.  And while everyone in the Fosaaen family rushed to the hospital, the Gesing family is fractured and chaos has ensued.

I finally went to see my grandma on Tuesday.  I had not seen her in at least 20 years.  It’s terrible that it took her being in the hospital for me to go see her, but I did it and I’m glad.  Few people understand, but that is OK.  My stepmom, who went with me, understands.  And my dad, who can’t bring himself to go see her, also gets it.

I had a breakthrough with one part of my nuclear family on Christmas Day, and then, out of the blue, I had a breakthrough with the second part last week.  They cannot be more different, and my feelings toward the two halves have always been a yin and yang, a balancing of the scales of justice.  Sometimes one is way up while the other is down.

Yes, it’s been quite a couple of weeks.  My writing notebook is full of great thoughts and ideas.  I have managed to work through my daily tasks, pay bills, and stay social in the midst of all of this.  I guess that proves I am still sane.

These may be pretty trivial realizations in the grand scheme of everything going on in this world: political strife, poverty, disease, shootings, etc.  In my world though, I have entered a new phase in my life.  The name of it is yet to be determined, but I am certain of one thing.  I do not anticipate needing a cone brassiere for this one.

Stranded in Memphis on Christmas Eve

Watching the snow fall (and fall, and fall…..) this morning reminds me of Christmas 2004 – one that will live in infamy.

This was my first Christmas living far away from family and enjoying palm trees.  I had just moved to Houston shortly after Thanksgiving and loved it.  And I was excited to be one of the cross-country travelers over the holiday, probably because I’d never done this before and was naive enough to think it would actually be fun.

My original plans were to stay in Houston for the holiday and spend Christmas Day with the Moore family, but then, as the day grew closer, I ached to be with my own family.  So, I found a last-minute plane ticket to fly out of Houston on Christmas Eve morning, with a short layover in Memphis, and arrival by 5:30 p.m. in Moline.  Perfect.

I anticipated a little delay in my arrival, and since I was planning to go to candlelight church service in Durant that night, I dressed up in my church clothes.  I also packed all of my gifts in my carry on, because I’d rather have luggage tossed about than nice gifts ruined.

As I was waiting for my flight to depart from Houston on Christmas Eve morning, I couldn’t believe CNN was forecasting snow for Texas and Florida.  I must have brought the crazy Iowa weather south with me.  The Houston to Memphis leg of the flight was delayed about an hour, so when I got off the plane in Memphis, I had to run across the airport to make my connecting flight in time.

Or so I thought.  Sweaty and aching from running in heels while toting my gifts, I discovered the flight was delayed two hours.  I was slightly annoyed, but I could deal with it.  I still had plenty of time to get home in time for church.

Then came the gate changing, and more delays, and roaming the airport to find many others in the same predicament.  And those poor airport and airline employees.  I hope they had some strong liquor on their breaks – if they even had breaks that day and night.

I saw CNN coverage of snow flurries in Houston and lots of snow in Brownsville.  And I heard of the ice in Memphis.  All of this would be a minor setback in Iowa, but with no plows in Memphis, it was catastrophic.

By about 9:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, I accepted the reality.  I was not going to be in Iowa, or anywhere in the Midwest on Christmas Eve.  I looked into switching flights yet that night, renting a vehicle, or hitching a ride, all to no avail.

I called Mom and told her of the unsuccessful surprise I had planned for her, cried, called Lexi, and cried some more.  I was an emotional wreck.  I had never been away from home on Christmas Eve.  True, I was 25 years old and a big girl, but on that night, I felt like I was a five-year-old again.

I tried to keep my spirits up as I watched people in the airport.  Entire families were stranded with little kids worrying about Santa finding them.  At least I just had to worry about me.

Then, some nice lady next to me told me to call the airline and beg for help.  So I did, and I cried some more – not to manipulate, but because I couldn’t help but cry.  The customer service rep and I compromised on a flight into Kansas City on Christmas morning.  Alleluia!  My best friend Jen lives in Kansas City and for the first time ever, just happened to be home during the holidays.

So, I called Jen to tell her of my huge ordeal.  It took me a bit to get through to her the severity of the situation because she was out partying it up with her family on the Plaza.  And then that made me cry again because I was being Debbie Downer during her fun Christmas Eve festivities.

Once Jen composed herself, she said that of course she could pick me up at the airport at 10:30 a.m.  I’d be there just in time for the Miller family Christmas feast, and her mom would be excited.

You see, Jen’s mom Sandy had suggested I fly to Kansas City for Christmas when she heard of my plans a week prior.  She said that way I could be with my best friend and her family and would have one short, direct flight.  So Sandy got her wish.

I located a nearby Memphis hotel and found a cab to take me there, checked in, and collapsed…….in my dress clothes, with no toiletries.  Nice.  But I could shower in KC tomorrow.

I woke up on Christmas Day with a knot in my stomach.  I was eager to get to the airport and checked in.  I went to the hotel lobby to find their free shuttle service to the airport not running, due to the icy roads.  The cab system was shut down for the day also.  No!!!!  This couldn’t be happening.

I thought about walking, but it was a good three miles, and in my high heeled boots, that wasn’t going to work.  So I camped out in the lobby, and at the suggestion of the hotel staff, waited for anyone who might be going that way with a vehicle.

A family of three (one child) came downstairs and started to load up their SUV.  I will never forget that SUV – a tan Jeep model with a Sooners decal on the back window.  I asked the couple if they were going to the airport, they said yes, and then I asked if I could get a ride with them.  I told them I could pay them too.  They said no!  And the reason: They didn’t have enough room.  Are you kidding me?!  They had one little boy, and hardly any cargo.

As I watched them pull away, I realized that every good Christmas story needs a Grinch or a Scrooge, so this was merely a means to an end.

Then down the stairs came a French family of seven, all boisterous and wonderful.  They were in the lobby less than two minutes when the mom came over and asked (in English) if I was waiting for someone.  I told her I needed a ride to the airport (not even expecting or asking for their help), and she said they’d be happy to give me a ride.

So, I crammed in with this huge family, who clearly didn’t have any extra room for an Iowa girl, but they made room for me.  It was all I could do not to cry during that 15 minute ride.

I checked in at the airport and had a celebratory Starbucks.  Merry Christmas to me!

Then, about halfway through my latte, they changed gates on me.  Careful not to spill my precious drink, I rushed across the airport with about 30 others.  Whew.  That was close.  We boarded the plane, and it was surreal.  I was finally back on a plane and headed to the Midwest!

Ha ha.  Not so fast.  I sat in that plane for nearly an hour while the crew de-iced it.  By the time we were in the air, I was worried the plane was doomed to crash.  It just seemed too much like the day Patsy Cline took off in a plane and it crashed in the movie Sweet Dreams.  OK, so this was a bigger plane and we had no mountains.  I was going to be fine.  This Christmas craziness was turning me into a drama queen.

Jen, bless her soul, was waiting for me at the KCI airport when I arrived over an hour late.  Again, I cried.

And then the search for my luggage proved unsuccessful.  I shouldn’t have been surprised.  But yet I felt robbed.  After all I had been through, I wanted my luggage.  That’s what I asked for by not taking a carry on with the necessities though.

Jen - Christmas 2004
My lifesaver and best friend Jen

Jen’s home was a sight for sore eyes.  I ate some fabulous Christmas food, after taking a long shower and borrowing some clothing from Rachel (Jen’s sister, who by the way, had no flight problems).

Addison & Nina
Addison modeling her boa, with Nina looking on

Jen’s family was already like a second family to me before that day, but I appreciated them even more after that Christmas.  Dan and Sandy took me back to Iowa with them on the day after Christmas.  They even claimed me as someone they knew when they swung by to see relatives in southern Iowa on the way home.  I was quite a site with my hodge podge of borrowed clothes and my high heeled, knee high black boots.

Miller Family Christmas 2010
Dan, Rachel & Brian playing Christmas Day games

While this Christmas story had a pretty happy ending, I still had moments on Christmas Day when I ached to be with my own family and doing the things we always did together on Christmas Day.  After all, that vision prompted me to buy the last-minute plane ticket.

I wanted to do what I always did, but sometimes we need to start new traditions.  And often those new traditions are not started by choice and we fight them.  Reflecting back on Christmas 2004, I now realize being away from my own family that year was a good thing.  I was forced to accept that we can celebrate in more than one way, with a variety of people.

My luggage arrived in Moline – three days after Christmas.

Luggage
Finally reunited with my luggage!

During my 2005 travels back to Iowa, I shipped the presents ahead of time and had a carry on with all of the essentials.  I also wore sweatpants – just in case.  Of course everything went smoothly then.

Upon hearing this story, various people suggested I watch The Terminal with Tom Hanks.  After watching the movie a few months later, it definitely put my Christmas 2004 airport issues into perspective.

This year I am staying in the town of Durant during Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after Christmas.  I know cross country Christmas travels will be in my future, so I am savoring the low-key Christmas this year.  But then again, a lack of craziness doesn’t give us as much to talk about the next year.

Merry Christmas!

I Ate Mabe’s Pizza on the Day My Grandpa Died

My grandpa Fosaaen passed away on December 22, 2008 – the Monday before Christmas.  As I begin my Monday today, I can’t help but think back to that morning two years ago.

Mom called me between 6:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. that day and could barely get the words out, “We are going to Decorah to the hospital.  Do you want to come along?”  I didn’t even think about it and immediately said, “Yes, when are we leaving?”  I hung up my phone, left a message for my boss, and got ready.

On the drive from Durant to Decorah, I thought about the possibility of Grandpa not making it to Christmas.  But then I thought, no, he’s gone through a lot and is as strong and stubborn as they get.  It will all be fine.

When we arrived at the hospital, Grandpa was happy to see us.  We spent some time with him, and when he got tired, we decided to go to lunch at Mabe’s.  Eating Mabe’s pizza – my favorite – just wasn’t the same that day.  And that was the first moment when I realized things just might not end well that day.  I still love Mabe’s pizza, but I can’t eat it without thinking of Grandpa.

We went back to the hospital, and a few hours later, Grandpa had fought his last fight and went to heaven.  I had never been with someone when they died before, and it was painful, peaceful, and exhausting all at the same time.

Then the rest of the family came, we spent what seemed like hours re-hashing the day, and we drove back home.

We still had Christmas at Grandpa’s house on Christmas Day, and we opened our cards he had waiting for us.  The day after Christmas was the wake, and the following day was his funeral.  It was a dreary, rainy/icy day, and the grandchildren carried his casket from the church to his grave site.

Cousins
All of the cousins with Grandpa at his house - Thanksgiving 2001

You may think this is a downer of a story to tell right before Christmas, but it’s not meant to be depressing.  You see, the day after Grandpa Fosaaen died, I sat down at my computer and wrote the following speech.  I had no idea if I would be asked to – or would be able to – speak at his funeral.  I never delivered this speech in public, but instead saved it to a flash drive knowing it might give me comfort in the days, months, and years ahead:

I think one of the many beautiful things about life is the many memories we have, and I have so many memories of Grandpa to share.  On Tuesday night, I began typing and before I knew it, I had assembled quite a list.  I am sure my younger cousins all have good memories of Grandpa too.  These are merely my memories that I would like to share with you.  They are very random and at times humorous.  While this is a funeral, it’s also a celebration of Grandpa’s life, so it IS OK to smile or even laugh.  🙂

Things you may or may not know about my grandpa, Irvin Fosaaen: (Please note, much of these fun facts are from the perspective of a much younger Melissa.)

– Grandpa had a lead foot.  Even in the front seat, I would feel queasy on our trips between Ossian and West Union – THE Scenic Byway = Melissa’s private countdown to destination arrival; this was also the case on the route between Ossian and Decorah. Thanks to the “fuzz buster” we could be alerted when cops were out to get Grandpa.  I loved to be the back-up alert, just in case Grandpa didn’t see or hear the incessant flashing and beeping on his own.  Grandpa also taught me that sometimes the cops are tricky and don’t turn on their radar until we’re really close.  Also, grocery stores would make the device go off without reason.  However, I was always on alert for a cop who happened to be near the grocery store.  Now THAT would be tricky!!

– My grandpa and I both had red hair.  His own kids didn’t even have red hair!! I was SO the chosen one.

Grandpa, Sarah & Me
I was a bit disappointed when I had to start sharing Grandpa with Sarah in 1985. At least she wasn't a redhead!

– Grandpa was born in 1919 – wow.

– Grandpa’s middle name was Kermit.  How cool – just like Kermit the Frog in The Muppets.  I wondered many times when I was younger if his parents really liked Kermit the Frog.

– Grandpa attended A.A. meetings regularly, and I loved A.A. meetings with Grandpa.  Lots of older people to look cute for….I was all over that.  I’d sit and color or read a book or play a quiet game while people shared very sad or exciting stories.  I could say all of the A.A. themes with them and would join in.  In my mind, it was like a second type of church.  And Mom and Dad taught me that God gave us a voice for a reason.  I also loved the goodies at the A.A. meetings.  Always so many delicious desserts AND I could boast that I had cooked/baked whatever Grandpa and I brought that night.  The A.A. people were my buddies – I’d always walk out of those meetings with a few dollars and candy in my pocket.  Sweet!

– Grandpa liked his coffee.  Even in the middle of July with his house a steamy 90+ degrees, he’d have a pot of coffee brewing.  And Grandpa liked his coffee strong and black.  No cream or sugar.  I was so proud of myself when I grew big enough to drink his coffee and actually like it.

Easter
Grandpa gave me the hat and coat for Easter, along with a basket full of goodies from the Easter Bunny. Yes, the Easter Bunny always made a stop at Grandpa's house!

– Grandpa’s freezer = Schwann’s push-ups galore.  Grandpa always had a ready supply of push ups for me.  And unlike Mom, Grandpa would tell me, “Go ahead, have two!” even before I thought of asking.

– When I stayed at Grandpa’s I got to stay up until Midnight and sleep in as late as I wanted.  Grandpa and I would watch Johnny Carson together.  I still think of Grandpa any time Johnny Carson is mentioned.  For you young ones in the crowd, Johnny Carson was the Tonight Show host before Jay Leno came on the scene.

– Grandpa always had a desk and lots of books.  I think this is genetic, because I love my apartment office, complete with book shelves and a desk.  Grandpa would sit at his desk and open mail, write letters, and mail cards.  He had lots of phone numbers, addresses, and useful information taped on the wall next to his desk. I knew our U.S. Senators’ and local legislators’ names at a very young age because of the education that Grandpa’s desk wall gave me.  What’s more is that Grandpa actually called or mailed them when he was concerned about an issue.  Now that is political activism!

– Grandpa loved to work in his garden – specifically his rose garden. Grandpa’s roses were very well-known in the community and county, for that matter.  Grandpa showed me how to arrange the flowers so they looked nice – complete with babysbreath and the works.  I’d even get my own materials to make my own creations!  And Grandpa always told me that my flowers looked beautiful.  Grandpa’s roses brightened many weddings and special occasions, all free of charge.  (I wanted to insert a photo of me and Grandpa with his roses here, but alas it is still with the picture board we assembled for the funeral two years ago, at my uncle’s house.  I must find a reason to post that when I get it back.)

– Grandpa was just a nice guy.  He had lots of friends who stopped by to say hi, and quite a few whom he spoke to in a low voice when I was around because he was helping them through tough times.  I never heard one person in Ossian ever say anything negative about my Grandpa, and I know why.  He was a great friend and community volunteer.  He was active in the garden club and also the EMS crew.

– And his favorite love was that of his Lord and his church.  Grandpa had a

Dress
I'm all dressed up in a dress from Grandpa - even received some birthday sunglasses to complete the outfit.

strong faith and loved Stavanger Lutheran Church.  I’d always sit up front with Grandpa in church and be proud that I was Irvin’s granddaughter.  And I was even more excited when asked if I was wearing a dress that Grandpa had bought for me.  I would enthusiastically say “Yes, isn’t it pretty?” and Grandpa would just smile.

I will miss my Grandpa terribly, but I am also happy that he is in heaven right now smiling down on us all.  I know it is selfish to want him here now, but you see, Grandpa wasn’t just my grandpa – he was my friend too.

Two years after he has passed away, I still get teary-eyed every now and then when I think of Grandpa Fosaaen.  With quite a few recent deaths in the extended Schulz family and in the Durant community, my heart goes out to those who are still grieving over the holidays this year.

My stepmom Jo gave me an ornament that brought me comfort that year, and this is what it says,

“Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.”

Holidays are a happy time with those we have close to us, but they can be painful when we remember those whom we miss.  But they are with us in spirit, and they get to spend Christmas with Jesus.