Sunday, November 18, 2012

21 Years of Marriage

Where does the time go?

It seems like yesterday when I attempted to climb gracefully into that long, white limo which would carry me and my bridesmaids to the church where I would marry the man who had stolen my heart. The graceful part wasn't easy due to the gigantic crinoline Mom and I had chosen to make my beautiful gown even more impressive.

This girl, who was more comfortable in blue jeans, muck boots and a pitchfork in hand, somehow made it happen. I remember giggling and feeling horrified that I had possibly just flashed the limo driver, but thoughts of Mark standing at the end of the aisle took the shame of that moment away.

I will never forget the feelings of excitement, love, and bliss as those huge, wooden doors of our log cabin church opened and I caught the first glimpse of the man who I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I looked over at my sister, Renee, who was walking me down that very long aisle to place my hand in Mark's. I can't even describe what that moment felt like, but we were both overcome with emotion and the tears began to fall. I have held that memory forever in my heart and it is always with me.

After 21 years, 3 states, the birth of our spicy little girlie, more than a few gray hairs, and the loss of family who happily celebrated that day with us, those wonderful feelings of love have deepened with the passage of time. We've cried tears of joy and sadness, but through it all, this man with a most beautiful heart has held my hand and held me up. The best decision that I have ever made in this life of mine was to allow two very special friends, Ken and Sherrie, to talk me into going on a blind date with a certain dark haired, blue-eyed man.

After that, the next best decision was to say,"Yes! Yes, I want to spend the next 50-60 years with you!"

On that evening, while sitting in the rib joint in Philly where we had shared our first date, I cried as he put the most beautiful ring on my finger. I loved that ring and proudly wore it everywhere. It was perfect for me; not too big to wear while gardening, and not too flashy that I had to leave it at home while visiting the city.

One evening, while living in New York, I began to cry when I looked down at my ring and noticed that the stone was missing. I had just returned from the grocery store because a snowstorm was coming, and it could have fallen out anywhere. I searched everywhere for it but never found it. I was heartbroken.

I think the state of New York just may have been bad luck for us. I cried, again, when I noticed that one of the diamond earrings (which Mark had given to me when Renee was born) wasn't adorning my right earlobe any longer. Those earrings had safety backs and everything!

As life goes on and your children grow, there just isn't money in the budget to replace diamonds. Through the years, I have joked that maybe, just maybe, the diamond from my earring would fit in the setting of my engagement ring. Mark and I always talked about finding a reputable jeweler who might be able to reset it for us, but honestly, it wasn't priority. As long as Mark and I had our wedding rings and each other, that's all that mattered.

A few weeks ago, while Renee and I were down in Florida performing in our friend's Fractured Fairy Tales haunted house, this gem of a man (pun intended!), found not only my carefully hidden away jewelry box, but a trustworthy jeweler as well. In a twist of luck, that one, lone earring fit the setting from my engagement ring.


It is just as beautiful as the day, 22 years ago, when he met with his jeweler in Philly, showed him a sketch of what he wanted my ring to look like, and personally had it designed it for the third finger of my left hand.

Tonight, as he placed it on my hand and told me how much he loved me, we laughed as the dirty laundry I was getting ready to put into the washer fell to the floor. We went to show Renee, and she gasped in surprise as she hugged the both of us and told her Daddy, "I didn't even know about this! Good job surprising Mom!"

That, my friends, is what 21 years of marriage looks like in our world. It is family, dirty laundry, hugs, and the  luck of a perfect fit.

Yup, pretty much like the way his hand perfectly fits into mine.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Doin' a little Soarin' this evening. Happy times!

Monday, October 1, 2012


Good morning, and Happy Birthday, Epcot!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Star Tours. A most favorite ride of the Badelves!

Different view of the Little Mermaid show....

This morning, we have a little shutterbug on our hands!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Illuminations. Always beautiful!

Lamb chop with mint pesto and potato crunchies. Big thumbs up!

Canada. Cheese soup. ' Nuff said!

It is that time of the year when we celebrate a certain little someone's day of birth. First on our agenda, one of her favorite rides ever--Spaceship Earth!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Your Mother's Remains

Is there really a nice way for someone to tell you that they have your mom's remains ready for you?

While we were down in Florida celebrating Mark's new job opportunity, an email containing this news was sitting in one of my folders, just waiting for me to get home and open it.

I am sure you can imagine how this little tidbit of information hit me. Holy repressed emotions leaping to the surface, Batman!

Here I was, relaxed from our wonderful escape, and happy and excited for Mark to get home and share the details of his first day with us. As I attempted to scan through and delete unneeded messages, I read this in the subject line:

Your Mother-Mrs. Hughes'-cremated remains

Sigh. Of course I had to open it, no matter how much I didn't want to.

As I scrolled down, I read:

Hi Mrs. Perri, We have your mother's cremated remains. Would you like to have me mail them to you?

I knew that this message, be it via email or a phone call, would come eventually. In the packet that Mom had been given when she signed up to donate her body to the medical college, it said that they would be using her body anywhere from 18 to 24 months. With everything that we had been going through in our life, I don't think that I realized that we had hit the 18 month mark already. I shouldn't have been surprised, but I really wasn't prepared for the feelings of sadness that ran through me.

That one simple email put so many other things in my head.

Mrs. Perri, we are through using your mom's body as a hands-on teaching guide and the time has come to cremate what was left of it. We have no other use for it.

Of course I want you to mail it. Can you imagine me picking her up and taking her to Disney with us for Renee's upcoming 13th birthday? "Look Renee, we finally got Grammy to come along with us!"

What am I going to do when THAT package comes in the mail? Ooooh, what's inside? Surprise! It's your Mom!

It was a heck of a lot easier to just wave at her and tell her how much I loved and missed her as we drove through Macon on our way to Florida. 

This is reality. She really IS gone.

Except for our dog, Indy, I have never dealt with cremated remains before. When Indy passed, they returned her to us in a beautiful little box covered in green fabric. How will Mom come home to us? I am giggling as I write this, but will she be in a cardboard box? Knowing her, she would be happy about that. She was all about the simplicity.

Both my sister and my Dad are buried up in New Jersey. When I allow myself to think about it, it saddens me that we live so far away and I can't put flowers on their resting spots. Even when we lived in New York, we would always stop by to visit my sister when we were down in the area. We would either bring flowers from our garden, or pick up a bouquet along the way. It made us happy to see those flowers in front of her headstone; she was loved.

My Dad passed away once we were settled in Georgia, so I have only been back to his grave once. Cemeteries, once interesting to me because of the history captured inside their gates, have become a sad place to me now. They are a reminder of the forgotten, whether it be due to families moving away, or just because people forget.

I know that it's a good thing that Mom is coming home to us. I just have to get through the new batch of emotions that are slamming my heart right now. As both my sweet sister, Renee, and my Mom always said, "One day at a time."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

There is a first time for everything!

So very proud of our girlie for facing her fears last night. She even waited 70 minutes to do this!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

No Nonsense Grammy

This morning, Renee came to me to tell me that she had been dreaming about Mom again. I think that she's very lucky to have this special connection with Mom; whether or not you believe in that kind of stuff, the conversations that the two of them have are so realistic to me that it's hard to discount the idea of it.

Either way, in this dream, Renee asked her Grammy what it felt like to die. Such a serious question, but so Renee.

In typical Grammy fashion, Mom said to her, "That is classified information, Renee." nonsense Grammy! Mark laughs how she would always tell you like it was, but do it in such a way that there was no way that you could be angry or resentful towards her.

I miss the twinkle in her eye and her spunky self so very much.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Green smoothie for a late lunch. Time to get out of this funk and feel better. It all starts within!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

This is one of the beautiful daylilies I dug up from a very kind Freecycler's yard a few weeks ago. So happy to see it bloom!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Would you like some chips with that salsa?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The magnolias are starting to bloom. So heavenly!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Eggs Benedict with a BBQ pork topping. Yum!

Ed and Linda needed some ketchup for their breakfast this morning!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

This sign makes me giggle for some reason!

Watch out, Indy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Renee shares the art of Ramune with Chris.

Soaking wet kiddos after the jumping fountains attacked (ha!) them!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lamb with a balsamic reduction. The girlie is happy!

I love that the train station is open again!

Monday, April 23, 2012


We found Eduardo!

Stopping to smell the flowers...literally!

I wish I could grow this outside in Georgia. Love it!

It's such a gorgeous

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Oh, Ed!

Happy Birthday to Chris!

Backlot Tour

The Great Movie ride is a little combustable today.

Coffee with my honey in at the Villas of the Wilderness Lodge? I feel like I am back up in New York!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The wisteria planted last year in Grammy's honor is blooming and smells heavenly.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Mother's Love

"There is nothing like a mother's love for her child."

Mom would often quote those words to me in hopes that it would help me to understand the decisions she would make regarding my sister, Renee. From the perspective of my 17 year old mind, I thought that she was just enabling her.

As time went on, I began to open my mind and heart to her sentiment as Mark and I became very involved in Renee's life. Although Renee was my sister and not our child, we loved her so much and only wanted the best things in life for her, just as any parent would.

And because of our love for her, when she passed away, we grieved as deeply as any parent would. Mark and I questioned our desire to become parents ourselves after living through such a heart wrenching experience. What would happen if something happened to our own child? If we felt this way about my sister, how could we even live if we lost our child? How in the world was Mom doing it?

As our friend, Michele, would say, Mom was a Rock Star. She carried herself through that horrible time in her life with grace and strength. She proved to the two of us that the fear of losing a child was not worth escaping the chance to experience that love for ourselves.

Four years later, we were finally blessed with a little girl of our own. We decided to name her after my sister, Renee, in honor of her loving and generous spirit. And though this blog post is mostly about a mother's love, as parents, Mark and I were instantly and hopelessly in love with this little person.

So THAT'S what Mom was talking about! That deep, intense love that would make you do anything for your child!

Let's compare the two photos above. One was taken in 1969 as Mom held me. The other was taken in 1999 as I held Renee. Do you notice any similarities? Yup! That look in our eyes? Adoration.

Mark called it! Mom was always right, and always the All Knowing One! Ha!

As our little peanut grew into a young lady, this love would eventually push me to throw away the parenting books and just trust in myself. This love encouraged me to really listen to this sweet, loving person, who just happened to be a very intuitive and feeling child.

Was that the easiest route? Not at all. Did everyone agree with me? Not always, but thank goodness I always had Mark and Mom to stand by to support me when I had to make a choice that might not be well received by others.

Mom had raised her girls more traditionally than Mark and I were raising Renee, but I think that life and its experiences had opened her eyes to see things in a different light. I especially became aware of this towards the end of her battle with leukemia when she became very protective of Renee and her feelings. She wanted Renee to be able to make choices regarding how much (or how little) she needed to deal with regarding Mom's end of life choices. She constantly reminded me to always remember that she didn't want her death to be a scary or terrible experience for Renee. She wanted Renee to remember the good times that she had shared with her Grammy, and never to feel guilty about the way she was (or was not) dealing with her death.

Yesterday, as we were driving to the medical school in Macon for the memorial service for Mom, Renee quietly told us that she wasn't sure if she really wanted to go. As the miles passed by, her insistence grew stronger and she became more upset.

I really want to blame myself for this, seeing that I was also very conflicted about attending. I've often said that Renee is a barometer for others' feelings, and I wonder if she was picking up my vibes of uncertainty?

Either way, by the time we arrived, poor Mark was beside himself as he couldn't resolve this emotional situation which had escalated out of control.

After taking a deep, cleansing breath, Mom's voice suddenly popped into my brain, which was quite full of turmoil at that moment.

"There is nothing like a mother's love for her child."

At that moment, I knew what I had to do. I turned to Mark and asked him if he would please go in for all of us, and I leaned over to hug my daughter. As she melted into me, I knew that I had made the right choice.

It's the choice that Mom would have wanted me to make as well. My heart tells me so.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Oh, the things you find at Goodwill!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Awww! My little man, Cannoli, is all snuggled up with me!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Happiness in a sunset!

Lovely orchid gardens!

Friday, March 23, 2012

"Let's go to Hooters!"

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Someone likes photography!