Happy 80th Birthday Dad!

I am in the midst of a fantastic celebration in my life. My sisters established 50 days of celebration, leading up to my 50th birthday. I am 18 days to 50 and feel so loved, celebrated, and delighted in.

But tonight my heart holds the ache of wishing we could be preparing for the final details of my Dad’s 80th birthday celebration. The last birthday we celebrated was his 78th, and we didn’t know it would be our final celebration of his life.

BD04A0F4-AEAB-42AD-9334-54E5E155EE29.jpegMy Dad was always up for a good celebration. I believe what he enjoyed the most were those moments of connecting with such a variety of individuals. My Dad knew lots of people from all over the world. One thing I have heard consistently is when he met up with you, no matter who you were, he was genuinely interested in the conversation he was having.

I envisioned the 80th birthday for my Dad over the past years. I looked forward to the gathering of so many different friends from so many walks of life. I looked forward to the stories and the overall delight of 80 years well-lived

But clearly, my Dad did not make it to his 80th birthday. My Dad died in May of 2018 at 78. And so, on his 80th birthday, we are left in the space of remembering, reflecting, and being grateful for his 78 years well lived. As a family, we will gather, we will prepare some of his favorites, we will drink some Southern Comfort, and there may be a cigar lit in his honor. The gathering will be small and the feel will be so different than a festive 80th birthday open house with so many friends and family present.

But the feeling will be one of gratitude.

0857CBEF-FB47-4934-B743-3B6FC40EB880.jpegGratitude for my Dad’s life, for his marriage to my Mom and the almost 54 years they shared.

Gratitude for his faithfulness and presence in our lives as Dad and Papa.

Gratitude for his leadership and voice in so many different spaces.

Gratitude for the way he left his impact on individuals and organizations.

Gratitude for his passion for the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed ChurchE7308B8D-89C2-430F-A65E-0A545893220C_4_5005_c around the World.

Gratitude for his convictions for equality and racial reconciliation and justice and for the ways he advocated for unity!

For all the places he traveled and all the people he knew and enjoyed, we are deeply grateful that we called him husband, father, and papa. He had a big presence in our lives, and his absence is felt often. We miss his voice, his prayers, his teasing, his care, his presence, and his wisdom.

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We will celebrate and raise a glass to you, Dad. To the day of your birth 80 years ago!

Toast to Papa
Following the Committal Service, we made a toast to a Husband, Father, Papa, Brother, and Friend who will be deeply missed!

And yet, even with the ache in our hearts, on the 14th of November, 2019, my Dad’s 80th birthday, we remain grateful for all that was, all that remains and all that is still to come.

Blessed Be His Name!

Love comes in so many ways..

This week I experienced

#50daystill50

#49daystill50

#48daystill50

#47daystill50

#46daystill50

#45daystill50

#44daystill50

I am one week into my 50 days till 50, and the anticipation and joy that fills my heart is abundant. I am enjoying and feeling deeply grateful for the many ways I am being remembered on my journey to 50. I plan to write a blog post each week, highlighting the people who brought me such joy in the past week.

2014-06-09 07.09.42My sister Arlene and Suzi created this beautiful 50 days till 50, and each of them took a turn this week.

I am grateful for the friendships I share with each of them individually and what we share together. I love that as a family, we navigate a lot of spaces, and we are always experimenting/learning how to live the best life we can together. Our sister relationships ebb and flow through different seasons, but I know without a doubt, we will always have a friendship that looks out for one another and wants the best for each other.  I am grateful we put words to difficult spaces, and without a doubt, we experience much laughter and love together.

Thank you, Arlene and Suzi, each for how you celebrated me this past week, but also for all you have done to create a memorable journey to 50. I am deeply grateful to share life with you both in our growing up years and still today. I love you both so!

What fun to see Emily Otten’s name come across my messages. Emily was just a young fullsizeoutput_17b5aone when we met when we moved to Holland. I remember going to Church together, babysitting for you and Mike and Melissa, and jumping on the trampoline. It was such fun when you went to College and showed up in my world at Sunshine Community Church and now over the years to stay in touch via Facebook. Your eye for photography is fantastic, and your smile and sparkle in your eye remain vibrant and ever-present. Thank you, Emily, for taking a day to celebrate my journey to 50!

2016-09-05 17.28.08.jpgOlivia Grace is one of my dear nieces. She is a senior at Aquinas College on a soccer scholarship, and she is there because of sheer commitment to her dreams. Olivia is an inspiration to me in her daily discipline. She is as committed to the work of her heart and soul as she is to her physical well being. She is passionate, convicted, tender, an advocate, and so much more. She has blessed me in so many ways by sharing her heart and her life with me. Thank you, Livi, for your goodness shared on my journey to 50.

I know many people wish they could work in a setting with amazing people and where their passion is provoked and at the end of the day, go home satisfied that they lived true to the calling of their heart. As I look forward to my 50’s, I do not take for granted that the community in which I work every day is precisely that in my world.

fullsizeoutput_178b9.jpegTwo of the people who celebrated me this week are Beth and Beth. Beth S has been a caregiver with Visiting Angels since August of 2012. Beth has navigated so much of Visiting Angels with us, and she always manages to find joy in her giving to others. She is kind, generous, and her laughter is abundant, even in trying times. Bless you, Beth, for joining me on my journey to 50. I am so grateful for the goodness you bring to so many, including me!

Beth L has been with Visiting Angels since October of 2015. Beth gives her all to her 31250457_10213771789002021_6265619770259800064_nclients and is generous in her love of others. I admire her commitment to her own wellbeing and self-care, and I hope to be as structured and disciplined in that as she is someday. Thank you, Beth, for your kindness to me on #46daystill50.

There are friends who I once worked with and still hold such a special place in my heart. Karen came into Visiting Angels when it still felt new and unfolding, and we were navigating hiring and managing of caregivers 60140398_10161565136760543_4007779003468349440_o.jpgin a business that was growing faster than we could think some days. Karen always brings a breath of fresh air, a true and grateful spirit, and a deep understanding that some days, you have to choose your perspective on life cause life isn’t always easy. Karen brings joy and goodness into all of her spaces. Karen is a woman of adventure, laughter, kindness, honesty, courage, and a sincere faith. When I saw Karen’s post, I felt such heartfelt gratitude for the seasons we have shared. Thank you, Karen, for leaving a lasting imprint on Visiting Angels and all of us who shared the day to day life with you there.

And the last tribute for this week is to my brother and sister in law, Nick and Jonna. fullsizeoutput_13e74.jpegJonna loves to give gifts with meaning and purpose that fit the life of the person she is blessing. It was no surprise that the gift I received from them is something I can use every day, and it fits into my daily routine. Jonna is observant to likes and habits, and hobbies and routines.  She has such fun giving. Her laughter is contagious, her energy electric, and her goodness comes from deep within her generous heart. Thank you, Nick and Jonna, for surprising me on #44daystill50.

And so I am one week closer to turning 50 and each day was a bit more special because of this array of people from my village.

Blessed be His Name!

 

Let the countdown begin…

Last night at my Mom’s birthday celebration, Arlene read me this poem…

The first line that got cut off is

So, Trish, it’s not your birthday yet, in case you didn’t know. Turning 50’s a big deal…

Wow, I had not expected this, nor was I aware that today started the countdown of 50 days till 50. As I laid in bed last night, I sent Arlene and Suzi this text:

Thank you both so much for creating the 50-day celebration. I find myself a bit giddy with curiosity and enjoying the idea of waiting to see how celebration will unfold. Thank you, and I love you both. God clearly gave me the best sisters ever! ❤️

I am not sure who or what or how or when, and that is somewhat unusual in my world. But as 50 approaches, I am delighting in the fact that the unknown brings a good sense of curiosity and not a sense of trying to figure it out.

As 50 approaches, I am delighting in the fact that I can embrace the celebration of my life as a gift of the outstanding people who make up my community.

As 50 approaches, I am delighting in the reality that life feels settled, my heart feels full, and that I have learned to navigate the many emotions that flow through my being. I am willing to be ok with what doesn’t feel ok. I have recognized that friendships have seasons, and friendships change like seasons change sometimes. That doesn’t have to a negative thing, even if it is hard, and all that was shared can still be called good.

As 50 approaches, I feel more fully myself. I have goals for my wellbeing, I have desires for my relationships, I have adventures to be lived, and I am committed to taking life as it unfolds before me.

I am committed to living intentionally aware and present in my actions, words, busy spaces, and alone spaces. I long to leave a bit of my heart everywhere I go. I want to offer hope, laughter, encouragement, or understanding in the conversations I share. And at the end of each day, I know I can honestly reflect on all that unfolded and look forward to tomorrow because one of the many truths I hold is that His mercies are new every morning.

Today at Noon, my sister came and picked me up, and we had a lovely lunch at Horrocks and spent time decorating my new porch for fall.  It was such a sweet time, and I loved every moment of it.

I am 50 days away from turning 50, and I am looking forward to every one of them.

I live in a village of deep love and great fun, and I am grateful.

Blessed be His name,

 

 

 

Does it get better with time?

Logan_18I know the answer to my question. I am doing a good bit of reflecting this week as I made this picture my Facebook profile picture. Thursday would have been my oldest brother’s 55th birthday. He was 48 when he died in a car accident. There are moments of those first hours, days, and weeks that are etched forever in my memory and heart. But I will say the intensity of the pain of loss does seem to change with time.

And yet there are times the ache of loss feels deep. There is a catch in my breathing, a pit in my gut, and a tightness in my chest that can stop me in my steps.

I still miss Len. I miss celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary and hearing he and Marcia talk about all the adventures they shared. I miss him at Olivia’s soccer games and in Noah and Lauren’s wedding conversations, in Sonta’s love for doing hair and pursuing cosmetology and in Jean Marc’s High School basketball season. I miss calling him and hearing him. I miss his laughter, his singing, and his quirky sense of humor and deep grounded and abundant faith. I miss him often, even after all these years. I do think grief changes over time, but I also do believe that I would not be honest if I did not say, grief also is always in a tender space of my heart. It is there every morning and every evening, and I believe it will be there until my last breath.

This week we also celebrated my Mom’s 77th birthday in a treehouse in California. It was delightful in so many ways, and I was aware in almost every moment that my Dad wasn’t with us. I was driving the rental, he wasn’t smoking his pipe on the cool treehouse deck, we poured our own happy hour, and he didn’t get to experience all we did with Andrew who lives in Monterey for a year completing the post naval graduate program. He would have enjoyed so much of what we did, and we miss him deeply. Our tears flow frequently, our memories are sweet, our conversations often reflect our travels, the stories, the experiences, the laughter, and the yearning to hear my Dad’s voice speak about all that was important to him.

IMG_6661And this picture was my Mom’s 75th birthday. The last one my Dad was here to celebrate. I am deeply grateful for images that remind us how much fun this celebration was.

Our celebrations continue, our laughter is genuine, our smiles reflect authentic gratitude, but our hearts ache in the absence of a man whose presence brought us such stability and goodness.

And so our family now feels the reality of loss in Len and my Dad. The feeling will always be that we are missing two deeply loved family members. We live each day; we welcome new family through birth and marriage, and we know that no one can fill the space of Leonard Hugh or Peter B. Grief changes over time, but grief is also always with us. It is my hope and prayer that as a community, we can enter those tender spaces with one another, be curious, ask questions, acknowledge the absence that is felt, and know that every grief journey is unique. There is not a timeline, there is no right way to grieve, and allowing tears to flow is healing.

I am grateful that grief changes over time, and I also am willing to embrace the tender spaces in my heart where the river of sorrow flows. That river, although known to provoke tears and that deep ache at times, also reminds me of just how much I loved and was loved.

May you stay forever young!

img_2232Tonight we are going to sleep in a treehouse in Santa Cruz, California. It was a birthday trip for my Mom as today is her 77th birthday.

As we wrapped up a very good day, we introduced her to Season 1 of Parenthood. The words to this song seemed like an ideal way to write my Mom’s birthday blog.

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
May you stay forever young
My Mom has been amazing at doing for others. img_0996But I also have come to appreciate that she is willing to let others do for her. One thing that was spoken at the graveside of my Dad as we remembered together was that at Papa and Beppe’s house, there was always room for one more. So many have been touched by her doing for others. I am so grateful for how she has learned to give and receive.
My Mom is not flashy and prefers if the attention is not coming her way, One thing I know from her story is this; she has learned that about building a ladder to the stars and climbing on every rung. The rungs have looked different over the years: choosing and paying for her own Christian Education in High School, navigating life with 4 young children with a Husband who was serving his first Church in Salt Lake City, pursuing a career in her early 40’s and building Eastown Financial with her young son in law who was newer to the field. She continues to climb on every rung, living life to the fullest, even during difficult seasons.
courage
May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the light surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
May you stay forever young
My Mom knows the truth and embraces the light surrounding her. Her favorite verse is Micah 6:8. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love img_1426mercy and to walk humbly with your God. I can confidently say that she strives to live this and does so in the most humble of ways. I have known my Mom to be courageous over the years, but perhaps nothing demonstrates more courage than her putting one foot in front of the other and living on after my Dad died. I am so grateful for how she lives with courage and strength. 
May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
And may you stay forever young
May you stay forever young
My Mom’s hands know busy and over the years her feet have been swift. She loves to be 
img_0935home and yet will continue to go where her presence is desired. She shows up and lives present and that is such a gift to us all!
Her foundation is strong and the winds of change have shifted, but she continues to be joyful, even when tears fall, and she continues to sing the song of God’s Faithfulness in her story, in the story of the years she and my Dad shared and in our family story. She has kept on singing!
Happy Birthday to you Mom. You are 77 years young. Your heart is tender and engaging, your desire for more for you and for us is inspiring. My heart is full as I get to live life alongside you.
img_1615I admire your honesty! You continue to put words to what is real and what is hard, and you continue to offer yourself to others in such good ways. I know you are aware of how age shapes and changes you, how you ache for Dad’s presence, and how you know that life is not meant to last forever, but until that time, may you stay forever young!

With all my love,
Trish

The day we gathered…

A Borgdorff gathering is not unusual and during the summer months I would even say is quite normal. They are often marked with good conversation, laughter, sometimes some tears and an overall good feeling of being together.

On this date last year it was a gathering of a different kind. My Mom had alerted us on that Sunday morning that she had called 911 because my Dad was having extreme pain. He was alert and when we got to the ER he was clearly uncomfortable, but still so alert. He asked me to call his friend Ron who he was supposed to have Tea with that afternoon and give him a heads up his day wasn’t going as planned. It all felt like a little bump in the road, for a short while.

Then the Doc came in and reported that my Dad’s ruptured ulcer was the presenting issue and due to his compromised physical condition, he was not a candidate for surgery. The facts unfolded in a conversation with a few of us as my very brave sister Arlene outlined for my Dad what the Drs were not saying. We talked about how on Friday he was told there was no reason to believe his end would be soon and this morning, due to the complications, his life was now limited to maybe two weeks.

We left my parents for a few minutes alone as they tried to absorb how a Sunday morning went so quickly from planning to go to Church to now preparing to live out the last days of my Dad’s life.

We all agreed my Dad should be admitted for pain control and then he would come home on Hospice.

I can hear this as if it was yesterday. It makes me smile deeply. My Dad loved to be crafting emails, advocating for the Belhar, preparing to chair his next committee meeting and occasionally glancing through Facebook.

“If I am going to stay here you better go home and get my computer. I have some things to get done.”

We waited for him to get settled in the room. His pain was great and we so wanted him comfortable We met Dr Hadley and she was such a gift to us. She honored Arlene’s role as a Hospice nurse and worked closely with her to ensure his pain was managed. As my Mom and I prepared to run for the computer, Dr. Hadley came out and said I don’t think you should leave. He is changing quickly.

But, my mind wanted to say, he needs his computer. And just that quick, I heard what she was saying. We took a minute to catch our breath and then we knew we needed to gather.

In the hours that followed a gathering unfolded. One by one, my Mom, my siblings, and their spouses, my nieces and nephews and my dear Aunt Dot all filled the room. We shared silence and song, we shared scripture and prayer and conversation and laughter and memories. Dear Erika was the Chaplin on duty at Spectrum that day. She is someone who we have shared life with and her and my Dad shared friendship. It was sweet. We remembered and we stood in the gap as my Dad transitioned from his life on earth to his life eternal.

My body can feel the emotion of that day as if it was yesterday. I hope to never lose the feelings of that day. I hope to always weep as I feel the ache and I hope to always celebrate as I feel the joy of my Dad’s life. I hope to never lose the overarching gratitude I hold in my heart every day for the life we all shared with him.

I have been very aware of the time today. I remember what time we got to the ER, what time we got to the hospital room, what time my Dad faded from our presence. what time we called Aunt Marg and Uncle Bill and others. And I remember, oh how I remember, when he took his last breath with my Mom at his side.

But the sweetest memory of the painful day was the fact that we gathered. We honored the way that our Dad and Mom taught us to join together and bear one another burdens. We showed up and lived present to the pain and the promises.

We miss you Dad.

Blessed Be His Name!

 

 

Then and Now

Navy_02bIt was 1987, and this picture was taken at the Annapolis Naval Academy. My oldest brother Len was graduating, and we traveled as a family to celebrate, but missed Nick who was serving in the Navy in Scotland.

It was a trip that felt like once in a lifetime experience. There was an incredible sense of dedication,  commitment, discipline, and respect. The love for our Country by these young men and women is something that can bring me to tears still, every time I sing the National Anthem. I reflect back on this trip in 1987, and I can feel the energy, the excitement the feelings of pride and deep respect for Len and holding what an honor it was to be together as a family.

Len’s Naval Academy experience is something I have always been proud of. It was not uncommon to share with others that my brother was a USNA graduate class of 1987, and they would remark on what an accomplishment that is.

Len was killed in a car accident in 2012, and we heard from so many of the young men and women that he mentored in his years in the Navy. They are precious stories, and they remind me that the Naval Academy is a place where Len developed his leadership skills, and he impacted many lives for good in his many years of service in the United States Navy.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Nicholas Borgdorff, people smiling, people standingTonight I am anticipating another adventure. The once in a lifetime experience is about to happen again in a different way. This time I will be celebrating with my nephew, Andrew. Andrew follows in the footsteps of his Dad Nick and his Uncle Len. Len and Nick both served the United States Navy, and now Andrew is creating his own legacy in the United States Navy. My brother Len was a Nuclear Submarine guy, and it looks like Andrew will also be. I am so proud of how my Nephew has given his all, applied himself, excelled and now will journey on a similar path, but in his own way, of growing, leading, mentoring and impacting lives in the United States Navy.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Ryan BorgdorffAndrew started the Naval Academy 4 years ago with commitment, passion, and vision. There has been a transformation at many levels. Many of these transformations are only for Andrew to share as his story unfolds.

fullsizeoutput_91deI am eager to spend time together as a family. We will miss Len and my Dad in almost every space, and we have so much to celebrate and feel sincere gratitude for.

I am proud of Andrew in ways I can not yet put words to. There will be tears, laughter, conversation, and many ways to celebrate. Andrew is one of 1193 in the graduating class of 2019. He has transformed from a young lad to a brave soul who will protect our country. Bless you, for your courage, commitment, and growing faith. I love you with my whole heart and am so proud to be your aunt. Let graduation week begin!

Blessed Be His Name