Prickly Times…

Hello, sweet friends!

It feels so good to be back home again! We have lots of catching up to do here in our little gathering place of kindred spirits. I have really missed you all. Heartfelt thanks for stopping to visit today!

I have spent the past several months with my dear parents in Arizona. Well into their 80s now, Mom and Dad began needing a little extra help earlier this year. It has been my honor to spend extra time helping out and making plans with my parents. For health reasons, Dad and Mom decided that it was time to make a BIG move, back home to Illinois to be close to their children.

After twenty-four happy, healthy years of desert living, their Retirement dream was taking a most unexpected turn. My parents faced very difficult choices… and many months of ‘prickly’ times. There were so many hard decisions to be made. Working side-by-side, our days were extremely busy. We donated so many cherished items to charitable causes. Finding good homes for beloved antiques and collectibles proved to be a true ‘labor of love.’ So many avid collectors were grateful to become the new owners of my dad’s Lionel trains and antique telephones. My mom’s vintage irons, beautiful, old crocks, oil lamps, antique kitchen tools, and many pieces of Southwest art all went to new homes, one-by-one. ‘Prickly,’ but important, work…

Preparing to sell their lovely, desert home in the foothills of Red Mountain just made our hearts so sad. With the Tonto National Forest just a short walk away, it is a nature lover’s paradise. My parents built their home with breathtaking views of Red Mountain, the Superstition Mountains, and the Usery Mountains. Moving away from longtime friends and special places was the most ‘prickly’ time of all.

Packing boxes, boxes, and more boxes filled our days and weeks. My dad shipped his car back to Illinois. A great pair of movers loaded up a few special pieces of furniture and many boxes filled with family photos and mementos.

After the moving truck pulled away, we were all lost in our thoughts.

It was all feeling very real now…

We took our last long drive through the Tonto National Forest, admiring the mountains, the giant Saguaros, and the wildflowers in bloom. We reminisced about all of our favorite hiking places, remembered picnics at Saguaro Lake, and waved farewell to the beautiful ‘secret place’ in the desert where my husband proposed to me. We all hold so many heartwarming memories of special times in the desert over the years. My mom chose a few favorite rocks from her lovely, desert garden to bring along as special mementos.

Unforgettable, beautiful, heartbreaking, ‘prickly’ times for us all…

After special gatherings with dear friends and a few nights in a hotel, my parents and I flew back to the Midwest together just two weeks ago. Together we knew we were flying toward our next adventure ~ a brave, new chapter in all of our lives. We have been a great team through all the ‘prickly’ times. I have learned so many important lessons over the past months. My parents will always be my first and best teachers!

Throughout my life there have been several challenges,

but this has truly been the most difficult thing

I have experienced so far.

Tears have filled my eyes so often over the past months.

Throughout the ‘prickly’ times this year, I always looked for blossoms…

and counted my many blessings out loud.

It really helped!

Making time for walks in nature always soothed my tender heart.

Sunrise walks filled my soul with sunshine for the day ahead. Walking many miles each week was an important part of my self-care during this very stressful, ‘prickly’ time. Remembering my ‘why’ and tracking my foods on the WW app daily have helped me maintain my healthy weight goal. πŸ™‚Β  Good health is such a wonderful blessing!

Early mornings spent pulling unfamiliar weeds (using pliers) from the dry, red earth in my mom’s garden reminded me of the gift of gardening Mom gave me thirty-one years ago. What a blessing! My life has been enriched in so many ways since I inherited Mom’s love of gardening.

Sunset walks were the perfect way to connect with my husband each evening. FaceTime allowed us to walk together, although we were 1,800 miles apart. Sharing the stories of our days made it easier for both of us.

My sweet husband has been my ‘rock’ and constantly helps in so many ways. Throughout the Summer months, each evening after work, he deadheaded my ‘He Loves Me’ daisies, so that they would be in full bloom each time I returned home for a brief visit. When the seasons changed, he took such good care of our little ‘igloo’ throughout the big November blizzard. Storm damage left our home without power for several days. So, he worked with a neighbor to prevent our water pipes from freezing in our dark, frigid home. He researched and helped arrange moving plans from across the miles. A great listener, he can always make me laugh. My dear husband is a truly great blessing in my life!

I’m so blessed by friends, both near and far. Quick texts, long emails, and encouraging WhatsApp messages were most welcome day brighteners while I was away from home for extended times. Beautiful cards and letters always warmed my heart. We are so grateful for the kindness of our friends! A perfectly-timed ride home from the airport in a friend’s toasty, warm SUV (complete with a cozy, lap blanket for my parents) was an extra-special ‘welcome home’ on a cold December day.Β  A friendly visit delivering hugs and homemade turkey noodle soup warmed our hearts and tummies. Heartfelt thanks, dear, sweet friends!

Each day, as I quickly checked our little blog, it was so heartwarming to know that friends were stopping to read stories from the blog archives. I could feel our connection and was both humbled and grateful for the powerful friendships that have grown here over the years. I’m looking forward to blogging often in the New Year… and finally making time to visit my blogging friends again!

We felt so blessed that my parents’ beautiful, desert home sold in just ONE day! We were very grateful when the buyers visited and promised to take extra good care of this special place. We were so fortunate that our moving plans and travel plans all went very smoothly. Such a big blessing for us all!

After a long, cross country trip, the movers delivered everything safely to a nearby storage unit. Family heirlooms were handled with extra care. We were so grateful to see the big, orange truck pull up last week! Local movers will help with the next stage of the move in January, when my parents’ beautiful, new apartment will be ready.

After spending time in the desert in the Springtime and experiencing this Summer’s Monsoon season, I was delighted to arrive home for a brilliant, instant blast of Autumn color. I was so blessed that the beautiful leaves waited for me!

We packed lots of Autumn walks into my two-week visit home! It was so refreshing after the long, hot Summer days in the desert. (This year, the Phoenix area had over 125 days of triple-digit heat! Whew!)

No matter where I roam, the Midwest always feels like home to me!

I embrace the change of seasons,

with the blessings each one brings.


In spite of the ‘prickly’ times, it has been a very special blessing to experience ALL of the seasons in the desert Southwest this year. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn so much about the desert plants over the past 24 years. Walking with my mom is always a wonderful gardening lesson! I have also learned to beware of the desert creatures. It’s still the ‘wild west’ with coyotes, scorpions, lizards, and rattlesnakes passing through! Over the years, I have learned so much about the Native American people. I will always hold the call of the drums at the Harvest Pow Wow on the Pima-Maricopa reservation close to my heart. It was a remarkable cultural experience.Β  I truly understand why the Arizona desert will always have a special place in my parents’ hearts!

My greatest blessings of all are my dear, sweet parents! β™₯β™₯

I cherish every precious moment with them!

We have been enjoying old family memories

and look forward to sharing as much joy

as we can squeeze into the coming years!


Hugs and simple joys,

β™‘ Dawn











28 thoughts on “Prickly Times…

  1. What a beautiful testament to your transitioning time with your parents, Dawn! Welcome home, and have a wonderful Christmas! much love to you and your family-Carol

    • Huge hugs, Carol! We made it through the ‘prickly’ times. It feels so good to be home again. It was an extra-special birthday celebration this year with my entire family gathered here together. Now we are all looking forward to a good, old-fashioned family Christmas! In the meantime, we are keeping busy and trying to stay warm! Hope to see you very soon, dear friend. We will need a very l-o-n-g walk to catch up. πŸ™‚ Love you!β™‘

  2. What a lovely story you have woven that certainly does involve prickly times for all involved. I applaud your support of your parents and the relationship that you have that allows you to gently close one door while you smile and open a new one. I wish them a wonderful new chapter in their new apartment and a very Merry Christmas to you all.

    • Oh, thank you, Judy! It was challenging each and every day, but it was an honor to help out every step of the way. It’s so nice to be here together now! We are really cozy here in our little bungalow, but that makes our time together even sweeter. πŸ™‚ My mom and I just spent time this afternoon looking through a photo album of a trip to Germany that we shared to celebrate her 65th birthday. I cherish each moment that we can share! Although it will be a huge change, my parents are looking forward to an easier, carefree lifestyle in an Independent Living apartment in a beautiful, new Senior Living Community. We will have lots of boxes to unpack when they move in a few weeks.

      I’ve really missed visiting your blog, Judy! I can’t wait to catch up! Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas! Thank you for always being here, Judy! β™‘

      • I know numerous people who have lived in Senior Living Communities and have lived happy lives. They enjoy the company of other people their age, activities, and assistance when needed. I hope you will give us an update because I for one am hoping it is a very positive move for them. And, again, you took being a ‘daughter’ to a higher level, and I know they appreciate it.

      • Judy, I will be happy to share an update in the New Year. After several years of visiting and learning about Senior Living Communities in our area, I’m very hopeful that I made the very best choice for our family. My parents are very independent and do not want to live with any of their children. They were able to choose the floor plan they liked best early on, when the new construction began. We will help them move into their Independent Living apartment in a few weeks. As their needs change, they will be able to move into Assisted Living (with a Transitional Memory Care option). Full Memory Care is also available in this wonderful community. My parents have toured the community twice and have already met a few of their new neighbors. It’s nice that everyone will be moving in and forming new friendships around the same time. As a family, we are all impressed with the amenities, activities, dining options, and transportation available. The large grounds provide the opportunity to remain very active. It is so important to be around other people their own age! Senior Living Communities are now designed with inviting gathering spaces to encourage everyone to come out of their apartments and become active members of the community. Active, involved seniors can thrive in such settings. This particular community is open to people age 55+. Naturally, it will be a big adjustment after living in their own home, but my parents have always been adventuresome. So, we truly hope they will embrace this new chapter and enjoy this easier lifestyle. I truly appreciate your supportive words, Judy, and will keep you updated. Warm hugs! β™‘

    • So nice to hear from you, Marcia! Over the past months I thought of you often, remembering your stories as you downsized and sold your lovely home. It gives me much peace to know that you made such a nice adjustment to your beautiful Senior Living community. Easy and carefree sounds so nice! R & R sounds really good to me! πŸ™‚ We are planning a quiet, old-fashioned family Christmas here. Wishing you a very Happy Christmas, my friend! β™‘

  3. It is lovely to have you back, Dawn. It is indeed a bittersweet time. After visiting for 25 years it would feel like a second home for you as well. Helping your parents divest themselves of so many memories must have been difficult because you had your own memories to sort through and either store away or let go of.

    I remember my first visit to the Arizona desert. I was not prepared to fall in love with the “desolation” as compared to the rolling, verdant hills of Maryland. The desert carries its own beauty that is haunting and spectacular all in the same moment.

    • Heartfelt thanks, Cathy! “Bittersweet” is the perfect description of the feelings we have shared over the past months. I’m so proud of my parents for making this very smart, very difficult decision. Now we are looking ahead to a new chapter as a family!

      The quiet, simple beauty of the desert tugs on my heartstrings. I don’t think I would ever like to live there. I thrive on the change of seasons here in the Midwest. Perhaps one day, it might be nice to visit the desert and explore some of our favorite hiking places again. In the meantime, I’m thrilled to be Home Sweet Home at last!

      Thank you for always being here, Cathy! I can’t wait to catch up with all of my blogging friends in the New Year. Sending warmest hugs across the miles! β™‘

  4. It’s so lovely to hear from you, dear one! You have endured the prickly time with grace. Your lovely parents have certainly raised a loving, caring, daughter! I’m so glad you are home now and hopefully will be able to find time for you and John as well as taking care of your parents. It’s important for you to take care of you as well, my friend. Wishing you quiet, happy days ahead! β™₯

    • Martha Ellen, you are such a rare blossom in my friendship bouquet! All of your happy mail and sweet wishes brought me such joy. πŸ™‚ I promise to write very soon! The prickly times required much courage from us all. I’m very proud of all of us! John took vacation days during our first two weeks home. So, we enjoyed lots of together time. πŸ™‚ I’m practicing good self-care and have limited many of my favorite Christmas traditions this year. I decorated inside and outside during my early November visit home. So, it looked very Christmas-y when my parents and I came home in early December. This holiday season will be a very simple one focusing on loved ones gathered around the tree, rather than gifts beneath the tree. πŸ™‚ Being together is the best gift!

      Sending huge holiday hugs and simple joys from our home to yours, dear friend! I think of you every day. I know that you and Grayden will enjoy precious times with your family. Love you! β™‘

  5. Oh how I’ve missed your wonderful blog. You are such a wonderful daughter. Your parents must be so proud and grateful. Hope all of you enjoy these special holidays back home together. Big hugs!

    • Such kind words, dear Anne! We are both part of the sisterhood of caring daughters. There are legions of us doing all that we can every day to help out. β™‘

      Anne, thank you so much for the beautiful card. It brings me joy every day! You are so good to keep in touch across the miles. Wishing you and your mom a very Happy Christmas! Love you, sweet friend! β™‘

  6. This is a very sweet read. I can feel every emotion you are all going through there. I’m on the other end of that experience. I went through it with my mother after my dad passed bringing her closer to me and my husband. It was quite the process. Now the shoe is on the other foot with my daughter moving in with me and helping. I am in the process of giving away collections and pass on things that no longer serve me as I focus my attention. It’s part of life’s journey. I lived for many years in the White Mountains of Arizona going north of Phoenix. So many fond memories of that area and still many friends. My son still lives there but I knew that at this stage of life, I need to be closer to my daughter. There is something about daughters and mothers at that later part of life. I’m so glad you were free to go help your parents. You will always cherish that time.

    • Oh, thank you, Marlene! I know that you can understand how ‘prickly’ is can be to make such a huge change of lifestyle and a long distance move. It took a while before they felt ready. It is a wonderful blessing that my parents still have one another! They have always been a great team. This is a very BIG step.

      Marlene, I’m so glad that your daughter is able to move in with you to help out. It might take time for both of you to find your own rhythm as you share your home. I think you will both slowly create a new rhythm together. The companionship will lift your spirits. I predict joyful times ahead for both of you, Marlene! Your daughter is blessed to have you, and you are blessed to have her. Know that I will be thinking of you both. Wishing you a New Year filled with love and happy times together! β™‘

  7. Welcome home, Dawn! What would life be without family? Throughout life our parents are always there for us and suddenly, it is our turn. My mother turns 96 in 4 months and is beginning to show a few signs of slowing down, but is eagerly planning the spring garden. And my love’s health has deteriorated and I am so grateful for the help that his daughter gives me. Maybe, it takes a village!! Everyone working together.
    I can only imagine how hard it must have been for your parents to make that decision to move and sell their home. We have been in our house 22 years this month and I cannot imagine the monumental task of moving, of giving up the treasures one collects through a lifetime that brought so much joy. If you keep in mind, it is your next big adventure, it is a wonderful way to move on!
    I have spent a lot of time recently, counting my blessings, remembering to be grateful, living in the moment. Now I just need to remember to get outside more often and take Molly for a walk!!
    So glad you are back home and I wish you and yours the most wonderful Christmas! I look forward to a new year filled with blog posts from you.

    • So very true, Chris! It does take a village! Change seems to happen overnight. Fortunately for both of our families, the change has been gradual. It’s important to plan for the change that we know is coming. We planned for the BIG move… and you planned by retiring to have more family time. Very wise choices for both of our families, Chris! I hope your sweet mom will feel up to puttering in the garden when Spring comes along. I predict that she will! She knows that the garden needs her! I’m glad that your sweet husband has the love and help of his daughter, too. More time to collect special memories made with loved ones!

      Moving is a monumental task at any age. It only gets more challenging as we age. (Just one of the powerful lessons that I learned from my parents!) All of my parents’ collections were curated, organized, and beautifully displayed throughout their home. It still took a great deal of time to find good homes for all of these prized antiques. Antiques are such an important part of history and teach us so much about lifestyles of an earlier era. We certainly don’t want these treasures to be destroyed because the stories they hold would be lost, too. It takes lots of time to downsize. (Note to self: Begin downsizing before it becomes necessary. It will never be easier than it is today!)

      Each of the treasures had a story to tell. One of my favorites was a beautiful, sheer, long, black dress from the 1920s that belonged to my great aunt. It was like new. I just knew that I would never wear it here where it is cold for the holidays. So, we decided to advertise it online. After two months, a lovely young woman came over to try it on. It fit perfectly… and she looked like a princess when she spun around in the dress! We all had tears in our eyes, just knowing that she was the perfect person to inherit my great aunt’s lovely dress. She couldn’t wait to wear it over the holidays (perhaps for her wedding proposal). Now that special dress will have a whole new life… and fun new stories to tell. It was lovely to hear the stories of each person who came over to “adopt” a family treasure! πŸ™‚ It lessens our sadness even today whenever we remind one another of the kindness we shared with so many nice people! πŸ™‚ We love to reminisce and share those kind of stories.

      Counting our blessings out loud every day is key, dear friend! The ‘Gratitude’ page in my Self-Care Journal is the most powerful page of all. Walking truly soothes the soul. I’ve been taking some long, chilly walks since we arrived home. I always return feeling refreshed.

      It’s going to be a VERY special Christmas for our family!! I wish you a very special Christmas with your dear family, too! I promise to write in the New Year, Chris. Can’t wait to hear about the early months of your retirement! I also have a bit of serendipity to share. πŸ™‚ Are you listening for your One Little Word 2019 to find you? Mine found me just last week! I’m feeling very excited to watch it guide me throughout the New Year.
      Sending love and big Texas-sized hugs, my friend! Thanks so much for always being here! β™‘

    • Oh, Brenda! Your very kind words have truly touched my heart today! I always find great inspiration in your words. I’m going to hand letter your ‘wish’ in my Self-Care Journal. It’s absolutely perfect, Brenda! Sending my gratitude from the Midwest across the miles to Canada. Wishing you peace, love, and magical moments throughout this holiday season. Thank you for visiting, dear kindred! β™‘

  8. Dawn, what a beautiful and blessed journey you have been on. Welcome back home to you and your parents. Wishing you many blessing and new memories in the new year! Linda

    • Huge hugs, Linda! Your advice and words of wisdom come to my heart often. After so much time away, it feels so good to be home! It will be so nice to re-connect with dear friends. I’m looking forward to our next get-together. Thank you for the beautiful card. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! β™‘

  9. Dear Dawn, how excited I was to see you had posted several days ago. I read your words right then and there and meant to come back sooner. So it goes (or so goes my time and memory πŸ™‚ ) You have embraced the seasons of nature as well as the seasons of not only your parents’ lives, but, your own as well, including the prickly parts. Welcome “home” and know that you are the best of daughters – and of friendship. I wish you and yours all the blessings of the season. Penny

    • You have been in my thoughts so often over the past few months, Penny! Thank you for your very kind words, my friend. I hope you are well and looking forward to a nice Christmas celebration. Ours will be a wonderful, simple, old-fashioned family gathering here at our house. I cherish each and every precious moment that we spend together! Sending you warmest wishes for a peaceful, joyous Christmas season! In the New Year, I look forward to catching up with your blog and all of your activities, Penny. Huge hugs! β™‘

    • Huge hugs just for being you, Kim! Mom and Dad were just thrilled to see you. They are already looking forward to taking you on a tour of their new place when you come to visit them! Sending our love, dear friend! β™‘

  10. Dawn, I know it is hard to leave a home you have loved so much but I do hope your parents will be happy when they are in their new apartment. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best in the upcoming year.

    • Thank you so much, Karen! I remember following your journey as you downsized and packed your treasured antiques for your move a few years ago. Moving is always so stressful. Goodbyes are never easy. Having family nearby to help out will be so nice for Mom and Dad. With time, I think my parents will be grateful for a new, easier lifestyle. For now, we are all enjoying nice family times during the holidays. Thank you for stopping to visit today, Karen! Warmest hugs! β™‘

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