Friday, December 28, 2007

It snowed.

We took some nephews tubing. Jim and I opted for man to man instead of zone, and my "man" went down the hill exactly one time. Thank you, kind ticket girl, for the refund.
Then we decorated Christmas cookies.
Then they went home.
And we took Willa to the school down the street to enjoy their nice sized sledding hill.
Then we built a giant snowman. And a Willa sized one too.
Photos will be up when we're not glued to the bed, a little sore and very, very tired.

I think having a child might turn me into one who doesn't hate winter. As much.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hi all. Thanks to everyone for the comments, notes, and kind thoughts. The Sinki's and the extended Sinki's are doing pretty well. We were back in Grand Rapids to try to celebrate Christmas, and it was a lovely day with Jim's family and later a nice quiet dinner for 3 at our house. Willa is now a wrapping paper ripping machine. There have been some very happy times that have risen up during this time of confused, exhausted grief. I promise to share those later in the week.

Yesterday morning was my Grandma's funeral mass. I was proud to represent my family in remembering Grandma in the following eulogy.

Good morning. My name is Amy, I’m the first granddaughter of Bill and Virginia. On behalf of the ______ family, I'd like to thank Father Joe and Deacon Larry, this talented choir, the luncheon committee, and the whole congregation for giving my family comfort. To all friends and family here today and those thinking of us from afar, thank you.

It’s such an honor - and a daunting task - to stand here. I guess it’s that way for all of us today. An honor to celebrate the completion of Grandma’s long and fulfilled life. A daunting task to do the work of missing her. I hope I’m able to do justice in sharing some universal memories of Grandma.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase “I think I’ve died and gone to heaven” or maybe a few times in your life, you’ve been so completely happy and at peace that you leaned back, looked around and thought, “I could die a very happen person right now.”

On Friday, Grandma was surrounded by family- even most of the out of town family was there. She was sitting next to her priest. The new Mr. and Mrs. William _______ was just announced and we joked that the crowd at the reception were standing to applaud her and Grandpa. She was happily glowing, just a little less than the bride. About ten minutes later, Grandma started to say goodbye. Perhaps she was so completely happy that her heart couldn’t contain any more… and it was time.

Grandma seemed to live her life driven by three core priorities: her family, her faith, and her pride in her Irish heritage.

Grandma was born on April 1, 1923. After hearing stories of her growing up with her sisters Jean and Illene, I’m sure their parents Arthur and Adelaide Lynch had their hands full with 3 firecracker daughters.

She and Grandpa married on July 5, 1947, and celebrated 60 years of marriage this summer. Grandma and Grandpa raised 5 kids: Sue, Chuck, Jean, Tom and Richard, and welcomed their children’s spouses John, Kathy, Steve, and Diane into the family. I’m sure that as Grandma met each serious boyfriend or girlfriend of her kids, she asked them what she asked my husband Jim when they met: “Are you Irish?”

He is, by the way, and since she found that out, she never stopped flirting with him. Sally and Lisa? Did she ever do that with Jim and Ken? Are they Irish? Anyhow, Grandma asked everyone if they were Irish, and like my dad said, if you were Irish, you were okay with Grandma.

And, if at any moment you weren't okay with Grandma, out came what Uncle Tom has termed "the wave of disgust." One hand for minor infractions, two is you were really in trouble.

Faith and her Catholic religion was another keystone in Grandma’s life. She prayed daily for family and friends. She prayed to Fr. Solonas, and believed that St. Ann’s oil could cure everything from a head cold to cancer. I think that each of us probably owes some of our happiness and success to Grandma’s prayers. She was like our family’s very own main switchboard operator to God. And with such a big family, I’m sure Grandma was praying a lot.

Grandma and Grandpa have 10 grandchildren. Growing up, some lived very close to their house and some lived very far away. On visits, if cousins weren't there, I would hear updates about all of them equally, she’d talk about Doug, Matt, and Jim, Scott and Sally, and Erin. And I’m sure they heard about myself and my siblings Lisa, Bill, and Brian. And later we would hear updates about spouses too, and her 6 Great-grandchildren as well. And out of the 10 original grandkids, she had exactly 10 favorites.

On Thanksgiving, I was sitting next to Grandma and Grandpa, and she turned to Grandpa - after looking around the room - and said, "we started all of this." They were both so, so proud of their kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids.

One of my memories of grandma is sitting in the backseat of a car with Lisa. Grandpa was driving and Grandma was next to him. It was a hot summer day and the 7th Inning stretch of a Tiger’s game was on. We were all singing… and when it got to “root, root, root for the ….” Line, grandma said either “home team” and Grandpa said “Tigers.” And Grandma said, “Bill, it’s __ whichever one she thought it should be.” There was a little pause and grandpa responded with – say it with me everyone – “Yes, Virginia.” That little game of theirs helped define the gentle and constant love that they showed every day.

At the visitation I shared with Grandpa that he had been married 30 times longer than Jim and I. Grandpa, here’s a better one, you and Grandma have more than 60 years on Bill and Jackie. I want to thank you, and Grandma for showing your kids and grandkids what it means to be a married couple, working as a team. Your dedication to your wife - throughout your life – is an inspiration and a guidepost to all of us learning the ropes.

And we will all continue to carry on pieces of Grandma in our lives. The pious curses of – excuse me for this, father – “Judas Priest, Jesus Moses” and, when she was really upset, “Jesus Mary and Joseph.” Most of you probably have one of these to wash your dishes and counter tops with – I think anyone who ever met Grandma received their very own hand crafted dishtowel. Well, maybe only if they were Irish. I think my premature white hair is probably directly correlated to the Irish blood of Grandma in my own veins. Someone’s going to have to learn how to make the congo and shortbread that everyone looked forward to at family celebrations and the larger August _______ reunions. . I sit with my daughter on my knee and sing songs that I remember Grandma singing to someone in their Albion St. living room.

I remember saying, as a 9 year old, to my parents on the way to visit Grandma and Grandpa, “I hope my cousins are there. It’s so boring when all you grown ups do is sit around and play cards and tell stories.” And there were stories! Some involved names like Oenei, Gruey, and Mocheri, some involved Grandpa's siblings and their families (Grandma's adopted 2nd family). There were many, many stories about my dad and his siblings and their antics.

And here we are to celebrate the end of a generous, warm, spirited life. And those stories and family ties are the best possible gift. And the best gift we could give Grandma back is to continue those stories.

So, thank you Grandma. And, as Doug requests, “Tell God we said hi.”

Here is a photo of Grandma and Grandpa at the wedding, moments before her heart attack. As you can see, she was having a wonderful time!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The term bittersweet was invented for days like this.

My brother Bill is a married man. He was sweetly sincere at the ceremony. Goofy with his groomsmen. Gentle while touching the elbow of his new wife. Jackie, my new sister, was breathtakingly beautiful. And nervous (at first). And so very happy.

My brother and his wife had a nice ceremony, and then the wedding party drove to Detroit landmarks for pictures: Comerica Park, Campus Martius (they got to get some photos on the zamboni).

The reception hall was beautiful, and there was so much joy and anticipation in the room. I was at the table with my parents and grandparents as the newlyweds were being introduced as "Mr and Mrs. William (their last name - top secret)." People stood clapping and cheering. I told my Grandma that the people were clapping for her and my Grandpa (same name). She smiled at the joke, but told Grandpa "that's us, they're clapping for us."

My brother was the best man, and in the middle of his toast, Grandma had a heart attack. She was taken out into the entry and was given cpr and rescue breathing (It seemed like 1/2 of the guests there were nurses!). 911 was called and she was taken to the hospital. There was not a lot they could do, so the doctors put her on some machines until midnight, allowing my parents to stay at their son's reception, so there wouldn't be a similar anniversary...

At about 12:45 my grandma died, surrounded by all of her kids.

My grandpa is doing as well as can be expected.

We're all trying to sort out the 2 events and give them their own space and feelings. My poor brother and his new wife didn't get the wedding they deserved, but some information was compassionately kept through the night, and I truly think that, while they had an idea, they were able to enjoy themselves.

My grandma got to say goodbye in a beautiful hall, with all 5 of her kids, and 9 of her 10 grandchildren. She looked beautiful and was having a wonderful time. A woman who has been walking with the assistance of a walker, she walked down the aisle between my brother and her husband unassisted, save for the graceful arm offered by each gentleman. She was enchanted with Willa and MaKenna, beaming at the happy couple, and so proud to have her family together. It couldn't have happened at a worse or better time, all things considered.

Please keep my grandpa, brother and new sister, and my entire family in your thoughts and prayers.

This post may be edited several times over the next few days, as details and new feelings start walking on their own. Also, there are wonderful photos of the wedding, which I will share as time passes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

bad influence

On the phone with Jim just now (in my final 15 minute before vacation stretch)...

"What is she listening to?"
"Uh... um... Barney."
"Well, we got home from the store, and I turned the tv on while I was unpacking the groceries and she saw him and..."
"You know, every bonus point you earned from grocery shopping is out the door."
"Well, it's not like she'll be getting a lot of Barney."
"That's like saying it's just a little crack."

Here we go folks, over the river and through mid-Michigan...
look for updates from the front.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Today's lunch was delivered by Jim and Willa at my office. They have the whole week off. I start vacation on Wednesday afternoon.
In exactly 11 working hours.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

knowing she's paying attention

I had just finished laying out the program for Bill and Jac's wedding. And Willa pushed the "off" button of the laptop.
"NO! Oh, SHIT!"
She backed up, looked sad, and - I'm not making this up - said, "sorry."

Guess I'll have to be careful about the "oh shits."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sometimes I feel like the luckiest person in the world

From this collection of books, Willa has the Feelings Book.
It is colorful and sweet and a good primer on feelings. On one page it says "Sometimes I feel like holding hands with a friend."
While lying in bed and reading the book to her, she reaches for Jim's hand and then mine and we all sit in a hand holding line for a second, until we get to the "Sometimes I feel like making mud pies" page and she drops our hands and says (over and over) "mess."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fun with Sinkis: more photo outtakes

Willa in her "I heart Coolio" phase

Jim's senior photo pose at the Bounce Party.

It looks like alcohol was the missing factor in this photo, but nope, I was high on K-9 affection.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Don't call it a come back...

"I have no voice."
"I know, you've said that every day for a few days now. With your voice."

Jim has been sick for several weeks now. Honest-to-goodness chicken noodle soup and wrap yourself in a blanket sick. And I have empathy for him because I've had what he has, but in the lite format. I have the Muzak version of his sick. He's dusting off his blog and writing again. In today's episode, you can - if you want to - read all about the sick. If you're not all into mucus, skip to the next post where he talks about music. 'Cause that's a good one.

Here's to health, when it returns.

Friday, December 07, 2007

For the 4 year old boy who has everything?

I'm not even talking Christmas gifts, his birthday is tomorrow.
This kid has everything. I'm pretty sure he even owns the moon.

Jim and I are going to get him a dress. Kidding. Mostly.

It'll be too late for birthday ideas, but how about Christmas, friends? Ideas?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


The national media are finally talking about an issue that's been bugging me for years.
In Michigan, we have a female governor named Jennifer Granholm. During the last election her detractors spouted about not voting for "Jenny" because DeVos had better plans for the state.

When we are troubled by politicians we refer to them by their first names in a blatant sign of disrespect: "Tricky Dick" Nixon immediately comes to mind. In this particular administration, those less enthusiastically "hailing the chief" add a W to differentiate from daddy George.

And now here comes Hillary. She's not my top pick for the Democratic ticket - not that the party cares about what any of the renegades in Michigan think. I guess I'll have to come to terms with the fact that someday a granddaughter might ask what it was like when the first woman president was elected and I'll try not to roll my eyes and effusively proclaim that we missed our chance for real change in the presidency with a white Southern Male (Dear John Edwards? I know I'm from a state that will have no delegates at the convention, but still... you, me, grilled cheese?)... Anyhow my point... there's one here somewhere...

Hillary. Really? Her campaign is doing this themselves: banners, buttons, bumperstickers... all spalshed with one word Hillary. Maybe to differentiate from Bill Clinton, but okay, "welcome to the mideast peace talks, President Hillary will be joining us shortly..."? Or is she leaning to heavily on the maybe female voters will notice the "I'm a woman too" thing? One can only imagine the Hillary special edition Barbie advertised to help little girls dream that someday they too can be president. Cute.

I know this is a self-styled thing, but I heard a professional journalist refer to the field as Obama, Hillary and Edwards. Grrrr... Respect in parallels, please?

One could argue Rudy is doing this too... maybe it's a New York thing?

Here is a link to the On the Media segment that played on NPR on Friday, along with some thoughtful comments.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Dill Pickle Soup DIY

For about 12 years, starting when I was a freshman at GVSU, I received cards in the mail from Grandma Laws. In the cards was always a handwritten note about the weather, the escapades of Poopsie the bird, and a note of hello from Grandpa. Many times the card would contain clippings from Reader's Digest, a cute comic strip or column from the paper. One of the clippings was a recipe from Grandma's church paper.

Once I found a recipe that combined peanut butter with eggplant. It sounded so awful, I thought it must be good, and I tried it. It was awful. This one is not. If you like pickles, give it a shot.

8 chicken bullion cubes (I used vegetarian vegetable bullion)
8 cups water
1/2 cup chopped carrots (I'd put in closer to 3/4 cup)
1 cup diced potatoes (again, a little more might do you good)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms (someday when "I'll allergic to mushrooms isn't around, I'll give it a shot)
3 large dill pickles (Grandma wrote in "Get pickles in the dairy section!")
1/2 stick butter
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch (hey, follow the directions on the box for mixing this into water before mixing it into the soup)
3 tablespoons dill weed

Boil carrots, potatoes and mushrooms in broth until tender
Grate dill pickles (I love my food processor) and add to boiling mixture with butter
Reduce heat, add sour cream and mix vigorously with whisk
Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 cup water and add to mixture

Simmer for a bit, enjoy with a good bread. After, if you've still got a grandma send her a card. Include a Family Circus cartoon - she'll love it!

Again with the cooking?

The wedding of the year is now17 days away. Bill and Jackie are probably up to their ears in teeny final details, send out vibes of peace and productivity to them.

Bagels and apple crisp were made in the cocina de sinki. Is it weird to feel empowerd that I can make bagels at home? Spending time cooking has been centering for me. Slicing apples last night was like a meditation of repetitive motion. The slisss of steel through apple and klnk of apple hitting bowl... so natural, so small, but so satisfying.

My job has been a lot like driving on an icy parking lot. I'm not sure where I'm going, and I don't feel like I'm really in control.

Making meals and treats for my family is so productive and finite, and rewarding. Winter and a quest for direction has me standing over our in the middle of rehab sink. And that's where I'm comfortable this week.

In non-domestic news, we've been watching Heroes for 2 years now. Anyone else? Want to discuss the end of season 2?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Singin' fee fi fideleye oh

The kitchen and I have been spending more time together lately. It's like believing an old boyfriend who said, "For you? I'll change, but it'll take some time" And then you get excited about the relationship once it's where you want it to be, so for now... for now you tolerate it.

We've decided to make the kitchen a kinder, gentler, less 1960's kitchen. And while we're in the slow process of remodeling, I'm enjoying being in there. Because it's going to be better, folks!
As evidenced by the homemade mac and cheese, vege chili, dill pickle soup, and raisin bran muffins all in the freezer. I also made some great chai (not from a box, thank you).