Tag Archive: family

The 2375 Top 10 List

I’ve got 5 blog posts drafted and incomplete. I need to post something, so here’s one that’s been brewing for a while.

The Top 10 List of Things I’m Grateful for About Our New House at 2375 Hunting Valley

street view

The view from the street. G for scale.

  1. Neighbors and lack thereof. We have power lines to our left, which extend across the street, and nobody living underneath them. To our right lives a kind elderly couple.
  2. The friendly foot traffic. People on the street walk by, wave, and say hello. It’s our own personal Mayberry. We’ll take it.


    Bamboo … with aspirations

  3. The green. In addition to the field underneath the power lines beside and across from us, we have bamboo – thick, 20-foot-tall bamboo. Behind our fence, there’s a long stretch of woods of hardwood and pine all the way back to the creek.


    The Dam Builder

  4. The creek. I believe it’s South Fork Peachtree Creek, but regardless it’s a wide body of water with a noticeable current. Sure there’s some plastic flotsam and jetsam – working on cleaning that out – but there’re rocks and vines and trees in it and across it.
  5. The quiet. Our street is not a thoroughfare. Couple that with our dearth of immediate neighbors, and that equals something called semi-solitude. You can look up at night and almost see the lack of noise. It’s palpable. Evening baseball games from the nearby neighborhood park echo over the treetops, taking nothing away from the quiet, but somehow adding to it.
  6. The birds. I swear we’re living in a nature preserve or maybe a Disney movie. Perhaps not the latter but if all these songbirds burst into song and make Carmen a dress for the ball, I’ll reconsider. Hawks, songbirds, two different kinds of woodpeckers, plus an owl (sight unseen, but heard). One of the woodpeckers, a redheaded one that we’ve named Woody, pecked the crap out of one of the stumps by the fire ring.


    Woody, I ain’t even mad at ya.

  7. The bunnies. Cute, fluffy, brown, real, not-stuffed, actual bunny rabbits. There are at least four different ones that we have seen. Related note: we planted carrots in our garden.


    Not a bunny, but I forgot to mention we have a neighborhood turkey.

  8. Our garden. Gabriel’s always been a good gardener thanks in large part to his grandma. And I’ve always enjoyed gardening, although my execution thereof leaves something to be desired. Regardless, before all boxes were unpacked at the new place we spent an entire Saturday and some of Sunday pulling up grass; tilling in compost; and planting cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, and them carrots.


    G, fixin’ to tear it up.

  9. My family. We change circumstances, the circumstances change us. And while I know that happiness comes from within, living within these walls makes us happy.


    Staring out at the back yard, a worthwhile way to spend time

  10. My friends. We now have more space in which we can welcome even more of them. I can’t wait fill it up at our Warm The House (Party) later this month and share this wonderful space. They’ve been so supportive through this whole process, and I even had an old high school pal who, even though he can’t make the party, offered to help “move anything large/heavy or help with any dirty tasks between now and then.” That’s what got me started writing instead of just thinking about this list. Thanks, y’all.Friends



You are (not) here. And neither am I.

My childhood was happy with an asterisk.

Those closest to me – my immediate family and more intimate friends – provided the love and safe environ in which I could develop, explore, fail, and adjust without fear or at least without more than a healthy dose of it.

The asterisk is there to account for stronger developmental punctuations like separating-then-divorcing parents and the enduring accompaniment of grandparents’ Alzheimer’s/dementia. These things happen.  It’s part of this thing called life, I suppose.

Looking at these things, I see each circle – the inner and the outer – varying in the amount of control we have over them. The experiences from each are formative. Take the separating-then-divorcing parents for example. Now a parent myself, I’m set on making marriage work no matter what comes our way. Other things, like my grandfather’s Alzheimer’s … well, I can do little to stave off that, save health decisions of today, at least on a physical and mental level.

Focusing on the outer, unrefined landscape though, I recall something that recurred in my childhood around the age that Gabriel is now. We lived in Jonesboro, Ga., a great place for young boys: bikes and backstreets, camo pants and acres of woods, allowances and five-and-dimes. One by two miles, it was fun to grow up there, my brother and I having our run of the place … within limits … without my mom having to worry about much.

Next door to us though, in the back of the neighboring (and I use that term loosely) lot was a small house that housed a contentious couple, the daughter and son-in-law of the neighbor (ibid.) occupying the main house. They’d argue from time to time, frequently coming into the yard to do so. Frequently at night. Frequently around my bedtime. Apparently, they wanted to share it with everyone on our street. It bothered me, frightened me really, and I know it must have concerned my mom.

A few months ago, our neighbor, with whom we’re really close, had his son and daughter-in-law move in. Ironically, in the back of the lot, there’s a small shed, and we think they’re fixing it up to stay in. Hard to tell, really. Our neighbor’s a good guy – gone through some rough patches himself – but gotten through, smoothing out some of his own inner landscape in the process. Long story short, he’s great. His relatives, not so much.

Last night, after G was asleep, there was a household falling out of some kind. It resulted in the young couple’s walking out and heading down the street, trading expletives – in their outside voices – with the dad. Not good.

I try to take things like this and reflect a bit on why they happened, not so much in the secular cause-and-effect sense, but rather “Why am I meant to witness this?” (Yes, friends have told me I think too much, btw.) For me, I took it as a chance to ask myself “What am I willing to accept in my life?” I’m not willing to accept that kind of situation. It’s a unique blending of the outer and inner landscapes, yep, but I feel that to fully take responsibility of my family’s inner circle, I need to press out into the outer circle and ensure my standards there as well.

Our white picket fence needs a-paintin'

Our white picket fence needs a-paintin’

The ironic thing is that we’re making efforts to move, which would “solve” things. But instead of leaving the status quo well enough alone (as I’m wont to do to my frequent detriment), I need to step up and out. Hard task, but needed.

Have you experienced any situations that blended your own inner and outer circles? How’d you deal with them? Any lessons learned?

Day of Birth

It may be a sign of getting old (and not simply older), but for the first time in my life, I woke up on my birthday not remembering it was my birthday.

My mother’s recent passing perhaps had something to do with it. Maybe I was preoccupied. But even so, I recall that she always made a point of celebrating my birthday. Perhaps that’s why things this morning seem all the more vibrant.

Breathing in the fresh morning, I look left at the morning sun.

Good day, sunshine!

Rising up through the thick canopy of leaves, the sun appears like an archipelago of gold or perhaps a cluster of souls or maybe the lights of a busy cityscape.

As I step barefoot onto the back stoop, the air outside—although kept at bay only by an old screen door—is noticeably cooler, a memory of the night.

Looking into the yard, I notice the yet-unplanted azalea sent by Aunt Joan from California. Small, but filled with blooms and life, its pink color borders on blue. At least I would say so if I didn’t know better. Perhaps it’s the sleepy still in my vision.

Carmen stumbles in and offers the best rendition of  “Happy Birthday” that could be expected at this hour of a summer morning.

Some say that each night we die and are reborn. I’m not sure I buy that, but regardless, I know that each day offers a new beginning. That’s the best birthday gift one could hope for.

Berfday Berries … and Berfday Java, of course


Butchart Gardens in Canada — she always wanted to see this place again


I apologize that I can’t contact you all directly, but email is easiest way to communicate my mom’s passing. If you’re getting this message, you’ve had some impact on my mother’s life either directly or indirectly. For that, thank you.

She passed away June 9, 2012, at 10:41 p.m. after her bout with tongue cancer. While this is difficult for the family, we’re supported by your prayers, kindness, and thoughts.

Her wish is that there not be a memorial service per se, but rather a viewing, lasting throughout Sunday. We welcome family and friends to visit, pay last respects, and recall good times. Please feel free to drop by the funeral home as your schedule permits and stay as long as you’d like. Family will be from early morning to late at night. We’ve a private room and comfy seating.

Fellow members of the Sukyo Mahikari Center are welcome to come give Light as is our custom; everyone is welcome to offer prayers … or not … according to your beliefs. Mom was nothing if not broad-minded. 🙂

I’d like to share some of her thoughts on life and death. Her view of death is that it’s a natural process, a part of life. Sad, yes, and difficult, but in parallel, passing away means you’re leaving a place, so necessarily you’re going somewhere. Seen in that way, death is a birth of sorts. Our belief is that it’s cyclical. Many faiths and traditions teach this in some form or another.

Her belief–and mine–is that accordingly, this birth is a positive thing, therefore an occasion for happiness. Sadness and joy contrast, but can exist together. While mom no doubt appreciates our love as evidenced our pain in losing her, I know that she wants us to smile, too. Perhaps it’s a little too much to say she’d want to put the “fun” in funeral, but regardless, she loves to see people happy. (And I think she would appreciate jokes and laughter as well.)

The funeral home is A.S. Turner & Sons:

2773 N. Decatur Road

Decatur, GA 30033


Thank you in advance for your presence, prayers, and thoughts at her passing; these are most welcome and the most meaningful. Ever the gardener and most alive when in nature, mom would certainly welcome flowers. Two organizations were instrumental in her care and comfort during her illness: Emory University’s Winship Cancer Center and Our Mom’s Personal Care Service. Please join me in expressing gratitude for their kindness. And thank you for yours.

With love and gratitude,



I’ve avoided writing about a difficult topic for some time. Today I found myself writing about it to a friend. But in so doing, I found I couldn’t stop.

Click the image for relevant background music. She’d like this version of one of her favorite songs.

The act of writing–as it often does–helped me step back and consider the topic, the circumstances, and see things in a new light. And that helps. So I suppose that means it’s time to post this.

My mother is dying.

Mom’s cancer has progressed, and she is staying home now, sleeping/laying down most of the time, and not really taking in any nutrition to speak of. The ladies from the personal care service have been fantastic and are spending most of the day and all of the night at her place. A room at the hospice center would give her the same 24/7 support, but this is what mom wants — a few weeks, maybe days at this point per the RN.

I get mom to smile a few times daily. Her thoughts are clear since coming home from a respite stay at the in-patient hospice center a few days ago. Although weak, frail, and losing weight, she’s in a relatively good space for the shape she’s in.

It’s hard to see her this way. The little nutrition she gets comes through that Southern elixir: sweet ice tea. Yet, most meager sips merit a cough. For some reason, her pain has lessened, necessitating fewer doses of powerful narcs like Roxicet administered through her peg tube. What hair survived the radiation and chemo is white, close-cropped and nothing like her style pre-cancer. Clothes don’t fit her either. Buying some pajama bottoms for her today, I opted for the XS and think that those should work.

Regardless, the person who now appears nothing like the lady filling my memories is still my mom, a buoyant beautiful soul. That remains.

I think that cancer nearing its run is a bit of a blessing, insofar as you see the end coming. So you can prepare for it. It’s not unlike standing chest-deep in the ocean. Your feet are planted in the sand, the current swirling around you–but you can see the wave coming, so you can prepare. You make what adjustments you can and receive the wave.

Despite how well you’ve prepared, it will move you. So I think I’m ready for that. In the meantime, I have to keep my eyes forward, head down, and do what needs doing.

If anyone has any information about the Ogisho family, please contact me at derekhambrick@gmail.com or 847.912.6620. Please forward this to anyone you think may help.

Father: Shigeyuki
Mother: Mayumi
Older son: Tenma
Younger son: Akito

Whereabouts is unknown … most likely between/at: their home (below), children’s school (Sendai Montessori, I recall), or the Miyagi-ken Sukyo Mahikari dojo. Shige travels for business so perhaps the airport.

2-3-4-1 Abukuma
Iwanuma-shi, Miyagi-ken 989-2435

Kind regards and gratitude,

The darndest things can spur writing.

Tonight I cleaned the bathroom sink drain (for the umpteenth time) and our dishwasher drain (for the first time).  The first effort was habitual; the second was exploratory.  Thanks go to mom for the Drain Snake(tm) and the Tennessean Dollar General store at which she surely purchased that handy little stocking stuffer in late December.

so much depends upon a white childproof latch

What got me to the keyboard at quarter past 11 p.m. is what I did after I finished my domestic foray: I removed the childproof latch to our kitchen cabinet sink.  Simple enough task … flathead screwdriver … turn turn turn <plink> … turn turn turn … turn turn <plink> . Done.

But it was the thought process behind removing that blessed little white plastic work of engineering genius: our son is old enough that we don’t need it. And other than frustrating adults, the little lock most likely can’t thwart any more little Hambrick fingers.

With several friends expanding their nuclear/familial child to adult ratio recently, of course we’ve considered following suit.  And had we leaned more toward revisiting the lands of poopy diapers, then perhaps I wouldn’t’ve offed the lock.

But I did.  And it’s all good.