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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Jacknin

Cherishing Life's Journey: Reflections on Time and Love

Updated: Feb 24

Remembering vividly the summers of my youth, when my great-grandparents were still alive, and our family reunions were a cherished tradition. I recall one particular night, when the adults allowed us to sleep outside under the stars. Our laughter and chatter must have echoed through the night because a stern uncle threatened to send everyone over 10 back indoors. I remember thinking, "Will I ever be 10?"

As I sit here, surrounded by memories both cherished and bittersweet, I can't help but marvel at the passage of time. It feels like just yesterday that I was a young girl, wide-eyed and full of wonder, at our family reunions with my great-grandparents still among us. Back then, time seemed infinite, and the concept of being "over 10" felt like an eternity away.

My father, Jack Maier and me. My daugter Jacklyn is named after him.

Now, at 63, as I reflect on the years gone by, I'm struck by the oddity of time. Eight years ago today, on 2-23-2016, I was in Florida when my husband Larry left this world, leaving behind a trail of memories. We were married for 8 years before he passed. How is it possible that the same number of years have passed away as the number of years we were married?

Larry and I spent 2 winters in Florida. We enjoyed our time there, exploring, visiting with friends and family, and creating over 50 stained-glass mosaics. Amidst the waves of nostalgia and longing, there's a profound sense of gratitude for the time we shared and the love that still lingers. 

As I write this, I am back in Florida vacationing with my daughter, Jacklyn, son-in-law Ezra and Granddaughter, Leora.

I'm staying in an Airbnb and on one of the wall is the sign:

How true that sentiment rings. My Florida memories run deep. My grandparents, Jack and Fritzie Gilbert, lived there for many years. As we flew into the Fort Lauderdale airport, I thought back to when my grandfather passed on. My sister and I were to run errands, picking up food and relatives from the airport. We appreciated being asked to help, it made us feel useful while giving us a chance to reflect on our grandfather.

He instilled in us the belief that we could do anything we set our minds to. Many members of my family, including me, inherited his optimistic and cheerful demeanor. He had to drop out of school to help support his family. Two of his younger brothers went to get advanced degrees. His lack of education did not stop him from successfully supporting his family. He owned several businesses, perhaps this is where I got my confidence and desire to own Songbird Artistry with my daughters?

We were lucky, my grandparents both lived long lives and my children, Jacklyn and Jenn, were privileged to know and remember them. During one visit, we went to Butterfly World, which they loved. This visit to Florida, we repeated that experience with Leora. We all enjoyed watching her joy and fascination as she saw the butterflies and fed the lorikeets. It brought a warmth to my heart that transcends time.

From the raucous laughter of childhood reunions to the quiet moments spent watching butterflies with my granddaughter, Leora, each memory is a thread woven into the fabric of my life.

In the midst of my reflections, I had the privilege of meeting a remarkable woman, Blossom, the owner of the Airbnb, who shared her passion for quilting with me. As I admired her creations, one quilt in particular caught my eye: "Story of the Underground Railroad."

Each block represented a journey from oppression to freedom, a poignant reminder of the resilience of the human spirit.

But it was another quilt, simply adorned with the word "love," that resonated with me the most. In its vibrant colors and intricate stitches, I saw a reflection of my own life — a life filled with love for friends, family, and the precious moments we share together. I told Blossom that the quilt was created in our Songbird Artistry colors, and she looked at me and said the quilt was mine. I will cherish this special gift.

As I left her home with the quilt in hand, I carry with me a renewed appreciation for life's journey. Life may be odd and unpredictable, but it's in cherishing each moment and embracing the love that surrounds us that we find true fulfillment.

So here's to love — in all its forms — and to cherishing every moment along life's winding path. For in the end, it's not about where the years have gone, but rather, how we've filled them with love, laughter, and cherished memories.

With gratitude and love,

Debbie Maier (Gilbert) Jacknin

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