• DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley with cousins and Aunt Terry outside tattoo parlor
    Family & Friends

    Terry Gets a Tattoo

    “Claire and I found a little bitty ladybug. She was about 4 or 5. And I said, ‘We never kill ladybugs. They’re good luck, and sometimes they fly away. So we watched it awhile, and then it flew away!'” Those lines were spoken by my 78-year-old Aunt Terry, as she recounted a tender moment she once had with Claire. In the tattoo parlor. Let me be clear – the story about the ladybug wasn’t set in a tattoo parlor. Rather, Terry told us this story to explain what she was doing. And what she was doing was getting her first tattoo – of a ladybug, on her shoulder, over 4th…

  • Family of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley watches movie from pool
    Family & Friends

    The Clark Family, Part 2

    I was a bit nervous the week before my family’s 4th of July reunion. If I’m being honest, I got so nervous at one point that I had a hard time sleeping. It’s not a new feeling for me. Much of early widowhood (at least a year and a half!) was filled with sleepless nights, and just after I felt like I was really settling into life as a young widow, the pandemic hit. But this recent sleeplessness was not because of the pandemic – everyone in my family who could be vaccinated had been, and we took all the precautions we could for the little ones. Rather, my sleeplessness…

  • Family of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley next to barn
    Family & Friends

    FaceTime with my Family

    “Tell Chris the family loves him.” It was a text from my dad, something that might not seem like a lot, but from my dad, it was a big deal. My father is a man who is loyal to the people around him, and who loves me and my sister and his grandkids so much, but he is also someone who doesn’t always express that emotion so readily in writing. His birthday cards to me always say something like, “Enjoy your birthday. Love, Dad.” My dad is obviously not unfeeling or unsentimental – on the contrary, he’s been devoted to our family for the entirety of his life. First, to…

  • Family & Friends

    The Best Condolence Letter

    I got a lot of letters when Shawn died. Mostly, they were letters with photos of flowers on the front (why are there always flowers on sympathy cards?) and a short note inside saying something like, “We were so sorry to hear about Shawn’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and the kids.” I appreciated these notes, at least in theory, but mostly I just tossed them into a drawer and forgot about them. I was thankful that people sent them and I really loved the cards where my friends and family recounted memories they had of Shawn. I saved a lot of them for the kids.…

  • Children of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley with her boyfriend at the sea
    Family & Friends

    What is Family?

    I’ve always had a pretty expansive understanding of family. As a young child, I lived with my extended family in Texas for a number of months while my mother recovered from her first terrible bout with depression. I was young – just three – so I don’t remember all of the details, but I do know that I was loved deeply by everyone there. We spent many more summers down in Texas throughout my childhood, and I always thought of my family there as more than “extended.” Maybe it was because my mom wasn’t always well, but I learned to think about family with a broad lens as I grew…

  • Cups like those in kitchen of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Parenting

    Put Your Dishes in the Dishwasher

    I have a sign in my kitchen with our three house rules. They are rules that I borrowed from my aunt Nancy (aka “Nana”), ones that all of the grandkids know they must follow when they are at her house: Put your dishes in the dishwasher No crying unless there’s blood If you want something, get it yourself I mean, these are pretty solid rules. Clean up your own stuff. Don’t whine about things that aren’t a big deal. Try and solve your own problems. Sure, maybe there could be one about behaving compassionately, but I guess Nana assumed good intent towards others. Or maybe there could be one about…