• 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

    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…

  • Father of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley cooks egg in kitchen
    Family & Friends

    I Miss My Dad

    I miss my dad. I mean, I guess we always miss our parents if they aren’t right in front of us. I certainly missed my dad as a young adult, and I know my kids miss me when I’m away from them now. But I think in times of stress, we miss our parents even more. Right now, I really miss my dad. We still talk almost every day. Sometimes it’s just for a minute or two and sometimes we have long sprawling conversations that last for over an hour. Sometimes we talk about the food we are cooking and sometimes we talk about world events. Sometimes the kids steal…

  • jam on counter of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Family & Friends

    Grandpa Tom’s Jam

    “I’m worried about the sugar,” my dad said. He was frowning. “I need 200 pounds.” I didn’t laugh, though it seems like I should have. I knew this was a big deal. My dad has just a few things he loves – my sister and me, the Clark family, golf, Texas football….and making strawberry jam. And when I say making jam, I’m not just talking about a batch or two. I’m talking about almost 200 quarts of jam. Every year. In one sitting. He’s done it since I was a child. My hometown is known for great strawberries and my dad knows all the farmers in town. Many of them…

  • Black and white photo of parents of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Family & Friends

    The Boy on the Bike

    I want to tell you a love story. A boy meets a girl. They are out on a double-date, but not with each other. Still, the attraction is there, so they ditch their original dates and decide to go out a few times with one another after that. But the girl has an on-again, off-again boyfriend who shows back up in town. And so their very brief romance ends. Nine months later, the boy is riding his bike, and he sees the girl walking down the street. They chat, he asks her out, and she says yes. They start dating. The girl’s on-again, off-again boyfriend (the same one from before)…