Tag Archives: love

51 Weeks And No Valentine Days To Go

There are many ways we measure time. Moments and hours, days, weeks, months and years. I usually find myself using what ever method sounds the shortest when I’m waiting for a happily anticipated event. I now have a calendar with big X’s marking off each day, beginning on Feb.7th of this year. This morning I realized one week has passed since the first X that marks the count down to the day Sunshine girl will be home. You can read her story in an earlier post titled ” A Detour In Her Life”.

There is now fifty-one weeks to go. It is a paradox, this passing of time. In some ways it has been so slow, as if measured by each tick of a clock whose main spring needs to be oiled and in other ways as fast as the image of flipping pages of a calendar often used in old movies to indicate the passing of time.

Sunshine recently pointed out that there is just one of each Holiday and special occasion left until she’ll be home to share them with us all. Tonight I’ll mark off the last Valentines Day before her return. I find this concept to be a very satisfying way to measure her remaining time. Looking ahead on my calendar, I see next Monday is the last Presidents Day, but I don’t want to get to far ahead and spoil the happiness that this way of marking the time brings to my heart.

There is and always will be the bitter sweetness in each of our days because of the deep sorrow of the loss Sunshine’s friend. Somethings can not be measured by any method devised by mankind. There are questions in our minds and hearts we will never find an answer to on this earth and the best we can hope for is the faith to endure, knowing we have God’s love and promises to rely on. The mother of the young man who died that tragic day is one of the most remarkable people I know and she and Sunshine’s mom, against all odds, have become very close friends. So while I await my grand-daughter’s return home with joy, I am ever mindful of his loss and marked the ninth of Feb. off the calendar with tears in my eyes. We all miss you R.J. and strive to honor your memory by being kind and loving to one another.

Sorry dear reader if this post is a bit disjointed. Mixed emotions of the strongest sort and the fullest spectrum play havoc on my limited skills as a writer but I must write what is in my heart at times.

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February 14, 2013 · 8:33 pm

Christmas Oranges

The grove was so fragrant with the trees all in bloom

Thought I might take home a bough to enjoy in my room

But I was stopped by a thought that was rather shocking

What if some child awoke Christmas morning to find no orange in his stocking.

C.Y. 1973…

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with peace and love.

 

 

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Gifts To Remember

Children are our greatest gifts. This has been said so many times it has become somewhat like a worn out cliche, but that does not negate the truth of the words. I love having conversations with little ones. They impart so much wisdom, often in a humorous way, and always with blunt guileless honesty. I advise anyone engaging in an exchange with a child to put aside their personal egos and just set back and enjoy the new perspective you are going to gain.

We all have “Kids say the darndest things” storeys. They are cute and amusing; for example one of my nieces replied to the comment that she had her shoes on the wrong feet with a puzzled look “But these are the only feet I have”. Then was farther confused when we could not hide our laughter.

However some of the most interesting conversation I’ve had with children were with kids I didn’t know. In today’s climate this doesn’t happen often because one has to be careful, not just for our own sake but mostly for the children, I would never want to undo the lessons they are taught at home and school about not talking to strangers.

Recently I was privileged to have two such encounters with two remarkable little boys. My grandson attends Tae Kown Do lessons and I transport him and sat in the area provided for parents while he goes through his exercise. There is a class of younger children right before his,and as the children from that class were gathering their belongings before leaving one boy, who was waiting for his parent, stood in front of me staring intently. I smiled and this was apparently the only opening he needed.

“Are you a Jew?” he asked in a firm voice.

Wow, what a question, I was surprised to say the least. I answered no, and waited with held breath to see where this was going. He then informed me that he was Jewish and that there weren’t many Jews in our town so he just wondered…adding because of my necklace. Aw I thought, it began  to make perfect sense. You see I wear a Cross and a Star of David on the same chain, both for personal reasons, I’m Christian and feel a close spiritual connection with Jewish people and their history and beliefs. I have worn it for so long it’s a part of me and I didn’t think of it in connection with his question. I explained briefly why I wear both the Christian and Jewish symbols. He was evidently satisfied, for he then chatted away about King David, the synagogue, his rabbi and favorite Holidays. Without me adding my opinion he decided my not being a Jew was alright because there is “only one God”. This sharing ended too soon because his ride arrived.

My other talk was with an even younger boy whose Mom and sister are both in my grandsons’ class at the same martial arts school. Mom seated him next to me and told him to play quietly as she handed him a small bag of toys. Without encouragement on my part he immediately showed me all his Hot Wheel cars. Regaling me with stories of how fast they were. Then with a sudden switch of subject he touched my hand and said,

“My skin is slick but yours is all loose and has lines. How’d you get those lines?”

I suppressed my amusement and matched his serious manner while telling him it was because of my age. He enquired about my age after telling me he was four years old. He then discussed the lines on my face and declared that they were neat and he wanted to have lines of his own when he got old, elevating my wrinkles to a badge of honor. Before I could respond another quick silver switch of topics took place.

“Do you like lizards? Have you ever caught a lizard? I caught three lizards.” he rattled off in his rapid cadence, not waiting for me to answer.

This is one of the best part of children’s conversations, takes very little effort to hold up my end, just the art of listening. So he told me about the lizards, explaining the best technique for catching them because “they are super fast”. He explained how he put them in a box and took them into his room, but that later his mom said he needed to let them go outdoors so they could find bugs to eat.

“Bugs are their favorite food.” he informed me. Then proceeded to list his favorites,” My favorite is hamburgers, oh and mac and cheese and ….etc.etc.” he rambled on until he had listed at least fifteen of his “very most favorite of all”.

Then his cherub face turned serious, “If I tell you a secret, you promise not to tell anybody?” he asked while making a cross your heart sign on his small chest.

Oh no, my mind swirls. Choosing my words with care I tell him only if the secret is safe to keep. He contemplates this for a few seconds, then nods and with wisdom beyond his four years says, “Yeah some things can’t be secrets, but this ones o.k.” he brightens,and leaning towards me whispers, “When I let the lizards go there were only two in the box,” looking around, he giggles, “That means there is one in the house somewhere.”

The class ended before I had to reply.

The tragedy in Connecticut today stirred these memories of two special little boys who shared their thoughts with me so freely and in so doing gave me a gift of delight. The world was robbed today of wonders that will never be shared. Most of all the parents, families and friends were robbed of the future gifts these children had to give. My hope is that some day those who have to suffer such a great lose will one day be able to talk and smile about the memories that will always live in their hearts. Prayers for the rough journey they all have to go through. May peace and love bring some comfort.

 

 

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Heros

We all have heroes in our lives. People who have inspired us to reach higher, run faster and to have the courage to step out of our comfort zones. One such man for me lived in the first century A.D. He was called Saul in the early years of his life until he changed the direction of his journey, and then became known as Paul. As Saul he was an important man in his community, a man of money and prestige. After years of dedication and study he had achieved a position of authority in the prevailing belief system of his country and people. He was present at the first execution of a member of a new religious sect that was considered blasphemous. Although he didn’t throw any of the stones that killed the accused himself, it is reported that he held the cloaks of those that did. This act is in holding with his position of hierarchy. He then was convinced his mission should be to track down others of this sect and turn them over to those who would set in judgement and handed down what they considered just sentences. So Saul became a bounty hunter of sorts, not for coins but because of his sence of duty. He traveled throughout Israel in pursuit of this quest until on one of his journeys he had a life changing experience.

Now no matter your spiritual beliefs or what religion you subscribe to or if you reject all such beliefs, imagine the courage of this man who put aside his old life and embraced the teachings of the very people he had been arresting and imprisoning. He faced complete rejection of all those he knew, family, friends and colleagues. Now he would be considered an enemy of his very countrymen, and would not be easily accepted by those he now wished to join in their cause. He had been pursuing them with intention of harm. How hard it would have been to win even a small bit of trust from them. Saul even put aside the most basic of his identity his name, not in an effort to conceal his past but because he believed the directive he was given, and took the new name of Paul.

Paul is described as being small in size, not very attractive and had some chronic health problems. He was haunted by the authorities, both Israeli and Roman . He was imprisoned, put on trail and threatened with execution more than once. He suffered through being ship wreaked and difficult travel conditions we will never experience. We think a delayed flight or traffic jams are a hardship, they are nothing compared to touring a big part of the known world at the time of Paul’s’ life.

Paul wrote letters to the people he visited in his travels as he went to other places and when he was under house arrest in Rome to encourage them and to advise them of solutions to problems they were encountering. One such epistle is the book of Romans in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. I have just finished a thirteen week study class of this book with a wonderful group of women. Now again regardless of ones belief there are some valuable truths to inspire us in Paul’s’ writings. He expresses the need for kindness, generosity, non-judgement, patience, humility, respect for authority and most of all love. Love not only for our family and friends and those of like minds but love for those who have hurt us, to those we might describe as enemies. Given the life he lived I find this teaching not only inspirational but remarkable. That a man could endure the hardships he went through and come out on the other side not only without bitterness but with love truly in his heart and then with real humility, giving all the credit for his virtues to the Savior he worshipped. So Paul is one of my greatest heroes.

All your commits will be welcomed with love.

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A Detour In Her Journey

Our journey takes us down many different types of roads. Some smooth and level, others twisting or rocky. Up hills, down steep grades. Wide and narrow. At times we will come across detours we had not expected or planned for and our course will be changed forever. This is such a tale; a detour that lead to a rough, near impassable path or perhaps the path was so difficult because the detour signs were misread or just ignored. As I am unsure I will let you, the reader, decide and hopefully give me your insight.

If just one word is allowed to describe her I would choose “sunshine”. She has an abundance of bright copper curls, deep horizon blue eyes, and fair skin. For good measure the angels dusted her nose and cheeks with a fine sprinkle of golden freckles. The shape and structure of her face would have inspired Raphael and Vermeer to start grinding and mixing colors, with the hopes of not only capturing her image, but also the essence of who she is, for sunshine not only fits her physical appearance but also her spirit. She is sentimental and caring, lighthearted and quick to laugh, tender-hearted and loving so is easily brought to tears as well. I love her dearly and unconditionally so this is a painful endeavor but one I have needed to do for quite sometime. I will try my best to be unbiased and honest in this telling.

Little sunshine girl grew up in our small town. Like way too many children in today’s world she was raised for the most part by a single mom. Her father, who will be referred to as the “jerk” did a disappearing act when she was six months old and did not rear his head again until she was graduating from high-school. She treated him with kindness, no retribution, but did not embrace nor extend the opportunity for him to become a part of her life. Her mom is a responsible lady that worked hard and did well at making a life for her and her child.

The first dark period of their lives occurred when Sunshine was around five. That’s when mom met the ” charming snake”. He was a relative of long time friends and was really charming. He wooed with aplomb and soon won moms heart. After marriage the honeymoon was short-lived. It is a familiar story, first comes the degrading of her confidence, the manipulation of emotions and thought , the physiological abuse of both mom and daughter. Then the physical abuse started. It was a two-year nightmare for them, but with the help of family and friends and her own strength mom broke free. The Snake went to prison (not long enough for the harm he had done) and Sunshine and mom began their healing with therapy and lots of love and support.

Life became normal, and  Sunshine appeared to be that happy laughing child we all knew once again. She enjoyed school, played softball in the summer, learned to cook and do chores around the house. There were lots of giggling little girls bouncing around the house and pets of course. She could be stubborn so had her share of grounding and time outs, but was over all a good kid.

When Sunshine was on the cusp of becoming a teen-ager they caught a break and “good-guy” came into their lives. As would be expected Sunshine was less than enthused with mom seriously dating. Good guy was patient and understanding so before long her resentment evolved into acceptance and then into fondness. In an act of   courage good guy married this strong, independent woman with a thirteen year old daughter. Mom and good guy had a baby boy two years later so Sunshine became a big sister. She was delighted! She was given the choice and eagerly accepted being officially adopted by good guy, voicing that now she had a “real Dad”.

Through high-school Sunshine also worked part-time at a local fast food eatery. She paid for her first car and the insurance and kept up with above average grades. This was a requirement of her parents if she wanted to keep her job. She wasn’t always an angel, broke curfew, sometimes argued about rules, didn’t keep her room clean enough for mom, the typical teen-ager stuff.

By her senior year she had decided on a career path and took nurses assistance classes along with her regular classes. Her plan was to get her CNA licence and work while going to school to become a RN. All sounds great, right? Here is where I will struggle not to sound bais. For she was about to derail big time.

The year before Sunshine had met “slick” , wait maybe that’s not quite fair,umm you decide. O.k. at first. he was just a young man who was a little to taken with himself. But soon a pattern began to develop. they would argue , break-up, tears and misery on Sunshine part, then they’d get back together. He was a user, she “loaned” him money regularly, paid for dates because he had car payment, insurance, helped his mom, etc.etc. He was a cheater. And she was in misery most of the time. Her friends were all telling her to get rid of him, mom and dad were telling her the same, and finally forbid her to see him. But love or what passes for love to the tender heart of a young girl, trumps all. So she ignored the advice and disobeyed the rule and continued to see him on the sly.

Two weeks before her graduation her grandfather, who she called Papa became very ill. Between finial classes and shifts at work she spent all her spare moments at the hospital putting what she had learned in her CNA classes to use comforting and helping to care for her Papa. Four days before her grad ceremony he passed away, this man who had always been there for her. He had been her harbor through many storms in her life. She was devastated and didn’t want to attend the grad but we all encouraged her to not miss it, so the night before her Papas’ memorial service Sunshine attached a picture of him to the top of her mortar board put on her robe and a smile and marched with the rest of her class to receive her diploma on a warm evening in May.

In the fall she enrolled at our local community college and continued at the fast food job while waiting for her NA certification to come through. Slick had moved to the city but was still in her life. In February she had her nineteenth birthday. Slick made a date to take her to dinner and a movie. She lied to her parents and said she was going with some friends. He arrived with another young man she had never met and was not happy about having a third wheel on their date but acquiesce to slick as usual. And oh by the way says slick, they have a baggie of pot and does she know anyone who might buy it because he has etc., etc….he needs money for. Now here is were poor little sunshine becomes poor pitiful stupid. She talks to guy friend who likes weed and yup he’d purchase but has no money so she is persuaded by slick and buyer to loan friend the money. I can’t answer the obvious question of why she didn’t just loan slick the money and not get involved with the drug business. So after visiting the ATM the deal is made and they go to dinner but during the movie she begins to worry about her expenses and says they have to undo the deal because she needs her money back. After a call to the buyer they drive to his house to get the pot. She goes in while slick and other guy wait in the car. When they weigh the baggie they say it’s not all there and still parked in front of house call the friend and start arguing about it. Again I can’t answer why they don’t just take money from Sunshine to cover the small amount that’s missing but…..that is when it became a nightmare that shattered dozens of lives.

The argument escalates on the phone. The unknown young man produces a gun and fires out the window, emptying the clip in the direction of the house.  Sunshines’ four friends in the house dive for cover but not before one young man receives a fatal wound. A couple of hours later she and slick are arrested at her home and the shooter who has gone back to the city is picked up there.

The family of the murdered boy are the most shattered, their hearts are forever broken for nothing can undo that lose. I can not imagine their pain and can only weep and pray for them. The victim was a nice young man I had met several times and a good friend of Sunshines’. His story may need to be told but I do not know it well enough to say more.

The wheels of justice move exceedingly slow. There are multiple hearings spaced weeks apart. Her charges are changed three times , after two grand juries. Her parents and I visit weekly, as she awaits her fate in the county jail. That fate lays in the hands of God and lawyers. I don’t want to belabor about the legal process, it is what it is. After fourteen months we come to the day when a plea on her final amended charges will be entered. In the now familiar courtroom I watch as my five-foot four, hundred and fifteen pound grand-daughter, in an orange jumpsuit with shackles around her wrists and ankles connected by chains to a thick leather belt around her waist, stands trembling before the judges’ bench and pleads guilty, making no excuses, owning her part in the tragedy. She listens to the victim statements from her friends family and to the character testimony from her parents, employer, and friends. And then at last comes the sentence, her fate, her near future at last becomes known. She does not collapse but continues to tremble , as it is read. Eight years flat time with two more years parole when released. So thus begins the next phase.

We continue to visit. It’s a two-hour drive to the women state prison. Over time we have split our visits so she has someone almost every week but we don’t each have to go every week. She looks about the same. Styles her coppers curls in different ways, though always pulled back as the rules require. Still quick to laugh, still softhearted and loving. Mourns for her dead friend and is sorrowful for what she has put her family through. She has taken college course when available because her parents are willing and able to pay for them. She has worked a wide range of jobs, landscaping, laundry, warehouse, telephone for MVD, just to list a few. She was so excited to show us her licence to operate a fork lift. Fourteen more months to go. She’s excited and fearful. I am excited and fearful for her. We will never know who she would have become if this all had not happened. What lays ahead is up to her, but think about the eight years between your nineteenth birthday and the year you became twenty-seven. Over whelming! So this is the story so far of my “sunshine” girl. Hope this isn’t too long, Don’t know how to shorten it. All comments welcome, good or bad.

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Searching for Answers

My husband really enjoyed cold beer. He would usually have one or two every evening before dinner. I have never cared for the taste of it  but didn’t mind if he downed a few. But on occasion we could have a slight difference of opinion on his inflexibility.

One evening when we had dinner plans with friends, hubby comes home and as usual goes straight to the fridge and pops the top on a can before planting a hello kiss on my cheek. I’m o.k. with this. I’m really pretty easy-going and low maintenance (most of the time). We chat about our day and I remind him of the dinner plans. He finishes his beer , then heads for the fridge. I say,

“Uh, we are suppose to meet them at seven.”

He sits the unopened can on the counter, picks up his empty and peers into the hole in the top. Then giving me a boyish grin, opens the fresh beer and sits down at the kitchen table once more.

“What’s that about?” I ask with a frown on my face and in my voice.

He gives me the grin again,and says,

“Just looking for the answer. Wasn’t in the bottom of that one.” and tips the new can to his lips.

“You’re an idiot” I exclaim,feeling really irritated as I glance at the wall clock.

“But when I find the answer then I won’t be an idiot any more” he chuckles and winks.

I state the obvious, ” It’s six o;clock”.

His grin grows bigger, as if to say wow you’ve found the answer, then another wink.

Darn, I’m done in by his charm. But two can play this game! I flutter my lashes and perch on his knee. Snuggling against his face I whisper,

” I thought I was your answer.”

He stares into my eyes for a heart beat , then we both start to laugh. I scoot off his lap , he hands me the half finished beer,  slaps my bottom and heads for the shower.

If you read my first post you know I was married to this man forty-five years. Did we disagree and argue at times? Sure. Did they always resolve themselves this easily? Course not. But most did, so we where able to come through the harder times because we both knew we could laugh away the little stuff and that the bigger things didn’t have to be the end of our world if we refused to let them be. I think it came down to our friendship, faith, and love for one another. He continued to peek into empty beer cans but I know he had ” the answer” all along.

 

 

 

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Rabbit Cats and Dogs

Continuing on the subject of my love of animals. We also had a white rabbit at one time. It  arrived unexpectedly on our door step one Easter morn as a gift for my daughter, who was 3 at the time. A surprise from a so called friend (don’t ever, ever do this type of thing to the parents of a young child unless you have no fear of spells and curses). Said daughter instantly fell in love with the little bit of white fluff, as did our poodle, Phoebe. I felt betrayed by the dog because I hoped she would be my way out of the fix, not by eating the bunny, but as an excuse not to keep it if she was ‘unhappy’. So Sneezy ( so named for the obvious reason) settled in as the newest member of the family. He was fairly easy to care for except for a problem with his teeth that required dental visits to the vet; I kid you not.

I have had a few cats and find them to be quite agreeable with their independent airs, but my heart is very taken with dogs. They are loyal, loving and completely accepting of our crazy human ways as long as they are treated with kindness and affection. I prefer not to examine my need to have a dog to nurture and love, after all I have 3 children and 2 grandchildren and have provided babysitting service to numerous other kiddos over the years. So one would think that my mothering instinct should be fulfilled. Maybe therapy is in order. (shrug).

I’ve had purebreds and mutts, large and small, smart and not so much so, each special in his or her own way. To tell the tale of each would take to long for this format, suffice to say they are all missed. Yet another reason to question the balance of my mind, we outlive our pets, so many good-byes (sigh). However here I am at 70 with my current canine kid. She is a red-bone hound ,beautiful auburn coat,long velvet ears and goofy personality. She makes me laugh….

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