dearanonymousfriend

Ramblings from a would be writer

Another Visit to the V.A.

This morning my hubby had to have some blood work done at the local V.A. (Veteran’s Administration) clinic.  We have gone there numerous times and I always sit and people watch.   Today was no different.

The V.A. is not a place to go if you don’t want to be reminded of what men and women do for this country.  The waiting room is like every other waiting room in the country.  Chairs formed so you can either watch the television, or read old magazines.  The chairs are no more and no less comfortable from any other waiting room.   On first glance it could be a waiting room for any medical facility in the country.

So, why do I spend more time people watching here, then in other rooms?  It’s easy.  Most of the clients are men.  An occasional woman comes and goes, but for the most part the only women are those wives who have accompanied their husbands.  You can tell the wives easily.  They are quietly waiting, because being military spouses we got used to waiting years ago.   It is a way of life for us.  The men fidget.  Their eyes are never still, they glance at the television, they look at their phones, they look at their books or magazines, but, their eyes dart all around them, as if knowing they are in a military facility they return to old habits of making certain of their surroundings.

Often you see young men there.  Young men who look like old men.  They have witnessed too much for their young lives.  They are crippled and you can see it, even if the wounds are not noticeable.  Their eyes say it all.  The mother in me wants to hug them all, somehow make it better, but, that is not my role in their lives.

Today, though, there was only one young person I saw.  He came out from being seen and waited impatiently in the queue to schedule his next appointment.  He didn’t want to be in line and you could see from his body language that he just was annoyed for having to be there at all.

The others that filled the waiting room were relics from a time when war was called a conflict or just a cold war.   These relics were once the best and the brightest.  They were strong men.  They were well-trained and ready to move in an instant.  Today, they walked stiffly and their eyes were not as sharp.  Many of them wore pony tails in long silver hair, one last outward sign of rebellion after years of high and tight haircuts.

I sat in a corner chair studying these men.  My heart was filled with pride and heart-ache.  It is the same feeling I have each time I go there.  These men served when it wasn’t popular.  They served when no one noticed and no one thanked them.  They served because they love our country.

So, thank you to all those vets who are now a bit crippled, a bit hard of hearing, a bit old.  I think that on the outside there is age and it’s deterioration, but on the inside that young man filled with fire and strength is laying dormant.    I left that clinic feeling grateful for all you did.  You paved the way for the young strong men of today.  Well done.

Thanks for stopping by today, Cathi (DAF, retired Navy wife)

Leave a comment »

Words…

I haven’t been on my blog much the past few weeks, but, I have been writing.  I have spent the past couple of months writing, thinking and preparing for a Bible Study that I have shared with a wonderful group of ladies at my church.  It is always an honor to speak and this time was no different.

What I have really thought about these past few weeks is words.  How we say things is as important as what we say. Wording is so very important, isn’t it?

I know I have failed miserably in the past to put thoughts into words and also writing before actually thinking things through.  But, I suppose we are all guilty of saying things to others before thinking of how they may come out and how they may sound to the other person.

We truly do not know what is going on inside another person.  We do not know the pain or anguish or stress they may be carrying, yet are not showing it to the outside world.  How we respond in words can make a person’s day or ruin it.

Several times this past year I have spoken without thinking.  I know it has caused pain, but, even after apologizing, the pain, for me, was still there.  Words can damage a heart if spoken in haste or without thought.  So, for the past few weeks, I have been cautious as to how I am wording conversations.

This experience has revealed several things to me.  First, the adage, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all, should be tattooed in my eyelids so that  I can always see them.  Secondly, don’t expect forgiveness to come easily if you have harmed someone with your words.  I am the type of person who can flare up, but within an hour, I am sorry, and have recognized that I have been wrong.  I have learned not everyone is like me.  Thirdly, lack of words is worse than an abundance of words.  It is a very fine line and I am learning, unfortunately, how to be a tight rope walker.

I have thought in the past that a blog is where you can write things you may be feeling and with that you can release emotions that may not be an easy part of yourself to reveal.  I am rethinking that.  A part of my Bible Study has been to encourage women to be themselves and to not hide behind masks that are so much a part of being a human being, especially a woman.  We tend to hide and only reveal our strength, our firmness, and not allow our fragile side to come out.   Sometimes, in writing words, we reveal a soft side and it can be poked and bruised easily.

I am hoping that through these past few weeks, I have learned much about words and wording and coming out behind masks.    I have always loved words, and putting them together.  I have always loved being able to have a few close friends that I can share spoken words with.  My love of words is still a very present part of me, and I look forward to learning more about how and what to write.    Cathi (DAF)

6 Comments »

Love at First Sight…

Today, being Valentine’s Day, I wanted to write a love story.  A love story dear to my heart.

Two years ago last night we saw our house for the first time on the outside.    Two years ago today, we walked into our house for the first time.  It was empty and filled with the winter sunlight.

We walked from room to room.  We searched each closet, each nook and cranny.  We didn’t leave for two and a half hours.  We walked around inside and outside.  We tried to see something we didn’t like.

But, as what happens with cases of love at first sight, we did not see anything.  We went ahead and now it is our home.  Like any relationship, we have come to see some flaws in our home.  We have been discouraged with some things.  This home, though, has grown with us.  It has seen visitors and loved ones.  It has witnessed much love and laughter.  It has seen our tears and heartaches.

Two years ago, on Valentine’s Day, we fell in love with a house.  A structure sitting on a parcel of land.  It needed some work and still does, but, when it boils down  to it, don’t we all?    Two years ago, this was our gift to one another.  A forever home for us.  A place to grow old in.  A place to make memories.  A place to shelter us and provide a setting where love and peace live.

Happy Valentine’s Day.      Thanks for stopping by.  Cathi (DAF)

 

8 Comments »

Homesick for what was…

Today was just another day.  We had a lot of rain last night, so I decided to go out and pull some more English ivy from around one of the tree gardens in our yard.  It is growing and choking out some azalea bushes and spring flowers. I spent a short time out doing that. Afterwards, I had a wonderful conversation with a friend from California and while talking with her, I realized some branches had come down during the rain last night.

So, after the conversation.  I went out to pick up the fallen branches.  It was a lovely day out.  Daffodils are blooming all over the yard and the hyacinths are budding.  I love this house in the spring.  Each place I look I see signs of spring and new life.   I picked a bouquet of daffodils and placed them on my kitchen counter.  My kitchen is a dark blue and the daffodils are a beautiful contrast.  I have been content today.

Later this afternoon, I heard a car drive into our driveway.  Several times I heard the locks beep.  I got up, and went outside.   A young woman was standing there.  I asked if I could help her.  She said she used to live in this house and wondered if it would be okay to sit in our driveway for a bit.  I told her it was not a problem and told her how much we loved our home.  She then asked if it would be okay to walk around a bit.  I agreed to that.  She thanked me and I told her it was nothing.  I then said, you’re homesick, aren’t you?  With that she started to cry and walked around to the side yard.

My heart broke.  She stood by our little wishing well, gently touching it.   I watched a bit from a window and could see her crying.  Hubby went out to talk with her and they stood and visited for a few minutes.  He asked if she wanted to come in, but, she declined.  She told him that the room that is now our guest room was her room.

As I have thought about this unexpected visit from a stranger, my heart broke for her.  She told my hubby that her folks divorced and they could not keep the house.  I know, for her today, she needed to see something that was a part of a past for her.  A past where she grew up and had love and laughter and memories.   I have prayed for her since she left.  I don’t know what she is going through now, but, I know there have been times in my life where I have longed for the past.  I have longed for the familiar, the comfortable.    As she drove off, I prayed that she would be okay.  We told her she was welcome to stop by anytime.  I hope somehow she felt a bit comforted by her visit home.

Many times we walk around lonely.  I hope that if any one of you who read this are experiencing such loneliness that someone will provide that bit of security and comfort for you.  Thanks for stopping by.    Cathi (DAF)

15 Comments »

One Liners…

Last night while on Facebook, there was a post that caught my eye.  I actually ended up sharing it.   The meme asked to name a movie quote that gives away the title without actually mentioning it.

It was fun to read the comments and I realized reading these one liners made me smile.  Made me smile and remember.  Times of our lives are marked by movies and by music.

As I read comments, memories of where I was and who I was with came into my mind. It is an interesting journey when you stop and think of things like this.  Someone mentioned the need for speed.  Of course, that is Top Gun.  Great movie for eye candy there.  It’s amazing any lines were remembered by women.  Hubby and I saw that movie after a get away to a bed and breakfast in the mountains in San Diego.  We had a nice breakfast and were lingering over the table talking to each other and to the owner of the bed and breakfast.  She asked what we had planned next and we realized that we had planned on going to a movie that started in thirty minutes and we were forty minutes away.  We grabbed our bags and threw them into our car and raced down the mountain.  Luckily the highway patrol was nowhere to be found and we actually had time to get popcorn and find a seat and see some of the previews.  I will always remember that time.  I think my heart was racing so hard from the trip down the mountain that the scenes in the movie were easy to take.

I was amazed at the response this post got on Facebook.  But, as I mentioned before, people begin to think of favorite lines of movies and it begins memories of several other movies.  Those that we remember lines from, are those closely tied to events, times and people in our lives.  They were usually the great movies we have seen, not those that we struggle to remember the name of the movie we saw last week.

Some of my fondest memories are those I have of watching movies with my girls and hubby.  Those are the times we have snuggled on couches under blankets, eating popcorn and junk food while suspending reality for a few hours.

What are some of your favorite movies?   I love Hook, Beauty and the Beast, all the Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, most of the old musicals, and the list could go on and on.

How about you?  Thanks for stopping by today.  Cathi (DAF)

4 Comments »

I can’t be that old…

Last night as I was waiting to go to sleep, I started to think of my oldest daughter.  Her birthday is tomorrow.  Her birthday gets to me each year.  It gets to me because she is getting older and I know that I cannot be old enough to have a daughter her age.

Yes, this is a personal post.  I am truly feeling sorry for myself today.  You see, when I think of my darling daughter, I see her with her Shirley Temple curls falling down her back.  I see her with her tiny tap shoes tapping with her Grandpa, laughing with him.

I see her standing in front of our full length mirror talking to herself.   I see her poking chubby fingers into the side of the crib talking to her ‘seester’.    I see her many ways.

Today, she is the mother of Little Miss.  A good mom.  A partner to a Navy man.  She has done what I have had to do.  Hold down the fort.  Keep the home fires burning.  Take care of the house and it’s occupants.  She does it well.

Yes, I am very proud of her, and yet, with each passing year as I watch her grow in grace and maturity, I feel a bit older.  So, my dear daughter, my first-born, Happy  Birthday!  I am proud to be your Mom, but, this making me feel older has to stop!  I still feel like I am your age, not mine!    I pray your day is filled with the very best.  Laughter with Little Miss and her Daddy and lots of hugs and kisses from them too.  Thanks for being you and for teaching me what motherhood is about.  Love you.

8 Comments »

Land that I love…

I am a flag-waving patriot.  I have said this before and I will repeat it again.  I love my country.  I cry each time I hear the National Anthem.  I cry when I hear America the Beautiful, I cry at each patriotic song I hear.  I admit it freely.  And, I am looking forward to tomorrow.  Inauguration Day.  A day that happens every four years.  A celebration of what the Founding Fathers fought for, dreamed of, worked for.  It’s a great thing to celebrate.

Tonight as I was thinking of the inauguration, I remembered the first inauguration I can remember.  I was five, just about to turn six.  I was in first grade at St Joseph’s elementary school.   The date was January 20, 1961.   The first Roman Catholic president was going to take the oath of office.

It was a school day.  In January.  In northwestern Pennsylvania.  A snowy, cold day.  I took my lunch to school, so that normally meant you ate in the lunch room in the basement of the school and then you went out onto the ‘playground’ which was the church parking lot and you froze for the hour while the nuns went to the convent and had lunch.

January 20, 1961 was different though.  The nuns wanted to see the inauguration.  Somehow they managed to have the kids who brought their lunch go home with those who didn’t.  We had an extended lunch hour.  I got to go home with a girl who has ended up being one of my oldest and dearest friends.  I took my lunch pail to her house and, along with my dried sandwich, I had a bowl of hot soup.  What a treat for me.  I got to take off my shoes and sit down on something comfortable and be in a home.  I will never forget it.  I sat in the kitchen and her mom talked with us and gave us fresh cookies.

We moved into the sewing room where her grandmother stayed and we watched the president being sworn in.  I confess that the only thing I actually remember is watching a bunch of old people on the television talk.  The best thing about it all was the actual cocoa I was drinking in the middle of the day.

The soup, the cookies and the cocoa took precedence over the President asking us not what the country can do for us, but what we could do for the country.  (My interpretation).

So, tomorrow, I will watch our new president take the oath of office.  I will feel pride in my country.  I know countless others do not feel this way, and that grieves me.  I have spent time living overseas.  During those years I missed being home.  Yes, I was on a base under an American flag and I was supporting my husband as he served this country.  But, I was homesick for our country.  It is hard to put into words the longing I had for home while I was there.  Home is more than a shelter you live in.  Home is the country you are born in.  It is the familiarity of a nation.  Yes, I have disagreed with much in the past few years, but, I respect the office of the presidency.  It is an office that deserves respect regardless of who it is sitting behind that desk.  Our founding fathers fought for the right for people to disagree.  They fought for the right to have a peaceful transition of power.  So, tomorrow, I will celebrate the freedom we have.  The freedom to cry tears of joy and pride over a national anthem.  The freedom to feel pride at a new president.  The freedom to pray for the former president, pray for his continued safety and for his rest from his service.

It has been a year of struggle for our country.  I pray tomorrow the struggles will start to calm down.  There will always be differing views and some loud voices raised on both sides, but, for me, for tomorrow, I am choosing to rejoice in America.  Rejoice in the fact that we can experience tomorrow, the swearing-in, the transition, the protests.  It is all American.  May God bless this country and keep it safe.

~ Cathi (DAF)

4 Comments »

Aunt Beulah’s Fox Stoles…

Last night while not being able to go to sleep, I thought of my Aunt Beulah.  Yes, I actually did have an Aunt Beulah.  Why anyone would name a young girl Beulah is beyond me, but, I digress.

Aunt Beulah was not a warm and fuzzy aunt.  You did not run to her with open arms to get a big hug.  She was married to my father’s older brother.  She had an air about her that did not belong in Oil City, PA.  She was restricted, I mean refined (?).  She was aloof.  At least that is what I think of when I think of her.

She had a pinched look on her face and that caused these little lines to form all around her mouth.  A few years ago, I noticed I had lines around my mouth.  I almost screamed aloud, “Oh no!  Aunt Beulah lines!”.  Instead, I slathered lotion around my mouth and spent the next few days constantly smiling, hoping those lines would disappear.

Now, I have painted a certain picture of my aunt.  I know we spent a lot of time at her house, especially after my mom died.  I don’t know if she felt sorry for us poor motherless waifs, or what, but I do remember being at her house often.  She would use scissors to cut up nice pieces of meat for her dachshund, Wrinkles, who would yap and snap at your heels constantly.  A very unpleasant dog.    My dad often commented that Wrinkles ate better than his brother.

Again, the memories are most likely not accurate because, we did visit often there.  I remember holiday meals at her house.  Not the food actually, but, doing dishes.  My sisters and I, the poor motherless waifs!  We would spend hours doing dishes.  At least that is what it seemed like.  I am certain she used every dish in her china cabinet.  We washed, we dried, we put them away in their sleeves in these quilted dish holders.  They would then go into a box and then into the china cabinet.  Those dishes were so protected that I think World War III could start in the china cabinet and those dishes would be unscathed.

But, what made all these memories come forward was the thought of Aunt Beulah’s upstairs closet in her sewing room.  It was a small closet, and inside was nothing but fur coats and fox stoles.  You know those stoles that women used to wear over the collars of their winter coats?  They had little fox heads that were actually clips to hold the stole together.  My sisters and I would go into that closet to ‘pet’ the furs.  We would eventually take each of those clips and clip each of the stoles together.

This is what my initial thought of Aunt Beulah was last night.  I saw her in a last-minute rush going into that closet to grab a stole and head to Mass.  Grabbing one, a dozen came out, I am certain.  I can just hear her, in my mind cursing those poor motherless waifs for connecting her stoles while she was trying to get to church.

It’s amazing where your mind wanders in the middle of the night, isn’t it?

6 Comments »

It’s a New Year…

Yes, it’s the third day of this new year.  No, I haven’t been celebrating for the past four days.   I am just now getting around to reading blog entries and deciding to write.

I have read blogs talking of new starts, new hope, blank slates.  All of them poignant and encouraging.  To be honest, this year, I haven’t done my usual inventory of the past year and I haven’t thought about this new year.  As cynical as it sounds, my thoughts have been wondering what all will happen this year.

Each year I have tried to look ahead.  I try to plan things I would like to do.  I don’t call them resolutions because I know by February I will have forgotten what I resolved to do.  I just like to make mental plans of what I could do during the year.

Except this year.  I haven’t a clue as to what this year holds.   I know whatever happens, with the grace of God, I will get through it.  The grace of God is what has gotten me through several years.  It is only by His grace, His care and His love that I am where I am.

A year ago today, if someone were to have told me that my hubby was going to be laid up throughout the summer and I would have to do the things I had to do this summer, I would have run screaming through our woods hoping to get lost and never found.  I would not have had the courage to go through this year.    I would have quit.  I wouldn’t have gone forward.

That’s the thing about not knowing the future.  We may not have the courage to proceed if we know what is in store for us.

So, as this year starts, I am sitting here wondering what this year will be like.  I wonder what I will be like this year.  I wonder what changes will happen.  How they will affect me.

Last night I made popcorn.  Not a remarkable event.  But, it was the first time I had made popcorn without our puppy underfoot.  As usual, I dropped some popcorn pieces as I was pouring it into the bowls.  I looked down and realized that for the first time in 16 years I had to pick that popcorn up.  There was no Shugo to scarf it down and beg for more.

This is just one example of how things have changed this past year.  Last year the thought of losing Shugo was a possibility, but by the end of the year, it was reality.

I am grateful for my faith in our Creator.  For, without that faith, that assurance of His care and protection of me, I could not face a new year that is unknown.  I know this is a different tone than my usual post, but, this is what is on my heart.  I face this new year, now, 362 days left in it.  I know I will write about it, cry over it, fight it, enjoy it and this time next year, Lord willing, I will look back and once more know who it was who actually got me through it.  Thank you Lord, in advance.     Happy New Year.

4 Comments »

Once Upon A Time at Christmas… Pt 2…

Christmas Day is usually a day that I love to cook.  I try to make our meal time special, the table settings, real napkins, and Christmas china and of course, food that is much different from my normal food.  I love to plan for it and I always want it to be special.

Throughout my life,  I can count on both hands the number of times that I have not had Christmas dinner either at my home or at a friend’s home.  There was the time where we took the bus over to the Yokohama train station and went to the underground mall.  We spent the afternoon shopping and I believe we ate there also, another time, we went to Disneyland for Christmas Day.  It was crowded, but fun.  It was the first year our whole family was not together, so hubby and my oldest ferried me up to a hotel on Christmas Eve and we spent the day at the happiest place on Earth, having a lovely dinner at Downtown Disney.  It was a special day, but, it did not help my loneliness at not having my girls together with me.  I am certain there were other times and adventures, but, honestly, besides those two times that stick out in my mind, I have always had a meal at home.

So, this year….  I could not cook.  The thought of a full septic system and me in my kitchen just could not be reconciled.  I told hubby mid day that I could not fix a meal to my satisfaction.  He said whatever was easiest for me was what we would do.  I spent an hour online trying to find a place that was open.  Nothing was.  Denny’s was open.  So, off we went to Denny’s.  Now, I usually do not mind a meal at Denny’s.  I joked on the way over that moons over my hammy might be a good choice for dinner.  I did not get the laughing response I thought I would.  About that time, I looked over towards a strip mall and commented that the chinese restaurant was open and there were only three cars parked in front of it.  Everyone groaned a bit, but laughed.  We continued towards Denny’s.   We arrived, went in and noticed immediately the long lines.  We then noticed that there were an incredible amount of empty tables.  People were complaining.  Loudly!  No Christmas cheer  in this place.  We sat down and waited to be seated.  We waited for a good half hour, getting to know several people who were also patiently waiting. Eventually, Little Miss got loose from us and wandered towards the  counter area.  My daughter chased after her, coming back to tell us all that we were not going to eat there.  She had glanced in the kitchen and was appalled at the appearance there.  Obviously, being short-staffed, they figured that cleaning the kitchen was not important.  We left.

Once in the car, I once more suggested the Chinese restaurant.  Once more, I was ignored.  We headed to another known place ~ IHOP.  So, off we go.  The wait was long, but, we were at least seated.  We got drinks, and they were refilled when they went down.  We finally ordered and after another hour, our mediocre meal arrived. We were thankful for it, but, I honestly, at that point was thinking, full septic tank or not, I should have figured out something to cook at home.  Little Miss needed to be changed after dinner, so my daughter took her to the restroom to change her.  Upon returning, she reminded us of a couple whom we had talked with at Denny’s.  She had run into her in the restroom and found out that shortly after we left, a fist fight broke out at Denny’s between a staff person and one of those disgruntled customers.  I guess the police were called.  Definitely no Christmas cheer there…

We left the house at 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Day.  We didn’t arrive home until after 7:30.  It was a long time for a disappointing meal, but, we had food in our tummies and for that we were grateful.

On the way home we noticed that the Chinese restaurant was still open.  My daughter, who, was tired from keeping Little Miss occupied and happy,  said, I am going to check and see what the reviews of that place is.  If it is even a 3 star review, I am going to kill myself.  Opening the phone information she read off several 4+ star reviews.  With a mixture of laughter and indigestion we sighed.  We could have had some good Chinese food.  Oh well, I guess that is something to keep in mind in case we ever have another Christmas like this one.

We came home.  Victorious.   We had survived Christmas…   It was not the version I had dreamed of for weeks before it’s arrival, but, a Christmas very different. I know through the years the story of this Christmas will be remembered.  It will be retold.  Years from now it will be a family story that one begins to wonder if it really happened.   For those of us who were there, we will remember.  We may forget what gifts were given.  We may forget the frustration of the day.  We may even forget what started the whole day, but, we will remember how different it was.  We will remember laughing over the stupid things.  We will remember it was a time of bonding.  How can you not bond over septic waste and shop vacs?   Yes, this is what our Christmas was this year.  I think I am looking forward to 2017.  Thanks for stopping by today, have a great few last days of 2016 and may 2017 hold all the joys and blessings your heart can hold.  Cathi (DAF)

4 Comments »