dearanonymousfriend

Ramblings from a would be writer

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.

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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?

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Once Upon A Time at Christmas…

A week ago, my daughter (Little Miss’ mom) and her family arrived for Christmas.  It was the first time in a decade that we were able to spend Christmas together.  I was so thrilled!  Her sister, obviously my other daughter,  was supposed to join us, but, at the last moment, couldn’t.  We were disappointed, but, understood.

The days leading up to Christmas were full.  We had fun, visiting, playing with our Little Miss, who is two and filled with giggles and two-year old conversations.   We went shopping for last-minute gifts, for groceries, for nothing in particular.  It was a lovely few days leading up to the 25th.

Christmas Eve we set out gifts and made plans for the following morning.  My daughter made a breakfast casserole in the crock pot and we planned to get up and head to church.  We each had our outfits ready to go, and it was all planned out.  Get up, have a nice breakfast, go to church, come home and open gifts and have a nice dinner.

Christmas Eve we went to bed.  All was quiet…   Hubby and I got up, showered, got ready for church.  Our daughter was getting up and Little Miss’ daddy was kind enough to discover that our guest room bath had standing water in it.  Such a wonderful Christmas gift for us!  We went to the basement and lo!  there was more standing water.

That lovely Christmas breakfast casserole stayed in the crock pot just a bit longer.  Hubby and I changed from our church clothes into work clothes.  So, for the next two hours the guys worked.  Pumping and vacuuming water from the floor.  Turning off water certain places to make certain it didn’t leak. Moving a toilet to make certain it wasn’t the cause of the water.  Discovering that our septic tank decided to be full.  Full on Christmas Day.  Not Christmas Eve…. no…. Christmas Day.  It could not wait another day… no… full on Christmas Day.

So, we called and got an appointment for the next morning to have the tank pumped.  That was good.  It was going to happen soon.  We had water to drink that did not need to be run through the sink.  So, that was great.  But… cooking.  I just could not think about doing that in my kitchen.   This will be in part 2…

We ate some breakfast, although the guys did not have much appetite after clearing the rooms.  I had the fumes of disinfectant lingering in my nose as I scrubbed the floors where the water had been and where the men had walked.  We ate, not truly enjoying the casserole that was delicious.

We read the Christmas story.  Little Miss was a bit distracted, but hubby was trying to salvage something of the day.  The story ended.  I went to the kitchen and decided that mimosas were in order.   And then we opened gifts.  Christmas, as it is spoken of in  “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”  did come.  “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.  Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… He thought …means a little bit more.”   Christmas came even though the tank overflowed…

Christmas came.  We laughed with one another as we sat in our stinky work clothes.  We hugged and thanked each other even though only half of us managed to shower that morning.  We had each other and the cares and weight of the messy morning did not ruin what happens when family sit around a tree on Christmas morning and share with one another.

Christmas came as it did centuries ago.  Christmas came quietly that day long ago.  That day when our Savior was born.  Christmas came without ribbons, it came without tags.  It continues to come even when the morning is filled with shop vacs and buckets and scrubbing.    I hope your Christmas was special like ours, but, not as eventful as ours turned out.   Cathi

 

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Beneath the Irises

I usually take each post I write and share it on my Facebook pages.  This one I will not as I have already posted a picture and most of my friends know what this post will be about.

Beneath the irises, under the dirt, wrapped in a blanket with a favorite toy lies our dear puppy.    I knew I would write this post and it is one that I have dreaded.

In July of 2015 our puppy got sick.  He was so ill that we had to carry him inside and out.  We had just moved and hadn’t decided on a veterinarian.  I went online, looking up local animal hospitals, reading reviews and hoping I would find the right one.  We did.  We took our puppy in, fearing the worst.  They admitted him and gave us the diagnosis.  The vet looked at us upon his discharge and said, “I wish I could give you good news.  But, he could live for the next two hours, two days, two weeks, two months or two years.”  With that, we brought him home determined to love him however long we had.

Two hours passed, as did the weeks and the months.  Each day we woke up and listened to see if he stirred.  His hearing left him.  He could not hear us talking to him, but, that did not stop us from talking to him.

Eventually his eyesight started to go.  His balance was bad.  But, still he clung to us and to his life.

I said good-bye to him several times this past year.  Each time believing that he would be gone when I saw him again.  Each morning he greeted us with a slight wag of his tail and his precious face.

Last week he was struggling.  He would fall down the steps going outside.  He would fall up the steps trying to get back inside.  We knew it was time and yet it was still a struggle for us.

We made the decision last Friday that we would take him to the vet for his last visit.  Hubby walked him around outside and I went in to check him in and to do what needed to be done.   It was a very hard thing to do, but, he was ready.

We went into the examining room with a vet and tech that were so very kind.  Hubby and I stayed with our Shugo.  We did not want him to be alone.  We petted him and talked with him and thanked him for being our buddy.  They started the injection and he relaxed.  The anesthesia took effect.  The vet had to take the needle out as he discovered our poor buddy’s veins were too fragile.  They moved to another sturdier vein and continued.  We cried and petted him as he fell asleep.

We brought him home, wrapped him in his favorite blanket and put his favorite toy with him.  Together, hubby and I buried him.  I planted irises and paperwhites above him.  It is Shugo’s garden, nestled by our gazebo in among the trees.    I miss him.  I always will.

So, rest easy my friend.  We were prepared for this day and you gave us sixteen more months than what we thought we would have.  We could see you deteriorate and still you were a faithful friend.  Thank you for those extra months, I needed them.

You are now pain-free and able to hear and see and run wild.  Enjoy.

 Cathi (DAF)

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Shelter in the Storm…

Many of us watched this week as Hurricane Matthew made his journey up the East Coast of this country.    My thoughts are with those who lost loved ones and property.  This has been a difficult week for many.

But, I confess, I was blessed by Matthew.  Matthew brought Little Man and his parents to me.  They came here when they evacuated Charleston.

Little Man was a bit concerned, which is expected.  A four-year old seeing his folks work around the house, pack up things not typically brought for a visit to Grammy and Grampy, and hearing news reports and conversations that he does not usually hear.

Being smart, his folks tried to lighten the mood by suggesting a new name for Hurricane Matthew.  A name less frightening for a four-year old.  It’s a classic name.

So, Hurricane Cupcake Pants, thank you for allowing a Category 5 whirlwind of giggles, laughter, tickles,  playing several rounds of ball, and going on adventures to a local park.  I loved my week, I haven’t smiled and laughed this much for a long while.  Little Man is growing and each visit brings great conversations with him.

Yes, I had a great week.  I know there are many people who haven’t.  I pray things will calm down for them.  Thanks for stopping by.  DAF(Cathi)

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Mom…

Each year I end up writing something about my Mom.  Today is the anniversary of her death.  She was in her early forties when she lost her battle to pancreatic cancer.

I was eleven at the time, but, I still carry vivid memories of her.  I remember conversations and how she smelled and lots of things that have not been erased by time, fortunately.

I miss her often and each year I remember the day and what all happened, that, I think is a given whenever you lose someone you love.  But, this year, it’s not so much her personally I miss, but how many years it has been since she passed away.  50 years.  50 years she has been gone.  That’s a long time!  I cannot wrap my mind around how long it has been.  I don’t feel like I am old enough to remember 50 years.  But, I do.  When I think of this anniversary, my mind just remembers the 11-year-old and her sisters, all young.  Needless to say, we’re not.

When it occurred to me that she has been gone for fifty years, I started to wonder what she would think about life now.  How would she feel about her daughters being in different states and not seeing each other as much as we would like?  What would she think of our husbands?  I know she would share a beer or two with them, but would she like them?  What would she say and think about our kids, her grandchildren?  I am certain they could have done no wrong in her eyes.   Her great grand children?  Well, there is nothing better than they are, honestly.  So, there is no doubt she would have adored them.

Family is one thing to think about, but, this world has changed so much since 1966.  She once told me that one day we would talk on the phone and see each other.  I thought that was a wild dream.  This morning, I skyped with Little Miss and her Mom.  I got to see my granddaughter walk around, read a book, talk with me, eat a snack and wave to me.  We did ‘cheers’ her, with her sippy cup and me with my coffee cup.  Yes, Mom, we can talk to one another and see each other.  You would have loved that.

What type of phone would she have?  Would she have the latest and greatest?  Would she face time and text?  Would she have a twitter account?  Personally, I couldn’t imagine that. What would she think of television shows?  Who would be her favorite actor?  Would she be appalled that there are no western series on television?  She loved Rawhide and Wagon Train.

What would she think of the political climate? What would be her take on the issues in this country?

These are the thoughts that have run through my mind this past week. This has made me aware of the pace of the world today. Life truly was so much simpler fifty years ago.  Yes, there were riots then.  There were racial issues then.  There were wars going on.  Things were broadcast and it seemed fast then, since no other wars had reports given so quickly.  But, now, there is live streaming.  We are able to see events unfolding, for better or worse.

These are all things I will never know.  They will continue to plague my thinking.  I love the  “what if’s” in this life.   All I can be certain of is this, she left us too soon.  She missed so many of life’s treasured moments.  Three of her granddaughters have her name in some form.  Her fourth granddaughter has some of her fiesty-ness.  Her legacy continues in many ways.

Today I will continue to think of her, and my sisters.  We are strong women, all of us.  We love deeply, we think independently, we argue, we laugh, we cry.   I think she would be proud of us.      DAF (Cathi)

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September Thoughts…

There are certain times of the year that provoke a sense of reflection in me.  I write about these times often, for I believe that writing them down etches them in my mind more clearly.

The days leading up to the 11th of September is one of these seasons.  Tomorrow is Grandparents day, a holiday started in 1978.  I had no idea it was even a ‘thing’ until 1983 when I saw the first cards celebrating it.   I don’t even know who buys those cards, but each year I see them.

Tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of  9/11.  It is amazing to me that it has been 15 years.  It seems like yesterday that the horror of that day happened.  The images and repugnance reverberates to this day.  I will always remember and I will never forget.

But in the middle of these events is a sweet dance of my youngest daughter’s life.

In thinking on all of the above, it is amazing what stands out in vivid memory.  I can remember seeing those Grandparent Day cards being almost nine months pregnant, thinking I should buy one for my in-laws.  I thought I would send it from my oldest daughter, having her sign it and how they would love that.  I also thought that maybe my second  child would be born on that day.  I never got the card, and my baby did come on Grandparent’s Day.

I remember when she was born, looking at my sweet baby, a time that is burned into a mother’s mind.  Each child, so unique, so beautiful.  Seeing that baby for the first time and knowing that this look is the look you will cherish until your dying day.  I was handed my sweet child and looked down on her.  No sweet expression, just this scowl on her little face.  Staring up at me as if to say, “Lady, I am not happy.”  Literally, a scowl, one that still appears on her face this day, some  thirtysomething years later…  I looked down at her, laughed and said as only a mother can, “Well sweetie, you are the one who decided to come, I really had nothing to do with it.”    Yes, those sweet , sweet life moments I will never forget.

That morning fifteen years ago that sweet baby was up before me.  Hubby had already left for work, and her older sister was living on her own and on her way to work.  I came downstairs and wished her a happy birthday.  We were going for her driver’s test and I asked if she was ready.  She told me to turn on the t.v.  and horror hit me.  Last night as I thought on this, I thought of this child of mine.  She was basically alone when she first heard all of this on the radio.  I never thought of how any of this affected her.  What was going on in her mind, how did it color her birthday then and how does it affect her to this day?

Yes, it is funny how certain things stick out in your mind on different days.  Those are my thoughts this weekend.  The thought that comes most readily to mind is this.  I have been blessed with this child, now a grown woman.  Her life has filled mine with laughter.  Her life has brought me joy.  I asked the Lord early on what life lessons my children have taught me.  I wanted to know when they were young, so I could truly grasp the gifts they are.

My oldest has taught me unconditional love.  A lesson we all need to have.  To love , no matter what happens, how easy or difficult is may be.  That lesson has not only been for my oldest, but she taught me that for all areas of my life.

The birthday girl?  She taught me laughter.  I really do not think I laughed purely or openly until the day she was born.  She gave me the gift of mirth.  She has blessed me with being able to see the joy in all things.

So, happy birthday dear one.  Thank you for being you.  You truly are my special gift from Jesus.

                                                              ~Mom ~ Cathi (DAF)

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Voices from the past…

My sister has been posting some old pictures on her Facebook page.  The pictures are of our parents when they were dating or from when we were young.

Each photo stirs up memories.  One of the pictures was taken at my aunt’s home.  In the comments my sisters and I each wrote where we sat around the table and who was sitting where we did after we were grown and our folks gone.

Thinking about this, I realized that deep within me are voices from the past.  Voices, that if I  listen intently, I can still hear today.  I can hear the laughter, I can hear the quiet conversations, I can hear the disagreements with their siblings, my aunts and uncles.

I once heard from a good friend that words are eternal.  That once a word is spoken it echoes and echoes throughout eternity.  That thought makes me realize that, yes, those voices I hear in my heart and mind are the echoes of those times.

I love being able to remember my parents and my aunts and uncles.  There is a comfort in that.  There is a connection.  I look at my children and the pictures they post.  Someday those pictures will spark a connection with myself and my husband.  They will look at photos and hear once more the laughter and the conversations.

I pray that the echoes of my voice will be as comforting and lovely as the echoes that reside in my mind and heart.

Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your time.  Cathi  (DAF)

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Reminders and Echoes…

This past week we celebrated Little Man’s fourth birthday here.  The pool was ready, the weather was wonderful and it was a great celebration.

Little Miss arrived before Little Man and the time with these two wonderful, lively human beings went much too fast.

Little Miss left just a few hours ago. The house is now quiet.  I have picked up the living room of the remaining things lying around.  Up the stairs went the books and balls and crayons and coloring books.  A few stuffed animals went up the stairs also.

I put the things carried up into the guest area upstairs.  I dared not go into the toy room, at least not yet.  I was in there earlier this morning with Little Miss and the echoes resounding in there were deafening.  The puzzle Little Man put together was still together on the floor.  The paper he was painting on still laying there where he put it.  The trucks are all crashed in disarray and there are puzzle pieces scattered throughout the room.  Little Miss was in there copying how she had seen her cousin playing earlier this week.  She was his shadow, mimicking everything he did.

They became cousins this week, I think.  They no longer just stared at one another.  She followed him closer than his shadow did.  She was under his feet studying his each move.  If he played with the ball, so did she.  Of course this led to the normal stance of most young cousins, throwing things, pushing each other and grabbing things out of each other’s hands.  It was delightful to see!  I could picture them in years to come, chasing one another, challenging each other and having talks that only cousins can have.  It made my heart swell and now, it brings tears to my eyes to think about it.

Yes, it is quieter without the grandchildren here.  We are lonely for them.  We dislike when they leave, our lives are just a bit duller and there is not enough laughter resounding between the two of us.

This visit, though, I realized it was not just the little kids that made leaving so hard.  I have missed ‘my’ kids.  My girls.  Tell-tale signs that they were home make me stop and wipe a tear from my eye.  Seeing towels put into the washer so I didn’t have to put them there.  Reading a note in my guest room guest book.  Seeing a guest room put back together and knowing she did it.  Seeing a favorite coffee cup out and being hesitant to put it away into the dishwasher, knowing that she was the last one to hold it.  Yes, all of these things make me wish for one more hug, one more laugh.

Times go by too fast.  Times that we mostly take for granted.  This week cemented in me that this house is a house we have dreamed of for years.  It is a place where my kids and their kids can let their hair down.  A place where they can relax and not worry about fingerprints on windows or sticky floors or bringing crayons into a livingroom.  It is a place where you can bounce a ball or yourself down the stairs while laughing and screaming ‘boom’ or ‘bump’.  A place to blow bubbles inside. This is the house I always wanted.  A place with a screen door that slams.  A place where there is adventure and fun.  A place to jump off the side of a pool or from the ladder.  This is home, this is where family come to be family, loud, noisy, laughing, talking, remembering and even being annoyed or frustrated.  I am so thankful for my girls and their families.  We may not be wealthy or have a pristine home, but, we are rich in being able to be a family.  I have waited too many years for this and at long last it feels like my dreams have come true.  A family that can come home, and relax. taking naps or finding a room to just sit and get caught up with one another.

I have had a great week.  I sit here a little more tired, and a lot more lonely, but my heart is full when I listen to the echoes that are still bouncing around the room.  My heart is full when I see remnants of toys and towels and floats for the pool.    So, thank you to my girls and their families making this Grammy a happy one, albeit a very teary-eyed one today.

Thanks for stopping by, DAF (Cathi)

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Anticipation…

I am excited!  In two days, Little Miss will be here.  I cannot wait to see their car pull into the driveway, knowing who is sitting in the backseat waiting to be freed from her car seat.   I will be anxious to scoop her up and know that after a long drive her mama will be ready to get out of the car herself.  As it most likely goes, Little Miss will be ready to be changed or sticky or drenched from pouring water on herself.  That is always the case with children, you prepare for them to be perfect to see their grandparents and then on the way reality strikes and the end product is never what you think and dream it will be.  (Speaking from experience here with two little girls that I always wanted to look ‘just so’ when seeing their grandparents for the first time of a visit.  I always looked like I just put my finger in a socket and they looked like  street hooligans who hadn’t been fed or bathed in six years of their four years of life.)

Little Miss is coming for a party.  Not a huge party, just a family celebration.  The celebration was moved here since Grampy is confined to small areas still.  He can go to local places to eat as long as he can put his leg up, but, he still cannot travel well.  So, we are having a family pool party at our home.  I am so excited!

The honoree for the party?  Why, that is Little Man!  He is going to be four years old.  Yes, that is right, he is no longer a toddler, but a little boy.  He will be arriving on Monday and I cannot wait to scoop him up and continue our ongoing conversation.   This conversation started four years ago and each time we see each other that conversation continues.

So, yes, the anticipation of having both Little Miss and Little Man here is killing me.  I keep wishing the time would pass more quickly.  I impatiently look at the hour and look outside wishing it was one day closer.  I know it will be a short visit for both of them, but, even spending a few hours with them is like Christmas morning for  me. The greatest gifts that have ever been given to me, wrapped up in little arms and hands and giggles.  Hearing stories and seeing their faces makes my heart full of health and well-being.

After these past few weeks hubby and I need a dose of healing and laughter.  We need a time to see these precious gifts and most of all we need a day to celebrate our Little Man, who has blessed our life with his.  His curiosity is boundless and his ability to carry on a conversation and ask wonderful questions gives us joy.  So, an early Happy Birthday Little Man.  I can’t believe you are four already.

Thanks for stopping by today, DAF (Cathi)

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