dearanonymousfriend

Ramblings from a would be writer

Good-bye Dear Friend…

Each person has a ‘first’ friend.  Those childhood friends who are neighbors or children of family friends, but there is a connection to somehow make you friends.

My first friend lived close by.  I would go out our back door, walk by the neighbor behind us, cross an alley, and end up at the bottom of the steps of her house.  We didn’t knock on the door and ask politely if they could come out to play.  No, I stood at the bottom of the steps and hollered, “Hey Peggy!”  Several times, if necessary, until she either came out or her Mom or older siblings came out to let me know she couldn’t play.  She would yell at my door also, “Hey Cathi!”.    It was a crude way to begin play, but it worked.

Peggy and I loved being together.  We played on her swing set (it is where I learned to flip myself over the bars), or we would catch butterflies or bees in jars, or we would roam the neighborhood, making certain we ran past that scary house on the corner because we just knew a wicked witch lived inside.    It was heaven.

My family moved in August before my first grade year.  Peggy was no longer in walking distance and the shouting from each other stopped.  We went to the same elementary school, but, her last name began with a “C” and mine with an “M”, so we weren’t always in the same classroom.    We played on the same basketball team and she came to my birthday parties, but, it wasn’t the same.  We went to different high schools and lost track of one another.

Years later, when we both had two daughters who were mostly grown, we met up at our husband’s class reunion.  Hubby and I had gone with our forever friends and everyone found someone to talk with.  Everyone, but me.  My friend, noticing me standing alone not talking with anyone, came over and pointed out that Peggy was also standing alone, talking to no one.  I went over.   Instantly, it was like we were once more roaming the neighborhood talking and sharing with one another.  It was the best!  We took some pictures together and a piece of my heart was put back in place.

Thankful for Facebook, we messaged each other, sharing our lives and pictures of our girls, and grandchildren.   She talked about her daughters and how proud she was of them.  I got to know them through our talks.  I heard about her grandchildren and smiled and laughed with her as she shared her stories about them.  We always said that everything we learned about friends happened in kindergarten and somehow we knew our hearts were joined in friendship there.

Two years ago I realized that I hadn’t heard from Peggy in a few weeks.  I wrote her and let her know she was on my mind.  I asked her how she was.  Her answer was like a punch in the stomach for me.  She told me she had ovarian cancer.  I swallowed hard and tried to write something positive to her and I closed out Facebook and sobbed.  Her news hit me hard.  She told me her dates of chemo and I put each one on my calendar in my phone, so I would remember and know to pray for her.  I knew I couldn’t be with her, but, I felt that if I could pray for her during those times, I would be doing something at least.

In July of 2016 she wrote that she was cancer free!  I rejoiced!  I was so very happy and thrilled.  She even talked about possibly coming to visit, asking which airport was closest to me.  I started to imagine sitting on my screen porch visiting with her, watching the lightning bugs flicker in the night sky and us laughing together, sharing stories of daughters and grandchildren.  They were happy thoughts for me.

Four months later she wrote to tell me her cancer was back.  She would undergo more chemo and testing until she couldn’t anymore.  In between, her youngest got married and she was able  to be there with them and celebrate.  The pictures were lovely and I was so happy for her.

The past few months have been a time of travel to hospitals only to receive news that was not good.  She passed away this past Sunday.  Her daughter called to tell me.  When I saw her daughter’s name on my phone, my heart sank.  I knew it was not going to be a good call.

I heard this beautiful voice on the other end of my phone.  I heard the tears.  My heart broke.   Peggy was such a dear person.  She saw the best in me and made me laugh.  We had been friends most of our lives and I knew there would be a void in my life when she went.  But, my void would be nothing like what her family now has.  Their Mom, his wife, was gone.  I know that words cannot heal that hurt.  Words cannot fill the spaces that used to be filled with her laughter.  Words cannot replace the ‘looks’ that only a Mom, Wife and Grandmother can give.

But, for me, I had to write about her.  She will be remembered.  People will get a glimpse of this person.  This person who used to holler for me.  This person who once challenged me to pick up a snake(I couldn’t) or catch a bee in my bare hand(I did).  The one who had the mumps and I got to play with her daily in hopes that I would catch the mumps and get it over with.  I never caught the mumps….

So, good-bye dear friend.  I miss you already.  I will miss our late night chats on Facebook.  I will miss hearing about your news and your family.  I know you are now pain-free.  You are able to be as free as we were as children.  Rest well, you have fought the brave fight and you taught me how to live.

Thanks for stopping by.   Cathi (DAF)

 

Advertisements
16 Comments »

Lunch with a Friend…

As I mentioned in my previous post, a little over 42 years ago I left home.  Home, as in my hometown.  The past few weeks  we have been staying with close friends who are, in reality, family to us.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an opportunity to spend the day with my forever friend.  I haven’t had a day like this in a very long time.  It was wonderful.  She had an appointment in the morning, so I tagged along and after that we were on our own, a dangerous thought, considering how long we have known each other and, also, being left to our own devices with our husbands safely ensconced in their house.

Most of the time I do not think about having a girl’s day out with a friend.  It is something that I rarely have the opportunity to do anymore, so I tend to not think about it.  However when I do have the chance it is a gift to me.

We had lunch, tea, chicken salad on croissants, potato salad and conversation that you can only have with someone you have known since kindergarten.   From there we went to an antique shop.  To some, a mundane day.  To me, a day that makes memories to cherish forever.

I write about friendships often, for they are important to me.  Friendships are like the seasons of the year… they can change, they can be challenged, they can grow, or they can lay dormant.  But, true friendships can survive all of the changes.  They can weather storms of life and temperaments.  They can produce conversations that are both difficult and healing to each party, they are a gift.

During this time my friend and I have laughed and cried and cried some more.  We have giggled like we did in high school, we have shared memories that neither of us have heard before.  We have been friends.

Also throughout this time, I have heard from friends who are not in the vicinity, friends who are close to our current home, or friends who are always there.   These women have called and checked in and kept me in their hearts.  For these women, I am so grateful.

Friendship is a dear gift, one that too often we take for granted.  Today, I want to acknowledge these women, they are my strength, my joy and my heart.

Thank you for stopping by ….  Cathi (DAF)

5 Comments »

Being with a sister…

A couple of months ago hubby and I traveled to Michigan.  It was a quick trip and a fun one.  I had driven through Michigan before, but, we had never stopped there.  I have to say I was surprised by the state.  It is beautiful, and I can see why people love it there.

The best part of the trip (although several things were right up there to the top) was the time I got to spend with my sister.

I am the middle sister.  Right now, I am perfectly in the middle, three years behind my oldest and three years ahead of my youngest.  It happens for only a few months of the year, but for some reason, I love it when I know I am truly in the middle…  no, it doesn’t take much to amuse me.

Anyhow, since I got married 42 years ago, I have not had much time with my older sister.  It is just how it has worked out.  Not exactly what either of us thought would happen, but it did.  So, having an opportunity to spend some time with her was a wonderful gift.

I thought I would write this post immediately after having that time with her, and in fact, I did start this post several months ago.  But, something happened and I just put it in with the drafts.  I thought I wanted to capture immediately the emotion and the fun we had, before it waned in my memory and it lost it sparkle.

I was wrong.  That time spent with her and her husband is etched forever in my heart.  I have frequently gone back in my mind and relived those short hours with her.  I can see her eyes shine while showing me her property, the deer stands that she feeds her deer at.  I can hear her laughter as she talked.  I can remember how much I loved being with her.    It truly was a gift being there with her.

Sisters are a strange breed of family.  They love fiercely and have a deep sense of loyalty.  They argue, disagree and go toe to toe with one another.  They can go for periods of time without talking, but when they finally have an opportunity, it is like time has no control and conversations continue, not begin again.

Such was the time with my sister.  I long to have that in person conversation continue again.  It was not long enough.

My younger sister has a milestone birthday in a few weeks.  We are hoping to have time for the three of us again.  I have thought of times when the three of us have been together.  But, mostly what comes to mind is our marathon monopoly games we would have each summer.   Those days-long games where we bent rules and broke rules and yelled at one another and gave each other deeds to help each other out.  I usually was the one that quit several times and got mad several times.  But, in thinking of those moments, I know that is what memories and families are made of.

So, to all of those out there who have siblings, I encourage you to talk with them, if you haven’t for a while.  It is like an elixir to strengthen your heart.  I know mine was touched and treated and as I hugged her and walked away, I was better for those precious moments we spent together.  Thank you Dottie, I love you.

Thanks for stopping by today, Cathi (DAF)

 

 

 

2 Comments »

Junctures…

The sun shines different ways in winter and summer. We shine different ways in the seasons of our lives. ~Terri Guillemets

In April of 2013 I wrote a post titled “One is Silver…”.   I have thought of this post several times the last week or so.    It was one of those posts that was on my heart when I wrote it and one I think of often.

In it, I talked about friends, old, new and those whom I had just met.   Seasons move on and it is always fascinating to me to see how things change over the years.

Having just reread this post I smile as I realize those friends who I knew were going to move into a different part of my life, have.    I cannot imagine my life without them now.  They are a part of the vein of my life that gives breath and laughter to me.

There were some who were in an autumn phase of friendship, and now I  look back and realize that those friendships were not cared for and sadly, they are dormant.  Sometimes too much time passes and it is hard to renew and start over.  I store the memories in my heart and pray for them, but there is a mixture of resignation, regret and acceptance that this is where we are as friends.

Other friends are slipping into different categories and it intrigues me to see the changes.  It is like I am standing at one of those car wash facilities where you stand at a window and see your car progress through the line.  You see what is happening with the car, but, you are helpless if you notice a window is opened a crack.  You can see the damage slip into the car, but there isn’t anything you can do until the car travels to the end and you can grab a towel to get it dried.

Some friendships are that car with the open window.  You can see the crack in the window and know that something is going to happen.  It is like it is out of your grasp, but there is nothing you can do to change it at the moment.

No, I have never left a window open in a car wash, but, I have imagined it often.  I use it as an analogy for the purpose of this essay on friends.    Sometimes that crack is there, you see it, but, it really isn’t doing anything, so nothing changes.

Other times that crack can let everything fly through and you end up with all this debris thrown about inside.

In thinking of this with friends, I realize that sometimes that debris is necessary.  Change is necessary.  Reevaluation is necessary.   Growth is different in each of us.  A tree’s branches do not grow the same length all together.  Each limb has its own unique character.    It is the same with people.  They are part of your heart, part of your life, but often times life itself, and circumstances and health all get intertwined and friendships suffer.

The good ones are renewed in time.  They come back stronger, fuller.   The joy is greater, the laughter is louder and the heart is more comforted by the other.

Thank you for reflecting with me on friendships.  I appreciate your visit here.

 When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. ~Henri Nouwen

I will continue to think on my friendships.  I strive to be a true  friend,  for we need true friends in this world that is harsh and unfair and at times, unlovely.  So, to my friends, those silver, those gold, those who have a patina and those who are a bit rusty, know that my heart carries you with me.  You have helped to shape me into who I am and for that, I am grateful.  As the season of autumn approaches, know that I am here.  A little bare of leaves, as it were, and a little exposed, but rooted down in the bonds that tie us together.  Thank you for being you.  Cathi (DAF)

3 Comments »

I’m More Interesting on my Blog…

Today I have received two surprises via mail and delivery.  The first was the mail.  I received a card from a friend.  It’s always fun to get mail, especially when it is just because.  There were no birthdays or anniversaries for me and there it was, sitting in my mailbox, a red envelope with my name on it.  I was thrilled!

Inside was a wonderful card…  it had the word blog all over the front of it and at first that is all I saw.  I was outside in the sun and the lettering is shiny.   I then focused on the colored lettering and saw the phrase, I’m more interesting on my blog.  I just started laughing.  This friend knows me well, I thought…

But, she did not mean that, she wrote an encouraging letter inside the card.  The card, she said, reminded her of me.  She then went on to tell me that she enjoys my blog and that she is glad I started writing it.  I felt humbled.   Humbled, because the last couple of days I have questioned if I should continue writing,  and if anything I wrote really made a difference in the greater scheme of things.

I love to write.  I always have.  I laughed when I read the card, well, because, I AM more interesting on my blog!   My confidence level when I write is strong.  I can express myself better when I write.  I look at things and learn more about myself when I write.

In person, well, I tend to be quiet.  Unless of course, I feel extremely comfortable around you, or I have known you my entire life, or you are related to me.  Large crowds creep me out, although I would love to speak to groups of women.  I do well with one on one conversations.  I do not ask questions.  I am trying to change that.  But, on a whole, I am a bit of a boring conversationalist.

I am an  introvert.  I have said this before and I know I will repeat myself.  Saying this and repeating this is a self-defense for introverts.  It somehow allows us the excuse to not say much and not join in.  I am married to an extrovert.   Through the years we have gone to parties and he mingles and goes from conversation to conversation.  I stand there, making small talk.  Nice dress.  Pretty place.  Weather has been good, bad, rainy, hot…  (depends on the time of the year).   That is when I see people’s eyes glaze over and they make an excuse to go get a drink, even though theirs is full.  I don’t get hurt by that, I understand.  Get me one too!

Countless evenings have been spent in agony.  Of course, in my mind, I am making all sorts of conversations, but, they never seem to come out audibly.    Yes, I am more interesting on my blog! 

The other gift today was from a friend who sent me a Bible study book.  It looks fascinating and I cannot wait to start it.  She had gone to a retreat recently and heard this author speak.  She said she had reminded her of me.    Opening the book and seeing the detail and the depth this study goes into, I wondered how this author ever reminded her of me.  I read the author’s biography and again I wondered.   I looked at the author’s picture and it looked like how I wore my hair the last time I saw this friend, so maybe that was it.

Again, I thought,  I am more interesting on my blog.    Maybe that is the key though.  As my friend wrote in the card, she gets to see more of me in my writing.  She said she sees the inside me.

Maybe that’s what this blog is for me…  A place to allow myself to be me.  Maybe that is why  I am more interesting on my blog!

Thanks for stopping by today.  I do appreciate you.  Cathi (DAF)

7 Comments »

Comparisons…

First of all, thank you to all who read my post yesterday and commented either online or in person.  The encouragement I have received in the past twenty-four hours has been incredible and overwhelming!

Now, comes the difficult part,  coming up with the next post.

I have thought about this today and have come to the conclusion that not much will equal what I did yesterday, as it was a ground-breaking post for me.

This morning at church, a woman came up to me and told me she had read my blog.  I thanked her and then panicked… for she is an English teacher.  When my eyes almost fell out of my head, she gently assured me she was reading for content.  I laughed and told her that was a good thing!

Since this morning, I have thought about what to write.  My first inclination is to not write and just not do anything for a few days.  Obviously, I did not follow my first inclination.  What I decided is no matter what I write, I will compare this post to the one yesterday.

I think it is in our nature to compare.  We go to the grocery store and compare which produce to buy.  Daily, we make comparisons in all areas of our lives.

This evening I have thought about my friends.  I have a great group of friends.  Each one is different and my favorite for different reasons.  I am blessed in having a group of friends that accept me and love me for who I am.  I am grateful for them.

I want to tell you about my friends.  The one I have known the longest is like a sister to me, really.  She quit her job about seven years ago and started a catering business.  She started in her kitchen and landed a few jobs.  Her business has now grown to the place where she has employees and her own little shop.  She is busy for most of the year and weekly she prepares meals for families to pick up on their way home from work.  She also provides meals for people who are undergoing chemotherapy as a gift on the day of their treatments so that it is one less thing for their families to have to think about or deal with.  She does much for our little hometown and she does it quietly and often.

Another friend of mine put herself through college while raising two sons as a single mom.  It took her several years and she worked consistently and steadily.  She did this while dealing with an inoperable brain tumor.  During this time we would walk and spend time together and she always had encouragement for me and often, as I would need, a good kick in the pants.  She raised two wonderful sons who listen to her and take her advice.

One of my friends spent her life supporting her military husband and then working in the government sector herself.  She retired and rediscovered her love of art.  She creates the most beautiful cards, gifts and keepsakes.  She also makes a point of finding people who are ill or having a difficult time and sends her creations to them, to brighten their days.  We do joke at times that some of her cards do need more sparkle, butterflies, puppy dogs and flowers, but, I so admire her artwork.  It is done with a touch of joy in being able to create.

I met one of my friends when she opened her own gift shop.  It was something she always wanted to do.  It was a lovely shop, filled with exquisite items.  It was my favorite store to visit.  She closed her shop when she realized that although she loved the store, her heart was in the classroom teaching.  She returned to teaching and now is guiding lives for the future.  She is always full of encouragement and has the ability to get me excited for future things.  She visits with gifts that you know she has spent a long time thinking of you.  She blesses me more than she will ever know.

These are just a few of my friends.  I could name so many more.  Those who took on tasks of work when their families needed them to. Women who make up my life, who encourage me, laugh with me and cry with me.  Those whose hugs make the world a better place.  Those who will laugh with me and make me go on ferris wheels that rock and sit laughing at me all the while.  Friends who know each detail of my life and marriage, who have stood close by me, defending me and holding me up when I had no strength left.

Yes, I compare myself to these beautiful women.  My heart is full when I think of the lives they lead.  Proverbs 31:10-31 talks about a wise woman, a wife.  To me, these verses describe the women I have just talked about.

[b]Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
    She is more precious than rubies.
11 Her husband can trust her,
    and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.

13 She finds wool and flax
    and busily spins it.
14 She is like a merchant’s ship,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
    and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
    with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She is energetic and strong,
    a hard worker.
18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
    her lamp burns late into the night.

19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,
    her fingers twisting fiber.
20 She extends a helping hand to the poor
    and opens her arms to the needy.
21 She has no fear of winter for her household,
    for everyone has warm[c] clothes.

22 She makes her own bedspreads.
    She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
23 Her husband is well-known at the city gates,
    where he sits with the other civic leaders.
24 She makes belted linen garments
    and sashes to sell to the merchants.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
    and she gives instructions with kindness.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household
    and suffers nothing from laziness.

28 Her children stand and bless her.
    Her husband praises her:
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
    but you surpass them all!”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
    but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done.
    Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

 Yes, I compare myself to these women.  I fall short on many levels, but they challenge me to be better.  They challenge me to follow my dreams.  They challenge me to keep on course , walking forward, not stopping or turning around.  I see their accomplishments and I thank God for them.  I hope someday, they too will be able to point to me and say, “Well done friend.”

 Thanks for stopping by today ~ DAF

10 Comments »

Faithful Friends…

When I was in the fourth grade we were separated into groups for a science project.  I think the groups were only groups of two, and we were given an assignment and a time allotment to do the task.  The name of our project was “The effects of different environments on snails.”   A real thrilling assignment, right?

I was put into a group with a girl who had been in our class since first grade.  We knew each other, naturally since we had been in class together.  But, being thrown into a group project always gives you a better feel for the other person.

I knew where to get the snails since the family I babysat had an aquarium and they had snails galore.  They gladly said I could use their snails for the experiment.  (At the time, I did not realize how quickly snails multiplied.)  My partner had a fish bowl, which we needed.  Perfect combination, right?

Well, she was a better student than I was, and she wrote the bulk of the essay and I think I may have drawn the pictures and collected the data.  We really did do horrible things to those poor snails and suffice it to say that PETA most likely would have come and carried me off if I were to do this project today.  We did learn that snails really cannot survive many ways.  (C’mon, you give two fourth graders license to experiment on a mollusk that repopulate quickly, what do you expect?).

Anyhow, that experiment started a beautiful friendship.  We stayed friends from the fourth grade until this day.  She left this morning to drive back to her home in Pittsburgh.  We had a wonderful week together.  We shopped, we ate, we talked until we were hoarse and we ate some more.  We laughed so much this week and got caught up on each others’ families and lives.  It was a beautiful week.

Since hubby is still visiting our oldest, we were able to have a week of girl time.  We missed him (a little), but this visit was one of the very best.  Years were erased and we recalled all the adventures we have had.  We also planned some adventures to come, including what we would sneak to each other if we ever end up in a nursing home.

I love the fact that into our lives come people who bless us through many seasons of our lives.  I have been blessed with many wonderful friends.  My life is enriched by them all.  They each play an important part of who I am and how I function in this world.  Today I am grateful that snails can also cement a friendship 51 years ago.

Thanks for stopping by today.  DAF

Leave a comment »