dearanonymousfriend

Ramblings from a would be writer

Markers…

This week is Thanksgiving.  A time when we remember.  A time to point out things in our lives that we are grateful for.  A time to give thanks.

Many of the things we give thanks for are situations with family, friends, people.  Activities we may have had or shared experiences that have touched us somehow.  This time of year prompts us to think back, to reflect, and in reflection we respond with gratitude.

Each of us have certain things in our life that we hold on to.  Things become markers in our lives.  We keep them to remind ourselves.

Today I came in from church.  I came in through the garage and as I headed into the kitchen from the mud room I saw a blue leash hanging from one of the coat hooks.  I smiled to myself and took a breath, somehow arguing that is was now time to take that leash down.  It has sat idle for a year now.  Hanging there as a reminder.  I won the argument with myself and the leash still hangs in its spot.  It belongs there.

The leash is not the only marker I have in my home.  For most of the year I have a little ornament that hangs on my pie server in my dining room.  It’s a simple little ornament that says, “Friends are Forever”.  Most of the time I don’t even see it, it has just become a part of my dining room decor.  But, like the leash, it belongs there.

I have a mini Christmas stocking that looks like it has been through the wars.  It hasn’t, it is just old.  I got it the Christmas I was pregnant for the second time.  It hung beside the stocking belonging to my daughter.  It was full of hopes and dreams as I hung it in 1981.  It was the stocking for the child we lost just a few short days after Christmas.  A miscarriage, but somehow it was Tim’s stocking, the name we had picked out for that baby.  It now hangs each year on our tree, another marker of mine.

I have photos on my refrigerator.  They often times drive me to distraction because of the cluttered look they give my fridge, but each are markers for me.  People dear to me and reminders to pray for those in the pictures.

The markers in our life are important.  They become a landmark for the journey of our lives.  Most of the time we don’t see them.  They are there like stop signs and street signs.  We see them, but they do not stop the activities of our daily routine.  They do not cause us to cease our schedules to ponder them.  They are just there.

Until, that is, we do stop to look at them or touch them, or consciously think about them.  Today I thought about the leash.  A melancholy smile came to my face.  The leash that gave excitement to our Shugo.  The leash that held him at stay whenever another dog was walking in the other direction.  The leash that jingled when we went to the door and he would come running, tail wagging, and we waited for his house bark to go out for his walk.  It will remain there, because it belongs there.

The ornament on my pie holder will remain there, because, it reminds me of my friend Dawn.  My walking companion for years.  I will keep it there to remind me of the times we spent circling Chollas Lake, laughing , talking, crying and making certain the squirrels did not get her.  The strength we got from each other to get through her divorce, to get through my moving, to get through a rough day when walking was just not enough, but a piece of pie did help it just a bit more.

The mini stocking that makes me wonder who that child would be as an adult.  But, also knowing that the child born after the miscarriage has given me so many wonderful gifts that I can’t begin to write that all down.  A reminder that plans don’t always go the way you think, but our God is bigger and His way will give healing to broken hearts and bring us unexpected joys.

The pictures on the fridge, are a testament  of a life surrounded by people who have touched your life, some family, some neighbors, but all loved.

Markers are things we hold onto.  As I head into this Thanksgiving week I am grateful for much, but, I think that in this moment, right now, I am thankful for the markers in my life, for they anchor me to where I have been.  They are a foundation in my memory.  They stir my heart with recognition of a happy, full, and rewarding life.

What are some of the markers in your life?  I’d like to hear about them if you would like to share them.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all,  thank you for stopping by.  Cathi (DAF)

 

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A year has gone by…

I dreaded looking at my Facebook memories today because I knew what would be waiting for me.  I was right.  The pictures of our little pup were waiting for me to look at.

It has been a year since he was underfoot.  A year that we haven’t heard him wheezing and crying in his sleep. A year that we haven’t had to vacuum once a day to keep up with the shedding.   A year that we haven’t tripped over him accidentally .

I have spent the day trying to talk myself into acknowledging how much easier this year has been.  We have saved on trips to the store to pick up his food.  No vet visits.  No stress over how he is feeling and if there was something I could do to make him more comfortable.

We said that we would give ourselves a year to decide if we were going to get another dog.  We decided months ago that he was, in fact, our last dog.  We are still good with that decision.  But, we still miss our little guy.

I went I to the place in our yard where we laid him to rest.  I talked to him even though I know he could not hear, and I did shed a few tears.

As Agnes Sligh Turnbull said, “Dog’s lives are too short. Their only fault, really.”

Image may contain: dog

Thanks for stopping by, Cathi (DAF)

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Dredging up the past…

Today was a fall day.  The sky was bright blue, but the air was crisp and there was just a general feeling of needing to be wrapped up in something comfy and staying on the couch all day long.

But, that was not the plan for today.  Instead, hubby and I drove an hour and half to Columbia to visit the VA hospital for an appointment of his.

The morning started out wonderfully, we loved our drive down and spent the time munching on some fruit and sipping our coffee and tea and chatting about upcoming events.

And then…  we arrived at the VA.  We were an hour early and were thrilled, hoping we could get in sooner and leave sooner.  We drove into the facility and immediately stopped, vehicles everywhere.  We entered the first parking lot and immediately I was transported back in time.  The years were 1982- 1985….  The time was the same, fall, bright blue skies and a nip in the air.  The kind of cool that cuts through your sweater and settles into your bones.  It only comes in sharp gusts and takes you by surprise each time it happens.   During that time frame I was a mother of two young children.  We were living in San Diego and I was in a parking lot like the one I was in today.  I circled the parking lot several times, praying each time I entered into a new row, ‘please let there be an open space!’.    None were ever available, and I would finally go into a pay parking area and fork out the $2.00 that was needed for my vehicle.    The parking lot would be a quarter to a half mile from my destination…  the pediatric care clinic of the Naval Hospital.   Pushing my car into park, I would then unload my girls and proceed to carry them, sometimes both of them at a time to the clinic.  I was usually exhausted by time I reached the clinic and it always made the bright days seem cloudy.

I haven’t thought of those times in years.  I haven’t had to, they were neatly tucked away in my stored memory file.   But, somehow, today, circling those parking lots, it all came flooding back to me.  And, in that moment I was feeling the same weight I felt all those years ago.

Again, hubby and I did not find a parking place.  A half hour after arriving, we finally found the overflow lot and proceeded to circle that lot, an unpaved, pot-hole strewn lot where a semi could get lost in a pot hole. Not one place was available.  Finally, we backed into a grassy area and parked our car.  We walked the quarter mile to the building we needed to be in while I tried my best not to find a place for my soap box which, unfortunately is always with me.

Why a soapbox?  I find it reprehensible that our veterans have to spend a half hour trying to find a place to park in order to been seen by their physicians.  These people who have pledged their allegiance to our country.  These people who have given their youth, their energy, their best cannot easily use the facilities that are there for them.

So, as we walked to the clinic, I mentioned that I knew there was a blog post in all of this.  I will now put away my soap box and sit and try to shove those memories back into storage.  Those memories make a part of me want to sit and cry.  Although so many of my memories of our time in the Navy are wonderful, there are some that just make me ache.   The feelings that were resurrected today are some of the worst.  Feeling helpless with sick children and knowing that the only way for them to be seen was to jump through the hoops that were present during that time.  After being seen we then had to go to pick up prescriptions, which, at that time meant sitting on a group of metal bleachers outside in the elements with your sick children while your prescription was filled.  That always added an hour to the ordeal.

Yes, I know things have greatly improved for military families, but, just one question remains for me… why can’t they pave a stupid parking lot for our veterans?

Thanks for reading my rant…  Cathi (DAF)

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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)

 

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Baseball Adventure…

I was born and raised in Northwestern Pennsylvania.  Since this is a fact, I also was raised to believe that I am a fan of three teams ~ Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins,  and Pittsburgh Pirates.   I am perfectly fine with this.  All three teams are excellent teams and deserve my fandom (is that a correct word?).

Now, I have never been to a Steelers game, although I would love to someday.  I have gone to a Penguins game and loved every minute of it.  Nothing has truly compared to  that hockey game for me, it was magical!

My first professional baseball game that I went to was in November of 1978.  I was seven months pregnant and a group of us took the train and bus up to Yokohama, Japan.  We sat on wooden bleachers to watch the Yokohama Whales play the Cincinati Reds.  We basically tail-gated by taking thermoses filled with hot chocolate and picnics of American food that we would get if we were in country.  It was my first baseball game ever.  Not one of my finest moments though, as in the bottom of the third inning I asked when the game was going to start.  Everyone turned to look at me, and without thinking I said, well, they haven’t sang the National Anthem yet…   Yes, it was not one of my finest moments, I chalk it up to pregnancy brain…   I thought that this was going to be my only time seeing a baseball game, and I carefully tucked the memory away so that it could be remembered always.

A few years later, we moved to San Diego.  San Diego, the home of the San Diego Padres.  This is where my love of baseball really came to be.  I do not follow the stats.  I wouldn’t know an error if I saw one (which, by the way, I know I have seen several in my life)  I can follow RBI’s, but I can’t explain it to anyone.  All I know is, I love the game.  I love watching the players,  I love the atmosphere of the game, I love the crowds, I love baseball.  I especially love the Padres.

Padres games fill the memories of raising our family.  We would go several times a summer to see our boys play.  When the girls were young we got the cheap military seats in the nosebleed section of the stadium.  We would smuggle food in so that we could eat during the games, since buying the family tickets was close to breaking the bank at that point.  I remember holding our youngest on my lap as she would cheer for her favorite, Tony Gwynn.   The girls grew up watching the Padres.  Our seats changed through the years, as did they.  One of the last things we did as a family was a ball game together.  I love my San Diego team.

We lived in San Diego for 27 years.  During all that time I never saw my Padres play the Pirates (who remain my 1.5 favorite).  I don’t know why I never did, but, I didn’t.  I know hubby took his father to a Pirate/Padre game one year, but it was just the two of them who went and I stayed home watching and listening on t.v..   I never missed an opening game, I would make certain I was watching on t.v. or listening to the radio.  I never did make it to an opening day, as that was when school was still in session for the girls and once they graduated, I was just in the habit of catching it like I always did.

Three years ago I went to my first Pittsburgh Pirates game.  We were in our hometown and we went with our friends.  I was so excited to see them play for the first time.  We had since moved from San Diego and I had not seen a ball game in five years at that time.  The Pirates lost that game, but it did not diminish the thrill of seeing them.   It was a childhood dream come true for me.

So, when we knew we were going to be home this summer, I went online to see the Pirates schedule.  In our time frame of being here, we would not be able to see a Pirates game since they would be on the road.  I was disappointed, but, I did realize that the Pirates would be in San Diego.  I packed my Padres shirt.  I knew I could watch it on t.v. (hubby and I do not have sports packages on our t.v. at home).    Last week I donned my shirt and watched as the Padres beat the Pirates two games.  I was a happy girl.

During those games there were advertisements for the games this current weekend. The Pirates would be home and they would be playing the Padres.   But, we would be on our way home by then, or so we thought.  Our trip was delayed and last night, after all these years, I got to see my favorite team play my next favorite team!

I proudly wore my San Diego shirt (I counted and saw three other shirts!).  I was so thrilled to see my team on the field!   They scored first and I smiled.  They ended up losing the game, but that did not matter to me.  I don’t know if I will have a chance to see them live again, but, for now, my heart is content.  I saw my Padres play.

This of course was an adventure in itself, as there was a rain delay of two hours before the game started, so, from 7:05 to 9:05 we waited.  The time was spent watching those in the good (uncovered) seats scramble out of the rain,  watched the rain, looked at the lightning and talked with our forever friends. The time passed quickly and the game ended around 12:30 a.m..  We of course, stayed to the end, not that we are that die-hard fans, but there was a concert following the game.  We saw Chicago perform.  The concert started shortly after 1 a.m., and it was incredible!

We returned to the house around 3 this morning.  I was a great adventure. one that I won’t soon forget.  Together with lifetime friends, we laughed and talked and yes, she and I even cried…  even though “There’s no crying in baseball.”

Thanks for stopping by…  Cathi (DAF)

 

 

 

 

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Reflections in the Rain…

We have been visiting our hometown.  Today, I decided to go to a neighboring town to browse some shops.   Of course, the day I decide to go anywhere is the day that it is stormy.

I drove through town and started down the four-lanes, the closest thing there is around the immediate area to a highway.  I was watching the clouds and the rain coming up the river valley.  It is a wonderfully, familiar sight to see for me.

As with any visit to our hometown, memories, both good and bad, flood my mind.  Each bend in the road brings a new thought to me, a new memory.  This always leads to the next train of thought for me, which is: “I wonder what I would be and what I would have done if I never left home so many years ago?”

As if on cue after this thought,  I saw a bolt of lightning and thunder came close by…  just like those movies where the main character somehow finds themselves in an alternate reality of what if’s…..  I half expected to somehow be transported into a life where I had never left Oil City….

But, no, instead I kept driving and parked the car by the park in Franklin, PA….   I smiled to myself as I fed the parking meter and went across the street to  where the shops are.

Looking through several of the stores I remembered times when I had visited the downtown section with aunts and cousins.  But, no longer are there Isaly’s  (a wonderful place for ice cream and chipped/chopped ham), no Murphy’s (a five and dime store).  Those days are long gone, nevertheless there is a lingering trace in my mind of the times when you dressed to go to town and you would see women in hats and gloves.

Yes, the past few weeks have brought forth many memories.  I have seen people from elementary school, I have walked streets that I walked as a child, I have driven past the place where I had my hand held for the first time, I drove by the church where I married my hubby.    Times change and people change, but somehow buildings will echo things to you and memories spring forth.

No, I really don’t know how my life would be if I had stayed in Oil City so many years ago, but, I know how rich and full my life is because I did leave.  Oil City will always be a part of me, deep down, however I am now just a visitor here, someone who comes infrequently.

It is always good for me to come back home.  The time here causes reflection, and that is a good thing.  I think of my life and gratitude comes flooding in.  I have been blessed in my life.  I had a great start in a small town that was safe and secure.  We grew up being able to explore and go in safety.  I was then thrust into a life of adventure where I traveled, seeing sights that some only read about.  I experienced foods and places I never dreamed of.  I met people who have graced my life in so many ways.

Yes, on this rainy day in my hometown, I have traveled in my mind and have realized once more, that my life is good.   Thanks for stopping by.  Cathi(DAF)

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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)

 

 

 

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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)

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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)

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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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