A few years ago we watched a movie that made a huge impact on me.  I actually think of it often and am still moved by it.  The movie was “Taking Chance”, starring Kevin Bacon.  It is about a fallen soldier being taken home and the military officer who accompanied him.  I cried through the entire movie, I really wanted to just sit and sob, but retained my composure and just let the tears fall.

All too often in recent years, we have seen videos of our military personnel who are being loaded onto aircraft.  We see the honor guard and the spouses and family standing soberly by the casket.   It is heart wrenching to say the least.  But, it truly is what these heroes deserve.

A couple of nights ago, a gentleman from our church passed away.  I confess, I did not know him well.  I knew him to see him and I loved when he would stand to pray.  His prayers were bold, and strong and elegant.  His prayers would make my heart soar.   Hubby, though, did know this man.  He had visited him frequently the past month as his health was declining.  So, the other night when we received a call that he had passed, hubby went to the hospital to be with the family.

I got a text from him an hour or so later and he said that he would be staying with this man until he was taken to the morgue.  I didn’t think much of it, it just sounds like something my husband would do.    He came home later that night and I could tell the passing of this man had touched my husband’s heart.   We knew he was now out of pain and was peaceful.  Hubby said there was almost a smile on his face in death, and we both agreed that he most likely saw the glory of heaven in his last moments and that is enough to make anyone smile.

As I started to drift off to sleep that night, it occurred to me what my husband had done that evening.  He had said when he came in that his feet were a bit tired from standing and I didn’t connect the dots until I was trying to go to sleep.   He was standing watch for his friend, who not only was his friend, but, a brother in arms.  This man who died was a combat veteran who had served in the Air Force for 20 years.  He served in Viet Nam and the military when it wasn’t fashionable to do so.  He served his country when most people ridiculed our military.  He never received  accolades given for his service like they are given today.  No one stopped him on the street to thank him for his service.  He quietly did his duty.  He was a hero.

And, my husband, who recognized this hero stood watch beside him.  To the staff at the hospital, he was a cancer patient who had most likely lived a full life.  He was older and he lost his battle to cancer.   Hubby, though, knew the rest of the story.  He knew he was a veteran.  They had shared stories of their time in the service, they bonded as only brothers in arms can.

So, at the end of his life, he received the honor he deserved.  He was not left alone.  He had a brother standing guard, watching and making certain he was taken care of.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and ages.  I am proud I have my own hero.  A man who respects the tenants and traditions of the military.  A man who will honor the heroes that have served and gone on before him.

Thanks for stopping by today.  Cathi (DAF)

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)


Reality check….

The first week of July was a hard time for me.  Yes, we had just moved and getting settled was (and is) taking longer than I expected, but, there were other things happening that got to me.

The first Sunday of the month, we went to church, and came home, and as is normal, I went online and checked Facebook to see what was going on.  An acquaintance of mine, that I have actually known since kindergarten had several comments on her page.  None of them were normal.  There were no snide remarks or no humor.  There were condolences.  My husband’s cousin, who is also a mutual friend wrote to ask what was going on.  Together, we wrote back and forth until we discovered what was happening.  This acquaintance had lost her husband very suddenly to a heart attack.  I knew of him, but did not know him personally.  I read his obituary and realized he was two weeks younger than me.  This hit me hard.  Like hit me in the gut and have me double over hard.  It still bothers me and my heart goes out to this woman who is grieving, rightly so.

The following day I wrote a message to another friend on Facebook.  We also have known each other since kindergarten.  We were neighbors and played with one another.  We caught bees in jars and played on her swing set.  We played when she got the mumps, so that I would catch them and get it over.  (I never caught them)  We drifted apart through high school and reconnected about 20 years ago at our husband’s class reunion.  We have chatted online often since then.  Anyhow, this friend had been on my mind and so I wrote to see how she was.  She wrote back.  She is undergoing chemotherapy for a bout with cancer.

For the second day in a row, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

Since then I have thought about life.  I have thought about relationships.  Both are fragile and both can be gone in an instant.  I confess it took several weeks for me to get out of the funk that I went to after hearing the news of those two days.  But, what has surfaced from those two stomach wrenching days is a renewed appreciation for today.  Taking each day as the gift it is.  We are not promised tomorrow.

I have yet another friend on Facebook and each morning she posts, “I am glad to be on my feet today.”  That is how I am feeling lately.  I am glad to be on my feet.  I am glad to have this beautiful unsettled home.  I am glad for my hubby.  Glad that he makes me smile and makes me roll my eyes by some of the things he says and does.  I am thankful for another day with my puppy.  We didn’t think we would have him past the day we took him to the hospital, and he is still here, giving me doggy smiles and nose hugs.

Yes, life is good and sometimes we need to be reminded just how good it is.    Speaking of good…  I am planning on having a guest blogger soon….  I am excited about this.   More to come later.  Thanks for stopping by… DAF


Tomorrow is Father’s Day as I write this.  I have thought of my father all day long as I have seen people post pictures of their Dads on Facebook.  It is a touching tribute and one I wish I could do.  But, I have no pictures on my computer of him and did not think to scan one in before tonight.

My father was a second generation American.  He was an Irishman.  He had a great sense of humor, he loved a good story and he loved to drink.  I loved spending time with him, at times.  Sometimes he did not want to be around people.  He wanted his space and his time alone.  He could be an enigma at times.

What I have really thought of since his death is the person he was. He worked hard and had his share of trials at his workplace.  He remained loyal to those he worked for until his retirement.  He loved his city.  Was proud of his city.

When I was young he would wake me up early and we would go for walks.  We would talk about anything that came to mind.  Those are some of my fondest memories.  We would walk along the hills in town and see the wildflowers growing, we would watch the river flowing.  During those times he would talk of his life as a young man.

He carried papers to earn money during the depression years.  I have two pictures in my guest room that were my Grandmother’s.  My dad saved the money he earned with his paper route to buy them for her.  They are in the original frames and every time I look at them, my heart is filled with love.

He was beside my Mom while she battled pancreatic cancer.  He was 41 when she lost her battle with cancer.  I can only imagine what he was thinking and feeling at that point.  He became the sole parent to three daughters, 15, 11, and 9.  The fear and uncertainty he must have felt, must have been incredible.  But, raise us, he did.

He died suddenly in 1993.  His death happened so quickly, that I could not wrap my mind around his death.  For years I would think of calling him to tell him about something I did or something my daughters had done or experienced.

A dear friend of mine who was beside me when I heard news of his passing told me, “As adults we think of our parents as our Mother and Father, but when they die, they once more become Mommy and Daddy.”  That touched my heart as the news of my Daddy’s passing started to creep its way into my conscience.

It has been years since I have had a parent to talk with or visit with.  One by one I have seen my friends lose their Fathers.  I know the pain they are experiencing at that time, although words fail to bring comfort or security.

Psalm 68:4-6 (New Living Translation) states: ” 4 Sing praises to God and to his name!     Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the Lord—     rejoice in his presence!

5 Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—     this is God, whose dwelling is holy. 6 God places the lonely in families;     he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. But he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”

I read this psalm shortly after getting home after my Father’s memorial service.  I had read it several times before, but it never touched my heart like it did that time.   In the time of my grief, my Heavenly Father assured me that I was not alone.

So, on Father’s Day, I remember my Dad.  He may have had his flaws, but he is the man chosen to raise me as best he could.  I am grateful for the time I had with him.  I cherish the memories of him.

On Father’s Day tomorrow, I will celebrate with my dear hubby.  He blessed me with two beautiful daughters and as best he could, along with me, we raised them.  I hope in years to come my daughters will think of their Dad with the love and understanding that I have for my Dad this day.

Thanks for stopping by.  It means the world to me, DAF

Mish mash… and all that other stuff

I had started this year with the goal of posting at least every other day… that lasted until, well, let’s say it was a nice idea.

I have several thoughts bouncing around my head and since I have no clear thought about what I am going to write, I decided to just write, please bear with me.

Late last week, I was on Facebook.  I saw a that a friend had commented on a post.  The ‘friend’ was actually my daughter’s third grade teacher that I friended but hardly ever comment to.  But, she had commented on a post of a newscaster from the San Diego area.  Since I recognized the name of this newscaster, I hit the notice and realized that this person had a blog on WordPress.

There was a time in San Diego when my girls were at home and we enjoyed watching the news together.  That does sound strange, but this station had a dream group of reporters.  It was nice to have them in our living room daily.  They may not have brought pleasant news into our home, but they delivered it with an ease that comforted you.

The station eventually broke up this team, replaced them and the news was never as pleasant again.  That formula of the right team at the right time never happened again.

I have thought of those days of watching news with my girls.  It was a habit and it worked.  I have had this pop into my mind often since seeing that acquaintance mentioning the blog.

The blog is http://wordpress.com/#!/read/blog/id/45325470/  the name of the reporter is Loren Nancarrow.  This reporter is waging a battle with cancer, and he is blogging about it now.  His blog also has other interesting subjects, things that I have since read and remembered why it was so pleasant to watch the news.

Today, I spent close to three and half hours outside working in the yard.  I raked and pulled out dead leaves from around our hedges.  I deadheaded my roses, I clipped my hydrangea.  I drug limbs to the curb after my dear hubby cut back some trees.  It was fun.  I am exhausted.  I feel like I accomplished something though.  The day was pleasant, did not see any snakes and the alligators were lying low, since it was too cool for them to come up out of the pond.

Through all the time outside today, I thought of a couple of things.  I thought of this reporter, who, would have segments of working in the yard, giving hints and suggestions for lawn care.  I remembered how many of his tips I have used or at least thought of using them.  I also thought of another dear friend from Maine.  She is in her mid to late 70’s.  She runs a daycare for several children in her home.  Each day she posts on Facebook how wonderful her day is.  She lists what she is doing and what she has accomplished that day.  She wears me out with her descriptions.  She ends almost every post with, I am glad to be on my feet.

As I was putting pine straw around my plants today these two people occupied my thoughts.  They will never know each other.  The reporter will never know me (except for comments I left on his posts).  Yet, these two people have affected my life with a bit of this and a bit of that.  They have touched my heart, and my mind with a mish mash of ideas.

Sometimes, it takes getting on your hands and knees, spreading ground cover, getting dirty and sweaty to think of blessings you have.  Today I talked with the Lord.  Sometimes it was just a groan from having to bend one more time, sometimes it was because something fell just out of eyesight and I thought it was a large bug or snake (yes, I hate snakes, could you tell?)  Most of the time, though, I was talking to the Lord and asking him to heal this man, who, although he has no idea who I am, has touched my life.  I also asked the Lord to make me as appreciative as my friend in Maine.  She is an example to me, and although she knows I love her, she has no idea how much she encourages me.

I wanted to write and let you know, that I have even thought of those brave bloggers who follow me and my posts.  Each of you are a blessing to me.  You encourage me with your presence and in reading your posts, the mish mash of your thoughts make my life so much better.

Thanks for stopping by, DAF

In A Moment

I have often thought of writing this post, and I have often thought of not writing on this subject.  It is a conflict within me and after doing battle in my mind I lost and here I go.

46 years ago today there was a very simple moment in my life.  It was 7:28 a.m..  A Tuesday.  I was in the sixth grade.  My sister sleeping beside me was in the fourth grade.  At 7:28 a.m. my alarm went off.  I reached over to turn off the alarm on my pink acrylic alarm clock.  I opened my eyes to a somewhat darkened room and heard voices downstairs in the kitchen.  The voices were familiar ones, but the activity of several voices and movement on a Tuesday morning was unusual.

As I turned off my alarm my older sister calmly said, “Dad, they’re awake.”  I looked at my sister and she said, “Stay in bed, you won’t be going to school today.”  The next moment, my Dad was sitting on our bed.  He looked at my sister and me and said in a tone I will never forget, “Mom died last night.”

My younger sister immediately started crying.  Honestly, I can’t remember if I did or if it was delayed by a couple of seconds.  What I do remember is a combination of thoughts crossing my young mind, one being, “That’s a cruel joke to play on us…”  the other, “Of course she died, I knew she was going to for the past couple weeks.”

I was home sick the day six months before when my Mom had come home from a doctor’s appointment and told my Dad that she would have to have surgery.  The surgery was a new and scary thing as only really old or really sick people had surgery back then.  That began a six month season of our family that would forever change the dynamic of who we were.

During the surgery, my Mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  She was given six months to live.  That was in March of 1966.  46 years ago today, her six months ended.  My parents told my older sister about the diagnosis.  A tough thing to handle for a 15-year-old.  A heavy burden to carry for six months.  Her childhood ended abruptly, she had no time to be a teenager, as she was immediately given a role no child should have to handle.  The decision to keep my younger sister and myself free from the reality of what was going on was made at some point and so we had six months of watching our Mother become a mere shadow of her former self, never truly knowing what was going on.  Thus, the moment that changed my life.

The next few days following this date 46 years ago were a blur and actually some of my fondest memories.  I remember being able to look closely at my cousins’ rooms while they were at college/and/or in the military.  That was a treat. It was like entering the inner sanctum of areas normally forbidden to curious young people.  Those days also remind me of making chocolate chip cookies at another aunt’s home.  She allowed my sisters and me into her immaculate kitchen to make cookies.  I remember my older sister did not think salt belonged in a cookie recipe and left it out.  My aunt picked up on it immediately.  (Each time I add salt to cookies now, I remember her with a smile).  I think of another aunt who convinced the older women in the millinery shop that the hats she was buying for her nieces for her sister’s funeral should not cost as much as they were marked.  She got a deal on three hats for my sisters and I.  Being of Irish and Scottish descent, we had a wake.  I remember my sisters and cousins each scamming different uncles for money during the wake so we all could hit the local grocery store for candies and ice cream.  I am certain that little store had one of it’s best business days in months from my family.  I mostly remember the outpouring of love from family, friends and neighbors.  That made the biggest impression on my young mind.

Loss of a parent is a unique and hard experience.  To me, loosing a parent at such a young age was something that just happened.  It did not physically scar me, but it did define me.  That definition still continues.  I do not have the physical example of what or what not to be.  When my daughters turned eleven, I told them that I had no experience of what a mother was supposed to do after that time.  I told them that I would wing it and hopefully they would survive to adulthood.  With the help of the Lord, they did survive and flourish.  Now, I just imagine what my Mother would have been like, and wonder what kind of relationship we would have had as I grew.

Moments can change you at any time.  Moments can rob us, or bless us.  Moments can make us forever victims or we can grow from moments.  I am grateful for my Dad and especially my older sister who refused to let my sister and me become forever victims.  Life it much too precious to stay in the past reliving hard miserable times.  Life is now.  It is a crisp apple begging to be picked and eaten.  It is a bright autumn day inviting you to walk around and breathe in fresh air.  Life is now.

Today I remember.  Today I miss.  Today I will get hold of my sisters and we will reaffirm our love for one another.  But, most of all today I will live my life.  I will walk the dog, I will do the dishes, make the bed and live.  I will praise my Creator for my family, for my daughters, for my son-in-law and most of all for my precious grandson.  I will thank our Lord for allowing me to see all of this and be here.   He is an awesome God who has looked out for me and kept me able to live a full life, remembering, but never a victim.

One day, I hope, we will see a cure for this horrible disease.  A cure so that sometime in the future a moment in time won’t forever change another young life.

Thanks for stopping by, DAF