We have the same name…

I went to kindergarten in the morning.  I had a friend who lived across the street somewhat, it’s an intersection where there are actually a couple of streets merging off of one.  Anyhow, I really liked this girl and her name also was Kathy.   I remember one day another girl came to play with my friend Kathy.  She had red hair.  She went to afternoon kindergarten.  She was playing with my friend Kathy.  I immediately did not like her.  She was crowding in on my friend territory.  Her name?  Kathy.

Fast  forward through eight years of elementary school and this red-headed Kathy was at all of my birthday parties and I was at hers.  We were friends.  The other Kathy? I really have lost touch with her and don’t actually know where she is…

But, this third Kathy, this red-headed girl has become my forever friend.  We grew closer during high school.  I was at her house all the time.  We spent nights together, talking until three or four in the morning.  She introduced me to my husband, I was there when she tripped and actually fell into the lap of her future husband, smashing an ice cream cone into his face.  Yes, I was that friend who sat and laughed uncontrollably while that happened.   It was classic!

I just went online to read the definition of forever friend.  I read articles of how you know when you find a forever friend.  I didn’t need to read any of it.  The definition of a forever friend?  Kathy.

C.S. Lewis (one of my favorite writers) once said, “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words. ”   This is my friend.

We have gone long times when we haven’t spoken.  We have had a distance between us.  We have been like sisters at times when we have argued and stayed mad at one another.  But, then, that melody drifts into our hearts and we know that we need to reach out to one another. We need to have that time of restoration.  To hear one another, and to listen to each other.  Those words that remind us of who we are.   That melody in our hearts that were sung as children and teens, and kept us sane as young mothers.  That harmony that now eases us into our ‘senior years’.  The song that started out as a light melody has now become an orchestral piece, rich with all the sounds of the instruments.  The deep bass of the hard and difficult times we have seen one another through, the piccolo of the happy times, the weddings and the births of grandchildren.  Those calming woodwinds that  echo with memories of times spent together.  Each movement conveying notes we carry in our hearts for one another.

Friends are truly a gift from our God.  I have been blessed with many friends.  I am honored when someone befriends me and I often wonder why they would.  The friendship with Kathy has been grown over time.  I often see a reflection of God in her.  Her faith, her giving heart, her determination, her drive, challenges me and at the same time amazes me.  There are very few people who I can be truly and honestly myself with.  I am grateful that Kathy allows me to be me, bumps, bruises, frustration, anger, tears, laughter, all of who I am, I can be.   She will listen and then, with ever so much grace she will point me the Lord and the direction I need to go.

In the Message Bible, Proverbs 17:17 says, Friends love through all kinds of weather,
    and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.”  

I am so grateful to God for the gift of that red-headed girl I met so many, many, many years ago.   I hope you have had the blessing of a forever friend.  Thanks for stopping by, Cathi (DAF)

 

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A Warm Piece of Toast…

Years ago while in Japan, a dear friend and I had babies within weeks of one another.   Both were little girls.  We would talk daily on the phone and we loved our talks.

One day, mid morning ,the phone rang,  I answered in tears.  It was my friend Cindy, the one who had a baby girl weeks after we had ours.   Hearing my tears, she promptly asked what was going on.  Through my tears I told her that all I really wanted was a warm piece of toast, and I hadn’t had one in weeks and I was just about to take a bite of a warm piece of toast when the phone rang.  Hiding her laughter, she told me to hang up, have my toast and call when I was done.

I know I have a weird relationship with my toast.  I just love to eat it when it is warm out of the toaster, the butter melted and the topping of choice (mostly peanut butter for me) is soft and warm also.

For the past couple of weeks I have been trying to get hold of Cindy.  Her health has not been good and I have just needed to hear her voice.  To hear her laughter and know in my heart that she is okay.    She is a friend who is  one of those that we can go months and years without talking and when we hear one another’s voice it is just a continuation of where we left off.   The last time we talked we promised that we would talk more often, like we used to in Japan.  That was at least three years ago.   So, no, we did not keep our promise to one another.

This morning I had texted her husband and tried once to call and left a voice mail.  After that I made hubby some toast and then made myself a piece.  Again, it was warm, butter melted and peanut butter gooey.  It was a great piece of toast.  Since I had been thinking of Cindy, I thought of that conversation so long ago and laughed to myself.

Then the phone rang.  I answered and we had a great visit on the phone.  As typical of when I talk with her, tears streamed down my face.  Tears of happiness in hearing her voice, tears of sorrow that we do not live closer to one another, tears of memories that cover so many years and the knowledge that I need to cherish each conversation, each echo of laughter.

Once more we hung up promising each other that we would talk more often.  I am hoping to hold up my end of the deal this time.   As I walked back into the living room to continue my day, I looked at the end table.  There on my plate was a cold, hard piece of toast.  I smiled to myself as I ate it.  How times have changed for me, a cold piece of toast tastes so much better after a warm conversation.

Proverbs 25:25 says, “Like a cool drink of water when you’re worn out and weary is a letter from a long-lost friend.”     This wasn’t a letter, but even better, a conversation.

Thank you my friend for blessing my day.  You are loved.

Thanks for stopping by, Cathi (DAF)

Kindred Spirits…

Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.   

I Samuel 18:1 NKJV (New King James Version)

In life we all have our best friends, our long time friends, our fair weathered friends.  But, if we are truly lucky or blessed, we have a kindred spirit.  These are those friends we meet unexpectedly and bond immediately.

I have a picture of my kindred spirit.   She is sitting on a chair in her living room in Nagai Housing area in Japan.  She is in her flannel nightgown and one hand has a telephone receiver up to her ear and with the other hand, she is talking.  I look at the picture and am immediately transported back in time when I took this.  It captured Debbie.  Expressive, bubbly, full of life.

I can’t remember where we met; it must have been at the chapel in the housing area.  All I know is that we clicked in a way I never had before.  Time did not matter; it was like we had known each other all our lives.  The bond was instant.

We spent hours and hours and hours talking to one another.  I walked over to her house daily, after work, before work or instead of work.

We left Japan before they did.  When we said good-bye our husbands had to pull us apart as we did not want to leave each other.

We wrote for a while and then, as often happen, life got in the way and we lost track of one another.  I never forgot her.  My heart missed her.

Again, with the dawn of Facebook, we found one another.  We continued our conversations.  We didn’t start new, for we didn’t have to.  We caught up with each other.

Her life had not been easy; she is a cancer survivor, the wife of a dear man who has MS.  She works tirelessly for her family and grandchildren.  We are older, wiser, but, her zest for life is ever-present.  Her zeal for the Lord is still contagious.  She still talks with her hands, I haven’t seen it, but I can tell.

She is the David for my Jonathan’s heart.  David, for she loves the Lord and follows closely after Him.  She is musical as was David, and her words, like the Psalms bring comfort to me.

We don’t get to visit as often as we would like, but, when we do, we are still those young women who could raise the noise level in a room easily. (It is rumored that one of us once blew a whistle in a store to get someone to wait on us…  Of course the whistle was around Debbie’s neck.  Fortunately I was quick enough to blow the whistle and leave it hanging there so it did look like she had done it…)

Her friendship is a gift.  When I was homesick and feeling so alone in a foreign country, the Lord brought us together.  Knowing Debbie is like seeing that first daffodil of the season, it brings hope and brightness to a tired landscape.

Lord, may I be able to bring hope and brightness to someone today.

Thanks for stopping by today, Cathi (DAF)

“True friends are always together in spirit.“

Steadfast…

1 Thessalonians 5:11 New Living Translation (NLT)

11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

Marlene has been my friend since the fourth grade.  Over the years our friendship has changed many times and in many ways.  We go months sometimes, without talking, but it does not hinder either of us when we pick up the phone and begin a conversation.

This past week I was able to spend time with Marlene.  She came to visit and it was refreshing for me.  We greeted each other with hugs and the usual catching up of families.

We spent our days talking nonstop.  We laughed often and loudly.  We revisited our memories from elementary school, junior high and high school.  We cried for those we have lost along the way.  We talked about hard things that neither of us wanted to think about.  We cried, we laughed, and we relaxed in the comfort of our friendship.

Marlene has always been a steadfast person in my life.  Her faithfulness in being a friend to me is a gift.  She has shown me what it means to be steadfast.  She is unwavering in her friendship.  She has given me strength at times when I have lost focus.  She stands firm, pointing to things in my life and redirecting me to remember.

A quiet person, for the most part, this friend has gently entreated me to see myself as she sees me.  Her encouragement is softly spoken but echoes in my spirit.  I leave her presence feeling refreshed, renewed.

She points to the direction of my heart.  She encourages me in my walk with the Lord.  She reminds me that our Lord is that gentle touch in the center of my back, holding me steady, giving me courage and urging me onward towards Him.

Whether spending time with a friend or with the Lord, it is good to be encouraged, to be built up.  To be reminded that I have done well in areas where I have doubted, areas where I feel like the Lord has been silent (or I haven’t heard what He is saying to me) is a treasure.   Marlene, thank you for the gift of your steadfast friendship.  Thank you also for building me up with your quiet grace.  Most of all, thank you for redirecting and steadying me in my walk.

Lord, keep my eyes steadfast on You.  Do not allow me to waver in my walk with You.  Steady me when I start to drift to the sides.  Thank You for Your guiding hands keeping me safe.  

Thank you for stopping by today, Cathi (DAF)

 

When your first kiss passes…

It was the summer of ’69.   I had always been a bit taller than most of the kids in my class.  I had nicknames like, Stilts, Stretch, Legs, Wilt through what is now known as middle school.  I didn’t mind though and actually sort of liked those names, as they set me apart from other girls and made me feel like I was acknowledged.

In the summer of ’69 I was heading into my freshman year of high school.  I was 14.  I had my first summer romance.  Yes, I know, it is young, but, when you are tall and every boy you have met thus far was at least a half-foot shorter than you, and then you meet someone who is taller than you, has a cute smile and thinks you are cute, it is love.  Albeit, young love.  We used to meet at the pool and swim and talk.  I was smitten.  But, alas, it was not meant to be.  His mother (wise woman she was)  said, “Good Catholic boys do not date girls at 14 years old.”   So, my summer romance ended.  I was heart-broken.  All of this happened before the middle of July.

In August of the summer of ’69, my older sister (another wise woman) suggested I join the local group of “Up With People!”.    She most likely was tired of seeing me mope around the house, so I listened to her and joined.  It was some of the best times of my young life.  I learned more about leadership, and team work and community involvement in my years in Up With People than I have since.  But, that is another story.

I met many kids, some that I would be going to school with, since I was transferring to a new school in my freshman year.  It was exhilarating.  One of the people I met was a somewhat shy boy.  He was a freshman also and we clicked right away.  He was easy to laugh with and you never quite knew what he would do next.  He had a great voice and I soon learned that young love can be renewed.

My first official show for Up With People was in our hometown, in the bandshell, which now no longer exists.   I had looked forward to this time for at least a month and I was so ready to go on.   As the group did their pre show  gathering we all took our places to run onto the stage.  Suddenly, right beside me, was this shy kid.  He looked at me, wished me good luck, reached down grabbing my hand.  He then lifted my hand and kissed it.

My first kiss.    Not the most heart stopping experience.  Not the most drop in your tracks romantic.  But, to me, it changed my world.  A boy had kissed me.

We were a ‘couple’ for the next couple of years.  We could fight like cats and dogs and then we would be back to laughing together.  A typical young teenage ‘couple’.

His family moved to California before our junior year.  We wrote for a bit and then completely lost track of one another.  Thanks for Facebook, though, we reconnected a few years back.  We didn’t message each other often, but, we at least kept in touch once or twice a year.

He recently retired and he and his husband went on a cruise.  I told him to have fun and congratulated him on his retirement and didn’t think anything else about him.  Friday while online I saw of picture of him in front of the New York City skyline.  I laughed to myself and thought, he is making the most of his retirement.  I read the post below the picture.  I reread it.  I read it the third time.  This time I spoke, telling my hubby that he had died.   My dear sweet husband, who didn’t miss a beat came to my side and asked me how I was.  I don’t think I would have thought to do that if his first girlfriend had passed away, but, he did.

I stood in my husband’s arms and realized that this news had hit me harder than I could have thought it would.

Yes, that kiss on the hand led to other kisses not on the hand.  We went to the junior high prom, me in a yellow dress and he in a green suit (hey, it was 1970!) .  We collected tickets for the junior/senior prom when we were sophomores.  We continued to be in Up With People until he moved.  Suddenly memories flooded my mind.  They have swirled around all weekend long.

Yes, it was many years ago.  Most people don’t keep in touch with their first kiss.  I truly didn’t think I would.  But, I did.  He died unexpectedly, which kind of fits him.  When I knew him, you never really knew what he would do next.

He is the third person in a little over a year to die.  The third person that had impacted my life in a memorable way.  Each time I have been affected.  Each time I have paused to think of how dear people are and how important it is to keep in touch and let others know how special they are for you.

I never thought I would remember so clearly that event of August 11th, 1969.  So many more dates carry heavier and deeper memories for me.  A reminder for me to let people know their importance in my life.

Thanks for stopping by.   Cathi (DAF)

Thank you…

When we were away over the holidays, we had our mail put on hold.  It just makes it easier.  Monday of this week our mail was delivered, and it’s always fun to go to the mail box and see it crammed full of built up mail.  Of course, there is also the side that makes you wonder just how many bills are in the mix.  (There were none, which gave us a happy dance!)

As I opened the mailbox, I saw the envelopes and magazines and then I saw a mailing envelope.  I figured it was for hubby, who often gets things like that in the mail.  I pulled it all out and saw my name on the envelope.  I looked at the return address and smiled.  It was from Texas.    I actually found myself rushing into the house so I could rip open the package.  I could not help but smile.

The package was from a friend of mine who I met years ago, although it just seems like yesterday.  We had an unusual introduction, via e-mail.  I was part of a ministry in San Diego and was asked to write this woman, who at the time needed just a bit of encouragement.  I had done this often and had enjoyed the times I had written these women.  Most of them I wrote a couple of times and never heard from them again.  This time, a bond was formed.  We went from writing about the need at the time to sharing things like our youth, our dreams, our thoughts on various subjects.  We talked about Southern CA and how there was a lack of song birds.  Somehow, that part of our conversations has always been a part of our friendship.   I believed we wrote one another for several months before actually meeting each other.  I bought a new outfit the day I met her, so that I knew I would look okay upon meeting her.  I smile at that thought now, as she is so accepting and loving, she never would have been concerned at how I looked.

Anyhow, I opened the package and there was a beautiful journal for me.  I had just thought about getting a new one the day before and there it was, sitting on my kitchen table.  I looked inside and there was a note from her.   As I read the note through tear filled eyes, I thanked the Lord for her presence in my life.  She is a precious gift to me and one I am always grateful for.

So, Diane, thank you.  Thank you for being you most of all.  You have blessed my life over and over in so many ways.   Your thoughtfulness amazes me.  I am so glad that we met, and as we have said often, it truly was God’s design to have our lives intertwined.    I know this is an unusual thank you note, but, it was one I felt I had to share.

Too often in our lives we mean to say things to important people in our lives and we neglect to.  We put it off, we postpone writing a note or sending a text or even picking up a phone to call.  We think of people daily and never let them know they are in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.  Time passes too quickly and I am so guilty of not calling, writing, or letting those people, my family, my friends know how much I love and appreciate them.

Thank you again for the lovely journal, but thank you most of all for the kind words you wrote in the journal.  The words I write in it will never mean as much as what you shared.

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)

 

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)

 

 

 

 

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)

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)