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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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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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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Grace and Mercy VS Control

One of the definitions of control is to have power over.  I once heard control described as a reasonable response to unreasonable pain.  I have lived with control before.  It is a hard life to live with, it brings out the very worst in me.  I react strongly when faced with control issues.

We each have issues with wanting to control areas of our lives.  I know I have controlled and have tried to be controlled.  When I am trying to control something the result is I am angry all the time over everything.  I try to recognize that quickly and ask forgiveness for it as soon as I can.  When I am trying to be controlled, I react strongly.  I stand my ground and I won’t budge.  I set my jaw and I look at the person who is trying to control me and I verbally resist.  It is not unlike a temper tantrum.

I have been pondering the subject of control.  I know it is something that has run its course in our family.  But, issues get dealt with and circumstances get resolved and life goes on.

The thing is, though, when control rears its ugly head, the only positive response is to act with grace and/or mercy.

Grace, as I have learned through years in church and in reading my Bible is unmerited favor from God.  Grace is new every morning, which is a wonderful gift that I am grateful for.    Another definition of grace is this, a temporary exception .

Hand in hand with grace is another concept, mercy.  Mercy is also mentioned often in the Bible and again, for God’s mercy, I am very grateful.  Mercy has this definition, a compassionate treatment of those in distress.

My thoughts today have had a ringside seat to the battle of grace and mercy versus control.  It has gone many rounds in my mind and I have seen so many views of this battle.  Arguments have been made for every side.  Reason can be made for each side.   But, personally, I think control should be ousted from the ring altogether.  Control can only bring harm and anger and disappointment.

It may not be easy to do, but, again, my opinion, is that we need to give grace and mercy a chance in our individual lives.  We need to show grace and mercy to everyone.  We need to give favor in little things, show grace in times that we want to control.

I have heard so much this past week that life is fleeting.  Things happen and life changes or you begin to see the end of your life as you know it.  How much more important is it to give reasons for joy in others.  To give someone a reason to smile, a reason to laugh, a reason to celebrate little things.    As I have grown older, I realize that too many of my memories are of the hard things.  The tears, the disappointments, the what could have been if only I had done things differently.

I now see that grace and mercy are the things I should always carry in my hands.  They are the things I need to reach out with.  They are the things I should lead with.  They are the foundation for wonderful memories.

These are my mind ramblings today.  It may be the result of a cloudy day, or a week with not as much sleep as needed, but here you have it.   I close with Proverbs 17:22 (Amplified Bible)  A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing,
But a broken spirit dries up the bones.

Thank you for stopping by today.  Cathi

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Words…

I haven’t been on my blog much the past few weeks, but, I have been writing.  I have spent the past couple of months writing, thinking and preparing for a Bible Study that I have shared with a wonderful group of ladies at my church.  It is always an honor to speak and this time was no different.

What I have really thought about these past few weeks is words.  How we say things is as important as what we say. Wording is so very important, isn’t it?

I know I have failed miserably in the past to put thoughts into words and also writing before actually thinking things through.  But, I suppose we are all guilty of saying things to others before thinking of how they may come out and how they may sound to the other person.

We truly do not know what is going on inside another person.  We do not know the pain or anguish or stress they may be carrying, yet are not showing it to the outside world.  How we respond in words can make a person’s day or ruin it.

Several times this past year I have spoken without thinking.  I know it has caused pain, but, even after apologizing, the pain, for me, was still there.  Words can damage a heart if spoken in haste or without thought.  So, for the past few weeks, I have been cautious as to how I am wording conversations.

This experience has revealed several things to me.  First, the adage, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all, should be tattooed in my eyelids so that  I can always see them.  Secondly, don’t expect forgiveness to come easily if you have harmed someone with your words.  I am the type of person who can flare up, but within an hour, I am sorry, and have recognized that I have been wrong.  I have learned not everyone is like me.  Thirdly, lack of words is worse than an abundance of words.  It is a very fine line and I am learning, unfortunately, how to be a tight rope walker.

I have thought in the past that a blog is where you can write things you may be feeling and with that you can release emotions that may not be an easy part of yourself to reveal.  I am rethinking that.  A part of my Bible Study has been to encourage women to be themselves and to not hide behind masks that are so much a part of being a human being, especially a woman.  We tend to hide and only reveal our strength, our firmness, and not allow our fragile side to come out.   Sometimes, in writing words, we reveal a soft side and it can be poked and bruised easily.

I am hoping that through these past few weeks, I have learned much about words and wording and coming out behind masks.    I have always loved words, and putting them together.  I have always loved being able to have a few close friends that I can share spoken words with.  My love of words is still a very present part of me, and I look forward to learning more about how and what to write.    Cathi (DAF)

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Love at First Sight…

Today, being Valentine’s Day, I wanted to write a love story.  A love story dear to my heart.

Two years ago last night we saw our house for the first time on the outside.    Two years ago today, we walked into our house for the first time.  It was empty and filled with the winter sunlight.

We walked from room to room.  We searched each closet, each nook and cranny.  We didn’t leave for two and a half hours.  We walked around inside and outside.  We tried to see something we didn’t like.

But, as what happens with cases of love at first sight, we did not see anything.  We went ahead and now it is our home.  Like any relationship, we have come to see some flaws in our home.  We have been discouraged with some things.  This home, though, has grown with us.  It has seen visitors and loved ones.  It has witnessed much love and laughter.  It has seen our tears and heartaches.

Two years ago, on Valentine’s Day, we fell in love with a house.  A structure sitting on a parcel of land.  It needed some work and still does, but, when it boils down  to it, don’t we all?    Two years ago, this was our gift to one another.  A forever home for us.  A place to grow old in.  A place to make memories.  A place to shelter us and provide a setting where love and peace live.

Happy Valentine’s Day.      Thanks for stopping by.  Cathi (DAF)

 

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Homesick for what was…

Today was just another day.  We had a lot of rain last night, so I decided to go out and pull some more English ivy from around one of the tree gardens in our yard.  It is growing and choking out some azalea bushes and spring flowers. I spent a short time out doing that. Afterwards, I had a wonderful conversation with a friend from California and while talking with her, I realized some branches had come down during the rain last night.

So, after the conversation.  I went out to pick up the fallen branches.  It was a lovely day out.  Daffodils are blooming all over the yard and the hyacinths are budding.  I love this house in the spring.  Each place I look I see signs of spring and new life.   I picked a bouquet of daffodils and placed them on my kitchen counter.  My kitchen is a dark blue and the daffodils are a beautiful contrast.  I have been content today.

Later this afternoon, I heard a car drive into our driveway.  Several times I heard the locks beep.  I got up, and went outside.   A young woman was standing there.  I asked if I could help her.  She said she used to live in this house and wondered if it would be okay to sit in our driveway for a bit.  I told her it was not a problem and told her how much we loved our home.  She then asked if it would be okay to walk around a bit.  I agreed to that.  She thanked me and I told her it was nothing.  I then said, you’re homesick, aren’t you?  With that she started to cry and walked around to the side yard.

My heart broke.  She stood by our little wishing well, gently touching it.   I watched a bit from a window and could see her crying.  Hubby went out to talk with her and they stood and visited for a few minutes.  He asked if she wanted to come in, but, she declined.  She told him that the room that is now our guest room was her room.

As I have thought about this unexpected visit from a stranger, my heart broke for her.  She told my hubby that her folks divorced and they could not keep the house.  I know, for her today, she needed to see something that was a part of a past for her.  A past where she grew up and had love and laughter and memories.   I have prayed for her since she left.  I don’t know what she is going through now, but, I know there have been times in my life where I have longed for the past.  I have longed for the familiar, the comfortable.    As she drove off, I prayed that she would be okay.  We told her she was welcome to stop by anytime.  I hope somehow she felt a bit comforted by her visit home.

Many times we walk around lonely.  I hope that if any one of you who read this are experiencing such loneliness that someone will provide that bit of security and comfort for you.  Thanks for stopping by.    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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Shelter in the Storm…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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