dearanonymousfriend

Ramblings from a would be writer

Being with a sister…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for stopping by today, Cathi (DAF)

 

 

 

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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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Land that I love…

I am a flag-waving patriot.  I have said this before and I will repeat it again.  I love my country.  I cry each time I hear the National Anthem.  I cry when I hear America the Beautiful, I cry at each patriotic song I hear.  I admit it freely.  And, I am looking forward to tomorrow.  Inauguration Day.  A day that happens every four years.  A celebration of what the Founding Fathers fought for, dreamed of, worked for.  It’s a great thing to celebrate.

Tonight as I was thinking of the inauguration, I remembered the first inauguration I can remember.  I was five, just about to turn six.  I was in first grade at St Joseph’s elementary school.   The date was January 20, 1961.   The first Roman Catholic president was going to take the oath of office.

It was a school day.  In January.  In northwestern Pennsylvania.  A snowy, cold day.  I took my lunch to school, so that normally meant you ate in the lunch room in the basement of the school and then you went out onto the ‘playground’ which was the church parking lot and you froze for the hour while the nuns went to the convent and had lunch.

January 20, 1961 was different though.  The nuns wanted to see the inauguration.  Somehow they managed to have the kids who brought their lunch go home with those who didn’t.  We had an extended lunch hour.  I got to go home with a girl who has ended up being one of my oldest and dearest friends.  I took my lunch pail to her house and, along with my dried sandwich, I had a bowl of hot soup.  What a treat for me.  I got to take off my shoes and sit down on something comfortable and be in a home.  I will never forget it.  I sat in the kitchen and her mom talked with us and gave us fresh cookies.

We moved into the sewing room where her grandmother stayed and we watched the president being sworn in.  I confess that the only thing I actually remember is watching a bunch of old people on the television talk.  The best thing about it all was the actual cocoa I was drinking in the middle of the day.

The soup, the cookies and the cocoa took precedence over the President asking us not what the country can do for us, but what we could do for the country.  (My interpretation).

So, tomorrow, I will watch our new president take the oath of office.  I will feel pride in my country.  I know countless others do not feel this way, and that grieves me.  I have spent time living overseas.  During those years I missed being home.  Yes, I was on a base under an American flag and I was supporting my husband as he served this country.  But, I was homesick for our country.  It is hard to put into words the longing I had for home while I was there.  Home is more than a shelter you live in.  Home is the country you are born in.  It is the familiarity of a nation.  Yes, I have disagreed with much in the past few years, but, I respect the office of the presidency.  It is an office that deserves respect regardless of who it is sitting behind that desk.  Our founding fathers fought for the right for people to disagree.  They fought for the right to have a peaceful transition of power.  So, tomorrow, I will celebrate the freedom we have.  The freedom to cry tears of joy and pride over a national anthem.  The freedom to feel pride at a new president.  The freedom to pray for the former president, pray for his continued safety and for his rest from his service.

It has been a year of struggle for our country.  I pray tomorrow the struggles will start to calm down.  There will always be differing views and some loud voices raised on both sides, but, for me, for tomorrow, I am choosing to rejoice in America.  Rejoice in the fact that we can experience tomorrow, the swearing-in, the transition, the protests.  It is all American.  May God bless this country and keep it safe.

~ Cathi (DAF)

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Aunt Beulah’s Fox Stoles…

Last night while not being able to go to sleep, I thought of my Aunt Beulah.  Yes, I actually did have an Aunt Beulah.  Why anyone would name a young girl Beulah is beyond me, but, I digress.

Aunt Beulah was not a warm and fuzzy aunt.  You did not run to her with open arms to get a big hug.  She was married to my father’s older brother.  She had an air about her that did not belong in Oil City, PA.  She was restricted, I mean refined (?).  She was aloof.  At least that is what I think of when I think of her.

She had a pinched look on her face and that caused these little lines to form all around her mouth.  A few years ago, I noticed I had lines around my mouth.  I almost screamed aloud, “Oh no!  Aunt Beulah lines!”.  Instead, I slathered lotion around my mouth and spent the next few days constantly smiling, hoping those lines would disappear.

Now, I have painted a certain picture of my aunt.  I know we spent a lot of time at her house, especially after my mom died.  I don’t know if she felt sorry for us poor motherless waifs, or what, but I do remember being at her house often.  She would use scissors to cut up nice pieces of meat for her dachshund, Wrinkles, who would yap and snap at your heels constantly.  A very unpleasant dog.    My dad often commented that Wrinkles ate better than his brother.

Again, the memories are most likely not accurate because, we did visit often there.  I remember holiday meals at her house.  Not the food actually, but, doing dishes.  My sisters and I, the poor motherless waifs!  We would spend hours doing dishes.  At least that is what it seemed like.  I am certain she used every dish in her china cabinet.  We washed, we dried, we put them away in their sleeves in these quilted dish holders.  They would then go into a box and then into the china cabinet.  Those dishes were so protected that I think World War III could start in the china cabinet and those dishes would be unscathed.

But, what made all these memories come forward was the thought of Aunt Beulah’s upstairs closet in her sewing room.  It was a small closet, and inside was nothing but fur coats and fox stoles.  You know those stoles that women used to wear over the collars of their winter coats?  They had little fox heads that were actually clips to hold the stole together.  My sisters and I would go into that closet to ‘pet’ the furs.  We would eventually take each of those clips and clip each of the stoles together.

This is what my initial thought of Aunt Beulah was last night.  I saw her in a last-minute rush going into that closet to grab a stole and head to Mass.  Grabbing one, a dozen came out, I am certain.  I can just hear her, in my mind cursing those poor motherless waifs for connecting her stoles while she was trying to get to church.

It’s amazing where your mind wanders in the middle of the night, isn’t it?

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Mom…

Each year I end up writing something about my Mom.  Today is the anniversary of her death.  She was in her early forties when she lost her battle to pancreatic cancer.

I was eleven at the time, but, I still carry vivid memories of her.  I remember conversations and how she smelled and lots of things that have not been erased by time, fortunately.

I miss her often and each year I remember the day and what all happened, that, I think is a given whenever you lose someone you love.  But, this year, it’s not so much her personally I miss, but how many years it has been since she passed away.  50 years.  50 years she has been gone.  That’s a long time!  I cannot wrap my mind around how long it has been.  I don’t feel like I am old enough to remember 50 years.  But, I do.  When I think of this anniversary, my mind just remembers the 11-year-old and her sisters, all young.  Needless to say, we’re not.

When it occurred to me that she has been gone for fifty years, I started to wonder what she would think about life now.  How would she feel about her daughters being in different states and not seeing each other as much as we would like?  What would she think of our husbands?  I know she would share a beer or two with them, but would she like them?  What would she say and think about our kids, her grandchildren?  I am certain they could have done no wrong in her eyes.   Her great grand children?  Well, there is nothing better than they are, honestly.  So, there is no doubt she would have adored them.

Family is one thing to think about, but, this world has changed so much since 1966.  She once told me that one day we would talk on the phone and see each other.  I thought that was a wild dream.  This morning, I skyped with Little Miss and her Mom.  I got to see my granddaughter walk around, read a book, talk with me, eat a snack and wave to me.  We did ‘cheers’ her, with her sippy cup and me with my coffee cup.  Yes, Mom, we can talk to one another and see each other.  You would have loved that.

What type of phone would she have?  Would she have the latest and greatest?  Would she face time and text?  Would she have a twitter account?  Personally, I couldn’t imagine that. What would she think of television shows?  Who would be her favorite actor?  Would she be appalled that there are no western series on television?  She loved Rawhide and Wagon Train.

What would she think of the political climate? What would be her take on the issues in this country?

These are the thoughts that have run through my mind this past week. This has made me aware of the pace of the world today. Life truly was so much simpler fifty years ago.  Yes, there were riots then.  There were racial issues then.  There were wars going on.  Things were broadcast and it seemed fast then, since no other wars had reports given so quickly.  But, now, there is live streaming.  We are able to see events unfolding, for better or worse.

These are all things I will never know.  They will continue to plague my thinking.  I love the  “what if’s” in this life.   All I can be certain of is this, she left us too soon.  She missed so many of life’s treasured moments.  Three of her granddaughters have her name in some form.  Her fourth granddaughter has some of her fiesty-ness.  Her legacy continues in many ways.

Today I will continue to think of her, and my sisters.  We are strong women, all of us.  We love deeply, we think independently, we argue, we laugh, we cry.   I think she would be proud of us.      DAF (Cathi)

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45 years ago…

Forty-five years ago today was the last day I was by myself.  The 17th of September, 1971, I went about my day.  Our teachers were on strike and I was at home most likely doing nothing, but reveling in the extended summer vacation the lower class-men at the high school had.  The seniors continued on in school with teachers who were not union members so they could keep college and military commitments when they graduated.

I was a junior in high school that year, so I was blissfully at home wondering when we would be able to go back to school.  We knew the longer we were out in September the longer we would be in in June.  It was a weird year of school for certain.

Forty-five years ago today I made plans with a friend to go to a dance the 18th.  We would meet and one of us would drive to the fire hall where we would dance and flirt and not really meet anyone, since we were the quiet girls and mostly went unnoticed by most everyone in school.

What I did not know that day was that the following day would change my life.  Literally.    The following day, the 18th of September, 1971, a couple of my guy friends would help the music teacher move some things into his summer cottage.  It took them most of the day and at the end of the day they were paid.

Later that afternoon on the 18th the phone would ring.  I would be getting ready for the dance.  The phone call would be for me.   Heading to answer the phone, my older sister would holler at me, “If it’s a guy and he asks you out… GO!”  It was a guy, he did ask me out, and I accepted.  I was scared of my older sister, and when she said jump, I would jump, hoping it was high enough. (Sorry, Dottie)

That night, forty-five years ago tomorrow, I went bowling with my hubby.  We bowled three games, I won one, he won two.  I confess by the third game I was a bit over bowling, but, what can you do when you are on a date?

Forty five years ago the 18th I had my last first kiss.  I was 16 years old.  I have been with my husband longer than I wasn’t.  We have grown up together, we have fought, we have made up, we have traveled the world, we have raised our family.  I really cannot believe it has been 45 years.

There are times when I look at him and still see that boy who asked me out.  That boy who spent his hard-earned money to take me bowling and put gas in his mother’s car.  We have always marked this day as a special day for us.  Tomorrow will actually be the first time in several years that we will be together on this day.  One of us has been traveling during this time recently.

So, happy anniversary of our first date, honey.  I would say, “here’s to the next 45”, but, I really don’t think we will be around when we are 107!

Thanks for stopping by, Cathi (DAF)

 

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September Thoughts…

There are certain times of the year that provoke a sense of reflection in me.  I write about these times often, for I believe that writing them down etches them in my mind more clearly.

The days leading up to the 11th of September is one of these seasons.  Tomorrow is Grandparents day, a holiday started in 1978.  I had no idea it was even a ‘thing’ until 1983 when I saw the first cards celebrating it.   I don’t even know who buys those cards, but each year I see them.

Tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of  9/11.  It is amazing to me that it has been 15 years.  It seems like yesterday that the horror of that day happened.  The images and repugnance reverberates to this day.  I will always remember and I will never forget.

But in the middle of these events is a sweet dance of my youngest daughter’s life.

In thinking on all of the above, it is amazing what stands out in vivid memory.  I can remember seeing those Grandparent Day cards being almost nine months pregnant, thinking I should buy one for my in-laws.  I thought I would send it from my oldest daughter, having her sign it and how they would love that.  I also thought that maybe my second  child would be born on that day.  I never got the card, and my baby did come on Grandparent’s Day.

I remember when she was born, looking at my sweet baby, a time that is burned into a mother’s mind.  Each child, so unique, so beautiful.  Seeing that baby for the first time and knowing that this look is the look you will cherish until your dying day.  I was handed my sweet child and looked down on her.  No sweet expression, just this scowl on her little face.  Staring up at me as if to say, “Lady, I am not happy.”  Literally, a scowl, one that still appears on her face this day, some  thirtysomething years later…  I looked down at her, laughed and said as only a mother can, “Well sweetie, you are the one who decided to come, I really had nothing to do with it.”    Yes, those sweet , sweet life moments I will never forget.

That morning fifteen years ago that sweet baby was up before me.  Hubby had already left for work, and her older sister was living on her own and on her way to work.  I came downstairs and wished her a happy birthday.  We were going for her driver’s test and I asked if she was ready.  She told me to turn on the t.v.  and horror hit me.  Last night as I thought on this, I thought of this child of mine.  She was basically alone when she first heard all of this on the radio.  I never thought of how any of this affected her.  What was going on in her mind, how did it color her birthday then and how does it affect her to this day?

Yes, it is funny how certain things stick out in your mind on different days.  Those are my thoughts this weekend.  The thought that comes most readily to mind is this.  I have been blessed with this child, now a grown woman.  Her life has filled mine with laughter.  Her life has brought me joy.  I asked the Lord early on what life lessons my children have taught me.  I wanted to know when they were young, so I could truly grasp the gifts they are.

My oldest has taught me unconditional love.  A lesson we all need to have.  To love , no matter what happens, how easy or difficult is may be.  That lesson has not only been for my oldest, but she taught me that for all areas of my life.

The birthday girl?  She taught me laughter.  I really do not think I laughed purely or openly until the day she was born.  She gave me the gift of mirth.  She has blessed me with being able to see the joy in all things.

So, happy birthday dear one.  Thank you for being you.  You truly are my special gift from Jesus.

                                                              ~Mom ~ Cathi (DAF)

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Voices from the past…

My sister has been posting some old pictures on her Facebook page.  The pictures are of our parents when they were dating or from when we were young.

Each photo stirs up memories.  One of the pictures was taken at my aunt’s home.  In the comments my sisters and I each wrote where we sat around the table and who was sitting where we did after we were grown and our folks gone.

Thinking about this, I realized that deep within me are voices from the past.  Voices, that if I  listen intently, I can still hear today.  I can hear the laughter, I can hear the quiet conversations, I can hear the disagreements with their siblings, my aunts and uncles.

I once heard from a good friend that words are eternal.  That once a word is spoken it echoes and echoes throughout eternity.  That thought makes me realize that, yes, those voices I hear in my heart and mind are the echoes of those times.

I love being able to remember my parents and my aunts and uncles.  There is a comfort in that.  There is a connection.  I look at my children and the pictures they post.  Someday those pictures will spark a connection with myself and my husband.  They will look at photos and hear once more the laughter and the conversations.

I pray that the echoes of my voice will be as comforting and lovely as the echoes that reside in my mind and heart.

Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your time.  Cathi  (DAF)

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Reminders and Echoes…

This past week we celebrated Little Man’s fourth birthday here.  The pool was ready, the weather was wonderful and it was a great celebration.

Little Miss arrived before Little Man and the time with these two wonderful, lively human beings went much too fast.

Little Miss left just a few hours ago. The house is now quiet.  I have picked up the living room of the remaining things lying around.  Up the stairs went the books and balls and crayons and coloring books.  A few stuffed animals went up the stairs also.

I put the things carried up into the guest area upstairs.  I dared not go into the toy room, at least not yet.  I was in there earlier this morning with Little Miss and the echoes resounding in there were deafening.  The puzzle Little Man put together was still together on the floor.  The paper he was painting on still laying there where he put it.  The trucks are all crashed in disarray and there are puzzle pieces scattered throughout the room.  Little Miss was in there copying how she had seen her cousin playing earlier this week.  She was his shadow, mimicking everything he did.

They became cousins this week, I think.  They no longer just stared at one another.  She followed him closer than his shadow did.  She was under his feet studying his each move.  If he played with the ball, so did she.  Of course this led to the normal stance of most young cousins, throwing things, pushing each other and grabbing things out of each other’s hands.  It was delightful to see!  I could picture them in years to come, chasing one another, challenging each other and having talks that only cousins can have.  It made my heart swell and now, it brings tears to my eyes to think about it.

Yes, it is quieter without the grandchildren here.  We are lonely for them.  We dislike when they leave, our lives are just a bit duller and there is not enough laughter resounding between the two of us.

This visit, though, I realized it was not just the little kids that made leaving so hard.  I have missed ‘my’ kids.  My girls.  Tell-tale signs that they were home make me stop and wipe a tear from my eye.  Seeing towels put into the washer so I didn’t have to put them there.  Reading a note in my guest room guest book.  Seeing a guest room put back together and knowing she did it.  Seeing a favorite coffee cup out and being hesitant to put it away into the dishwasher, knowing that she was the last one to hold it.  Yes, all of these things make me wish for one more hug, one more laugh.

Times go by too fast.  Times that we mostly take for granted.  This week cemented in me that this house is a house we have dreamed of for years.  It is a place where my kids and their kids can let their hair down.  A place where they can relax and not worry about fingerprints on windows or sticky floors or bringing crayons into a livingroom.  It is a place where you can bounce a ball or yourself down the stairs while laughing and screaming ‘boom’ or ‘bump’.  A place to blow bubbles inside. This is the house I always wanted.  A place with a screen door that slams.  A place where there is adventure and fun.  A place to jump off the side of a pool or from the ladder.  This is home, this is where family come to be family, loud, noisy, laughing, talking, remembering and even being annoyed or frustrated.  I am so thankful for my girls and their families.  We may not be wealthy or have a pristine home, but, we are rich in being able to be a family.  I have waited too many years for this and at long last it feels like my dreams have come true.  A family that can come home, and relax. taking naps or finding a room to just sit and get caught up with one another.

I have had a great week.  I sit here a little more tired, and a lot more lonely, but my heart is full when I listen to the echoes that are still bouncing around the room.  My heart is full when I see remnants of toys and towels and floats for the pool.    So, thank you to my girls and their families making this Grammy a happy one, albeit a very teary-eyed one today.

Thanks for stopping by, DAF (Cathi)

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