Grammy’s purse…

My daughter is married to a Navy man, which makes our Little Miss a Navy brat.  A couple of weeks ago my daughter and son-in-law had a weekend military commitment, and hubby and I went to Florida to watch our Little Miss for them.

We arrived on a Wednesday and spent the next couple of days in a resort condo that belongs to a friend of theirs.  We loved the view of the Gulf of Mexico, the white sand, the boardwalk, and most of all, we loved being with our kids.  IMG_1914IMG_1911.JPG

Each time we went to eat, Little Miss would gravitate to my purse.  She would start with the line,”I really like your purse Grammy.”  It is a bright pink wristlet bag that is small but somehow holds a lot!  Little Miss would hold on to my bag, and then shake it.  Of course she would hear the mints inside.

My purse is a treasure trove for a three-year old girl.   Inside is a container of mints, some cute sticky notes, pens, and lips losps (lip gloss).  What more could a girl ask for?  Each meal the purse would come out, the contents rummaged through, mints eaten and lip gloss applied.  The sticky notes and pen entertained her for at least a minute, it was just pure heaven for her.

Friday of that week, we took Little Miss back to her house for the weekend, while Mom and Dad stayed at the resort for their event.  We got to the house, unloaded the car, unloaded Little Miss and got settled in.  A few minutes after getting to the house, Little Miss went down for her nap and Grammy decided it was time to head to the store to pick up a few things.

I am very particular in where I put my purse since it has all my id’s and cards, and basically my life.  I grabbed the keys, the shopping list and went to grab my purse.  It was nowhere in sight.  I looked in the car, nothing.  I looked in the laundry room, nothing.  Looked in our room, again, nothing.  I retraced my steps several times.  I asked hubby if he had seen it.  He told me he brought it in and where he put it.  It wasn’t there.  I questioned him over and over, doubting more each time and putting a sudden onset of dementia on him, thinking he just didn’t remember right.

I gave up and just headed to the store, praying that I would not get in an accident or pulled over with no license on my person.  I have never (up to this point in my life) lost a wallet or purse.  I was sick at the thought of having to replace cards and identification.

I made it home without meeting any of the local law enforcement and decided to pull a Scarlett O’Hara, putting my hand to my forehead and saying, “I will think about that tomorrow.”   Replacing the wallet was going to take a back seat to preparing dinner, although I was truly sick thinking about the lost purse.

After putting groceries away, I started to fix dinner, wanting to get it done while Little Miss was sleeping.   I went to get a pan out and there sitting on top of the pans was my pink purse.  Hubby had said that he had placed my purse on the kitchen counter and sure enough he had, within an arm’s reach of a certain three-year old who decided to put the purse up for safe keeping.    I stared at the purse perched on top of the pans and just started to laugh.  Never would I have thought to look there, but, it was there for safe keeping.  I picked up the purse and put it up, out of the reach of a certain Little Miss.   It was a wonderful time and I haven’t laughed that much in a while.IMG_1950

Thanks for stopping by,  Cathi (DAF)

 

 

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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.“

Navy Family…

Military families are a unique group of people.  Separated from biological families, they have to make and become part of a new family with each duty station.  Their children have very little access to their real cousins, aunts, uncles, and even grandparents.  So, in the absence of having blood relations around, family units are formed and the bond is as strong as it would be if you had grown up in your hometown.

As is common in some families, though, there are times where there is little communication and days of not talking can turn into weeks, months and eventually years.  You think of them, you pray for them, but life continues and soon you realize that you have lost touch with them.  Their names are no longer on your Christmas card list, and their birthdays are no longer marked on the calendar.  You have the memories of them, you smile to yourself as you remember the duty station and the things you had in common, but, for the most part, you smile and once more tuck the memories away in the file in your heart labeled (for me) Norfolk, Yokosuka, Nagai, Bangor, Winter Harbor, San Diego.

And then…   your text notification goes off at 2:00 a.m..  My first thought was to ignore it.  My second thought, it may be one of the girls and you panic trying to figure out what happened and if the grand-babies are okay.  The third thought is, ‘Put on your glasses dummy and see who it was” .  So, at 2:05 a.m., I fumble for my glasses, and stumble into the bathroom, turn on the light and bleary-eyed read the text.  It was urgent sounding.  Prayer needed.  No name, just a phone number.    My next thought was, “poor thing.  must be a wrong number since there was no name attached to the text.”   I pray for this person and then the area code sinks into my brain.  I recognize the area code, I used to have this area code.  By now I am mentally awake.  I scroll down and realize it is a different number than the Maine numbers I have.  I pray a bit harder.

I get back to sleep after feeling like I had prayed enough.   It was a group text and honestly, I think people get up way too early on Sundays.  My notifications started to go off at 5:30 a.m..   One after another.  I finally put my phone under my pillow so it wasn’t so annoying, after all, I had my alarm set for 7 a.m.  and I didn’t want to over sleep!

In a nutshell, all of the texts and commotion through the night was for a ‘family’ member from Winter Harbor.  She is ill, and in the hospital.  She was one that had been lost for me.  It was her number that showed up on my phone.  Today I talked with her for the first time in I can’t remember how long.  We laughed and shared memories and prayed together.  It brought a smile to my face.

Then an hour ago, another unidentified phone number showed up on my phone.  I answered and figured it was a sales call.  It was not.  It was someone else that I had lost touch with.  She was part of that family in Winter Harbor.  I recognized her voice, as with family, you do not have to identify yourself when calling.  You know the voice.  Your heart recognizes the voice.  We visited for a short time and the call ended.

In hanging up from that call, I realized that our adopted families are just like our biological families.  We know we are there.  We can call, or choose not to.  We can message, text, write a letter, share a post, or we can decide not to.  But, when there is an event, or an emergency,  family comes together.  We may not be as close as we once were, and we may no longer see eye to eye on everything, but, we will come together to pray, to support, to hold one another up.

I am grateful for my adopted families.  My life has been shaped and formed through knowing them.  My mind and heart are filled with memories shared with them.  When I think of them, I am transported to the housing area that had a perfect view of Mt. Fuji, rice paddies, and yakitori stands.  Or, I am immediately put on the rock-bound coast of Maine, with the sea smell and lobster traps.  Images and smells and sounds of my life.  Littered with snippets of people who have encouraged me, challenged me, supported me and laughed with me.  So, to my siblings that have been on my mind and heart today, Mike, Cindy, Debbie, Dick, Maggie, Jackie, Bob, Susie, Vance, Ruthie, Neil, Rosalee, and so many more, thank you for making me me.  My life has been so blessed by you all.  I love you.  And, to my nieces and nephews,  Janna, Wendy, Cathy, Beth, Dawn, Paige, Kelly, Kevin,  and Aimee, I love you.  You are missed and your young lives made me smile in so many ways, thank you for the blessing of being you.    (Disclaimer: I failed to mention another Vance, who started as an adopted part of family, but became family, as did his mom, dad and sister and he became Little Man’s daddy)

Thanks for dropping by today and for reading my stroll down memory lane.  Cathi (DAF)

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)

Just…WOW!…

As I have written many times, my hubby is a retired Navy man.  He served for almost 21 years and it was a great part of our life together.  I stood by and watched him re-enlist many times and each time I felt such pride well up in me.  There is just something about watching someone raise their hand and promise to protect and defend you.  It is a remarkable thing to experience.

Yesterday hubby and I drove over to Atlanta, GA.   We spent the night there in anticipation of seeing our son-in-law re-enlist in the Navy.  He had the opportunity to do this at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, GA.

This morning we gathered at the aquarium to witness this ceremony.  He was going to re-enlist underwater.  His family gathered together as well as several of his peers who came up from the Navy Dive school.

The entire experience was remarkable.  The facility is the best aquarium I have seen, and I have visited many aquariums.  This is a beautiful place to visit.  If you are ever in the area, go, you won’t be disappointed.

We were given instructions as to the time of the ceremony and at the appointed time we went to a viewing area to see the divers swim into view.  We waved to our son-in-law and took pictures, it was all very exciting.   Then the divers made their way to the area where the re-enlistment ceremony was to take place.

We went into this gallery area that overlooked a large tank filled with fish and sharks and sting rays.  The view was breath-taking.  Then in the distance we saw the divers appear.  This moment took my breath away.  You could see the bubbles from the divers and then you saw these men swimming towards you.  What spoke to me the most is that these men do this for a living.  They do this for this country.  My heart swelled with pride in seeing them in this tank.  These are the heroes of our country.  They protect us on land and in the sea, literally.   Tears fell down my face as I saw these young men having a great time.  The contrast of seeing these men among the fish in that tank.  It was all lit up and you could see everything going on in there, but, these men do this when there is no lit tank and the fish are not used to seeing people in their domain.  They have a dangerous job and they do it willingly.

After a staff member introduced the divers to those assembled in this gallery, our son-in-law took his place along with one of his commanding officers.  They stood at attention and because they were equipped with audio equipment we sat and watched as our son-in-law raised his hand and swore an oath to protect and defend this country.   He did this willingly and without hesitation.  I watched as my daughter, who has been to many of these ceremonies in her life,  beamed with pride as she watched her husband repeat the same words she heard her father say.   We cheered and applauded as he concluded his oath and then stood with pride and tears as a staff member sang our National Anthem.

The day was one that will be etched in my memories.  I am a flag-waving person.  I love my country, but today, I was reminded once more how deep that pride of our country and our military is in me.

For those who have never heard the words of re-enlistment here it is.  Men and women freely and proudly speak these words daily.

The Oath of Enlistment (for enlisted):

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” 

Congratulations dear son-in-law, thank you for your service that you give so freely.  Thank you for allowing us to share in this special day.

Thank you for stopping by my blog,  Cathi (DAF)

 

I can’t be that old…

Last night as I was waiting to go to sleep, I started to think of my oldest daughter.  Her birthday is tomorrow.  Her birthday gets to me each year.  It gets to me because she is getting older and I know that I cannot be old enough to have a daughter her age.

Yes, this is a personal post.  I am truly feeling sorry for myself today.  You see, when I think of my darling daughter, I see her with her Shirley Temple curls falling down her back.  I see her with her tiny tap shoes tapping with her Grandpa, laughing with him.

I see her standing in front of our full length mirror talking to herself.   I see her poking chubby fingers into the side of the crib talking to her ‘seester’.    I see her many ways.

Today, she is the mother of Little Miss.  A good mom.  A partner to a Navy man.  She has done what I have had to do.  Hold down the fort.  Keep the home fires burning.  Take care of the house and it’s occupants.  She does it well.

Yes, I am very proud of her, and yet, with each passing year as I watch her grow in grace and maturity, I feel a bit older.  So, my dear daughter, my first-born, Happy  Birthday!  I am proud to be your Mom, but, this making me feel older has to stop!  I still feel like I am your age, not mine!    I pray your day is filled with the very best.  Laughter with Little Miss and her Daddy and lots of hugs and kisses from them too.  Thanks for being you and for teaching me what motherhood is about.  Love you.

A Time Honored Tradition….

It is almost daylight here.  I sit here wide awake, thoughts flooding my mind.

Hubby, who is in San Diego, texted me about an hour ago asking me to pray for Little Miss’ daddy.  I immediately began to pray.  It was nothing serious, but it was a request given out of love for his future son-in-law and I understood.

I understood because thirty-one years ago tonight I prayed the same prayers for my hubby.

Thirty one years ago tomorrow I was part of a ceremony that hubby and my daughter will take part in tomorrow.

Little Miss’ daddy has been promoted in the Navy.  This is a special promotion, for he will become a Navy Chief.  Technically, it is just another enlisted grade in all the other services, but, in the Navy, it has special meaning.

A Navy Chief is an awesome achievement.  In hubby’s day there was hazing.  A lot of it.  But, it was what made you a chief.  These days the initiation process is different, but, the result is the same.  It is a tiring process, a long process and it wears you down physically, mentally, emotionally.  But, when it is all said and done that is what happens when you are a chief.  You wear many hats and a normal response to most sailors with questions is, “Go ask the Chief”.

Hubby was asked to pin one of the collar devices on his uniform tomorrow.  Our daughter will pin the other device on.  Hubby was honored when he was asked, and, of course he wanted to be there.

Hubby spent the day today with all the new chief selectees.  He stayed there for the entire process, and I know this has forged a bond between hubby and LIttle Miss’ daddy.

So, after praying for him, my mind became overwhelmed with memories and thoughts.  We have almost been out of the Navy longer than we were in now.  Hubby retired at 21 years in service.  That time sped by and was just one chapter of our lives.  But, that chapter was filled with traditions that have always been a part of the U.S. Navy.   I am proud of the time we were part of the Navy.

I have had several texts in the past hour.  The last came from LIttle Miss’ daddy thanking me and telling me to get some sleep.  When I finish this cup of tea and this post I will try to get some sleep.  I will think to myself  something that I taught my girls when they were little and heading to bed.

I see the moon and the moon sees me.  God bless the sailors on the sea.”   Yes, there are still parts of this great country that continues time-honored traditions, and I am proud to have been a part of that.

The third verse of Anchors Aweigh says,

Blue of the mighty deep:
Gold of God’s great sun.
Let these our colors be
Till all of time be done, done, done, done.
On seven seas we learn
Navy’s stern call:
Faith, courage, service true,
With honor, over honor, over all.”

So, I close this post with hearty congratulations to our LIttle Miss’ daddy, you done good kid, thank you for your service.

Thanks for stopping by, DAF

Remembering…

When hubby was towards the end of his Navy career, he attended a course taught by a former Naval pilot.  It was a course that meant  a lot to my hubby, as he was chosen to carry out the subject matter in the course into his command.  He did it well.

When hubby retired from the Navy, he set out to find his next career.  Before he went back to college, he was contacted by the retired Navy pilot. He had watched hubby’s career.  He knew when he was retired.  He offered hubby a place in his consulting business.  He was thrilled that hubby was going to college and told him that they would work around his schedule, but, he definitely wanted him to work with his group.  It was a wonderful venture.  Hubby learned much from this man and a friendship grew.  He was instrumental in introducing hubby to the company that he eventually worked for after graduation.

The pilot’s name was Gerry.  We received a letter today from his wife.  Gerry died in late November.  We saw them before we moved, and in the past two years, we had lost contact with them.  We knew something was wrong.  This year I sent another Christmas card to them and a note expressing our love and concern for them.

The letter today was a short one and a very sad one.  Since then, I have spent my time remembering Gerry and his wife.  They were the most fascinating couple I have ever met.  She is the epitome of graciousness.  She is intelligent and fun to be with.   They owned a sailboat and often in the summer we would get a call to go sailing.  Gerry was older and so, hubby would take over the helm and guide the boat across the water in San Diego.  We would have ‘snacks’ , a bottle of wine, crackers, cheese, fruit.  We would laugh and catch up and talk about Navy life.  Gerry’s wife would recite poetry from memory.  Long poems, beautiful ones.  We would be enthralled.

After sailing, we would head to their home and have dinner.  Take out from a local restaurant.  We would sit on their patio or in their home and we would continue the evening.  The pace was always slow, the conversation quiet, and the laughter, well, it was the way laughter is supposed to be.

I know the next couple of days will be filled with memories of Gerry.  He was one of the best!  A fighter pilot in Viet Nam, a decorated officer, and a true gentleman.  Our lives were enriched in knowing him.  Hubby lost not only a mentor and friend, but also a father figure.  Rest in peace my dear friend.  I look forward to catching up in eternity.     DAF

Frozen in time: memories, root beer floats and brownies

A part of this title is a nod to a wonderful blogger at Life With The Top Down (http://fretym.wordpress.com/) and her post yesterday about a frozen ham.  Great post, but I digress.

The post mentioned above talked about changes in life.  We all have them, we experience them daily for the most part.  Frequently,  we meet changes without any notice, as they are, just a part of life.  There are times, though, where we are hit upside the head with changes and we have to take a step back and go, “WOW!”  Frontwards or backwards, it’s the same, wow!

Last night we had the privilege of hosting a couple we have known for years and years.  I would add another ‘years’ to that, but you get the message.   Our home was a stopover for them on a trip up the eastern coast of this wonderful country.

It was wonderful to see them.  The visit was the usual shot in the arm as we hugged and laughed and teared up a bit.  This couple is just one of a group of us that were all stationed together in a small Maine town in the late 70’s, very early 80’s.  This group has remained close.  We may not be in daily contact, but we keep in touch often.  This group is family.  The dynamic has only occurred once in all of our travels.  We have dear friends, but none compare to the relationship this group has with one another.

In talking last night, we mentioned our ages this year.  The gentleman is turning 69 in a few months.  This was one of those moments I mentioned earlier where it hit my dear hubby upside the head and we went ‘WOW’.  Where did the time go?

This thought was compounded when I looked on a friend’s Facebook page recently and they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.  I wondered how this could be possible as they couldn’t be 50 yet themselves.  Again, people and memories are frozen in time.  We live our lives and we think of those we love and they are ageless,  memories are still current in our thinking.

When planning the menu for this visit, I remembered another friend mentioning how this couple loves their root beer floats.  They had had a chance to visit with each other and there was a strong memory of root beer floats.  So, taking the cue, I made sure that we had floats for dessert.  My dear hubby wanted brownies also.  My brownies, frosted, so I baked them and had them ready.

The floats were a huge success!  The brownies remained untouched.  The chocolate keeps them up at night and so they passed on them.  One more reminder that time had marched on so silently that we did not notice.  Where did the days go where we could gorge ourselves with brownies, floats, and anything else that went along with our cravings?

But, I have to say, although the brownies went untouched, our hearts were warmed and comforted.  We returned to our goofy younger selves several times throughout the evening.  Hints of our youth peeked out at several points in conversation.  Memories were braided together, those from long ago and those we made last night.  The undercurrent present though, was how precious this time was for all of us.  Time is relentless, we have no idea how many times we will be able to meet together and share the laughter and the floats.  We have already lost some of this precious group.  This we do know though, we will all meet again one day and there we will be young, healthy and spend eternity together.  We won’t have to worry about what keeps us up at night, we will just have time to rejoice for having lived.

Thanks for stopping by.  As always,  DAF