dearanonymousfriend

Ramblings from a would be writer

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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Family…

A couple of days ago, I had this thought go through my mind.  It was my nephew’s birthday and I was thinking how much I missed him and wished I could just sit and visit with him for a few hours.

I thought about how I should write about family.  Then I didn’t write anything.

Today my cousin shared a photo on Facebook of my mother’s family.  It was a memory that was shared and I looked over all the original comments and read the new ones.  There was a theme across the comments, that all wished we had known them better.

This is what I thought to write about earlier this week.  How, as families, we don’t take the time to learn, listen and get to know one another.

When I start to think about such things there is a hurt in my heart.  It is like being homesick for something unknown.  A hurting to reach out and hug or touch or laugh with someone who is no longer near or close.

I married young.  I lived overseas.  Phone calls were expensive and you just didn’t call.  Letters helped, but those only went so far.  You can write so many pages and then your hand dies, the writing goes weird and you give up.    I can remember writing letters to my aunts and uncles, not often , but through different seasons.  I corresponded with one of my mother’s brothers for several years until he passed.  I got a glimpse into his personality and a bit of what he thought about.  I always looked forward to those letters.  And, then, they were gone.

Another nephew’s birthday is tomorrow.  He is the oldest of the next generation.  I was living overseas when he was born.  I didn’t get the birth announcement until he was almost a month old.  I bonded with him immediately.  My heart sang whenever I would receive a new photo of him.  I didn’t get to see him until he was almost four.

I didn’t get to see my nieces or nephews often.  Living on the west coast prevented us from just dropping in for a visit.  I look back with regret that I didn’t get to see them.  I didn’t get to see school plays or see how they were growing.  But, likewise, they did not get to know me or their cousins, my daughters.

It is true, that military families make their own ‘families’ and this is a huge comfort and help.  I could not manage without my family that are not related through blood.  They have shared in life events that my blood family could not be present for. But, that is another post.

This post is for my family, my sisters, my brother-in-laws, my nephews and my nieces.  I want them to know that with all my heart, I love you.  You have each etched deep within my heart, your own place.  These are the places I hold dear.  They are filled with conversations we have had.  They are filled with photos of your life that you have posted or shared, or on that rare occasion, I have seen.  We may not know everything about each other, but that does not matter.  For, you are my family.  You are my blood relations.  You will always be in my heart, my thoughts and prayers.  I am proud of you.  Your accomplishments make me beam.  Your sorrows prick my heart and I hurt for you.  Your laughter makes me laugh.

I had a brief conversation with my oldest nephew a couple of years ago.  He was rushing to see his nephew.  He said he hated not being closer to him, that he loved him so much and just wanted to be near him.  He was being honest with me and I was able to look him in the eye and tell him I totally understood, for that is how I felt about him.    At that moment we understood each other in a way we had never before experienced.  I think of that moment often.

These thoughts have been on my mind often the past few weeks.  I needed to let my family know how precious they are to me.  It’s good to let those you love know they are loved.  Too often we are preoccupied with our own lives and we forget that family may need to hear from us.  So, to my nieces and nephew who may read this, Yes, I am that old weird aunt that still hugs on you and cries when she sees you, but, I will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS love you and be here for you.  Thank you for making my life so much fuller because of you.

Thanks for stopping by, DAF (Cathi)

 

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Some days just stand out…

Today is September 27th.  September is almost over, October and the rush of the holidays will soon be upon us.

But, today is a day that stands out.  49 years ago today, my Mom died.  I was 11.  It was a rainy fall morning when the alarm went off.  The kind of morning you wish you could just stay in bed and sleep.  My alarm was turned off that morning, by my older sister, whose life had permanently changed just a few hours before.  Turning off the alarm in my younger sisters and my room was just her first act of taking care of us.  She was 15.  Her childhood ended a few hours before, never to be reclaimed.

For years my sisters and I would call or make certain there was a card or letter in the mail on this day.  We remember in detail the day and the things that surrounded this day.  For years, I think we almost dreaded this day, for once the pain and searing hurt had diminished and we were busy with our families, we knew, on this day, we had to remember.  We had to pick open a wound that almost healed.

A few years ago, my older sister once more acted for our good.  She said it was time for us to stop our mourning of this day.  We agreed with her and since, I know we each remember, but, we do not call one another or email and drag up the memories of that day so long ago.

Most of the time now, I think towards the end of the day, what the day is.  My mind will fleetingly go through the events and I sigh, remembering it all.

Today is a day very similar to what the weather was like 49 years ago.  It is a darker, rainy day, one that is perfect to stay cuddled up inside.  My mind noticed the date and I knew I had to write something.

What I now think about is how much my Mom truly did miss celebrating with her girls.  Cancer robbed us of sharing our tears of joy and sorrow with her.  Her daughters all married, had children and two of them have grandchildren.  Her daughters have all outlived her.

Yes, this is a day to remember sadness in my life, but, I am choosing today to think of the abundant blessings I have had.  I am now 60.  I have hugged my daughters during their times of joy.  I have laughed with them.  I have dried their tears.  I have held their newborn children.  I am a woman who is blessed.

Thanks for stopping by today.    DAF

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Sisters…

I am a middle child.  I have stated that before, so it is nothing new.

Yesterday I turned 60.  A milestone for me, and my sisters celebrated me in a great way.  We don’t live near each other.  I am in South Carolina, my older sister is in Illinois, and my younger sister in Maryland.  We don’t see one another enough, and it makes us sad at times.

In the past two weeks I have gotten three boxes of presents from my sisters.  Not a box that holds a single gift, but three boxes that were filled to the brim with gifts.  60 of them, in fact.

When I received my first box, I opened it and read the card on the top.  I texted my sisters to thank them and tell them how blessed I was and how crazy they were to send me a box of presents.  The card was actually signed by both of them.  Their handwriting and seeing that, I cried that they could arrange something like this.  Shortly after texting both of my sisters, my older sister called and told me I was not allowed to open one gift until the 11th.  I told her I would obey, and we continued to talk for several minutes.

She told me not to think that these gifts were going to be earth shattering.  I was just amazed that they had sent me a box of gifts.  It was during that conversation that I found out that there would be two more boxes arriving.  I was overwhelmed.

More presents arrived and I spent a few hours yesterday unwrapping the gifts my sisters sent me.  Some were silly, some were things that made me smile.  I was amazed at how well my sisters knew me.  I laughed and even cried a bit.  I called my older sister while opening some because I knew she would be home, having retired recently.  I waited until after school to call my other sister, since she is a teacher.

The gifts blessed me in many ways.  But, as I have looked them over today several times, I realized that it wasn’t the gifts that blessed me, but the love and the care my sisters gave me.

I am fortunate to have two sisters who care.  They are fun to be with, and yes, we can drive one another crazy, but they are my fiercest defenders and will be there at a moment’s notice if need be.

I smile as I look at a frame that has our names etched into it.  In the center of the frame is a photo taken when my youngest sister was a baby.  She is propped between my older sister and myself.  It occurred to me today that that picture was taken so long ago that it could be considered an antique…. I guess that is what happens when you turn 60, right?

So, thank you my dear sisters, I am so lucky to be between you.  Thanks for stopping by, DAF

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Mother’s Day…

This day is often a combination of thoughts and emotions.  Watching Facebook fill up with photos of everyone and their mother, literally, is wonderful to see.

The memos to mothers who are no longer living are nice to read.   These appear often with my friends, being the age we are.

Mother’s Day is one of those days that is a mixed thing.  Some women love this day.  They are pampered and loved and given the very best  that can be had.  Others, just ignore it.  It is just another day.

I have vacillated between the two.  I have been given gifts and taken to nice brunches.  I have had the wonderful privilege of having the handmade gifts from my school aged daughters.  I loved each homemade flower, and glue soaked cards.  I still have a few of them.  They are precious mementos  of the reason you celebrate this day.  They give me joy in just remembering them.

As I have mentioned often, my mother passed away when I was 11.  I spent many mother day weeks in school coloring pictures while others made cards and gifts for their mothers.  I really disliked this day as a child, and young adult.  I didn’t know how I would feel once I had a child.  It was a day that loomed ominously in front of me.

So, with these feelings, I decided early on in my motherhood, that this day would be spent trying to have a fun day with my girls. Did I always succeed?  No.  But, for a few years we did go to get large ice cream sundaes.  We would take long drives and we would laugh a lot.  They were fun days for me too.  I love hearing my daughters laugh together.

When I approached the decade of my 50’s, I realized that, although I did not have my mother with me, I had someone who did try valiantly to fill her shoes as best she could.  My older sister, who was 15 when my mother died, tried to fill her shoes in many ways.  She cheered my younger sister and I up on our walks to school.  She made certain there were gifts on our birthdays and for Christmas.  She gave her opinion on boys we dated, not that we wanted to hear what she said.  She was there, a constant, a steady voice to me.

Did I appreciate this?  Oh no, I didn’t.  Like I said before, I actually did not realize the role she filled until ten years ago.  This thought hit me like a ton of bricks, to be honest.  This sister of mine, the one who irritated me and frustrated me, she was the one who finished raising me.

So, now, on Mother’s Day, when I see photos of moms and daughters together, I think of my sister.   I am grateful and although it was decades ago, I am glad she was there for me.    So, thank you Dottie.  You are loved.

Thanks for stopping by today, DAF

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Winter Walking…

My mom died in 1966 in the fall.  That winter, walking to school was a chore.  My older sister at the time was a sophomore in high school, my younger sister was in fourth grade and I was in the sixth.

The three of us would walk together until my younger sister and I headed up a hill to our school and my older sister would continue to walk down to the high school.

I remember the walks to school, the early cold mornings, gray, icy, snowy.  I remember some of the conversations along the way.

It wasn’t until recently that I had a conversation with my older sister about those walks.  She mentioned that they were hard times for her.  She wanted to cheer us up as we walked.  She did a good job, since obviously, I don’t remember them being hard except for the cold weather.

One of the things she would do is sing.  The song that reminds me most of those times is ‘California Dreamin’ by the Mammas and the Pappas.  I hear that song today and I am transported to walking to school.  I can picture a bend in the road and I can remember every detail.

It’s amazing to me how music can transport you to times and seasons.  You feel, smell, think and remember with clarity where you were and what you were doing.  How you were feeling and what you were thinking.  I love that!

California Dreamin’ made me want to go to California.  I remember at that young age determining that I would make it one day across the country to that magical state.  I always pictured myself as a single girl in Los Angeles.  Living a glamor filled life and meeting one celebrity after another.

I did make it to California.  My first encounter to the state was San Francisco, where hubby and I spent four days before heading to Japan to live.  I fell in love with that city.  The hills, the water, the food.  I could still eat my way through San Francisco, enjoying each hill and view.

What I didn’t realize in my young dreaming days was that I would live in that magical state for almost 27 years.  It wouldn’t be a glamorous life as a single, but a loving life with children and a husband.  I saw some celebrities through the years and I met a baseball player who struck me dumb and all I could do was nod my head and smile.

While I had many adventures living there, I spend this winter day thankful for being where I am today.  I am thankful for my sister who kept her siblings going forward.  I am thankful for the memories that song gives me, how it ties my youthful past into my recent past.   I am thankful to be once more on the east coast of this great nation.

Music ties you to many things.   Thank you for talking a winter walk through my memories.  DAF

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