Tag Archives: Love

Lifting a Glass…Once Again

We, all, have those days that we mark on our calendars to reflect on something or someone. Whether we do so to honor or simply remember is usually up to each individual to decide upon. As a Nation, even Congress, for their lacking in getting most of what really needs to get done accomplished… they do manage to get a lot of endless resolutions passed like “National Take Your French Poodle To Lunch Day” (Ok, probably not a real resolution but I’ve seen the lists and this one is close.)

Today is a day that has always been a special one in my life and I wanted to share it with you. First by telling you a few interesting things that happened in 1930…

# The first literary character licensing agreement is signed by A.A. Milne, granting Stephen Slesinger U.S. and Canadian merchandising rights to the Winnie-the-Pooh works. ( over 80 years later he’s still a “Tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff.” )

# The first frozen foods of Clarence Birdseye go on sale in Springfield, Massachusetts. ( A good raw steak was replaced by a frozen bag of peas for a black eye)

# Mahatma Gandi set off on his 200 mile protest “Salt March” to the sea.(Truth be known he did a lot more than march in 1930)

# Hostess Twinkies are invented. ( But it will take many years before the pot smoking craze in the 60’s will place them on the lists of harmful addictions)

#The first Soccer World Cup starts. ( Willing to bet that the spectators weren’t as over-zealous back than as they are now)

#Warner Bros. release their first cartoon series called ‘Looney Tunes’ ( They would survive into this century only fall under the Right Wing’s censorship eye.)

#The first night game in organized baseball history takes place in Independence, Kansas. (Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues, carried portable lights around on their team bus.)

#The dedication of George Washington’s head is held at Mount Rushmore. ( The dedication of former President G.W. Bush’s head done in butter will have to wait due to global warming.)

#Judge Joseph Force Crater steps into a taxi in New York and disappears.( the taxi part turned out to be a myth probably brought on by disgruntled bus drivers or subway conductors trying to stifle the taxi industry)

#Betty Boop premiers in the animated film “Dizzy Dishes”. ( Today, I fear she would be banned by the social right as sexist)

#Cecil George Paine, a pathologist in England, achieves the first recorded cure using penicillin. ( Who would of thought how important moldy bread would become.)

#U.S. President Herbert Hoover goes before Congress and asks for a US $150 million public works program to help generate jobs and stimulate the economy. ( There are those who think only President Obama has asked Congress for job money)

#W9XAP in Chicago, Illinois, broadcasts the U.S. senatorial election returns, which is the first time a senatorial race, with non-stop vote tallies, is ever televised. ( And look at what it started)

#The chocolate chip cookie is invented by Ruth Wakefield. (Waistlines were never the same.)

Another less documented but in my eyes equally important event on a day in 1930, a child was born…a male child to a house painter and a church school teacher in Chicago,Illinios.

Right from the start he stood out with a head full of curly almost white hair which would bring him a fifteen minutes of fame moment early in his life. In the first week  of  April, 1932…this 18 month old boy and his mother were taken from a park and detained by the Chicago police for hours until the boy’s father could be found and even then there was panic until he could produce proof of the child’s identity.

A month before in New Jersey, 20-month old Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., was abducted by an intruder from his crib and this child in Chicago very closely resembled the picture on the poster the officers kept waving in the poor woman’s face and the multitudes of dark suits men around her shouting increased the fear and confusion within her.

The woman….my  grandmother.The young child…my father. The story of that day would always eventually be told at every family reunion I attended but it was only at the top of a very long list as my father’s life was a fascinating mixture of this country’s history as well as the ups and downs of everyday life. Though not a rich or famous person, his experiences and life events were woven into a timeline of major conflicts and changes in this country.

In a lot of ways he was a rebel…in as much transition as the nation surrounding him. Restless and wanting, he left school and home at 14. Hitch hiking and rail riding all over the states though he would later complain that the only two states he never managed to make it to Alsaka or Hawaii. He would later describe it to us as his “seemingly endless class trip”.

He enlisted in the Army (took him three tries as he was underage at the time). Luck was on his side because at the time we were engaged in the Korean War and a lot of young men’s true ages were overlooked. He began to grow in the service…getting his much needed schooling and rising in the ranks to Drill Sargent. He admitted that being a short skinny guy made him a bit tougher on those recruits taller and more buff than him but in all honesty he was also taught that being hard on them would make them strong for their roads ahead.

While on leave from Fort Benning,Georgia, He traveled to Atlantic City,NJ where he and a friend were almost run over by a 1951 Chevy fleetline. He fell to the ground …giving the car’s bumper a smack on the way down, giving the illusion that they had hit him. He pretended to be hurt all because they had noticed that the car was being driven by a young girl and her friend.

The courtship was whirlwind to say the least and juicy material for another sharing. For now I will tease you with the fact that they only knew each other for three weeks before they were married.

The war was in full throttle as he tried to do his best with his duties as a drill Sargent but the responsibility of preparing young men for war is not an easy one and news of how many of his trainees were being wounded or killed overseas weighed heavy on him.

He tried to get deployed with one unit that he had become very attached to but a back injury could not be as  easily disguised as his early age was. Many years later I got to meet some of the men that my father had trained and they overwhelming said that it was the skills that he had taught them that pulled them through.

He was stationed in Panama for awhile but my mother wanted more than the Army was giving them and with many regrets he left the service.

Stock car racing…cross-country trucking…even dabbled at honky-tonkin’ down south where he met some interesting fellas just starting out (again tales for another time).He came to settle on being an ace car mechanic, who could listen to an engine for less than a minute and tell you what was wrong with it.He was a king of barters finding ways to provide for his family by loaning out his skills to all that had something to trade. He would work many jobs at one time to keep his growing family taken care of.

Our home was an open door to any one who needed a place to go. My early memories start in Chicago. My father was a Scout leader. A member of more than one community help group. On occasion a police officer might drop by our house with a homeless or runaway teen who they didn’t want to take to jail but needed some guidance that they thought my father could provide and he usually did. A time when there was a much greater sense of caring in our country.

His life stories would be the foundation of his skills as a mentor and father. He was by many standards a quiet man so that when he sat down with a multitude of young eyes and ears surrounding him there was always a tale…always a shared memory that would have a lesson learned or simply evoked a room full of laughter.  I was the most fortunate of all his children to be the closest to him.

Starting in grade school when I would be called to the office because my father was there to take me to a doctor’s appointment. There was no appointment. He would take me to the ball park for a Cubs game or other special places that would later shape me into the person I became. He had a great love of history,music and passing down of family stories.Some of them I found entertaining but hard to believe until later years when much to my amazement I learned that they were for the most part all true. I grew up watching him keep rooms full of people enthralled with his wisdom and charm.

He never called me his favorite instead telling me that he wanted some company and I was the only one that wouldn’t tell on him to Mom.

My sons never got to meet their grandfather as my father died at the young age of 53. He had led an adventure filled life and I receive so much joy in making sure his grandsons know who he was. Sharing him here with you also give me pause to smile and reflect on how truly special this man was.

Today is his birthday and as it has been for the last 33 years since his passing…I keep a bottle of Crown Royal ( his favorite brand) on my desk. It is only opened once a year on this day…in honor and remembrance of a man who did so much for so many…

A man who taught me that life was seldom easy but always interesting…A man who taught me that giving a hand to help another was the greatest feeling on earth…I fear that it is also the most lost lesson in our nation right now.

But that too is for another time…for now, won’t you lift a glass ( with whatever beverage pleases you) and give a small wink skyward in celebration of a very special man…named Owen.   Happy Birthday, Dad.

A Very Thankful Moment

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone….near and far…I have so much to be thankful for this year and I want to thank all those who have had to put up with me and my illness. Especially my sons…I let myself become sicker than I needed to because I was too proud (or stubborn) to accept that I couldn’t take care of things alone. For that I am sorry that I caused a lot of worry amongst so many very wonderful people.

 

I’m also sorry to those who love me that I didn’t let know how sick I had become. I have always been an independent sort of person who doesn’t like not being a bother or burden. Silly I know but after all these years, it’s who I am. But I promise that I will try and do better in the sharing department even if it’s not all rainbows and sunshine.

I am thankful that the spirits that be have let me come this far and given me such wonderful gifts and blessings. I sometimes wonder if I am truly worthy of such blessings.

I am thankful for family…hopeful that the ties that bind us will be strong enough to endure the separations and hardships that many times come between us. My heart is now and forever shall be filled with only the best of thoughts and prayers for each and everyone.

I am thankful that my path brought me to a place where I have been given such wonderful endearing people to work with. I know some of you are here and I am forever grateful that you have allowed me to be a part of your lives. Forever grateful that you,all, have helped me show my sons how much more life is when you are surrounded by caring…nurturing people.

I am thankful for the wisdom to know that we, all, need to cherish each moment and each other…that we can learn so much and pass on so much if we keep an open heart and an open mind. Smiles are contagious…laughter healing…and reaching out will always be better than pushing away.

On this day of Thanksgiving…my hopes and prayers are that the world gets less violent…less greedy…less crazy and that all those I love close their eyes for a moment and think of me because I am sending you all warm hugs and soft kisses. Be well & stay safe

“Why Can’t I Sleep ? “

It’s 3am and I haven’t been able to sleep all night. I gave it a good try more than once but just never seemed to connect with that darn Sandman. 16 years of having to be up at 4 every morning to go to work…6 days a week has programmed me too well . This first week of unemployment started out ok but each day has taken me into an area of uncertainty that I was not prepared for.

I rarely, up till now, have ever even had two days off in a row let alone a whole week. It started out ok. I had decided to take the first few days to get my head together as I knew that I would have to face the fact that I hadn’t had to look for a job in over a decade. I knew that the trend today was towards hiring the younger, less expensive and far more flexible workers…I had worked hard to get to that place in life where I didn’t think I would have to prove my abilities to anyone again but the best laid plans don’t always go the way we want them to.

I decided that a thorough “spring cleaning” would be a great way to start my new path. Unfortunately my sons were not use to such an event as growing up with this single mom who works a lot usually meant weekly chores and lists of “things to do “ posted on the fridge but a long stretched out time frame for getting things done was a factor both my busy sons liked. There I was pulling things out of closets ….rearranging the kitchen…moving furniture…cleaning whole walls and yes, deciding that those walls needed a new coat of paint. My poor sons still trying to grasp the fact that I was home a lot were doing their best to help.

What is it about sons that makes them so protective of their mothers ? I have always been a strong free thinking woman who raised them both with a very close eye even though I did work a lot. I wanted them to be independent as well as have minds of their own. We made it despite quite a few bumps in the road…hell, we made it through some real edge of the cliff stuff but we weathered the storms and kept things together. Neither of them are children anymore, at 16 & 28 they each in their own way are set into a routine of how they like to get things done. Up until now our planned “family time” together consisted of reading, games, watching classic movies and cooking at least one meal a day together (which was usually dinner). I got kisses good night and was off to bed long before either of them because of my early morning hours at work. It was a well ordered mixture of life’s happy moments seasoned with jobs, school and the occasional unplanned events. But they changed towards me when I lost my job.

Now it seems though that they both are worried if I have to sit down after scrubbing for awhile or if they find me just sitting quietly in a chair thinking and you should see the looks I get when I make those all to common I‘m-just-not-young-anymore groans. Yesterday, I will admit to you that I was having a sad moment about not being able to see some of my customers…People who I had taken care of every morning for so many years…My youngest caught me with tears in my eyes …ever since he has made it his mission that no matter what he is doing….he checks on me every ten minutes or so…which I confess was sweet at first but after a whole day of it….does get a bit annoying. Mostly because he doesn’t seem to believe me when I tell him that I’m ok.

My oldest is worried that now that I no longer have insurance that something catastrophic is going to happen to me. I have been battling illness all my life and he knows it but he seems to have forgotten that I was never ashamed about having to go and sit for hours at the free clinic when I had to . My doctors know that I can’t see them for awhile and have let me know that I can still call them with any concerns and have generously made sure I would have the meds I need to get by. I told my sons these things and been as positive as I can be and yet they still hover over me like any second I will fall apart. Both of them at different times have asked me if I wanted them to go with me when I went job hunting. I swear I half expect my oldest to come home and ask me if I need one of those Life-Alert buttons.

I know their concern is out of love for me and I really am so touched and proud of this but as I sit here and write this I realize that it may be one of the reasons I can’t sleep. I do have a lot to sort out . Trying to deal with our finances…finding another job…and still dealing with the loss of a very close and wonderful person in my life. So much to put in their proper places. I have always tried to deal with adversity with a positive attitude . I learned very young that anger and negative thoughts get me nowhere. But so much of my coping is built around thoughtful….quiet reflection and a deep down belief that if I listen hard I can hear my Dad’s voice in my head reassuring me that everything will eventually be ok. He has been gone almost thirty years now but I swear to you …he is still in my head as much as he is in my heart. Other than a few hours here and there my sons have managed to make sure one of them was with me at all times… I do love them so….but we all need our own “Me” time and I think that one of the reasons I couldn’t sleep and keep feeling a lost sort of feeling is because I haven’t had that soul searching….get my head on straight…pick myself up time that moments like this in life require.

Tomorrow is…oops wait it’s 4:30…LOL…today is Sunday…it will be the first Sunday I have had off in years…I think I’m going to take a long walk and find a place to sit and watch the sun come up. The boys are asleep. I’ll leave them a note promising them a big Sunday breakfast when I get back and for them not to worry but I suspect they will anyway.

I let a corporation dictate my life the last few years…I almost forgot that I use to do that myself and pretty well I might add from the awesome way my sons have turned out. Time to look within and find that positive flow again. It’s been a good time spent sharing with you again. I’ll try to do it more often as it really does make me feel more focused. Thanks J

“Time…Distance & Good-byes”

Please forgive me if this comes off as mindless ramble because at this moment I don’t feel as if I have any control over where my head is taking me right now…and yet here I sit in front of my keyboard …looking for answers and yet not even sure what the damn questions are…

Many, many moons ago….my family lived with my mother’s sister and her family…Both sisters were pregnant at the same time and in the icy month of December…I was born and a little over a week later my cousin, Kathy was born. We were together for awhile during those first years. Long enough to develop those character straits that off-set one another. She was tagged the difficult one…hard to handle…bad temper….while I got labeled the adventurous one…easy to deal with…always happy…Ha ! Comparing notes, years later, I had to come to the reality that I was an instigator and a con…getting my poor cousin into trouble and than being so much better at playing innocent.

When our families moved away from each other she and I seemed to be the only ones who kept in touch ….A half a country separated us but we always managed to stay a part of each others lives. We both had to deal with unspeakable horrors as children that we kept secret even from each other until we were well into our middle aged years but despite those buried memories we were as close in all other things as any two people could be. She was there for me when my Dad died…helped keep me sane through my very hard first year of my oldest son’s life. While my family couldn’t deal with my choosing to be a single mom….she was not only supportive but became Godmother to both my sons. We had started out together but took very different paths along the way but we still tried to help keep each other balanced.

I got a phone call over two months ago at 4 o‘clock in the morning, my cousin whose life has been so close entwined with mine was calling me from a hospital….she had been taken to the emergency room and was scared. She was diagnosed with Lupus several years ago and it seemed that every time it was thought to be under control something bad came up…now there was a problem with her throat and she could barely breathe. I had been talking to her regularly and knew that she had been battling colds for the last few weeks but had been going to a doctor for treatment. She had been estranged from her family for a long while and felt like I was the only family she had…there had been many times in the past when I had been the one making the call to her for the same reason. Though many miles were between us, I could feel her pain on the phone that morning …I calmed her as best I could ….took down the information she could give me and she promised to call when there was more to be known from the test they were running…

I felt like a robot going through the motions as I went about that long drawn out day…It was early evening when we connected again…It was hard for her to talk and I’m sure any one of you know how it feels to be on the end of a phone with a loved one who is in pain…..you want so much to be there to put your arms around them and hold them tight but you can’t….you can only listen….It was not good news….the doctor at the hospital had told her that they had found a lump in her throat and that there was a shadow on her lung x-rays that they needed further tests for. They were going to biopsy the lump and take more x-rays of her lungs. She was so very scared and I tried to get her to call her family that lived so much closer than I did but she wanted to wait until she got the results of the tests.

It took several days but we talked every day and the conversation got heated as I could hear her desire to fight whatever was attacking her body this time start to drift away. I found myself yelling into the phone…arguing with her that if the roles were reversed she would not let me give up so easily…she hadn’t even gotten the results yet and she was already talking about checking herself out of the hospital and going home to die…Here I was thousands of miles away …not being able to look into her eyes….not being able to take her hand in mine and assure her that she was not alone and that everything would be ok because an overwhelming panic was beginning to surge inside me…I was telling her hold on….begging her to be strong…but in my heart, I knew that this was not like the other times when she bounced right back.

I got home from work and waited for the boys to get home from school so we could make our call to her that day. Her voice was very horse and barely audible….she wanted me to have the boys leave the room…she wanted to talk to me and didn’t want to upset them but I have always been honest with them and neither were children anymore….they loved this woman as much as they loved me…they let her know it too as I left the speaker phone opened. They had found cancer not only in the lump in her throat but in her lungs as well…they told her it was stage 4 and that there wasn’t very much they could do for her…Again she talked of going home to die…the boys and I once more begged her to fight and accept the doctors plan of treatment. She was quieter through this conversation as it hurt to talk but she did listen and promised she would try.

 Over the course of just a few weeks, she got worse…the Lupus had accelerated everything…the pain was unbearable and our conversations were more and more one-sided…as it got even harder for her to talk. We kept encouraging her to not give up…telling her how much we loved her and how we were trying to make arrangements to come and see her in a few months. This excited her….she loved my boys so much and had not been able to see them in several years. She had difficulties in talking but I swear I could hear more hope in her voice. She finally got in touch with her family and they were now with her. I spoke with my Aunt as much as I could. As dark as it had gotten, in my heart I thought she could pull through.

Then one afternoon the phone rang, it was Kathy, I could barely make out her words but she wanted to tell me that she had tried and that she didn’t want me to be mad at her for not being able to fight it anymore. ME MAD ??? What had I done ??? She was in so much pain…The chemo….the radiation….nothing helped…it only got worse and here she was asking me not to be mad at her for stopping the treatments…What kind of selfish ass had I been ??? There were no words to describe how truly low I felt to be on a phone thousands of miles away from the reality of suffering she was enduring and listen to her ask me if it would be ok if she let go now. I got a chance to tell her how sorry I was for pushing so hard for her to stay with it…Her voice….her words….strangely easy to understand for me during this conversation…The boys were home….so it was just her and me…we talked for over an hour…They were going to move her to a hospice so I couldn’t call her back until they did…She would call me when she had a number. I told her how much I loved her…I reminded her how much her godsons loved her…Right before I hung up I started to cry…Kathy could tell…”I’m ready to go…I’m not afraid anymore…” She whispered to me. Still in denial, I fought back my tears long enough to tell her once more how much I loved her and that I would talk to her soon…. It was our last conversation….they moved her into the hospice but the pain had become so bad that they kept her sedated and within just three days her suffering was over…Her family was with her.

I still am having problems dealing with it. Having lost a father and a younger brother suddenly without warning, I had walked through my days… angry over not being given any time to tell them how much I loved them…not being able to tell them good-bye…With my sweet Kathy, I got to tell her how much she had truly meant to me and how my life would not of been complete with her…You know, it hurts just as much either way…

As I will always think of her…(Kathy’s favorite picture of us)