My Memory Maker


My mom and me in our backyard

I am not sure why I have such a good memory. I think it may be because of my mom. She made the best memories. I remember things so vividly I can still taste the grape juice she always gave me when I woke up from a nap almost six decades later. I can smell the vanilla she always made such a big deal about us smelling together every time we baked. And I can even still smell the kiln that seemed to always have something in it during her ceramic phase when I was just a tiny little girl.

My mom died yesterday. She was a memory making mom. In turn, a lot of my kid’s memories are because I carried on the ones she made with me. She was a natural born artist as was her sister. My mom was always creating. She made all of my gifts for parties I was invited to, and all of my party favors. The flip side of having a good memory are the regrets you also remember about your own attitudes and the things you wish you’d said or didn’t say. Praying you said thank you enough or apologized for the things that you regret. I don’t think I appreciated not having store bought things to give my friends back then. But years later, my best friend told me that she was jealous of how talented my mom was while she only had store-bought things to give. Funny how as adults, we see things with a different clarity and  appreciate now the little things that truly matter.

When I was in Junior High, my mom began painting and doing art shows and had quite a customer base. Though she had a lot of pain from having polio as a child, she was pretty active. We’d always help her set up her A-frames and sometimes she had every weekend a month scheduled with shows. Funny how now I am doing the same thing as has my daughter. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and my mom planted many fruitful seeds in her life. She had an art room up to the very end that my daughter and my niece made special memories in as kids. My mom loved making memories for them too. Generously sharing her paint and sewing supplies. She was always trying to teach one of us to crochet. And setting up endless little tea parties. But the best seeds she planted were the ones rooted from her faith.

Everyone knew she loved Jesus. She made sure that we all knew Him personally and I have no doubt that the ones that met her when she arrived in heaven ran to greet her to thank her for planting those seeds in their hearts. In regard to Jesus,  my daughter said, that she was His biggest fan. And my son said that out of all the people he knew who’d gone to heaven, he knew without a doubt that his grandma belonged there most. And my cousin said that it was probably a BIG DEAL when she arrived there.  And we are comforted that our moms are together again, there now. She would always say “Take Jesus with you” when we’d leave. I began saying it to my kids when they learned how to drive. It’s just become the thing to say to each other now.

My mom lived a good life. She was 83. She had two great marriages and during her last years, I could not have imagined a more loving caretaker as my dad. Faithfully taking her to what they call the 2 store. Letting her buy whatever she wanted… even if they didn’t need it. Telling us it gave her joy. Because of her polio she had bad memories of being in a hospital. My dad took care of her as she slowly faded all by himself and thanks to the help of our little Amanda who shared her caretaking experience weekly and helped us get Hospice at the very end. My mom never had to go to the hospital. It was bittersweet. I knew that we’d miss her but both my dad and I and my husband prayed that towards the end she would go fast and not suffer long.

My mom was always my soft place to fall all of my life. It was hard when the phone calls stopped. I tried to help as much as I could. Tried to get the last conversations in while she still understood. To fit in all of the thank yous and I’m sorrys as much as possible. And to laugh and remember all of the memories. The last days were filled with visits from her grandkids and great grandchildren and all of her loved ones who gathered to love her one last time. Ironically there was a baptism at their house the day before she died. Her Pastor and his family prayed for her and the next day she went home to the arms of Jesus. And then, probably attended the best party ever.

Goodby mom. I’ll miss you. But because of Jesus and you, I know that we will be together again.

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They Say You Can Never Go Home…


I turned sixty this year and I told my very thoughtful husband and family that I wanted NOTHING. Forty and fifty were over the top costly celebrations and sixty just didn’t make me want to celebrate. Though I know that I am clearly blessed to be celebrating life at all and don’t take that for granted for one minute, I just didn’t want a party. Well, this year, my amazing daughter Brookie, and her Dad concocted an epic surprise for me. She faced timed me, holding tickets to Seattle!!!!

So for the last several weeks I had the most amazing gift to look forward to. You see, Seattle is my happy place. My childhood memories of all my summers all the way to sixteen were gathered there. My cousin Pammy and my grandma were really the glue that made everything so special but for more than half my childhood I knew that come summertime… I had a place to land. A place that made the world go away for a little while and to fall into the arms of a place that held unconditional love for me.

My grandparents lived just blocks away from Lake Washington on Seward Park Avenue. Their house was magical. It sat grandly on top of a hill that overlooked Mercer Island and everything about it was an adventure. I think because my cousin who was a little over two years younger than me, followed my lead and believed everything I said. (I am laughing out loud as I write this.)

My dad was up and coming in his career and had to travel and was transferred several times as I grew up. But he promised my mom he’d always send us home. And he did. I think maybe why I have to have “something” to look forward to now and if I don’t, I think I just realized that I get a little depressed. But there was nothing like looking forward to my Seattle days. I go there in my head now and walk through the rooms of that house when I am sad or just need a “HAPPY PLACE” to escape to for a while. I hadn’t been back for almost two decades. My last visit, my cousin drove me to the house and we walked around it, and as we were leaving met the owner who didn’t seem too impacted by the fact that our grandparents owned their house so never got to go in. And In my furthest dreams, and my most wished for  “check off”  of my bucket list… I never thought I’d ever get to go inside again. But the plan was that we were going to go and knock on the door…. Looking back now, I don’t think any of us thought any further after that.

This is the story of my journey as I truly got to go back home again…. 

This really is just a recount for me, but you are invited if you’d like to come along. I will only share a snippit of all we did because we packed so much more in, I will have to share it all in a few posts…

 Seattle bound!

I hadn’t been on a plane since my cousin and I went to Puerto Vallarta. It was such a blast to be going with my baby and this time she was taking me! Funny, how you start depending on your kids to navigate and find the baggage claim etc… 🙂

Pam surprised me with my cousins Katy and Jill and Katy’s kids that came along after I stopped going on my Seattle Summers and celebrated 60 with me! I was so touched and loved that Brookie loved them so much! It was as if no time had ever come in-between and we’d known each other our whole lives!

The next day…. Pam dubbed as our “Memory Lane” day. We got up early and headed for our old stomping grounds. First the lake that we spent many days sneaking down to…

It was so fun to stand where we used to stand and share the memories with my daughter who’d written that she was excited to have my stories come to life for her. I was so excited for her to see the house but the most I expected were maybe some good photos from afar.

Well guess what??!

THIS is a shot of the INSIDE of my Grandma’s door!!!!!!!

The most angelic lady opened the door and invited us in! Well, let me back track a little…  Pam and Brooke asked “Do you think that we should knock.” And I said “Oh yeah!!!!! I was not missing out on the opportunity. I guess at sixty you can do things like that you know. Anywaaaay, I knocked and my cousin and I kind of stepped back. I think I was thinking “Oh no! Now what?!” But Brooke stepped up and said as eloquently as I wanted to…. “Hello, this is my mom, and her cousin, and their Grandma lived here with their moms.” She invited us in right away. She was exactly my mom’s age and knew about our Grandma from the lady up the street who had lived the last 70+ years of her life taking care of her mom, our Grandma’s best friend Helen, who died a few years ago at 107!

She let us walk through each room. Even up the stairs that were probably the best memory I had of that old house. As we chatted for over an hour, I couldn’t help but feel this grateful emotional wave as inside my head I thought… “I can’t believe that I am standing inside my Grandma’s house with my baby and my cousin!” The two people in the world that could understand how much it meant to me and helped make it happen!

Entrance as you walk in the door (stairs are on the other side of the entry way wall)

            You see the Fireplace as you walk in the door and the kitchen doorway is to it’s right

r    Built in bookcase (view from kitchen) staircase to the left and front door on the other side of the wall with a little view of the sunporch my cousin and I used to sleep in.

Better view of the sun porch from the kitchen

side living room window (on the left as you walk in the door)

My favorite memory! The stairs! We’d sell tickets for our shows we had on that stage! I made my poor cousin perform on the landing as we did our nightly shows! (Since she had the better voice!) As well as other adventures we used to think up, using those stairs as our prop for most of them!

View from one of the upstairs bedroom windows

The above door is the one to leading to the basement. I tried to take a picture of the stairs where my grandpa used to come in after work and hang his pendelton before coming up the stairs. I was a little disappointed with the kitchen. I remember it with all the old fashioned appliances and squeaky “pink” cabinets! PINK?? and it had a bread drawer that always had powdered sugar dounuts in it! Maybe I should have known they’d change the pink cabinets. Smile…

Patty our Angel who lives here alone now since her husband passed away a few years ago.                                                       (Looking out the kitchen window into the magical back yard as she chatted with my baby)

       

The dining room and the built in china cabinet where we used to sneak sugar cubes out of!

      

Front of the card (me when I was little, with a ski mask on photo shopped by my crazy cousin and the beautiful ceramic sugar bowl she handmade for me with two pounds of my own sugar cubes so I would not have to steal them anymore!

The dining room french doors lead out to my grandma’s beautiful back yard.

It is still as magical as I remember it.

 

In Brookie’s card to me she wrote….

” I’m so excited to share this adventure with you & to see all of your stories come to life.”                                                   I am not sure how I ever got so blessed but as I was standing there in the moment… I was so grateful to my daughter and my husband and my cousin and Patty and to God who blessed me with all of the memories that I treasure. And I thought… Sometimes… in those very rare… serendipitous moments when the seconds and minutes all kind of work out just right. You CAN go home sometimes.

Part Two – From the Mother of the Bride’s Perspective


This is “it” I promise…

I will try to keep this short. Though my blog is usually about my life and my reflections of it… this is more of a personal gratitude account for all the people that came through for the last year or so and more recently the biggest event that has happened in a while. My baby’s wedding! This is part two! I will try to get it all in… in one more post.

 (Now continued after Danielle – Part One

Wedding dress shoppingrachelrachel2Continuing with Rachel (The Maid of Honor)

I knew that when Rachel came along that she would be Brooke’s “Jody”. Fun and caring and honest and real. With Danielle, the two of them planned one of the rocking-est bachelorette parties I have ever heard of. Rachel was there from the beginning. From trying on the first wedding dresses to helping set up many of the events, she has been there through it all! I have never felt such sister love! They truly care about each other in the most honest kind of way. So happy they have each other forever!bridesmaidsThe Brides Maids…

makeupBrooke has a new sis! And her name IS also Brooke! And she is an amazing addition to my Brooke’s life! She gifted her the make up for the rehearsal pics & the wedding day! And also assisted some of the brides maids! I was so touched as she worked effortlessly and created flawless beauty! We are all blessed in this combining family thing! We all get along! And love each other!

shower fun

Karyn is the one on the right by the door… I claim her! When we were sitting waiting for our financial meetings  at AADA we started talking cuz their last names were next to each other, by the end, I kind of jokingly and kind of seriously, asked her if she would watch over my baby since she’d been in LA a few weeks longer than Brooke and had the most nurturing old soul type of personality in someone so young! Well, she obviously took that job seriously because she is in her wedding almost a decade later! Can I pick em or what?!

Kimmy (of the three in the middle of the pic above) is the one on the left. I’d been hearing such sweet stories about Kimmy for a few years. I knew she was special but had not met her until at the brunch Brooke threw  as a pre- thank you for her bridal party and invited Jody and I! And she did not disappoint. Love her!

Anne (in the middle of Kimmy & Karyn) is a newer friend to me. But also one that I’ve heard so many great stories about –  so that she has also been cemented into my mother’s heart as special friends that make my baby happy!

They all were amazing throughout the process, sitting on the floor at the coffee table gluing and cutting invitations and showing up to all the events. I was impressed with her girls. They all came through with loyal and undying love! They were truly the best bridesmaids in the world! From designing the wedding dress, to running back to town from the cabin to pick up the Rehearsal dinner soup! To setting up tables and chairs and doing dishes. These girls were the BEST!

lars

Lars was the Coordinator, setting up and taking down, it was soooo amazing to have him and Steph as a very amazing presence steph dj               (Am I saying that word too much?) Not sure how else to describe it! Cuzzzz Steph was one of the best and most amazing DJ’s around! I don’t think any of us expected such a professional job! They worked tirelessly through out the event. Hardly stopping! And the groom’s men were also great! Unloading the hay and tables and chairs and helping where ever they could! Amazing ~ friends and family all made such an epic team!

ChrisChris was awesome. Tirelessly catching every moment.                                                       Starting on Friday to the Father of the Daughter Dance the next night. He worked so hard catching the magic and it did not go unnoticed! And Kevin, Oh my. Brooke and Chase sure had some of the most talented people in the industry at this special event! What an accumulation of magic!

kevinKevin singing the First Dance song

And Jared. What can I say? He and Danielle went and picked up and hauled the tables and chairs and bales of hay to and from the site. I love this guy! And I might mention he is one of the greatest dads I know!

jaredceremony site

And Chadly! I’ve never been so proud!! He drove back and forth everyday and showed up looking so handsome with his amazing family! To walk me down the aisle and be there for his sister. He even helped me cook the next day brunch! (And was the muscles behind getting Jim up from the hay seat, a few times!) I love him to the moon and back!

Chad and SophieChad walking me down the aisleflower girls                                    And Amanda. “LOVE her!” Thank Goodness she was there to walk the flower girls down the aisle!

mod_1467043719216And Grandpa! What can I say? We almost lost him a few years ago. He was the perfect choice to officiate! You would have thought that this was his millionth wedding! So eloquent and amazing. Every word was blessed!

 

darwinsFather of the Groom and newest addition to the family besides Brooke!                                                              A few of the  Darwins…..          &…       This little guy… the newest addition to the family!                                             Can you say love?

And Chase’s family! Where do I start? His parents could not have been more amazing. Rolling up their sleeves and helping make everything perfect.

Setting up and cleaning and welcoming us into their family! Tate, Chase’s brother and Arlene his mom, and I especially bonded as they created the most amazing slideshow of Brooke & Chase! I learned a lot about technology and Tate was ever so patient as I fumbled along, trying to contribute all the photos  from Brookie’s life this far! (Unfortunately I don’t have more photos that I have permission to share here… but they are amazing!)

dar 2Brookie's Grandma and MamaMy mother in law and me! Isn’t she beautiful? And an amazing Grandma! Generous and kind and the Matriarch of our family! I love her! And so does Brookie!

JasmineJasmine showing us how to take a picture! Taking pics of my oldest granddaughter Jasmine… When she said…. “Here, Grandma I will show you how to take a picture!” Jody and me and Jas! Lots of loving!

And for all you praying for Jim and his bum knee! I saved the best for last! He was able to walk his baby down the aisle! He gave the most amazing speech and even danced the Father Daughter Dance!

walking our baby down the aisleJim and Brookie baby

She may have been holding him up this time around…

father daughter dance4

You will have to wait for the ceremony…..( I didn’t take any of that in honor of their wishes) I am letting them post those when they get them from their professional photographer. But that’s it for now…  Thank you to all my readers for letting me share here! And thank you to everyone who drove to this destination. That alone was a labor of love!

k and sKeith and Sarah…. Family love!

pinning on the groom's boutineereAnd now I just close by saying May God Bless this couple for many years with lots of love and health and happiness and great success! And together may they make a difference in this world and… live happily ever after!

The end…

(or until the next photo opportunity! :p )

bridal bouquet

I Will Always Remember You


 

 

daddy playing the guitar to me

I am blessed to have the dads in my life that I do. We celebrated them today. And I am so grateful for them both. Having said that, I am not sure why this year was especially tough for me. It started out looking for cards. Funny because as a greeting card creator, I usually have taken on that task myself. But my daughter is getting married next Saturday!! And my plate is pretty full. Though I did manage to throw a little BBQ  in honor of our dads, I just couldn’t shake the one that was missing.

You see my dad died at 51 jogging around the block. It is funny to think that he was younger than I am now. Just a few weeks after Father’s Day thirty-four years ago. You would think that the missing him would subside. But it never does. If I think about it long enough, I usually can fall to pieces, at least inside. Like looking for cards. I found some pretty good ones this year. But I had to put back the ones about carrying me and putting band aids on my knee and being there to watch me grow up as I silently whispered…”Daddy I haven’t forgotten you, thank you.”

I remember the long talks and the Saturday drives, You being the one to take me school clothes shopping every year and going to the top floor of your office building so you could make Snoopy Calendars for me and my friends. And you telling me that someday all the disk drives that filled that floor would someday, maybe even in my lifetime, fit on one desk and maybe even in my hand! Oh how I wish you could see just how much your predictions all came to pass.

I remember loving to make you laugh and wanting to show you first when I got an A or learned something new. I remember you loved to read my poems and said you thought I had something special. Sometimes I wonder what you would think of me and I have a million things I want to tell you and a million more I want to ask. All I can say is thank you for being there when I needed you most, whether to just sit there with me through a broken heart,  telling me that I hadn’t even met anyone who deserved me yet, but I would.  And being so happy for me when I was happy again.

You were such a great grandpa for such a short time. But you showered your new grandson with such love. And I have a feeling that you hand picked my baby girl for me from up there in heaven. As I looked through all the pictures to go back and find ones of us. I watched as a whole lifetime passed me by. You missed so much. It isn’t fair…. that the good ones die too young.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy. I will always remember you.

daddy playing the guitar to me

My Dad singing … “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” (For those born after the sixties, it was a commercial jingle. He was always a funny guy. The hole still is raw if I stay there too long. Today,  I just had to wander back. I am sure there are many that stood in front of the cards this year and remembered too… That the good die young.

To My Valentine


Love is a funny thing. It is a little like magic. The beginning is like a drug. You can’t get enough of. You can’t wait to see each other, and you want to squeeze in every minute. You never can imagine fighting or disagreeing about anything. And you are on your very best behavior. You dream big and you have a whole story written in your head of how life will be.

And then… slowly you relax and life happens. Bills and kids, sometimes health and jobs  all wrestle for a slot in the daily pages of the life that you planned to write. Sometimes even imperfections and failures of one another nudge their way in and well… “Hey wait a minute!” You think… “This wasn’t in the rough draft in my head!”

Some of us trudge on, some of us check out. Some of us muddle through and are rewarded. I am one of the blessed ones. My husband stuck it out with me. I have not been the easiest person to love at times. (I KNOW, shocker, huh?) Oh and yeah, I still have plans for that story… The best is yet to be!

So Babe this ones for you…

Happy Valentines Day Jimmy!

hugging kids

I remember when I met you

my heart fluttered like a little kid

No butterflies have ever quite felt

the way those first ones did

But over the years I’ve come to realize

and truly understand

that no one in this old world

can love me exactly as you can

For love is not just the way  you feel

When you first fall in love

It’s hanging in and pressing on

even when there’s not enough

It’s fighting and forgiving

and being able to “never mind”

That makes me know I want you

To always be my Valentine!

heartssss

Diane Reed

2016©

Being Strong


Brenden and Chad Muslemen

It’s not about muscles that make people think we’re strong,

it’s not about the faults of other’s that makes you the one not wrong,

it’s not about the things we do so that others see them too,

It’s more in our transparency that gives us each  a better view.

 boy looking out window

It’s when I’ve seen the strongest man bend down upon his knees

to wipe the tears from a child’s eyes as he listens to his pleas,

it’s when he stops to hold a stranger’s door even when he’s in a hurry

or calls his wife each time he’s late, knowing that she might be worried.

upset

It’s when he brings her flowers home for really no reason at all,

flowers

it’s when he’s kneeling in prayer that makes him seem so tall.

kneeling man at sunset

All these things show more strength than any winner of a fight,

for strength is in the example of always trying to do what’s right.

Someday we’ll all look back and see things from a different point of view

we’ll see the things we did and the things we wished we didn’t do,

little crying boy

we’ll wonder why we were stubborn and just couldn’t let things go,

we’ll each learn different things about ourselves we wish that we had known.

Jesus looking back

We all will someday end up at the same place of awakening

where we each  meet our Maker, at a time when our heart is breaking,

where we fall upon our knees, realizing where we did it wrong,

and in that moment of weakness it is then we’ll be most strong.

Diane Reed

2013

mans praying hands

Our Blogging Neighborhood


I know that I’ve written about this before. But I just can’t get over the connection I have with some of you.  When I started blogging, I was pretty much doing it for me. A place to store my rambilings and perhaps share some of it with my close friends. But then… Oh and then…  something magical happened.

You guys did!

Thank you for happening to me!

neighborhood at the bridge neighborhood at dusk

I used to pick up my pen to write

when I was there, at my desk alone.

I would write and then re-read

and my feedback was  my own.

WRITER BLACK AND WHITEmy storywriting in the windowseattypewriterwriter

But somehow through the scheme of things

I opened another door

door

and all at once you guys came in

and I was not alone there anymore!

followers on blog

Somehow we’ve formed a village,

a neighborhood of those who understand.

neighborhood

Some of you are not too far away,

and some are in other lands.

But somehow through our passion,

through our need to feel heard;

we all have connected

through our love of the written word!

Diane Reed

2013

This was my reply to the first comment that came in…

(It fit perfectly for the way that I feel about many of you… I thought I’d cut and paste it and add it in the actual post so you understand just how important you have all become to me and how much I appreciate you!) 😉

I am so glad to have met you as well! YOU were one of the ones that inspired this. Some come and go and then come back into each of our lives. No guilt trips or expectations. Just glad to see ya when you’re here and miss you when your not. But thrilled to reconnect with those who haven’t been around a while and excited to make new friends here each day, who I might find that connection with… and when it happens… it is like magic!
I don’t need to ask anyone to read my blog or what they think… I have you all who do that for me. I loved one of the pictures here with the lights all on at night. I can just see us all inside one of those lit windows blogging away or writing our words. Regardless of where we are, in what town, in what country…. our hearts are strung together with our understanding of how important our words are!

                                                                                    Thank you!

Empty Nests… Letting the first one go…


This is the time of year…

empty birds nest

We are trying not to count the days. We know it is coming up. We are trying to be happy. And yet it is extremely hard.

I remember when my son left home. It was his Senior Year. It was a crazy time for us to move and yet it happened. I remember always shaking my head when I’d hear stories of parents uprooting their kids from their last years of High School and yet we found ourselves in that same position. I was not ready. He was not ready. And yet it is a choice I made and will always look back and wonder about. In the end, he moved in with his dad. I am glad because his dad is gone now and it was a great bonding time for them that my son will always cherish. And yet as a mom who was pretty over protective all of his young life, I had to let go, knowing for the most part, that the supervision would not be identical. In fact, it was pretty non existent. I am pretty sure all curfews flew out the window along with my baby bird!

I remember once my son calling me and telling me that one of his dad’s room mate’s had brought home Jack In The Box for everyone but him. I am sure there was food in the house and he was not going to starve and that there may have been a good reason for leaving him out… mainly his attitude which has always been a bit challenging… Smile… But I can’t imagine his father partaking in the food while our son sat watching. Though I “get” that I was not privy to the full picture. As a mother missing her baby you can imagine my heart. So I began sending care packages.

care package

Sure I could have sent money and saved the shipping, but I found joy in choosing his favorite things and “knowing” he’d be fed. I don’t doubt that my ex was supplying the basic needs but not the hugs from his mom and so I sent those packages pretty regularly. Until I was asked not to.

One day I got a phone call asking me to “stop” (sending the packages) by my ex. He said, “Diane, you are not helping.” I will never forget how hard it was. I understood that my son was actually 18 by that time, had a job and was living rent free so just had to pay for his gas and food. My ex had moved out of his parent’s house his senior year, and  I know that he just wanted our son to grow up and learn about life the way he had to. It was a love thing. He wasn’t trying to be mean. But it was hard for him to understand my “mother’s heart” and that the thought of my baby being cold or sad or going hungry for even just one minute was hard for me. Okay well maybe I wasn’t that bad but  I did want to confront him about that Jack In The Box incident but I didn’t want to betray my son. And I wanted to tell my son that it was his dad who was making me stop sending the care packages but I could not betray his dad.

box open

It seemed as if everytime I turned around that year, I’d see a little boy that reminded me of my son. I missed him so much. But I knew that he wasn’t that little boy anymore. He was all grown up and I needed to let go.

Chad's first day of school

 

I guess I actually was glad that his dad taught him the hard lessons that I couldn’t.

I’ve shared this poem before here but it is one that I wrote right before my first baby bird tumbled out of my nest… This one is for all the moms having to let go this year as their baby birds fly off to school or where ever it might be. I understand and feel for you all. And I am here to tell you that you will survive! My son did! He has his own business and a beautiful family. Letting go isn’t always easy, nor is letting our baby birds fall out of the sky sometimes… but if we let them… experience the highs and the lows… someday they will learn to soar and that is enough hope for me. (This poem is also for the young moms who can’t wait for school to start and need a little reminder…  of just how FAST it all flies by!)

SON

 Seems like only  yesterday I held you in my arms

Oh how you swept me away with all your baby charms.

The days just flew by quickly, soon you began to talk

and then a little later, you began to walk….

“Mommy will you cross me? I want to go and play.”

Oh those words ring sweetly, now seem like yesterday.

The years have swiftly passed,

don’t know where they’ve all gone,

And when you cross the street now,

 you don’t need to call your mom.

It has happened right in front of me, before my very eyes…

packed away, your faded jeans, one of every size…

Teddy bears and old match box cars,

all packed with loving care,

boxes son

baseball cards and folded notes of secrets that you shared.

I sit amongst the boxes recalling our memories all alone

and realize that baby, once in my arms,

 is now fully grown~

boxes

And silently I wonder through a mixture of joy and tears…

Did I truly show how much I loved you

through  those tender years?

Sometimes it’s hard when you’re the mom

to make your child understand

just how VERY  proud she is when he becomes a man!

Diane Reed

1997

teddy in box

Thirty Years Ago Today…


album daddy and friends

My Dad is the one squatting with all his friends surrounding him It is crazy how much my son looks like him here.

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My dad used to always play the guitar and sing to me…. I think he knew all of five songs! One of them was: “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should” from the commerical. He used to tease me all the time.

daddyMy dad and me 50 years ago ~

He never felt comfortable going to church or getting his pictures taken… You can tell he wasn’t too thrilled here.

I do remember he came to church when I got Baptized. After he died I prayed for God to give me a peace about knowing he was indeed saved and with The Lord… and at that very moment I found the sweetest letter my dad had written in the Air Force about God to my mom. Isn’t God great?!

DADDY & ME

My dad and I at the County Fair

WEDDING DAY WITH MY MOM & DADDYI was so happy here… little did I know I’d lose my dad only five years later…

I remember getting the phone call  on the day that my dad died. It was that kind of surreal unexpected horrific “Kennedy moment” that I will never forget. Heart attacks are like that. They are filled with unsaid goodbyes and conversations that ache to be finished even three decades later. The one thing that I will always have is the way that my Daddy loved my writing. He always encouraged it and believed in me. One of his last letters to me mentioned it and in the end, written words from me were my last connection with him.

My dad died July 9, 1983. My son had just turned 3 and barely had a chance to know his papa but I remember how tickled my dad was when he taught him to play pacman and his 3 year old grandson got to BABY PACMAN! And I am so that he never got to meet my daughter who was not yet born, though I do have an inkling that he might have hand chosen her in heaven if God lets dads do that kind of thing! There was just so many things I still wanted to say to my dad but it was too late. Today it is funny to think that I am now older than my dad was when he died. You’d think I would have learned the life lesson about goodbyes and always doing it in love. I guess that may be the reason that I tend to try to say “I love you” every time I say goodbye now.

I’d been a Daddy’s girl as I was growing up.  He was the one who used to take me shopping for school clothes every year. It is strange now but I don’t remember my mom ever going clothes shopping with me. I guess because it was OUR thing, my daddy’s and mine. We had a great relationship.  He was the one I’d talk to about boys and the one in my life that I cared most about  not disappointing or always wanting to make him proud. He had the kind of quiet integrity that in the end, filled up the chapel to standing room only where his services were held.

When our Pastor asked us if there was something I’d like him to talk about regarding my dad, I remembered that I’d written him a Father’s Day card a few weeks earlier. So I ran up to see if I could find it. Sure enough he’d saved it in the drawer by his bedside. I will always be grateful that I had the chance to give him this last message….  I know he didn’t just read it once. It still comforts me that I know he knew even without a poem. But in memory of today and him I wanted to share it with “YOU”  my friends here today. This one is for you Daddy!

No one could ever fill the shoes I once put over mine,

lost within your slippers, my feet were hard to find.

Yes, your overwhelming presence was felt within your shoes…

A feeling so great, though I’m grown, I know I’ll never lose.

Each night when you’d walk in the door from working hard all day,

a security would fill me up and push all my cares away.

And though I’m now a mother with a small one of my own

I’ll always look back upon the days before I was fully grown…

And when I’m with him on the beach, sometimes it brings to mind

stepping within your footprints as I’d follow close behind

I pray that now that I’m the one followed by little feet

I’ll leave half the footprints I found within your feet.

Diane Griffin

1983

Saying Goodbye to Best Friends…


When I was a little girl you became my second mom

I’d spend the night at your house and we’d talk till well past dawn

Your daughters were my best friends I was friends with them all

but later in life, when we grew up, it was “you” who I’d call…

Oh Lucy, how I dreaded the call I got today. So many memories flood my heart as I write this. You were always my soft place to fall, my advisor, my confidant, my constant. So consistent in my life. Always just a phone call away. Opening up your home for me to live with you guys when I was younger and then for visits whenever I could get away. I grew to love you like my own family. I smile as I think about our late night chats as Bob would call down “Lucille!” And you would tell him you’d be right up and then two hours would have passed as you stayed to chat some more. I loved your stories. Some of them were life changing for me. Some molded my life in ways that made me into who I am today.

When you found the Lord, you were so on fire. And that fire never went out. I could come for a visit or pick up the phone and you were just as in love with your Lord as you were on the first day you really found HIM. Even our last phone call was all about HIM. And I am so confident that in my own selfish sadness (please bear with me while I catch my breath realizing that you won’t be here for me anymore) I know you are so happy, free from pain in your wonderful Savior’s arms. But in the meantime I need to adjust knowing that I won’t ever hear again your wonderful voice and the joy you always seemed to have in it when you would hear it was me on the other end….

I’d hear…. “Oh helloooo baby, or Diane-eeee or Darling” You always made me feel that you were soooo happy to hear from me in a way I don’t think anyone ever has before. And I’ll miss that.

I am so glad that I got to bring my baby for a visit a couple of years ago. She remembered visiting you as a little girl but it had been too long. It was quite an adventure getting to your wonderful *mansion* in the dark up on the hill in Fallbrook…. *funny the memories little kids have*… I remember as you were building it and going with you to pick out wallpapers for ALL those  bathrooms and the tile for the pool. I will always cherish memories of that wonderful house you made into a home. It looked so much the same as I remember the last time we visited… another constant in my life.       Sooo much more than just that house, you were the one who never changed. And on the way home from our visit Brookie said; “Thank you Mama for making me go with you. I love her too.”

Oh Lucy, what am I going to do without you as my soft place to fall? You have left quite a legacy in your path… so many lives you have touched. You will be missed. But you are home now. Heaven must be so wonderful for you. So many people who you have touched, waiting in line to greet and thank you! Save a place for me! I love you!

 LUCY

Click on the song below to understand WHO Lucy has been in this lifetime to me!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6j_YpZQi-I4

Checking IN!


babies oh mine!

Just minutes after Sophie was born with her Auntie Brookie

It all started here…. The day my granddaughter was born… the day I seemed to get all caught up in everything…

Life keeps moving fast and from the everyday stuff, work and keeping up with it all I have let my blog take a powder for a bit. Thank you for those of you who have checked up on me! I love you guys! Seems as if I was going strong… working on my book with my friend Deb and networking and building relationships with everyone here and then slowly life happened. But I will be back full force soon! After next week, my next schedule isn’t quite as slammed so I will have more time to write. But in the meantime, I didn’t want you guys to think I was flaking out here!!

I’ve been out of town and back and forth and leaving again this weekend after work. My husband has been trying to get their business up and running with his dad (LOTS of prayers needed on that one please!) And I haven’t seen him for almost a month except maybe one day or so here and there, so it will be nice to catch up with him! But in the meantime… I don’t even have a poem or anything… Just some pictures for ya!

My daughter was up here for a few days and brought her new investment! A wonderful camera that she purchased with Chase so that they could partner up with projects they have going instead of waiting for filmmakers to fit them in…. and I have found her to have quite an eye as she has captured her brother’s sweet little new family as they posed for her. Thought I’d share a few shots with ya as I work on my next post that is long over due!

Love you all! Thanks for your patience!

Introducing our wonderful Sophia with her wonderful Mama Amanda

Mommy kissing me all the time!

And my son…Tough Guy Chadly who really is a softy when it comes to his babygirl Sophie!

Chad Kissing Sophia

With his other sweet girl Jasmine! (Where does time go?)

Jaz and Dad

Who he thinks he needs to always teach to be tough  (“Ahhh come on dad, give me a break!”)

Jaz and Daddd

And our wonderful new little grandson Brenden ~ to whom Chad has already started teaching about the importance of muscles to!

Brenden and Chad Muslemen

Daddy is even telling Sophie about all the important things he wants her to know about!

Talking to Daddy

Such a sweet family!

Amanda's fam

Funny how babies have a way of softening even the tough guys!

Anywaaay, that is my update! Thanks for walking through my little Grandma Brag Book! Thanks Brookie for capturing them all!

xoxo

“me”

Honey Girl


Sorry that I have not been around lately! I’ve had a busy week! I always take my birthday off if it falls on a workday. That is my gift to me. But that didn’t stop my sweet friends at work from remembering me!

river oaks birthda

I am so blessed!

And then my daughter surprised me. I had planned on having a quiet birthday at home. My husband’s birthday is the day before mine and we just happened to be expecting our second granddaughter around the same time. And so Brookie called and said that she had taken the week off to come and celebrate our birthdays and hopefully be here when her brand new niece was born. So she spent the day with her dad. She made him breakfast and then they hung out all day until I got off. They went to Parkfield and ate at the James Dean little diner on the way home.

The next day I woke up to bustling in the kitchen and she made me a delicious vegan birthday breakfast.

brookie's breakfast

And baked me a delicious vegan cake!

brookie birthday to me

Did I raise the most thoughtful offspring or what?!

I was born on my grandma’s birthday. We always had a special relationship. There is just something very unique about sharing the same day we were both born.  Over the years, I learned to appreciate our bond more and more. She called me “Honey Girl” That was her name for me. Even into my thirties, I would call her and I can’t explain just how wonderful it felt hearing her greeting “Well, hello Honey Girl”. She always sounded so happy to hear from me. I miss her more than I ever could imagine. Sometimes I still feel the urge to call her  when I need a soft place to fall or just to hear her sweet voice say “Well hello Honey Girl.”

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This year I got a wonderful birthday present! My 2nd granddaughter was born! And you guessed it! On my birthday!

Randy with our babyChad and Sophia1 (2)

My Son and his Daddy                                                  My Son and his new daughter

baby sophia and auntie brookieAuntie Brookie and

My Baby and her new niece

(I had to respect Sophia’s sweet Mama’s wishes to not be photographed quite yet~ But she is beautiful too!)

I pray that baby Sophia and I have the same special relationship that my grammy and I had! I have a new Honey Girl. I never realized that name meant so much to me until now. But I think I just may pass it down again…

brookie's cake

So this year I say…

Happy Birthday Grandma and Happy Birthday Sophia Oh Honey Girl of mine!

I wonder if my Grandma had something to do with the date from up there in heaven?

Do ya think?

*wink*wink*

You Did


At the risk of sounding like an old country song… this one’s for my husband… I’m proud of you babe! I BELIEVE in you!  I miss you!

This one’s for you……..

church pew

Went to church with a broken heart and two kids,

wondering if anyone would ever love me again

and then you did.

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Saw you up there in the front,  leading songs,

my heart beat a little faster after that first date we went on.

Seems so long ago since those days when we first met,

if I’d been a gambler, I might not have taken that bet.

crying in the sand

And yet twenty years later we seem to have survived,

Rose in the woods 1

in-between lots of heart break our love’s still alive!

Wedding Garter

I’ve become a grandma

and you…

a Papa to our kid’s kids.

Auntie me

grandpa and jas

After I thought no one would love me again…

holding hands

 you did.

~~~~~

Diane Reed

2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAR!


img261img266DAR YOUNG GIRL COLOR

 (My Mother In-Law)

When I was a little girl, I imagined so many things…

Constantly wondering what my life might bring~

Who I would love and share my life with

Who I would marry, and if I’d have  kids~

window seat girl

Well, life happened differently far from my dreams,

Happy endings are not what they all seem.

I was hurt by my life by the time I met you,

and it was hard for anyone to really get through.

engaged girl crying

But you were so patient and forgave many times,

and finally we bonded through the years like fine wine~

Today I have regrets over the time that I wasted,

like a lifetime of chocolate all left untasted!

chocolate

Your wisdom and experience is hard to compare,

and the way that you love, is so very rare~

Bible

You have lived your life like a fine work of art,

but even more, is the beauty I’ve found in your heart~

holding child's hands

You’ve been an amazing grandma through all the years

thinking of your love, just brings me to tears~

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And today, as I stop to realize… everything in the end….

The mother in law I imagined once, is now one of my best friends!

mother in law quote

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAR!

I love you!

DAR & ME IN MY KITCHEN

Happy 25th Birthday To My Brookie Baby!


Brookie's shower

Can it be twenty five years ago that you came into this world,

My sweet little blue eyed precious baby girl?

You captured my heart from the moment we met!

The first time I held you… well, I will never forget.

Brookie Baby pointing

You overwhelmed me with love at the very start

and through the years you have captured my heart

You have made me laugh and entertained us from the beginning

With you in our lives we were constantly grinning

Brookie Baby snorting

You’ve taken on life with all of your might

When you take on a project you fight the good fight

You finish it through to the very end

And then you get up to do it all over again

Brookie played till she dropped!

You have a way of holding our hearts in the palm of your  hand

And when you believe in something, you take a firm stand

Your beauty has been evident from the very start

But what I am most proud of… is what’s in your heart!

photos 006

As a mama I could count all the things you have done,

counting to a thousand naming them each, one by one~

but it’s not just your talents  or the way that you shine,

even though I’m constantly  boasting;   the fact that you’re mine…

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It’s inside your heart and the faith that we share,

it’s the way that your joy makes you cry when you care~

It’s your kindness and love that you have towards others,

That makes me so proud that I am your mother!

Brookie and Jas

And so as I sift  through the memories today,

trying to wish you Happy Birthday in “our” own little way~

I marvel at it all, for I know, in the end,

Twenty five years ago, I made my very own Best Friend!

IMAG0507

Happy Birthday Brookie Baby!

Yore Mama Loves You!!!!

Brookie and PapaBrookie Blue eyesimg050Brookie Baby bathtimePUB 1img071Brookie & Britney on the swings

Brookie at her Daddy's company picnic01p019Brookester and ChadlyBROOKIE IN APPLE DRESS BEING A GOOD SPORT... SHE HATED THIS DRESS!

img172File003501p065Brookie braids01p039File0042Jim and Brookie baby

img234img065Brookie and her mamaBrookie fishing with Dad and GrandpaBrookie and her daddy with baby JasFile0025Copy of brooke and danielle1BROOKIE SENIOR PIC6flags! 006DSCN0854img2175-1-20106-47-46PMbrookieeee05401p099Brookie and her dadbrookie's indiebrookie

Hey, Brookie,

I just wanted to thank you for being my kid, my hero, my advisor and my very best friend.

You inspire me. You make me want to be better. I am so proud of your accomplishments!

Today, I just have to stop and breathe and realize that God protected you on that day of the earthquake so many years ago, (can it be almost ten?)  as

angels gathered around the place where you stood as our store was crunched  along with the car where you asked to wait in.

We can’t not believe! He has great things in store for you! I BELIEVE that you are going to change the world! Perhaps just one by one in the people

near you or in a much bigger way than we can even imagine. It was so hard to let you go, five years ago when you left our little town to go find your

dream. But you are doing it! Just like that little girl who I would find asleep ON her pile of toys…. you do everything with a ghusto! And I can’t wait to

see what you do next!

May God bless your life and may this year bring answered prayers and dreams come true.

I love you my sweet girl and very best friend~

Happy Birthday!

Mama

.

Happy 77th Birthday Papa!


01p111(Dad right front, mom behind him on the right)

Once upon a time there lived a quiet little boy

Who touched the life of a quiet little girl~

But in-between those good old quiet little days

they went out and lived their lives in the big old noisey world!

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Both their lives were filled with joy and sorrow

some tears and a lot of laughter

And all the while God kept planning every detail

of what someday, would  come after!

01p118

They lost touch and had families of their own

As the quiet little boy grew up to be  a handsome youg man~

But even back then, in the scheme of things

God knew what was in store for them because HE had a plan!

ME ONE YEARS OLD

You may not have been there in my beginnings

But you’ve been there during times worth while

You made me believe in happy endings

and were there to walk me down the aisle

01p029

You have been the greatest Papa to my kids

And they love you with all of their hearts

album papa

Brookie and Papa

You have shared stories and planted seeds

molding their little souls from the start!

father and son at sunset

But today… as I reflect on how you have  touched my own life

I wanted to tell you thank you for being there

For really, really, really, really,

Being there!

praying hands

Happy Birthday Papa!

I love you!

(Sorry this was two days late…. )

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JASMINE!


Happy Birthday to my sweet Birthday girl~

You came along and blessed our world…

Baby Jasmine

You were the cutest baby of them all,

I watched in wonder behind the wall~

Brookie and Jas

Your Auntie loved you from the start~

You fit just perfectly into her heart!

 Me and Jas (2)Me and Jas

I have to admit you stole mine too~

You had so many people loving you!

Me as a grandma!Me and Jassie

(And of course you know… your daddy’s too!)

Chad and his baby

You came along and fit right in!

My first granddaughter and “now” my friend!

album mom & Jas at my 50th01p099

Jazzzzzz

HAPPY 11th BIRTHDAY!

I love you Sweetie!

Love,

Your Grandma!

HAPPY 79TH BIRTHDAY MAMA!


img172

(Baby Gloria)

Once upon a time, there was an angel  God sent down here to earth,

With borrowed wings she found a place and began her life long work~

img171

She has had many joys and sorrows and  been an example to us all;

Starting out quite early she’s been  faithful  to her Savior’s  call~

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Her life has been a story she began to write at an early age,

planting seeds along the way  with blessings on each page~

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(Mom on the right)

She has filled the world with laughter and become God’s work of art,

img183

(Mom on the left)

teaching other’s about God’s love as they asked Him into their hearts~

album mom's family

Her daddy is with Jesus because she begged him to pray the prayer,

and because of her life so many others are also waiting there!

album mom on deck

And so I am sure that GOD  is pleased that He sent His Angel here to earth

And that heaven also must be celebrating

the day of my mom’s birth!

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(My grandma, my mom and me and my great grandma)

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(My mom and me)

album generations of the women

(my mom, me my grandma and my cousin Pammy and my Auntie Roberta)

album mom and gram and me

(Mom, Grandma & me)

album my mom and me at the water fountain img103img188album mom & dadimg065

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMA!

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I LOVE YOU!

DIANE

My Blog


I have been “followed” lately by some new readers. I am not sure how this is happening or how they have been finding me but it is a gift. They have been liking and commenting on some of my older posts. It has made me go back and read some of the things I have written.

A blog is an amazing place. It started out for me, just being a place to store my things. An on-line journal so to speak or a filing cabinet for my book, not really to even share, just to file for safe keeping, somewhere else besides my Documents. As writers we all are different. Some of us are private about our words and others just about tackle you to make you hear what they wrote.  Some bloggers post a random thought every few hours and I have had to stop following them because that is just annoying (smile). And others, I can’t wait for their next post!

Blogging here has been a journey. Not a lot of people really read anything I wrote until just a few months ago. And honestly, I didn’t expect them to. But now that I have gotten some good feedback, I sometimes feel that I can just sit back and ask people to go into  my archives and read that while I take a little break and edit my book but I have learned that, that is not how it works here. You have to be active or people lose interest. And seriously, people don’t read something re-blogged  as readily as we think. And so I am sharing a post that no one really ever read except for one of my new readers that inspired me to re blog this in my own way…

It was called Survivors and I wrote it in April when I was making some big decisions in my life….

Survivors

As we go through life, we take on different roles.

Daughter,

img206! daddyimg100

Sister,

img101img161

Wife,

img073me and Jim

 Mother,

baby shower cakeme and Chadly in the middle of a jokeBrookie and me at the showerme and Brookie in deep talk50th surprisebrooke and me

Aunt,

img115Auntie me

Friend

terri, scott and iTerri and Allen and ijody and me

and eventually Grandmother.

grandma and jas

We take advice, and later even offer it. The life we live along the way prepares us for the roles we take on. Our stories all have lessons we each can learn from. Even our struggles and sorrows are eventually gifts of wisdom. As survivors of different trials we go through, we can offer hope and guidance for others when they see us come out of our own valleys without the battle scars they fear. And what scars we do retain, we can wear them as badges of honor for we are SURVIVORS.

The red flags we learn to be aware of, the lessons learned, the wisdom we can offer all are important pieces to the puzzle. Sometimes some of the pieces are missing and it takes a long time to find where they fit in order to see the bigger picture. But once all the pieces are in place, all the lessons are learned and all the pictures are made, we put them all back in the box, shake it up and make the pictures all over again!

Where ever we happen to be, we can make a difference


cartoon

Some days as I walk around I feel scattered. My mother in law, the psychologist (no, seriously, by profession she actually really is one, okay, okay, I know all the jokes coming… how perfect for me… etc.. lol.) and more recently one of my most valued friends… might call it compartmentalizing. But in a way, it is even more than that. Not just in a way of different feelings I am feeling and from what aspects of my life, they are coming from but a little more abstract than those different places where I find love and sadness and hope and joy…

I don’t know, maybe I am finally going crazy but sometimes I feel as if I am just the carrier of my soul. I mean, I get that my heart and liver and brain… and every other important organ come along for the ride… but there have been days that I have been so disconnected from “me” that I have felt like I am air traffic control, looking out as my eyes kind of navigate “me” around as I go on my daily journey.

I am tired. So very tired. And I know that though, this is not true at all, I sometimes, feel that there is not much more to my life than working a job to just pay the bills. Yesterday, I took two cold pills. One had broken, so I took another. So all in all I took two and a half and it knocked me for a loop. I had to leave early, and go to bed. I slept for seven hours I was down for the count.. Though this was not planned, it made me more aware of the way I kind of just check out in my life. (And pleeease, NO lectures, I learned my lesson!)

Today, I feel drugged and wiped out but a little better. Cold-wise.  I am sure I needed the rest. I guess my point is that I miss a lot of the joy when I just let my life go on auto-pilot.  I think that I have been doing that a lot lately. But yesterday, before my self induced drugged coma happened… I learned an amazing thing and almost missed out on it….

There is a young boy that I work with. He has an incredible story. (And by now you know, that I am all about everyone’s “story.”)  He was an orphan from Russia. He is quiet and I guess if I had to describe him in one word, it would be gracious. He is grateful for everything he has and it is humbling to be around somebody who never complains or talks bad about others, who always has a smile and is patient and kind to even the most frustrating customers. And over the months I have grown to know him. I have not found a glitch in the grace he exemplifies. And to make the story even better,  he is by no means spoiled, but lives a privileged live in comparism to where he came from and remembers it all and so he is grateful for everything and his attitutude is refreshing.

I think that the kids I work with truly like me. At least I hope they do.  I know that they don’t forget me. I most likely, am a character in their memory that will remain and hopefully they will smile when they are my age… remembering me. I ask a lot of questions. They know it is because I am a writer and I am genuinely interested and care, so they all have slowly opened up. And I have been blessed by their trust.

This young man has been different. His story is different. The questions I have asked have been much more sensitive. I have been more careful and respectful in waiting and letting him share rather than barging in and asking. And the most amazing friendship has formed. I told him that he has a wonderful story. I never truly knew if he heard me when I said that because he just smiles a lot. I told him that everyone has at least one “book” inside of them but he has something even more valuable in his memories, an amazing story many others would be interested in hearing and that writing it all down might even be a kind of therapy for him.

writing in a notebook

Yesterday, I noticed in my haze,  that he was seriously writing and writing in a notebook during the slower times at work. Finally I had to ask. “What are you writing?” Never dreaming he had even really listened to what I said in our conversations many weeks earlier. Until…. he turned to me and said… “I am taking your advice and writing it all down.” Perhaps it was something he had heard on the news recently about Americans not being allowed to adopt from the Russian Orphanages any longer that prompted him to consider my advice but it made me realize that no matter where I am, I can still make a difference.

“I am taking your advice” Five little words that changed my day. And my outlook on how I view each new one….

Each day is an opportunity  to make a difference where ever God has me… and whatever job I might be doing.

They are precious in HIS sight


glass house

I have written a lot about glass houses. Maybe because I despise those who judge. Perhaps because I just might find myself behind those very same glass walls  from time to time. As a parent, I have had my share of stellar moments and I have had my share of not so stellar times. When I was growing up, I had a pretty decent childhood. I never saw my parents fight. I never heard them talk about finances and never had to worry about their bills.

I did however, know that my dad had “a drinking problems” he had to wine and dine clients in his line of work and my mom made the mistake of unloading her worries on me at a very young age. I am not blaming her. She did not realize that she was rocking my solid childhood to smitherings at the time. She threw me wonderful birthday parties and baked with me, she read stories to me and built me wonderful doll houses. She was defintely where my artistic and creative side comes from and she taught me about Jesus.  My dad was the one who I hung out with on the weekends, if he had a project, I was his wingman, tagging along to the hardware store or the barbershop. He took me school  clothes shopping every year and encouraged my writing.  I remember some amazing talks with both of them. But even though I am a “talker” I never felt that I could talk to my dad about his drinking.

worried little girl

When you are a kid and the one person who is your hero, who makes everything better, could make everything come tumbling down as well, it kind of shakes a kid’s whole being. You feel out of control and yet you really don’t understand any of it while it is happening. Years later, I studied Psychology. I worked in a private Psychiatric department at a hospital in my twenties. I even considered a profession in it. The whole thing fascinates me. I started out working with adolscents and that was about the time when the insurance  companies started screwing around with coverages and adults and geriactrics had better coverage so slowly over the years that I was there, I was moved to the adults.  It really frustrated me because it IS all about where we come from. We need to start with the kids and give them the tools in their adulthood. I know now that as I look back at the damage done in my own young life that I could have used some kind of an explanation why I felt so odd, scrambling to find my own control in my so called perfectly imperfect world. Kids are great in following the lead and pretending that everything is okay when it is not.

fighting

When my kids were young, I tried to never say bad things about their dad or burden them with too much. But I know they heard our fighting. I know I made a whole set of other mistakes and no matter how hard I tried to protect them, their childhood damaged them in someway. We are never going to give our kids the perfect childhood. But we do need to make an effort to protect them. As I look back through my own journey and education. I think that the thing that made me so frustrated with the switch from adolescent and not want to continue with working with adults… is because adults are so darn selfish. We say we put our kids before ourselves but we need to consider them more. What are they hearing? How much do they really know? Are you really protecting them? Or…Are you fooling yourself? How much do your kids know about your problems? Think about it for more than a minute.

I don’t mean to judge. I see my own glass walls perfectly clear and realize I have shared too much with my kids even though I set out to never do that. They are both adults now and I stand at my glass wall and look out at the world that I have created for me and them and think that now that I have some perspective, I want to share my message…. If you are reading this and have young children, I’m not judging you… I am imploring you to stop and really look at what you may be doing. I am trying to help you not make the same mistakes that I have come from…  The whole point of my blog… heck, the whole point of all of our lives…  is to learn from our mistakes.  And I am here to tell you that your children and mine really don’t need nor want to know our every waking thought. And for some reason, I feel the need to share the message TODAY

Please STOP robbing your children of their right to be children.

Jesus loving the children

I mean, I get that we can shelter them to the point of them not being able to handle real problems when it is time for them to go out and live their own lives. But I am not talking about that…  We just need to stop in our tracks when we are going through a moment of crisis and consider who else is in the room… And if your children are nearby…save that break down for another time behind closed doors  and…. for heaven sakes… let them have their childhood!

My Tara


boy selling papers without shoes
When my dad was a young boy… (I think he told me he was about seven or eight,) he had to sell magazines to buy himself a new pair of shoes. He also told me if someone gave him a nickle too much in change, he would walk backwards, barefoot, in the snow to return it. Of course, he was just trying to make a point about honesty, but point made. I would never consider otherwise because of him and the lessons he wove throughout my life.

I remember as a young child, my dad making every Christmas very special. It was almost embarrassing to have someone see the presents piled high around our Christmas tree.

Christmas tree with presents

I don’t think that I figured it out until this year, but I realize now that he most likely, was trying to make up for his “lack of” in his young life and that he probably, was driven to be a success because of his hardships in his own childhood. Kind of like Scarlett in the last scene as she stands on her land (“Tara”) reciting that famous line from Gone With The Wind….

Tara

    “As God is my witness, I will never be hungry again.”

My dad was like a kid at Christmas time. He couldn’t even wait till Christmas day! We always had our Christmas on Christmas eve. As soon as it got dark he would reach behind his chair and tap on the wall and look up at the ceiling as if he heard Santa’s sleigh landing… we would look up, totally believing and then he would scurry us up the stairs telling us we better hurry cuz Santa would not come down the chimney till we were out of sight!

santa's sleigh

We would hear “ho ho ho” and big jingle bells ringing. Until finally my dad would call us as we would scramble down the stairs, always blinded by the movie camera bulbs as we found even more presents added to the pile and usually a big one like a bike or a “Santa present” and of course, our stockings were always stuffed to the brim.

Not only did he teach me how to receive but he also taught me how to give. He could make buying a present for my mom at the drugstore a special memory because it was all from just me! Funny, I never thought about it, but I pride myself on giving thoughtful presents. Listening and knowing what people like. I hate the White Elephant exchanges, because you are buying a random gift for a random person. Though I have to admit that I do like trying to bring the present that everyone fights over. Ahhh, a reflection on my dad again, I am sure.

When my dad died suddenly of a heart attack, I was twenty six, He left a lot of holes, though Christmas was probably the time I missed him the most. Not so much because of the thoughtful presents he would add day after day to the pile around our Christmas tree.

presents

but I missed his childlike joy. I had just had my son a couple of years before, and he loved having a child in the family again, to bring back the magic. Of course, he spoiled him from the beginning. The Christmas before he died, Santa had bought an electric jeep for his two year old little grandson!

I think that something came over me, the first year without him. I knew that everyone would feel the excruciating holes that he had left and I guess I felt that I had to carry on his tradition of giving. That year, it was as if my dad’s heart for giving possessed me. I tried to fill his shoes. Funny, not until writing this TODAY, dozens of years later, have I realized that. In the past, I have gone into debt trying to fill his shoes.

I think it is kind of hard, when you come from a place of comfort and find yourself struggling rather than the other way around. This year, the presents can’t be piled high. My husband lost his job and though the prospects look good for the possibility of a new company working out for him, it has been a challenge. And though we have learned to cut back, The bills are all the same from the lifestyle we had become accustomed to.

We have a friend who has suffered with ALS from as long as we have known him. He is in the process of deciding about getting a trache. It is a matter of $9000 per month to just breathe! I figure that I am $9000 a month ahead, just because I can breathe! I can’t even wrap my head around the presents under the trees that won’t be opened this year because of that horrific act carried out at that school. I KNOW I am blessed. We are just heading towards our nine year anniversary of the earthquake that wiped out our store. (Story in my blog) :

 https://dianereedwiter.wordpress.com/category/earthquakes/

That year, I learned the lesson about how stuff is just stuff.

And yet, I have been asking myself…what is my problem this year? I mean, I don’t even want a Christmas Tree. Well, I miss my dad. I do every year. It never lessens. But it is something more, this year. I have sat through the Christmas story hundreds of times. And know that I have understood and been touched and yet, this year, I think I finally understand that it is so much more than stockings hung by the fire. It is all about The Greatest Gift Of ALL. A Baby that we seem to forget about as we stand in the long lines. But this year, I have realized that Christmas is so much more. It is not about receiving presents or even giving them, it is about the faith and joy we find when we really remember what Christmas is all about.
It is where we build our Tara.

Baby Jesus

So this year… has been an especially hard one for me but I am looking at things differently.

This song… kind of sums it all up…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmGSHZYZ74c

Terri


boxes in the yard

The refrigerator box lay sideways in our front lawn. I was four years old and we had just moved in to our new house. My dad answered the door as two little girls looked up at him. The oldest one asked “You got any kids?” I peeked around his legs. And that is how I met her. My BFF.

My dad always loved re-telling that story over the years, whenever she would come for a visit. She was two months older than me, the younger of the two sisters who had knocked at my door on moving day. Refrigerator boxes were so magical back in those days and had such bonding powers, I rarely look at an empty one without remembeing the powers that, THAT one seemed to possess.  I have often teased them both over the years, that they only wanted me for my boxes.

Now over a half a century later, I think I got the better end of the deal.  She has been in two of my weddings. (And has warned me that two is her limit!) She is Auntie Terri to my daughter and my BFF for over five decades! I think she must have followed me around to five record stores while I tried to find a song I wanted to play at my reception and must have  ironed my wedding dress about four times the day of my wedding and stood up for me as my Maid of Honor.

img096  img069

She is the reason that my daughter has experienced Hawaii. And it is because of “Auntie Terri’s”  generosity that she got to go to the school of her choice without the financial hardship there would have been without her heart. She drops everything to play hostess to my baby or will drive for hours to see her in a play.

From playing dolls to having our own babies two months apart, we have come full circle.

File0030

(Our babies… mine is on the right though I claim them both!)

We have gone through births and deaths, illnesses and more births, we have gone through weddings and heart breaks and falling in love and out of love, a dozen times over the years. We even got past the idea we were both going to marry the same boy! (Scott lived nextdoor to me and across the street from her!)

img204

We can say exactly what we are thinking without feeling judged and vent and snap and know that none of it will change our love for each other. Life may throw us curve balls but nothing can rock our friendship.  Not even miles….

From the time we were little girls, we made the effort to keep in touch. Through letter writing and special note cards, sealing wax and phone calls, visits and later, emails and texting… we have ridden the wave and found that our love is built on solid ground.

letters with ribbon

My daughter is up there this weekend doing an Art Show and staying with her Auntie Terri and it warms my heart that they have found their own friendship in each other. Their own interests and  memories all of their own.

girls gossiping

And my heart is full as I share my best friend with my best friend.

Seems Like Only Yesterday…


SON

 

Seems like only  yesterday I held you in my arms

Oh how you swept me away with all your baby charms.

The days just flew by quickly, soon you began to talk

and then a little later, you began to walk….

“Mommy will you cross me? I want to go and play.”

Oh those words ring sweetly, now seem like yesterday.

The years have swiftly passed,

don’t know where they’ve all gone,

And when you cross the street now,

 you don’t need to call your mom.

It has happened right in front of me, before my very eyes…

packed away, your faded jeans, one of every size…

Teddy bears and old match box cars,

all packed with loving care,

baseball cards and folded notes of secrets that you shared.

I sit amongst the boxes recalling our memories all alone

and realize that baby, once in my arms,

 is now fully grown~

And silently I wonder through a mixture of joy and tears…

Did I truly show how much I loved you

through  those tender years?

Sometimes it’s hard when you’re the mom

to make your child understand

just how VERY  proud she is when he becomes a man!

(My son and his beautiful family)

by

Diane Reed

copywrite 1997

Letter to my nine year old self~


The funny thing about growing up is you can do it at five or at fifty five. And I have been discovering that I have been kind of stuck for a long time. And yet the mistakes I have made along the way are very clear to me now. I guess that is a good thing. I mean, what a waste to have gone through everything I have and not have learned something from it.
In May of this year,  Oprah had a section in her magazine where it featured women who wrote a letters to their younger self. I thought it was such an amazing idea that I just had to take a stab at it.
Jasmine… and me…. nine years ago! How time flies!
I actually wrote this in May on another blog and had  just  transferred it over here….  and begun to re-read it myself…
The cool thing is, that my ten year old granddaughter just walked in. She is staying with me for the weekend. She just called up out of the blue, asking me if I would like some company because she missed me…my husband is out of town dealing with his dad and so I had honkered down for a quiet weekend of uninterrupted writing…  (I know, I know, what do they say about the best laid plans?) Well, anywaaay, talking about making memories, I couldn’t say no. And now I am inserting this sentence because it is so cool. I just had the opportunity to read the letter below to my ten year old granddaughter. She also is a writer. I gave her an empy little journal and she has been filling it all weekend. And so I am in awe of the magic in the moment… see if you don’t agree… it was if I had written it for her.
Here is my letter to my young self:
Today you are so filled with expectation and dreams, your whole life is ahead of you. Your life is virtually an unwritten story waiting to be written. Some pages, you may want to tear out along the way, some you may want to hurry through, some will keep you stuck and some will be happy memories. Embrace them all. Don’t waste any of the lessons, learn from them and move on. Don’t beat yourself up for mistakes you cannot change.
You want to grow up so fast right now. You can’t wait to have a boyfriend, to drive, to be done with school. And then someday, to have babies and then you won’t be able to wait until those babies talk and walk and I just want to tell you to SLOW DOWN!!!! And be a KID!!!  Life will fly by fast enough without you helping it along. LIVE in TODAY.  Don’t worry about tomorrow.  These days will someday, become the “Good Old days” that you’ll look back on and you will regret not enjoying them as much as you could have. Always wanting the next step to happen too soon and not enjoying the moments that will only be sweet memories that you will wish you had enjoyed more.
Let things go. Don’t dwell on the things you cannot change. Don’t hold grudges. Things will happen in life that are just plain wrong. People will hurt and disappoint you. It is just going to happen. Nothing you can do, can stop that. But the way you handle those hurts and disappointments,”IS” totally in your control. Don’t waste your time in regret, just brush your shoes off and move on!
Finally, you are a dreamer, and a story teller. You are one of the lucky ones. You know what you want to be when you grow up. Don’t wait. Follow your dream. Fight for it. Educate yourself. Find out how to make it happen. Don’t wait for someone else to make it happen. You have to go out and make it happen yourself. Write that novel you have always wanted to write. Write as many as you can. Touch people with the stories in your head. Ask questions, learn lessons.  But don’t forget to be quiet. Don’t interrupt so much.  You can find your own voice when you need to. Take the time to take turns and really listen. There is power in listening. Sometimes if you talk too much, people just hear the words…. when you are quiet and listen, you can find the true hearts of people and then and only then, can you finish the story you first began.
Age is all about the lessons we learn, the doors we open, the stories we live and what we do with what has been entrusted to us.
“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been”
Madeleine L ‘Engle
OH YEAH, and by the way. Don’t let your mom curl your bangs like she does! You look like a goof ball!

Unexpected Love


Our store was called Rose In The Woods.  It was supposed to mean:    “A thing of beauty in an unexpected place.”  My mother in-law thought it up and I always loved the sentiment. Sometimes things of beauty are so unexpected they go unnoticed.

Recently I had been feeling very sorry for myself. My daughter’s dog Buddy died and I was blind sided by my grief. Silly old dog! Everytime I turned around that dog was underfoot. And whenever I left the house without putting the trash cans up, I could count on coming home to a mess. That dog countersurfed like there was no tomorrow. No matter how far removed I thought an item was, that dog seemed to be able to manuever his fat little body up far enough onto the counter to retrieve his prize! Like he was on a treasure hunt! I am sure if I had put up a spy camera and video taped him… it would have won the prize for Funniest Home Videos!

I would wonder who ate all of the tortillas or all of the buns and sure enough I would go out to his yard to clean up his messes and would find empty plastic bags out there. He would make me want to scream!

But that dog was so smart. From the time my daughter was young, her bus would drive by and he would sit at the end of our deck and h000owl… knowing that his girl was on board! He would roll over, high five and speak on command. He knew the difference between shaking and highfiving! He could sit or lay down and  when she would call him, if he didn’t come right away, she would start counting and he always came before she reached three!

When Brookie went to look for apartments, her main prerequisite was that they had to allow dogs. She finally found one that allowed them. I am glad they had that time together. They spent many hours at the dog park near where she lived. But he howled when she went to work so eventually after several months of trying, she relented and had to bring him back home.

My dad and I started walking with him a few years ago and they fell in love with each other. Some mornings it was very dark and we could barely see my dad who lived up the street. We would meet half way. On foggy mornings, before I could see him, Buddy would start crying for me to let go of his leash, and my dad would squat down to greet him. My dad ended up paying for surgery for Buddy a few years ago that prolonged his life by three more years. Below is a poem I wrote about our walks….

It began kind of quietly in a shy kind of way

“Maybe I’ll walk with you” is what I heard him say

And when my dad joined us, it became our group of three

The day my Dad began walking, with my daughter’s dog and me…

Each morning I’d think, I don’t want to get up

But then I’d think …it’ll be good for my dad and the pup!

As I climbed the road behind those two

I heard my dad say “this is soooo good for you!”

Just a few minutes a day became my most treasured of times

In the steps that we took, and the wisdom I’d find

All fit into the little time that we had

As I would keep step as I walked with my Dad

We walked up hills and around bends

We started out as family and slowly became friends

Talking about politics and old time religion

I loved hearing his passion behind his opinions

I followed him up hills and behind doors unopened

I heard new stories I’d never heard spoken

He sparked a new interest in things I’d not learned

And made me care~ where I’d been unconcerned

We laughed and joked as he remembered times as a kid

And the hilarious things his brothers and he did!

He taught me things about the constitution

And his own ideas about different solutions

No school could teach me the things I have learned

No time I’ve invested could earn the return

And in all the gifts I’ve been given or treasures I’ve had

Not one could compare to the walks with my Dad!

Buddy’s illness hit so suddenly and before we knew it we were making the decision of what to do. Brooke was in LA at the time and was devestated. When her Dad was talking to her, I called up my Dad and asked him to call her when we hung up because I knew she was going to need her Papa! Later she said both her grandma and papa prayed with her and said the perfect things. Another moment in my Scared Of Daddy Long Legs experience of not getting to be there for every moment your child needs you.

Even though my husband and I had grown children, we realized that in all of our adult life, we had never had to make that kind of adult decision. Deciding whether or not to put down a beloved family pet.

I would not allow Brookie to drive home in her devestated condition and we did not want Buddy to suffer so she came home later the next weekend hitching a ride with some of our best friends who were coming to our area for a visit.

My husband and I had buried him and when my daughter came home she pretty much collapsed on his grave. It was devastating to watch her grief mingled with ours and we all were suffering. Unfortunately the grave was too shallow and the next day she noticed that it was unsettled and so she added more dirt and one by one carried more rocks out to it. I think in a way that was her closure and a good exercise for her to help get through the grief but it was horrible for a mother to feel so helpless as she watched her baby in so much pain over losing her beloved friend.

The other day I came home and found my son who lives in town at my house with all kinds of garbage cans filled and gardening tools and shovels out, totally clearing out the side yard where Buddy lay. I had told him the story and kind of felt he seemed a little removed from the whole situation but was blown away by his explanation of what he was doing He told me that he wanted to surprise Brooke the next time she came home and have a nice garden growing near Buddy.

At that moment I knew I had done something right. I saw the love in my son’s eyes. My first born kidlet who was stubborn and independent even as a little boy. He showed me in that moment how much he cared and how much he loved his little sister. I couldn’t have asked for a better gift that day and realized that I had just witnessed another example of a thing of beauty in an unexpected place.

We don’t always see the best in each other because we are more alike than either of us would like to admit but my son has proven that when the going gets rough, he is the first one there to step up!

Reblogged from my other blog~

Chapter Two


For those of you following this… you know that Chapter One was found inside my last post …

“Like A POSTCARD or something like that….”  You really need to read Chapter One to follow… 

Chapter One… begins as (the adult version of)  Keri  finds a journal she kept long ago.

Chapter Two…. finds her back in her younger years, when she actually started that journal and was living the stories that she wrote about… slowly the chapters will carry you forward again to today, which is when she finally begins to understand the lesson in her journey  ~ hence; the title: Pieces of The Circle

(The pictures are NOT mine… I have no claim to any of them in this chapter, I just have fun choosing them to help you read… someday I will have to figure out the right picture for the cover…. ) but I am hoping that I can help paint a picture in your imagination… just with my words,  as I tell you my story… and hopefully,  in the end you won’t need pictures at all… Please keep in mind that this is still a very rough of parts of the book that I hope to someday start submitting as a whole…. I am sharing here for those of you who asked me to and also because I truly need some honest feedback. What parts are hard to follow? What words do I usee too much… etc…  I have come back here to edit at least fifty times so far… there is a technique my daughter told me about called the Dr. Suess Technique… you read it aloud to yourself as much as you can stand it and then read it aloud to others as much as they can stand it! Smile… Here, I have you… I know it is long… so those of you who are busy, I understand if you move on… but those of you who stay….

Thanks for reading! I love you!!!!

Here it is….

Chapter Two

Keri watched as her mom and little brother Lonnie, prepared to leave for the airport. It was the first, in all of their years after moving from Seattle to California, that she would not be joining them on their yearly summer trip. After all, she was sixteen. Too old for “family vacations” she had told her parents. Though, she had to admit, that her summers had been magical. When one would end, she would start counting the months until the next one. Ever since she could remember, she looked forward to every single one of them. Keri and her cousin, Annie, had spent all of their summers togethers at their Grandparent’s house near Lake Washington since she could remember. Memories filled her heart with the special adventures they had shared over the years. She smiled as she recalled how they would cook up schemes,  trying to come up with ways to stow Annie away in a suitcase so that Keri could bring her home with her to California. She smiled now just thinking about it. And she had to admit that it felt odd not to go this year.

But Annie had landed a babysitting job for the summer and so Keri had decided to stay home this year. After what seemed like endless conversations over the subject, her parents had finally consented. It was the summer before her senior year and her best friend Lori’s last summer home before she went away to school. Lori had gotten her license almost a year ago, and Keri had finally gotten hers a few months earlier, which represented a new kind of freedom for both the girls that they had never known before. Her father was very busy. He traveled and worked late hours and so she knew that for the most part, she would have the independence she longed for. Keri understood that she was to keep up the house while her mom was away and she appreciated that her dad had given her a reprieve of sorts by not requiring her to get a summer job. She knew that this was the last summer she had to just be a “kid” and  planned to make it the best one yet. Little, did she know…

Waving goodbye to her family as her dad pulled out of the driveway to take her mom and Lonnie to the airport, and then catch a plane himself. She threw kisses as she grabbed her beach gear and headed for Lori’s to pick her up. The sun felt good on her face as she climbed into her car. The breeze was almost nonexistent. It was a beautiful day and she knew it would be warm at the beach. She could see the ocean from her house in Palos Verdes and the blue sky sparkled invitingly as she slid into the driver’s seat of her new car as the sounds of the latest Top Forty filled the speakers her dad had just installed for her as she turned up the volume on her new stereo. She rolled down the windows, and smelled the scent of fresh cut grass. Feeling quite carefree and that all was well with her world she pushed open the sunroof and waved to her friend who was mowing the lawn next door as she drove by.

When Keri pulled up to Lori’s she noticed a boy who looked to be a little older than her, working on a sailboat on the long driveway that led to Lori’s house. As she passed him he took off his baseball hat and wiped his brow and nodded. She wondered who he was but decided that the day was a wasting and honked for her friend who stood on the balcony outside of her bedroom, motioning for her to come on up.

Keri sighed heavily as she jumped out of her car… Pointing to her watch-less wrist as if to say, “Let’s not waste the rays.” They were already leaving later than they had planned since Keri had waited to see her mom and Lonnie off. “Come on Lori, it’s almost one.” Keri whined in a playfully sardonic tone as the she walked through the door, only to be met with a glass of lemonade and a smile from Lori’s mom “Hey Mrs. T” Keri said accepting the drink and hugging her tight,

“I can never say no to your terrific lemonade.” And then turned as she heard Lori call out “I’ll be right down.”                             “So where are you girls off to today?” Mrs. T asked cheerfully… “Avenue F in Redondo” Keri confirmed. She and Lori had dubbed the spot right outside of the life guard’s station ever since they noticed Brad, the cute new lifeguard that they had met during spring break and had gotten to know even better, during the weekends that followed. They had a little flirtation going on as he would joke about turning down their AM radio, insinuating KRLA and KHJ were passé and the FM stations he listened to were going to be the new place to tune in to. They had a volume war and finally Brad had used his megaphone and the girls had laughingly conceded.

As Mrs. T probed curiously, Keri got lost in  her day dreams as she thought of Brad who was tan with sparkling brown eyes. He was a couple of years older, and very funny. He loved to joke with the girls and they bonded with him right away, and then with several of his lifeguard friends in the area. Brad’s friends had easily become their friends and they all had begun playing what they called:”Sunset volleyball” once the beach had cleared and everyone was off duty. Brad had mentioned the bonfires during Spring Break, and after a day of teasing and sharing cookies they had brought for him, he had invited them back that night to play. They had excitedly gone home to shower and change and then ran back with a six pack of sodas, a package of hotdogs and some of those home baked cookies as their contribution.

When they arrived they found half the guys playing a warm up game near a bonfire that the other half was just starting. There was a big tub of ice filled with beer that they added their sodas to, as they were greeted and quickly integrated into the game at hand, evening out the teams. Not until the sun had finally dipped beneath the horizon did they stop playing.

Keri and Lori dropped to the blanket they had laid out laughing. “That was so fun!” Keri said rubbing her wrists. Lori nodded in agreement. “You guys aren’t bad for girls.” Brad had said and Keri gave Lori a high five, stating, “For girls you say?” Just you wait, we will give you a run for your money when we’ve played more.” Volleyball, bonfires and Avenue F seemed to fill their weekends after that.

“Sounds like fun,” Mrs. T laughed at Keri, realizing that she was far, far away in her thoughts. Keri took another sip as she snapped out of it and absently asked “who’s the guy in the boat?” Mrs. T cleared her throat and said “Oh that’s Jack.” Keri swallowed asking “Jack?” “Yes, Maddie’s old boyfriend.” Keri was curious, “Old Boyfriend?” she queried. “Yes old.” Mrs. T Sighed, “you see Maddie got herself engaged and is bringing home her Fiancé to meet us.”  Maddie was Lori’s older sister by two years. Mrs. T continued, “she has given us a month to break the news to him and get him moved out. Keri was puzzled. She had just spent the night with Lori a few weeks ago. “He lives here?” She asked. “No, but we let him bring his boat here to work on. And he’s been working on it daily.”  Mrs. T replied. Keri was even more confused. Why would someone get engaged if they already had a boyfriend she wondered. But was distracted by Lori clamoring down the stairs, as she kissed her mom and hurriedly began pulling Keri out the door.

Keri noticed Lori’s turquoise swim suit under her clothes and laughed stating, “I almost wore that same suit!” They had gone swimsuit shopping the weekend before at Rosie’s on Pacific Coast Hwy,  a store that always seemed to have the best bikinis, and had both bought some new ones but couldn’t decide on the ones they both liked so had ended up with a few of the same suits. “Lori noticed the pale pink one beneath Keri’s halter top and smiled, saying “I guess we should check with each other because I almost wore the pink one!” Mrs. T laughed. “Oh to be young again, she reflected, so carefree, if I only had to worry about what color my swimsuit was for the day.” Lori rolled her eyes as Keri happily followed her to the car, thanking Mrs. T for the lemonade, she gave her a quick hug. As Lori’s mom waved the girls on telling them to have a good time, closing the screen door she went back inside.

Keri loved everything about Mrs.T. and her quiet, but involved presence in Lori’s life. Always just far enough away to not be in the way, but close enough to show she cared. From the time she and Lori started hanging out, Keri always felt welcome and during the weekends, the girls always were either at one house or the other. Lori was going to UCLA that fall and Keri didn’t want to think about school the next year without her. It made her sad. But she forced herself to just think about the day ahead and decided that today was all that mattered.

Keri buckled her seatbelt and slipped a Chicago 8 track into her player. With the sun shining down through the sun roof, the girls put on sunglass and Keri cranked up the volume and smiled, rolling down the windows, they began singing loudly, rocking to the beat laughing. They hadn’t been to the beach for several weeks due to having to study for finals and all of Lori’s graduation responsibilities so they had both looked forward to today.

The girls sang loudly as they drove down the long driveway, bouncing in their seats. The boy in the boat caught her eye and grinned at them as they drove by.  Keri couldn’t help but feel a little compassion for him. Wondering what the story was… She asked Lori. “Why is he hanging out here if Maddie and he are broken up?” Lori sighed in a way that reminded her of Mrs. T’s sigh and it made Keri smile. “Good old Maddie and my poor mom, she seems to always be trying to fix things but I’m not sure how she is going to manage this one.” Keri asked “Why, because she has a new fiancé?” Lori grimaced yeah. I kind of feel sorry for him. I think that he thought that they would get back together like before.” Keri asked “Like before?” Lori nodded. “yeah they broke up a lot, and would always get back together. This time though, it’s over for sure she already has a new guy and a ring and a date.” “Oh that sucks for him.” Keri said. Lori nodded. Keri couldn’t help but take another glance in the rearview mirror as they drove out of sight.

Brad waved to Keri and Lori as soon as he saw them coming down the ramp. He jumped out of his chair and hopped from the tower. He was still as cute and tan as ever, in his red suit and hugged them tight. A few of their friends were already playing volleyball nearby and waved. Even when the guys were off duty, they seemed to hang out at Avenue F. The girls managed to find a spot, dropping their bags and slipping off their cover-ups, they joined the game. They looked like models in a commercial for suntan lotion, out there in the sand, Brad thought as he watched them from above.

The girls took turns taking showers at Keri’s house after the beach. Her dad was out of town on business for a few days and they planned to go out dancing and then come back to spend the night. “Oh I can’t believe it”, Lori groaned as she walked in Keri’s room drying her waist length hair with a damp towel, “I forgot my new shoes and my overnight bag.” Keri was sitting on the floor putting on the last touches of her make up in front of her floor length  antique mirror as she replied, “That’s fine we’ll just swing by your place and pick them up.”

They had just started discussing where they would go for dinner as they approached her house. Pulling up, Keri glanced at the covered boat still in their driveway, thinking Jack must have gone home for the day. “I’ll just run in and be back in two….” Lori started to say when the door opened and Mrs. T came out waving them in. “You two are just in time for my famous lasagna she gushed. Keri and Lori looked at each other, both loving Mrs. T’s lasagna and without protest, jumped out of the car. “Why not?” they both said in unison and laughed.

Lori ran up to her room to grab her shoes and pack a bag as Keri followed Mrs. T into the great room while waves of warm garlic bread wafted through the room straight to her nose. “Oh my gosh it smells like heaven in here!” She exclaimed as she sauntered into the room with the farm like table filled with the Taber family and Jack.  Mrs. T. immediately introduced Keri stating “Keri this is Jack Sagan.” Keri warmly held out her hand, from the moment she had heard his story, she had felt a twinge of compassion that she could not shake.

And as he took her hand in his firmly shaking it, he looked her in the eye with a confident smile that impressed her. Hmmm she wondered if it was impressed or intrigued. But without knowing exactly what it was, something in the stars seemed to shift.

The aroma of garlic and the chatter of everyone filled the room as dinner was served. Jack was friendly and animated and talked about being ready to launch his boat. Mrs. T seemed pleased knowing that launching it, meant that it would be moved and it was one more thing she could cross off of the check list that her older daughter had given to her. The boat being gone would be a huge load off of her to do list, out of all the things that Maddie had requested be done, before her arrival.

“I have a great idea.” Mrs. T cooed nonchalantly, “Why don’t you all go?” Lori didn’t miss a beat and piped up “Not me. I get seasick!” “Count me in!” announced Lori’s younger brother Matt, who was a year younger than Keri and had been helping Jack work on the boat for the last several weeks. He was eager to try out the vessel on the water. “Can I bring Sarah?” he asked hopefully. Sarah and Matt had been inseparable for the last year when Matt had not been hanging out with Jack. “Sure.” Jack agreed good naturedly. Keri was laughing at something with Lori when she noticed just out of the side of her eyes, Mrs. T mouthing a silent message of encouragement to Jack as he turned to look at her and offered. “How about it?”

Lori glared at her mom, looking annoyed, and realized that she and Jack had most likely discussed these plans earlier in the day and that this dinner was a little more contrived than she had made it all look. Mrs. T seemed to miss or ignore her younger daughter’s reaction. Keri, on the other hand, had not missed the look, and searched Lori’s face for a clue as if asking her what to do.  Lori just shrugged and so Keri turned back to Jack, not wanting to hurt his feelings, especially after knowing the disappointment that soon awaited him, she hesitantly answered “Sure, why not?  I’d love to.” Before they left, Keri reached for Jack’s hand and wrote her number on his palm and smiled.  He looked down at his hand and smiled back.

And that is how the story of Jack and Keri began. Innocently enough, and yet very conveniently for Mrs.T who mentally crossed yet another thing off of her list.

Pieces of A Circle is a book that I am writing about a young girl who got caught up in an abusive relationship that changed her life forever. Not so much because of any of the physical abuse, even though there was some. This is a story that touches more on the emotional and mental abuse that changed the choices she made in her life, and the woman she became because of it all.

It is about the anger she carried with her and a lot about  the life she missed because of it. And then the twist at the end about forgivness and understanding and yet the crazy way she almost found herself lost again trying to find the young girl she had left behind so long ago.

 

 

 

Times Like These


I wake up with a prayer

in my heart everyday now

since we heard the news

tests and more tests

and the tension

in the corner of our little world is thick.

As life goes on as usual

I remember…

When  my dad died….

I saw the men

laughing and joking

My heart lifted… perhaps he was okay

surely those EMTs would not be so lighthearted

if they had just lost someone!

And yet maybe they have learned to be that way

because he was gone.

My heart went cold that day

My walls went up

to protect me from love and hurt and pain

Until my little tiny son asked me…

“Mommy, when are you going to stop crying all day?”

I knew right then, I needed to snap out of it.

And so I did

And yet, today I need someone

to make me snap out of it

so that I can live again

I pray constantly that it will all be okay

I don’t believe that God

has anything to do with illness and death

HE is a God of life and miracles

And yet maybe HE uses times like these

The down on your knees pleading times

to remind us that we need HIM

more than just  times like now

to fall on our knees daily

even when times are good

so that when He finds us

In times like these….

It won’t be any different for Him

to find us on our knees.

In Honor of my 100th Post!


This is my 100th post. The one I have talked about many times before. The one that is supposed to be the milestone that inspires me to finish my book I have had in waiting….  I thought that it would be the perfect post to…. honor somene who inspires me daily…

My Mom…

She was born  March 3rd in  1934.  My grandfather was a machinist and my grandma stayed at home, being a mom. My mom was the apple of her parent’s eye. Blonde and full of life.

When my mom was six years old, “polio” was a dreaded word, feared by all. There was an outbreak of it, right in their own neighborhood in Seattle. My grandma was especially careful trying to keep her little family far from any germs, staying away from public places and washing everything. One day her neighbor asked them to go on a picnic to the lake, explaining that they would stay far away from people. My grandma reluctantly agreed and as they were unpacking their lunch all the kids  went exploring,  and accidentally knocked down an old hornets nest. My mom was stung where ever her little sunsuit did not cover. They rushed her to the lake and placed mud all over her wounds. shortly after, she came down with polio. It could have been a number of things that led to her contracting the terrible disease. The stings, the mud, or the trip on the bus downtown a few days later when her resistance was low. Who knows. It doesn’t really matter now. (Though I will always be puzzled about why they went on a bus ride downtown, right smack in the middle of people~ with all those germs, but… Oh well…)

     My mom on her way to school. (Her crutches are laying in the background)

The fact is that her life was changed forever. Her childhood was taken from her, the life she was meant to have was as well. And yet she learned to walk again where the doctors predicted a life of being paralized. She had horrendous surgeries, a bone taken from her leg, to straighten her back, a body cast for a year, and then later as she learned to walk again, cruel and clueless kids, stealing her crutches as she walked to school. And yet, she has fallen in love and been married twice in her lifetime.

           I’ve always  loved this one of my mom! She looks so happy as if her whole life was ahead of her!

She has been a successful artist and a wonderful mother. From an early age, she would sit me up on the counter and let me help…  pouring in the ingredients and stirring it with a spoon, always remembering to let me smell the vanilla and stir up my own concoction of “something.” I am sure that is WHY I love to bake!… she has been a wonderful grandma and the best memory maker you could ever ask for!

Mom and me 1958

One year my mom, found Winnie the Pooh (Always my favorite) blow up characters as party favors at my 8th birthday party! Every party she threw was more special than the year before. (She always out did herself!

My mom with my son (her first Grandchild)              My beautiful mom and daughter on the boat in New Port Beach, on my wedding day

She is in a lot of pain a lot of the time and I guess I never really understood much of it, until I got to an age when it was a little harder for me to get up in the morning and I began having the usual aches and pains that come with getting older. And I know, I only experience an inkling of a crumb of a speck of what she experiences daily and has for a long, long, time.

When I was younger, I hate to admit that I hated her polio stories. In fact, I’ve hated the number six all of my life because that was the age my mom got polio. I hated that she complained about her aches and pains and that she couldn’t do as much as I wanted her to. To attend my school functions and walk long distances. Funny, how selfish we are as kids. Now it is as if I have different glasses on, (I actually do! Recently having to finally give in to getting a REAL pair due to old age!) I can see more clearly. She is actually a hero for doing so much. She did art shows for years. With my dad’s help. And then ours, when I was able to drive. We all pitched in to help set her up and break down at her shows. My dad was so tickled as she obtained a following of faithful customers. She always made sure that we went to church every Sunday, even though my dad only would go on very special occassions… Easter mainly. Oh yeah and when I got baptized… smile.

Today, my mom has survived a lot. Polio was just the begining. My sister was in a horrific car accident and my mom would drive an hour a day to go see her. Sometimes twice. She did not give up when the doctors told her to not hold out too much hope. She prayed and talked to  her, until she came out of her coma and worked with her until she was able to live a pretty normal life. A few years later, my dad died of a heart attack jogging around the block, she was the one who found him. When you add it all up, she has not had an easy life. And yet she has proven that she is who she is because of surviving it all. And she has survived.

The thing about my mom is she has always had faith. She always believed that God had a plan. She never gave up. After my dad died, she began reaching out to hurting people in way of cards that she wrote in the form of letters, adding different scripture verses that pertained to what each person was individually going through at the time. They say Elizabeth Barrett Browning is in our ancestory somewhere and I don’t doubt it~              and so we write. That’s just what we do. My mom does it, I do it, my daughter does it. It’s just in our blood!

A few years after my dad died, she reached out to an old childhood friend  at my grandmother’s suggestion, with one of those letters right after his wife died.  He ended up coming for a visit.

They have been happily married for almost three decades.

So you see, even though life handed her some big obstacles, she always rose above them and God blessed her for it.  The lesson she has taught me and many others through out her life is that God is a God of MIRACLES and that nothing is too big for HIM. Not the opinion of a doctor or the diagnosis they may give, or the closing of a door. She has taught me that there is always a door to open somewhere, not too far down the road.

I don’t always tell her often enough but I am proud of her and she is one of my biggest heroes and best friends.

I love you mom!

The Scent Of Shopping


There is just something about the scent of shopping that calms me. I walk in the doors at Target and instantly my bad mood vanishes. Why is that? And I am not trying to be metaphoric when I talk about the scent of shopping, it is the kind that hits you like a rubberband and sends you right to that time in your life that makes you remember. My memory of shopping has always beeen a good thing. It seems as if I can always count on seeing something new or something that I “want” or “need” and as I drop it in my cart, a feeling of satisfaction follows it.

Maybe it is the memory of my dad and I shopping together. We always had the best times and I was dubbed his little shopping buddy. As a young child, he didn’t have a lot, though, as an adult, he quickly worked his way up through the ranks and was pretty successful.  I grew up in what you might call a privileged childhood. The window of my bedroom had an ocean view and I grew up not hearing the same discussions that my kids have had to, about money and the lack of it,  about bills, due dates and the arguments that sometimes followed…

My childhood had it’s issues but one of them was not money though I was not spoiled. I had an allowance and was taught the value of the dollar. However, I do remember oddly enough, the one thing my dad was worried about was retirement. He was always planning some new retirement investment and  even discussed his strategies with me. Unforunately, he died at 51 jogging around our beautiful neighborhood and never really got to relax and enjoy much of it , which made a big impact on me through the years.

I have never needed a lot. I always looked at price tags and would even tell my dad I didn’t like something if I thought it was too over priced. Even so…  I have an inkling that I have had lessons that I have needed to learn about the value of several differnt things in my lifetime. I am not sure what God is preparing me for but I have learned a lot by my own mistakes and the mistakes of my friends. I’ve had friends who had nothing as kids and then made it big and lost everything and have had a difficult time dealing with their lack of. Having nothing and then almost too much and then nothing again. Jesus is a story teller, he taught many lessons with metaphors. Perhaps, why I love them so much. But I figure there has got to be a lesson in here somewhere for me.

I have been reading the Prodigal God  http://eprodigals.com/the-prodigal-son/prodigal-god-tim-keller.html?gclid=CJWXqry_7LICFcV7QgodPxIAaQ And it is so timely for me! It is from such a different perspective. Not really about just forgiving the younger son. But Jesus was teaching a lesson about the older brother’s attitude more than anything. I have found myself in both places through out my life. I have been the Prodigal son, needing my Father’s forgivenss for squandering what I had foolishly and then also the Prodigal Brother, resenting what was given in what I determine as being  unearned.

I have been there a few times. Financially devestated, but by the grace of God, always having “just enough” Always working towards more and sometimes even getting it. But maybe that is the lesson.  God’s Word is like that scent, the familiarity of walking through the doors feeling the want and need rise up inside of me, always the chance to find something new. But how much do I drop in my cart? How much do I take with me out the door? I have finally realized I have been looking in all the wrong places to fill up my cart.

I don’t have to walk through the doors of a store with an empty shopping cart in anticipation of getting filled up, I can go back to that familiar place, the one that always seems to welcome me with open arms… and everyday, find something I “need” and “want.”

●The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”  (Luke 15:21) But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  (Luke 15:22) Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  (Luke 15:23) For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate.  (Luke 15:24)

The Ring


The first time I got married, we bought our rings at Gemco. I still remember, they were just little bands of gold. Mine fit perfectly inside of his. Our Pastor made up a quick little off the cuff sermon about them when they were placed in his hand. Something about, how the circle was unbroken and how the man protects his wife. Well, that didn’t work out too well now did it? The circle was eventually broken and as for protecting… well my heart was shattered into a million pieces and so I think not.

I remember once after we had separated, I had taken mine off. It had been almost as painful as removing my actual finger. Over the years, after we were more financially stable,  he added to that little band of gold and had given me a beautiful diamond engagement ring  for Christmas one year. Several years later, the diamond fell out and I had been devastated  and stopped wearing it until we could replace the diamond. We never did. But I always wore that little band of gold. Always, till I didn’t.  I remember noticing that he still had his on long after we had separated and it kind of tugged at my heart in such a way, I still can feel it today. There is just something about a man wearing your ring after you have taken his off that gets to you.

I have since remarried and  was given a new beautiful diamond ring that I’ve worn since. It has weathered many years. Last year, the band broke, it had just worn down and split right in the middle. It kept pinching my finger and so I finally took it off. My husband (the giver of that ring) and I were going through some rough times and so it was kind of apropos. I placed it in my jewelry box and I remember feeling sad but kind of free. Though when I saw my husband wearing his ring, I felt that same pain that touched the core of my heart again. And yet, I reasoned that my ring was broken and so it remained in my jewelry box.

A ring has a lot of symbolism for many of us. We all probably could share a story or two about a ring  in each of our lives. I won’t go into exactly what was going on in my life, but I went ringless for almost an entire year. All I will say is that it was timely and pretty sympbolic. But every time I would see my husband’s ring on his hand, something struck me. Perhaps it was his loyalty and steadfastness, because no matter what happened, he kept that ring on.

Christmas was on a Sunday this last year. My husband had to work. We had done presents earlier because we knew we had to go to church and he would have to leave early from there to go to work.  I was not expecting it when he squeezed my leg to say goodbye and pressed a little velvet box in my hand. I looked down as he walked out of the church. I opened the box and there was my shiny diamond ring with a brand new band. I sat there holding it. Feeling as if I did not deserve the ring nor the husband.

It wasn’t as romantic as it could have been. He hadn’t stayed to slip it on my finger or even to see if I would do it myself. I felt kind of empty sitting there looking at it as he walked out the door. There I sat in church with my sweet daughter who had come for Christmas, sitting beside me. She knowingly watched me. she had known, been in on the “surprise” she knew too much as it was. I put on the ring and smiled at her. She smiled back. The singing stopped and we sat down to listen to the sermon. So much was going on in my head,  I don’t think I heard any of it that day.

Today I look at that ring. Several months have passed. Several emotions and conversations later and it still remains on that finger since I slipped it back on, in church that day. Yesterday, I was noticing that in all the rings I have ever worn, this one just seems to fit perfectly. Maybe it is the great job the jeweler did in fixing it, but just maybe it is the ONE that is supposed to be on my finger. The one that The best “REPAIRER” of  all rings and hearts and all good things is still working on.

A Thing of Beauty in an Unexpected Place


Our little historical clocktower building before the earthquake

Every once in a while I will run into an old customer that asks me if we are ever going to re-open our little gift shop, Rose In The Woods (the name was supposed to mean A thing of beauty in an unexpected place) that was destroyed in the San Simeon earthquake in 2003. The other day, someone asked me that again, they even told me that they saved an old receipt from my store that day and that she still carried it around with her all these years later, as a reminder of just how short life is.  That is when I  realized that I hadn’t talked about it for a long time.  But it is good for me to be reminded where we have been and where we are now and to remind myself that even  today… I am a survivor. Maybe you could even refer to my whole journey as a thing of beauty in an unexpected place.

But for those of you who don’t know my story…. I will tell it here…to share with you and to remind myself once again… to be grateful. And hopefully soon I will get this lesson I am supposed to be getting or quite possibly should have already gotten!!!!

It was a few days before Christmas, my daughter Brooke and I planned to drive about an hour away to a neighboring town with a mall, to go Christmas shopping. As I wrapped up each customer’s purchases in our special bags with ribbons and tissues, they would announce that “this was their last gift that they had to buy.” And I’d think to myself, how I hadn’t even started shopping yet and panic just a little!

 We’d planned to leave our little store in the hands of our employee and sneak away to take a stab at our own Christmas shopping that day and were looking forward to spending the day together shopping at other people’s stores!


As I drove up in front of our store, my daughter Brooke who was 15 at the time, asked if she could wait in the car. It was before ipods and maybe even texting but I knew that she could entertain herself with the FM radio and CDs for the time it took me to open. I used to put cookies and hot apple cider out during the holidays and for some reason, I was able  coax her into coming in that morning, explaining that if she helped me open, the sooner we could get out of there. Our employee happened to be late getting there that day and so she surprised me by jumping out of the car agreeing to help, and followed me in.

As we were opening,  a customer walked in and the Federal Express guy pulled up with a back order of quilts for me as my daughter pleaded, “Pleeease mom, DON’T open that package NOW!”  I used to hang all my quilts on a fat dowel with ribbons in order to be displayed better, and I told her that I had to open them because it was so close to Christmas and they were already late but that we could just price them in their plasic zippered bags and asked her to just put them in a basket up front to at least have them out.

About that time, our employee showed up as another customer walked in and my husband who was in his office across the street, above the chamber, called and asked Brooke to run an errand for him. We both rolled our eyes as if to say “We are NEVER going to get out of here” but she ran out the door to do as he asked. As  I finished pricing the quilts and my employee started dusting,  we heard a loud bang that exploded outside, shaking our building.  For some reason, I yelled for everyone to get in the back and they did. At first we thought it might be a bomb because we were in the midst of talks about terroists during those days back then, but as soon as the ground began to rumble and our painted little wooden floor seemed to roll like a wave was beneath it, I knew it was an earthquake. The women screamed. It was all just a little too surreal. Suddenly everything stopped after what seemed like minutes and once it was over, a wall of bricks fell through our roof right where my daughter would have been placing the basket of quilts.

Outside was mayhem. As we stumbled out, unhurt, I found my daughter crying as my husband held her and I ran to them and hugged them both tight. Brooke was in the middle of the street when my husband  found her still clutching the coffee cup that was an order for a customer, she’d been bringing back over for pick up . She watched the whole thing. She said after she walked down the stairs and started crossing the street, she heard the building crack and then saw our awning in the front of the store snap around to the side of the building and then felt the rumble and watched as the clock tower fell from our historical building

and then saw the roof slide down onto all of the cars below.

Someone told me later that my husband barely touched the stairs as he flew down them, knowing that our daughter had just walked out the door and went to find her. He immediately asked “Where’s your mom?” And she sobbed, pointing  across the street where the wall of bricks had just fallen into our store. They just stood there for what seemed like hours but was maybe just a few minutes until I opened the door and we all ran out.

My husband’s  brand new truck, was parked a few spaces from mine. The dust was similar to what happened during 911, it was hard to see. People immediately started pulling bricks from cars and my heart stopped as I saw my car and pulled the sleeve of a good samaratin explaining through my tears that no one was in that car. It was flattened to about the height of my waist. No one would have ever survived. (It is the blue Explorer above)

And that is when I realized how God had spared my baby, our whole family. Sadly they found two women who were working at the store next to ours. They had run out the front door and were found in-between our car and another. For several weeks I kept hearing how people had thought that they had been Brookie and I.

Cars Parked on Park St. after the earthquake

I am not sure why I knew to tell everyone to get in the back but I know it was not me. My daughter told me that she had cried to me later asking “Why did God make this have to happen to us?” And I replied. “He didn’t make this happen. He SAVED us.” A conversation I don’t remember ever having but one that impacted her in a special way, ever since.

I have no doubt that God sent HIS Angels that day

For a while I thought that the experience would have changed me. It has in a way. I realize that those two women could have been us. I realize that my baby could have been waiting in the car that day or putting the quilts in the front of the store where the wall of bricks fell. I realize how everything was finely orchestrated that day. Every step, every phone call, right down to our employee being late to the spot in the road where my daughter safely stood as if Angels surrounded her there as she watched the world as she knew it, come crashing down around her with not so much as a scratch on her.

I don’t know why not us when the two other ladies were found dead, but I know that I learned that day that stuff is just stuff and even though we lost everything materially (though our vehicles were covered by our insurance)  this story would be totally different if it had ended another way. I know that dents in cars, spots on carpets and material things are not as important as they used to be to me. I also know that we were pretty spoiled back then and I didn’t appreciate then, what I do have half as much as I do now. And that if nothing great happens ever again. THIS is ENOUGH.

 I don’t know why bad stuff happens to good people, but I do know that God did save us and He can take anything and make it beautiful again. Even a little rose in the rubble. Even me. As I am…..still and always will be…

a work in progress!

Connecting


fighting couple back to back

I try to connect with you and you ask what that means, I tell you,” that if you have to ask, you will never understand.” It is not something that a string of words can ever convey. No sentence can reveal how hearts connect, they just do.

hugging in the rain

I have learned just recently, that I haven’t forgotten how to connect. How easy it would be to not work on us and just settle back and allow this new connection to take me away…

For I have learned that…

 

Connecting is lying on the beach with my eyes closed listening as you read my words back to me just the way I heard them in my head, all with the same tones and inflections that I felt when I wrote them. Connecting is looking up and finding tears in your eyes when I am done reading something that I wrote. Connecting is “just” kissing until our lips are chapped, or washing the tar off of my feet. It is buying me a warm jacket when I am cold or a flashlight when I tell you it is dark at work at night. It is making me call when I get home to tell you I am safe. It is knowing what is important to each other and just doing it without asking. It is saying I love you a million times a day because you need to hear it. And it is finding the place where my glasses waited for me and paying the balance so that I could pick them up. Even though I didn’t want to succumb to finally admitting I needed them, glasses that is… It feels good …to feel important again. Not just in words but in actual actions…  Even though it took a lifetime to appreciate each other, it still is nice. And yet it is scary because our connection is so wrong in ways I can ‘t explain here. You know it is.

And so I remember and try to hold on for dear life and try to remember when “we” connected. And I remember, And I even still feel it sometimes when I remember ….

Jim & Brooke

Connecting is telling you that story about the woman whose husband surprised her and went grocery shopping for all the stuff she needed for a dinner she was having that night and crying silly tears because I was so touched by her husband’s connection with her and having you understand and not laughing at me for crying.

Connecting is when you called me up to wish me a Happy Birthday when I was going through my divorce. Or when you asked to take my son on a Father and Son boating thing and then turned it into a family thing so I could go too, and pretend for one day that we were a family. Or when you followed us home during the LA Riots to make sure we got home okay. Connecting is when that warm feeling came over me when I watched your car lights as you drove away. Connecting was talking for hours about our lives, our broken hearts, our dreams and never wanting the night to end. Connecting is when you took my kids with you when you asked me to marry you and made them a part of the celebration. Connecting was when you made us a family.

 

Connecting might be things that other people do. Or it might be things that I have found in my friends or my passions, it might find me far away from the place I thought connecting was yesterday and it is scary for me to wander off too far trying to find it. But I crave it and yes, I have wandered and it felt so good and so horrible all in one fragile breath, gasping just trying to breathe.

holding hands at sunset

It is not asking me to take a walk and  then joking about the different word counts our counselor told us were allotted to  men and women  by telling me that you were pretty sure that you had already used up your 5000 words for the day and you were darn sure that I must not have too many of my 25,000 left!  Not connecting is not about the crumbs you leave on the counter or the bread you don’t put away, those are just silly things that wouldn’t ever be noticed if only we had never disconnected. But somehow life happened and the link that seemed to connect us broke


.love never fails

So many years have passed. So much water has gone under the bridge. So many mistakes have been made, mostly by me but maybe because we forgot what “connecting” really means.

 

 

You can accomplish ANYTHING if you don’t care who gets the credit!


We are in the midst of an election year and I must say that I am already weary as I watch the gas prices fluctuate and hear all the rhetoric from both parties and wonder where has character gone? Where are the Mr. Waltons and President Regans of yesterday?  Are they really a thing of the past?

My favorite saying has always been something I saw on President Regan’s desk several years ago when I visited his library. It basically said: “You can accomplish anything if you don’t care who gets the credit” He will always be my very favorite president.I loved Regan and feel he really lived that.  I wish I knew more people who did. I wish I could say I did.  If I really think about the people I know who hide behind their good works, it is barely a handful. Politicians are notorious for NOT doing that during elections, they are continuously boasting about their accomplishments which are usually more fabricated than not. Even Ministers have incorporated their acts of goodness into their sermon and it is surprising. Don’t people realize how transparent they are when they are sharing their own good deeds?

After the earthquake, I was given a column in our local magazine called Acts of Kindness. I had started writing about the kindnesses people did for us after we lost our store and vehicles and it kind of snowballed into a regular column.  I was given an article a month for almost a year and filled it with my own words of gratitude for different people in my life. Later,  I offered to tell other people’s stories and not one person submitted anything. It was weird. I knew people read my column because I always got lots of good feedback but  it was funny, I thought if someone was given the chance to thank someone else publically, this was their opportunity. And even though I could probably write forever thanking people in my own life, the column ran it’s course and I just began doing random assignments until I had to get a “real” job. But it was fun while it lasted. To be able to thank wonderful people for doing wonderful things for you, and get paid for it while doing it, was pretty cool!

There is a new little blirb in a woman’s magazine that has the same idea and publishes submitted stories of acts of kindnesses weekly. I love the ones where people share what other people did for them but it is hard for me to read the ones where they are telling what they did for someone else. I want to say, “really?” It includes their name and town and state and it just doesn’t sit well with me.

I wish I could be more like people who donate without telling anyone or work in a soup kitchen weekly or volunteer at a shelter and you would never know it unless it came up by accident. My dad is that kind of man. He has bailed me out of more than a few financial crisis and loaned me more than a few loans that he has forgiven. He goes and mows another churches’ lawn on a pretty steep hill and doesn’t even go to that church. His tithing does not just stop when they pass the offering plate. He quietly keeps on giving everyday of his life. Whether it is to mentor my son or to love my daughter or to lend a helping hand at whatever he can. A widow who needs yard work or chairs that need to be set up. He quietly does it without wanting anyone to know.

He paid for our dog’s vet bill when we were struggling and gave us Buddy back for a few more years. And you know what? I KNOW he has done many more things that I don’t even know about because he truly lives the words of not caring about getting the credit.  Yep. When I grow up, I want to be just like him. My dad.

The Difference Makers


A child is supposed to feel safe. And yet if that is the case, why are so many adults in therapy?

Some people had wonderful childhoods and were raised with caring and loving parents who taught them right from wrong, others had good parents and comfortable childhoods and their parents made mistakes but did the best they could. And still, others had horrific childhoods and terrible parents and seem perfectly fine. And yet all of these people have one thing in common. An inner child who is still there.

Recently, I have gone through a process of recognizing my inner child. She is the one who doesn’t trust because those who she trusted hurt her. She is the one who was never allowed to talk about her anger and so she learned how to lash out. She is the one who always wanted a voice, and now speaks too loudly sometimes. She is the one who felt so out of control most of her life, so that now she needs to control EVERTYTHING!. She is the one who was disappointed and so only sees the negative in things so she will never be disappointed again.

Ahhh, that feels so negative. It really isn’t. My inner child remembers the great things too. She loves to learn and organize and create and run and laugh and play. She has a special handful of friends that she trusts with her life and would do anything for. She always looks forward to a good time. She is in there too, all of her. Experiences and memories, Lessons and moments, all moving her along like editing a motion picture.

Stop and close your eyes and find your inner child. Who is he or she, really? If we all got a chance to go back and meet each other’s inner children, and really understand where the guy who cut you off on the freeway or the back stabbing, coworker at work first began, perhaps maybe we would have more compassion for all of them.

The little girl who was always worried that her Daddy wouldn’t get home safely because of his drinking, the little boy who felt brushed aside because his mother was too busy getting ready to go out. The kid who always heard fighting and never knew when the next explosion would take place. The little step son who never could do anything right, the kid who always waited for his dad to show up when each time he never did.

Always lonely, always worried, always brushed aside, feeling unimportant, abandoned,  the one who started out not fitting into his own family, always seeking the perfect place where he could feel as if he belonged. The little girl who had to grow up fast because she wasn’t allowed to be the child. Always fixing, always nurturing.  Always performing, and yet she was just a little girl, but today not quite a grown up.

And yet the parents that did come through, the other family members who stepped up to the plate when they were needed most, the friends and mentors, the teachers, the ones who gave them a voice, the protectors and rescuers, of those who were lucky enough to have them, all MADE A DIFFERENCE.

Today, if we look inside of ourselves, we all can find a piece of that child still lingering inside of each of us. Perhaps if we all reached out to just one child we recognized as hurting, and began mentoring instead of criticizing, hugging instead of scolding, teaching instead of berating, sharing with instead of rushing away, we might just break the cycle and begin to lead the way, to find the children and to become the protector, the mentor and the difference maker, in a way helps lead the child inside of them to a place where we all can grow up and be someone else’s hero. Because…. all of those children eventually grow up to remember the difference makers in their own lives and hopefully, someday will grow up to  become somebody else’s hero.

That Comfortable Place


ImageImageSometimes my mind replays like a home movie. Summer time and being a kid always snaps me right back to my grandma’s at Lake Washington. My cousin Pammy was my first best friend and we would spend a few weeks together each year there, and I always had “Summer” to look forward to. Back then, the simple things filled me up with such contentment and joy. If only I could bottle those moments and take a swig every time I needed to feel that feeling again.

Funny how later, I let other things get in the way of those trips. I think that I was about sixteen and driving the first year I missed Seattle because of boys and jobs and other things I thought were more important back then. Now, I would give anything to recapture some of those moments for just a few days in my life.

I remember the smell of coffee and the first rays of sunlight flooding my room as I would pad down the stairs on those lazy summer mornings. Our days were not filled with anything special. Most were just hanging out and swimming and exploring the nearby woods. Sometimes I would invent adventures that my cousin usually was a willing participant in. We could spend hours planning shows and making tickets for our parents who would be the audience whether they liked it or not, or walking to the nearby store and sometimes sneaking to the lake instead.

Every empty building held a story that I would make up. The old girl’s boarding school, now all boarded up, held stories of characters that I would build adventures around. The big old corner house at the end of the block was definitely haunted. As well as the Synagogue around the block and our grandma’s basement! I was a writer and my imagination was my pen and my sweet little cousin a willing reader.

Today, those memories are like old books on a shelf, stories tucked inside the pages, not forgotten but hazy from time and space. Once opened, the scent of the pages and the joy of remembering seem to snap you into another time and place. Much like today. It is summer. So many decades later, and I want it all back. I want to go down the rabbit hole and spend my day in yesterday where our biggest problem was what bathing suit to wear to the pool.

This last weekend, I spent a few days visiting my childhood best friend. I met my daughter up there and we bunked together. I realize more and more how my baby reminds me so much of my little cousin and realize that I actually have “made” my own best friend! I enjoy her so much and love the quirky, crazy wonderful, fun, talented person she is becoming! It was so much fun having a slumber party with her for just a few days. Each night we would talk until the wee hours of the night… about silly memories and important things, about things that made us laugh till we cried and other things that just made us cry.  It reminded me of that comfortable place I shared with my cousin so many years ago. And for a tiny moment, I was transported back to those lazy summer nights where nothing mattered and yet every minute was the most important of all and it made me treasure the fact that every moment is what you make it.

Survivors


As we go through life, we take on different roles. Daughter, Sister, Wife,  Mother, Aunt, Friend and eventually Grandmother. We take advice, and later even offer it. The life we live along the way prepares us for the roles we take on. Our stories all have lessons we each can learn from. Even our struggles and sorrows are eventually gifts of wisdom. As survivors of different trials we go through, we can offer hope and guidance for others when they see us come out of our own valleys without the battle scars they fear. And what scars we do retain, we can wear them as badges of honor for we are SURVIVORS.

The red flags we learn to be aware of, the lessons learned, the wisdom we can offer all are important pieces to the puzzle. Sometimes some of the pieces are missing and it takes a long time to find where they fit in order to see the bigger picture. But once all the pieces are in place, all the lessons are learned and all the pictures are made, we put them all back in the box, shake it up and make the pictures all over again!

There’s No Place Like Home


Sometimes we have to wander far away from the storm, trying to find the rainbow, before we realize the lessons we have learned along the way. We encounter those looking for wisdom and courage and love and want to be a part of their journey. Perhaps we think that if they find it, so will we. And so… we get caught up in the seeking, we are fooled by our own desires.

If we are lucky enough to find out that the little man behind the curtain is only a little man behind the curtain, then we are ahead of the game. But more than not, we seek the answer in all the wrong places. We put hope in the world and we follow the beat of what the world deems popular rather than looking within and finding that in the end, all that we ever needed was always there for us… in our own backyard and that there really is; “no place like home.”

Beginning In The Middle


I think that admitting you are middle aged is like turning the light on. Though, recognizing what a full blown mid life crisis is and that we are having one is a little less easy. Sometimes when we are in the dark for so long, we don’t realize that just turning on a light would help us see things a little better. I think that I have been in the dark for a few years now. I would never have suspected that I would be in the throws of the classic symptoms of a mid life crisis and have missed them all together but now as I turn around and look at where I have been recently and what I have done, I am sure or maybe even positive that I have been experiencing just that.

A young girl with a lot of wisdom and research under her belt spoke to me about hormones and the mixture of menopaus and my experience with my now empty nest mixed in with a bit of being stuck in a marriage that seemed to be on a merry go round of excuses and wah lah you have what we define as a mid life crisis. The problem was just how far I took mine.

Stuck in a job that didn’t leave room for a lot of creativity which is what I crave, lost in regret of many areas of my past, guilt about a divorce, anger about a past relationship even  before my marriage that defined much of who I am now, and pieces of my childhood that seemed fragmented into much pain, my current marriage barely had a chance.

Go forward a thousand years and I found myself right in the middle of a profound place of being stuck…. My dad died when I was twenty six. I thought I would never stop grieving over that. I was not ready to lose a parent yet and was devestated. Even today, I can find uncried tears easily when I think of it too hard. Death is difficult at any age, but when it is cut short so early there is something that just never seems right about it. And even though we were divorced, when my first husband died it was all surreal. It didn’t rock my world as I might have thought. It all happened so fast. And I truly think that I am just afraid to go there. To really feel the pain about losing the father of my children, to wonder what if… and the guilt of the divorce. When he told me he was dying, he said something that made me feel that he thought that maybe if we had stayed together, I may have magically been able to stop this from happening… his dying I mean.  I can’t seem to get it out of my head… what he said when he told me he was dying… I said… “I should have stayed with you to nag you about your smoking.” And he said, “I knew you were going to think that.” I didn’t really think that. I just said it, to have something to say in a moment of having nothing. Maybe he thought that. I never knew.

I don’t think that I have dealt with a lot of pain in my life. I think that I have pushed it all away and at times it comes out in anger and in other times bad judgement, as I look for things to numb it. Alcohol and drugs is a temporary fix. I don’t like the way they make me feel after it has all worn off… and so I must go on the journey to find something opposite to numbing the pain. I need to finally deal with the pain and in turn heal the wounds. I have started on this journey and made mistakes along the way… this blog is my way of sharing that journey, my mistakes and in turn, hoping to find some answers for us all.

Turning Pages


Prologue
Reference to real people, events establishments or places are intended to only provide a sense of authenticity and are used fictitiously.
Once upon a time in an age before cell phones or personal computers, Ipods or even taped messages there lived a girl who had a dream, she wanted to be a writer. It was the summer of her sixteenth year when diaries were still in books with locks on them and the secrets were all just dreams of what might be. Images of houses with families inside, behind white picket fences and the hope of what would come next, danced through her head and found their way onto the pages, she wrote late into the wee hours many nights, pouring out her dreams onto the pages in way of poetry. Such raw and corny words, fell upon the pages as the young girl slowly filled the book, waiting for her innocent prayers to be answered, for her prince charming to rescue her and whisk her away into the life she was meant to have.
That old book was packed away, life happened in-between and recently while going through storage boxes the book was discovered again by the girl, not so young anymore, the one who had packed it away so many decades ago. Now much wiser and much more worn out, the woman held that book close and slowly opened the pages breathing in hints of yesterday, flipping through the pages, now yellowed with age. “What’s that?” Her daughter asked walking in the door, finding her mother deep into whatever it was that she was reading. She hadn’t even looked up when Brynne walked in the door nor had she heard her questions, but just the muffled interruption as she stopped reading for a minute.
The older woman looked up and smiled a melancholy kind of mood seemed to envelope her, Brynne was puzzled. Her mom always had the TV on for background company even if she wasn’t watching it. But today, she sat by the fire in silence with a book. Brynne frowned and sat down next to her mom as her mom began reading a few of the pages aloud to her. She stopped to make sure that she had not lost her daughter’s interest back somewhere at the first page but noted that she looked intrigued. Inspired by the attention she seemed to have captured the woman,Keri, explained to her daughter…”I started writing this book when I was about your age.” Brynne listened interested. “I never told you this part of my story she said.” Maybe it’s time I try to tell it to you now.
Brynne, who was always in a hurry curled her feet up under her and grabbed a throw as she settled in to listen to her mom read. Keri began reading, she read a page and then the next one and paused thinking that Brynne would be bored but Brynne motioned her mom to continue reading.
Aperture
Back in the seventies letter writing and phone calls were about the only means of communicating.  Journals were in bound books and writers still wrote their ideas on napkins and then transferred them onto the pages wound tightly in their typewriters. If addresses or numbers or names were changed, finding them again didn’t hold out much more hope than a message in a bottle might. The inventors of E-mails, Facebook,  twitter and texting were  not yet born. Little did we know what lie ahead. But my dad did.
In 1966, when I was about nine, my dad took me to his office filled with huge computers and disk drives and told me….
“Someday all these computers that fill this room will sit on just one desk … and maybe even in our life time, you will be able to hold one within the palm of your hand.”
 My first love recently found me on Face book. Our story is bittersweet. For over three decades I only allowed myself to remember the ugly part of our love story and basically stayed stuck there for all of these years. This story is about it all. (The ugly and the beautiful.)
  Everyone’s first love should be a sweet memory. Now through today’s technology I have recently,  I have been given that gift back again. The message here is not just about the mistakes made by the ones in love but by the adults in their life, the secrets kept, the sorrow and pain of young love lost.
In the seventies, we learned;  Love means never having to say  you’re sorry. I have to modify that today by saying.  Love is all about forgiveness.