A New Year

Somehow, I dread this holiday much more than Christmas. Christmas is about family and children. It is full of joy even when your heart doesn’t seem to have any.

But, New Year’s was always about us. From the beginning of our “second” life together, we made New Year’s special.

We didn’t always go out for entertainment, even though, one of my favorite memories was the year we spent New Year’s Eve at the symphony.

It was a wonderful “Signature Series” and Beethoven was featured. Dan had played most of the music and he was enthralled.

new-years-eve-19962We were a sharp looking couple and we enjoyed the attention especially the Champayne that was included in the cost of the tickets. (at least, I did)

Most times, it was he and I looking back over the year and marveling how many things were done. Some, we planned, some we didn’t know how they occurred, but always in a quiet awe that we had accomplishments that was beyond ourselves.

Our greatest blessing that we counted was having each other. We realized that we could have lived a lifetime and never known this kind of love.

But, now, the lifetime that we had together is over and I am not looking forward to the years ahead that are without him. I know that I will go on with all my wonderings as to why, but that doesn’t really matter any more. I know that I must leave this life behind and let it go.

It is with great pain that I face this New Year, but I know that I have no other alternative. Whatever happens, good or not so good, it can’t be more painful than what I have been living…. Funny, grief can make you fearless…

As, my friend, Roads wrote on his blog, “The Price Of Love”, he received a comment that, even though it is true, was difficult to hear. It puts all of this journey in percective. My paraphrase of it is at follows:

“Grief and bevearment is nothing but a long continual readjustment…”

I think that puts it into a few words, but it is true, none the less. One day at a time, is the only way I know how to look at my future. I cannot grasp seeing it in  terms of a year or years or “milestones”…so, this day, I will look back and then I will look forward to tomorrow. Not the idea of “my tomorrows”, but rather,  the literal tomorrow…that is all that I have the strength to do…

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A Daughter’s Sorrow; A Christmas Wish

On my blog roll, there is a site listed  “Just My Thoughts”. It belongs to my husband’s oldest daughter. On this site, she writes about her father’s illness, her children and other things that are close to her heart.

One of entries was about her fear of loosing the memory of her father’s voice and how she lost her “Protector”. She calls and emails from time to time, but, as for many, the contact with me causes her pain. I am the remenant of her father and the hurt is just too much to bear.

She  mentioned that others have memories that she does not have. Some are good and some are not so good. I  posted this comment on her blog.

Dear One,
You knew the real person that lived inside your dad. He didn’t allow many to see this side, but you did and he wanted you to know him.

Yes, you are the same artist and lover of beauty that he was. He couldn’t live without music playing in the house. He was always looking for that inspiring sight that he recorded deep inside his soul. As with you, his innermost being was that of an artist.

 

I believe that, had he been granted the wish to live his life over, he would would choose to be that long haired “hippie dude” playing the bass violin in the symphony orchestra…a true bohemian, who would have thrilled to the sounds of music created by the orchestra every night.

He would have sculpted the wonders around him and yes, he would have ridden his Harley as his primary vehicle.

Like a diamond,  he was so multi faceted, and you, dear heart,  are a part of that flawed but, brilliant gem.

I am coming to terms with the lack of his presence. I can imagine him riding a moonbeam or I can see him standing before God’s throne singing the songs of the Redeemed.

Never forget, angels cannot sing about being redeemed. They can never know, as a personal experience, the price of sin and its effects on our human life.

You father knew the experience of redemption. Your father knew exactly from what  he was saved and how much he was forgiven.

Regarding those things that people remember about the dark side of your father’s life, unfortunately, they may not be able to know nor can they comprehend this miracle. It is their loss.

Your father knew all of the things that are remembered by others. Now, he knows  his freedom to be all that he was created to be. 

I lived with him during his metamorphasis and that is why I am so confident in the man that was renewed.

Even in sorrow, I can rejoice that your father left this world a wonderfully changed person He left a completed man….He was REDEEMED…and God has welcomed him with open arms…

It will forever be my privilege to have known the man before redemption and after it. I loved both men and I am the richer for it…so are you, Dear-heart..You are the fruit of the man that lives on. Your children are the testament to his life…

         

           Love always,

           Mom II

  

As I thought more about the man that my husband became, I realized that it was not me, not circumstance, not anything of this earthly life that caused him to become that wonderful man.

 

It was  a “Saving Grace”, the unmerited favor, of his God that penetrated his heart and caused him to finally become what God intended from beginning of the foundations of this earth.

 

He did reach this final goal.

 

I believe all of us are doing the same. We are on a lifelong journey to discover and to become what our Creator designed us to be.

 

My husband was a loving and caring man. He was a concerned and compassionate father.  He was a man who could not allow a day to pass without praying for those he loved.

 

He was the man that said, ” Oh, Lord, let there be nothing between You and me.”

 

It must be have been hard for his oldest daughter to hear what others said about her father. Those who once knew him but never knew him as the finished product can never comprehend the change in him. They knew the “old man”. They never knew the “new man”.

 

As Jesus said to those who were amazed by the miracle of Lazarus rising from the grave, “Loose that man and let him go”. That is what I want to say to those who only remember the man he was.  “Loose him and let go of what was, he is not the same man.” 

 

He is no longer bound by his actions of the past or the opinions of others. He no longer must pay the consequences for his actions and choices. He was loosed from those things that bound his heart and soul for so long. He is finally free to love without fear.

 

It is sad that there are those who will never see the miracle of a changed life because they insist on holding on to the pain and anger of the past.  Little do they know that they are running the risk of becoming one as a person bound in grave clothes… tied to past pains and old resentments.  

 

While it is human to bear resentment and grudges, the human soul cannot live with long remembered pains. Should we refuse to forgive, and hold onto to these past hurts, these resentments can become a great price that is paid on the alter of “dead” issues. 

 

They can hang like a millstone around our necks. The longer we refuse to let them go, their weight increases with bitterness. . As bitterness grows, it eventually crushes the life out of a person.

 

No one can bind my husband any longer. I like to imagine him riding a raindrop as he once rode his Harley.  If that isn’t fast enough for him, I can imagine him riding on the tail of a gas filed comet. In my mind’s eye, I see singing in the choir of the Redeemed.

 

I fail to understand why our human condition continues to look for him here? He is no longer held down by this world. He is free…and he is at Peace…

 

This man loved Christmas. I have no problem imagining him singing the original songs of the Heavenly Hosts. I can hear him sing along with the Angels as they sing their songs of comfort and joy  to the shepherds.

epiphany1It brings me joy to think that he  is celebrating with the original angelic throng who sang God’s announcement of

                  ” Peace On Earth, Good Will to Man”.

As the final moments of this Christmas Day come, I wonder, if, I listen carefully, maybe, I can hear his sweet tenor harmonizing with God’s angels?.

 

 He has every reason to sing.  He will gladly lift his voice and join in the heavenly celebration because he knows that, we on earth, are remembering that his Savior was born…Somehow, this brings me comfort. I am doing my best to have a good Christmas….I wish you all a Merry one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our First Date

As we pulled into the driveway, the porch light began to flash and I knew that the strobe light effect meant that my mother was at the door signaling for me to come inside. The Preacher’s Son walked me to the door but, instead of the anticipated  lightening bolt, he gave me a quick kiss and said, “Until Friday…” then he was gone.

As I went into the house, I was full of emotion.. Joy, disappointment, fear, excitement and anticipation… they filled me at the same time. What a whirlwind! It was a little frightening. As I tried to fall asleep, all I could think about was our upcoming date on Friday.

The next few days were torturous. I had no idea that the whirlwind would turn into such a drama.

My old boyfriend had rallied his friends to come to his aide. The next morning, I was met after my first class by a freshman girl that I had never seen before that moment.  She proceeded to walk beside me as I made my way to my next class.

She began the conversation with complimenting me on my performance in the recent musical and then she started telling me how she and the Preacher’s Son had been out together in his car drinking earlier in the week.

Later, I learned that she lived close by my old boyfriend and she was known as “Hot Pants”. Her nickname was from wearing the shortest of shorts and her reputation seemed to mirror her nickname.

I didn’t understand her intentions or why she thought that she could find me and start this kind of a conversation. I didn’t know her. Why she was in the 300 building?

This was a brand new building and most all of the classes held in the building were at the Senior level. As far as I knew, there were no freshman classes in this building, so that meant that she had to leave the main building,  get to my classroom, walk with me to my next class and then try and make it to her class. Why was she willing to get into trouble for being late to her class? It didn’t make sense to me.

She was there the next day and I began to dread the ending of my  economics class. Again, she was outside the door waiting for me. Again, she had some story of an escapade that she and the Preacher’s Son had supposedly done. I didn’t like this at all, but it wasn’t enough for me to call off my date with the Preacher’s Son.

Word spread quickly about my breaking up with my boyfriend. Everyone wanted to know why especially everyone in Advanced Choir. They asked me who I was dating. I said nothing. All of this interrogation made me more resolved to say nothing.

Even though I didn’t run in the circle of “the popular kids”, I knew most everyone in my senior class and they knew of me. Imagine my surprise when some of the guys that I was in class with began wanting to talk to me about my breakup with my boyfriend and that they heard that I was dating the Preacher’s Son.

Where was all this concern and attention coming from? All of this new interest in my personal life was becoming a little “much”. Where were they before I broke up with my boyfriend? Why were they saying all of these things?

I  knew the Preacher’s Son from church and work. I didn’t know anything else and so, when they began to tell me about the rumors that they heard involving the Preacher’s Son, I dismissed them. The person that I knew wasn’t anything like the person they were talking about.

I suspected that my old boyfriend was behind all of this flurry of concern. It seemed that he showed up around every corner. He followed me between classes. He followed me to the gym or he would join whatever group of friends that I was talking to after lunch. The more I tried to avoid him, the more he appeared to be everywhere that I went. It seemed that he had become my shadow.

The day of the basketball game was finally here. I was so excited. I planned what I would wear and I was ready and waiting anxiously for the Preacher’s Son to pick me up.

This was a welcomed change from being the one who did the driving and the picking up. Even though my old boyfriend had gotten his license, he wasn’t allowed to use the family car so I continued being the one to pick him up. I was excited that the Preacher’s Son was driving and that I was going to be able to sit in the middle of the front seat.

I was expecting him to drive his ’51 Ford, but instead, he had his father’s Buick. I was a little disappointed. I really liked the Ford but I thought it rather sweet that he borrowed his dad’s car to take me on our first date.

He and I arrived at the high school gym to watch the basketball game. The place was jam packed. The team was playing well and there were great hopes that we could make it to the Final Four. That was every high school’s dream.

Indiana is known for its love of high school basketball. The movie “Hoosiers” tells the story of how a small high school dreamed of beating the “big schools” and winning the title. It wasn’t any different 20 years later. This  year we all believed that our school had a shot at the title of State Champions. The year before, our team had gone to the Semi-State finals and we were hoping for a repeat and to advance into the Final Four.

I, especially, had an interest in the team. The star player was struggling to keep his grades up. To insure  that he could stay “eligible”, I and a few others were doing his homework for him.  Back then, the players had to maintain a grade average of a “C” to play ball. If they slipped under that grade average, they would not be able to play until the next grading period. By that time, the basketball season would be over.

I would do this guy’s English and Spanish assignments and someone did his math and science. I don’t remember who covered his government and history classes, but we all pitched in to keep him playing. (Who could have imagined that he would become one of Indiana’s Congressman???) I wanted to watch the game to see if my efforts were going to good use. Through this kind of investment, I believed that I was doing my part to get our school in the finals. We called it “Team Spirit”…I think that the teacher’s and the school would call it “cheating” but my senior class was wanting to win the championship…whatever it took.

As the Preacher’s Son and I threaded our way through the crowed gym, I remember thinking that I was  happy. For the first time in my life, I could say that I knew what happiness felt like.

Growing up so isolated in the country and sheltered, I had been so lonely. Most times, I didn’t allow myself to feel. I just kept thinking that someday, I would find someone who loved me and then I would be happy. There were just so many new and unfamiliar emotions that the Preacher’s Son brought along with him and I was grateful that “happiness” was one of them.

The reactions coming from my friends were strange. Some seemed to want to keep their distance. I didn’t know if this was the result of my old boyfriend or if they were upset with me for breaking up with him. It definately was different and perplexing.

As the game was ending, the Preacher’s Son wanted to know if I wanted to leave early to beat the traffic jam that would form when the game ended. The team was winning and I thought it was a good idea and we started toward the door.

As we navigated our way through the crowd, the Preacher’s Son was leading me by the hand when I felt something hard hit my hand. It broke my grasp and it startled me.

There, in front of me, stood the old boyfriend. He had broken the Preacher’s Son’s grip on my hand so that he could walk between us.

At first, I was embarrassed by his actions and then, I was angry. I stood there feeling like I was about to explode when the Preacher’s Son grabbed my hand and pulled me away toward the door.

The old boyfriend shouted  something to the Preacher’s Son that I didn’t hear clearly and when we were out of the door, I asked the Preacher’s Son what was said. He refused to tell me.

We quickly got into his father’s car and took off before the old boyfriend could follow us and start more trouble…

This was beginning to be a little too much excitement. What was up with all of this? All I wanted to do was enjoy being on a date with a guy that I really liked?  I was beginning to realize that there was more to the Preacher’s Son than I knew. At that time, I was determind to not listen to what was being said about him. I didn’t like gossip and I didn’t appreciate everyone wanting to be in “my business”.

I also was realizing that “breaking up” with the old boyfriend wasn’t going to be as simple as I thought it would be…what did he yell at the Preacher’s Son?

What did he mean, “I will see you later????”

The Only One

My life was shaped by a simple and sheltered but strong world view. It was based on my parent’s generational values. Right was right and wrong was wrong. The thought of living your life with a view point that was relevant to circumstances was totally absent. There were absolutes to be observed and truth was truth. That was it.

My world view was also shaped by my church and the “guidelines” that it set out for those who were serious about their spirtual walk with God.  The Ten Commandments were not suggestions. My church was very consevative and “holiness” was to be observed in all things including the way you dressed, how you conducted yourself and the places that you frequented. During  that period of time, I accepted and totally believed what I was taught without any doubt. I was very serious about my spiritual life and the spiritual life of others.

The other major influence on my life were my older siblings. They became  my “Signposts” as to how to navigate the years that I was fast approaching.

My brother was 15 years older and my sister was 11 years older than me . I watched their lives and assumed I would walk the same path as they.

I do not have any memories that do not include my sister’s husband. He came to the house almost every night and I, at 3 and 4 years old,  would wait  in anticipation for him.

He would pay me a quarter for every time that I told him if a “certain” boy called my sister or if she wore shorts or her bathing suit while she mowed the grass. Taking into consideration the value of a quarter in the late ’50’s, it  was the best money that I ever made. I think that it was bribery, but it paid really good. My sister was 16 when she became engaged and she was married the summer after her graduating high school.

My mother always told my brother to not date anyone that he wouldn’t want to marry. In those days of  double standards, it was good and wise advise for a young man. In the late 1950’s/ early ’60’s, should my brother get someone pregnant, there most definitely would be a “shot gun” wedding and my mother was telling him that he had better like the girls he dated.

At 7 and 8 years old, I didn’t understand the reasoning behind her advise and I didn’t comprehend  anything about a double standard for guys and girls. I only remember my brother dating one girl and she became my sister in law. I think my brother listened well to my mother’s advise.

This is how I thought everyone lived ife.  It was the way of  my sheltered and controled world and I had no reason to think otherwise. I belived that this was how life was lived and the  “Rules” applied to everyone. I was in for a great disillusion.

In the early ’70’s,  there were a lot of changes to these “rules”, but I was so isolated, I didn’t know about it. I wasn’t allowed to listen to the “rock” radio stations and on Sundays, I was not allowed to watch TV. For me, there were only 3 options as you turned the corner toward 18.

If you were prepared, you went to college. It wasn’t easy to get into college back then so you had better have your grades and your transcript acceptible if you were going. There was a big reason for the colleges and universities to be so particular. It was called “Vietnam”. Colleges may accept you, but the first semester was focused on “washing out” as many as possible so that the draft could have its necessary “supply”.

The second option was to find a job and work. It didn’t mean that you left home, but if you lived at home and had a job, you could be asked to pay “rent” . To my parent’s way of thinking, if you were working, you could contribute financially to your “room and board”. In other words, if you made money, you could pay money. This is how it was explained to me by my father and I had no reason to doubt that he would ask me to pay “rent”.

The third option was to get married. It wasn’t so unusual for many to leave high school and, in short order, marry their high school sweetheart. No one thought that you were too young to marry at 18 or 19 years old. In fact, you were expected to be able to support yourself and a family. No one thought you ill prepared for life. In fact, they thought you were missing something if you were unable or unwilling to do this.

In 1971, I was approaching my 18th birthday and I believed that I was looking at my future from a different perspective than I ever considered before meeting the Preacher’s Son.

After the kiss in the garage, I went to school on Monday and met my boyfriend after lunch. I told him that I wanted to date someone else and that this time, we were finished.

I expected him to cry, but instead, he got really angry. He wanted to know the name of the guy that I wanted to date, but I refused to tell him and this only made him angrier.

Needless to say, the next few days at school were really difficult and, even though I avoided him as much as possible, I was with him in Advanced Choir. His anger unnerved me. I didn’t expect this kind of reaction and I didn’t understand it. In my mind, it was really simple. I was done.

All the same, I was relieved that I was finally free of my obligation to the director and I was also free to date the Preacher’s Son.

After school, I went to work and I told my sister in law that I “broke up” with my boyfriend. I knew that she would tell the Preacher’s Son.

He wasn’t at the plant when I arrived after school. My brother had taught him to drive one of the semi tractor and trailers  and he was making deliveries. Instead of  walking down to the sawmill break room, I might see him when came into the office to pick up his bills of lading.

The following Wednesday night, after “Prayer Meeting”, the Preacher’s Son asked my dad if he could take me for a coke. Imagine my surprise!

I was not so surprised that he wanted to take me for a “coke”, but I was in a state of shock that he asked my dad’s permission. It took real “nerve” to ask my dad anything. I avoided it as much as possible. My dad consented with the stipulation that I had to be home before 9 pm. It was a school night.

As we  went into town in his 1951 Ford, I was thrilled to be able to ride in this car. Since I was a little girl, I knew the make and model of every year of car on the road. I loved them.

My love affair with cars began with my dad’s love of speed. He would drag race my brother and his friends in the family’s 1957 Chevy Impala. I was about 4 or 5 when Dad would  sneak off to the “Quarter Mile” that was just below Madden Hill. I was allowed to go with him if I didn’t tell my mom. I never told.

At the Quarter Mile, he would pull up beside my brother’s buddy. The bet would be made and I was the one who got to yell at the top of my lungs, “Go”. My dad had great reflexes and he was able to get the “hole shot”. The 1957 Chevy would fly and I was flying with it as I stood on the seat next to my dad.

From this kind of influence, I learned about a car’s performance,  gear ratios, and all things relating to horsepower. On vacations, if I didn’t recognize a car, I would ask Dad what kind of car that it was.  By this time in my life, I knew the makes and model of cars from 1949 until the early ’70’s. 

I was almost as excited to ride in the Preacher’s Son’s Ford as I was being in the car with him. I know, it was strange, but it was my world. 

Things were a  little different between us than when we were at my brother’s. It was the first time that he and I were alone.  I suppose I was more nervous because I knew that I already liked this guy more than I ever liked my old boyfriend. It went beyond that, but I didn’t know what it was at that moment in time.

We talked and we laughed and then he asked me out for the Friday night basketball game. Of course, I accepted.

As it approached my 9 PM curfew, the Preacher’s Son was in a hurry to get me home. I can’t imagine the pressure that was on him. He knew that if he didn’t get me back on time, I may not be able to go to the game on Friday. It could also bring problems at work for him. He was dating the boss’ daughter.

As we pulled into my circular driveway,  it came time for the “good night kiss”….

1970…The Beginning Of The Romance Part II

It didn’t matter that I didn’t want to go “steady” anymore. I just had to hope that  the preacher’s son would wait for me…The only thing that mattered, at that moment, was that the “… The show must go on”…

With the words of the director ringing in my ears, I knew what I had to do. I went back to the rehersal and later found my boyfriend and told him that I needed to talk with him.

I felt like I was a liar when I told him that I wanted to get back together. But I also knew that I didn’t want to have regret should the production not do as well as all of the other shows that were so successful. My boyfriend seemed so relieved and his ability to learn the lines and sing the songs was restored.

I resumed my schedule of going to school, work, church, homework and the usual Friday night date. I was becoming so dissatisfied with the routine. The only moment that I looked forward to was when I would go to work and do payroll.

On several occasions, the preacher’s son’s time card was not signed or his punched time was absent, so I would have to walk down to the sawmill breakroom and get these things corrected.

He would look  up and smile that smile and tell me how sorry he was that he didn’t sign his card or that the time clock had messed up. I would smile, thank him and walk back to the office.

After we married, he told that  all those oversights were his intention. He said that he knew when he would not sign his time card that he would see me during that day. He said that he especially liked watching me walk back to the office and that he smiled the whole time as he watched me leaving.

I think that my sister in law, who worked in the office, told him the circumstances about the musical. I never knew if she did or not. I was resigned that, for the next month or more, I was unable to be free of my promise to the director.

The weekend of the performance had come and I was so busy that I didn’t think to much about the preacher’s son. I played the part of Lady Thiang and I had to have my hair died black and get into makeup. By the time that make up was finished, I looked quite Asian.

I had one song to sing and, in my opinion, it was the best song in the whole score. “Something Wonderful” is about how you love a man and, even though you know he is less than perfect, there are moments when he says and does something that rewards your faith in him. As time would pass in this life, I would come to know the meaning of every word in the song.

After the production, there was the cast party and then the anti climax of a performance well done. It was what I lived for during my high school years. It was the shows that made each of those years worth getting up and going to school.

Immediately after the performance, we began working on the Christmas program. There were several engagements during the season for our  small ensemble to perform for the Christmas parties in the community. No matter how much I didn’t want to be with my boyfirend, I was with him for each one of these events.

I just couldn’t bring myself to hurt my boyfriend’s feelings again and especially during Christmas. As each day passed, I knew that I didn’t want to be his girlfriend anymore, but my heart was too soft to cause the pain that I saw after I broke up with him the first time.

It was January 1971. My parents were in Florida and I was living with my brother and my sister in law while they were away. It had snowed several inches and Madden Hill was covered with snow and ice.

My brother made a few phone calls and an impromptu snow party was in the works for all of us in the church youth group. Everyone congregated at my brother’s house. We were going to go sledding down the hill. Everyone showed up with sleds, heavy coats, boots and gloves. Cars were unable to come up or go down the hill. We had the hill to ourselves.

As I think back, we must have been crazy. The speed that we reached when we got to the bottom of the hill was unbelievable. Most of the guys started at the top of the hill. I wouldn’t. As much as I liked going fast, I was too scared of hitting one of the trees that was close by the road.  But, I was game for halfway down the hill. It was exhilarating.

Ater hours in the cold, we all went back to my brother’s house to warm up. Hot chocolate was just the ticket to warm hands and fire in the fireplace was just what was needed to thaw frozen feet.

After being able to feel our extremeties, my sister in law began playing the piano and, the next thing I knew, the preacher’s son was singing a beautiful tenor to my alto. The next song, I took the lead and he joined me for a duet. It was beautiful.

Everyone began to leave except for the preacher’s son. My sister in law invited him for dinner and he accepted. We all laughed, talked and we sang some more. It was decided that he and I would sing a duet in church in the near future.

It was time for him to leave and, as he left to walk through the garage, he kissed me.

Wow, what a kiss! It felt like I had been struck by lightening. I  never felt anything like that before. Now, I finally understood what all of my girlfriends were so crazy about and I knew, after that kiss, I wanted more…

That night, as I tried to fall asleep, I fought with guilt, excitement and all of the jumbled emotions that comes with this kind of awakening. I never knew that anything like this existed.

Well, there was no doubt what I was going to do on Monday when I went back to school. I was going to break up with my boyfriend and I wanted to  to date the Preacher’s Son…

1970…The Beginning of the Romance…

It is hard to capture the memories sometimes. They seems to get “dusty” from the years of assimilation.  The “you” of today is  a sum total of all of those moments in time and I marvel at just how different I am now than when I first met my husband for the first time.

In 1969, I was 16 years old. I was busy with school and I worked at my father’s company to pick up spending money.

It was the year that I got contact lenses and happily bid “farewell” to wearing my glasses. I remember begging my dad for those contacts. He wasn’t going to be persuaded because he had just bought new glasses for me and that was “good enough”. But, I was a determined sort. I asked if I could have them if I paid for them. My dad agreed thinking that I would never save that large amount of money… I was paid $1.50/hour.

In those days, contact lenses were made from a hard plastic substance and I was told that I would have to build up callouses on my eye lids before I could take them home. 

Everyday after school, I would walk the few blocks to the optometrist’s office, he would put them in my eyes. For the next 30 minutes, my eyes would tear so badly that I couldn’t see a thing. I could barely open my eyes.

After the first week, the optometrist suggested that I may be one of the few that could not wear contact lenses. I told him that I had to work and save $300 ( a lot of money in those days)  because my father refused to buy the lenses.

I had scrubbed and cleaned the office of the sawmill that my dad owned. I had given up my tutoring position at the elementary school so that I could work more than weekends. I had gotten pneumonia because I had used ammonia to cut the grease that was tracked in on the guys’ boots. I learned how do payroll and general office work and I hated it. 

I paid more than money for those contacts and I was not leaving without them. I told him, “Stick them in. I am going to wear contacts!” 

By the second week, the tears were not as plentiful and I could put the lenses in and take them out (which wasn’t easy) of my eyes. At that point, I was allowed to take them home with a  schedule to build up my wearing time. I was told that if I didn’t follow the schedule exactly, I would ulcerate the corneas of my eyes and that would be most painful. It was.

Being free from those glasses was the first time in my life that I felt pretty. That fact alone made it worth all that I did to be able to get rid of those glasses.

I was a “sheltered” kind of kid. I didn’t know or understand the things that were happening in the world in 1969. I just went to church, to school, did my homework, sang in choir, clean the offices at my father’s company; that was my life in 1969… Oh, I forgot to mention, I also got my driver’s liscense and I had a new 1969 red and black Ford Fairlane to drive so my parents didn’t have to take me anywhere. It was the closest thing to freedom that I had ever experienced and I liked it.

So, let it be said that I was the that “good girl” that songs were written about at that time. I came from a “good” family and I was expected to get good grades because I was college bound and to do nothing that would change or “blemish” the family name. (Like steal, cheat or lie…or get pregnant.)  It was a different time than today and I also had older parents. There were  of  the WWII generation and they held those traditions.

I was allowed to date at 16 years old, but I didn’t date because no one asked me.  I was surrounded by boy cousins and I was not “boy” crazy like a lot of my girlfriends. I was busy and I was not “fascinated” by boys. My cousins stripped any mystery about boys for me. I was one of the “guys” when I was around them, so I didn’t see what the big deal was all about to have a boyfriend.

Besides, most of the boys I knew that weren’t in school or at church worked for my father and being the “Boss’ Daughter” keep many guys from asking me out. It was a “hedge of protection” that was more like the Berlin Wall.

But, at 17, I decided that I needed to find out what all of the excitement was  about and I started to date. I began dating a  guy who was in Advanced Choir with me which meant that he was also in the musicals that we put on every year. He was a year younger than me and he had the “guts” to ask me out. It wasn’t long before we were going “steady”. 

All that going steady meant  was I didn’t date anyone else and he didn’t either. My how things have changed from then to now!  

There was nothing all that physical expected and besides, I would have hurt him if he tried anything other than a kiss. Remember, I was raised with boy cousins and I didn’t mind planting a “hay-maker” on a guy if they tried anything out of line. Besides, I had boy cousins that would finish whatever I started. I was very secure.

This boyfriend and I spent a lot of time together. I would help him with his homework. He wasn’t old enough to drive or have a job, so if we went anywhere, it was in my car and I paid for it.

That didn’t happen often because my parents were “old fashioned” and quite strict. They frowned on me being the one that did all of the “dating”. I wasn’t allowed to talk on the phone for more than 5 minutes. My mother set the timer on the stove. When it went off, I had to get off of the phone. No exceptions, no arguments…just get off of the phone! If I didn’t, then I didn’t get to go anywhere or do anything.

dan-and-the-fifty-one-fordI noticed the new boy, the preacher’s son, at church. He had been here a year  but I was going steady and that meant that I wasn’t suppose to talk to him or pay him any attention. I didn’t.

I was busy with school work, leads in musicals, tutoring at the elementary school and going to work. No time to think too much about anything else…oh, yes, there was the standard date on Friday or Saturday  night. I was never allowed to go out both nights and of course, there was church… my schedule was full.

In late October/November of 1970, my sister in law told me that the preacher’s son was working at my dad’s company and he told her that he wanted to ask me out, but I was going steady…he wanted to date me…

Funny, I never thought about any other boy wanting to date me especially anyone that was as good looking as the preacher’s son. The idea caught my attention and I remember thinking that I must not be all that bad looking if someone as handsome as this guy wanted to take me out…I told her that I would think about it. The more I thought, the more I liked the idea.  My boyfriend was a little boring anyway. I was more like a tutor than a “girlfriend”.

The problem was that I was “going steady” and I would have to “break up” with the present boyfriend.   Good girls didn’t “cheat” on their boyfriends.

I remember going to school and meeting my boyfriend in the gym after lunch, as usual. I told him that I thought that we needed to date other people and that things weren’t going toward anything “serious” for me.

It was the first time that I ever made a boy cry. I cried too. I cried because he cried and I was the reason why. I cried through the rest of my classes that day…everyone thought that he dumped me. Imagine their surprise to learn it was me who dumped him.

A few days later, the choir director called me into the choir room. We were in rehearsals and he wanted to talk to me about something. I thought that it was something relating to my part in the musical. We were 3 weeks out from the performance and I knew that the director was worried. Things were not going all that well in rehearsals.

Sports wasn’t the only thing that this Cornfield County Indiana community got excited about. The years between 1969 and 1971 were the “glory” years for my high school in basketball, football and in Advanced Choir.

Our  productions were as close to “professional” as a small school could get. The back drops and costumes were ordered from New York City. The talent of voices during those years was of a caliber that afforded us to perform shows that most high schools could not do.

Each year, the choir department put on at least two musical productions, a Christmas program that included operettas, choral presentations that included the Master i.e. Handel, Vivaldi, Mozart and Lenard Burnstein and choral festivals that included all the surrounding larger schools. Plus, I was in the small ensemble that performed for private affairs in the community. The local reviews likened our productions to Broadway and the choir director had a reputation to protect.

The choir department had a tradition to uphold in this small town. When we put on a show, the town turned out and filled the auditorium to standing room only. Not only parents came, but  everyone who was anyone in this small town was there. But this time, it looked like this production would not be up to that standard…and the director was worried.

I was so surprised by what the he said to me. He had heard that I broke up with my boyfriend and he asked me to “go back” with him. At least, until after the performance.

My boyfriend also had a lead part in the production and the director said that he was not remembering his lines or words to the songs. the_king_and_i_motion_picture_soundtra-_21The director said that he didn’t care if we broke up, but he needed me to “fix” this because it was going to mean the show.  The production was “The King and I” and my boyfriend played the lead part that requried a good tenor.  There was no one else in the choir that could sing those high notes and pull off the acting parts. This was a major deal…

It didn’t matter that I didn’t want to go “steady” anymore. I just had to hope that  the preacher’s son would wait for me…The only thing that mattered, at that moment, was that the “… The show must go on”…

Seeing Beyond The Veil…Part II

crepscular-rays1As I left the hospital, I pondered all that was happening. This year has been so difficult and now the hardships are more compounded by the mental state of my husband’s parents.

My brother in law said that Dad didn’t comprehend much of anything. He didn’t realize that Mom fell, that she had surgery and, no matter how many times Dad was told that Mom was not coming back home, but going to a nursing home, he didn’t grasp it.

I thought of the tremendous stress that was on my brother in law. It is hard enough to have one parent suffering from dementia, but to have both parents afflicted, isfar beyond human endurance. He is sustained by God’s Grace.

Then, I thought about Mom seeing Dan and my brother. It started me thinking and so my thoughts went like a CPU units grinding on a task. I wondered just how much she could see. I knew that she didn’t realize that Dan and my brother were dead. She saw them associated with me.

The veil that is between this world and the next is not just my term. It has been used in other circles, especially mediums, for hundreds of years. I didn’t realize this until after I wrote the first post. It was a phrase that came to me as I was trying to find a way to explain what Mom saw.

I don’t believe that our souls are “trapped” between worlds, however, I don’t have an explanation for this either.

I believe, as my brother in law, that our loved ones are not “angels”. I don’t believe that they become “God’s messengers” (The interpretation of the word ‘angel’ is messenger), but I do believe that we return to our “spirit” form that has always been. I believe that those that pass become “ministering spirits” and there are times that God allows them to “visit” us. Dan had one of these experiences.

I was at his home and in the middle of the night, I awoke to a fragrance in the room. Dan was not in bed so I got up to see where he had gone.

When I entered the living room, he was holding the door open. Tears were rolling down his face. I asked what he saw.

He said that his grandmother came into the bedroom and she had his daughters in each hand. She told him to not worry. Then, she turned and walked out of the bedroom. Dan got up out of bed and followed her. He said that he cried out to her to take him with her. He was at the open door when I entered the room.

He was distraught. I asked him if his grandmother wore a fragrance and he said that she did. I asked him if it was lavender and he said that it was.

In the morning light, he tried to discount all of this and I told him that he shouldn’t. I told him he must have been concerned about his daughters and that God allowed his grandmother to come and comfort him by letting him know that she was watching over them. I reminded him that I smelled her fragrance. She was there.

I never met his grandmother. She died the year that Dan’s family moved to my home town. There was no way that I could have known the fragrance she wore, but I identified it because of what I could smell immediately following her appearance. This was real, not a dream.

Concern over his children’s well being was a constant thought because he was not able to see them as much as he would have liked. He was very protective, especially of his daughters. I think that God allowed this visitation to ease his worry. My husband did take comfort from that visitation especially after he learned that he had cancer.

I wrote an email to my brother in law relating the experience in the hospital with Mom. The following is his response. 

I think that, while humans do not become angels, they are nevertheless ministering spirits. For instance the souls of the martyrs from under the altar crying out to God for Justice, mercy and judgment to come upon the earth. It indicates that they (though glorified in Heaven) are aware of circumstances and people on the earth. How dimly we see now. I believe we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses; not just figuratively…but surrounded. And until we need that grace or by God’s purpose we shall not see them. It’s the race of faith.

paradise-sky-clouds1I agree and I know that there are other instances in scripture that support these visitations.

While we are so tied to the things of this world, we miss so much that is around us. What we call reality may be the illusion and not so concrete as we believe.

No matter. I am sure there are those who believe in the paranormal and have a plethora of explanations, but for me, I choose to believe that this kind of experience is one of those mysteries that remain to us.

At one time, my curiosity would drive me to a flurry of research and I would dig up anything and everything relating to this kind of experience. Not now.

I have no need to find answers. I know where my husband and my brother are and that is enough.

I feel very comforted and blessed that Mom was able to see them and that she was able to verbalize what she saw.

Should she be able to see “beyond the veil” because her psyche is stripped by the dementia, that is alright by me. There is no way to “quantify” what she sees and what she says. I am content to know that, by what she saw and by what she said, I found comfort.

For me, that is enough.