Tag Archives: Love

Dandelion Bouquets

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“She’s so slow,” said Tommy with exasperation.

“Hi, Mom!” added the blue-eyed brother.

“Hi,” I responded, “Where are Jimmy and Maggie?”

“Jimmy’s waiting for Maggie. It’s his day,” Tommy said over his shoulder as I watched the two brothers fly down the stairs to the basement.

BAM! The door flew open five minutes later, and in stomped my third son. “Why is she so slow?” Jimmy asked me as he grabbed a chocolate chip cookie off the plate with avocado flowers that sat innocently on the island. “I had to wait forever at the top of the hill.” Then, reaching out his hand, he grabbing the doorknob, opened the basement door, and followed his brothers down the stairs.

“Hi, Mommy,” came a little girl voice behind me, a voice bubbling with excitement. My little-girl daughter eagerly looked up into my eyes, her hand outstretched. A golden ball of dandelions was held securely in her chubby little-girl hand. A warm feeling spread in my heart like hot fudge sauce on ice cream. My eyes lit with a wonder glow as I reached out my hand and gingerly took the offering. Bending down, my lips kissed her rosy cheek.

“Thank you, Honey! They’re so pretty. Let’s put them in some water.” A little dried beef jar became the vase that humbly displayed this sweet gift. No fancy, store-bought bouquet could rival their beauty in my heart.

Now, many years have passed. I look back to those days of childhood innocence when all of God’s creation was delightful and enchanting. I gaze back to my little girl child, my sweet, little girl-child daughter who loved to bring me wilted dandelion bouquets and wild snapdragons with love in her eyes and joy in her heart.

Why?

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So many whys-

Why do letters make sounds

and sounds make words

and words make ideas

and ideas change the world?

 

Why does one man love one woman

and why is that woman the one?

Why does that man become the one

to that woman?

 

Why does love kindle desire

and desire bring babies

and babies grow love?

 

Why does time go by

and people grow old

and people pass away

and why does time leave us…alone?

 

Why?

Why?

Why?

 

 

Visiting

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The time has gone fast today. We visited some old friends (about 96 years old and about 91 years old). When we were younger and my youngest children were only a month or two old, my husband traveled all the time. This couple became like a third set of grandparents. My parents lived 500 miles away, and there is nothing like family when you are far away. That was in a different state and 22 years ago. Now our “grandparents” live in our state, only over an hour away. We visited them today. Returning some of the love they gave us when we needed it so much.

Good-bye, Faithful Old Friend

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Today, I said good-bye to my faithful friend, Gracie Ellen. I petted her head, her fur still soft and golden. Her eyes, dim with age, glanced up at me as tears rolled down my face unabashedly. I thought about all the joy she selflessly gave to me through the years as I said good-bye. I knew it was her time. I cried as I kissed her and told her I loved her. I left for school. My grown sons and husband cried with me. Would she be there when I returned?

Gracie

I met her 15 years ago, less 3 months, at a farm up north. Two tiny puppies were laying in the hand of the farmer. Both, with eyes still closed and almost hairless, cuddled together. One sleeping quietly, the other half-lying on her sister and whimpering for her mother. “We’ll take the sleeping one,” I announced without consulting anyone else in the family. I knew about dogs that sat on their siblings, and I wasn’t going through that again. A pink satin ribbon was all that recorded the choice.

 
On the way home, we debated her name, but Gracie Ellen seemed so perfect for her that that was that. After all, when the kids started praying for a dog, my mom wisely warned me to start praying for “a good dog.” And so I did! And that is how Gracie Ellen got her nickname, “the prayed-up pup.”
Two weeks later, the puppy was weaned and riding in her crate (so gigantic then) in the back of the burgundy and tan Suburban. All the kids were with us, all happily chattering about the new puppy. The first night, she whimpered so pathetically that my husband moved her into our room and put his hand on her all night. That was all it took. After that, she was a part of the pack and didn’t long for her former life.

 
I was skeptical about dogs, after all, our last dog was a real rascal and was not that enjoyable. But this little fluffball won my heart when, out in the back yard, she came running over as fast as her little legs could carry her, straight to me, with a humongous stick in her mouth. It must have been 3 times her size! Who couldn’t love a little puppy like that?

 
Then, that was the hard, thesis year. It was my first year back working full time after staying home for 18 years being a full-time mom. It was the last year of my master’s program, too. It was unbelievably hard. I’d wake up at 2:00 in the morning, get up, and work on my assignments, and later, my thesis. My little friend was never too busy or tired to come over and cuddle up on my feet, keeping them warm and giving moral support. We had a special bond after that.

 
In the summer, she’d be tethered to my belt as I hung up laundry in the summer breezes. Later, no tether was needed as we worked together to hang out the wash. A full laundry basket on one hip, and Gracie on the opposite heel. She’d lay patiently in the shade while I finished my work, and then get up and trot back in with me. We made a pretty great team.
Of course, the kids were part of her pack, and they’d often be seen playing together. Like the time the kids hitched her up to the scooter and had her pull them around the block. Or, the time she went up the ladder of the play house just to be with them. She came down the slide after them, too.

 
You’d think swimming would be an instinct with Goldens, but no. Not for Gracie. Whenever she tried to swim and her feet left the bottom of the lake, she panicked! Frantically splashing and paddling and with terror-filled eyes, she’d quickly return to shore. That wasn’t the life for her. Until one day…she saw a stick splash out a little ways from shore. She swam after it, retrieved it, and wanted more and more and more. After that she loved swimming so much that one time, she took off swimming without waiting for us to throw the stick! We thought she was going to swim all the way to Michigan! Off came my husband’s shoes as we kept throwing stick after stick and calling for her to come back. Getting ready to rescue Gracie, my husband started in. At the moment, Gracie saw the splash of a rock in her periphery vision and turned toward the splash. Then, she saw the next stick we threw. Retrieving it, she proudly swam to shore, much to our relief. She had found her calling in life! She was a Retriever!

 
Gentle and intuitively knowing, my mother-in-law (and the other elderly people in the care center) felt the joy of having my 80 pound Golden Retriever gently put her head in her lap to be petted. How did Gracie know to be so careful and gentle? How did she know that Grams had arthritis and was in pain?

 
Whenever a stroller went by with a little baby or toddler, gentle Gracie would sit quietly while they squealed and petted and pulled her ears or hair. No growling. No nips. She knew. She knew to be careful.

 
Then there was the time when we thought she was dying. How did we know? She stopped wagging her tail, stopped looking up with her doggy smile. Something was wrong. She had her head on my lap as I cried and cried, thinking this was the end. She just looked up at me with her chocolate, eye-liner eyes as if to say, “I”m sorry it hurts.” Happily, that time, we cheated death with surgery for her. But, that “near-death-experience” served to spoil her rotten. Mischievous, but generous children, would slyly slip her some table food. A bite of pizza, a piece of hamburger, a part of a cookie. She never ate so well. She never got table food before! “After all,” they’d say, “she almost died!”

 
I could write and write and write happy little vignettes about Gracie and me and the family. This could be a novel. I hope you see why I have to write, to let you get to know, in some small way, this friend of mine. She was the best dog ever. I still say it was because she was a “prayed up pup.” Maybe it the love, too. All the love she kept giving and giving and giving. We loved her in return, but I think it was only a paltry down payment compared to what she gave to us. Our lives were so rich, and still are with the beautiful memories and selfless love she gave us!

Good-bye, faithful, old friend. I miss you!

Gracie loved the snow. She also loved to stand in the yard with her nose pointed into the wind and smell all the wonderful outdoor smells.

Gracie loved to ride in the car with her head out the window, and her ears flying like the wings of a plane.

4:55 A.M. Comes Early

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Four fifty-five comes early. A little bit, or a lot a bit, early by my way of thinking. Darkness, like a cloak, still covers the world when we leave the house. Fortunately, the bitter cold of deep winter is in the rear view mirror as the car pulls out of the driveway.

“Day 3,” I muse, “Why did I ever agree to this?”

One part desire to get in shape, I guess. Two parts, love. That I do know. My two grown sons who have returned through the revolving door to our home after college, asked me, or hinted really, to join them in going to the gym in the morning. What grown-up, young men want their mom to go with them to a gym? Not too many. So, of course, I had to say yes.

So, when I hear the buzz of the alarm, I drag my sorry bones out of bed and slip on my exercise clothes, all laid out nice and neat in the bathroom. Opening the bedroom door as quietly as possible, I attempt not to waken my husband who still slumbers peacefully in bed.

“Have fun,” comes the gravely voice, in spite of my best efforts.

“I will. Thanks,” I reply. Well, I thought he was still asleep.

Down the stairs I go.

“Hi, Barbs! Ready to go?”
“Uh-huh.”

The Joy of Lingering

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Today, I lingered. It was quite by accident, you know, how I lingered today. Spring forward, home from travel, oversleeping, coffee.

No alarm was set; I overslept. The clocks sprang forward; I did not. I was tired from traveling. I have a cold…or the flu. I haven’t decided yet which. With sand still in my eyes, I glance at the clock…only 15 minutes until church starts. I won’t get there in time. Impossible. I resign myself to staying home. I’m old-fashioned in my relationship with God; I like to “assemble” myself together with other Christians on Sunday mornings. The singing and worship and listening draw me closer, recharge my batteries, fortify me for another week. This week, this is not to be.

Instead, I get ready for the day.

In the shower, I formulate my thoughts for my daily slice: “I Don’t Want to Slice…Yet Here I Am.” How appropriate that will be after yesterday’s poem about struggling to find a topic. It will be fast. I’ll connect it to “I don’t want to floss my teeth everyday, yet here I am doing it.” I have more great ideas like that! It will be fast; I’ll crank it out and check that off my list on this busy day. (A concert, cleaning, preparing for the work week after being out of the loop all last week…) Contentment floods me. I’ll get that done right away.

Padding down the carpeted steps, coffee will surely taste good this morning. I need it to focus. Then, that rich, coffee aroma fills the air. Could It be? Yes. Someone has a pot brewing! As the door swings back and forth, I turn and see it’s true. The coffee.

“Hey, Mom, can you bring me a cup of coffee?” asks my 25 year old son. He’s tucked all snug in the big overstuffed, green chair under my new birthday afghan. His wild morning hair spikes in all directions; his voice gravelly, I know he just got up, too.

“Sure. Do you have enough for me to have a cup?”

“Yea.”

I pour the coffee-one large cup for him, one small cup for me. Walking into the family room, freshly vacuumed, I hand him the dark brew. I sit down on the loveseat, in my spot. I’m becoming more like my dad everyday.

My fingers curl around the retro cup; the warmth greets each finger; I breathe in the fragrant aroma. We begin to chat. “How did you sleep?” “How was work last night? I’m sorry you missed your sister’s birthday dinner.” “Do you work today?”

I don’t jump up. I linger. The chat meanders on. The chat rounds the bend from the everyday to the philosophical: politics and religion and his thoughts on life. We discuss the world and the family and the past and the present. Still, we linger. How sweet this discourse. Things my mother-heart yearns to know, it learns as I linger.

Today, I lingered. I linger still on the words that are wrapping around my heart and warming it still. Today, I lingered.  Today, I found joy.

Dear friend, make time to linger…

Never Too Old For a Sleepover

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This afternoon my wonderful mother is meeting me for a sleepover. Six months before, I called with the happy news that I’d be in her state; I called with the invitation to a sleepover! As delighted as two young schoolgirls, we made our plans-when she’d arrive, where to come, and what we’ll do. We’re going to have so much fun!

I’ll pull into the parking lot, back from a long day of meetings. I know I’ll find her, as I have many times before, sitting patiently in her car, waiting. Waiting for me. We’ll go in, get settled, We’ll have small talk, little intimate discussions shared between a mother and a daughter. We’ll knit and chat and giggle and laugh outright, probably real belly laughs. Then, we’ll put our needles aside and humbly bow in a tender time of prayer, praying mostly for my children. How we want them to follow our LORD. Rising from this holy time, we’ll order pizza, take-out from a local pizzeria. We’ll bring it back to the room…mostly because we’ll want a relaxed and quiet place. No noisy customers, no jangling cups, or clinking dishes. Mostly, we’ll visit. We may decide visit the pool and dip our toes in the water, in spite of the two-hour rule, but then again, maybe we won’t.  Will we laugh by the poolside and share our thoughts  in the elevator?  Hmmm…we’ll decide.  As the evening deepens and begins to slumber, we’ll change into our comfy ‘jammies and crawl under the covers. We’ll continue our tête-à-tête, continue until one or the other slips softly to sleep.

Morning will find waking early; We’ll still be talking. No lack of words have we. A little more lingering over breakfast and a cup of coffee. Then, all too quickly, hugs and I love yous, glistening eyes, and waves good-bye. I send her on her way.

You’re never, after all, too old for a sleepover.

 

An Unexpected Send-Off

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I glanced at the alarm clock.  5:13.  An hour and two minutes earlier than the alarm set time.  I might as well get up.  One thing I know about myself:  I wouldn’t be falling back to sleep.  I threw the covers back, swung my feet to the floor, and padded off to the bathroom to begin my day. Excitement, mixed with a little apprehension, filled my thoughts in spite of my grogginess.  The warm water and billowing steam of the shower were just what I needed to get my brain in high gear.  What else do I need to pack?  Why am I so indecisive?  Why can’t I just throw any old clothes in my suitcase for this trip?  

Well, I knew good and well why…this time of year can be winter or spring.  What would the weather be Ohio?  I sighed.

I stepped out of the shower with a tentative plan of action.  After applying minimalist make-up, I threw on the decided-upon clothes and stepped back into the darkened bedroom.

“You’re up early,” a gravely voice rumbled.

“I know.  I just got up.  I knew I wouldn’t go back to sleep.”

“Turn on the light.  I’m getting up, too.”

So I did.  I quickly finished packing the rest of the items in my suitcase.  Zip!    Turning, I headed out the door and tripped lightly down the stairs.  How could I have forgotten to set the delay start for the coffee? Ugh!  Just as I was pushing the button for the morning brew, the front door flew open.  Footsteps echoed on the oak floorboards.  

“Hi, Mom.  What are you doing up?” said a surprised voice.  Jimmy and his brother, Davey, had just gotten back from an early morning workout at the gym.  Their first day of actually going at 5:00 A.M.

“I’m getting ready to go,” I replied.  “I didn’t think you guys would really get up.  I thought I heard an alarm about 4:00, but I thought it was my imagination.  Was the gym crowded?”

“Nah.  Only a few people.  I think I like the early morning crowd better than the people in the evening.  They are more focused and follow gym etiquette better.”

“That’s good.  There’s enough coffee brewing for you two if you want some when it’s done.  I have to go up and finish fixing my hair.”

“I’ll come and talk to you,” Jimmy offered.  

“O.K.”

What followed was an everyday conversation over the hum of the blowdryer about this and that and not that much of anything, really.  Then when my hair was reasonably put together, I clicked off the blow dryer and turned to leave.  Jimmy was one step ahead of me, grabbing the suitcase and carried it down the stairs.  

By this time, Davey and John, my husband, were in the kitchen.  Even the dog and cat meandered in.  This is a big crowd!  Especially for this early.  

Pouring a cup of coffee for each one, we stood around the island chatting and laughing and sipping our brew.  

“Well, I better go.  Love you my,” Davey said as he gave me a hug.  “Have a great week.  When will you be back again?”

“On Friday about midnight,” I answered.  “I love you, too.  I’ll miss you.”

“I better go take a shower, Mom,” Jimmy said as he came over to give me a good-bye hug.

“I love you.  Have a great week,” I said as I hugged him back.  

John and I took the rest of my things out to the car, climbed in, and backed down the driveway.  At the car rental place, John loaded my things in the van, gave me a hug and added, “I love you.  Have a great week.  Be sure to call when you get in.”

As I got in the van and turned on to the main drag, my heart felt full to the bursting.  What an unexpected sendoff!  I am blessed!

The Vase

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Ring.  

The bell above the door jingled.  They stepped over the threshold and into the shop.

“Get whatever you like,” Walter said cheerily.  “I’m good for it.”  He wanted to give her a special gift for her birthday, and he knew she loved flowers.

A smile lit up Hazel’s face.  Her eyes sparkled as they flitted from flower to flower before resting momentarily on an apricot mum.  This is it. So full and beautiful.  Her hand reached out and her fingers gently grasped the stem as she gently pulled the chosen flower from the bucket.  Continuing, appraising flower after flower, she considered the size, color, shape, and texture of each. The bouquet in her arms grew.

Shyly, she turned to Walter.  He nodded.  Years of marriage made words, at times, unnecessary.

Relief flooded over Hazel’s features.  Then, turning back to the task at hand, she joyfully pulled flower after flower from their buckets and added them to her bouquet-mums, roses, fern, daisies.  The bouquet was glorious.  It’s perfect!  It will set-off the vase perfectly. The vase was beloved because it reminded her of her wedded, far away daughter.

“Get a few more if you want,” Walter said as he looked over at her sunshiny smile.

“No.  It’s perfect.”

Walter and Hazel stepped toward the counter and handed the bouquet over the counter to the middle-aged sales lady.  She took the flowers and began to ring up each flower, chattering all the while.  “That will be $42.83,” she announced finally.

Walter’s eyes grew as big as saucers, and his mouth dropped open.  Hazel turned, eyes wide,  and looked up at Walter.  Without uttering a word, Walter opened his wallet again, pulled out two more twenty dollar bills.  He handed it to the outstretched hand of the clerk.

“Here is your change:  $7. 17,” she said as she handed it to Walter.  Then, wrapping the blooms carefully in white butcher paper, she put them gingerly in a brown paper bag.  “I know you’ll enjoy these for years!  They are beautiful. Isn’t it wonderful how lifelike these flowers are?  Nothing like the plastic ones we used to have,” she added, holding the bag across the counter.

Hazel reached out and grabbed the handles on the bag.  “Thank you.” Then, he and Walter turned and walked out the door.  Walter took the doorknob and pulled the door closed with a click.  Jingle! The bell echoed after them.

Years afterwards, the vase stood prominently on the table in the foyer of my grandparents’ house.  The flowers were as glorious and proud as they were on the day they were purchased.  The story was told and retold so many times that it went down in the annals of family lore.  Sadly, a few years ago, the handle broke off the vase; I haven’t had the heart to throw it away.  (Happily, the vase came to live at my house when my grandparents passed away.)  I still hear my Popa’s rich voice retelling the story and the merry laughter that always accompanied it. I still see the twinkle in my Popa’s eye as he speaks.  I still feel love surrounding me like a warm shawl on a chilly evening every time I see…the vase.

 

The Snowy Day

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The Snowy Day

My eyes opened, glancing at my alarm clock.  Five forty-eight.  A whole 12 minutes ahead of schedule.  Reaching over, my fingers groped to switch it off.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to awaken to that annoying buzzer.  Swinging my legs to the floor, I padded over to the bathroom to begin my day.

About an hour later, my legs swung into my car, and I backed down the driveway.  Snow had freshened-up the dreary, dismal, wintery day.  Standing like soldiers guarding the street, the trees had snowy highlights in their hair.  Like a white, wooly blanket, snow covered the lawns and sidewalks.  A smile flickered on my lips.  How beautiful!  My foot pushed on the accelerator, and I started down the street.

As I sped north on Interstate-43 to Green Bay, about a 2 hour drive, my eyes thirstily drank in the beauty of the countryside. On either side of me, rural winter scenes could be inspiration for an artist’s brush.  A rustic, red barn, hues slightly muted by the hazy lingering, low lying clouds, stood in contrast to white, sparkling fields.  The outlines of planting rows peeked out here and there as if a reminder that this is March, after all. Evergreens, with heavy snow-frosted boughs, bowed under their weight, hanging their heads in discouragement, only yesterday having believed that spring had sprung.   A flock of turkeys, toms and hens, busily scrounged for food on a hilly field.  The scenes faded into the distant horizon, slipping into the opaque whiteness.   Did drivers in passing cars take time, like me,  to drink in this breath-taking scenery? Did they, too, wonder how time flew so swiftly with such gorgeous distraction?  

Quickly, it seemed, my journey was o’er.  Another scene awaited me, another scene that was enveloped in soft, fabrics of white, tulles with diamond sparkling amid the delicate. frosty lace.  Another scene which warmed my yearning heart, another scene.  This time a sweet young woman, with love-lights in her eyes, happy roses in her cheeks, wore her dreamy wedding dress.