A Love Story

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Today would have been my parent’s wedding anniversary. My Dad died in November 2012. Actually, we lost my Dad much early due to a massive stroke in 2006.  My sister and I have discussed if we are the people we are “because of or in spite of” my parents. We have “played” pop psychologist analyzing and scrutinizing my parents’ relationship and personalities. During one of those conversations my sister commented “their story was truly a love story”. Wait! What! I wanted to ask didn’t she remember slammed doors, raised voices, less than stellar choices on many levels.. Their story wasn’t a fairy tale – American serviceman from Oklahoma meets young British woman during Korean war and they live happily ever after.  No that wasn’t it. Their life together wasn’t perfect or maybe even what they each expected it to be – 4 children, financial stress, mental health issues, miscarriages, moving a lot – Oklahoma, Utah, Arizona and finally New Jersey.*

However just this week I realized my sister was right my parents’ story was a love story. Because after it was all said and done from April 22, 1953 until November 25, 2012.

” I, James, take thee, Margaret, to be my wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.”

I, Margaret, take thee, James, to be my wedded Husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.”

They kept their vows definitely not perfectly but they kept their vows and something bigger than words makes you keep those vows – love!

IMG_1034 Mom and Dad in Christmas 1988.

 

*Years ago I realized that my parents did the best they could with the resources (financial, emotional, mental and spiritual) they had. There is a sense of freedom when you come to that point.

April 19 – then and now

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Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. My prayers and thoughts are with the family members, victims, fire responders, all who have always known whether it is the first, seventh, thirteenth or twentieth time April 19 has been the date on the calendar since that terrible day in 1995. My prayers are also with those who served on the jury for the trial of the accused bomber. This has to be difficult day for so many.

Twenty years ago I was in England with my two daughters and my British born mum for a two-week vacation to introduce my girls to the “mother country” of their Nanny. We were fortunate to have family to stay with and who were also willingly to drive us hither and fro through the British Countryside. We had already visited the sights of London – toured  the Tower, heard Big Ben chime twelve as we came out of the underground, visited the stables to see the Queens horses, shopped for English sweets and souvenirs. We had taken the train to Oxford to see the universities and where I was born. On Easter Sunday we had gone to Windsor Castle and had a glimpse of the Queen Mother leaving church.

On Wednesday April 19 we had visited Hampton Court and my daughters had participated in the “Jeweled Egg Hunt”, a scavenger hunt designed to make historical places a little more interesting to a 7 and 10-year-old. Upon returning to Auntie Mirrey’s house while enjoying a cup of tea there was breaking news report on the television of a bombing in Oklahoma City. My dad is from Oklahoma. Oklahoma was far away but not foreign to us. I had lived on the campus of the University of Oklahoma as a little girl. I remember trying to listen to the information and at the same time shielding my daughters from the news. A telephone call “home” would give more information but the sense of disbelief would remain. Sadness for those who were lost, sadness for innocence lost, sadness for lives changed, sadness for my country being bombed.

On that day twenty years ago I didn’t know that 6.5 years later I would become a member of a select group of people those who have experienced a personal loss  in the midst of a national tragedy. I didn’t realize that I would be able to understand in ways I wish I didn’t know what it is like to have a nation remember the anniversary of your loved ones death.  I pray that no one else ever has that distinction.

Star Trek and my childhood

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Reading about Leonard Nimoy’s death today brought back childhood memories of watching Star Trek with my parents and siblings. There weren’t many shows that we watched as a family but Star Trek was definitely one of them. Growing up we didn’t have a television in our living room so we would all pile into my parents’  bedroom to watch Star Trek.  I remember my Dad telling us my mother included to watch the show or leave but don’t talk expect during the commercials. As I remember my brother, James, was really into Star Trek. James was always challenging me to do that tricky finger thing (which for the record I still can’t do it) and he loved to say “that isn’t logical”.

James was Mr. Spock for Halloween one year. His costume had been designed by my Dad complete with “pointy ears” and a Starship Enterprise insignia. I don’t remember if James had any kind of phaser or “beam me up Scotty device” but I am thinking he did. Due to the fact that the  Halloween costumes my Dad designed were always amazing and “state of the art”.  Of course “state of the art” in the 1960’s meant  boxes, paint, big batteries, wiring and flashing lights. One year my brother’s robot costume made from boxes, a bucket and blinking lights won my brother a bicycle and his photo in the newspaper. Another year my traffic light costume had lights that flashed green, yellow and red. That same year my sister’s pumpkin costume wasn’t just a pumpkin it was a jack o lantern that lit up. A side story: my sister’s pumpkin costume was perfectly round and looked great. The problem was she was a little girl in this big orange pumpkin costume and at one point she slipped on the walkway and rolled all the way down neighbor’s driveway. She was okay but I can still remember worrying she was going to roll into our “busy” street as we called it. But my Dad’s piece de resistant was the Starship Enterprise he built in our attached one car garage.  Oh, it wasn’t a boxed model or a jigsaw puzzle it was the bridge of the Enterprise. I think my sister and I were allowed to use it but mostly it was for my brother. There was silver painted plywood, blinking lights, computer screens, all kinds of buttons and switches and charts. It was the stuff of childhood dreams and adventures. To be honest I don’t know what happened to it. Eventually the attached garage would be renovated into a family room and then my Dad’s library.

I don’t remember many of the story lines of Star Trek as they “boldly went where no man had gone before”. The one episode where some tiny creature crawled into people’s ear is still disturbing. Whenever I see a gerbil, the furry tribble  episode comes to mind. I was never a Trekkie but I saw a couple of the Star Trek movies and was delighted when the original Mr. Spock had a cameo. Oddly enough when the signs for the Renaissance Festival are displayed I always think of Star Trek. Some years ago my brother and his family lived in California and he had mentioned that advertisements for the Renaissance Festival in CA stated “no Trekkie time travelers.” 😉

Rest in Peace! Mr. Nimoy.  Your role as Mr. Spock brought many happy memories to my mind today. Praying that your family and friends may find peace and comfort in the roles you played as friend, father, husband and grandfather. Safe journey.

 

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My year in review. The ABCs of 2014.

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year in reviewA is for arabesque. I taught one ballet class a week.

B is for book clubs. I belonged to two.

C is for children’s camp. I directed with the best team ever.

D is for Dunkin Donuts. I drank a lot of coffee.

E is for East of Eden. I enjoyed reading this John Steinbeck classic.

F is for family and friends. Fun, food and fantastic stories.❤

G is God. He is good.

H is for home. I accomplished a few items on the “to do list”.

I is for ice cream. Always a yummy treat.😋

J is for Japan. Amazing second visit.

K is for Kansas. Time spent with family.

L is for library. My daughter completed her masters in library information science.

M is for Minnesota. I spent ten days caring for my grand-nieces and nephews.

N is for National September 11 Museum. It opened in May.

O is for opportunities. I am blessed with many.

P is for PA. My new secondary residence.

Q is for quizzing. I teach in my local church and direct on the district.

S is for speaking. I spoke at 4 events including one all-day conference with my daughter.

T is for tea with Miss Carol. Always a treat.

U is for United. The airline I usually use. Flew to San Antonio, Seattle and Minneapolis.

V is for volunteering at Tribute Center. Lead and supported tours, spoke to school groups.

W is for writing. I took a writing course and now I need to get busy!

X is for eXcerise. I need to be more disciplined.😐

Y is for year. Hard to believe another year has come and gone.

Z is for zero. The number of regrets I have.

In 2015- my goals are to read and write more, watch television less, enjoy simple times with family and friends and relish in being a grandma in the near future.😊

a birth story – child # 2

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My first child was born three weeks after her due date and then only by force. My second child would arrive 5 days early. I would actually have labor with my second but she would also be born by C-section. My hubby would be seated next to me and I would watch in the mirror my doctors had set up. She would be totally wrapped in the cord just like baby #1 and the nurse would lay the baby’s cheek on mine and I would be in love. Wristbands would be placed on the baby and me and my hubby would leave the delivery room with the baby to head for the nursery. Within a matter of moments, Bruce, the baby and the nurse would be back. “What’s wrong?” The wrong date had been written on the wristbands it said June 2 but it was after midnight so it was June 3. So my wristband and baby’s wristband had to be changed and they had to be changed in my presence.

My daughters are 3 years and 3 days apart. There was no planning in that. It just worked out that way. It made it easy for family birthday parties which were always combined. Even though my children are born the same time of year and are both girls, they are very different. When they were little I would say they were night and day. I think God did that intentionally so I won’t think I had parenthood figured out. My first was a little timid about trying new things. She had to “check things out” before taking part in activities. My second would “jump right in” and then have a look of oops! For example, when my girls were little we belonged to the Sterling Forest Beach Club. It was a lovely beach on Greenwood Lake probably less than two miles from my house. There was a sandy beach area that gently sloped down to the water. The area was surrounded by beautiful trees as it was part of Sterling Forest. There was a playground and free swim lessons for the kiddos. I would sit on the beach in my sand chair and Emily, child #1, would play at the water’s edge with her sand toys. Meghan, child #2, was more adventurous. I remember one day in particular when Meghan at age 2 walked into the lake. I was watching her and so was the lifeguard. The lifeguard commented “how far do you think she will go?”. I said “let’s see.” Emily was concerned that the lifeguard and I were allowing Meghan to walk in. We were both standing close enough to grab her but that little stinker walked in up to her chin. Unbelievable!! That little stinker turns 27 today. Where do the years go!

Happy Birthday, Meghan! I am blessed to be your mom and so very proud of you.

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Then and Now – March 11

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Today marks the third “anniversary” of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan. I had the amazing opportunity to visit Japan last August as part of a group from the Tribute Center. Another group from Tribute had visited Japan in October 2012. My friend Jeanette, who was part of that first group, shared the following email and the very moving response. I asked her permission to share it on my blog.

“just wanted to you know that I am thinking of you and all my friends in Japan today. Good thoughts and prayers are sent your way for continued recovery and healing. I am sorry that this awful thing happened on 3/11 but I am very, very grateful for the beautiful friendships that have blossomed from such a terrible disaster.

You have my deepest sympathy for those lost and much love and respect for those who have survived and have helped in the recovery.

Kindest regards, Jeanette”

The reply she received:

“The past three years have proved that time alone can not erase and lessen the pains and sadness of people who had experienced such an incredible disaster over such a vast area of space and a huge number of people affected.

On the contrary, as time goes on, it can even prolong and exacerbate the sorrow and sadness of people who are still unsure of where and when one can finally have a home of her or his own, in spite of passing already of three years., because for many who are still in a tiny temporary accommodation, having a new final home is still many years away if any. The time of the third anniversary is therefore, a hard reminder that in spite of many things apparently done so far, the drama of war-footing is still on-going, and a happy end is not yet in sight for most of people. This is a reality that hundreds of thousands of the tsunami survivors must be feeling right now all over the affected regions. Not in spite of, therefore, but because of such an obvious anniversary day, many people are feeling even sadder and more worried today lest their problems and worries being forgotten slowly and quietly.

In such a season, your kind and considerate thoughts and prayers are more appreciated and heartfelt than before, and these feelings of appreciations and gratefulness on our part is even stronger when we think that those messages and encouragements come from those who have the 9/11 legacies themselves.”

203This little boy came out to greet us when we arrived at the temporary housing site in August 2013. He was carrying the Tribute Center coin he had received from the group in October of 2012. He was displaced from his home because of the nuclear radiation spill. He is the face of Fukushima to me. He is who I think of when I say a prayer.

random thoughts from 60 years of life:

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when I was kid:

1. there were 9 planets.

2. adults were called Mr. or Mrs.

3. television when off the air and started each morning with a photo of the  American flag and the playing of the National Anthem.

4. the president was assassinated .

5. we practiced for nuclear attacks.

 

when I was a teen:

1. MLK and RFK were assassinated.

2. men walked on the moon.

3. I believed  “to live is to dance, to dance is to live”

4. my male classmates had draft numbers

5. POWs came home from Vietnam

 

when I was in my 20’s

1. I studied dance, voice and acting in NYC and auditioned for Broadway shows

2. I went to college part-time.

3. I started a business with my best friend

4. I meet my hubby and got married

5. drove across country with my sister and sister-in-law. I went to England and France with my bff.

 

when I was in my 30’s

1. I had 1 miscarriage and gave birth to 2 daughters

2. “have dance will travel” taught  dance in many places to many people

3. was Sunday School Superintendent in my local church

4. my hubby became a FDNY firefighter

5. the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded

 

 when I was in my 40’s

1. Life had a more balanced rhythm.

2. we got a dog.

3. vacations –  England, Prince Edward Island, National Park Tour, Houseboat rental, camping…

4. Oklahoma City bombing and September 11 happened.

5. I became a widow.

 

when I was in my 50’s

1. my daughters got married.

2. my brother and  my dad died.

3. I spoke in NJ, NY, PA, CA, NH, TN, KS, Northern Ireland and Japan.

4. I had breast cancer and I am now five years cancer free.

5. I retired from my dancing school.

 

on February 13, I will turn 60 and I can say:

“Scars and struggles on the way

But with joy our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone

Carried by Your constant grace

Held within Your perfect peace

Never once, no, we never walk alone.

Never once did we ever walk alone

Never once did You leave us on our own

You are faithful, God, You are faithful

You are faithful, God, You are faithful”

 Never Once by Matt Redman