Oh, What a Wonderful World


Earlier, I began to write on a topic totally different from what you are reading. As I was polishing my words, editing and spell checking, a random melody of What a Wonderful World, quietly began to play from an app recently pressed on my iPhone. A small speaker of silver encased in turquoise blue sat atop the crowded corner of my half-moon desk. Suddenly, my body halted in a burgundy swivel chair. Fingers of ten lifted up, freezing in position. I was utterly still while listening to lyrics strumming from a soothing Hawaiian ukulele. I hadn’t heard this song since last month when I chose it for Eileen’s, memorial service.  Eileen, my father’s wife of 142 days who passed away from cancer.

Things happen in life that we don’t often understand at the time. Later, something may trigger us to look back with fresh eyes, opening a window to a new meaning or purpose of such. This moment of clarity happened seconds ago which I will share with you now.

Last month while flying to Phoenix for Eileen’s service, a beautiful young woman with several long, dark braids and wearing a patterned paisley scarf tied around her head sat in the window seat next to me. During the three and a half hour-long flight, I closed my droopy eyes to catch a nap. Suddenly, something cold landed on my sleeveless arm. My eyes popped open. Near my wrist, a small plastic pellet, cold as ice rested comfortably. Taken aback, I flicked it off my arm with my index finger. The girl/woman had fallen asleep, her partially covered head rested against the airplane window with braids tossed this way and that. Her scarf was twisted, revealing a cap of white underneath.

Directly in the row ahead of us, a mother was busy juggling twins, a girl and a boy who jumped up and down when a smiling flight attendant appeared carrying a tray of sweets. One at a time, she served them soft, chocolate chip cookies. The commotion woke the young woman next to me who began to talk playfully with the children ahead of us.

“Mmmm, I bet those are really good cookies,” she exclaimed! “I have twins, too,” she added, smiling at the children’s mother. “Two little girls, six years old.” “How great! My kids just turned four,” the other mom, replied.

Naturally, I couldn’t help myself. “I have twin grand-babies” I added, leaning in to my seat-mate. “Two girls, like you. They’re just over a year old.” From that moment on we bonded, sharing family photographs while getting to know one another. Shortly before landing, she explained that her family lived in China, where her husband worked for a major New York investment firm. She added that she felt extremely guilty for leaving him there while she came to America (Phoenix) for cancer treatment. My heart stopped.

“No, this can’t be, I thought to myself. “She’s too young. I can’t bear to hear this. Not on this trip. Not now.”

“What do you think,” she asked. “Is there any better place for treatment?”

Gathering my composure, I took her hand and smiled with self-determination. “I think Phoenix has some of the best treatment options available,” I answered. “As good or better than anywhere in the world,” I added with enthusiasm.

“Do you really believe that?”

“Yes,” I answered, honestly, which I did. Looking directly into her eyes, I told her not to feel guilty, that she should concentrate on getting well. For the next few minutes, I gave her a pep talk of sorts, insisting that she put herself first and foremost. I asked her to concentrate on getting well for herself, as well as her family; to never stop thinking of those precious little girls who so needed their mama.

Just before landing, she asked, “What brings you to Phoenix?”

“Oh, just a brief visit with my father,” I answered, misty-eyed, smiling slightly.

*Below is a prayer I wrote that accompanied What a Wonderful World, at Eileen’s service. Today it has a new meaning for me, a new purpose. Surely, Eileen is an Angel….yes, the young mother’s Angel. Eileen sits beside her through each and every cancer treatment. Eileen dries her tears, eases her loneliness and eventually, will reunite her with family. And, yes, the young mother will be happy and healthy, living to raise her daughters into womanhood.

Oh, What a Wonderful World.

Angel Prayer-

Before the sun shall rise again, darkness descends upon the earth

And, though I do not see, nor hear, nor touch…

What lies beyond the ink of skies above

My faith surpasses any doubt of where I soon shall fly…

Be still all earthly pain, and hush my labored breaths

Blanket weary lids, and rest ‘till morning dawn…

View these beautiful Angel wings above favorite desert peaks

For He has grasped my hand in Heaven 

So full of joy it spills forth

With light and love…

Gaze with me as glory casts golden rays

For now and all eternity.

                   ~Amen~

 

Through The Lens of a Child


A reminiscent post that gave my heart a smile today…..

Each and every day and usually more than once, I drive past a lovely Equestrian Center very close to my home. It’s a beautiful place where horses of all breeds are boarded, competitions are held and lessons are taught, trail rides are given, and a bit of magic happens…..

On any given day, behind white split-rail fencing in flat, muddy fields I’ll see mares munching on bales of hay, stallions kept at bay, geldings trotting close enough to take a look, and if I’m very, very lucky, a mama nursing her baby foal on spindly legs or a dewy colt newly born.

This past summer on a still afternoon, my husband and I pulled into the dusty parking lot of the above with our little grand-daughter who squealed with delight. Clouds of brown welcomed our car with poofs of air the color of smoke. A wooden porch of sun-bleached planks greeted us before we checked in. Sitting on the plain pine bench, I almost expected a prickly tumbleweed to roll by!

The smell of open barns drifted my way, drawing me in. My grand-daughter’s small of hand clasped my own, looking up to me. Her eyes of saucer blue together with a smile that melts my heart-so-much stopped me in my tracks. We went on to visit countless stalls of fresh cream-colored straw, most with horses living in them. Others were out, taking a break. Everything was ‘new’ to her, a story waiting, words to say, more magic happening…..

Wafting through the first barn was the musty scent of sweaty twine together with horse manure from nearby fields of munched on grass and weeds.  Click-Click…sounds of fancy cowboy boots tapping on the pitted cement floor while silver spurs passed right in front of us. So close we could almost touch them! Shiny silver with sparkling jewels together with little stars twinkling from them! On the wall to the left, a long row of black helmets hung from dark brass hooks. “But, why…,” she asked. Always a question, forever an answer. “To keep you safe,” I explained.

“I want to see the horses, Grandpa,” our grand-daughter exclaimed, jumping up and down! My husband lifted her with both hands, propping her up on his shoulders to get a better view over the fence-line. Gorgeous, smooth, soft-to-the-touch heads in solids and spots sprung from their lunch breaks to check us out. Pointed ears in brown, black or tan tapered just so, in curiosity. Long, wiry hair of swishing tails swinging back and forth. Sooo pretty!

Thinking it might be time to go, we moved towards the car. “Where are the ponies,” came tiny words from little, ‘Moppet Head.’  My husband and I held her hands to walk several blocks to the last and final barn.  Home to all of the ponies. There she hung on the rail, eye-level to ‘horses’ more her size. She whispered close to their ears, named each and every one and visited their stalls, before blowing imaginary kisses to say, “Good-Bye.”

After all my time in living here, it took a child’s innocence for me to see the magic in a place I’ve barely glimpsed before. How much MORE of life is there to live, if only I could look through the lens of a child?

 

 

Tugging at Heartstrings


In deciding what books to keep or donate before my move, I came across a small volume of poetry I hadn’t seen or touched in quite some time. A small hardcover, it cheerfully greeted me with a child’s colored hearts in red, pink and yellow on a cover of white. The title is, Journey Through Heartsongs, by Mattie J.T. Stepanek, published in 2001.

For those of you who don’t know, Mattie Stepanek, (July 17, 1990-June 22, 2004) wanted to be remembered as “a poet, a peacemaker, and a philosopher who played.” He was an amazing child who published seven best-selling books of poetry during his short thirteen years of life. Mattie had an innate sense of being, an intuition far beyond imagination which he brought not only to his poetry but to everyone he met. I urge all of you to read about his life at the following link. Quite simply, he was a remarkable being. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mattie_Stepanek

Mattie lived with the Chronic Condition of Muscular Dystrophy and left us all with gifts unimaginable. My own heartstrings sing a melody of lyrics thanks to his writing. It’s no accident that I rediscovered the jacket of this dusty book.  I stopped to read it from cover to cover this morning, carefully placing it in a box next to some of my very favorites, marked, “Library.”

Crystal Celebration

Sometimes, 

Sunrise is like a heavenly crystal ball.

Everyday,

In the little bit of time between night and day,

The angels look at the earth

To see how things are going and

To see how things will be.

The sky changes from dark

Into Angel-whites and Angel-golds.

The blackness of trees starts to glow with

Pinks and purples and oranges from their hearts.

And during each dawn,

All the Angels gather up and have

A celebration in God’s honor!

And sometimes,

You can even watch

And join them in the celebrating.

Just look out into the sunrise,

Then jump into your own heart,

Float into the air like in a dream,

And pray with love and thank-yous

For your life, for your spirit, for your sunrise…

And for being a part of this heavenly crystal ball!

                           Mattie-Age 6

Angels Sunset

*painting courtesy of Google Chrome

Save a Child Today


https://purposefullyscarred.com/2014/06/17/for-parents-and-caregivers-five-common-characteristics-of-sex-offenders/

Indeed, one of the most horrible of all Chronic Conditions, if you will is perhaps Child Sexual Abuse.

Although I am in the midst of relocating, together with all that it entails: sorting, packing, boxing items for selling and hauling, etc., I discovered a most important post Reblogged a couple of years ago. Definitely worth repeating as sadly, child sexual abuse is never-ending.

Together, let’s speak for little voices who are silenced by brainwashing or fear. Believe in what you may see or feel, the goosebumps prickling at the back of your neck together with your inner instincts that may gnaw at the pit of your stomach. When something does not appear quite right there is usually a reason.

Save a child today.

Link to "Five Common Characteristics of Child Sexual Offenders: Eliminating the Edge"

Boz Tchividjian – a former child abuse chief prosecutor and the founder/director ofGRACE – expounds upon five of the most common characteristics of child predators (linked above):

1. Offenders may have many victims.

2. Offenders can be the most unsuspected people.

3. Offenders are not strangers.

4. Offenders often prey upon trusting and vulnerable young people.

5. Offenders minimize their criminal actions [i.e. victimize themselves].

For more from Boz Tchividjian, read “7 Ways to Welcome Abuse Survivors in Our Churches”

Related Posts:

The Sexual Predator’s Greatest Asset

Maureen’s Story: “I Married a Sex Offender”

Resources for Talking with Your Kids About Local Sex Offenders

How to React to Local Sex Offenders

Boz Tchividjian

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Caterpillar Wishes and Butterfly Dreams


A bug on the ground, never seen before

Long and round, so different

Moving now, it floats on top of  bricks

No legs in sight, scary I think

Fuzzy, crawling towards me

Slowly at first, like babies do

I’m kneeling down, not quite trusting

Sizing it up,  close and cautious

Brown with yellow, it looks soft to me

Grandma says, “It’s okay to touch”

Gentle, with a whispered finger

Careful not to hurt

Guess what?  It’s a caterpillar

Soon to be a butterfly

How can this be?

God’s magic, it’s a miracle

Crawling creature, soon to be ruffled wings 

Lots of questions….

When will this happen?  Is it true?  Will the butterfly be blue?

Does it eat from a flower or drink from the fountain?

Will we see it dance in the garden or flutter near a rock?  

Tell me, Grandma. Please, Grandma, P.L.E.A.S.E?

Sigh….Butterfly, I will see you in my dreams

Up..up..up, high in the sky where angels sing

Please wave to me with wings of blue on clouds of cream

‘Till then, I’ll never forget this lesson of bugs and miracles of God

Good-bye, Caterpillar, I love you, Butterfly…..

 

 

Aged Letters From The Heart


 

Recently discovered in a dark corner of my basement was a nondescript cardboard box. Inside was a stack of papers including my marriage license and birth certificate, old files and paperwork, together with early photographs of the children when they were very young. Deep down, flat and pressed nearly against the right side of the coagulated box of plain paper brown was a long ago forgotten letter saved for many, many years. A treasured gift rediscovered that I’ll pass down to my children who will hopefully pass it down to their own. Part of my legacy was folded into a wrinkled envelope of sixty-three years.

Written in a pen of turquoise ink on five pages of thick, yellowed paper was a letter scrawled from my father to his own. Moving to the windowed stairwell, I held it in my shaking hands where I could read it in better light. Staring at my father’s writing, his cursive, capital D’s curled to the left while the bottom of the letters swirled to the right. ABC’s from his heart as he bared his soul to my paternal grandfather, the man most important to him in all of his world.

Although my grandfather was a warm and loving man, he rarely expressed any emotion to his son, which made reading this letter particularly poignant. Not once was the word, “Love” ever written, yet anyone can read between the lines. I nearly cried the whole way through. My dad was in the United States Air Force and had recently learned his father had taken ill after losing his beloved brother (my father’s uncle). I’m re-writing my father’s letter word for word, exactly as he wrote it at the age of 19. A boy’s hand penning the words of a young man…..

Nov 19/53

Dear Dad,

I’m not much for soft words Dad, but I think it’s about time I told you what a great guy you really are. Ever since you took me to that fair or carnival or what ever it was; all I can remember about it is, that there were some great big trucks. I guess they looked about half as big as the world at the time. On the way back you bought me my first candy bar. And when I used to meet you coming down the street from work and you’d let me steer. Oh, yes, and when we went swimming; you’d hold me up so I could kick my feet.

When I grew up a little, we use to play ball or catch together. Remember when we use to go hunting; when that Pheasant went up, he came down soon, I hardly ever saw you miss.

Well Dad, ever since I was old enough to know anything at all, I knew you were a very wonderful Dad and I was a very lucky kid for having you for my Pop. You are the most, to say the least.

Remember all the trouble I used to get into; stealing fruit, fighting, and smoking, when I was just a kid. Maybe it is a good thing I smoked then, and I don’t have to smoke now, and I don’t.

How about that gate night, that all of us guys broke all those windows and got caught and went to court too. Boy, that was the limit. How did you ever put up with it all anyway?

Well, I have grown up a lot, and this Christmas I’ll be twenty one, and I’m supposed to be a man. Right now I think I’ll be a man by Christmas. I’m not afraid of anything or anybody.

Having wonderful parents like you and Mom are, to have raised me, I know I’ve made it. Mom certainly is a wonderful woman and Mother too. You sure picked the right woman when you married her. You two certainly are the best parents a guy could ask for.

Well Dad, how have you been feeling lately? I hear, not too good, huh. Well, you should go see the doctor right away. You know, I only have one Dad like you. I know Uncle Charlie’s death must have hit you pretty hard. He sure was a great guy, wasn’t he? But let’s not let it get the best of us Pops. Those things happen, but when they do, we just have to remember the pleasant things about them. We’re tough enough, we can take it, we have to, that’s all.

Well Dad, I made it home for your birthday when you were sixty one, and I’m trying to make it home for mine and I’ll be twenty one. Gosh I’ll be old enough to vote now, and buy beer too. When I come home, we’ll go down town and I’ll buy you one, ok?

Well Dad, I guess I’ve rattled on long enough. Take good care of yourself Pops and Mom too. Hope to see you in one short month.

Your Son,

Paul

Dad's letter

 *With LOVE to you and yours, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day!

Let’s Get In Formation!


Such a delight to Reblog this sweet story with a lovely photograph. https://throughopenlens.com/2016/05/17/lets-get-in-formation/

Through Open Lens

Mute Swan & Babies

F/ 7.1, 1/800, ISO 200.

Mute Swan and Cygnets

A three year old walked over to a pregnant lady while waiting with his mother in the doctors office.
He inquisitively ask the lady, “Why is your stomach so big?”
She replied, “I’m having a baby.”
With big eyes, he asked, “Is the baby in your stomach?”
She said, “He sure is.”
Then the little boy, with a puzzled look, asked, “Is it a good baby?”
She said, “Oh, yes. It’s a real good baby.”
With an even more surprised and shocked look, he asked…
“Then why did you eat him?”

Interesting Fact: Hans Christian Andersen’s fairly tale The Ugly Duckling chronicles the woes and triumphs of a young, Mute Swan that hatches in a clutch of duck eggs but goes on to become a beautiful swan. Some speculate that the book was based on Andersen’s own less-than-handsome looks as a…

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Priceless


One by one the pins wobbled at the end of the lane except for two.  Jumping in the air, I hugged my team-mates, surprised that I would even score.  My husband rolled a blue marbled ball down a waxed wooden lane, next to me.  Ten pins fell down.  Strike!  Then my cell phone rang.  It was our son.  “She’s in labor, Mom.” Within an hour, we were picking up our grand-daughter, Gracie, together with our son’s diabetic alert dog, ‘”Nimbus.”

I remember the first morning of a May spring day when a five-week-old British Lab pup changed our lives forever.  A crawling warmness of black droopy ears, wet pink tongue, and four oversized paws was laid into our son’s waiting arms.  Standing next to him was his then, “fiancé,” brimming with love and support.  She smiled her gentleness of future hope for a married life free of blood sugar demons lurking beneath skin ready to snatch their independence away.

Now, four years old, “Nimbus” has grown to 65 pounds or more.  He bows  for ‘high’ blood sugar or raises a paw for ‘low’ blood sugar.  A member of their family, he is a life-saving tool.  Still, when it came time for baby to arrive, it had been decided that Nimbus was best left with Grandma together with his ‘sister,’ Gracie.

The next couple of days, my house turned into a sort of Fairytale Land, where I tried my best to see that Gracie got her rest.   Still, when awake, she was Number One for heaven’s sake!  On hardwood floors throughout the house, we took turns pushing naked baby dolls in pink strollers.  Faster and faster we went, like running an imaginary race with no finish line in place.  In the end, she always won with some silly prize she delighted in.

We played outdoors or walked the dogs.  Along the way we stopped to pick yellow dandelions with a toddler neighbor, blowing fluffy white ones into the wind.  Tiny pieces danced up and away into the breeze like wishes made the night before.  For supper, I cooked gooey mac & cheese.  Holding Gracie on my hip, she poured a cold mixture from a zippered bag, eyes wide with wonder watching yellow melt into white macaroni.  Afterward, we smacked on hot fudge sundaes for dessert, wiping dark brown chocolate from chins while staring at “Frozen” on the big screen TV.  Nimbus tried to sneak a bite.  Little Gracie’s voice stopped him by singing, “Let it go…Let it go.”

The last night before Gracie went home to a new baby brother, we finished with a bubble bath in Grandma’s deep jetted tub of speckled brown, like sand in sparkled sun.  Bubbles billowed while she lifted handfuls to share with me.  Before I knew it, Nimbus leaped up and over the rim.  Four strong legs stirred and splashed waves, everywhere.  A surge spilled over the side.  Froth and foam floated to the  floor.  Big black eyes peeked through soft clouds of pinkish-white.  Gracie patted more on top while squealing loud with delight.  “Oh, Nimby,” she giggled.  “Nimby’s in the tub!”

When darkness fell, Gracie didn’t want to climb into her crib.  “Grandma’s bed,” she said.  Resting her head on a feather pillow, she sucked on a pacifier while stroking her worn pink bunny between thumbs and forefingers.  “Gracie, did you have fun at Grandma’s house?”  She shook her head up and down through sleepiness.  I asked her next, “What was your favorite part of today?”  Abruptly, she sat up, cocking her head to the side with a knitted brow.  Yanking out her pacifier with one hand, it made a loud suction sound like pulling the plug from a drain.

“Oh, Grandma,” she said, dreamily.  “Your baftub.  Nimby in the tub.  Grandma washed my hair…sooo soft.”  She touched damp curls to her cheek and plopped back down to the plump of a pillow.

Then, in the dim light of my rose-colored lamp, I thanked God for that moment.  It stopped my heart with memorable love, leaving me with it until the day I die.

Priceless….

*A memory of two years ago. How fast life changes. Today, my son and daughter-in-law are expecting their third child! Gracie is now age four with her younger brother, the baby above and below over two! And, Nimby…well, he’s slowed down to working only part-time these days. During my son’s working hours at the National Weather Service, Nimbus is on full duty. At home, he takes a break by playing with the kids, chewing on bones, and taking walks in the park. You might say Nimby is spoiled most of the time, like any other pet. Either way, Nimbus has a dog-gone good life!

       

Loving Grandbabies


Anticipation was building the whole month of May. Finally, my grandbabies rolled in from South Carolina to spend a whole week at Grandma’s house last Saturday. Plans were made and parties were in place.

Grandpa and I met a mini-bus in the driveway to open sliding doors before the hum of an engine-turned off. Action heroes we were, straight from a giant movie screen except without the buttered popcorn or milk duds. “Babies of Two” tumbled out with their wee big sister of two and a half years. Yes, they were tired but thrilled to be FREE from the restraint of buckled car seats filled with crumbles of animal crackers. Grandpa lifted one grandchild while a toddler hugged his hairy, bare leg. Crying with joy, I picked up another who wrapped her arms and legs around me like a baby gorilla you’d see clinging to her mother at the zoo.

I lost my heart (times three) for all the neighbors to see. Right there and then on a driveway paved in burnt red bricks. Kissing silky hair, I soaked the warmth of soft, baby skin from tip to toe, never wanting to let them go. Soon, all drifted into a bubble bath, before being bundled in hooded towels. Then it was off to rock in a spindled chair. Little gorilla baby never left my lap, patting my back with her little hand to the rhythm of the chair. Pat…rocking back…pat…rocking forward…pat…rocking back…pat…rocking forward.

The next day it was a party at our favorite train venue where babies, toddlers, and kids played freely before eating pizza and breaking a piñata filled with unexpected treats. Later that night, the older cousins (ages 4 & 2) had a sleepover in front of our big screen where they snuggled under sheets of cotton blue to watch Barbie movies while sharing popcorn and sipping apple juice. In between, the girls of red hair and blonde curls put on a show while dancing and singing songs. I must say it was quite an impromptu production. If only I would have known in advance, surely I could have sold a few tickets within the neighborhood!

Yesterday, my younger daughter-in-law’s parents hosted a splendid BBQ with delicious food where everyone gathered from several sides of the family. Children of all ages played with toys, swam in the pool and bonded like never before.

I’ve always known how very blessed I am to have these little babies in my life. As my eyes darted around to catch sight of all five of them, I couldn’t help but ponder the beginning of their forever cousin relationships. The youngest two were dressed in twin polka dot bikinis while splish-splashing in a baby pool. Around and around, my only grandson tackled a riding toy while blowing kisses to all of the girls, and far to the right, feet of four jumped into a speckled pool so cool.

Seconds later, I glanced at my oldest son’s wife, who lightly traced her barely there belly bump. Yes, they’ve just announced a new baby-to-be expected around  Christmastime.

Another grandbaby to love for me. Oh, I can’t wait to see!