Are You Seeking Purpose In Life?


At any given moment, our inner emotions palpitate, leaving us with an ambiance of the unknown, scattered. What is our purpose in life? We may seek joy and fulfillment through random paths, hoping to make positive impacts on the lives of others. A legacy of sorts, lasting long after we are gone. We wish to touch the soul of a single person. One or two, three or four…maybe more. Those who are tall or little ones so very small.

Our earthly map is shrouded, consisting of paths winding round and round, meandering through peaks and valleys, climbing up and down. Or, it may be akin to the sea with waves rolling atop a current, cresting at high tide when all seems on our side. The point is, nothing is black and white, yes or no, wrong or right.

When looking for purpose in life, seek splashes of color scattered among the otherwise mundane. Chances are it’s right before your eyes.

*photos courtesy of Google Chrome

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?

 

 

Thoughts On Mothers


“A mother’s arms are made of tenderness, and children sleep soundly in them.”  

Victor Hugo

“There is no velvet so soft as a mother’s lap, no rose as lovely as her smile, no path so flowery as that imprinted with her footsteps.”   

Archibald Thompson

“There is nothing sweeter than the heart of a pious mother.”

 Martin Luther

“She was the best of all mothers, to whom I owe endless gratitude.”

Thomas Carlyle

“All I am I owe to my mother.  I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.” 

George Washington

“No matter how old, a child is a babe who carries the heart of their mother inside of their own.

Kim Gosselin

A Room With The Perfect View


http://www.mowildlife.org/

It’s early and quiet here, barely the birds are chirping yet. No one moves about the house, not even my Doodle dog. To the east, the sun is rising in painted chalk colors of corals and pinks against the blues of aqua. A pine branch brushes against my office window pane, startling me. Ooooh, I see the faint fluttering of robin wings! Suddenly, they take a flight to the right, gathering twigs of nearby trees. I’m in a room with the perfect view!

Such a sight reminded me of a long-ago spring when my children were young. They’d go off to school before I washed dishes at a green pepper sink beneath my kitchen window. To the left was a wooden door made of eight panes of glass. It led to a lovely covered patio where given the chance, I read a chapter from a cloth-covered book, sipped crushed iced tea or snuck a nap before the kids awakened me.

Under the covered patio sat a natural rattan chair next to a potted plant of bright red geraniums. Such a contrast the two colors were, the beige of the chair next to the radiant red of blazing flowers. It looked like a picture from, Better Homes and Gardens. I used to tender the plant like another child, carefully watering it while plucking curled leaves from thriving ones, afraid they’d suck precious life away from the others.

One morning, two robins flew back and forth between the blue of the sky and my precious red geranium. They carried twigs and bits of cloth between their beaks. Building a nest, I surmised. What to do? If I did not interfere, my treasured plant might die…if I did, where would their featherless babies be born?

Motherly instincts gave in, allowing the birds to continue. Before long, I tip-toed to the nest nearly every day, discovering yet another egg of robin blue safe within its refuge of brown twigs, twine, and mud. Occasionally, I’d catch the mother sitting there, looking at me as if to say, “Who are YOU?” In the beginning, she flew away. In the end, she let me stay.

It wasn’t long before I heard the squawking of baby chicks from my window screen. Both Mother and Father robins took turns feeding their naked newborns who were barely able to lift bald heads or stretch wrinkled necks. When not pecking for worms, Mother Bird sat on top, keeping her featherless young perfectly warm.

The babies grew quickly with luck on my side! Nature hadn’t taught them to fear me. I used to visit them often, stopping by to say, “Hello,” or to tell them of my day. I even coddled soft feathers with a tip of my finger after their mother flew away. The Wildlife Rescue Center had told me it’s a “Myth” that birds can smell. I brought them no harm and was careful in every way. Soon, I found myself attached to the growing balls of feathered fluff. They were miracles to me, teaching me wonders never found in a book.

Eventually, the day came when Mother Bird taught her babies how to fly and leave their nest. I saw them from my window. Yes, I had a room with the perfect view. One by one, each feathered friend stepped on the edge of my geranium plant, using it as a perch. Flapping golden wings lit by the sun, in winds that only God can kiss, they fought to stay in the air. Some fell slightly before floating back up like miniature biscuit colored balloons. Up, up, up into the sky. Squinting, I saw patches of orange-red breasts flying toward heaven. Wistfully, I waved, “Good-bye.”

Turning to save what was left of red flowers and yellow leaves, I saw one last little bird perched, afraid to take the plunge. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, wanting him to stay, yet knowing he too, must leave the nest. In the distance, his family called to him. It was as if they cheered him on. “Come’on, you can do it, we’re here waiting for you!” With that, he flapped his wings fast and hard, jumping off into the unknown while I cried my eyes out.

The next spring I purchased another geranium plant, hoping again to have a room with the perfect view…..

 

*Photography courtesy of Google Chrome

God Always Has A Reason


Soon after my six-year-old son was diagnosed with diabetes, I joined a support group for other moms, like me. New to St. Louis, I needed to meet mothers who lived the normal life that was now my own. Not my life of yesterday, when freedom and good health was taken for granted. Instead, I yearned to soak in a tub of others who understood what it was like to have children’s lives changed forever. Forever may only take the time of a second-hand to move upon a clock…tick-tock…tick-tock.

For a while, I met friends who shared a bond with me. After our precious cargo of kids went off to school, we took turns meeting at each other’s homes. Huddled around polished timbered tables, we shared stories from the week before. Our younger toddler’s bounced in La-Z-Boy rocking chairs, scribbled with colored crayons or sang Sesame Street songs in next door rooms. Drinking coffee from molded mugs, a new group of girlfriends passed the cream while nibbling on St. Louis’s own, Gooey Butter Cake. We laughed together, cried together, and became members of a club we never planned on joining.

Eventually, the word got out, and our support meetings began to grow. One morning, my front doorbell rang. A new mom stopped by asking if she could visit. On my white spindled porch she held the small fingers of a squirming young boy staring into space. In the other, she balanced a batch of marbled brownies. Quickly, I ushered her into my kitchen where she poured her heart out there and then. In front of everyone.

The new woman was anxious while keeping a nervous eye on her child who ran about the room. He had angelic features, with blonde curly hair, and green eyes the color of the sea. Nervously and with tears welling up, she began to tell us of his diagnosis of autism. Then, there was more. Recently, her son was diagnosed with insulin dependent diabetes too. She didn’t know what to do.

Of course, no two children are alike whether they live with chronic conditions or not. The woman’s son who came to my door that day had difficulty making eye contact together with a fear of being touched. This made it very challenging for his mother to check his blood sugar or give him daily injections of insulin. Even a four-year-old without autism has good reason to be afraid of this kind of ‘touch!’ His mother looked for help, support and any answers we could provide.

Ironically, the new mother who held the batch of marbled brownies left my home gifting me much more than I could have ever given her that day. Lessons of life. Within a few hours, I absorbed a lifetime of wisdom through her spirit of courage. God always has a reason for bringing people into each other’s lives. He chooses the time, the where and the when. It is not for us to question the why?  We’ll figure it out…..

*April is National Autism Awareness Month, with today, April 2, being World Autism Awareness Day. According to the CDC as of 2014, approximately one of 68 children were diagnosed with some form of autism spectrum disorder: one in 42 boys, and one in 189 girls. No one knows why, and I dare to say the numbers are continuing to increase every year. Please help raise awareness for a better world for all families whose lives are touched by this condition.

Thank you for reading.

world_autism_awareness_day_square_sticker_3_x_3https://www.autismspeaks.org/

as_naam2014_badge_250x250_webready   Slider_image3

Not Always What They Seem


The other day an elderly couple was out in the cold, standing near the curb near the exit of a supermarket with bags in their hands. Three or four, plastic and filled to the brim. I surmised the couple was waiting for a ride home. She with milky watchful eyes, strands of gray hair that swirled around her weathered face and hands that were turning blue.  He, older and protective, hovering close. He tightened his reign on her and lightened her load, taking the handles of one of the bags. They were tangled for a few seconds between the others until finally, two of them broke free. The younger-elderly woman smiled upwards. A look of love warmed the milk in her eyes. The man began to shield her silhouette from the wind. A mere step or two to the right blocked his mate from the elements. Soon, the tips of his ears turned red as a beet.

Cars went by the aging couple who waited in the blustery gusts that whirled around them. Colors and models of old and new and even trucks too drove slowly by them. The watchful woman together with the man who held more bags than ever before looked intently toward each and every one. Finally, a vehicle pulled over to the side. The couple smiled at one another. Then a girl from inside the supermarket quickly ran out to hop in. The car drove off.  Smiles of the golden age disappeared. Cold persevered.

Suddenly a boy with an orange vest pushed by several people as he pulled a string of shopping carts behind him.  He stopped to grumble a few words at the elderly couple, convincing them to move to the side in order for him to easily pass by. They started to shuffle their feet from side to side while grimacing in pain. Their bodies of old were no match for Mother Nature.

A few minutes later, a woman from the supermarket, wearing a uniform in burgundy red joined the twosome. Gently putting her arms around them, she took their bags and encouraged the couple to wait in the lobby.  There, a warm wooden bench could be seen through the walls of clear.

Soon, a taxi drove in front of the supermarket. Two employees walked the elderly man and his bride out to the car where they opened the door to help them get inside. The bags of groceries were put on the front seat while a note together with a few bills was pushed into the palm of the driver’s hand. Slowly the taxi pulled away, turning towards a neighborhood to the left.

It is ironic that things are not always what they seem. Who would have expected the boy in the orange vest, the one pushing carts to be of help to the old couple? Yet, obviously, he alerted his supervisor who assessed the situation. She took it a step further by telling her manager.  Did they gather more information from the couple themselves or perhaps find a number to call inside one of their shabby pockets? Regardless, I expect the loving and elderly couple ended up safe and warm before cooking a delicious dinner for two!

elderly-couple-holds-hands-London-384684

Priceless Tears


It’s been a while since I’ve posted much about Chronic Conditions. Although this is the basic theme of my blog, often my writing path veers toward a stop sign of grandchildren, babies, beauty in the world and nature. Inspiration from nightly dreams with photographs to delight my days.

In truth, our minds push portions of what we see and hear from the surface of reality in order to protect us. My own has been doing it for over twenty years. It does that still. There’s a thin dimension hidden slightly below the surface of my smile, cowering in a corner of my beating heart. A sort of twilight zone if you will.

With lined paper and a pen or ten fingers tapping on a keyboard, words meander around Chronic Conditions to discover pure beauty in the world. Joy in a single blade of grass, symphonies tweeted from a flock of birds, or sheer wonder observed in a sky of my favorite aqua blue.

Days or weeks go by without me going there…skipping rocks over what it’s like to live with Chronic Conditions. Memories are pushed down…down…down. Eventually, they rear their ugly heads to snap my own back to yesterday, today or even tomorrow. Sorry to say, Chronic Conditions never go away.

Early this morning, before dawn broke in the dark of day, I woke to tears trickling from the corner of an eye. First the left then the right until both began to flow. I let them fall silently, not wanting to wake my husband before brushing them from the two of my cheeks. Most often, I keep personal emotions bottled up, not wanting to share heartache or despair. Chin-up. Be positive!

Memories…Last week we spent an afternoon with my son and two of our grandchildren. He needed a bit of help and we were all too happy to see them! Lunch in the mall before rides on a wooden train of primary colors in red, yellow and green. Choo-Choo, Choo-Choo! Carousel animals under a striped Big Top of round for us to choose. Which one shall it be? Allie the Elephant, Zee the Zebra, or Joy the Dolphin? “Oh, this one, Grandma! She’s BLUE,” my granddaughter exclaimed with excitement, jumping up and down! I lifted her atop the smooth saddle of a teal dolphin from the sea, buckled her up and away we went. Up and down, down and up, while singing a make-believe song of “High in the Sky.”

Afterward, our generations of three skipped with holding hands to the far end of the building to discover a park of indoors. There, children gathered to play on soft, emerald-green grass in stocking feet. Moms and Dads took turns supervising with grandparents too. We proudly observed kids crawling on oversized turtles with cocoa-colored shells of tic-tac-toe. Brothers and Sisters played hide-n-seek under purple plastic logs. My grandbabies jumped off bridges over fantasy streams painted with rainbow-colored trout or giggled while sliding down their bellies with new-found friends.

Suddenly my son needed something sweet to eat! Under his breath, he whispered “Hurry!” My husband ran to get him cinnamon and sugared pretzel bites with a soda to drink at the closest stand nearby. The kids and I ran and jumped, smiled and laughed. Swallowing his surgary drink quickly, my son munched on sugared pretzel bites, two or three at a time. He checked his sensor attached to his stomach hidden under a T-shirt of white. The number in red appeared to be going up. A few minutes later he did a finger-prick of blood. My husband sat with him fifteen or twenty minutes, making sure the danger zone had passed. Talk and laughter with smiles on faces. This was our normal. No one knew anything different. Many Chronic Conditions are unseen, diabetes included.

Only a few weeks ago at Christmastime all was merry and bright until suddenly my son’s blood sugar dropped like a falling rock to a dangerously low number. Scooping up the kids, my husband and I disappeared into the toy room where we silently played and prayed 911 wouldn’t be needed. Luckily, it was not. Everyone went to bed early that evening as my son was tired from his episode. Chronic Conditions take a toll on the lives of those who live it together with the whole of their families.

This morning when my husband woke to the sounds of sniffles, he begged me to confess my troubles, which I finally did. “It’s okay,” he said, cuddling me just so. “You have a right to your feelings. You’re his mother.” I started bawling like a newborn babe. It felt like a dam had burst there and then as my pillow of down went from damp to wet. So good it was to let the worry and sorrow drain from the whole of my body. I had bottled the “no, don’t go there” for quite some time.

So, if you’re like me, give yourself permission to have feelings and emotions. To show them, honor them and admit they exist. Touch your heart with your mind and be not afraid to awaken your soul. We can’t change the world, but we can change ourselves. And, yes, go ahead and CRY.

Tears are priceless…..

tears2

The Gift of My Father


*Note to Readers: I wrote this post nearly two years ago to the day. Things haven’t changed and if there was any way on earth possible, this is the gift I would choose to share with you.

If I could give all I knew one present for Christmas it would be an itty-bitty piece of my father.  I suppose many daughters think this about their own.  The lucky ones.  Mine is like no other man I’ve ever met or ever known.

My grandmother waited 36 years before delivering her, “only begotten son” on a snowy Christmas dusk.  It was near a cold, dark bay of Michigan during the year of 1932.  Five older sisters awaited his arrival, while an older angelic brother looked down from Heaven above. A younger sister of blonde and a baby brother lost were born during the years shortly afterward.  My father was always the only brother…his parent’s only son.

A humble man who has the kindest soul, my father is always loyal and true.  He’s taught me subtle, wise lessons in life.  As a young girl, I watched his gentle mannerisms while listening to his quiet words, soaking up hushed teachings like a dry sponge dropped in a Michigan millpond.  One of my father’s most repeated  lessons was, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”  Akin to the Bible, I guess.  It has stayed with me forever and always. Shortly after my own two boys learned their first few words, I passed it down to them together with tender hugs and faint kisses upon damp foreheads.   They are having their own little ones, now.  If the cycle continues it will be a lesson for their children as well.  It is the most important one of all.

Of course there were other teachings to be learned.  Important mental notes written in imaginary pencil from my father for me to follow.  Like, “How to live life with a positive attitude in spite of adversity,” or “To smile when your heart hurts,” and, “It’s okay to cry.”

Once, when one of my sons was very young and very ill,  I called my father in Arizona all the way from St. Louis.  Choking back tears I remember saying, “Dad, I don’t think I’m going to have him very long.”  He paused for a few seconds before finding the right words.  I don’t remember exactly what they were, but together with his quiet tone, my father calmed me down.  I hold that single moment deep down inside of me.  Today, it is here within the whole of my chest…near the inside of my heart where it will stay for all eternity.

My father has taught me lessons my whole life through.  We are both older now.  It seems he is my guide and advisor only if I ask him to be.  We value our time together more than ever before.  Like children on a playground who have been friends all of their lives or even before, we laugh and play.  Sometimes we swing on a rubber tire hanging from an old frayed, cream-colored rope.  Like babes again, feeling our heads dangling in the wind! Other days we walk slowly along a new path, discovering speckled rocks to help us find our way.

Last night, me and my father sat in a puffy, padded booth on a western patio. Surrounding us was the warmth of a golden desert sun setting deep into cocoa sand of a saguaro cactus land.  We talked for hours about nothing, telling stories while sharing jokes.  I sipped red wine from a glass of clear.  He drank more.  Older teeth opened wide revealing burgundy red.  I giggled, he laughed.  A head of thick hair…now grey, tossed back…like always…

“That’s my father,” I whispered aloud,  to no one except golden coyotes hidden in the distance of the desert there.

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Exhibit

Happy Christmas…..

My Happy Place


*My Happy Place, visited often and again early this morning.  A post worth repeating filled with life lessons….

There is a familiar spot here in great St. Louis, where people flop inside or outside, leaving their troubles behind for another time.  Actually, this hang-out is located in a toy town called Kirkwood, about ten miles from the chocolate color of my dusty garage door.

When summer begins to wane the weather is perfect, like this time of year.  Today, barely a soul of young or old can be found inside the multiple front doors of the welcoming café.  Instead, eagle eyes scan the outdoor crowd, looking for any sign of movement in case an imaginary “Vacancy” sign pops up.  Deep breaths are taken.  Fresh air is inhaled while lungs expand.  Ahhh, relaxation begins!

It is here that a new discovery is made each and every time I visit.  Who would think that a simple, nondescript patio made of concrete cement would have such an impact on my life?  And, yet it does.  This is my Happy Place.  A corner of wired tables in black with matching chairs on top of grey.  Wait…take a seat, sit down to rest your feet.  Shhh, watch and listen.  This is a haven full of people who are living in the moment.

Do you see what I see?  There are mothers pushing strollers, babes in arms, Daddies giving horsy-rides and coffee cups made of china white.  Children riding scooters, chocolate milk clutched in little hands, bikers, joggers, bunnies in wagons and toasted bagels laden with cream cheese.  Kisses on cheeks, grandparents carrying toddlers, and dogs-of-all-kinds. Pacifiers in pink or blue, books being read and luxury leashes made of leather.  Working laptops, baked banana bread so good, couples on first dates, I-phones, singles and fountains splish-splashing.  Love is in the air, walkers, bottles filled with water, smiles, secrets and even bellies-SO BIG!

My husband clasps my hand to find me the best seat.  He pulls out my chair before inquiring what I’d like to sip and eat.  “A vanilla cappuccino,” he asks, expecting a “Y.E.S.” Next, his words so sweet, “A cinnamon roll warmed for you?”  He is the very best man and I am the luckiest of women.  Soon he comes back with my treats.

While nibbling, I stop to “people watch,” snap a few pictures, and meet new friends.  The sun feels warm to my skin, pinking my cheeks.  Next to me, I meet the cutest Labradoodle who excitedly poses for me.  And then, a “Hallmark” moment begins.

A few feet away, the sweetest girl of young reaches up and over on tippy-toes to kiss her loved one so dear.  She has long and lovely dark hair, wears shorts and seems to surprise the woman who is older than she.  My heart skips a beat.

Seconds go by.  The freshly kissed woman passes our table.  My husband smiles, pointing to our phone.  “Look,” he says, stopping her.  A gentle grin, big and wide slides over pretty, white teeth.  She is touched by what she sees, going on to tell us a bit about her lovely grand-daughter.

Looking across at her table, she notices more seats taken.  Chairs pulled out.  Tennis shoes underneath.  This time by her husband together with a darling, young grand-son wearing metal and leather braces strapped to thin legs.  Briefly, we talk about Chronic Conditions.  “He was born with club feet,” she says, speaking of her other darling one.  “He’s already had several surgeries,” she adds, “with more to come.”  She speaks matter-of-factly, with no hint of ‘woe-is-me‘ in her voice when she glances over at her loved ones.

There is no doubt, no question in my mind that this is where I am supposed to be.   Right now, right here at this moment in time.  A new Life Lesson for me today.  How special it is to have and hold this “Hallmark” tip-toed kiss upon a grandmother’s lips!  From an innocent grand-daughter to her loving grandmother.  A story of life trials chock full of smiles on this very morning.  Lucky for me.

No matter how brief, this will forever be “My Happy Place.”