“Grandma Joan”


She was an English war bride, named Joan. Losing her first love shortly after throwing her bouquet, she left her homeland and all that she knew to live in America with her second husband while still grieving her first. It wasn’t long after the war, and she had dreams of the new world awaiting her.

Joan was a kind and gentle soul who had a soft lilting voice, the tone of which reminded me of a string of tinkling brass bells moved by mellow winds during the warmth of a late spring day. While I worked outside the home, Joan sat for my eldest son who was just a baby at the time. It didn’t take long before our family more or less adopted her, calling her, “Grandma Joan.” She touched my baby as though he was her own, rocked him gently and bundled him close. Joan took him for rides in a stroller where he dangled a pudgy fist, hoping her black poodle, Pepper, would tickle it with his pink tongue. She taught him to feed fuzzy, quacking ducks in the lime green pond of the park and read him fairy tales before tucking him in for naps before toppling A.B.C. blocks.  And, when my second son was born she joyously added him to the fold, kissing him from head to toe.

Before long, “Grandma Joan,” spent almost every holiday with us including Christmas and birthdays. I remember whipping up her favorite German chocolate cake for a milestone birthday one year, while my toddlers surprised her with presents she didn’t need but loved to receive. One Christmas day, she delighted me with the gift of an angel soft afghan colored in cream. Surely it took many hours of love and toil to make such a dream. Today, nearly thirty years later, I still wrap up in the warmth of it while dozing in her scent. Joan taught my children manners and messages that can never be replaced while giving me memories of proper grace.

Occasionally, I sensed a chasm of pain behind Joan’s golden rims of wire. Reflecting pools of blue never to surface. A life of  youth and love sunken by war and loss.  As close as we were, some things were better left unspoken. People come in and out of each other’s lives at just the right time as part of fate or from a plan high above in Heaven. During the time we spent with Joan, her husband was dying in a nursing home from Alzheimer’s disease. And, before meeting Joan, my own little family had just moved from afghanout-of-state. We craved the love and touch of maternal wisdom. Suddenly, out of nowhere hearts and homes collided providing both with an extension of a family. Kindness, trust, and love.

This morning a chill is in the air. Doodle dog is by my side as I sit by the fire wrapped in an afghan of cream where I am forever thankful for “Grandma Joan.”

 

 

 

Trust Me


Please pause to thank the multitude of men and women who have served our country together with those who do so today….willingly.  They protect us on our own soil in addition to all around the world.  Soldiers who risk their lives for our freedom.  Many travel to far off places, other cities and countries, vine-covered jungles or wind whipped deserts to fight wars in the name of, FREEDOM.

Our country’s Armed Forces fight enemies we never thought of before.  Sometimes, the ‘enemy’ wears a mask making him look much like our neighbor next door.  We ask, why?  Why is there hate?  Why do we fight?  Can’t we get along?  Let’s live in peace, be happy, respect each other and love one another while remembering God’s word…please?

Young soldiers, men and woman, sons and daughters or brothers and sisters protecting us day and night…summer or winter, spring and fall.  They cry tears of loneliness with worry behind closed doors.  A cement sidewalk long ago poured in front.  Across the dewy ground lies an unridden bicycle.  Toys scattered and tossed atop an overgrown lawn.  There is a piece of puzzle missing…yes, it’s Mom or Dad.  If not, it may be a prized son, precious daughter or much-loved brother or sister.  Love is missing.

Dusk settles.  Lullabies in rocking chairs soothe crying babies to sleep.  Toddlers toss in cribs clutching flopping bunnies while ‘olders’ retreat in solitude to rooms where emotions can be stuffed waaay down deep.  They’re too B.I.G. to cry.  No matter the age, children wonder the same… “When is Mommy or Daddy coming home?”

Far too often, the unspeakable happens during war.  There is a knock on the front door.  Neighbors in the distance hear the agony of wailing.  I’ve heard it before.  Like an animal cry.  Low, deep down and guttural at first, then louder to a crescendo like no other.  To the top……as if in slow motion.  W..H..Y?  Life is not fair.

I ask all of you to pray for our soldiers today.  Those who have fallen before together with each of them who protect us during all of our tomorrows.  No matter your belief, ‘right or wrong,’ our soldiers are here for you.  Yes, you.  Doing what they believe is right.  Remember them, please and thank them with the whole of your heart.

If you know any soldiers, call one today.  Say, “Thank you for your service.”  A few minutes on the phone will mean the world to any of them on this day.

Trust me…..

Tragedy


My mind has been in a vortex of mixed emotions this past week.  Upon returning from a family vacation in Michigan, it seems a river of sadness was about to wash over the hair on my head. When the wheels of my car crossed the bridge of the muddy Mississippi, my St. Louis town together with its people were about to change.

Yes, another young black man was killed by a white man in our country.  This time it happened in Middle America, about thirty minutes north of my home.  It’s been nearly a week yet the city that I love is still in turmoil.  Protesters are in the streets day and night.  Anger is palpable, not only seen but felt.  Tear gas blinds. News anchors run.  Fear is here.

Reports on CNN differ from hour to hour, day to day.  Who is correct, what is the real story?  Bottom line, a tragedy has occurred.  Life has been snuffed out.  A boy has been lost forever.  “Justice,” rings aloud from the crowd…over and over again.

As a white woman, I will not pretend to know what it feels like to live in a black body.  I do not.  Still, I am human, I am a mother, and I live in a house located in a neighborhood where families are raised. I feel empathy.

My husband’s best friend of 25 years is a black man who lives in Jacksonville, Florida.  Our families have vacationed together and visited each other’s homes on several different occasions.  A few days ago, he called to say he does not understand why the protesting continues.  The dead boy’s neighborhood is being destroyed.  “Hasn’t enough harm been done,” he asked?

Not long ago, this same neighborhood is where I soaked the spirit of children’s imaginations while helping to encourage emotions on paper.  Families were enthused at the prospect of their children’s lives lighting up.  The community was on an upswing.  My article, Writing Stars was inspired on that day, http://wp.me/p41md8-11W.  I remember my husband stopping at the local ‘Quick Trip’ for a large plastic glass of iced tea.  Today, it is the site of “Ground Zero.”

The police here and politicians all over the country are still investigating.  I pray for peace, for no one else to get hurt.  Who knows what the real story is, or when justice will happen, whatever that may be?  I only know a piece of my city looks like a war zone.  War kills.  Haven’t we had enough of d.e.a.t.h.?

“Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.”  John Fitzgerald Kennedy

 

 

Remember….


Memorial Day.

It’s not simply a holiday of family reunions, leisurely picnics or sunshine and happiness.  Let’s stop to remember………

Please pause to think of the multitude of men and women who have served our country together with those who do so today….willingly.  They protect us on our own soil in addition to all around the world.  Soldiers who risk their lives for our freedom.  Many travel to far off places, other cities and countries, vine-covered jungles or wind whipped deserts to fight wars in the name of, FREEDOM.

Our country’s Armed Forces fight enemies we never thought of before.  Sometimes, the ‘enemy’ wears a mask making him look much like our neighbor next door.  We ask, why?  Why is there hate?  Why do we fight?  Can’t we get along?  Let’s live in peace, be happy, respect each other, love one another and remember God’s word…please?

Young soldiers, men and woman, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, protect us day and night…summer or winter, spring and fall.  No holidays for them.  We are not their families.  No, they cry tears of loneliness with worry behind closed doors.  A cement sidewalk long ago poured in front.  Across the dewy ground lies an unridden bicycle.  Toys scattered and tossed atop an overgrown lawn.  There is a piece of puzzle missing…yes, it’s Mom or Dad.  If not, it may be a prized son, precious daughter or much-loved brother or sister.  Love is missing.

Dusk settles.  Lullabies in rocking chairs soothe crying babies to sleep.  Toddlers toss in cribs clutching flopping bunnies while ‘olders’ retreat in solitude to rooms where emotions can be stuffed waaay down deep.  They’re too B.I.G. to cry.  No matter the age, children wonder the same… “When is Mommy or Daddy coming home?”

Far too often, the unspeakable happens during war.  There is a knock on the front door.  Neighbors in the distance hear the agony of wailing.  I’ve heard it before.  Like an animal cry.  Low, deep down and guttural at first, then louder to a crescendo like no other.  To the top……as if in slow motion.  W..H..Y?  Life is not fair.

I ask all of you to pray for our soldiers today.  Those who have fallen before together with each of them who protect us during all of our tomorrows.  No matter your belief, ‘right or wrong,’ our soldiers are here for you.  Yes, you.  Doing what they believe is right.  Remember them, please.  If you know any soldiers, call one today.  Say, “Thank You for your service.”  A few minutes on the phone will mean the world to any of them on this day.

Trust me…..