57 years

This past weekend my husband and I celebrated our 57th wedding anniversary. It is almost impossible to think that we have been married for so long. Where did the time go? It really doesn’t seem that long ago…and yet a lot of people have no idea what life was like in 1962.

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For me it seemed ideal although looking at it now I wonder how. My husband was a new officer just graduated from West Point and beginning some training. He was in paratrooper school and went on to ranger training. During ranger training he was gone. How in the world did I think that was ideal. I guess I was living in a bubble of newly wed happiness. I think the saving grace was having other wives going through the same thing and us becoming friends. Friends were made quickly as we all needed support. We were lucky as our husbands had known each other at West Point and that made it easier.

Our life in the service was challenging. We moved often and I was alone a good bit. Some things were wonderful…the birth of our first child…language school in Monterey…living in Panama, Central America.

 

Times were also tough with spending two different years alone with children while my husband served in Viet Nam. I don’t know how I managed the worry but I seemed to cope with the stress and loneliness. Children are wonderful companions but they don’t replace a beloved spouse.

Our last tour was a joy. My husband went to graduate school and then taught math at West Point.  It was an amazing experience.

There have been many years and many different jobs for each of us since his retirement from the military and life has been good. Our three adult children, their spouses, our six grandchildren, one great grandchild and one on the way have added great joy.

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57 years. Amazing!

Bravery and fear go together

 

Bravery comes from the things we fear. We are only brave when we face something that we fear. Being able to step forward into a situation that worries us means that we can put the fear aside. We learn how to do this from the struggles we have had in the past. Each thing that has gone wrong in our lives has been a learning experience. We moved past those experiences and survived.

brave

Nobody wants to go through difficulties in life but they do help us to grow. The growth gives us the coping skills to manage the next problem that confronts us.  We not only learn how to manage but it helps us to understand others who are going through the same things. We have more compassion.

Think about the things that have troubled you in life and how you got through them. They have made you stronger and more compassionate. Don’t dwell on them as negative things but appreciate them for the things you have learned.

Remember when?

A friend and I were reminiscing yesterday and I wanted to share some memories from the “ancient person.”

I remember lying in front of our fireplace and listening to the radio. Yes radio! Fun programs like “Let’s pretend, The Shadow, Fibber Magee and Molly, and many more. There was something enchanting about picturing the stories in your own mind.

I remember watching TV for the first time. Of course black and white, tiny screen.

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I remember playing outside in the twilight..Kick the Can, Hide and Seek.

milk truckI remember visiting my Aunt and seeing the horse drawn milk delivery truck. The horse knew the route and moved to the next stop while the man took the milk to the door and picked up the empty bottles to be washed and used again. She lived in what was a small town at that time.

 

I remember standing in my front yard (on a main highway) and watching convoys of military vehicles going to a nearby post. I was quite young but still remember this from WWII.

I remember hanging clothes on the line outside to dry and running to bring them in if it started to rain.

I remember, in my teens, taking a bus to Washington DC, (we lived in the suburbs) and visiting the museums and Smithsonian. Taking the bus home and being perfectly safe.

I remember watching the McCarthy hearings and being upset that people could be treated that way.

It was a different view of the world.

St Valentine💖

I though it might be interesting to look at one of the stories surrounding St. Valentine. He has been retained as a Saint by the Catholic church and there are many versions of his life. This is one of them.

St. Valentine, the Real Story

Flowers, candy, red hearts and romance. That’s what Valentine’s day is all about, right? Well, maybe not.

The origin of this holiday for the expression of love really isn’t romantic at all—at least not in the traditional sense. Father Frank O’Gara of Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, tells the real story of the man behind the holiday—St. Valentine.

“He was a Roman Priest at a time when there was an emperor called Claudias who persecuted the church at that particular time,” Father O’Gara explains. ” He also had an edict that prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives or families if they died.”

“I think we must bear in mind that it was a very permissive society in which Valentine lived,” says Father O’Gara. “Polygamy would have been much more popular than just one woman and one man living together. And yet some of them seemed to be attracted to Christian faith. But obviously the church thought that marriage was very sacred between one man and one woman for their life and that it was to be encouraged. And so it immediately presented the problem to the Christian church of what to do about this.”

“The idea of encouraging them to marry within the Christian church was what Valentine was about. And he secretly married them because of the edict.”

Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against command of Emperor Claudius the second. There are legends surrounding Valentine’s actions while in prison.

“One of the men who was to judge him in line with the Roman law at the time was a man called Asterius, whose daughter was blind. He was supposed to have prayed with and healed the young girl with such astonishing effect that Asterius himself became Christian as a result.”

In the year 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation all because of his stand for Christian marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius’ daughter. He inspired today’s romantic missives by signing it, “from your Valentine.”

“What Valentine means to me as a priest,” explains Father O’Gara, “is that there comes a time where you have to lay your life upon the line for what you believe. And with the power of the Holy Spirit we can do that —even to the point of death.”

Valentine’s martyrdom has not gone unnoticed by the general public. In fact, Whitefriars Street Church is one of three churches that claim to house the remains of Valentine. Today, many people make the pilgrimage to the church to honor the courage and memory of this Christian saint.

Written by David Kithcart of CBN

The Eclectic Car

In a previous post I mentioned the first car I ever had. My father bought it and I’m sure it must have been a bargain. Just having a car was a thrill…I didn’t care what kind of car. For me any car was a plus.

my car
A beautiful version of the car, Mine was old and battered.

Fortunately I was young enough (?16,17?) that the problems the car had were like an adventure to me. The car was a Willys Jeepster. It was not new and had some interesting challenges. It would not go over 50 mph unless you were going down a long hill.The seats were bolted to the floor so there was no adjusting them to reach the clutch and change the gears. I used a pillow to reach. There was a starter button in the floor (how many people ever heard of such a thing?). It was a convertible…you pulled the top up and down. It did not have windows…only side curtains. ?Isinglass? Before plastic. (Now you are getting how old I am.) We lived in northern Virginia and it was cold in the winter. There was no heat. My friends and I didn’t care a jot. We had transportation! In the winter we bundled up and sometimes rode with the top down when it was snowing.

The car’s idiosyncrasies gave us an opportunity to meet people. For a while the starter button in the floor did not reach something called the “starter connector” in the engine compartment. There were two options for starting the car. You either had an available person to put a piece of metal between where the starter button was supposed to connect to the starter connector so that it would reach or we pushed the car. Old cars started easily by someone pushing and someone popping the clutch. If we parked the car when in town we usually searched for an end spot so we could jump start the car if needed. We parked on hills when we could as just drifting down a hill would give us enough motion to start the car. We would also get help from people who stopped to help us. We met lots of boys this way.

teens

Once, in heavy traffic, I stopped for a red light. I didn’t realize that when stopping I pulled up on the steering wheel…..it came off in my hand. With great aplomb I pushed it back on and held it that way until getting off the road. There was a bolt that held it on and we managed to fix it.

The car met it’s final demise while we were in downtown Alexandria. We began seeing smoke coming from the front of the car and pulled into the nearest filling station. It was not the radiator but all the wiring in the front was merrily in flames. The station attendant raced out with a fire extinguisher and put the fire out. My father retrieved us and the car went “where the lost things go.”

This was life in a different era. It was not dangerous for young girls to wander around town and meet strangers. Most roads had speed limits of 50 mph or less. Looking back it seems it was a kinder era. Maybe not…I may have just imagined it that way.  I wish it were so now.

Time moves on

sad season

This week I have been sad. I don’t know if it was my birthday and getting older or the autumn and the darkness. It could be all of the above. It has brought to mind some things that I used to do and don’t any more.

I used to bake for Christmas. I made lots of sweets for everyone.  I no longer have someone to bake for. The two of us have no desire to eat lots of Christmas sweets. My grandchildren are grown up (all except one who is in his teens) and not around to bake for or with. It was fun to make treats with my children and grandchildren.

For some reason I stopped sending Christmas cards. Our years of moving around made me lose track of many people. Our life is different now and it seems that there are many people who don’t send cards. In a way that is a regret. It was a job to get them done but a wonderful way to keep in touch.

I don’t have as much money to spend on gifts and so I try to be resourceful and creative in the things I find. This has been a plus as it has helped me to spend time on what really matters. It also reminds me of those who have nothing.

Again, life changes and we have to experience each phase. We can’t opt out if we plan to live on. Getting older can present challenges but so do other phases of life. To really live we have to seize each moment and know it will not come again.

time moves

Even though I have been sad sometimes sad can be a season of remembrance. It can be a time when we think about how different things are and plan to choose to live this moment. In this season of darkening skies and leaves falling life continues. Winter will follow and spring and on and on. The world is turning, time goes forward and I am still here to see it.

A life lived

leaving the church0001When I think about all that life has offered me I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Soon    ( November 15th) I will have my 78th birthday. It is hard to believe. So much time has passed but it feels as if it were yesterday. My childhood with amazing parents and family. Even my mother’s long term illness which taught me so much about life blessed me and taught me endurance and persistence in the face of adversity. I think my anxiety was connected to her near death but life moved on as she chose to accept her restrictions and live.

College aided my growth as I struggled with IBSD and later an episode of Ulcerative Colitis. Graduation brought marriage to my amazing husband in 1962 and anxiety took a back seat for many years. Strangely enough the birth of 3 children brought me no stress but continued joy. They are all married with children of their own and one great grandchild.

all six
all six grandchildren – youngest now 9th grader

It is easy to look back and see things that I would like to have done differently but those are the things we learn with age and experience. Wouldn’t it be nice to see that wisdom early on. The only thing that we can do is to share it with other generations and hope that some of it rubs off. When we are young we are so good at turning away from the wisdom of our elders. Our society doesn’t help as it is so youth focused. Too bad we are not part of the cultures that honor their elders and appreciate their wisdom.

I have had trials that tested my endurance and moments that have provided great joy. That seems to be the sum of life as we age. We can look back and contemplate the rough and the smooth and see the ways we withstood it all.

Long life is a true blessing and I am thankful for all of it….the good and the bad. It has made me who I am.

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Ordinary?

powerOrdinary has gotten a bad rap. There is nothing wrong in being ordinary. It’s just that the word sounds so bland. If we consider ourselves ordinary we think we  fade into the background. No one notices us. We can feel that we don’t count.

Am I ordinary? In many ways I am. I lead what can be considered an ordinary life. I am middle class, bright enough, average looks…nothing unusual. At least that is one way to look at it.

For some of us ordinary could be a goal. If we struggle with being different, or at least see ourselves that way, ordinary could sound really good. Ordinary would look like everyone else…. the ability to fit in. And we struggle with not being able to. But we do fit in…just into our own place.

ordinary mysteryThe truth is we are all ordinary in the good sense. Each of us has a place in the world. Each of us has something to give to the world. Each of us is important. Each life doesn’t have to shout “see me! see me!” to have meaning. Just being who we are is extra-ordinary enough.

The person each of us is has a role. Each of us is a part of life. Each of us is really extra-ordinary. There will never be another you or another me. That is enough.

 

Savor good memories but live in the NOW

chipmunk-clipart-transparent-background-16We were without power again today. A squirrel committed suicide at the transformer. So sorry. I actually like squirrels although a lot of my neighbors don’t. I’m not sure why as they seem to cause few problems. We actually put food our for them as the trees here didn’t make their quota of nuts and the squirrels have been hungry and getting ready for fall. My dogs love to chase the squirrels but very, very rarely catch one. (thank goodness!)

This is the first day here that has felt like fall and although the days are shorter I am enjoying the cooler air. The air feels good. We live on the salt marsh and have an 8 ft tide. For most people who move here the smell of the marsh is not pleasant. Having been here most summers of my life and lived here for 42 years it is a joy to me. I love the smell. It reminds me of summers going to the beach. Good memories.

Fresh oranges on wooden  background. Selective focus.

It is amazing how smells can trigger memories. My mother always wore the same perfume and when someone is wearing it I immediately think of her. Those kinds of things bring good memories.

There are also things that trigger bad memories. Recently a smell triggered memories of time spent in the hospital with severe bowel problems. Not a good memory. I immediately pushed that memory away.

I have found that it is possible to wallow in a good memory and accept all the pleasure that it brings. I have also worked on letting the bad memories slide in and out of my mind by mentally pushing them away. Usually it works. I focus on something else and drag my mind away.

live-in-the-present

Memories are part of our lives. It is part of what made us who we are but we don’t have to live in the bad ones. Living in the past can become addictive. We would be wise to enjoy the good memories and then move back into the NOW. Dwelling in the past can stop us from experiencing the present. NOW is what is important.

Remember the good

Life can be miserable. It can be painful. The thing is it’s what we have been given. No one’s life is free from trouble. That sounds like everything is awful but it’s not. Without the pain and the bad days how would we recognize the good when it comes. Life is lived in opposites. Good/bad, up/down, here/gone. We always have these things to deal with.

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It is a quirk of human nature that we often spend time remembering the bad more than the good. The late song writer, Johnny Mercer, said it all: “we need to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” It is so easy to remember ourselves and our emotions from the bad time. It is harder to remember the feelings of joy and euphoria. I don’t know why that is.

I can tell you stories of bad things that have happened in my past. They are vivid and come into my mind bringing sounds, smells and feeling. There are many more of those than of the wonderful moments. I have had many wonderful moments. Why are they less vivid?

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I am beginning a journey of writing down the good memories when they come to me. It may be that they are vivid but I am not paying attention. That is why I know we need to log the good things that happen each day. There is a rule in nursing that if it isn’t written it isn’t done. I think the same thing is true of the good. Writing things down helps memory and I will be logging at least one each day.

Today it is: My husband is healing well.

Remember the good!