Kenny followed Barbara everywhere, even to the outhouse, and waited patiently till she came out. This is one of many cherished memories stored in my heart. Barbara, my only sister, died of breast cancer at the age of fifty-seven. Kenny is my only surviving brother of four.
I enjoyed playing around with this old family photo. Hope you enjoy the end results as well as the poem I wrote in tribute to the old outhouse on the hill.
I don’t collect them, I just love them. They bring back happy childhood memories, like the time my little brother begged for a Teddy Bear one year for Christmas. He just went on and on about it till I spilled the beans to shut him up!
My son had to have a Teddy Bear too. He loved it but not enough to keep it close to his heart when he grew up. So, when he let home, Teddy stayed with me.
But my most cherished Teddy Bear is the one handed down to me. Not because he’s a Teddy Roosevelt original and worth a few dollars, or that he still has his eyes and nose, and sits like a monarch on his little antique Windsor chair. I cherish him because he was my dad’s first Teddy Bear. And every time I see Teddy, I see my dad sitting at the table drinking coffee and reading the paper. I see him working in his shop, his hands, steady and meticulous, shaping the wood. I see his worn flannel shirt, dusty pants and brown canvas slip on shoes. I hear his voice and see him laughing, and tears streaming down his face.
I guess I should feel old, but I don’t. I don’t feel young either. But, I still have most of my teeth, I can walk without a cane, and I’m not in a Nursing Home, so I’m good. I do forget things though, like where I hide my husband’s remote control, or putting the clothes in the dryer. One day I forgot my grandson in a restaurant. He was asleep in his stroller . . . the quietest he’d been all day. Of course I ran back and got him!
Sometimes I pine for my youth; when I had the world in my hands and didn’t know what to do with it; when life was simpler and it seemed that sixty-seven was leap years away.
I’d be lying if I said getting old doesn’t scare me, that I never think of dying, that I never fear being left alone. But I try not to let my fears consume me. I stay busy, keep my mind active, and enjoy life to the fullest. I play with my grand-kids, joke and cut up so much that sometimes they actually think I’m they’re age.
I’ll never be an expectant mother again. I’ll never paint and redecorate my nursery again. I’ll never expect holding my baby in my arms again. But life doesn’t begin and end there. Life is a gift at any age; to be treasured, loved and honored . . . like a lady in waiting.
One day a friend and I decided to run away from home. No particular reason; we just thought it would be cool. No more school. No more rules. No more big people bossing us around.
It was a hot afternoon and the sun was blazing down on our heads as if to make it so miserable that we’d give up the silly notion and go back home. But we were on a mission.
Living in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Landenberg, Pa, was a child’s paradise; a panoramic view of trees and wildlife, rolling hills, and springs trickling from gigantic rocks along narrow, winding roads. People would drive for miles to fill up their water jugs with the ice cold, crystal clear liquid.
But Jack and I had another agenda; another world to discover, another journey to begin, another life to live. At the ripe old age of nine, we were going to conquer the world!
“See that cave way over there?” I asked Jack excitedly. “A bear lives there. Let’s see if we can find him!”
The closer we got to the cave, however, the less brave we felt. It would be dark soon and the bear might not take too kindly to sharing his home with two snotty-nosed kids. Jack’s pace was getting slower and I kept trying to convince us both that it will be fine . . . we can do this.
In spite of all my bravery, I was relieved when daddy pulled up beside us.
“Where do you think you are going, young lady?” he asked sternly.
How could a grown-up ever understand the longing adventures of a child, and the relief that comes when they are rescued from a big, fuzzy bear that lives in a cave?
I can’t tell you how many families have moved in and out of the old, weathered birdhouse in our flowerbed in the front yard. I can’t tell you all the materials used to create their nests. I can’t tell you how many eggs were hatched or how many babies were tossed to the ground to fend for themselves. But I can tell you about the family of two living in our nest.
I hate change, so it was tough moving from the city of fifteen years to the country thousands of miles away, it seemed, from civilization, wondering if anyone would ever visit us again. To make matters worse, my son had just gotten married and we made our first move ever without him. Hardly adjusted to the empty nest syndrome, I felt lost, lonely, abandoned. Walking through each dimly lit room, looking through windows into unfamiliar surroundings only intensified my grief. Finally, I crawled in a corner, buried my face in my hands and bawled. Not quite the reaction anyone would expect after buying a new home. And if my husband was confused, I was totally flabbergasted!
But it would be years before I understood why I felt I was living in a house without walls, and before I could honestly call it “home, sweet home”.
Before moving, my mother and I hadn’t spoken to each other for six years. Because of her abusive childhood, she had a ton of emotional baggage that she dumped on me. I was her scapegoat for everything that went wrong in her life. Being just a child, I couldn’t process the guilt and shame that I felt, so I internalized it and became an emotional time bomb of anger and rage.
My dad wasn’t much help either. He just sat drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, and staring into space. He rarely, if ever talked to me. And when mom was in one of her rages, daddy got up and went to his shop. There was no place for me to go except my tiny bedroom. Even there I wasn’t safe from her barging in, slapping me around and screaming and yelling. Most of the time I didn’t even know why she was so angry.
My tiny bedroom, insecure as it was, became my haven. I’d go there to cry, draw, play my accordion and sing, write poems, and paint. Hours later I’d come out, hoping to find everything under control; that the “good” mother was whistling and preparing a delicious meal. That daddy was sitting at the table reading the paper. That my brothers were laughing and horsing around. That our family was back to normal again.
As I grew older I just learned to cope with the raging war inside. I wore a mask, pretending that everything was okay when it wasn’t. But that was before I stepped into the twilight zone of full blown panic, phobias, and desperation. That was before I turned into my mother.
People move to the country for different reasons. Mine was for peace and quiet. The first night in our new home the neighbor’s dog barked nonstop all night long. That weekend, an army of remote control airplanes flew over our property, sounding like a million bumble bees on a rampage. Then came the dirt bikes and four-wheelers zooming through the neighborhood, and boom boxes vibrating the windows. I felt that I had died and gone to hell!
I’m a runner when things get tough, so I cried and begged my husband for us to move. But we couldn’t afford to move. This was to be our final destination, where we would retire and grow old together. The choice had been made, the money had been spent, and there was no way out.
I had never felt so frustrated, so helpless, so hopelessly trapped as I felt during the first ten years of living in this house. Sometimes I could barely make it through the day without crying. Other days I’d go through uncontrollable fits of rage. The least noise threw me in panic mode and I wanted to bolt out the door and run off the face of the earth!
I believe in God. I believe in faith. I believe in miracles. I also believe that God gave me a brain and expects me to use it. So I began researching my phobias online as well as proper treatment for them.
Not that it came as any surprise; I have an anxiety disorder and will be on medication for it the rest of my life. My only regret is that a doctor didn’t diagnose it sooner. I would have been a far better person, wife and mother. I would have spent the days laughing more and crying less. I would have been more trusting, caring and loving. I would have embraced our home and felt safe as I do now. But I can’t dwell on all the-would-haves of yesterday. My focus is on doing my best today with all the wisdom and understanding that God has given me.
Our neighborhood is much quieter now. Not because I’ve lost my hearing, but because I fought for a noise ordinance and won, and confronted the property owner where the club members flew their planes. They found another place to meet. Highway Patrol eventually weeded out the dirt bikes and four-wheelers. The dogs don’t keep me up barking all night. I didn’t shoot them, I wear earplugs. My mother and I worked things out. Although our relationship was never what I wanted it to be, it was the best it had ever been.
Had we not stayed and worked through our difficulties we would not be experiencing the peace and joy we have now. I’ve learned that running from my problems never solves anything. Sometimes we have to trudge through the mire of painful memories before we can experience real joy and happiness. I will always have anger issues, but talking and medication help me keep it under control.
God has a plan for each of our lives. He wants to have a personal relationship with us. He wants to free us from our fears, our anger and rage, our rusty chains of the past. And He will do whatever it takes to help us see the brokenness within so that we can experience His healing touch.
Together we’ve built our nest, my husband and I, securing it with love and faithfulness, prayer and dedication, honor and praise. We are blessed with four awesome grand-children and a great-grandson on the way. We’ve weathered the storms of sickness, sorrow and grief. We’ve argued, kissed and made up. We share our failures and shortcomings, hopes and dreams, fears and concerns. Best of all, we are sharing our golden years together; hand in hand, heart to heart . . . till death do us part.
Call me crazy, but I look forward to going to bed and waking up to a brand new day. A day that my husband and I will share together on the back porch drinking coffee, talking and watching the birds. A day that I will laugh at his silly antics, play with the dog, and design another critter. A day that I will thank God for my family and friends and for blessing me with a long and healthy life. A day that I will remind myself how short and fragile life is and that I must be very careful how I live it!
In today’s hectic world of computers, cell phones, and video games, we have a tendency to ignore the ones sitting in the same room with us. The ones who want a real, eyeball to eyeball conversation. The ones who need to know that we value their thoughts and concerns. The ones who want to scream, “Will you PLEASE shut that thing off and pay attention to me?!”
People need encouragement today more than ever before. Just a smile, a hug, a phone call, a genuine, “How is your day going today?” is food for the weary soul.
I’ve been going through a tough time the past few weeks; a time of uncertainty, anger and grief. Finally, I shared it with a dear friend who gave me words of wisdom and encouragement. That was all I needed to get me back on track; to refocus and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
If you want to be more like Jesus, be an encourager!
She isn’t on a shopping spree. It’s not her birthday. Her husband didn’t buy her a big fat diamond ring. No, Tilly is happy cause she’s free. Free from bondage. Free from guilt and shame. Free from lofty expectations; of herself and the world in which she lives.
But it hasn’t always been this way for Tilly. She remembers well the torture of playing the pleaser game and never winning, and jumping through fiery hoops and always getting burned. She remembers the scalding tears, the aching heart and stretches of depression. She remembers running for safety and building walls around her heart. She remembers the anger and rage that ripped her world apart. She remembers the scornful voices shouting in her ears. And she remembers stuffing her pain way down deep and pretending she was fine. Heaven forbid that she ever let anyone see all that ugly inside her!
Then, one day, Tilly couldn’t pretend anymore. The dam of hurt was too hard to hold back. Little by little it began to leak till finally it broke, nearly drowning her in grief. She dropped to her knees and cried out to God. He must have been there all along because immediately he scooped her in His arms and held her as she sobbed. Amazingly, He was not appalled by the ugliness that poured out; all that anger and rage, rupturing like a festered boil. Instead, He touched her hurt, washed her clean, and dried her eyes. For the first time ever, she was free!
Every now and then Tilly gets off track. She takes her eyes off God and pulls away from His hand. She gets lost; angry, hurt and confused. Suddenly, she remembers God. She calls His name, and there He is again; just like the thousands of times before; loving her, encouraging her to keep up the faith and reminding her that He will never leave her nor forsake her. And that, my friend, is why Tilly’s so happy!
If you enjoy digital creations, joy and happiness, fun and laughter, welcome to my blog. Here you will find cards, bookmarks, picture tubes, and much more for you to use in your own creations. I enjoy creating and I enjoy sharing my creations with you. Thanks for stopping by.