Archive for September 20th, 2020

There we are — the three of us — Dave, Sue, and John under the big old apple tree in our back yard at 628 Edward Street in Sycamore, Illinois. We had a lot of fun in that back yard. Ball games galore, kick the can, Red Rover, Red Rover.  Snow forts were built, ran through sprinklers in the summer.

We moved there from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, when I entered First Grade at St. Mary Catholic School in ’49-50 and I graduated 8th grade before we moved on to Lansing, Michigan, a move us kids thought was disastrous.

The Jensen’s lived right next door to us in a log cabin type home. Our parents became very good friends with them. Merrill owned a local Tool and Die business his father had started and is still family owned by his son, Dan today. Ruby and Mom set the standard for at-home “mom-ism” and the children of each family knew darn well, just how accountable we would be held for our antics, good or otherwise.

David was the eldest Jensen son; then Dan, then Ronnie, and beautiful Nancy. I began babysitting for them when I was in 7th grade and got the most wonderful summer of my young life, being resident “sitter” at their wonderful home on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I learned to waterski, palled around with the “big” high school kids. It was all a serendipitous time at my becoming a teen phase.

The lake-life really stayed in the family kids as grown-ups. I reunited with David through Facebook and came to know he resided in Fontana on the lake, serving law and order as a magistrate. I also came to enjoy his humor and rantings via Facebook. I am so sorry, he passed recently at too young an age, as did Ronnie, who had been away but returned to Sycamore with the sweetest white dog I ever saw. In one exchange we had on Facebook, he said he always liked that my dad gave him a special name, other than Ronnie. My dad did that for special kids.

I also got a glimpse into Dan’s life as busy business owner, but in love with his boat on the lake, his happy spot for sure, surrounded by his wife and children, and the parties they would have together. Ruby, the matriarch of the family, remains in their midst and gives them “the eye” when needed. Daughter Nancy, keeps good oversight on the going’s on and the health of her mother and also keeps me informed which I like.

Two other friend relationships that go all the way back to the ’50s I have also renewed through Facebook. While there are many hurtful communications that transmit these days via the Internet and Social Media, my gratitude for it is centered in the fact it keeps me in touch with friends and family.

Jean Virtue Ehman is one of those friends. She and her sister JoAnn were friends of mine just down the street a few homes. We played with dolls together, roller-skated on the rough sidewalks together, and colored on the front steps of our large front porch on many occasions. Her mother also made many of my 7th and 8th grade clothes, a fine seamstress from her own home front.

There’s the front steps that served me as “playhouse” many times. That’s my Grandma Heffron, who lived with my aunt and uncle in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but came for month long visits at a time. In Journey Girl, I talk about the special times we shared as grandmother-granddaughter.

So another Sycamore friend I reunited with was Jim Tomlinson, who I think saw this photo in one of my Napkinwriter posts, and connected with me about it. He was really my big brother, Dave’s best friend, and was around us a lot.  He remembered the player piano that sat on the far wall of the dining room just inside this door and all the fun they had pumping out music to the “oldies” and John Phillips Sousa marches. The “oldies” in the 1950s meant songs from the ’30s and ’40s.

When we met up again through Facebook, I was still living in Michigan, but Jim lived in Berea, Kentucky not far from Lexington where Tom and I lived the first 12 years of our marriage. So we had things of interest to chat about on-line. Even more interesting to me was he also was an author and his wife Gin Petty a renown artist. It came to be, that our oldest daughter made a professional switch in her Optometry practice and low and behold, we all ended up moving to Lexington once again.

My memoir, JOURNEY GIRL, is truly about several themes, but one of them is — connections. I find throughout my life how sacred, mysterious, and fun these are. And how connection is important to me. These connections that lead back to Sycamore, Illinois, for me and still pop up as meaningful in my life today, I feel are life-giving and grace-filled. I treasure these people.

About the Book

Journey Girl is a story about motherhood and a memoir about secrets– more specifically, it is about breaking them. First-time author Hajec unfolds her journey of becoming a courageous family secret breaker and defeats her fears that she will pay a price to do so. Her quest is to disintegrate the generational silences that surround the death of her mother shortly after her own birth and explore the mysterious childhood memories that still linger as she reaches adulthood. As the author unwinds a tightly-held but harmful family silence, she also introduces to the reader simple, ordinary, and helpful types of silences they can use in their everyday life to bring them peace and balance, not harm and mystery. These are the Islands of Silence that begin each chapter before continuing her own story.

The book is available at http://www.amazon.com and http://www.balboapress.com

About the Author

Susan Heffron Hajec finds her happy place in everything that has to do with words. With an early start of faithful letter writing to her grandparents, she began to play with themes and stories on paper and loved all English, writing, and theater scripts throughout her school years. After her college graduation, marriage, and motherhood, her personal life followed a natural path to quiet ways of life, contemplative prayer, holistic health, soul writing, and the arts. She then served these interests well in her professional and business life which included: being regional newspaper correspondent, becoming founding editor of a religious newspaper; being an international video spirituality producer; owning A Way with Words consulting and workshop production company. She accomplished extended training and practice with the Masters in SoulCollage®, Labyrinth facilitation, Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, and Reiki healing arts. With a newfound passion for watercolor art, she states her purpose in life as being faithful to the small things and giving glory to God for the largeness of the gift of life. And most of this is centered in her loving life with family and friends.

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