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Archive for the ‘Family stories’ Category

beautiful-moon

Napkinwriter is wishing my readers, family members and friends NEWNESS in your day……exciting STARTS in creativity, spirituality, kindness and wondrous living in your lives and in our world.   PEACE BE in 2017.

 

“Start Close In”
by David Whyte

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step you don’t want to take.

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affirmation-message

 

December 21, 2016

Da da dadadum doobie da dadum…..Catching Up is hard to do. Hearing the old melody and lyrics of the Breaking Up is Hard to Do run through my memory station.

I am trying to catch up a little bit for Napkinwriter. I never like to be away from her for too long.  And it is not that I’ve been uninspired or leading a dull life. It’s been quite the opposite.  I haven’t even written a Christmas letter at this late date of Solstice, December 21, 2016. But, I will look back now at what has been a rather Fast Forward year all year long. I did not even journal as much as usual.

 

After the Christmas concerts and festivities of 2015, we leaped right into the winter weather of January and February. There were ridiculous storms piled upon us, one after another. From the day before Thanksgiving, snow befell us continually. During this time, we were often enroute to Ann Arbor via the treacherous I-94 for Tom’s skin cancer treatment for ever more involved procedures to rid his body of this demanding disease. An exhausting and dangerous trip, made under forced bad weather conditions. We were brought through safely each time during which there were multiple pile-ups and one that was over 122 car and truck pileup.

I looked for my angel billboard messages — and the encouraged me; usually a brief look at a board with only one word on it, but it was the word I needed at the time …..brave………confident……you got this…….healed.  I wanted to write this down, but I also was not journaling as much as usual this year. I plan to turn over a new leaf in 2017.

 

It’s been kind of a year where I needed to do this:

 

big-girl-britches

 

but I have a precious loosely formed band of magnificent girlfriends who helped me feel more like we were doing this:

 

campfire-quest-companions

 

A very dear friend of mine, Marsha Pricco English died suddenly this summer and stunned myself and our Resurrection High School classmates as well.

Marsha - Duane & Scotty

Several others passed too, yet Marsha’s was the deepest sorrow.  A grieving husband, Duane, is having the worst year of his life as December grows to a stop.

The extent toward which Tom has had physical problems this year, and my own body creaking around with new discoveries of limitations and challenges has caused us to take stock and think of maybe changing directions a little in our own lives. Maybe we need to be out of our home, with its growing costs and responsibilities and consider another type of abode. Maybe, as one of our daughters looked into new professional opportunity for her, we might even expand our definition of possibilities for us. Whatever it is, love will lead the way.

 

labyrinth cardinals

 

Another pull on my heart was the sudden death of my brother, Dave, who after suffering a long period of time with progressive Early Onset of Alzheimers, collapsed departed Earth to a calling of Higher Being. I love Dave with all my heart and miss being able to be with him.

dave-sue

brother-and-sister

John and his wife, Joan remain in a nursing home in Diamondale and for various reasons our trips over to see them and join our Class of ’61 monthly luncheons have diminished.  I continue to pray for his needs.

Wonderful blessings as life keeps expressing itself fill my life, as well. I had a wondrous visit in Sarasota Florida, flown down by my friend Martha and we had the best of girl time together, visiting the white sands of the beach and watching the flow of the ocean waves. A balm of joy washed over me, as well as the stay I had in her beautiful home with pool and full suite to myself. How pampering. I definitely was “raised up” when I returned to Michigan.

 

beach-martha-and-sue

Friendship — long, long friendships — are rare and dear. Another dear friend from Kentucky days of the 60’s – 70s visited us in September,  Lucretia Thomas.  And Tom helped us take her hither and yon to show her a good time, as her own style of Southern hospitality is  something to behold.

lucretia-is-here

Family remains the most precious and centering vitality. Our daughters provide rich gifts in their chosen professions. Kathleen, in her music education to school children, and music and drama in the Marshall Community Theater, along with gigs  with the jazz band, “Misdirection” she founded and fills venues with.

kathleen-and-us

Dr. Laura Mitchell, after more than twenty years in her chosen field of Optometry, made a really big change and chose a new Optometric practice to join in her birth hometown of Lexington, Kentucky.  They have just arrived there and are settling into the return to the Bluegrass way of life. It holds so many new openings for them at a stage of life where she will be able to balance home and work much better and she is looking forward to that.

kentucky-blue

And oh, my the Grands!  Devon got married to the one and only love of her life, Tyler; and she is nearing the end of her undergraduate education in Music and Creative Writing at CMU, on full scholarship.

 

bride-and-groom-dance

Andrew is finishing up senior year at Marshall High School, making and leading music everywhere anytime, as percussion section leader and Marshall Singers president. He has his sights set on UK, University of Kentucky, and we will watch how that turns out.

andrew

And Amy, the darling of my heart. What fun we have together, just as I did with those others when they were toddlers and small children. Amy and I love to do art together. Amy LOVES Star Wars and has brought Tom and me up to speed on the whole saga.  She plays piano beautifully and proudly.  She’s just a tad on the dramatic side.

clownfish

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Tom and I are catching up on ourselves too…..and that  has come to mean preparing for a move of our own — to Lexington Kentucky also where we have found a beautiful apartment, near where Laura lives, filled with amenities which we intend to use to focus on improving the status of our health and giving us freedom from the many responsibilities of home ownership.  Wahoo!  A return to the surroundings of where our married life and mission started over 51 years ago.  We are blessed and happy and have a moving date of January 28, 2017.

sue-tom-hajec-r61-1

So this actually became sort of a Christmas letter; one that will never be sent.  It is too long, but I will keep it on file here in Napkinwriter. And Napkinwriter, somehow will be faithful to shorter posts about life on a regular basis as we enter into the new year.

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One time when we were visiting Laura at college when she was in Optometry school, we followed her to a college party, where she had to explain us to her friends. It seems we have not broken this habit, as we are now going to follow her back to Lexington, KY where we spent the first 12 years of our married lives and both Laura and Kathleen were born. It is never too late for a new adventure. Last year we climbed the waterfall trails and high points in the Smokies, just as we did 50 years ago on our honeymoon. Like the Israelites, we have “wandered in the desert” for 40 years, kept our covenant with our loving God, and God with us, and NOW we return to the place where our married love took root.

cumberland-falls-tom-and-sue

God is Love.

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Fireworks behind statue of liberty

Fireworks behind statue of liberty

 

Almost every one of the last twenty years, we have enjoyed “that old time feeling” of going back in time and celebration at the Marshall Michigan 4th of July kids and pet parade and the community concert, featuring fresh bar-b-q chicken during the concert intermission.

Our daughter, granddaughter and grandson all play in the featured and spirited marches and patriotic music, ending with a tribute to every branch of our United States armed serves. The concert this year will begin in about one-half hour. We will not be there this year as Tom is still recovering from his last skin cancer Mohs operation. But I can hear it —  even from a distance — in my heart and soul, not even needing my ears. I feel blessed to have been there so often.

And there’s always next year to look forward to.

Here is a repost from 2011 to show you what it looks like.

 

Marshall MI 4th of July – Thanks for the Memories

Conductor flanked by redheads Kathleen and Devon

Inserted into a collection of rousing, high-spirited American patriotic marches was a melody of nostalgic tunes including “Thanks For the Memories.” And that’s what I would like to do — thank the Marshall Community Band and the 4th of July Festivity planners for another spirits-raising day at the Fountain Park.

It’s been tradition for us to travel from Kalamazoo to Marshall for this summer treat, followed by goodies shared at the Warriner home. This year, I brought home-made apple crisp. Last year, Kathleen served fresh strawberry shortcake. You can’t beat them for 4th of July desserts.

You have to get there early, that’s a proven fact. Not just to see the kids’ parade, but to set up in a cozy spot protected with shade from the gracious trees that grace the park.

 

The kids’ parade, pets, wagons, bikes, costumes start the fun, and here they come!

Now, we’re ready to hear the music!

The band plays on and on the great American patriotic marches and we love it!  During the break, we enjoy grilled chicken from the Rotary Band Booster Fund Raisers. The concert concludes with a rousing crowd appreciation number honoring all the branches of the Armed Forces and ends each year with the Encore of STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER.

Our spirit is lifted high as we leave the park singing something about being kind to our web-footed friends.

 

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summer-fun

When I think of my childhood summers,
I remember lying in the grass, hands behind my head,
feeling the blades dig into my fingers. I studied the clouds.
I joked with my friends. None of us wore watches. 
Mitch Albom, Author

I remember that too. Especially the lying in the grass on the front lawn of my Grandpa Thompson’s country farm outside of tiny Eleva, Wisconsin. My brothers and I would do that as the night time darkness crept in around us, before we were called into the  non-electric farmhouse that had been home to mom and her dozen other siblings in the 1920’s through the forties.

There was something especially good about feeling that cool grass under us (until the mosquitoes chased us away). It was mesmerizing to watch the twinkling stars appear overhead. My two brothers and I rolled around, talked, tickled and teased each other, and it was a good place for us to be. That is for sure.

Each summer in the early 1950s, once school was out, we returned to grandpa’s farm for the summer time. Mom was there to help with the hand-wringing weekly laundry, the bread making that rose in large dish pans and baked in the wood stove and the general cleaning and house upkeep, and gardening including lots of canning which provided for my grandpa and his brother through the winter time.

We had chores as well, bringing the cows home to milk, collecting the hens’ eggs, berry picking and not coming home until all the buckets were filled to the top. Yet there was lots of open time for field trips (literally in grandpa’s fields), playing in the grainery (don’t know how safe that was!), the hay barn, the mud puddles (we always went outside in the rain), walks, down the two-tire track road to collect the mail, and further yet with fishing poles in hand to fish for minnows in the creek for bait for the adults’ bigger fishing trips on the lakes.

When grandpa traded in his harnessed pair of working horses for a grey and red Ford tractor, my brothers and I learned to drive that too, had a few incidences of falling off the hay wagon, and sometimes caught the breezes at the top or near to the top of our favorite “stepping-ladder” pines that grew behind the  farmhouse.  The wind made a special sound when you got high enough. I continue to be grateful to the guardian angels that kept our treks safe from falling.

Thrashing time was the best time of all. When a group of neighboring farmers shared the one thrashing machine between them, and traveled to each farm to bring the crop in. The farmers’ wives came along to each farm home, and prepared the best meal you are ever going to have, fresh baked from the oven from meat entre’ to fresh cooked vegetables and breads, topped off with the best fruit pies of the season and one large communal meal of hungry field hands and hubbies. (and us!)

Regular time lunch times always featured grandpa Thompson listening to the price reports of grains, hogs and things on the old-time radio, which was set just below the newest “modern” addition to the kitchen — the ring up the operator in town party line telephone.  The operator who plugged in the switches into the board.  Sometimes, we would (when no one was around) quietly lift the phone to see if we could gain some gossip on the party line neighbors, but usually we got caught by either the person we were listening to or the arrival of mom.  Grandpa finished his lunch time with a nap in his naugahyde brown recliner in the large open kitchen corner, falling asleep with the newspaper falling over his chest,  his glasses perched on his forehead, his eyes closing wearily and a soft snoring sound sifting into the room.

Since milking time came early, bed times did too. Usually preceded by a kerosene lamp-lit kitchen with a few card games at the oil-cloth covered large kitchen table. If it was a special occasion, we moved to the sitting room and dancing would spontaneously erupt as grandpa grabbed his  violin, my uncle added his  juice harp, and one of my aunt’s played the piano.

This life was like a cross between Andy Griffith’s Mayberry and Laura Engle Wilder’s life on the prairie.

We would return to small town life in Sycamore Illinois in late August, regrouping with our elementary school age friends, knowing that ours was a little bit different summer than the one they experienced, but one not to be traded in for anything.

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Valentine Table

Napkinwriter has been silent lately. While I hold great value in silence and quiet and while it serves me well, I also need to keep speaking as Napkinwriter. I hope over the next two weeks that intention manifests as I enter new posts.

I am not sure what form it will take. Probably just practice writing. But it will be a start.

Ahh, the word……practice…..so very important in all phases of life and being.

I may use writing prompts as jumping in points. I have relied on reading daily in my spiritual guides and uplifting literature increasingly these past few months. I am grateful to pick up a long-held book or review one of my favorites on my Kindle. They hold much support for me, indeed.

My life is filled with caregiving for Tom these days as he has had a steep, uphill recovery path from skin surgeries for cancer coming very close together. From his usual Mohs procedures to complicated full OR surgical procedures, for about six months now with a weekly return for more procedures and checkups coming up in March. These treatments and medical care have been given expertly and consciously by the medical staff members at University of Michigan Cancer Center. We have deep gratitude for the caring attendance and professional guidance and skills they have given us all through this ongoing journey.

We have had to allow a lot of quiet space and companionship in our days together. Not much talk. Some. But a lot of observation on both the physical and emotional planes. Respect. Love. Trust. Gratefulness, above all. Never to let that slip, keeping our hearts open to the goodness and richness of our together life.

Tom's Valentine

Remembrances. I made a SoulCollage for Tom’s valentine. I was hearing the clues in music played that led up to Valentine’s Day.

I have stood on the mountains with Tom. The Smokey Mountains. The Blue Ridge Mountains, Pikes Peak and the Colorado Rockies and Mount Haliokula in Hawaii.

We swam together and snorkled in the luscious Caribbean seas of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. What glorious times.

I do want to stay this way forever, as lovers, companions, spouses…..

Until the sky falls down on me.  It has been above us for more than fifty years.

For that, I am grateful.

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Golden Anniversary

I have a “Stuff” file that piles up at the end of every year as holiday festivities and fun take over the days into the new year. Then I usually procrastinate and stare the pile down before I work up the courage to sit down and take care of “the stuff.”  Usually medical EOBs and other stuff that bears looking into or catagorizing and making a place for.

Today was that day. I did it.

But in the midst of the work, came some playful fun. There were several cards in this pile given to us for the celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary in June.

So as I sorted them out, I began to see an image form for a SoulCollage card, and I stopped the work and brought a beautiful and symbolic image together from the cards that I now add to my SoulCollage deck.

I love having this card, and Tom and I being the golden butterflies, fly freely among the roses and into the see breeze.

The lighthouse stands as a symbol of the guiding spiritual light we have always felt in our love and our lives. The seashore brings the water of graces flowing into our lives.

And while there is sand, our love is rooted on firm ground, strengthened by the rock of faith and the values of church, love and joy. The Holy Spirit brings these gifts to us and we are grateful.

The poem that back the card says:

Love is the power
that brings two souls
together.
It is a promise,
a dance, a song.
It opens doors
and explores
new worlds.
Love is a gift
to be celebrated,
and love is
a lifelong journey.
Love grows
in the marriage
of two
devoted hearts.

We have made that promise of love. We have opened new doors and explored new worlds. We are on a lifelong journey.

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daughters

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