SALT OF THE EARTH
This is a story about an extraordinary woman who taught me about love and the true meaning of never giving up. Mary Rustine Transue was my grandmother. Some of my memories have faded, but those that have attached themselves to my heart are still bright and clear.
First, a little background. Mary was born on January 31, 1886. She married Amzi Transue in the year, 1902. Together they had fifteen children. My mother was number 14. Mary loved her family, and even though times were hard, she always found a way to help others. During the Great Depression, Mary always put an extra potato or two in the pot, just in case a family member or stranger needed a hot meal. She baked bread daily, sometimes twice a day for her family. I can only imagine the wonderful aroma wafting throughout her home. To help her family, Mary baked and sold molasses crumb pies. I heard they were delicious. In 1942, Amzi died and left Mary to pick up the reins of her ever-growing family.
Fast forward to 1948, the year I was born. The year that started a unique journey with a woman I called Memmy.
One of the memories that live in my heart happened when I was around four or five. Memmy was staying with her son in Easton. I used to visit with her for an hour or so, but on one day I got to spend the whole day, which included lunch. As we ate our sandwiches, she looked at me and called me her little pigeon. She told me she could have chosen any kind of bird that flew, however, the pigeons were special. Memmy explained that some pigeons were trained to carry messages to people. Sometimes the pigeons would return with answers, and sometimes they stayed where they were. I, her little pigeon, would take her love with me, and when I returned, I would bring my love back to her. Little did she know that her little pigeon still carries that love for her.
We saw a lot of Memmy in the summer. She would come and help my mother can the most delicious fruits and vegetables. Memmey would wear her house dress and carry her apron ready to pitch in. One summer, they put up over 700 jars. I need to mention that she was always prepared to help her family in their time of need or if a new baby was ready to be born. Although Memmy usually wore a housedress, I remember her in a dark navy-blue dress with small white polka dots, a single strand of ivory pearls adorned her neck. She loved costume jewelry and wore a piece or two when visiting. Memmy went without many things raising her family, and seeing her receive unique gifts always made me happy.
One thing that always amazed me was her ability to smile even when her heart was broken. She experienced a lot of loss over the years, and yet she carried on with grace. She never gave up on anyone or herself. Her step was quick, a trait my mother insists that I inherited from her. Lucky for me!
I am sure that there are a few more memories just dying to float up and make their appearance, but for now, I’ll just say that Memmy was the salt of the earth. I was twelve when she made her journey to heaven. Oh, how my mother cried and cried. When it was my mother’s turn to take her final journey, I believe that Memmy was there with open arms ready to take her daughter to her new home.
Some lessons I learned from my grandmother were to love unconditionally, forgive those who hurt you, and always make a difference. One of her favorite things to say was, ” It doesn’t cost anything to smile!” To this day, I can still hear that beautiful message.
What is your favorite memory of your grandmother?
MARY, MANGER AND THE MOON
It was the night before Christmas as I dashed through the rooms, emptying bags, wrapping presents, dipping pretzels, and cleaning up. The trees are ready, and the stockings were hung waiting for the big day.
As I made a cup of tea, I caught a glimpse of the moon. A beautiful moon high in the sky. I stopped and thought about Mary and Joseph as they traveled throughout the day. Mary must have been so uncomfortable riding on the donkey for such a long time. Then tired, hungry, and weary, unable to find a room at the inn, they settled for a stable filled with animals, straw, and a makeshift manger.
As I pictured the stable, I felt as if the inside was warm and glowing, with the anticipation of a unique birth; the birth of a baby who would change the world. Sometimes I like to close my eyes and imagine I am there with them, listening to the animal’s warm sounds, practicing like a chorus for the new little precious baby soon to make His appearance.
Then it is silent, and the animals know that it is time. Soon they hear a cry, a beautiful cry, and the cows, sheep, and all the other animals know that a special baby was born.
Outside, high in the sky, on a night just like this night, a star bigger and brighter than any other sends its rays of brightness to all corners bringing the three Wisemen bearing gifts. Back at the stable, Mary and Joseph, along with angels and a little shepherd boy, watch with love at the baby who would make a difference. A baby who would grow up and become a carpenter. A baby who someday would be crucified and take away the sins of the world.
I love the Christmas story. It is beautiful and meaningful to all who read it. It is a story that I think about not just at Christmas but often throughout the year. Jesus is always with us. He loves us, He forgives us, and listens to us when we pray. His words give us hope. And to think that it all started in a lowly stable in Bethlehem so many years ago.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas.
OUR MULTIFACETED LIVES
Multifaceted is a beautiful word. It lends itself nicely to family and friends, and what makes them so different and unique. I believe that when we were created in our Mother’s womb, the layers of our personalities, confidence, creativity, self-esteem, patience, imperfections, acceptance, forgiveness, hope, faith, truth, and love were given their appropriate dosages. The amount of allotted dosages makes us who we are.
Did you ever take notice when certain people enter a room, they seem to sparkle and shine like a multifaceted gem? They are the friends and family that we like to be around. Their love for everyone they meet seems to shine like a two-carat diamond. They seem happy, loving, and grateful for everything they have in their lives.
I have noticed that when life hands them lemons, they are the ones that will squeeze, and squeeze to make lemonade. They are slow to anger and have the patience of a saint. These family members and friends are fun to be around and always keep our best interest at heart. I believe they choose to be happy.
Sometimes, I think God gives us all that we need. It’s what we do with what is assigned, that determines the multifaceted layers. And how much we will sparkle and shine.
The next time, you are at a family affair or with your friends, take a quick look. Who’s shining, who’s a little dim, and whose sparkle is gone? Ask yourself if there is something you can do to help them to feel better. Maybe they need someone to talk to. Perhaps they are struggling. Maybe they just need to know that someone cares about them. Be there for those who need a helping hand.
I like to believe that God made us all different for a reason. I think, He invites us to make a difference in those we meet daily, whether if they are our family members, friends, or a stranger on the street. Remember, starting with a smile has the potential to change someone’s dim multifaceted layers to sparkle and shine. Be a hero, be a giver, be friendly, be supportive, be love, be someone who forgives, be accepting, be a person of faith, and be the truth. If we want to see change, we need to be the change.
So, think about those who sparkle and shine, and those who seem a little lost and dim. What can you do to make a difference?
CHOCOLATE CAKE, BALLOONS, AND ANGELS
Our little angel, Skyler, would have celebrated his first earthly birthday on July 1, 2017. Sixteen days later, Skyler wrote and sent a letter in response to his great- grandmother’s letter. I think you will enjoy a child’s view of his first birthday celebration in Heaven. Skyler’s letters are written from the heart. The message that Gigi writes and little Skyler’s response is meant to touch the heart of each person who reads them.
I loved your letter! I miss you, and love you very much. My birthday was a special day. When the sun was high in the sky, Gabriel blew his horn, and we all went to the Story Hill.
Jesus, all the Angels, Noah, all my animal friends, and all the children who had a July 1st birthday were there. Jesus told us a beautiful story about His Father, you know Him, Gigi. His name is God. Jesus told us that God knew us before we were born. Did you know that He knew you before you were born? It’s true Gigi. He loved us when He created us and never stopped. He loves all of you on earth, and He loves all of us in Heaven. Do you remember when I told you that Jesus wanted us to experience everything in Heaven, like the boys and girls experienced on earth? Well, you will not believe what happened next!
The Angels told us to turn around and look down the path. There were red, green, yellow, orange, purple, pink, white, and blue balloons floating in the air. At least it looked that way! As the balloons got closer, I saw people carrying them. Soon, a group of people headed my way. They were each carrying a balloon.
Then, they got into a line, and one at a time came up to me and said, ” Happy Birthday, Skyler!” My great-grandfather, Lambert was the first one to kiss my cheek. He and I tied a pretty green balloon on a branch of my favorite tree. He told me he picked that color because green is your favorite color. Then, Nanny Brodt and Memmy Snyder brought me a red and yellow balloon. Together, we tied it to my tree. Pappy Snyder and Pappy Brodt tied their orange and blue balloons too. Gigi, every member of my family who lives in Heaven was there! It was great! You should see my tree; it is beautiful! It looks like a wavy rainbow.
After all the balloons were hung, the Angels brought out the birthday cakes. My cake was chocolate. It was decorated with little icing puppies and kittens. Jesus told me that he chose the decorations because I love to go to the Rainbow Bridge and help the animals cross over. Then everyone sang, ” Happy Birthday.” I was so happy! Even the dogs howled, and the cats meowed. It sounded heavenly to me. Gigi, I had a beautiful day! As I sat on my great – grandfather’s lap, he told me how much he missed you and loved you. He knows that you are doing well, and he knows that you are happy, and that makes him happy.
Gigi, you know that love is the answer; right? I have told you before, and I will tell you again: Jesus is pure love. Plain and simple. He wants us to love others as He has and will always love us. Tell everyone, Gigi. It is important! I love you! Hope you like the picture I painted for you. My first painting from Heaven!
WHAT MY TEAPOT TAUGHT ME
This is a story about a teapot. It is not a teapot to boil water for a nice cup of hot tea; or a decorative; sit on the shelf teapot. It is a beautiful pink teapot, not a bright pink, or a fuchsia, but more of a dusty rose. My teapot has a timeworn fashion look with little round openings below a flower design, that circles the neck of the pot. This unique teapot is electric, with a small bulb, that warms the little dish, holding a square-shaped piece of wax. As the wax melts, it fills the air with the most delicious scent that tantalizes you into thinking about sugar cookies.
I light the teapot every night. The glow from the openings gives off a light that shines in many directions. It warms my heart to see the little tiny rays circling around the pot, bringing light where there was darkness.
I am not judging……..
Each day, as I read my newspaper, watch the news on the television and listen to the radio, I am reminded, how different people are today. Although there are kind and loving people, there seems to be just as many, who appear to be lost. I am baffled at the hate some folks have in their hearts.
I just do not understand……..
I struggle with the lack of respect and empathy towards anyone different. It breaks my heart when children and adults are bullied to the point, where the individual debates suicide. Elder abuse is increasing. How sad for those older men and women made to endure pain and humiliation. Tears flow from my eyes when I think of the cruelty towards animals, that happens each, and every day. I could go on and on with the sorrow that so many folks feel daily, but I think I will end, allowing you to ponder what tugs at your heart.
When I close my eyes, I envision the teapot symbolizing each one of us. The light from inside, filters outside the little holes, lighting up an area surrounding the teapot. I believe the light represents our heart. The warmth of the lamp resembles love. A love we can share with all we meet daily. This love continues to cultivate our consciousness, which hopefully leads to knowing right from wrong. The light stays with us throughout our lives, enabling us to form friendships, fall in love, marry and have children, work, play, grow old, and pass on with a sense, that we somehow made a difference. I am not saying that life is always easy, in fact, at times it can be downright tough! But if your light is intense, it will help to weather whatever comes your way. Your light is like a beacon, always loving even, when you don’t feel like loving, always ready to help those you may or may not feel like helping but help anyway. The warmth of love instills selflessness. Sometimes, we may struggle with making choices, but love usually leads us to do what is right.
Those who are lost…….
Before I turn on the teapot, the holes are dark. The darkness represents those folks who have lost their way for many reasons: family, drugs, gangs, whatever, the circumstance. Maybe at some point, the light radiated from them, and perhaps it did not. Maybe along the way, the hurt was too much to bear. And the darkness filled the space where the light shone. The darkness becomes their beacon, and love struggles to get through. Where light shines with hope, the darkness grows with discontent, hate, selfishness, and greed. Through the darkness, the lost folks see no light, even though it is always present. Some feel powerful in the darkness, some build walls, allowing very few people in. Most who are lost are lonely, and deep in my heart, a part of me believes they want to be loved. When you see someone who is lost, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
The definition of hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a sure thing to happen. I believe that everyone has the light in them, some more than others, some with just a hint, some still searching. I desire that those lost folks will find hope someday. That they will shine, like the illuminating light from my teapot. Those that break the law hurt someone, or take a life need to face the consequences for the choices they have made, however, I will always pray that they will find the light that just might start a change. Those that are lost because of mental illness need our support, love, and encouragement to help find the light.
My heartfelt wishes…….
There will always be people who allow their light to shine, through loving, helping, encouraging, and caring for whomever they meet. I hope that you will continue to shine, making a difference wherever you go. Maybe, if more and more people reach out to help others in need, smile a little more, and welcome those we do not know, the light might just spread a bit farther. We can only try and hope.
MY DEAR ETHEL
I need to start at the beginning, creating a picture of a cat still touching the hearts of those she allows into her circle.
It all started a little over sixteen years ago, a few months after I put my beloved dog, Sammy down. Needless to say, my heart was broken, and I was looking to help it heal.
The art teacher at the school I was teaching at and I would chat about our love of animals. She was there when I lost Sammy. When I was ready for a new addition to my family, she was the person I went to. I asked her to let me know if she knew of a family that had kittens. A few weeks later, she told me about two little kittens, one orange tiger, and one Tortoise Shell, who were the last two of a litter. It seems that the young kittens had been abandoned. I knew right there, and then I had to check them out, especially the orange tiger. You see, I only was interested in adopting one kitty. Little did I know how those two little kittens would touch my heart and change my mind.
I went, met the family, filled my cardboard cat carrier, and headed for home. I was in love. After seeing the two little ones curled up together, I knew that I could not separate them. Lucy and Ethel came home with me. Now how to explain two kitties instead of one. It was an easy sell. I choose to believe on that day, the angel of kittens whispered in my husband’s ear. He welcomed them both.
I must tell you that from the beginning, the kitties hid from any visitors. They only came out to my husband and me. Now, I could fill up page after page about the antics of kittens, but I would like to set the scene for two extraordinary events that changed my life with the help of two grown cats.
The first event happened about ten years ago. Both cats always enjoyed exploring in the attic and showering me with silk flowers. I would often find them here and there throughout the house. Well, during a tough time in my life, both Lucy and Ethel started bringing me, angels. One day I found one next to my shoe. Then they started showing up everywhere. Even on my pillow.
In the beginning, I honestly thought my husband was bringing them to me until the night I caught each one of my sweethearts coming down the attic steps with an angel in their mouths. I still have those angels in a special bag to remind me of two loving cats.
A little over six years ago, I had to put my orange beauty down. Lucy was diagnosed with liver cancer. Once again, my heart broke. Little did I know that my heart would hurt even more in the months to come.
My mother was diagnosed with a fast-growing mass. In September of 2013. After some discussion, and the sad news, that she was terminal, Mom came to live with me. With the help of Hospice and my family, we kept our Mother as comfortable as we could. My sweet little Ethel who always ran and hid from visitors, walked bravely down the steps, into the parlor where Mom’s bed was and proceeded to visit with each family member. During the day when it was just Mom and me, Ethel would sit by Mom for hours. I couldn’t believe it. Then on the night, that my beautiful, loving mother was getting ready to take her journey to heaven, Ethel was there. She never left her side. The morning after Mom passed, this precious cat, climbed the steps, sat on the top-level and cried and cried, like her heart was broken. I choose to believe that the angels filled Ethel with the courage she needed to help all of us during this challenging time.
I am going to end my story here. There is not much more to say, only that animals are a gift from God. I believe that Ethel not only helped my Mom in her time of need but indeed helped each one of us. Thank you, my sweet Ethel, for loving me to this day. You are my little sweetheart. My angel sent from above.
I wrote this story for all those who have a pet that brings them joy. Animals are a gift from above. They are to be taken care of and loved unconditionally. Although Ethel is not as spry as she once was, the love in her eyes fills my heart with hope and love.
THE SPOON THIEF
Last summer, I took a spoon from my daughter’s kitchen. Yes, I am a spoon thief. The spoon was not a plastic spoon or a measuring spoon, but a lovely stainless-steel spoon with a fully designed handle. I know that you, dear reader, must be thinking, “Big deal, it’s only a spoon!” But I hope that you might change your mind after reading the whole story. First, I must give you a little background, which will help you understand why I did what I did.
My daughter, Laurie and her husband, Lew, are very busy. Laurie has her own business and Lew is a wonderful principal in an elementary school. They have two sons that they adore. My oldest grandson was commissioned from the Naval Academy in May and is now stationed in Pensacola, Florida. He is in flight school. Their youngest son is a Plebe at the Academy where he is also on the Men’s Gymnastics Team. ( just grandma bragging)
Before both boys entered the military, they were involved in sports; not only one sport but several. Although Laurie and her family live about eighty-five miles from my home, it has been challenging planning visits on both sides. They have full plates during the week and travel most weekends to the Academy. I am so proud of them and their dedication to their sons. However, I missed them all dearly; especially my daughter.
It is June of 2015; Christian is graduating from high school. My husband and I drive out to Harrisburg. We are late due to traffic. We gobble pizza; then head out to the graduation ceremony. Before we leave, I walk through the rooms not touching anything, just checking out things; getting ideas. When we returned, I stood in the kitchen and watched my daughter putting things away and bingo, like the light bulb that goes on. I knew what I would take.
It is Graduation Party day! My husband drives, and I plot. Am I sure this is the item I want? How will I take it? What will I do if someone sees me? The questions played over and over, like one of my favorite Ricky Nelson songs. Since I have never taken anything before, a little guilt was starting to set in. I had to be brave. I could do it!
We arrive at my daughter’s house. Since we are a little early, Laurie makes me a cup of delicious tea. Here it comes; the mug with the hot steaming tea, sugar, milk, and the spoon. It was right in front of me! I had to play it cool. I didn’t want anyone to know how badly I wanted the spoon. So, I drank my tea slowly in hopes that my daughter would go outside to welcome her guests. Within ten minutes, Laurie went out. I was alone. I quickly got up, hurried to the sink, rinsed the spoon, wiped it dry, and put it in my purse. Mission accomplished!
I must say, I felt a little guilty that day. I had raised my children not to take things that did not belong to them. But I needed the spoon; really needed it.
The meaning of the spoon…
The spoon has a new home. It has a special place in my silverware drawer where I can quickly get to it. Each morning when I pour my coffee and add the milk and sugar, I smile at the anticipation of getting the spoon and stirring my breakfast drink. Sweet memories fill my head with so many beautiful things that I have shared, over the years with Laurie. When I dip the spoon into my cereal bowl, I can almost hear a little girl giggling with her brothers, and baby sister, and my heart soars. The spoon is my connection with Laurie and her family. They use their spoons every day, probably around the same time I use mine. Although I would love to see my daughter every week, I know that she needs to do what she does best, and that is to be the best wife and mother, she can be. Laurie and I try to talk at least once a week, and each morning, I receive a ” Good Morning Mom” text from her. I love those little messages. Just the sight of it makes me feel that I am sitting at her kitchen table looking in her eyes and listening to her tell me what is new. It is priceless.
I am grateful for my family. I love and thank God every day for their excellent health and accomplishments.
I should not have taken that spoon, but I don’t regret it!
Since I wrote this story, one of Laurie’s forks has a new home; right next to the spoon. Oh no. Now I’m a fork thief too! My grandson was commissioned from the Naval Academy in May of this year. I am very proud of his hard work.
What connects you to your family?