Today was another beautiful day. Low humidity, a clear blue sky, and a sweet calmness meandered around me, filling my heart, to the brim with peace.
It’s funny how sometimes, the type of day, fruit and vegetables, a familiar smell, a particular song, and farmers baling hay in the fields can transport me back to another time. I love when memories flood my mind, taking me back when life was simple, and love waft through the air touching my mother, father, sisters, and brother.
Summer was always a busy time growing up on the farm. Mom worked in her garden, pulling weeds, hoping for a good crop of vegetables. Then in due time, preparing, and canning jar after jar of her bountiful harvest. I remember seeing the sweat pour off her face, as she took the scalding hot jars out of the canner then loaded it up again. Mom would often sing as she worked hard to fill our shelves with everything under the sun. When I close my eyes and listen carefully, I can almost hear her voice, singing the Old Rugged Cross. Oh, how I miss her.
Most summers, Dad would help a few local farmers with their chore of baling hay. I remember Dad facing the baler waiting for the bales to pop out, then grabbing the bulky rectangular shape tied with twine and piling it on the flatbed with sides. It was a hot job, but Dad didn’t mind. It was a way for him to earn a few extra dollars for his family. Dad was a good man and a great and loving father. I miss him, dearly.
Although my parents are gone, it’s days like this that keeps them close to me. Sometimes it is as if they are right by my side. Our memories connect us to those who live in our heart.
I believe when we remember those we love, the connection to heaven grows stronger, and our loved ones are happy.
Memories are magical, they heal our hearts, and fill us with a love that never dies, and for that, I am grateful.
Sunday is my favorite day of the week. How can you not like a day that has the word, “sun” in it?
In the summer, I love to get up extra early on Sunday, pour my coffee, then head out to the front porch to breathe in the fresh air. There is something special about the peace that finds me as the sun inches its way up, framed by the pink, purple, and orange sky. I like to think that the Sunday choir of chirping birds are surrounded by angels leading them in songs of praise. Their sweet sounds soothe my soul as I sit and say, “Thank you,” to the Man who created everything I can see and hear.
As the color palette changed and the sky became a shade of periwinkle blue, the sound of voices filled with conversations and laughter traveled from the open windows and doors, while music swirled through the air and church bells rang.
Then, as I am ready to head off to church, two dogs barked at one another, as if to say, ” Good morning.” Their tails wagged, and their owners laughed, once again, filled my heart with the sweet sounds of Sunday.
Church, with its songs of love and praise for the Man who created you and me, filled my heart to the brim and left me wanting more. After church, the clicking of cups being filled with coffee, and the voices of folks, enjoying each other’s company assured me that peace and hope are alive in spite of the challenges we face each day. As I traveled the short distance to my home, and then throughout the day, the memories of my Sunday meandered through my mind reminding me that I am never alone, and neither are you.
Although each day of the week has its own good qualities, there is something special about the sweet sounds of Sunday that continue to renew my spirit. Listen for those sounds, and I promise your heart will thank you.
It was raining cats and dogs as Millie sat sipping her coffee while watching her favorite morning talk show. John, her husband of fifty-two years, had passed six months ago, leaving a gaping hole in her heart. As she gently placed her chipped pink flowered cup on the mix-matched saucer, her eyes darted toward the hallway leading to the dining room.
She yearned to hear John’s footsteps, but the silence that clung to the walls only deepened the pain her heart was feeling. As Millie slowly exhaled, two tears escaped from her eyes lingering on her cheeks before plunging down to her chin. It was at that moment she prayed a simple prayer, ” Dear Lord, show me the way, and I will follow.”
Millie dabbed her eyes then tidied up the kitchen. She carefully washed and dried her teacup and saucer then noticed the rain had stopped. As she looked out the kitchen window, Millie’s heart skipped a beat as the sun’s rays caught the green leaves on the old Oaktree. Suddenly a passing gray cloud burst open bringing raindrops down one after another.
Millie started to smile as she looked for the angle of the sun, then like a detective walked through the rooms searching. She stopped in the living room by the window that looked out over the side yard, where the Wisteria climbed the edges of the gazebo. Above the slate roof in all of its glory, was a brilliant rainbow. Millie stood in silence, taking in every inch of the arc. As she gazed, she thought of John and the home they had shared for so many years– a house that now felt lonely and empty. It was then that Millie knew what she had to do.
The next morning, she made two phone calls, one to a local realtor, and one to the Hummingbird Senior Living Community. Her heart was heavy, but she knew it was time to move on. The next day, Mrs. Stenlake drove up to the driveway, leading to Millie’s house with paperwork to sign. The following day, Millie toured Hummingbird, and fell in love with a two bedroom apartment and once again, signed paperwork that would change her life.
Two months later, Millie moved out of her house and into her new home. Her apartment was cozy with cream walls, adorned with pictures of John, familiar furniture, and a corner cabinet holding two cups and two saucers.
After she settled in, Millie went to the dining room to have her first meal. As she walked into the hall, she noticed all but one table were filled with chatting men and women, waiting for their dinner to be served. Millie headed over to a round table with white daisies in a clear hourglass-shaped vase. A small brown-haired woman looked up, smiled, and invited her to sit down and join her.
” Hello, my name is Millie.” “Hi, I’m Carmela.” Millie smiled, and the two women shared a getting to know you conversation that lasted well after the table was cleared, and the last drop of coffee was drunk. Both women talked about their late husbands, reminiscing about better times before their lives changed. After an echo of it was nice meeting you, the two headed off in different directions.
As Millie sat in her apartment, a sadness washed over her as she thought back to a happier time. She knew she made the right decision to sell her home and move into an environment that would meet her needs, however, missing John was overwhelming. Just when the tears started finding their way out, Millie’s phone rang. It was Camela calling to thank her for sharing dinner. Hearing the sadness in Millie’s voice, Carmela invited her for a cup of hot tea. At first, Millie made an excuse, but Carmela, persistent, finally persuaded the lonely woman to come.
Millie washed her face, walked through the room, stopped and glanced at John’s picture, then turned as a tear welled up. She closed the door behind her and walked down the hallway to the elevator, waited for the door to open, walked in, and pushed the button for the first floor. Thoughts crept into Millie’s head as she walked down the hallway. Maybe it was too soon to be sharing her feelings.
She knocked, then smiled as the small Italian woman dressed in a tan and brown outfit complete with a charming necklace, bracelet, and earrings welcomed her in with a hug and, ” I am so happy to see you!” Carmela, with her broken English and Millie with her broken heart, had a lot in common.
Carmela walked to her small kitchen and poured boiling water over the bobbing teabags then carried the cups and saucers to the dining room table. Millie gazed at her teacup and could not believe her eyes. Right in front of her was a beautiful white bone china cup with small red roses beautifully painted on both sides of the cup with a baby redbud on the handle. The saucer had the same intricate roses. As Carmela walked in the room with a plate of shortbread cookies, Millie saw it… Right on the saucer edge was a little tiny chip. She smiled as she looked at Carmela dipping her teabag up and down, then added a little sugar with a splash of milk. She smiled as she noticed that Carmela’s cup and saucer were mixed- matched too.
The two sat and talked about their lives. Carmela told Millie about her life in Italy as a child and her family’s journey to America; their sponsors, the hardships they faced, the tears they shed, and how hard they worked. Millie listened as Carmela continued telling her story about her husband who died, leaving her to raise three young children alone. Millie saw the love in Carmela’s eyes as she told her story.
Then Millie told her story about her life with John. How they wanted to have a family, but it was not to be. How they started out with very little but worked hard to build a business. A business where their employees became family. Millie told Carmela about a winter’s night when two couples came to dinner. The teacups, and the message that each cup held. Then with tears clouding her eyes, she shared about the night John so humble and loving, passed. Carmela listened, with tears streaming down her face thinking about the loss of her own husband, remembering the pain and fear.
She reached over and took Millie’s hand in hers.
Speaking softly, Carmela told Millie that life would get better with time. As they sipped their tea and ate their cookies, Carmela shared memories of a happier time with the man she loved. Millie smiled and even laughed at some of the funny things Carmela’s children did as they were growing up. Then Carmela told Millie the importance of finding something to be happy about each day. She said, ” Millie, the little things that make us happy heal our broken hearts. Happiness leads to joy.”
Carmela thought for a moment, then said, ” I believe you were supposed to move to Hummingbird. And I believe we were supposed to meet. Millie listened, and although her heart was broken, felt a little better.
The two made plans to meet for breakfast the next day. Millie hugged Carmela before leaving, then walked back to her room. Carmela gently washed the teacups and saucers, thinking about the woman who had found her way to Hummingbird and smiled.
Millie said her nightly prayer, then looked up to heaven, and told John about Carmela and the tea they shared in the chipped and mixed- matched cups and saucers. She promised him that she would take one day at a time. Millie threw John a goodnight butterfly kiss then turned off the light. Little did she know, that John looking down from heaven, blew a kiss back down to her. Millie slept well that night – maybe it was from the unpacking and settling in, or perhaps it was from sharing a cup of tea and the words of wisdom from a sweet senior lady, named Carmela.
Millie and Carmela continued to meet for tea and stories, encouraged each other to paint, joined a book club, and even tried out for the Hummingbird Talent Show. Millie had found her joy and Carmela had found a lifetime friend.
This is not the end of the story… The Teacup series will continue with Millie and Carmela reaching out to help others; caring, listening, and sharing life-changing stories while enjoying hot tea served in chipped and mixed- matched teacups, and nibbling on delicious shortbread cookies.
Today is Sunday, May 19th. The weather cooperated with a bright blue sky, white puffy clouds, and a yellow sun that warmed everything it touched; including me. As I stepped outside, the beautiful colors of pink Azealas, purple Rhododendrons, almost full bloom white Peonies, and deep blue and gold Irises filled my vision with a possible peek of what might be lining the fields and gardens in heaven.
Traveling to church is always a pleasure, but today was extra special. The huge old oak trees laden with thick dark green leaves framing businesses and homes along my route captured my attention. The old saying: ” You can’t see the forest for the trees” hit home. It’s true! I have witnessed those same trees every spring, and yet today, each one took on a new meaning for me.
Once at church, I took my place at the narthex and waited for each person to open the door and walk toward me. I was ready. As I waited, I admired the deep brown pews sitting quietly, anxious for mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, aunts, and uncles to take a seat. Then my eyes followed the red carpet up to the black baby grand piano where beautiful music would accompany each member worshiping the Man who created us. Finally, my eyes traveled to the gold cross hanging on the wall behind the altar. And I silently say, Thank you.
Sitting outside on a tan wooden rocking chair, I spot birds of all kinds; cardinals, finches, wrens, crows, and even two bluebirds flying together in harmony. Then, Jimmy, a gray squirrel sitting on top of a round light brown ball of wood, waiting patiently for a peanut, put it all in perspective.
From the time I stepped outside and all throughout my day, what my eyes saw; what my ears heard; and what my heart, felt was orchestrated by God. He created everything! The colors of joy and happiness are everywhere if we just take the time to look. I choose to believe that in the beginning, the Master Creator sat at His drawing table picturing in His Mind what would bring joy and happiness to His children. Suddenly; red, blue, green, yellow, brown, purple, black and orange came to His mind, then the flowers, trees, leaves, grass, every animal on earth, the oceans, mountains, valleys, and sea life. Of course, we can’t forget the stars, sun, moon, and clouds, along with rain, and snow.
Although we go through illnesses, sadness, the loss of a loved one and heartbreak, the joy of His creation is always there. His love for us is neverending. Keep looking for what brings you joy and, I promise that happiness will follow.
Today is Mother’s Day, and you are not here. I visited your grave early this morning and placed a container of pink and white petunias right below your name. I stood for a few moments talking to you and Dad, hoping somehow you could hear me. Although I talk to you every day, standing at your place of rest always brings me comfort.
You have been gone for one thousand -nine hundred and fifty- eight days. I have missed you, remembered you, and wept for you. I have laughed while sharing my memories of you with others. I have written several stories about the wonderful mother you were. And yet, the pain of losing you is as fresh as the morning the angels took you to your forever home.
I want you to know that by your example of love, humor, hard work, caring, and sometimes stubborn ways have helped to mold me into the woman I am today. You were always so determined and never gave up. I loved that about you. I loved everything about you.
The last three and a half months have not been easy. Losing Emma, knocked my socks off so to speak and although I feeling a little better, it is still difficult to wrap my head and heart around her death. However, I take comfort that she is with you and Dad.
Donna and Lee are doing well but miss you, Dad and Emma, as much as I do. I am trying hard to keep an eye on them. Remember, I promised I would take care of them. And I plan on keeping that promise.
On this Mother’s Day, I picture you working walking through beds of red and yellow tulips in the shape of an, ” L.” I can almost hear your laughter, while trying to keep a straight face, as your telling your family and friends a joke. Sometimes, I can feel you with me. And in my darkest hours, I have heard you call my name.
Thank you for your strength and ability to find happiness through the pain. Thank you for teaching me to be humble and thankful for everything in life. Each morning, the first thing I do is look at your picture. I cannot begin to tell you, the comfort your smiling face brings me each day.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
Until we meet again, I remain your loving daughter,
The day before Easter, I had the privilege of serving Communion to homebound senior members of my church. Two of us worked together, one reading the Communion service and one giving the sacraments. I was the reader. We also stayed and visited with those precious men and women. Although I enjoyed each senior, one stood out in my mind and heart. This is a story about a senior woman who gave me a special gift. One I will cherish for the rest of my life.
She was our last stop, our last visit for the day. Although I had visited a few months before, I definitely noticed a change. She was hospitable and welcoming but looked tired. She sat in her chair, with her hands on her lap as we talked briefly before I started with a prayer. I noticed her watching me as I read the service from my paper, then getting to the end, saying the Lord’s Prayer together, I heard the tiny sound of tears. Tears that tugged at my heart. Right there and then, I thanked God for bringing this sweet woman into my life, and for the opportunity to serve Him.
After we finished, I noticed she had beautiful necklaces hanging off of her standing lamp. She had red, white and blue beaded ones, different colors created in pattern sequences, and solid orange, gold, pink, and blue necklaces.
This dear woman who once was so active loved to create. I understand that making necklaces was only one of the many things she made. Before we left, she asked if we would like to have a necklace. My Communion partner replied that she already had one. Then she turned and looked at me and smiled. I chose a solid but gold colored one. I thanked her, and she smiled. It warmed my heart to spend time with her. I plan on her visiting soon.
I wore the necklace home and laid it on the nightstand by my bed, where I would see it every day. Each night as I climbed into my comfortable bed, I glanced at the necklace and thought about each bead she carefully threaded, and gently pushed down, until she found the knot. I thought about the happiness those beads brought her and the joy each necklace brought the recipient of her handiwork.
In the morning, before my feet touched the floor, I glanced at the beads. It was as if this loving woman with her warm smile wished me a good morning. Those beads became like a ray of sunshine, especially on gray, cloudy, rainy days.
Then something wonderful happened. When I said my morning prayers I had the strongest desire to hold her necklace. As my fingers touched the beads, I thought about her life, her stroke, her love, her many items that made other lives better.
On that day, I decided to include her necklace in my prayers. I started with four beads. One for each of the folks who received Communion on that particular day. Then four more beads, thanking Him for putting them on my path. Each morning and each night, I pray for strength, healing, and enough food to eat for all seniors. I believe I was meant to receive that unique necklace on that day.
My precious necklace made by a loving woman, who no longer can create like she once did, may never realize how her simple gift made a difference in my life. I will wear my necklace proudly and think of the love each bead holds. To my dear friend, thank you for your loving heart and sparkling eyes. You are loved.
Tangible: something that can be touched or felt…
Today is Tuesday. It started out damp and cloudy but ended liked I had hoped it would; warm and sunny with the brightest of blue skies. It is incredible how a spirit can change when the weather takes a turn for the best.
This morning, after my chores, I decided to sit down with a cup of hot tea and reminisce with pictures of long ago. I often find myself touching the faces I love on those black and white pictures, yearning to hear their voices. Memories of hugs, kisses, laughter, and tears along with special moments are treasures to me.
After looking at each picture, I placed them on my dining room table side by side; as if they were visiting. These precious treasures are better than any jewelry box filled with gold and silver.
As the pictures change from black and white to color, memories of my siblings, parents, picnics, weddings, reunions, and everything in between, bring smiles but also tears. The pictures of Mom, Dad, and my sister, Emma which I hold so dear to my heart, remind me of how much I loved them and how much I miss them. I remember the hugs, kisses, and tears on the day I said goodbye to each of them.
Then I pull out the pictures of my children who are grown with families of their own, and I can almost hear their little voices. I run my fingers around their faces, and over their hair and instant happiness fills my heart. Then as I pull out all the others; school, football, baseball, cheering, graduation, Christmas, birthday’s and once again, everything in between, smiles of happiness, then a tug thinking how quickly time has passed.
Finally, pictures of my grandchildren, birth, infant, crawling, walking, crying, Santa, making hearts, egg hunts, school, baseball, football, soccer, playing the guitar, playing the drums, graduation, girlfriends, weddings, smiles, lots of laughs. My heart is full, and so is my oval table. But there is one little empty corner. Just enough room for my two great-grandchildren pictures. Their smiles warmed my heart.
As I stood there gazing from picture to picture, row to row, my heart soared. Each generation, brought their hearts, ideas, love, spirit, and sometimes stubbornness, to the family, and for that I am grateful.
Soon it was time to put all the pictures back in the three old round hat boxes. I picked up each one as I walked around the table and gently kissed each image. Finally, I carried my treasure boxes back and put them under the sidebar until the next time.
I am thankful for the black and white, and colored pictures that always fill my heart with joy.
Tonight when I took my evening walk, I noticed some dandelions were already getting their little white puff heads. As I stopped to take a few pictures, memories of young children, blowing feather-light seeds while giggling at the distance their little gems traveled, brought a smile to my face.
When I arrived home, I sat outside on my wooden rocker still smiling at the sight of puckered lips blowing with all their might. Then an idea started to tickle my brain until it moved down to my heart and took root. I like to call it my wishful feeling story.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if dandelion puffs could change the world? Wouldn’t it be great if we each had the heart of a child? Children love so sincerely. Wouldn’t it be nice if we loved others unconditionally? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we all had faith like a little child?
Even though I know there are prickly people and evil in our world, I still feel optimistic about those who are kind and loving. And, I believe that there are more good people than bad.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could spread love like children spread happiness when they blow on the soft dandelion puffs? A love that could spread, touch, and change the hearts of others? What a wonderful world it would be.
However, I realize that making a difference and changing lives will definitely take more than a dandelion puff. Maybe if we could improve our way of thinking, be more loving, forgiving, accepting of others and always look for ways to reach out and make a difference, each one of us could become a symbol of the dandelion seeds. I believe that spreading love is the answer.
I would like to encourage you to pick a dandelion puff, take a big breath and blow the seeds into the air and see how far they travel. Be like those seeds and change the lives of those you meet on your daily path. Change starts with you and me.