It is the day after Easter, and I am sitting at the dining room table sipping a cup of hot tea, thinking about the holiday weekend. Easter Sunday was everything I had hoped. Celebrating the resurrection of Christ, then spending the afternoon with my family around a table laden with delicious food, memories, laughter, and enjoying the precious commodity of time. Over the years, I thought how wonderful it would be if the walls could absorb the laughter, then exhale the warmth filling my heart on difficult days.
However, the story actually began two days before Easter. It was a sunny, warm Friday. My husband and I went to the flower tent and bought four Easter plants; three to be placed on the cemeteries, and one to sit next to my sister’s picture.
As Rick drove, I began thinking about how much I loved and missed my family members in Heaven. It is amazing how memories can flash through your mind like scenes from a movie. The four miles to the first cemetery brought back conversations with my first husband, learning sign language to surprise my mother-in-law with a tribute, and the hearty laugh of my father-in-law. As Rick pulled into the cemetery, I thought about how much I missed their voices, touching their hands, hugging them and looking into their eyes as we spoke.
Rick carried each flower, as I stood in front of the first headstone where my late husband was laid to rest. Although he passed over twenty-four years ago, I still love him very much. I believe he sent my husband, Rick to me.
The memories of raising our family, loving times, holidays, working hard and being there through thick and thin came rushing back. I told him how everyone is doing and how proud he would be of our family. I like to think of it as “catching up.” Then I looked up to heaven and blew a kiss, as Rick stood with his arm around my shoulders.
He waited for me by the car as I walked up to pay my respects to my in-laws who meant so much to me. I really loved them. Everything about them. As I stood before their headstone, I thought back to the times they shared dinner with us, and the picnics in their yards. They were good to me, and I was kind to them. They were also deaf. Standing there, I could feel their love circling around me.
Then we were off, to the next cemetery to visit my parents. As Rick drove, I thought back to the farm I grew up on, the tulips that Mom loved and my father’s love of animals and auctions. I thought about their good years and the years when their health started changing, leading to their deaths. Then as my husband pulled into the cemetery, driving slowly up and around, parking parallel to the headstone, I thought of their laughter and the happy times.
Walking up to the gravestone, I thought of the tears we shed when we said our final goodbyes, and how broken our hearts were. Placing the flower in the center, between their names, I could feel their arms around me, reminding me that everything would be okay. I miss them both so much that sometimes it takes my breath away.
Finally, we head for home where the last flower weighs heavy on my heart. We arrive, and I carry it into my house, not stopping until I reach her picture. It is a small flower, her favorite color purple, a sweet-smelling flower that reminds me of her. I placed the hyacinth next to my sister’s picture. As I stand their tears well up and flow down my cheeks for my younger sister, Emma who was loved beyond words. Her sudden death taught me not to take anyone or anything for granted. On that day when the purple flower stood tall, I remember the little girl, the teen, the wife, mother and grandmother, and sister. I thought about her family. I placed a kiss on her picture and wished her a Happy Easter.
That night while I was making dinner, I thought of all the things I wished I would have said to my loved ones. I wished I would have hugged them more, kissed them more, and told them I loved them more. If I had known then, what I know now, I would have spent more time with them, laughing and making many more memories. Memories to last a lifetime.
To my loved ones in Heaven, you are all the wind beneath my wings.
For the last ten weeks, my heart-felt as if a thick fog had taken it hostage, allowing only sadness to escape. I found myself having a tough time sleeping, often waking up throughout the night, thinking about the things I wanted so desperately to change, then realizing it was beyond my ability to change them. Concentrating on just about anything was and is still a challenge, and retaining, almost next to impossible. The lack of energy continues to tug at my body. Tears flow unexpectedly releasing the sorrow my heart feels; sometimes when I am alone and sometimes when I am with others.
I decided to write this story as a way of reaching out to all those who have suffered a loss of a loved one. For those struggling to understand, for those who might feel guilty, for those who feel empty, and for those who desperately want to fill the holes in their broken hearts. I wrote this story to let those hurting hearts know that I am here; here to listen and here to let you know you are not alone.
Deep sorrow hurts. It hurts us physically, and it hurts us emotionally. It hurts to the point that time seems to stand still, paralyzing our hearts from moving forward.
A wise woman once told me that sorrow can either make us or break us. This sweet woman who was born into a large family was the last to make her journey to heaven. She had suffered more broken hearts, shed enough tears to fill an ocean, and walked through the thickest of fogs, but yet found something to smile about each day. I once asked her how she handled the multitude of grief that rushed into her heart. I needed to know what her secret was.
” Cindy, when we lose someone we love, our hearts break. Each time I lost a sister, a brother, their husbands, wives, nieces, and nephews, my mother, and father, a piece of me died too. In the beginning, it was tough. Sometimes, I felt like I would never feel better but I did, with time. It was during those dark times, that I made up my mind to find something or do something that made me smile every day. I still missed my family and my heart still hurt, but each day that I found things to smile about or made someone laugh, I felt better. Why do you think I tell all those silly jokes? We can let the grief take over or we can find peace. It takes time for our hearts to heal. Some hearts never heal. And, that is sad. Yes, our lives are never the same, but we can go on if we choose. Live life and be happy.”
I have been thinking a lot about those wise words. Time is a healer if we allow it to be. But on those days when it’s hard to even think, I will find something to smile about, and I will find someone to bring happiness to. Although my sister’s memories will always live in my heart and my love for her will never end, I choose to find peace.
The wise woman whose words were told to me, was my precious Mother, Roberta Brodt.
Dear Mommy and Daddy,
I had the best day at Gigi’s house today! First, we had a bite to eat. I liked the pieces of apple that Gigi gave me. After lunch, she put my little sweater on and off we went. Every time I visit Gigi, she tells me about the his-tor-y of Nazareth.
Today, we walked up the street then stopped. Gigi is very careful when we come to a corner. She holds on to me and tells me to wait. Then we crossed the street and walked down to the post office. She said it was a very old building. We had to stop again, then we walked through the circle. Did you know Daddy, that there is a really big black cannon with a fence around it? Gigi told me all about it. All I know is that it is really old too. The grass is turning green and there were some pretty flowers around some of the trees in the circle. Gigi, let me sniff them. Then we walked down to the flower shop and the nice lady with the brown hair gave me a treat. It was delicious.
Mommy, Gigi took me to see the old library. She said that it was very old. I liked all the bushes around it. Then we walked up the street and looked at houses. And guess what Mommy? They are old too. Then Gigi showed me the old police station and the fire station. I wanted to get closer but Gigi said I was too little. I really liked the big tires on the fire trucks. Did I mention that I saw many trees on our walk?
On the way back to Gigi’s house, I jumped and ran and had so much fun. I even made a new friend Lacy. Daddy, she is so adorable. Gigi, let me smell all the flowers and bushes along the way. I hope we get home soon because I am very thirsty.
We’re home! Gigi took my little coat off and I ran to get a big drink of water. Mommy and Daddy, I had a great day with Gigi, but I really need a nap!
Maverick ( Woof, Woof)
Guess what day it is? We hear that question on the television at least once a week, as the talking camel walks through a busy office. Wednesday, hump day, the middle of the workweek, when employees start thinking about Friday.
This story is about people. Happy people. People who are sad and prickly. I am sure dear readers that you might be thinking, what does happy, sad, and prickly have to do with a camel, Wednesday, and guess what day it is? I think you will understand when you read the story all the way to the end.
First, I believe there are more people with beautiful souls than not. Most people who are happy and content with their lives bring joy to others, making it easier to relate and like them. They are the ones that are the half-glass to full glass types with loving hearts that spread sunshine where ever they go.
Those who are sad still have a beautiful heart, but often are broken. Maybe they have experienced the loss of a loved one or are dealing with an illness of a family member or friend. Perhaps they are suffering from depression or mental illness. These folks need to know how much they are loved. They need the support of family and friends to help them to become whole. I like to think of it as being a cheerleader, encouraging them, helping them every step of the way. As with all those who are important to us, our motto should be; I will always be there for you.
And now for the prickly people who sometimes come into our lives. Believe it or not, these folks have a kind, loving heart. Maybe circumstances occurred in their lives and convinced their souls to build a wall, protecting them from the hurt they were feeling. I believe that being patient is the key, along with kind words, building trust, being positive, encouraging, and focusing on what makes them unique. If we continue to keep trying, just maybe we can turn a frown upside down, creating a beautiful smile.
I will never give up on the goodness of people. Sometimes it is easy to find, and sometimes we have to peel back the layers exposing all the feelings hiding under the disguise of illness, disappointment, and sense of inadequacies.
So, what day is it? It’s the day to make a difference in the lives of those you love, whether they are family or friends. Or perhaps a stranger that crosses your daily path. I can only imagine how beautiful our world would be if each one of us opened our hearts.
I must admit, I love the commercial with the camel and hump day. It brings a smile to my face. It doesn’t matter if it is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. It is what you do on each of those days, and the difference you can make to all those you meet. So, what Day Is It?
For the last three days, two Mourning Doves have visited me. The first day they meandered on my driveway, sauntering together like a couple enjoying a spring day. On the second day, they explored the yard stopping for a bite to eat at the feeder. Always together, always loving and caring towards each other.
Today one sat on the deck railing, closer to my patio door, bobbing its head from side to side, shyly peeking in at me. The other dove sat a tad further away on the same brown railing but closer to the bare Dogwood tree.
As I sipped my morning coffee, the doves entertained me, glancing towards each other checking to make sure their loved one was not far away. Then the one closer joined the other, and like the wind, flew up and perched on the telephone wire, side by side. They cuddled there for some time, swaying, getting closer, weathering the wind that whipped the thin wire like a clothesline on wash day. Then when the wire settled down, they flew off together hopefully living happily ever after.
Just like people, we meet on our path, God in His wisdom, created birds, butterflies, dogs, cats, and all animals to teach us lessons. The Mourning Doves are a perfect example. These precious birds who mate for life are loving and caring, sharing their days together whether sitting on a telephone wire, on a tree branch, or on a deck railing. Where there is one, you will usually find the other. When death eventually comes the one left behind will often remain alone.
In the evenings when I take my walk, or when I sit on my front porch, the coo of the dove, reminds me of the love they share. It is the softness of the coo that fills my heart with a sense of peace, and a message of hope when days are tough. I’d like to think that each time a coo whispers through the trees, love travels hoping to touch all those you need to be reminded, that no matter what life brings, love is always the answer.
Today was a beautiful day! As I started out to do a few errands, I noticed some patches of yellow flanked by green leaves. Right in front of me was a real sign of the new season; miniature yellow daffodils huddled in numerous groups showing off their pleasure – welcoming spring, bringing smiles of wonder to all who gazed their way.
Maybe it was their beautiful color, or their bugle heads surrounded by petals, standing tall and stoic at times, then bending a little, or a lot, that reminded me of our daily lives.
I want you to know that we were all beautifully created with kind hearts, love, passions, and dreams. And, we all can make a difference in the lives of others.
However, at the end of any given day, we all have made mistakes, some big and some small. We often carry guilt and unhappiness way longer than we should, sometimes unable to forgive ourselves.
Each morning, as we open our eyes, sit up and get out of our warm beds, the opportunities for a new beginning or so to speak a new birth is available to every one of us.
Each day, we can stand tall, bright and beautiful, or we can bend a little or a lot with guilt, and unwillingness to change. It’s up to us to choose to do what is right.
Sometimes I think the snowy, cold, long nights of winter, might have been designed to give us time to think. Then, as the first signs of a new season happen almost overnight, the feeling of a new beginning stirs with warmer temperatures, a bluer sky, buds on the trees, and the yellow of daffodils.
I believe the Man who created us uses spring as a reminder that hope is available every day. When we have confidence in our hearts, all things are possible, and love, forgiveness, and happiness abounds.
Cassie’s Change of Heart is the third part of the Chipped and Mixed Matched Teacups. In part two: The Traveling Teacups, Cassie and Jim Davidson attend the reading of John’s Will. They were each given the teacup and saucer that held piping hot tea on a cold winter’s night. Along with the chipped and mixed- matched cups and saucers, they were also given the stories of the evening, as a reminder, to think beyond themselves.
Cassie’s Change of Heart
As Cassie and Jim drove home from the reading of the will, they talked about that cold winter’s night and the stories that John had shared. Although they were moved to tears by the messages of strength, hope, faith, and love, their concern for moving into their new bigger and better house, was more significant.
When they arrived home later that night, Jim took the box with the two teacups and saucers along with the stories out to the garage. He pulled his ladder out of the corner then climbed and placed the box behind a tote that held many strands of colored Christmas lights. Then he put the ladder back, walked around his navy blue expensive car and turned off the light. The teacups, saucers, and stories were left in the dark where they stayed for two months.
It was September, and Cassie and Jim loved their new home. A home filled with everything that money could buy. Cassie was satisfied at first but soon became tired and bored. Maybe, it was because there were homes bigger and better than hers. Or perhaps it was because their development was bordered by small, older Cape Cods, less than a mile from their home. Or maybe it was because of a small bungalow nestled among the Capes, in need of paint and a new roof.
Within a few weeks after moving into her home, Cassie heard a knock at her front door. As she opened the door, she saw an older small woman dressed in black slacks, and a checked pink and white blouse. She wore black loafers. In her ear lobes were tiny pink pierced earrings and around her neck was a small gold cross. Her medium salt and pepper hair framed her face like a picture highlighting her soft blue eyes.
She smiled and said, ” Good afternoon! My name is Mary, and I was wondering if you were looking for help. I am a good cook and work hard.” Cassie stood listening, then told her she was sorry, but the position was filled. Tears filled Mary’s eyes. As she looked at Cassie and asked if she knew of anyone who needed help. Cassie told her that she was new to the neighborhood and didn’t know very many people. Mary thanked Cassie then turned and walked down the sidewalk.
Cassie watched from her living room window and thought, what would the neighbors think if they saw the woman who lived in the small bungalow, needing paint and a new roof working in my beautiful house? Surely they would never include her in their afternoon teas.
That night, Cassie had a difficult time sleeping, she tossed and turned thinking about the woman at her door. When she finally fell asleep, she dreamt of the small women with the pleading eyes.
Later that day, Cassie was driving to the grocery store, when she passed a small woman walking on the shoulder of the road. As she looked in her rear view mirror, she noticed it was Mary. Cassie wondered where she was going but did not stop to ask if she needed a ride. As Cassie was paying for her groceries, Mary walked by. She smiled and waved, but Cassie pretended not to see her.
As the young woman put her bags inside her car and drove home, she forgot about the older woman who walked back home alone. That night, Cassie once again had a hard time sleeping; dreaming of Mary. This time the sweet woman with the salt and pepper hair was crying. The next day, Cassie thought about Mary throughout the day, but soon pushed her to the back of her mind when the doorbell rang.
Cassie was surprised when she recognized two of her neighbors standing on the other side. They introduced themselves, and she quickly invited them in. Jan lived to the left of Cassie and Sally lived to the right. They welcomed her to the neighborhood. They asked her if she would be interested in helping with the monthly soup luncheon for those who needed a little extra help.
Sally shared that she was heading up a committee to collect fall and winter clothes for the homeless shelter. Cassie smiled, nodded her head and said she would check her schedule. All the while, thinking, no way.
That night, sleep abandoned her again. When she did sleep, it was fitful, dreaming of Mary, and others who needed help. The next morning, she shared her dream with Jim. He told her maybe it was a message that something needed to change in her life.
That morning, after Jim left for work, Cassie got in her convertible and drove down the street, pass the old Cape Cods. As she got closer to the run-down bungalow, she noticed an ambulance parked on the gravel driveway. She saw two EMT’s carrying a stretcher out of the house. Was it Mary? Maybe Jim was right. Maybe her dreams were sending her a message.
Cassie pulled in the driveway and parked next to the ambulance, quickly got out of the car, and headed to the back of the red and white lettered vehicle. It was Mary, covered with a white blanket, ready to be loaded in the ambulance. Cassie asked what hospital they were taking her to, then got back into her car and followed them.
Cassie sat in the waiting room. She had no idea why she was there but knew that was where she was supposed to be. Two hours later, Cassie asked if there was any information on Mary. The nurse told her that legally she could not share anything with her.
Cassie drove home thinking about Mary and hoped that everything would be okay. That night Cassie did something that she had not done in many years; she prayed
Cassie prayed for Mary’s health. And she asked God to tell her what to do and to show her how to do it. Cassie also prayed for forgiveness. The next morning, Cassie told Jim that she had a dream about the cold winter’s night at John and Millie’s home.
“Jim, It was so real! I could taste the hot tea, and hear each story. I could feel my hand on the teacup.” Jim looked up and saw tears in Cassie’s eyes. He got up, walked out to the garage, pulled out his ladder, climbed up, moved the tote with the Christmas lights, picked up the box with the teacups in, climbed back down, put the ladder in its place, then carried the box into the kitchen and placed it on their marble island. Cassie opened the box, smiled, and thanked her husband.
Within one hour, Cassie was on her way to the hospital to visit Mary with two chipped teacups and mix-matched saucers. When she arrived, Cassie located Mary’s room. As she walked through the open door, she saw Mary sitting up in bed, looking a little better.
Mary smiled as she saw Cassie. Cassie asked her if she would like to have a cup of tea. Mary looked a little surprised but said that would be lovely. Cassie excused herself and disappeared out the door and before long returned with two cups of steaming hot cups of tea. Mary watched as Cassie took out the two cups and the saucers, then poured the hot drink into the mix-matched cups.
Cassie sat in a chair next to Mary’s bed. She thought for a moment and said, ” I was prepared to tell you a story about the meaning of the teacup you are holding. But, I believe I need to hear your story.” Mary smiled, took a sipped of tea and began. Her husband died ten years ago of cancer. The company he worked for went out of business, and they lost their health insurance. After Bill’s death, she had worked at the very store that she was walking to the night Cassie had passed her. Then she became ill and was unable to work for a few months. Between Bill’s medical expenses, taxes, and the upkeep of the house, Mary just could not afford it.
She shared that she and Bill formerly lived in a charming Cape Cod with flower beds, but when the bank took her house, the only home she could afford to rent was the little bungalow that needed paint and a new roof. Cassie, I want to work, but no one will hire me. However, I am not giving up. God has a plan for me. There are others that are struggling more than I am. Although I don’t know them personally, I pray for them and God takes care of the rest.
Cassie smiled as she listened to Mary’s story while they both sipped tea from the cups that held the stories of others. Then Cassie told her story about a woman who only thought of herself. Who wanted to be accepted by other’s who lived in big and beautiful houses. Who felt she was entitled to have everything her heart desired.
Mary smiled, then asked Cassie for a hug. As Cassie, gently, put her arms around Mary, she heard, ” I forgive you.” With tears in her eyes, Cassie understood her dreams and the lesson she needed to learn.
A few weeks later, Mary moved in with Cassie and Jim. She helped around the house and loved Cassie like her own daughter.
The two chipped teacups and mix-matched saucers, now sit in the china cupboard, waiting for visitors who need to hear a story that might change a life.
A while back, I wrote a story titled: Chipped and Mix-Matched. I enjoyed writing it very much and decided to write a second part. I hope you will enjoy the continuing saga of the chipped and mixed-match teacups.
The Traveling Teacups
Six months after John and Millie hosted a dinner party for four friends on a cold and blustery winter night, John passed away.
Millie sat, stoically on a hot summer afternoon, surrounded by family and friends listening to Pastor Wainwright tell of the goodness of a loving man who started with nothing but ended with much more than wealth.
He spoke of John’s generous nature helping the homeless, driving those who needed treatment to doctor appointments and taking the time to talk to everyone he met. Pastor Wainwright glanced at Millie and continued, ” Millie, John might have been your angel, but you were truly his.” Millie smiled as a tear meandered down her cheek.
The eulogy continued, praising a man who was loved by many. Then the pastor held up John’s pride and joy; his teacups. His chipped and mix-matched cups. Pastor Wainwright shared the stories of each cup. When he finished, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Later, John was laid to rest, and Millie with her broken heart went to an empty house filled with loving memories of a man she loved with all of her heart.
Three days after her husband was buried, Millie received a phone call from John’s lawyer. The reading of John’s Will would be read in five days. There would be five people invited; Millie, guest one, guest two, guest three, and guest four.
Five days later, five people sat around the table waiting and wondering. Soon Lee Scott, a family friend, and lawyer greeted everyone, then commenced to read the will.
To my loving wife, I leave our home and contents, business, stocks, bonds, cars, and bank accounts. Millie cried softly as her heart grieved for John.
Lee walked over to a medium brown cardboard box, picked it up, walked back to the table in front of the bow-window with sheer curtains that touched the floor, and gently placed it on the table. He asked guest one, guest two, guest 3, and guest 4, along with Millie to join him.
Lee picked up the will and continued. To guest one, and guest two, otherwise known as Jim and Cassie Davidson, and to guest three and guest four, otherwise known as Paul and Jamie Smith, I leave you the chipped and mixed-matched teacups that held a hot beverage six months ago on a cold winter’s night. Millie passed out the cups and saucers to each couple along with the unique story that brought each piece alive. Then Lee finished the final instructions from John.
I am so happy to pass my teacups and saucers to each of you. When you arrived at my home for the dinner party and well before that, I noticed that you were driven by how much money you had and what it could buy you. Money ruled your life but not your heart.
I remember your expressions as you scanned the table and beautiful dishes, then spotted the chipped and mixed – matched teacups. Do you remember what you were thinking? I knew I had my work cut out for me, but my heart led me on.
I noticed your expression as I started telling the story of the cup you each had drank from. Millie and I saw some eyes rolling but then, a change, a tear welling, and more tears as I moved from cup to cup. With each step around the table, I prayed my words would touch your hearts.
When you left that blustery night, I was sure you had changed, even it was just a little. Millie and I waited, and before long were hearing good things about all four of you. We were so happy to know that you all were making a difference in your community. Just think, it all started with listening to a story.
I was asked that night why I had chipped and mixed-matched teacups on my table. My answer; as a reminder of those who had little but gave much. Most importantly, they were a flicker of hope that Millie and I could give to those who were struggling, who had lost their way, and who needed to know that they were not alone. And now it is your turn to share the story of the teacups.
I leave you with my final words. Take the cups and saucers, filled them with hot tea, put them on your table with your beautiful china, and tell the story that will change lives.
Then Lee said, that John had one more request; to stay in touch with Millie. The two couples promised Millie they would always be there for her and thanked her for her kindness.
As Millie wrapped each teacup and saucer, she gazed at Jim, Cassie, Paul, and Jamie like a mother filled with love for her children. She was happy the teacups would travel to their new homes, sit on a shelf and wait for someone who needed to hear the story.
When Millie gave them each a kiss goodbye, her mind went back to that wintry night and thought, they were lost but now were found. Then as the two cars drove away, Millie looked up to heaven, waved, then blew a kiss to John. Her John who loved drinking his tea from a chipped and mixed matched cup.
Coming soon: Cassie’s Story