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Memories of My Grandma – Part 2

The memories I have of my grandmothers, two very different but wonderful ladies, are as different as they were. Although they were both born during a time when women didn’t work outside the home, my paternal grandmother did on occasion out of necessity.

Both of my grandmothers wore a full apron when at home. When you arrived they were always happy to see you, and you knew your were going to be fed a full meal. While my maternal grandmother always made homemade pie, my paternal grandmother favored cake and cookies. Her sour cream drop cookies were the best!

If you haven’t read Memories of My Grandma – Part 1 I encourage you to read it, as it will show how different two very important women in my life were.

My Paternal Grandmother

Louise Elizabeth Lautner King was born on January 1, 1912. She was born into the well-known and respected Lautner family.  The Lautner’s had immigrated from Bohemia in the 1800s.

Eight Lautner brothers settled a huge track of land that became known as the Lautner Settlement in Traverse City, and they became prominent dairy farmers. When my grandmother was growing up her father, Louis Lautner, was a restaurateur.

Grandma Wins Beauty Contest

My grandmother won a “most beautiful baby” contest when she was 2 years old. Her prize was a doll that was larger than she was. After having 3 sons, she gave the doll to the daughter of a needy family and thought she would never see it again.

When Grandma’s 90th birthday was announced in the Traverse City Record Eagle the family she had given that doll to decades before saw the announcement. They still had Grandma’s doll and Grandma was reunited with her prize possession at her 90th birthday party.  

My grandmother’s desire was that the doll be donated to a museum. My aunt and uncle took the doll and a framed scrapbook page I made for Grandma showing her pictures with the doll at 2 years and 90 years to accompany the donation.  I don’t know if the donation has been made. It would be neat to visit a Traverse City museum and see my grandmother’s doll on display.

Growing Up

When Grandma was 6 years old her father built the farmhouse she grew up in. Grandma remembered hearing the sirens that signaled the end of World War I on November 11, 1918 as her father was working on the home. 

Grandma lived in that home from the time she was 6 years old until she placed herself into assisted living in her late 80’s.  I don’t know the exact dates, but I estimate it was around 82 years she lived in that home. 

My grandmother grew up at a time when education for females was not considered important.  When she graduated from 6th grade her parents refused to attend the ceremony. They didn’t think it was important for her to be educated. I think it is sad that Grandma’s parents refused to witness this important day in her life.

Grandma had a bit of a wild side to her. She met the man that would become my grandfather when he and a friend pulled into the yard of the farm. She thought Grandpa was cute. When he invited her to go out riding in his car, she hurried to get her chores done and left before her parents knew.

Louise Elizabeth Lautner married Dominic Florian King on January 18, 1931. Grandma was 19 years old; Grandpa was 9 years older. Grandpa moved into the farmhouse with Grandma and her parents. A year after the marriage her parents moved out and Grandma and Grandpa continued to reside and raise their family on the farm.

After their marriage Grandma taught Grandpa to sign his name. He was a smart man and a hard worker but lacked a formal education, having only attended school through the 3rd grade.

My grandparents worked the farm and raised three boys there, including my father. They had a considerable amount of property, but that didn’t keep them from suffering financial loss as a result of the great depression.  Due to a need for additional income my Grandmother sometimes worked outside the home in canning factories.

Memories of the Farm

From the time I was about 3 years old we lived several hours from my grandparents. Prior to that time we would visit, but I don’t have much recollection of time spent there.

On our trips to visit family in Traverse City we always stayed at the home of my maternal grandparents. We visited my paternal grandparents on every trip, but my memories of the farm are scant.

I do remember when they had the property across the street from their home, which included a barn and pigs. Other than walking over to see them, I don’t remember anything about the pigs or barn.  I assume they slaughtered them for meat.

When my parents were dating my grandmother made Schwarz Sauer. That is a German soup made with pigs’ blood, but my mother never ate it. Grandma had made her an alternative dish when she was visiting during that meal.

I remember walking the woods of the property across the road, searching for morel mushrooms with my grandparents. The property seemed huge to me as a child, and it was sizeable.

They sold the land across the road when I was a young teen. It was purchased by a Mennonite family, and for a long time one huge house stood grandly on the land. That land is now a subdivision.

As an adult I drove through the subdivision and was impressed with what a prize piece of land my grandparents had and sold. There are areas on the property with a view of Grand Traverse Bay.

I have always wondered why my great-grandfather didn’t build his home on that section of land.  The spot he chose for his home did not offer the scenic views available across the road.

Back on the other side of the road where the house is located, the property behind the house had two large barns and a chicken coop. I do not remember any of those having livestock in them, but I know that when the farm was in full operation it did.

As a child I remember going inside the barn with my father and grandfather. It was filled with farming equipment. I remember standing and tilting my head way back to see the upper loft. Being a city kid, I was amazed at the barn’s size.

There was an outhouse that still stands behind the barns. When the home was sold 2-3 years ago but had not been used in decades.  I wish I had asked if there had originally been one closer to the home.

I know the electricity was put into the home when my father was a child. He spoke of running from the fields in excitement when the lights came on for the first time. I’m not sure when the house had plumbing installed.

I remember Grandma keeping ducks in a pen attached to the chicken coop. I wasn’t there often enough to have any detailed memories of that. There was a large field next to the house and the property ran as far as you could see behind the barns.

The property went all the way from M-72 where the house was back to Barney Road. They had a total of about 50 acres just on that side of the highway. As a teen my cousins, my sister, and I road snowmobiles on the property one winter. We ran in a loop through the field, back to Barney Road, around the woods and back. I was amazed at how far we could go and still be on their property.

  • Louise Elizabeth Lautner, age 6, December 21, 1917 in Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Grandma watering her garden
  • Grandma with Ron and me on our wedding day
  • Grandma, Louise Elzabeth Lautner, 6 months old with her father
  • Grandma - Louise Elizabeth Lautner - 4 years old
  • My grandparents, Louise and Dominick King
  • Grandma with my daughter, Caroline
  • Louise and Dominick King - Easter Sunday 1930
  • Grandma after winning most beautiful baby contest, age 2 with her prize
  • Louise Lautner King with horses Barney and Chuck hooked to plow
  • Grandma and Grandpa - on the back Grandma wrote it was a picture of her and Dominick before they were married. She was 17 years old with a glass of homebrew in hand. "Ma took the picture so guess her and Pa approved"
  • Grandma ready to go help her Dad with the hay, didn't want to but had to - age 16 years

The House and Yard

The house was unique, and part of that had to do with my grandparents remodeling the home before I was born. It had wide wood trim throughout that I always liked, and a big front porch.  The porch was not often used, at least when we were there, but did have a glider seat on it.

Porch Sitting

The back of the house had a huge cement porch that resembled a patio. Near the house was the cistern, which we were warned to stay away from. A cistern is a reservoir tank for rainwater. When placed near a home like that it is often used for flushing toilets. I don’t know if that was its purpose, but it was near the bathroom.

The land was at different levels near the house, so on the side of the porch you could walk onto the driveway. From the back of the porch you had to go down steps to reach the yard. Because it was of sizeable height in that area Grandma had flowerbeds planted beside it. On the other side of the porch, you could again walk right off and into the lawn.

Grandma had a wash line in her backyard. There were flowers planted at each of the poles, and what most didn’t know is that was where her deceased German Schnauzers were buried.

The first, Poody, was trained to do tricks. I remember as a kid how fun it was to watch him jump through a hoop held in different positions. He would also sing when prompted.

After Poody was given his resting place, Grandma and Grandpa got Hantze. They decided not to train Hantze to do tricks, but he was a good dog. Hantze traveled with them, and loved a nice dish of ice cream.

The back porch was where Grandma enjoyed sitting. She had a large rose bush along the house that my mother had purchased for her early in my parent’s marriage. Grandma had a garden hose that ran out of the house for watering the flowers, but the best was the hose direct from the well.

One time my sister got the hose from the house and sprayed me with it. It had a lot of power, but Grandpa said he would fix me up and took me to the well house. He gave me a hose that ran direct from the well and the pressure was awesome!

I was able to stand on the back porch and spray my sister, Carol, as she was running away. She was almost to the barns before I couldn’t spray her anymore.  I can still see the spray of water arching up into the sky and back down at Carol’s back as she ran. What fun that was!  

On the Inside

We never entered that house through the front door. You always pulled up into the drive, went down by the barns and turned around, then drove up and parked on the drive so you were facing the road when ready to leave. Grandma lived on M-72 and cars went by fast.

You would enter the back door, which took you into a shed. You would go down a few steps, then back up a few steps into the back of the kitchen. If you turned left before entering the kitchen, you stepped up into the storage area of the shed.

The shed had a counter and cupboards. It was an overflow storage of sorts and where grandma sat cakes and cookies so they stayed cool until ready to serve. It was also through this area that you walked to go upstairs.

The Kitchen

The kitchen was a huge, traditional country kitchen. The door you entered through from the shed had a glass center, so you always knew if Grandma was in the kitchen when you arrived. She would come rushing to the back door to greet you upon arrival.

As you stepped in there was a large farmer’s sink to the right. That was used for washing up after you had been in the garden or other miscellaneous tasks. There were two large wooden rocking chairs, one on each side, my favorite spot in the kitchen.

To the left was Grandpa’s chair, and beside that a long low table holding magazines and other miscellaneous items. Grandma’s chair is on the right, next to the window. From there you can look out onto the drive if awaiting the arrival of guests.

When visiting I loved sitting in the large wooden rocker and talking with Grandma as she prepped food. Chatting involved catching up on the latest gossip. You found out everything that was going on in the family.

Grandma loved gossip!  I can still here her saying “oh go on!” when she was questioning something or as emphasis in one of her stories.

Beyond those rocking chairs was the kitchen table and refrigerator, and then the stove, counters and cupboards stretched across the back. There was a stool Grandma would sit on while cooking, which allowed her to keep an eye on food while chatting.

The layout of my grandparent’s house was interesting. Probably because they had done some remodeling, which added character to the layout. I loved the wide molding and built-in cabinets.  

Living Room

Leaving the kitchen you stepped into what I had always known as the living area. To the left was the entry to the bathroom. Normally not something worthy of mention, but I always thought it was interesting it had another door that went out into the shed. Most likely because it made it easier to access the bathroom if coming from upstairs.

The living area itself was long and narrow, running probably 2/3 the depth of the house. The part immediately off the kitchen had once been a formal dining area. This was evident by the huge built-in china cabinet. That is where Grandma displayed family china, photos and knick-knacks.

In front of the china cabinet was a recliner, and next to it a stand with the black rotary phone on it. This was a convenient set-up, because Grandma could sit down and talk on the phone, but still have a clear view of the television at the other end of the room.

The rest of the room had ample seating for family gatherings, plus a small organ. Grandma enjoyed playing the organ, polka music being her favorite.  Off the front of the living room was the front door.

Grandma’s Bedroom

Off the side of the living room was what my grandparents used as a bedroom. I believe it had originally been a parlor. There was no door, just an arched entry with built-in book cases on either side that faced into the living room. The bedroom itself was bright and welcoming with windows on two of the walls.

Upper Floor and Basement

I didn’t get into the upstairs or basement of my grandparent’s home except on a few occasions.  I found them both interesting and worthy of mentioning.

The upstairs was, as typical of the day, unheated. It was made into two bedroom areas, but there was no doorway between, just opening to walk through one room and into the next. That is where my father and his two brothers slept when growing up.

One neat feature was that on both sides of the room there were small doors below a slanted ceiling. That was how you accessed a long narrow attic space. I remember Grandma had all kinds of things stored inside. Lots of unknown treasures!

My grandparents had a Michigan basement. I’m a city kid, I was amazed to go down into a basement that had dirt walls and a dirt floor. It was cool down in there and that was where she stored produce. It was dark and damp, had a low ceiling, and without someone with me I would have found it scary.

Things About Grandma

My grandmother had a wonderful sense of humor and loved a good laugh. She enjoyed attending parades, festivals, and loved polka music.

I didn’t realize it until she was gone, but my grandmother had a talent for writing. After she died I saw poems she had written in her 80’s and they were very good. I wish I had known we shared that interest when she was still alive.

Another regret is that I wasn’t able to spend more time with her as an adult, hearing stories of her years growing up and living on the farm. There is much I missed by living so far away.

Grandma loved surprises. One year after I was married, I didn’t know what to get her for Christmas.  She was in her late 70’s or early 80’s at the time, and I came up with an idea. I made her a certificate saying she would receive one gift a month for a year.

When I made that certificate, I had no idea what I would send her. It was a fun year for both of us. I was struggling to come up with ideas, and she was waiting anxiously for her monthly package to arrive. One of her favorite gifts didn’t cost me a penny.

I had received a head scarf for free with a cosmetic order. I didn’t wear scarfs but Grandma did, so off it went in the mail. She was thrilled!  Grandma liked the print of the fabric, it was the perfect size, and it didn’t slip off her head like some of them did. I never anticipated that kind of success from a freebie!

Grandma was living on her own in that huge farmhouse. She didn’t drive and it was a good distance from town for anyone to reach her. Grandma had been in and out of the hospital a few times, and without telling anyone made some calls and decided that the next time she was hospitalized she would not be going home, but would instead go into assisted living.

That must have a hard adjustment, leaving the home she had been in from the time she was 6 years old. Grandma did like to socialize, and being in the home she no longer had to fix her own meals, so the move had its benefits.

Grandma Turns 90

Grandma was in the assisted living facility for her 90th birthday. The family decided to hold a surprise birthday party for her. It was a wonderful gathering with two very special moments.

Grandma had been best friends with Mary from the time they were 6 years old, but they hadn’t seen each other in years due to their advanced age. Mary’s daughter brought her to Grandma’s birthday party.

When Grandma saw Mary come in she jumped up and rushed over. They hugged and then Grandma announced to everyone who Mary was. Two best friends beaming with joy at being together again. If only all friendships could last like that.

The second special moment was when Grandma was presented with the doll she had won in the beautiful baby contest at age 2. She was very happy to see the doll and kept referring to it as her baby. Photos were taken of Grandma with her doll. 

I later made a scrapbook page of her with the doll at ages 2 and at 90, which I framed and gave to her the following Christmas. It hung on her wall until she passed.  

What do you give a woman for her 90th birthday?  I didn’t want to do the normal stuff, so I decided to make a 90 Years of History book. I used my scrap-booking hobby to fill a 4” 3-ring binder.

I researched and found at least one event and coordinating photo for every year of Grandma’s life. These were not personal events, they were world events, U.S. historical moments, and technological advances.  It all began with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

It was a fun project, and revealed how things had changed during her lifetime. I received a card from Grandma later that said it took her a while, but she read the entire book. She was also surprised at all the things that happened during her lifetime.

Grandma Liked Eye Candy

Grandma may have been old in years, but she still appreciated a good-looking man. When she first went into assisted living, we figured there must have been a male resident she liked. She took a bit more care with her hair and makeup. She also was wearing nicer looking clothes.

After one of her surgeries Grandma needed physical therapy. She told me her therapist was a good-looking man with a nice body. She summed it up with “he’s cute!” Grandma said she didn’t mind going to physical therapy at all! 

When Grandma was turning 90 I knew she would receive tons of sentimental cards decorated with flowers. I decided to shake things up a bit.

The card that accompanied my gift had a well-built man, shirtless, in tight jeans and a cowboy hat sitting backwards on a ladder chair. I wrote inside that I thought she needed at least one card that wasn’t full of flowers. She loved it!

A couple weeks after the party I received a note that she really liked my card, and that she was still fanning herself.  She may have been 90 but she wasn’t dead yet!

Grandma died in 2005 at the age of 93. The book and scrapbook page I made celebrating her 90th birthday were displayed at her memorial. The book was returned to me. The scrapbook page is to be displayed with the doll in a museum.

If I Could Go Back

I would love to go back and spend a day with Grandma on the farm. It would be a fun day, filled with laughter.

As enter the house through the shed and walk into the kitchen Grandma will turn from the sink and rush over saying “well, hello Gracie,” giving me a kiss and hug. She will walk me through the house, showing me anything new she has gotten since my last visit. I will get an update on each family member she has received a photo of.

We will sit in the living room talking for a while. Grandma will get out the old Victrola and records. I’ll crank the handle to hear the music just like I did as a child.

When the phone rings Grandma will rush over, sit in the chair and pick up the receiver. “Oh, hello Mary, I can’t talk right now, Gracie is here. I’ll call you later, Bye.”  Mary may have been Grandma’s best friend, but when you were vising, you came first. That is a courtesy people have lost these days.

While Grandma fixes us something to eat I will sit in large wooden rocker and listen to her fill me in on the latest family news. She will sit on her stool by the stove waiting for the hot water to warm in the kettle.

Grandma will fix us both a cup of instant coffee.  I think it was a “modern convenience” that she liked. Instant was the only type of coffee I ever remember having at Grandma’s house. I don’t normally drink instant, but when visiting Grandma, I do.

After lunch Grandma will go out in the shed to get a cake she baked for my visit. It is made from a cake mix, but exceptionally moist because she always adds a cup of sour cream to the batter.  

We go outside and walk around the yard as she shows me her gardens and how they are doing. She decides the bushes need some water, and I haul a lawn chair over for her to sit in while holding the hose.

When the watering is done we sit on the back porch and enjoy the weather. She talks about how the nicely the rose bush is blooming against the house. We talk about the barn on the adjacent property, and how it is falling apart compared to how nice her barns look.

Before I leave Grandma grabs me a gallon jar of homemade pickled bologna, and another of homemade dill pickles to take with me. I’m in snack heaven! 

As I climb into my car I look up. Grandma is watching out the kitchen window by her rocking chair. I knew she would be there to wave goodbye. She always is.

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Life in the Fast Lane

There was once a popular song by the Eagles, with the lyric “Life in the Fast Lane, surely make you lose your mind.”  That is what my life has felt like these past few weeks.  I finish a day or a weekend and wonder how it went by so fast.  I never get as much completed as I want.

Sometimes when life is making you feel compressed you need to take a step back and relax.  Trying to paddle faster when you feel as if you are sinking just wears out your energy and you drown.  Taking a break can restore energy and prepare you for the next round of chaos.

I have had a whirlwind going around me due to a series of events in my life….a friend who has been staying with me for the past eight months is getting ready to leave on a new adventure of full-time RV life.  My son, who was in prison for six years, came home on the 20th of March and is staying with me.  I have come to the conclusion that I need to downsize and have to go through all of my belongings and determine what I am going to keep and what must go.

Each of these things in and of itself are good changes.  Compiled into one they are overwhelming.  I look around my house and the massive amount of things I must sort through and am not sure where to start.  My son is helping, he has started working on the side of the basement that was my husband’s workshop.  I have set a deadline for getting all of this completed, which in some ways increases the panic of how much must be done.

Even though my daughter and her children live in a separate house, the adjustment for all of us to my son coming home after so long has not been easy.  My daughter is living in a home that my son once lived in.  When he went to prison the belongings he had in that home had to be boxed up.  Both my daughter and son have items in my house that have to be cleaned out.  The sorting, cleaning, and relationship adjustments can be stressful.

Even though I am trying to slow down, I continue to live life in the fast lane.  This week I ate dinner out four of the five work nights because of my schedule…writers meeting, shutterbug meeting, haircut, and shopping all done after work created the preference to dine out rather than in.  Saturday I am on the road around the time I normally step out of the shower so I can attend a writer’s conference an hour from home.  Sunday I’ll need to tackle household chores, and of course Monday it all starts again.   Life in the fast lane, will surely make me lose my mind!

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Cycle Through Life

As we go through life we develop habits, a way of doing things.  Some of them are our own, some of them are done to accommodate the likes/dislikes of those around us.  As we cycle through life those things change.

We develop likes and dislikes, ways of doing things, and personality traits from our parents, grandparents, siblings, other relatives and friends as we are growing.  Then we become adults and move away from those we have grown up with.  Some move away to attend college, some branch out on their own, living the single life, and others, like me, leave their parent’s home when they marry.   Each of those different events will impact the individual person and their overall personality.51bdc659e738f0ad63064c508af86513

I grew up in a small town far away from distant relatives, I left my parent’s home when I married just before my 21st birthday.  With my marriage I moved about two hours away from home.  The person I married was not controlling, but he was nine years older and had far more life experiences than I.  He had served overseas in the military, been married and had a child, and purchased a home.   Looking back I adapted to his way of doing things more-so than he adapted to mine.   He paid the bills, serviced the cars, did home repairs, and was the driving force in any major purchases.  I was more willing to keep things as they were, to more or less “make do” with what we already had.  That is how we lived for 34 years until he passed away in December 2015.

When he passed away I was living on my own for the first time in my life.  I spent a couple years in a bit of a vacuum, going through the motions of life without really experiencing it to its fullest.  I learned to do things I had never done before, such as yard work, getting cars serviced, and paying bills.  You could say in that way I grew during that period of time, but I didn’t really evolve, I simply functioned.

With the help of a friend I began to re-evaluate where I was at and what changes I needed to make.  I took a good look at the investments I had, and the company my husband had us with was not making me any money, in fact after paying the service charges I had lost money over the course of the two years since his death.  I’m not a math person, but I’m not stupid.  I needed a new financial advisor and I followed the recommendation of a friend and made a change.  It has been a good one and I feel my financial future has a more positive outlook.

What-you-dont-have-you-may-gainIn looking at my investments I also took a good look at my living expenses v. income and realized that while I am making my bills with the assistance of my husband’s life insurance, I can not really consider that “living in the green.”  Let’s face it, the life insurance savings won’t last forever, and living month-to-month is not the way I want to spend my retirement.  I also realized that I can not retire and continue to live where I am at.  The decision, I need to downsize.  Now there is a lot of stuff in this house that I must sort, decide what to keep, what to toss, and what to sell.  That will take some time.  I would like to be out in six months, a year is more realistic, and it may take beyond that.  However the longer it takes the more money I am spending on this house that I could be saving or using for more fun things.

Fun things.  I am going to do some fun things this year.  For the first time in about three years I am going to take a real vacation.  I have to admit, once I made the commitment, put down the deposit and booked my airline flights I had some difficulty sleeping for a couple nights, but now I am looking forward to it.  My first international flight on my own, I will be flying to Calgary, Alberta, Canada for the Calgary Stampede and spending 11 days out there.  I have a friend who will meet me in Calgary.  We will be staying in his motor home and taking in some of the scenic sights of the area, doing photography in addition to attending the Stampede.  It should be an awesome trip and I am looking forward to it.

I have a girl’s weekend planned in Mackinac City.  The weekend is a yearly event with my sister and two cousins, and we always change locations to keep it interesting.  There is also the possibility of another weekend trip into Canada with a friend, but that one is only tentative at this point.  59caa4c54b27d61f6a921ea8a3146eb4

So, where am I in the cycle of life?  I am in a growing stage.  I have broken free of the “me” that I was when married and becoming the “me” that I am as a widow.  I have started to walk around my house doing a visual inventory.  “That was him, it goes.”  “That is me, it stays.”  Sometimes it is “That was us” and with those items, some will stay and some will go.  When I move out of this house it will be a good, clean break and I will be continuing the ride as I cycle through life.

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Filed under Cleaning, Coping, decisions, Discoveries, exploration, Family, freindship, friends, friendship, habit, home, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, memoir, reality, time, travel, vacation

It’s Just Another Day

As I write this only a few hours before the ringing in of 2018 it occurs to me that millions of people are getting together with friends, going to parties, visiting bars, or participating in numerous other activities to ring in the new year.  Year after year I have spent New Year’s Eve the same way — home doing my normal activities until around 11:30 pm when I switch to Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve to watch the ball drop in Times Square.  Some years I go to bed immediately after, other years I continue to watch the celebration for an hour or two.

New Year’s Day arrives.  I might flip on the parades to watch a bit.  I change over my calendar to the new year, and empty out my “Good Things” jar.  Overall the day is treated like pretty much any other stay-at-home day, doing whatever activities I choose or need to handle.

best-quote-for-new-year-2018Do I set goals for the new year?  Usually.  Do I achieve them?  Sometimes.  Even though for the most part New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are just another day, they still contain a bit of tradition that is repeated year-after-year.

As I was writing this I looked up and saw my handwritten list of 2017 goals I had set.  Lets just say I had good intentions and leave it at that.  That list just got folded in half and tossed in the wastepaper basket.

I’m thinking instead of setting goals maybe as I go through the year I should make a list of things I accomplish.  In fact, now that I think of it, that would end the year on a much more positive note.  No depressing list of goals I did not achieve to toss into a wastepaper basket.  Instead I will be able to review the year with a list of things I completed — assuming of course I do something productive in the next twelve months.

Here’s Wishing Everyone A Productive and Happy New Year!

 

 

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Friend Frustration

It is a difficult dilemma, deciding how you want to handle a friendship that has times that are good and times that are frustrating.  This was a difficult situation, one which I contemplated over for literally months.  I hope the end result has a positive outcome.  The ultimate deciding factor was based on two areas that came into play….the friend’s emotional needs and my emotional needs.

This friendship is long-term.  We were very close for eight years, then completely out of contact for twenty-nine years.  In 2009 we connected on Facebook, doing the occasional Instant-Messenger chat, commenting on each other’s posts from time-to-time.  Nothing major.  Just casual contact.   That all changed in 2015.

In 2015 I was making regular trips back to my hometown to work on cleaning out my parent’s home.  My friend suggested we go out to dinner, and after about three months I finally agreed.  It was like deja vu.  Friends - someone is special when you eventually get together again and its like you didn't miss a beat

He picked me up at my parent’s home, which had the same furniture it did when he last set foot in it back in 1980.  We had a great time chatting about his marriage and kids, my husband’s battle with cancer and my kids.  We talked about our siblings and parents.  A connection that went way back.  It was a wonderful evening and after dinner we went back to the house, I invited him in and we continued to talk for a couple more hours before he went home.

It was a connection we were glad was re-established.  Throughout that summer I was making frequent trips into town hand he would on occasion stop by and visit for a couple hours.  It was a nice friendship, familiar, comfortable, but different.  We also maintained contact with conversations on Instant Messenger and an occasional telephone call.

We both realized that there was still an attraction there.  However we were both married and did not step outside of the boundaries of respective marriages.  Then the playing field changed.  My husband lost his battle with cancer.  We maintained the messenger and telephone contact for about three months, and then it tapered off.  He stopped responding to emails or instant messages for extended periods of time.

Friends - someone who speaks to you on their free time v someone who frees time to speak to youI found this frustrating as he suffers from depression and I would wonder how he was doing.  Then suddenly I would receive an email or message.  There were always reasons for his disappearance…busy, kids, grandchildren, sickness, depression…but were they reasons, or excuses?   In my opinion there is a fine line between the two, and I wasn’t quite sure on which side it fell.  Things would improve for a bit but eventually would fall back into the old pattern.

After a while I decided I wasn’t going to continue to pursue a one-sided friendship in which I always initiated the contact.  Instead I would wait and see what happened, and each time I did that I would ultimately receive a message from him usually by email.  He would apologize for his lack of contact and say he had been busy, sick, depressed, whatever, always wanting to preserve the friendship.  And so the cycle went.  This became a roller coaster ride that was irritating.  I didn’t like the feeling that I was making the effort and he was responding when it suited him.  I want the friendship, but not on those terms.  friendship - ignore me and I will ignore you

March 30th of this year rolled around and I received another email.   This one got down to the emotional nitty-gritty, it was honest.  The best one I’ve received because it got to the core of the situation.   He wants to remain friends, but the line is grey for him right now.  There are a lot of factors I am aware of but am not going to elaborate on.  Let’s just say that email put everything into perspective.  He is trying to get his mind straight and I have to be removed from the picture for now.  I’m good with that.  He closed with “Hopefully your friend.”

So what did I do?  I responded.  I don’t know if my response helped or hurt him in his situation, but it helped me in mine.  I was honest.  I told him we are still friends but that I find the friendship frustrating, that a person’s interest in maintaining a friendship is related to their response or lack thereof.   I pointed out that they say ex-lovers can be friends for one of two reasons:  either they were never in love or they still are.  That is the grey area.  I have accepted my grey area and can live with it.  A ghost from the past is not the reality of the present.  We are both different people than we were in 1980.

Then I tossed the ball in his court.  I can handle the give-and-take of being friends, but it is his decision on whether to respond and maintain the friendship.  If he decides to respond great.  If not I move on and don’t worry about it.  This decision was based on my emotional needs, not his, but it also supports his need for distance at this time.

So now I wait.  We are still connected on Facebook.  He has “liked” a couple of my posts; I have “liked” a couple of his.  Do I hope he contacts me at some point in the future?  Absolutely.  I will always be his friend, that is a given.  He is intelligent, funny, challenges the brain.  We have a past, a comfort level of true friends, a connection that can not be replaced.

I hope that right now we are just taking a break and that eventually the friendship is re-established on a more personal level.  However I will not allow my emotions to feel trampled by the friendship.  That is also a given and I have made that clear to him through my actions.

And that, my friends, is how you deal with a frustrating friendship.

 

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Thanksgiving Solo

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time when people gather with family or friends, enjoy a football game, a parade, fellowship and of course, food.  Over the years I have participated in large family gatherings, small family gatherings, dined with friends, or gone out to a restaurant.  This year, for the first time ever, I am doing Thanksgiving solo.  That was my choice.

A year ago I cooked a Thanksgiving dinner and had my daughter, her three children and her boyfriend over to join my husband and I.  Ron was battling cancer; a battle he lost eleven days later.  Ron didn’t feel well; he didn’t want my daughter and the grandchildren here but I insisted on having Thanksgiving with them.  Why?  Because I knew the boys, who at that time were 9 and 4, needed it.  Thinking back it may have been the last time they saw him.  thanksgiving-pumpkin-pie

So now we move forward a year.  I had surgery on my ankle a week ago, so I informed my daughter that I would not be preparing Thanksgiving dinner this year.  I let her know that my intent is to stay home and crash.   As it turns out my daughter has to work long hours on black Friday, so she and her boyfriend decided to stay home and do their own turkey.   Why am I not joining them?  For one I can’t get into their house.  Secondly I can’t go anywhere without a chauffeur.  Third I don’t want the hassles of the mess that comes with cooking, cleanup and three children in the house.   I prefer to go the quiet, solo route, at least this year.

So what will I do?  I purchased a stuffed chicken breast and will fix that with some sweet potatoes for myself.  It isn’t a turkey, but at least it is poultry!   I will read, do paperwork, write, or just put my feet up and watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV.  Time will tell as the day unfolds.

I hope all of you have a very Happy Thanksgiving, complete with turkey, stuffing, and of course pumpkin pie….in fact, eat an extra piece of pie for me!

 

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Filed under celebration, decisions, Family, food, home, Life is a Melting Pot, Meals

Too Busy for Friends

I saw a quote that made me wonder about friendships/relationships.  The quote dealt with people who make excuses that they are too busy to respond or don’t put forth an effort to maintain contact.  If a person is interested in being a part of your life, then they will make some effort to be in it.  life - if someone wants to be in it they will make time

This involved both self reflection and viewpoint on people I deal with.  I realized that because my husband and I enjoyed spending the majority of our free time together without the involvement of others I am in the habit of doing things on my own rather than calling a friend to go with me.  Now that my husband is deceased I need to train myself to make contact with people, become more social.  Habits are hard to break and I am concerned that people may view my lack of initiating contact as lack of interest.  I need to break the mold and step outside my safety box into new thinking.

I realize that people who reached out to me about getting together for dinner, etc. may think I’m not interested in maintaining the friendship when I don’t reciprocate with similar suggestions,  when in reality it is because I need to reprogram my brain to reach out to others for friendship.  I will say that when people suggest a get together I am happy to join them.  I am also responsive on social media or email, and will make first contact on social media.  I am not totally unsocial, I just have areas that need improvement.  I did take a step in the right direction last week when a couple artists were talking about going out to dinner after an event and I asked if I could join them.   It was a wonderful, fun evening.

life - ignoring you - will you make an effortNow on the other side of the coin, we all know people we have made the effort to maintain contact with and yet the responses are not forthcoming or we get excuses of “I was going to write/call/respond but have been busy.”  I can understand that from time to time, but when the lack of response become repetitive you have to wonder where you fall on their list of friendship priorities.  Somewhere you have to draw the line and decide you are moving on and if they want to be a part of your life they will notice your disappearance and seek you out.  If they don’t you haven’t lost anything.  Life - Priorities - your place on their schedule

We live in a busy, fast-paced world where people don’t interact on a personal level so much as on a social media level.  We need to re-establish the art of friendship.  Reach out to people.  Respond when they reach out to you.  When you are with a friend put down the phone and talk to the person you are with.  Make people you want to spend time with a priority in your life.  If people don’t make you a priority in theirs then you know where you stand and it is time to move on.

 

 

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If I Could Write A Letter To Me…

I was recently listening to an old Brad Paisley Song, “Letter to Me”    The song talks about writing a letter and sending it back to yourself at age 17, reflecting on the past.  That started me to thinking about what kind of advise I might give myself if I were to reflect back on my youth.  I thought it would be easy, but it isn’t.     What would I change if I could?  What would stay the same?

I would probably tell myself to have more self-confidence, not be so timid.   Although the popular crowd seems desirous to be in as a teen, they are all just people and having one or two good friends that last and you can trust is better than having a lot of casual friends.  a.youth

I started working at age 14.  While this was good experience, I would tell myself to do more extracurricular school activities and work less.  You are only young once and have a whole lifetime to be committed to a job and making money.  Try out for a play, join a club, enjoy the high school experience.

If you skip school less and spend more time on your homework you would have a higher GPA.  But then again, you did have fun, and an A-B average through high school isn’t bad.

Don’t start business college the same month you graduate high school.  Take the summer off.  Enjoy life.  You may have not gotten frustrated and/or burned out on school if you had at least taken a summer break.  Push to go away to college, experience living on your own a little.  If not college, get an apartment with a friend.  Experience single life without being under the shadow of your parents.

Follow your dream career, not what your mother thinks is safe and/or proper.  Although her advise led you to solid jobs throughout your adult life, you will never know what you may have been because you didn’t fulfill your own personal career dream.

That boyfriend you have been with off and on for years is not the one you’ll marry, but he will eventually become a good friend.   The experience, both the good and the bad, helps you to form the person you become as an adult.

a.youth2Follow your gut instincts about people and situations.  Regardless of what others think, you have good instincts, use them. Never regret standing up for your own safety and your moral standards.  They will serve you well.

You have a lot going for you, even though you think the things you are dealing with now are critical, they don’t even begin to delve into what life is all about.   Enjoy your youth.  You will met someone and marry, have kids and grandchildren of your own.  You’ll move away, build a life and as an adult look back on this day and realize that what you have now are some of the easiest years of your life, but the best is yet to come.

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Re-Connecting with Old Friends

Friend - meeting after a long time and nothing has changedWhen I saw this image I instantly made a connection with it.  This has happened to me twice.  Once several years ago and again within the past couple months.

While it is always fun to have a wide assortment of friends and to make new friends wherever you go, there is something of value that cannot be replaced with a long-standing friendship.  A friendship that regardless of how long you have not spoken or how long you have been apart maintains an unexplainable level of comfort.  Those are the friendships to be treasured.

I have a friend I met when we were both attending business college back in 1978.  We quickly became friends and although I was only at the school a few months we remained friends.  All of our lives we have lived about four hours apart and contact was limited.

Once I left college we only saw each other a few times.  Vicki got married and I attended her wedding.  Then I got married and when I became pregnant she brought her daughter, a toddler, to my baby shower.  That was the last time we saw each other for several years.

There was no internet, so communication was either phone or snail mail.  With us snail mail was all we did, long distance calls were expensive.  Eventually computers and internet became a way of life and we connected via email, sending each other lengthy emails on an almost daily basis. We were email friends, but still had not seen each other in about 20 years.

When my youngest child was going to be attending a camp in Indiana I realized I would be traveling through Vicki’s area to drop him off.  I inquired about hotels in the area where I might be able to stay on the return trip and then visit her.  Vicki’s immediate response was that I could come stay with her.  I accepted.

Neither of us were concerned about re-connecting in person after so many years.  The man she was dating at the time was, and asked if she wasn’t concerned that we would run out of things to talk about and get bored.  She wasn’t.  We didn’t.   We had a great time, I taught Vicki about scrapbooking, a hobby of mine, and got her hooked  After that we spent years meeting halfway between our homes several times a year to do scrapbooking crops at a large store, then later at her mother’s house.  Recently she came and stayed at my home a couple times to scrap.

We have once again reached a point where we are not getting together as often due to certain commitments in our respective lives.  Sometime in the near future Vicki will be moving out of state to live near her daughter and grandchildren.  However we have a fast and firm friendship.  We have to stay friends, we know too much about each other to ever become enemies!

My more recent connection was on a much different level.  It was someone who I met when I was in 7th grade, 11 years old and he was in 8th grade, 12 years old.  Brad followed me home from school to get my phone number and from that point on until I was 19 and he 20 we were boyfriend/girlfriend off and on, but more on than off.  Everyone assumed we would eventually marry, but we didn’t.  I was the one that made the final break when I met the person that is now and has been my husband for the past 33 years.

I only saw Brad twice after that, once at a mutual friend’s home, and once when he came over to exchange belongings.  When I married I moved two hours away.  I would get updates, or mutual friends would make comments about him on occasion, but we had no contact.

About two years ago we connected on Facebook.  I don’t remember who made the friend request.  However I am more of a Facebook fanatic than Brad is, so most of our communication has been through IM messages.  We have extensive periods of time when there is no contact.  Although I occasionally traveled to  my old hometown, that was for the purpose of visiting family and we never saw each other.

Two years ago my mother passed away, and then my father six months ago.  That left an entire house for my sister and I to empty out, and it is the house they moved into in 1966, the one I grew up in.  A lot of things to go through, so I began making trips home on alternating weekends to do clean-out.  Brad was aware and suggested on one of those trips we get together for dinner or coffee.

About a month ago we did just that.  Brad came to my parents home to pick me up, which was a bit of deja vu.  We had a nice time at dinner reconnecting, and I invited him into the house to continue the conversation after dinner.  It was an enjoyable evening talking about our parents, siblings, spouses, children and grandchildren.   We ended the evening agreeing we would have to do it again sometime.

Brad and I had not seen each other since 1980, but it was a comfortable interaction..  I am glad we reconnected and value the friendship, which I anticipate will grow stronger as time passes.  A friendship developed from old memories of times gone by, but continuing to build through the sharing our current life accomplishments and challenges.

True Friendship is something to cherish, hold dear, and enjoy.  Strong, long-time friendships are the best.

Friends - best friends - don't talk every day but when do its as if you never stopped

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