RSS

Courage – The Gift of Fear

I recognized the fear in her eyes when she acknowledged mine.

 

I’d eagerly began the stair climb down into the warm Mineral Bath at Bath, England, when I realized the pool depth was not graded. It was all one depth. A childhood almost-drowning incident and my lack of swim skills rose to challenge me.  BathspaRoof

 

“I’ll stay right here,” I told my nephew’s wife, Sheree, who was hand pulling my sister across the pool. “We’ll see,” she answered with a gleam I knew meant trouble for me, when three other ladies entered the pool.

 

The three generation group identified themselves by calling the silver-haired woman “Mum” and “Nana.” I turned to see her reaction to the pool and it was that moment fear recognized fear. Someone once said that misery loves company and she jumped on the thought, telling her daughter and granddaughter that she would hang with me and I chorused that it was a great idea.

 

Sheree, however, had returned and had other ideas. She reaffirmed her swimming skills, and the fact that she could touch bottom. I turned to my new friend, Jane, to help me convince Sheree that we could enjoy ourselves on the pool stairs, when Jane turned tables, saying, “I will go… if you will.” England2014Dee 567

 

Rats. I did not want to, but how could I not go and leave someone else to battle what I deep down knew was a mostly senseless fear? She was asking me to have courage for her. Left alone, I would never have considered it, but Sheree’s friendly assurances on one side, and my new friend Jean’s wistful glances from the other did me in. I would trust.

 

I am big on words. I know courage means to have fear but to do something anyway, despite the fear. I also know there is a vast difference between believing and trusting in someone. Did I believe that Sheree would not let me come to harm? Yes. Did I believe she could haul me across the pool to the horse-shoe shaped whirlpool area? Yes, my sister Marlene waving from there was proof she could. But trusting her? Letting go of the handrail and placing both hands in hers? Whoa! That was hard. I thought of the illustration I’d so often shared of how many people believe Christ existed, but to rest ourselves in his grip – truly trusting – was a giant leap of faith.

 

The mineral waters held us up somewhat, and there was a current pulsing around the horseshoe area. I was more than content to be left clinging to the inside edge of the whirlpool while Sheree went back to get my new friend, Jean.

 

A friendship was begun in those few moments and bonded over the next several hours as we commiserated and compared our stories. I am thankful for the experience that I would never have had except for Sheree’s gentle trustworthiness and Jean’s challenge. DeeEngland2014-1 2924

 

Many of us find our faith through the example of God’s trustworthiness in another’s life. Similarly, Sheree’s keeping her word to bring Marlene safely across the pool was as much a part of building my trust as was Marlene’s faith to go first and her smiling victory wave from across the water. Trust had been exemplified before our eyes by people who had proven they were trustworthy.

We trusted that God was with us through them. How good it is to have trustworthy friends.

1Th. 5:14 And we urge you, brethren. . ., encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.

Isaiah 41:10     ‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

 

 
 

Tags: , , , , ,

Life’s Best Accessory

They were at it again.   1-sisters

 

Our two daughters, only 17 months apart, had gone from being best buds delighted to share a room, to fashion estrangement. Their own groups of friends, we’d expected that. Their own interests and talents, we’d expected that. What we didn’t expect was that clothing issues would be enough to warrant full separation; but they had progressed well beyond my generation’s imaginary “line down the center of the bed” that you didn’t dare cross.

Laurie dressed simply with straight lines, classic styles and a preference for denim or flannel. Cheri, on the other hand, is, as a Sears’ ad stated, our “softer side.” Lace, ruffles and femininity created her trademark. Even though the same size, their growing individuality resulted in a rapidly shrinking stash of shared items.

 

Shopping became a challenge with our limited budget, but of more concern was the constant friction, and developing dislike as evidenced by raised voices, cold shoulder treatment, and doodling on sermon notes “Lord, help me love my sister.” At least that was one desire we as their parents could join with and encourage!  lace3

 

Turning the sewing room into another bedroom seemed like a good solution as they could decorate their spaces individually. Foolishly overconfident, we smiled that they were at-least mutually focused on the same issue, when they began dividing the clothes they’d previously shared.

 

Their sense of humor vanished overnight.   Clearly, our pattern – family conferences doling out freedoms and responsibilities according to individual behaviors and maturity – needed a new twist. Ken buckled to my argument that since the girls were unified acting selfishly I could treat them as one. In return, I conceded that after the “announcement” of my plan was made, the males of the household could do what they do best when confronted by three PMSing women in crisis, and they prepared to flee.  Jeans texture

 

We closed the French doors to the dining room for effect and Ken explained the decision: the girls had to negotiate both of their wardrobes simultaneously with a single budget.   No shopping until cheerful compromise was reached. Their eyes widened into stares, then seeing we meant business, their jaws dropped open. The full two minutes of record-breaking silence allowed the guys to back out of the room.

 

Once the initial shock wore off, I distributed a list of items typically purchased each school year, catalogs showing expected prices, paper, pens, a calculator and the budgeted amount. Then I left the room, closed the door, and waited for an eruption. First, silence. Then low mumbling (I couldn’t hear much through the glass against the door) followed by total silence as hubby pulled me away from the room entirely, before really leaving the house this time (the sneak!)

 

The guys had long returned from their escape when two slightly smiling girls cautiously exited their “summit” several hours later with their results. Utilizing similar sizing, their desire for a broadened wardrobe had apparently overcome hostility. While agreeing to continue to disagree over what was attractive, and that most of each others clothing was still off limits, they had made a desperate compromise – of sorts. Our next shopping excursion turned into several “convertible” discussions… not the cars mind you … but basics like jeans and more importantly, the accessories.

 

Wisely, the girls had decided they could expand into two wardrobes if they purchased some accessories that both could use with a little ‘personality adjustment’. Scarves were a big issue, and they bought several. Laurie wore them in her classic style — straight, smooth, unaffected; and when Cheri wore them, she knotted with style and made a totally different look. It worked great for months; the only problem was that Cheri frequently ‘forgot’ to untie the knots after wearing a scarf, and to replace it in the smooth and unstructured way Laurie had left it.

12447624-red-scarf-isolated-on-white

Thus: this morning’s bickering. Muttering, “I’ve had it” while once again ironing knot-wrinkles out of a favorite scarf, Laurie tossed it on and slammed out the front door for school. I didn’t realize her desperate humor – even when her usual after-school greeting was replaced by running footsteps and, “I’ll be down in a little bit.”

 

Not realizing she had purposely beat her sister home; I continued preparing dinner, with Laurie’s somewhat distracted assistance, until we heard Cheri come in and run upstairs to change. I noticed Laurie glance uneasily toward the ceiling. She was rewarded quickly as the last footfall silenced and we heard Cheri burst into gales of laughter. Laurie’s smug knowing smile met my raised eyebrow and curious glance as we both ran upstairs to her still-laughing sister.  10164557-beautiful-bright-scarf-isolated-on-white

 

Spread out on her bed, chair and floor, and hanging from every lamp, door jamb, open bureau drawers, and even the curtains was the cause of Cheri’s laughter… almost her entire wardrobe was spread out displaying every appendage – with every few inches tied in knots!

laughing_cat

We laughed till we cried, then like shampoo, repeated the application when their dad got home.

 

It was so good to all laugh together again through dinner and after when best friends came to view the cleOS02048ver remedy!

 

 

 

Though our daughters’ personalities and fashion choices remain different they still sometimes share or remake wardrobe items for each other, like the ruffled denim shirt Cheri got one Christmas from her now wiser and more understanding sister.

Our new family motto: Denim and Lace together? “Knot” a problem!

 

Gal. 2:17  Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?)

Col. 3:14 And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

 

 

 

Psa. 100:2                  Bring a gift of laughter,sing yourselves into his presence.

 

Rom. 12:15 Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy;

 
1 Comment

Posted by on 07/20/2014 in All Four Sides of Me

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Through The Storm

We were halfway there when the wind picked up and the van began to rock and shudder. Only the thought of my granddaughter Kristin’s call for help to vacate a troublesome apartment situation in another state kept my son-in-law, Frank, his family and I (her grandma) from turning around once the storm had moved in. Fear IMG_0078skittered across my shoulders.

The Lord and I are in almost constant communication so I’m sure He wasn’t surprised to hear me silently calling to him for protection and guidance, especially when the radio confirmed tornado activity in our path on the divided four-lane freeway. The chorus of Precious Lord, Take My Hand ran through my mind as I prayed, “Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the Light…”

Rain spatters came faster, pelting the windows with staccato warnings and flash after flash of lightening lit up the sky. The darkness and fierceness of the wind and rain kept the road hidden and only in those moments of lightening could Frank see the white line marking the edge of the highway. The tenseness in his shoulders and tight, silent grip on the steering wheel told me he also was greatly concerned, but determined not to frighten his three children. Together we silently searched each bright slash in the darkness for some ray of hope. Suddenly Frank leaned ahead and exclaimed, “What on earth…is that?” then I too saw the unusual twin red lights in the darkness ahead of us.

These taillights were not like anything we’d seen before. Rising above the trunk of the sleek black car, these car-photo-rearlight-mlights, Frank guessed, were at least 1-1/2 feet tall. “Thank you Lord,” I whispered, as Frank’s shoulders relaxed and we continued to follow the two red sentinels. Still the storm continued to rage.

The rain became so heavy we could not see the lights, and Frank had to slow the van to a crawl. We grew silent until the patch of wind and rain subsided, and then were amazed to see the sleek roadster on the shoulder to our right, easing back onto the road directly in front of us, as though he’d been waiting. We pondered this and Frank wondered aloud if the unusual vehicle was some kind of “storm chaser”.

The second time the wind and rain enclosed us was near an exit, and Frank pulled off the freeway to a well-lit gas station where we waited 10-15 minutes, hoping the weather would let up. Back on the road, the wind had died down but the fierce rain resumed, and this time we were all leaning forward looking through the darkness, jokingly wondering if the black car was ‘waiting’ for us again. We gasped with surprise to see it this time easing out from the left shoulder. We’d never seen anyone pull over on that side before.

How ironic was that – to think that specific vehicle would have had to stop the same length of time as us, even though it had gone before us to be where we needed it! Our guide led us through the rest of the storm, easing out before us from the side of the road through each wave of a now not-as-scary situation because instead of watching the storm, we’d eagerly scan the darkness for the tall red lights. At last the storm tapered off just as the big sign welcoming us to Davenport, Iowa was visible ahead. Lights over the bridge revealed our shiny black 1-a-modern-and-elegant-black-car-illuminatedguide stopped again on the left shoulder! We felt like he was letting us know it was safe now, we could go on. I glanced back over my shoulder as we passed the special car, memorizing details to the “music” of our collective sigh of relief and amazement at such a unique answer to our frantic calls for help.

The taillights were off, I’d noticed, and tinted glass hid the guide who had led us through a frightening time. I was thoughtful but not surprised as we climbed out of the van at Kristin’s apartment to realize the melody I was humming was the same chorus, “Through the storm, through the night, …”

And I wondered as we received Kristin’s relieved hug, if she knew guardian angels drive sleek black cars with tall red taillights.

Psalm 93:4         Stronger than wild sea storms,
Mightier than sea-storm breakers,
Mighty GOD rules from High Heaven.

Psalm 121:5     GOD’S your Guardian,
right at your side to protect you—

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Hat That Helped Me Grow Up

I burst into tears after the first sentence I heard from Marv Hegle – “Why are you wearing a rug on your head?”

Crochet Cap

I raced to the car, reasoning through tears that there was no way he could have known what an oppressive and abusive atmosphere I’d been raised in – where nothing I said or did was “good enough”. Still it was difficult to resist the spiral of old taunts returning with a perceived insult, not just to the result of my newly-learned craft of crocheting, but to me as a person.

 

His wife rushed after us, the newcomers they’d just met at a large metropolitan church, apologizing. “Don’t take his comments seriously,” she urged – “It’s just his weird sense of humor.” And then she invited us to their home. I wasn’t sure I wanted to subject myself to more “weird humor” but felt obligated, and surprisingly found out it was exactly what I needed.

 

Marv had an effect on me. Laughter emanating from his home when we approached the front door was at first a OS02023missed clue, as I self-consciously wondered if he was again joking about my crocheted hat. Warily, I’d left the hat in the car and was relieved I’d done so as I saw him glance at my bare head and then turn with twinkling eyes toward his mate to receive an obvious message. “My wife thinks I may have hurt your feelings by commenting your hat looked like a rug,” he began. Chagrined to have all eyes turned toward me, my mind raced for an appropriate response when he finished his statement with a laughing, “but it really did look like a rug to me.”

 

Startled, I stared at the short balding man we’d just met, then at his wife, twinklingly remonstrating him with a drawn out “Marrrrv.” and shaking her head hopelessly.   His young son simultaneously moaned, “Daaaaad”, and I suddenly realized they had apparently experienced this situation many, many times before. Instead of feeling hurt, I suddenly felt challenged to one-up him, and my husband gasped as I retorted in kind, that Marv was perhaps subconsciously longing for a “rug”, referring to his almost bald pate, and followed with an offer to crochet one for him. But Marv was laughing uproariously, his eyes twinkling in approval, and the rest of the afternoon was spent in lighthearted banter.

 

Our friendship grew as Marv mentored us in our faith-walk – challenging me especially, that I could continue to choose to allow life’s offenses to wound me, or I could deflect them with humor and grace. I’d never known I had a choice.

 

He toughened me up weekly, saying things like “Never try to teach a pig to sing – it wastes your time and annoys the pig.” My childhood-trained insecurity would question if he was near me as I sang and meant it personally, but looking directly at him, I got the message, and quickly learned to enjoy his OS06062simple humor instead of analyzing potential hidden meanings to every joke. He taught me to laugh at myself when my first attempt at baking French bread turned out slim loaves, hollow and hard, by offering to buy a hundred loaves – and contribute them to the local police station as billy clubs.

 

He allowed me to laugh at him too, and to discover that his humor was a hard-fought victory through many physical and personal trials. Marv did not come by this knowledge without pain.

 

Needles, surgeries, medications were evidence of the diabetes that would eventually take my mentor, but to Marv they were more opportunities to share his faith by being a living example. I never left his home without feeling uplifted – by his attitude, a devotional he shared, or the lesson behind a silly joke that would remind me of the hope that still remained in my life.

 

The baggage I’d stored from years of childhood abuse was no longer evidence of an overwhelming burden, but opportunities for growth and encouragement to others. The weakness of a childhood authority who rationalized that if a person failed they were a permanent failure, was now replaced by realizing I was not only human, but had the opportunity to choose to not allow whatever happened to come between me and another person. Relationships grew astoundingly once I realized that forgiveness was an expression of a choice to love – and was something others also wanted – from me.

 

An extremely rare disease caused Marv’s two middle sons to be born blind – and though he and his wife wept, those feelings of pain were re-channeled by choice as Marv determined to teach his boys that same emotional freedom he was teaching me. Pity was not going to suffocate their possibilities – nor mine. So life was hard. If you look beyond the hairstyle, the clothes, and the home – outward wrappings – as Marv put it, which “are all going to burn”, I would see that everyone had burdens. Today those all four of Marv’s boys have found employment, have precious families and are a joyful reminder of a legacy I was privileged to have as part of my life.

Instead of thinking, “if only” as I observed people, I began to trade places by wondering what mysterious thing they imagined me to have that they could possibly long for. I was surprised to identify the things my mentor had verbally affirmed – a writing skill, compassion for the wounded, a good memory, a sense of drama, and a 1FaceBKcoverdefense for the unjust.   I was astonished to find myself auditioning for and receiving small parts in local theater, and having articles of life lessons and stories accepted for publication. Like forgiveness, courage had also been a gift of love.

 

Courage was also a choice for Marv as his disease controlled more and more of his life and hospital visits became frequent. I still crocheted, and scraps of every color yarn filled a bag on the way to each hospital visit – resulting in unique hats he wore like a crown, even though they all still looked like rugs to him.

 

He proudly told me he even wore them to work – and then humorously invited me to his classroom. He’d changed his career to teaching at the vocational school for the blind, and the fact that the classroom had no windows, and no reason to turn the light on except for sighted visitors, was not an insult to my creativity, he quickly assured. Laughing, I knew these students also “saw” much of what I’d missed most of my life as he introduced me as the friend who made his wonderful hats. I felt more love in that dark classroom than I’d felt in any I’d attended as a student. He was not a perfect man and often reminded others that God did not use us because we are good, but because He is. Because of that self-effacement, I trusted Marv, and he knew more 24189about my imperfections than I wished he did, but loved me anyway. I knew that because of the choice he made in how much truth to expose.

 

It was a merciful thing not to have to endure the embarrassment of full exposure. Our “audience” was not led to see or be informed about the imperfections or flaws in the hat nor any of the faulty motives or petty unkindness that its maker may have had at the beginning of the hat story. Rather Marv chose to expose only the result of the choices he taught me to make.

 

Living on purpose is one thing – dying on purpose was also a choice. One of the last things he asked me to do was to feed him chocolate, joking that it could be his ‘kiss of death’ while thanking me for choosing to be there. HkisszThat may sound macabre to some, but he knew I understood him by now, and could hear the love behind the choice of words and actions.

 

Thanks to Marvin Hegle, I choose to raise to my full 5 feet in height, and to find humor and hope in every life event, that others might also experience the forgiveness, love and courage that began with Marv – and a hat that looked like a rug.

1Pet. 1:8  You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing.
Isaiah 54:13     All your children will have GOD for their teacher—
what a mentor for your children!

 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s All Relative

Every family reunion the discussion comes around to this subject without fail.  15293

I have a family member who is in prison.

Statistically, I knew I was not alone, (1.7 million minor children in the U.S with a parent behind bars), but suddenly the prevalence became personal.

We were at a restaurant when I responded to a query of my next project with “perhaps one revealing how common it is to have a relative in prison.” Voices erupted as every extended family member, and every non-related person (including our waitress) chimed in – they too had one or more immediate or extended family members who was or is in jail or prison.

Sad commonalities arose when sharing our past: many of us felt relief over imprisonments because their absence meant less violence. Embarrassment, fear of ridicule, crime-association, or guilt of feeling happier without the incarcerated person, had kept us from revealing facts or feelings for years. Though it made no sense, many had treated us differently, suddenly ending friendships, refusing services or greatly increasing the cost of services after hearing the family’s last name.

One related prisoner had been abusive to many. His mother continued to visit despite his threatening her. He was her boy, she said, and he was sick. Years went by with her begging several of us to join her visiting, and I’d finally capitulated. The first visits were oddly comforting with multi-layered security clearances, yet intimidating from awareness that every inmate in the big room had murdered.  prison-bars-590x354

Visits were brief and impersonal, until the prisoner shared his intent to locate and contact every person, spouse, parent, and child (now grown) to review every injurious action he’d committed to ask forgiveness. I came unglued, imagining families renewed pain and fled the prison, weeping. I chose to end all communication, disconnecting abusive phone calls and refusing response to accusatory and defensive letters.

I kept praying but turned to chaplains and prison ministries who encouraged that sometimes things get worse before they get better. Where I could not reach, others could without the personal conflict. I did not realize, I too, as a relative or victim needed ministering, until I received it. Hope only came when I let go of trying to fix things myself. I had not known of summer camps for children of incarcerated, prison hospitality homes where chaplains and locals minister to family members, or prisoners who prayed for victims.

Years later I was helping the family make arrangements after this relative’s mother’s stroke when the phone rang. Apparently the parental bond had never broken. I accepted the call, feeling he did have the right to know what happened. Surprisingly, I heard a thanks for helping his family, and an apology for past behavior.

Reporting that call gave his mother peace until her passing shortly after, but I remained angry at all that young man had stolen from his family and other families. It made me re-examine beliefs of restorative justice, and I kept that door of forgiveness firmly locked. That, I was certain, was hopeless. Hope came though, ironically from inside another prison across the country.

I’d participated in Christian Women’s conferences before and knew of prayer teams who spent hours PrayerTruewomananticipating needs and potential ripple effects of God’s touch in each attendee’s life. I was unequivocally dumbfounded when we entered the True Woman conference in Indiana, shortly after being handed a paper link. As I read the handwritten short prayer and first name of the woman who had prayed for the receiver of my link, a group of women carried a chain of thousands of links, surrounding the huge convention center of 8,000 women. Each link represented prayers said for us over the past several months. I gasped when the screens revealed our prayer warriors – women in white – prisoners. Several shared how their time in prison was the best thing that happened to them because they found God, enabling them to storm heaven with prayers to restore relationships like mine.

Joni Eareckson Tada, a paraplegic from a diving accident, shared the story of another paraplegic wounded by a man intending to rape and kill her. Her statement “Justice and forgiveness can both be seen even in the most horrible offenses,” was profound from those whose lifelong wounds were so visible. Joni, and the prisoners, explained how deeply hidden scars that do not show can also imprison both the perpetrator and the victim. More than selfishly comforting to know that others understand our wounded world was the shared experience of God’s restorative justice, finally removing the issues’ controlling power. This because prisoners prayed – not for their freedom, but for mine!

I left our reunion feeling new kinship with all those who have endured side-effects of a family member’s incarceration, and gratitude for the dedication of the women in white. We are interconnected now with a peace that allows us to share our circumstances knowing. . . it’s all relative.

 

Matt. 25:36 (Message)

I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Engaged by Accident

I’d never have thought I’d get my dream marriage proposal AFTER I was married, but it was bound to happen to a couple who got engaged by accident!  engagement-ring

 

Ken said he always wanted to meet someone new ‘by accident’ and on September 10, 1961 he got his wish. I’d moved to Racine that June to join my sister, and that fall Marlene and I were both invited to weddings back home. The cheapest mode of transportation those days was train or bus, but little did we realize that both were about to be affected by major strikes and we would not have a way home!

 

Our Dad offered to drive us back and return to work the following morning but the thought of him chain-sawing trees the next day after no sleep nixed that idea. The only mode of transportation left that could get us back to work on time was a plane. Panic does not make for clear thinking – at least in our family – and so we quickly booked the airline tickets, without realizing the plane would land 35 miles from home.

 

We’d packed identical outfits because although I was 17 and underage, my sister at 21 was often mistaken as my twin and we’d discovered we could stay out after curfew by having Marlene drive so she would be the one asked for ID when we were stopped. It worked beautifully. I only got a flashlight glare and never was asked for proof of my age. As long as we were going on a plane, we decided to play it up, and wore striped blazers and shoes Ken swears looked like something stolen from Santa’s elves.

 

It was a blast. Marlene sat on the outside, ordered whatever we wanted,  gave her ID, and I simply said make that two. Thus our first experience in the air delivered two giddy dressed-alike and almost look-alike sisters to Mitchell field in Milwaukee. First things first, so we explored every shop and restaurant and arcade – as excited as any first-time traveler to a foreign land, which it seemed like to us country girls. It was only after we picked up our baggage that it occurred we needed a ride home. Frantic phone calls and suspicious mothers ruled out anyone we’d met in the Milwaukee area. Marlene’s friend Jon from Racine knew that Ken had a car and might be willing to come get us. The pay phone’s ringing a few minutes later assured us that Jon, Ken and friend Don were on their way and would meet us by the escalator. There was an escalator? I’d never been on one before…and that is where Ken found me – going up the escalator one last time. “They are here,” Marlene informed me, and I turned to see three grinning fellows looking up from the bottom of the moving stairs. I recognized Marlene’s friend, and of the other two, I said, “I think I’ll marry that one,” pointing to Ken – tall and slim, wearing a white dress shirt, jeans, and black dress shoes with white sport socks.

 

The fellows invited us for a snack at a nearby restaurant that had tiny booths that fit either two or four. Jon, Marlene and I slid into one of the 4-person booths, then Ken and Don did the “go ahead” – “no, you go ahead” routine until we weren’t sure if both wanted to sit next to me – or neither. Finally Ken said I’ll sit here, and slipped into a half-booth across the aisle, facing us. Constantly I’d, glance up and catch him looking at me, then quickly and shyly ducking his head toward the food. Between talking to the others, I’d try to catch a glimpse of him as well, so he knew I returned his interest. He got up quickly when we went to leave and ushered me to the car, so I sat next to him in the front, and Marlene, feeling protective, slid in the front as well, leaving Jon and Don in the back.

 

I’m sure it was accidental Ken forgot to fill up the tank before they left Racine to pick us up, and consequently run out of gas a few minutes later. It was dark by then and the ‘back seat boys’ offered to go find gas so Ken could stay and protect the ladies. Once we were on the road again, Ken and I moved to adjust the radio at the same time, and our hands touched. Electricity! I wondered if that was really how Edison discovered it.

 

A week later Ken called for our first date, and we saw each other almost daily after that, frequently walking near curlersof-a-3d-surprised-woman-in-a-pink-robe-and-curlers-in-her-hair-by-amy-vangsgard-157the lake and past the downtown stores. One Saturday night a month later, I had my hair in rollers when Ken called and suggested a walk. I tied a scarf over the bristled curlers and we parked the car downtown and walked to the beach. On the way back to the car we passed a jewelry store with a very gaudy $29 set of rings featured in the window display. We were laughing and joking that for only $29 a couple could begin a new life together, when the door opened and a sales lady asked if she could show us anything. Ken raised his brows at me, and I gamely said, “Sure, the sparkly $29 set in the window!”   Of course we both felt it was too gaudy and I expected to leave as she removed the set from my hand, but she turned to Ken and asked if he would like to see some simpler rings. His quiet agreement shocked me. Stunned, I continued to try on various rings, until the clerk apologized that the store was about to close. I sighed with relief thinking we hand an excuse to end our ‘game’, but she again turned to Ken asking, “Would you like to hold any of these on layaway?” I almost fainted when he said, “Yes” and pointed to the single diamond and gold band I still wear today – 49 years later.

 

We walked out of the store in stunned silence. We were both apparently asking our selves what had just happened. Did we just get engaged? We talked about anything else on the way home, and it wasn’t until the beginning of December that Ken told me the rings were off layaway. He gave me the ring December 4th, and we were married the following April. We had a lovely wedding and honeymoon, which included an accidental side-trip to the Kentucky Derby where we were invited out of the rain to sit in box seats with Colonel Sanders. It wasn’t until four months later, when a co-worker came in starry-eyed and sharing her morning proposal that I realized I’d never been asked. I headed home determined to prove our engagement wasn’t just an accident.

 

Though I had to agree with Ken that it was a little late, he still got down on his knee that night, and laughingly 1proposing-coloring-page-outline-by-ron-leishman-22929asked me if we hadn’t gotten accidentally engaged, if I would still have married him.

Though I’d already affirmed at our wedding months prior our belief that we were meant to be together, the giggly belated enactment confirmed our agreement with a quote by Friedrich Schiller:

There is no such thing as chance; and what seem to us merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny.

 

James 4:12 God is in charge of deciding human destiny.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 06/27/2014 in All Four Sides of Me

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A Daddy Story – Somebody’s Watching!

Many have requested some of my column stories, so I’ll be sharing some the next 6 weeks.  Father’s Day, of course, I thought of the many lessons Daddy taught me – still timely.

Somebody’s Watching  me-car002

 

Heady with excitement, Daddy’s third child to turn sixteen and receive a driver’s license carefully backed out of the driveway. The deep wine 1950s highly curved bumpers eased around the corner and then picked up speed as I hurried to collect three girlfriends for a promised joy ride.

 

One-by-one the scene repeated: each of my three friends’ mothers warning us to ‘drive carefully, each girls’ running footsteps, and each door on the Buick carefully closing completed the choreographed feeling of an important life-vignette.

 

Four excited girls permeated the car with excitement, all talking at once with laughter the only punctuation. We’d completed our junior year and were celebrating our official senior status with a time-of-our-lives attitude, and I was high with the status of commanding the wheel.

 

Knowing I’d be watched, every stop and turn as we passed through town was completed with exaggerated care. The windows were rolled-down just enough to let in the elixir of schools-out-summer’s-here yet left room to stick an arm out to wave at the boys.

 

Overconfident and giddy by the time we approached the sprawling farmsteads a few miles north of town, I swung the car to the right onto a gravel road, barely reducing speed as we turned. I could feel the rocks shifting beneath us. The car wobbled a bit, the girls screamed, and I applied the brakes too suddenly.

 

Daddy’s car hesitated as if making up its mind, and then began tipping to the right. Our screaming escalated as the car tilted farther on the passenger side, until Pam in the front passenger seat was on her side. Then, miraculously, the car’s movement stopped. Pam’s surprised eyes met my fearful ones. Fleeting thoughts of the very real possibility of being grounded to graduation passed through my numbed brain. Feeling as though a giant hand had frozen us in time, we continued to gape at each other, not knowing what to expect. The car rocked precariously a moment, then tilted back toward the driver side and dropped upright on the rock-strewn road, springs squeaking and metal clanging.

 

Shocked silence reigned as we assessed one another. We unsteadily climbed out of the car, tested our limbs and joined on the passenger side to examine the ditch.

 

Happily discovering a tall and recently plowed berm along the edge of the farm property, we realized the dirt had stopped the car from rolling. Guilty laughter edged our conversation then as we slowly walked around the dusty exterior to assess any reportable damage. No scratch, ding or dent that any of us could see. Eyes sparkled now with conspiracy as we ‘thoughtfully’ agreed to wash the car and spare my father the anxiety of hearing the details.

 

We pooled our funds and I slowly drove the subdued but giggling band of conspirators to rinse away the evidence. Then we stopped by a nearby lake, walking and talking until we were supposed to be home.

 

Dad and Mom looked up from the kitchen table as I entered and asked how the first drive went. “The girls loved it,” I said, dropping the keys on the square white Formica table.   “We went to Lake Antoine and walked around a bit. It sure is pretty there.” I went up to my room and turned on the radio to drown any guilty thoughts.

 

Every day for the next few weeks we raised eyebrows in query when passing one another in the school hall, relieved to see heads shake in the negative. No one had said anything. Feeling safe, we put it behind us.

 

Gadding about town selling Senior Yearbook ads and preparing for graduation made time fly. About to board a train to Racine, Dad hugged me and I leaned in to say thanks for everything. His answering whisper was a shock.

 

“Love you,” he said, “but why did you never tell me about tipping the car your first day out?” Shamed, I moved to step out of his arms, but he held me gently, and I looked into his eyes and confessed. “I didn’t think you knew.”

 

He let me unravel the truth, answering with a smile. “I know. The farmer living there  saw the whole thing. He recognized our car and bermforestcalled me to see if everyone was OK.”

 

I rolled my eyes, and Daddy chuckled. “You’re going to start a new adventure today,” he added, “and you might want to keep both of these lessons in mind – even in the big city: One, I hoped you would tell me…trust me with the truth…” He paused as a tear slipped down my cheek, “but,” he finished, wiping away the salty proof of my guilt, “I think you have learned that like the farmer, I only want to know to help you, to know that you are OK.”

 

Nodding, I understood the price of my secret and the second lesson echoed in my heart as the train pulled away, “Remember,” he’d said, “Live like Someone is watching.”

Prov. 15:3     The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching                        the evil and the good.

2Chr. 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

 

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on 06/16/2014 in All Four Sides of Me

 

Tags: , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,042 other followers

%d bloggers like this: