SWEET MEMORIES

How come memories don’t taste as good when you get older? 

When we were little and Grandma and Grandpa came to visit, they always brought Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner.  It was the most delicious chicken ever.  Mom never made fried chicken, she always baked it so fried was a treat in itself.  Every once in awhile, I will pull into KFC and get some chicken and I wonder what happened to the chicken I remember.

Chex root beer is the same way.  When we went to Grandma’s, she would always give us Chex root beer, in the can, with a straw.  None of us seem to know why she gave us a straw, she just did.  I remember her spreading a sheet on the floor and making us all sit on it and drink our root beer.  It was the best root beer ever.  A few months ago I bought a can for a treat and didn’t like it at all.  (Sorry Winn Dixie!)

I remember leftover night was one of the best dinners of the week.  We would have a dab of this and a dab of that and we got to pick what we wanted to eat.  It was usually guaranteed that you would have a dinner that you actually liked.  I loved leftover night.  Today, John and I have to force ourselves to eat the leftovers.  Now that really could have something to do with my cooking versus my mom’s but I don’t like to think of it that way!

One memory that I still love is when mom made pie crust cookies.  Whenever she made a pie, she would make extra dough and roll it out and sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar and bake it.  We all loved those cookies as much as the pie that was coming later.

M&M’s are also a memory I still love.  Grandma and Aunt Clare used to bring M&M’s in their purses for us.  We didn’t get candy very often and I don’t remember anyone who did.  I still love plain M&M’s like crazy.  Peanut too!

Once a year, when Grandma and Aunt Clare were in town, they would take us girls out to lunch.  This was a huge treat; I don’t remember ever going out to lunch except with them.  We would dress up in our Sunday best and go to A Bit of Sweden or The Swedish House, which were Smorgasbords.  I would get so excited that I would throw up in the car. Then I was too sick to eat and I suspect everyone else was too.  I always had to sit by the car window.

Where did that excitement of life go?  I can’t believe that I have done everything there is to do and there is nothing left to get me that excited.  OK, I don’t really want to throw up anymore but to be so excited about doing something that you can’t contain yourself!  Does that go away with maturity?  I don’t want it to; I want to feel like that again.  About something!  Do I get so stuck in a rut that I have forgotten to have that kind of fun?  Or have I spoiled myself to the point that nothing is special anymore?   I think I need to find a way to get back in touch with the little things, the simple pleasures, like sipping a Chex soda on the living room floor.  Maybe it was never the soda or the chicken.  Maybe it was just something different that made me feel special on the inside.  Hmmm, guess I will have to work on that.

Advertisements

AUNT JEAN

My family moved to Central Florida in June of 1960 from Eden, New York, outside of Buffalo.  I was four so I don’t remember living in Eden or the move south.  When Aunt Jean, Uncle George and my cousins came to visit I was always excited.  Aunt Jean is dad’s sister and her husband, Uncle George, is mom’s brother.  George Jr. was my age and Robin a couple years younger.  

I can’t remember the first time they came to Florida, it was probably Christmas or Easter.  Those were the times that company usually came to visit.  Aunt Jean was loud and funny and laughed freely.  I love that about her.  My mom is quiet and reserved so I think it was normal for me to be drawn to the difference. 

Aunt Jean loves football, the Buffalo Bills, of course.  She was the first woman I knew that not only watched football games, but understood them.  And she yelled at the ref’s, called them zebras and cussed like a sailor.   She wasn’t a girly girl that wore dresses and dolled up all the time.  She wore jeans and sweatshirts and sneakers.  That seemed normal to me, I could relate to her and I absolutely adored her.  She was bigger than life.  She could laugh at herself.

I saved my babysitting money and when I was twelve, I flew up to Eden to spend a month with Aunt Jean and several other relatives.  In those days flying on an airplane was a big deal.  I remember wearing my Sunday best on the plane.  That summer in Eden is still one of my fondest memories.  Aunt Jean has always had a way of making me feel very special.  Between her and the rest of my relatives, I was one very excited young girl.

Many years later Aunt Jean and Uncle George spent winters in Florida.  It was always a treat if I was able to be home when they were there.  Playing cards or just sitting up half the night talking, it was always fun just to be with them. 

I have always kept in touch with Aunt Jean.  I still get excited to talk or get an email from her.  A few years ago, John and I went up to Eden and stayed a few days.  It was just as wonderful then as it was when I was twelve.  Her house always feels like a warm hug.   I am grateful that I have such a special Aunt in my life. 

Happy Birthday Aunt Jean.  I love you very much!

FORGIVING GOD

Today is the start of Lent.  For me, it is a time of soul searching, reflection and forgiving.  I have a story to share about forgiveness that hopefully will be enjoyed.

I have been pregnant four times, each pregnancy ending in miscarriage.  The last pregnancy was in 1980 when my ex and I lived in Germany.  I was hospitalized in my second month and heavily sedated for my health and the health of my baby.  I would pray constantly that my baby be born normal and healthy. 

A visiting Franciscan Priest came to the Army Hospital in Wurzburg Germany to visit and bring communion.  He asked me where I was from and I told him a small town in Florida that he would not know.  He told me that he had visited a small migrant church off a main highway in Apoka or something like that, and I said APOPKA and he said yes.  I was amazed that there was a priest in Germany that knew my home town church in Apopka, Florida.  He never came back to see me again and I sometimes wondered if I dreamed it.

After my second miscarriage, the doctors told me that I should not try anymore to have children.  I did not follow their advise and I almost died with my third pregnancy and my forth was no different.  At six months, I lost the baby.  My anger at God was tremendous and my pain unbearable.  I was not able to go near children or pregnant women.  I could not handle the sadness I felt. 

I went on to live a wonderful life but God was not someone I had much trust   I believed in Him, I just was so hurt by Him that I could not get past it.  I went to church and tried to heal the wound but no luck.

One Sunday a visiting Priest spoke in church and invited everyone to a workshop he was giving on how God never says no.  HA!  I went and was sitting in the front row for that one.  God had certainly told me no, and in a huge way!  All through the workshop, I learned so much but the question on my mind was not answered.  At the end of the workshop, I asked about the never saying no business.  I wanted an answer!  He told me that God never says no, because when we pray, we are really just asking for God to be with us, and He is.  I thought back to the visiting priest at the hospital in Germany and knew that God was indeed with me.   All the pain and sadness were immediately gone.  I was finally free.  I was able to see where I was clearly told not to have any children and it was my own self will that forced the issue to try again and again.

My ex and I decided to name our four children, Thomas, Peter, Elizabeth and Holly and give them to God.  We laid four roses at the feet of Mary’s statue at the church grotto and asked Mary to take care of them until we could be there.  The peace I have known since is amazing.

God does not promise to give us what we want but He does promise to be with us as we face the tragedies, disappointments, and joys in our life.  I encourage anyone who is angry with God to open your heart and find solutions to heal the wounds.  And if you have anger toward another person or establishment, please find a way to let go of the anger so you can be free.  It is worth the effort.

COMPETITIVE SPIRIT

Maybe I should start out saying that I not a person who has it all together.  I do not always do it right.  I could never quote Book, Chapter and Verse of anything in the Bible.  I can paraphrase things I have learned but I would have to search to find where anything is specifically located.  I am simply sharing how I hear that inner voice, that I believe is God, guiding my life.  I do not mean to preach or offend.  I enjoy sharing my thoughts with others.  I like to keep myself honest.  I am just trying to be the best I can be, hoping that what I do is pleasing to God.

I had one of those ah-ha moments the other night and wasn’t too proud of what I saw.  I don’t know where I got my competitive spirit.  I don’t remember being competitive in school so it must have developed from my constant need for approval.

John and I play league pool together on Monday nights.  It is based on a handicap system.  I am at the low end of the system.  One is the lowest handicap in 9-Ball and two is the lowest in 8-Ball.  I am a two in both.  John has been playing pool for years, I have been playing on and off since we married seven years ago.  This is a team effort and I have a hard time with the whole “not letting the team down” issue.

I believe in being an honest player.  There are rules that guide proper behavior in matches and they need to be in place.  My problem is how I manipulate the things that are not in the rules.  Some women wear low cut tops for distraction measures.  Others pick at their opponent whenever possible to put them on the defense right from the start.  Any advantage you can use to win right?

There is a team we play that everyone wants to beat because they are not nice to be around.   The captain’s wife is hard to play because she plays very slow, usually taking longer than is permitted for each shot.  I figured out that her husband gets angry when she chats with her opponent, so of course, I chat away with her about her kids, vacations, anything I can think of that works.  He gets mad and yells at her, she plays horrible and I win the match.  Isn’t that what competition is about?  Using “inside knowledge” to give you an edge? 

In my head, that logic worked, it made sense.  When I said the words out loud, it sounded horrible.   I was faking a friendship with someone to gain an advantage to win a pool match.  That thought was so appalling to me that I wanted to cry.  I was horribly ashamed of myself.  That is a person I do not want to be and yet, there I was.  I decided right then and there that I would honestly befriend that girl and never behave in that manner again.  I can chat with her before or after a match and honor her husband’s request for no chatter. 

I never gave any of this a thought until the other night and now I cannot get it out of my head.  It must be a lesson God wants me to learn.  He must be softening yet another sharp edge on me.  But now that it bothers me, I can’t ignore it.  I have to deal with it within myself.  This is the way God works in my life.  He puts something on my heart and thumps me on the head until I listen. 

I’m listening God.  On to the next thump…