Posts Tagged "legacy"

Blessing in a Really Bad Idea

Posted by on Feb 4, 2019 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

Blessing in a Really Bad Idea

About two years ago, my sister-in-law Ginny suggested that we make a quilt together. She is a quilter and a friend had given her quite a bit of material with teapots on it and she thought of me. Now, my reaction was not very appreciative, I admit. I think I might have laughed out loud. Not a joyful laugh, a sarcastic “what are you thinking-don’t you know who you are talking to—let me share a little more about myself” laugh. After all, I am not on good terms with sewing machines, material, needles, thread. . . any of those things. My mom and home economics teacher did their best, but it didn’t take.   But I didn’t say no. After my initial negative response, I tried to be interested. She persisted. I resisted. She persisted.   Two years ago this May Bruce had half of his thyroid removed. Ginny, because she is an awesome sister-in-law and because this is what she does when someone is waiting at the hospital, came to sit with me. But she came prepared. She brought several pieces of The Material to show me.   I have to admit I was a bit more enthused and quickly—I know, it’s too late to say quickly—agreed to do it. We set a date to start.   When I arrived and we went to Ginny’s amazing quilt making room upstairs I was like a fish out of water. I was also lost in a brain fog and was having difficulty even coming to terms with what I was about to take part in. She pointed to some material and said that it would need ironed. I could do that. I actually enjoy ironing.   Here are some of the things I learned while working on the quilt.   Ironing is relaxing and helps me get rid of stress.                I enjoy the creativity of choosing different materials to put together in a square.                I would rather pick the materials and iron than actually cut the material.                Sewing machines still don’t like me.                My sister-in-law is a dear friend. So, it took us a year, but we finished it on August 17th. I was really excited to get it done, because I wanted to take it home to SD and to the reunion in NE to show all of my family. We have a lot of seamstresses in our family and several quilt makers. I could just imagine how impressed they were going to be with my tied quilt, even if it was smaller than a twin bed—a throw quilt. Of course, as it happened I got it done just in the nick of time. August 22nd we got the call that Daddy had suffered another stroke and he would be going to heaven soon. So, we quickly packed the car and left the next morning, the quilt in the back seat.   When we arrived at the hospice house we brought the quilt in. I...

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Earthquakes and Shifting Sands

Posted by on Jan 14, 2019 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Earthquakes and Shifting Sands

Over the past few years I’ve experienced an uncomfortable shift. It started when several of my friend’s dads/husbands graduated to heaven. These were men who had a great impact on my life. They were faithful men who loved their families and their God. In the past two years, just among my Jones cousins, we lost three of our parents. Three people who have ALWAYS been in our lives. Just a couple of weeks ago, a cousin’s husband lost his epic battle with MS and last year another cousin’s 9 year old daughter lost her battle with DIPG. Every day I see it on Facebook and in the news. Parents, siblings, grandparents, children. .  . On and on it goes. I know this is life. After all, I am in that uncomfortable middle age where the parents are leaving us and we are left with the realization that the generation between us and death is shrinking. Of course, for me, like a tectonic plate shifting underground leaving big cracks in the earth, the earthquake of my own father’s death on August 30th changed my life forever.And now, I face a question many others before me have asked. We know we must go on. But how? How do we live in a world without them? How is that even possible? One of the difficult things for me is the realization that the future generations of my family will never know my dad. Much like the dismay I often feel when I realize that my husband never met any of my grandparents except Grandma Jones and Grandma Elizabeth, it makes me so sad. Even my youngest niece and nephew won’t have the memories of Daddy that the older ones have. The majority of their memories are of a grandpa unable to talk, struggling to stand, tucked into bed where they would climb up and hug him goodnight. But the Grandpa who at 75 raced his grandson across the picnic ground. . . they don’t remember that. I remember Grandpa McKnight expressing these same feelings. “Susie,” he said to me one day, a wistful tone in his voice. “I sure wish you could have known your Grandma McKnight’s Grandpa Stover. He was a wonderful man.” Then he brightened and said, “But someday in heaven you will!” Then he pumped his fist in the air and shook with unshed tears. I guess this sadness is normal, or at least hereditary. Something happened with my husband and my grandparents, though, that encourages me. It is no secret that I am a storyteller. A talker. A reminiscer. (Yes, I just made up a word.) Bruce has heard me tell the same stories over so many times, and my family has talked about being Grandpa McKnight’s “favorite oldest South Dakota granddaughter” and other Grandpa-isms that Bruce has internalized it. He will say, “Grandpa McKnight would have liked that.” And he is right. I could share similar stories about the things he has learned about my other grandparents....

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The Things Daddy Taught Me

Posted by on Sep 16, 2018 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Marvin B Jones 1932-2018 I wrote this several years ago for my blog, then it was published in my book All I Have Needed-A Legacy for Life. When I showed it to Daddy he shook his head and said, “I’m not sure I know that guy.” That was Daddy. Humble. On August 30th I stood at his bedside in hospice with my husband, my sister, and niece as he took his last breath and just like that he was with Jesus. We are so thankful his suffering is over and that he is with Jesus. WOW! Daddy is with Jesus! Incredible!!!! But still, how do we live in this world without him? The same way he taught us. . . by the principles in God’s word. I trust this is an encouragement to you. All I can say is I have been blessed “exceeding abundantly above all that I could have asked or thought.” Thank you Jesus for my Daddy. Help me follow his example by keeping my eyes focused on YOU.   Three Things My Dad Taught Me I’ve heard that a girl gets her view of God from her father. For some of us that’s not a good thing. For others, like me it turns out to be a wonderful gift. My daddy has been the most influential person in my life. Without him I wouldn’t be. Without his love I wouldn’t fully understand the love of God. Without the discipline he meted out I wouldn’t know the security of limits or understand the importance of a disciplined life. Almost everything he taught me fits into one of three categories. The first thing he taught me was decision making. To live a successful life we must determine right from wrong, the best from the not-so-good.  By example my dad taught me a simple rule of thumb. Every decision in life should be made based on the absolute principles found in God’s Word, the Bible. That may sound simplistic but it isn’t. Or maybe it is. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” covers a lot of decisions about how to act toward others (more on that later). Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. . . that gives the skinny on what to do if someone hurts you.  “…Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?” That one covers all of the bad things we can do to our bodies. What about money decisions? It’s there. There are principles for marriage, for work ethics, for raising children, dealing with employees and employers, friends, enemies—it’s all there. Over and over my dad would point out what was wrong with a situation, why—using the Bible principle—and what would be a better approach. He didn’t focus on a list of do’s and don’ts, just Bible principles. Oh sure, there are definite do’s and don’ts in the Bible but often there are grey areas, things that aren’t so clearly...

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My Right Guard

Posted by on Aug 1, 2018 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

My Right Guard

I was blessed this year to be able to visit Daddy for Father’s Day. I don’t take for granted any opportunity to spend time with him, especially since he suffered those two nasty strokes a few years ago. We are travelling the roads more often these days, but being with him on Father’s Day, that was special. That morning I stood beside the bed helping Mom get Daddy ready for his day. Mostly I stood around and watched because Mom is so good at caring for him, but I tried to be proactive and figure out what came next. I’m telling you, caring for someone at home is much different than hospitals. In hospitals we don’t have clothes. We have hospital gowns, and in case you haven’t been around one lately, I’ll let you in on a secret. They are open in the back. Real clothes are much harder to deal with. Anyway, I stood there and watched as Mom grabbed the deodorant. As the aerosol floated through the air, the scent brought a flood of nostalgia to me. (Did you know that smell is the most nostalgic of all of the senses? It’s true.) Anyway, before even seeing the can, the words “Right Guard” flew into my mind. I glanced over to where Mom was placing the can back on the dresser and sure enough, it was Right Guard. I grinned. Then, as frequently happens my mind took the idea and ran with it. I realized that not only has Daddy used Right Guard for as long as I can remember, he has always been my Right Guard, from the moment I was born. Let me share how. First, he was Right on Guard when I was little to make sure I was safe. He would hold my hand when we crossed the street. When my parents traveled by train from California to Nebraska with two preschoolers, they each took one of us to be in charge of. They were on it. Daddy had rules about where we could ride our bikes . . . to keep us safe. He paid attention to what we said when we came home from school and if something sounded wrong, he marched right in there to talk to the teacher. I always felt safe when Daddy was there. When I was little he told me that they had stopped the Korean War when he was in basic training because they heard he was coming. Of course he was kidding, but I believed him. When we were old enough to drive, he was Right on Guard to make sure we knew how to change a tire; change the oil; never, never, never pick up a hitchhiker; and don’t get in a hurry  to turn into traffic. If you wait you will always have an opportunity to go when it is safe. Not only was he Right on Guard, but he was a Right Guard. His rules had reasons. His policies were based...

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Being A Nurse – What I Like Best

Posted by on Jul 25, 2018 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

I was thinking the other day about what I would say if someone asked what I liked best about being a nurse. You would think that after thirty-plus years I would have a favorite thing. So I thought about it awhile and this is what I came up with. It isn’t just that I can help people and make a difference in their lives. Oh, don’t get me wrong. That is a big part of why I like nursing, but it isn’t my favorite. After all, I am a caregiver at heart and I do love helping people. There is something so satisfying about knowing that your care has made a difference to somebody. This knowing is a precious gift to the caregiver! It also isn’t just because it is a great career. I didn’t know when I started nursing just how great it was! I thought I might like it, but I had no idea that it would be something with which I could support myself. Not only could I support myself, but I could do it on such a schedule that I could pretty much do anything else I wanted to do in life. There are so many types of nursing that you really can pick your schedule. True, there are the 12 hour shifts, but when you are young that is an advantage in many ways. I loved not being at work five days a week. And, as a “PRN” nurse where I set my own schedule in exchange for not getting benefits/not getting guaranteed hours, I could be at any church or family function I wanted to be.  It worked for me. I have often told people that nursing was a job I absolutely loved doing and it made the rest of my non-work life possible. My favorite part of being a nurse isn’t even that I value being a part of a team. That is a fantastic thing. Teamwork is vital in nursing. I have worked in places where it was perfect, and in other places where it was more challenging. I can tell you that if the teamwork is present, it is a beautiful thing. It is so very rewarding to be part of a team that can care for people and save lives, all while supporting and working as a well-oiled machine. Those moments are golden. So, after sharing several things that are wonderful, but NOT my favorite, let me share what is. It is something I have come to realize over the past few years more and more. My favorite part of being a nurse is the patients. People aren’t at their best when they come to the hospital. They are sick. They are scared. Their minds are often not clear. They depend on the nurse to make sure they are given the best care they can receive. That is a big responsibility, but also a huge privilege. I love asking the older ones what they did before they retired. (I...

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Of Bookish Boxes, Innovation Challenges, and Bragging Rights

Posted by on Jun 15, 2018 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

Of Bookish Boxes, Innovation Challenges, and Bragging Rights

One of the hardest parts of living so far from my family is missing big events in my siblings, nieces, and nephews lives. Oh, we make it a priority to come to graduations etc. and if we can plan our trip around special events we DO. But sometimes those special events are unexpected or unplanned. And then I miss them. But not this time. I didn’t plan to come in June. First I planned to come in May. Then I changed to July to coordinate with some visiting extended family. But, when Lava in Hawaii happened, the July visitors couldn’t come. So, I decided on June. I’m glad I did. I haven’t been out to my sister’s house in Nemo for awhile now. So, when my niece (the librarian-I’m so proud) called and said she was driving out to Nemo for the afternoon and did I want to go, I said “YES!” (Bonus: one-on-one time with a niece for an hour in the car.) Once out at my sister’s house, the excitement started. First, I learned that Miranda Marie (niece 4) AKA “The Author” had not mailed my Bookish Box, but instead had saved it so I could open it here. My cousin Phyllis who came with me—well, technically I came with her since she picked me up at the airport in Kansas City and we drove on out—also had ordered a Bookish Box. So we opened them together. What is a “Bookish Box”, you ask? Well, here’s what I have learned. It is something the younger set of authors is doing for promotion. When a book is released they offer a Bookish Box and you can purchase it. Along with the book—or in this case books since her new release is a trilogy—come book themed little gifts. For instance, her trilogy is about Dragons—yes, dragons and how they save the world—so the gifts in the box were all dragon related. A bracelet with a dragon charm. A tube of dragon Chap Stick—lavender scented, a dragon candle, a knitted dragon necklace, bookmarks, and my favorite—a dragon cloth bag to carry a book in. I got the box for the price of the three books! Win, win! These boxes help generate buzz and excitement around the books release as many bloggers like to buy the boxes. So, there I sat with my amazing 21 year old author-niece opening my bookish box. It. Was. Amazing! A huge event in her life and I was there! A few minutes later as I sat in a “my niece is an author and I couldn’t be prouder” glow an incredible lightning bolt of excitement hit the house. “THEY WON!” my sister screamed, she and her laptop levitating from the couch. Now, this wasn’t just one scream. It was screamed, shouted, crowed, choked, and gleefully bellowed. (I know they say you are only supposed to use the word “said” when making speaker attributions, but it is a true-fact that in this case my sister did...

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Friends, Flowers, and Grandma Jones

Posted by on Mar 11, 2018 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Friends, Flowers, and Grandma Jones

This morning I enjoyed a ladies event at our church. We called it Friends and Flowers and Grandma Jones would have been delighted. One of our ladies—an expert flower arranger—gathered silk flowers along with all the tools we would need and we each made a bouquet. Now, this is not one of my talents or gifts. To be honest, I am not a flower arranger. That is my older sister. My idea of decorating is to slam a rose in a vase and say, “That looks great!” Much to my surprise, I actually enjoyed myself and am incredibly pleased with my creation, if I do say so myself. But that isn’t why my Grandma would have been delighted. We had around thirty women and girls there. There were mothers and daughters. Teenagers and the elderly. There were some of us in the middle. When we were done with our arrangements we snacked on muffins and fruit, drank coffee and tea, and were challenged with a great devotional on The Flowers of the Field. It was a perfect morning all around. But, that isn’t why Grandma Jones would have been delighted. Last week, while in South Dakota I had a brilliant idea.  You see, I have African violets. I am not one of those “green thumb-ites” who can grow anything, but I can grow African violets. Here is my trick. When the plant starts looking distressed, (see picture below) I pick one of the better looking leaves, stick it in water, and when it gets roots I plant it. So, I always have an extra plant or two hanging around, just in case the original one dies on me. I am really afraid of killing my African violets. Especially the pink one, because it is a great-great-grandchild of one of Grandma Jones’ plants. She could grow them like no one else I ever met, and she always had some blooming in her kitchen window. Even in the nursing home, she had one she watered and kept by the window. For me, it is a connection to her and just one more legacy she left me. Recently I noticed that the poor neglected plant had propagated several new plants in the one pot. It was too crowded to grow. So, I separated them and ended up with five extra pink Grandma Jones violets. What on earth was I going to do with them? I couldn’t throw them away! I don’t have enough windows for that many plants and my kitchen table was being overrun with plants. Back to my brilliant South Dakota idea. I decided if this morning was about friends and flowers, I was going to take some flowers for my friends. So, I loaded the violets into the car and off they went to the ladies event. I am pleased to say that I didn’t bring a single one home. I was especially delighted to see that several of the teenage girls took a plant. I told them where...

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Be Presidential! Write a Letter!

Posted by on Feb 23, 2018 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 5 comments

Be Presidential! Write a Letter!

The other day I received one of those endangered things called a “letter” in the mail. It was a real, honest-to-goodness letter written on a beautiful note card. Yep. That’s right. Not just bills and ads in the mailbox that day. This is why I continue going to the mailbox every day. I was delighted. I read it with joy. I laughed. I remembered great times my friend and I shared in the past. I thought, I need to write her right back!  Have I?  Sad to say not yet, but it is on my list. Letter writing has unfortunately gone out of style. We have so many easier, faster, and more efficient ways to communicate that we have relegated letters to the “no one has time for that” status.   But, there is a danger in that.   When I visit junior and senior high school classrooms to speak on the topic, Using Your Senses in Writing, I often ask the students a question.   “So, when you get to be the President of the United States what are they going to put in your Presidential Library? After all, if you look at the Presidential Libraries, they are filled with letters, diaries, letters, documents, letters . . . Are they,” I ask, “going to find letters or journals/diaries, or other documents you have written? Or are they going to have to use emails? Or maybe Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat?” Usually I get a laugh, but I know they understand what I’m saying.   This past year I did a lot of reading. Some of the books I read were biographies or historical accounts. Three in particular were 1776 by David McCullough, George Washington on Leadership by Richard Brookhiser, and First Family: Abigail and John Adams by Joseph J. Ellis. All three of these books relied heavily on personal letters and documents for their sources. The biography of Abigail and John Adams was especially dependent on personal correspondence. This couple wrote over 1100 letters to each other during their lifetime. They spent long periods of their marriage apart due to his political career and letters was what they had. In addition, John had the foresight to realize that they were living in a pivotal time for our country, and he believed that their letters could be an important historic legacy. And, one thing I learned by reading that book is John Adams was all about his legacy. So he instructed his wife NOT to throw any of the letters out.   I’m glad she didn’t. You see, I learn history best by hearing people’s stories, and the best way to hear them is when they tell them, first hand. And, since John and Abigail are long gone from this earth, all I have to go on is their letters.   So, maybe it isn’t a bad thing I’ve saved a lot of letters people have written me. And maybe, just maybe my friend Lynn is on to something...

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Remember Why We Celebrate

Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Remember Why We Celebrate

One of the many life lessons my daddy taught me was to use words properly. I was reminded of this a few minutes ago while I watched a beautiful Memorial Day video tribute.   The thought that shot through my mind was this: It is Memorial Day, not Celebrate Day. Today we stop to Memorialize, Remember, and Commemorate those who gave their lives so we can Celebrate our country, our freedom, our day off, and our family gatherings.   Let’s not allow the busyness of our celebrating cause us to forget the true meaning of the holiday, to remember and honor the ultimate sacrifice so many men and women made on our (insert your name here for a powerful reminder)...

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A Legacy Worth Nurturing

Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

A Legacy Worth Nurturing

First thing yesterday morning I hurried out to the front yard and peeked at my lilies of the valley. After all, it was May first and the lily of the valley is the official flower for the month of May. It rained off and on all night and there were still droplets on the flowers. It made my heart sing. These flowers are from home. Last summer, my sister-in-law dug out some plants from her yard, stuck them in an ice cream bucket, and we carried them all the way back to North Carolina where I plopped them in the ground. I anxiously watched this spring to see if they would come up and was overjoyed when they did. May isn’t May without lilies of the valley. Besides, these came from my parent’s retirement home. I lived there for several years before getting married, my brother and his family have lived in it since, and now my parents will be moving into it. It is a family home, one where many of my favorite memories live. Last summer also, my husband’s aunt gave us some plants. Some were daffodil bulbs from her home which I put between the hostas a friend from church gave us a few years ago. The hostas are magnificent this year. The daffodils came up, but didn’t bloom. I’m assured they were just adjusting to their new home. There’s also a Joseph’s Coat cutting she put in a planter and it has continued to thrive even though we still haven’t transplanted it. We will find a home for it and put it in the ground this week. The gorgeous red flowers make me smile just to look at them. The other thing she brought was a mass of peonies. I love peonies. They remind me of the parsonage where my parents have lived for the past 25 years. Every summer, the peonies in the side yard bloom and we carry ant covered blossoms in to grace the table. Such a big part of summer. I separated them and put some along one side of the house, and the other at the end of the porch by the lilies of the valley. They are doing great and will be blooming before long! They are especially precious to Bruce. These plants are separated from plants that were separated from plants at the farm “over home” where Bruce’s great-grandparents lived. It was the place that his mother and her sister thought of as “home.” “Mama would be so pleased that we have some of those peonies,” Bruce said. My heart smiled. Heirloom plants are a legacy of love and should be cherished and cared for. Speaking of care, my African violets aren’t doing so well. During the time that we were at the beach this winter, there was a cold snap here, and I’m afraid we had the heat turned down too far for indoor plants. One looks like it might survive, but the two that came from...

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When We Were Very Young

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

When We Were Very Young

When my older sister and I were very young we had an adopted set of grandparents, the Akeys. I was so young most of what I remember about them comes from stories that survived our time with them, with one exception—the doll house. My dad’s first church was up in the mountains of northern California in the tiny town of Adin. That is where we met the Akeys. One year our mother’s parents, Grandpa and Grandma McKnight and our two aunts, Connie and Carolyn came up to our house for Christmas and Grandpa and Grandma Akey came over also. Another church sent us a wonderful gift of a doll house. This doll house was special. It had metal floors and the people and animals had magnets on the bottom. You could hold a magnet under the floor and move the characters around. It was such a novelty that my one true remaining memory of Grandpa Akey is that he and Grandpa McKnight monopolized our new doll house ALL DAY LONG. Recently, when we were in South Dakota for a visit I was looking through old photos with Daddy. There were some from that time and some of the Akeys. In an attempt to learn more about the pictures and that time period I’ve been re-reading the notebook of letters my mother wrote. She told Aunt Rachel about the doll house and about how intrigued the adults were. It made me laugh. Reading old letters is one of my favorite things to do. Also, while we were home Mom had a pile of books that she wanted us to divide between the four children. They were books that had been in our home all of our lives and I found it interesting which ones we had memories of. I ended up with a set of three books by A.A. Milne—When We Were Very Young, Now We Are Six, and Winnie the Pooh. I was surprised that my sister didn’t want them, but there were others she cared more for. She informed me that they had come from Grandpa and Grandma Akey and they were given to the two of us, that being all the children there were at the time! So, I gladly took them. They were my favorites, after all! Today is National Great Poetry Reading Day. You can argue with me about this if you must, but a good deal of my favorite poetry comes from A.A. Milne. So today I’ll leave you with this piece from When We Were Very Young.   DAFFODOWNDILLY She wore her yellow sun-bonnet, She wore her greenest gown; She turned to the south wind And curtsied up and down. She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head, And whispered to her neighbor: “Winter is dead.” by A.A. Milne Building Legacy . . . one story at a...

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Public Displays of Affection . . . or Not

Posted by on Feb 14, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Today is Valentine’s Day, the day the whole world seems to go crazy with displays of “love”. Everywhere you look there are flowers, chocolate, and public displays of affections. It reminded me of a piece from my book about legacy, All I Have Needed-A Legacy for Life. Today I am posting that piece. You see, I didn’t learn about love from society, television, or silly cards. I learned from people who knew what love was really about. So, here you are. Enjoy!   Public Displays of Affection . . . or Not My dad’s parents were ranch people. They grew up in Nebraska during simpler times when the work was hard and there weren’t many frills. They lived in a sod house (where Daddy was born), and they lost everything during the Depression. When people talked about the “good old days,” Grandma would say, “They weren’t so good.” They were loving but not demonstrative, at least not toward each other in front of others. That wasn’t their way.   When Grandpa was about ninety, he developed a lump on his neck. He ignored it as it got bigger and bigger. After all, he was ninety. He didn’t expect to live forever. One day it started causing trouble with his breathing, so they took him to the hospital, rushed him sixty-five miles from Broken Bow to Kearney, Nebraska. That lump had to be removed. The morning of surgery, the staff came in to take Grandpa to the procedure and told Grandma, “You can kiss him goodbye if you want.” To my parents’ amazement and delight, she did. It wouldn’t be considered a romantic moment by today’s standards, but it certainly impressed Daddy. After all, at age sixty-five he was watching—for the first time—his parents kiss. During the preparations for surgery, Grandpa’s IV came apart, and he bled some. He bled enough that the doctors decided they should take him back to his room and check his heart before doing surgery. After all, he was ninety. Once he was cleared for surgery, Grandma had her chance again, and she went for it. “Twice,” Daddy said. “I saw them kiss twice!” The look on his face when he was telling us was priceless. It was pure delight and comfort. Proof of what we all knew. They loved. (As if one hundred direct descendants and sixty-five years of marriage wasn’t enough proof.) A couple of years later, Grandpa was hospitalized with a mild heart attack. It was caused, it turned out, by prostate cancer, and he was dying. Grandma, herself well into her 80s, couldn’t care for him at home, so they put him in the nursing home attached to the hospital. During the next six weeks, Grandma went up every day to eat lunch with him … well, at least until she figured out that he wasn’t eating when she was there in hopes she would take pity on him and take him home. She certainly wanted him home, but it was...

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A Morning Prelude

Posted by on Feb 11, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

A Morning Prelude

I clutch the mug close in the cold morning air and let the smell of coffee awaken my brain. Leaning on the seventh floor patio rail, I gaze across the Atlantic Ocean. There’s water as far as my eyes can see. In the dawn—that half hour before the sun rises—the pastel light show begins, a prelude to the main event. For Myrtle Beach, SC the temperature is frigid, low thirties, and I have the patio to myself. Indeed, I seem to have the entire beach front to myself. I don’t see anyone down on the sand. No life at all. Except for the daily gathering of permanent residents, the seagulls. It is high tide this morning, there really isn’t much beach to walk on. I don’t know if that is the reason, but the surfside avian grandstands are empty, no flock of seagulls gathered at water’s edge today. Where are they? Then I spot them, floating just beyond the breaking surf. They rise and fall with the waves, tiny black and white dots on the gray water. Waiting. Watching. A few birds fly overhead, circling around the gathering throng until they eventually settle on the water. Maybe they found their friends or family, these latecomers who just could not get out of bed in time to leave with the rest of them. I don’t know. A peacefulness settles over the scene as the shifting pink, blue, gray, and peach hues push the pre-show to its climax. A mild disturbance to the gathering crowd occurs when six young birds—they must be young, don’t you think—skim across the water in front of the crowd. Their formation is impressive, a perfectly straight line. My heart is in my throat as they barely clear the waves, daring anyone to do it better. And, sure enough, here comes another group, taking up the challenge. They fly in from the other direction, same straight line, same get-as-close-to-the-water-as-you-can-without-touching-it flight plan. I imagine the grandparents shaking their heads and chuckling. One dad announces, “That’s my kid!” The mothers cover their eyes, hoping they don’t have to make a run to the birdie ER. As the sky lightens, the tension rises and all eyes turn toward the horizon. When will the star of the show arrive? I glance at my watch. Yep, due any moment. I fix my eyes on the horizon. Then, across the water one bird calls it. There! There! There! Other birds jump in, frustrated that Sally Seagull was the first to announce it AGAIN. Soon a chorus of cries arises from the grandstand. A few birds lift from the water, unable to stay in their seats. Over the horizon the top edge of an orange ball appears and the ocean grandstand breaks into verbal applause. From my perch I join the chorus. “There it is! Good morning...

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Ocean or Prairie View – Home Is Where You Make It

Posted by on Jan 21, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

I have this picture for the background on my phone. I put it there this autumn after our trip to South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. It reminds me of home. Let me tell you why. When I am at the ocean I have no problem waking up early. Most mornings I wake up automatically, while it is still dark. I don’t want to miss the sunrise. Oh, I’m not necessarily waiting for that moment when the sun creeps over the edge of the horizon, although I have to admit that the first pinpoint of orange does make my heart beat faster. “Here it comes! Good morning, Sunshine!” I love sunshine. No, the effect I like actually comes before the sunrise. It also comes just after sunset. It is the pastel phase. There is a blue, pink, peach, gray and green haze along the horizon that is just breathtaking. The colors mute together and remind of an impressionistic painting, my favorite type. As the sun comes or goes the colors continually change, but in such slow motion you hardly notice until BAM, there comes the sun. Then it changes all over again. It is incredible. In November we were driving from Rapid City, SD to Gordon, NE. Shortly after crossing the state line the sun set. I started snapping pictures with my cell phone. It was so beautiful, there on the edge of the Sandhills. So much wide-open space. Kind of like the ocean. I flipped back through the pictures and one caught my eye. It reminded me of. . .  no, it couldn’t be. But it was. It reminded me of the ocean. I stared at it. Then I knew. It was the colors. The blue, grey, pink, peach of the dusk. The brown of the winter grass contrasted with those colors and they stood out. Just like they do at the beach when they contrast with the sand along the beach. I smiled to myself. Maybe this is one reason I feel so much at home at the ocean, even though I did not grow up anywhere near one. Maybe it is like the quote from Sarah Plain and Tall, one of my favorite movies. There she is on the prairie, thousands of miles from her beloved ocean yet she, with the help of young Caleb, discovers a similarity. Caleb Witting: What color is the sea when it storms? Sarah Wheaton: Blue and gray and green. Caleb Witting: Now I know what’s missing from your drawing. Colors. Colors of the sea, blue and gray and green. So, maybe the prairie didn’t remind me of the ocean. Maybe it’s the ocean reminding me of the prairie. Either way, either place I am, it feels like home. And that reminds me of the words of advice Uncle Jim gave me when I married. “Home is where you make it, Miriam.” Yes. Yes, it...

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Jasmine and the Christmas Card

Posted by on Jan 11, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 1 comment

It’s time to take down the decorations now that the Christmas season is over. Admittedly, at our house this year there aren’t many. I was more focused on getting things back in order after our crazy-busy Fall and didn’t really want to drag out the decorations. But, we had a wonderful Christmas. We enjoyed family on Christmas day, and we received a lot of cards in the mail.   I love receiving Christmas cards, but I’m not good at sending them—except to our friends, Paul and Chari. We really do try and get them a card every year. If we don’t, there are consequences. Well, not really consequences, but we might hear about it! And hear about. And did I say, hear about it!   So, this year we were early. In November we spent a couple of weeks in South Dakota and as usual we stayed with our friends, Paul and Chari. A couple of days before we left, we were at the store and happened into the card aisle.  Of course there were Christmas cards already on the shelf and one caught my eye. It had a cat on it. Chari likes cats. Paul—not so much. Hmmm.   You see, Paul loves Christmas cards and he wants lots of them. So we decided to get the card. After all, not only did it have a cat on it, the inside had action. Lots of it. When you opened the card there was a cat all rolled up in Christmas Lights and upon opening it the cat and lights started spinning and yowling! We hooted. It was perfect. It was also expensive enough we figured we could claim that it would make up for any years we have missed. Yep, it’s that kind of friendship.   So, before giving it to Paul and Chari, we decided to share it with my parents. First, Bruce handed it to Mom, who was sitting in her rocking chair. She opened it, jumped when the cat yowled, laughed and handed it back. Bruce took it over to Daddy and he opened it, jumped when the cat yowled—even though he knew what was coming. We all laughed and he handed it back to Bruce.   All of a sudden, out of nowhere came Jasmine, my sister’s cat. She growled, hissed, and attacked Bruce’s leg. This might look like a man, but she KNEW there was a cat in there somewhere and she wasn’t having any of that! She takes her job as “homeland security” very seriously.   It was kind of funny, but obviously Jasmine was VERY disturbed. Her fur stood straight out and her back was arched. She obviously thought there was a threat to her people and she was going to deal with it! She took quite awhile to settle down.   When Vonda came home from work we decided to show her the card. Mom and Daddy were gone, but Daddy had warned Vonda. “Make sure you go outside to...

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An Opportunity of a Lifetime!

Posted by on Dec 16, 2015 in Blog, Double Cousins |

An Opportunity of a Lifetime!

  This week my daddy celebrated his eighty-third birthday. You might think that is really old! I understand. When I was a kid, I thought it was too. In fact, when he was 38 I told him in two years he would be an old man! Believe me, when I turned 38 he thoroughly enjoyed reminding me of my words. Sigh. A few years ago we sat down and I asked him a series of questions. I interviewed him. I wanted to hear his stories and boy, did I. I had warned him and he was ready. He even had a list of things he wanted to talk about. I typed it into the computer as he talked, and we taped it. So, now we have it. The memories of Marvin Jones. It was an opportunity of a lifetime! It’s a good thing because he recently had a stroke, and speech is very difficult for him. He wouldn’t be able to have that conversation today. Next week is Christmas. You will be seeing grandparents, great-aunts, great-uncles, maybe even great-grandparents. Now is your chance! Make a list of questions, let them know ahead of time what you would like to do, and then be ready to record what they say. Smart phones usually have a really great recording device and then it can be transferred to a computer and shared with the family. Here are my list of questions, but if you want more or different ones just google “questions to ask your elders” and you will get many sites with wonderful suggestions.   Have fun and get those memories down. You don’t have forever! Miriam’s list What is your first memory? What is the most important thing you learned from each of your parents? What was Christmas like? What is your favorite story that your dad would tell? What is your scariest memory from childhood? What was your favorite food that your mom made? What other memories stand out? What was the most important lesson you learned while in the military/college? What is the most important thing you would like your children and grandchildren to know? How did you meet your...

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