Saturday, September 28, 2013


As I write today's blog, I'm reminded of what this picture, a favorite of mine, means to me. It shows true friendship, caring, tenderness, loyalty, perserverance and love. Haven't we all wanted a friend like that? Have we been a friend like that?

I look back over the years to the first friend I ever had, Patty, a girl who grew up only a few doors away from me and went to school with me in the early years. Long since moved away, we still keep in touch perhaps not as often as I'd like. Later, I would meet another friend, Diane, who would share so many of the same interests with me, almost like soul sisters. Many sleepovers, and fun times shared, as our vivid imaginations would carry me through some extremely rough times growing up.

 A cousin of mine would become a friend, a cousin who I admired, almost to the point of idolizing, and lost touch with.  Then the friendship of a girl I met in my later years, Goldie, a girl who was my high school pal as we chuckled and shared stories about boys.

To this day, I know can still count on, still tell my deepest hopes and dreams to some of them.

Many other friends would arrive between here and there. Friends who made me laugh, and others who helped me cry. Some who gave, and others who took. And now, in my later years, the warmth of older friends, people I might never have known if I hadn't taken a leap of faith and moved away from the town I grew up in.

At times my own brother has been my friend. My mom too, for in the early teenage years we laughed over stories now long gone. Beloved pets have been friend to me as well as they listened to my heart breaking and tears falling in the lonely stillness of the night.

Yes, the traits of our friends, the camaraderie, the loyalty, the willingness to listen and share. These are what we long for in our journey of life. A kindred spirit, a soul to reach out to. A giggle, a secret whispered.

We all long for frienship, and though some of us may not find it right away, there may come a time when a person is put in our path. A person who is meant to be there for us, or us, for them.
Thank you to all of you, my dear friends new and old, young and not so young. Thank you for what you've given me in good times and bad. Here's to all of you, mentioned and unmentioned. You have a special place in my heart.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Shoes to Fill (An Ancestor Story)

     Whose shoes have you trod in? I thought about this today while reading posts in an ancestry site I belong to. The answer: All of those who have gone before us.
     It was last summer when I began doing research for a story I was writing at the time. Though fiction, I still wanted to use my own great-grandfather as the subject for the beginning of this tale. A haunting photo of him sparked my imagination and I was relentless in my pursuit.
     I joined sites, asked questions and spoke to relatives I hadn't seen in years. What did they know of him, what did they remember from stories they might have heard as children?
     We had some big shoes to fill. Pietro Biancucci was a young man when he arrived in this country. Leaving behind wife and children in Patrica, Italy to find work in America, the task couldn't have been easy. He spoke only Italian. He'd never traveled before.What would it be like when he arrived? Yet he found good work and with his carpentry skills, sent for his family to join him after a time.
     The tales I heard about him all seemed to paint a portrait of a soft-spoken, good-hearted man. With a shy wife, I'd found that Pietro had to explain the facts of life to his daughters, a task which must have not been easy. Also, he had been the one in his family to make homemade pasta. One of the most intriguing stories I'd heard was about a misunderstanding. Some men had accused my great-grandfather of some sort of mafia issues. He'd gone to the foreman in the mill he was working at and explained to the man that the story wasn't true. The foreman knew Pietro to be a man of character, so he'd taken care of the problem, though I'm not sure how.
     He died of pneumonia, something so easily curable now, in his forties. A good life snuffed out way too soon.
     My great aunts and uncle were a tribute to this man, their father. For each of them had lives, stories, love shared and lost. Good times and bad. Happiness and sadness. And my own mother, the product of generations later, a good, compassionate woman, a woman who taught me everyone has a story. A woman who carries within her the blood of these generations past and the tales handed down through the years.
     We all have shoes to fill and paths to trod upon. May your journey, and the tales of your ancestors light the way for you as you seek to discover the stories which molded you and the people who've gone before you. Don't wait another day. Learn all you can, share photos and look up relatives you haven't spoken to in years. Visit that aging grandparent, or great aunt or uncle. Don't let time slip by before you discover the shoes you are meant to wear. The person you're meant to become.

Monday, September 9, 2013

On Marriage and Commitment

     Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

     Tears streamed down my face as I clutched a shredded Kleenex in one hand. My sobs echoed loudly in the stillness of the room while I poured out my heart to the pastor who sat before me. I’d come to him seeking guidance about my husband and some of his recent, hurtful behavior. He’d disappointed me and let me down, making promises he wasn’t able to keep.
     My wounds from a previous marriage were fresh and raw. I’d been through so much pain; I vowed no other man would ever hurt me again.
     The pastor sat quietly, listening, scribbling notes every so often on a pad before him. “As I see it,” he said, leaning forward in his chair, “bold prayer from your heart is the answer. Treat him as you want to be treated, with kindness and respect.”
     Are you kidding? I thought. How could I do this when I’ve been the one so grievously wounded? He doesn’t deserve it.
     I slipped behind the wheel of my car that day deep in thought while glorious sunshine streamed through the windows. The warmth enveloped me, opened my heart to the feeling of God’s love surrounding me. Perhaps my hardened heart wasn’t allowing me to see how much unforgiveness I held onto from my past. Though my husband had been wrong in how he behaved, I realized the only person you can truly change is yourself.
       A little later in the day, a cup of tea sat before me upon the kitchen table, untouched as I began speaking to God as one would talk with a loving parent or dear friend.
     Help me to know you better.  I want to completely surrender to your will. My husband has his own burdens. Please help me to see him in a different light.
     Something inside me broke then. When he returned from work that evening, I spoke more kindly toward him. I made an effort to ask about his day, and really listen from my heart. Little by little, it became easier to affirm his good traits. It became easier to hold my tongue when I wanted to lash out in anger. My husband melted as I considered his needs first. He softened toward me when I began to love him with my whole heart.
     It’s been three years since I spoke to the pastor and surrendered myself to becoming a godly wife. Daily prayer has become a strong bond in this marriage. Before we leave for work, my husband and I sit in the stillness of our living room, hands clasped together while we speak aloud to our Father for guidance. This has been the greatest change of all: The power of spoken words which has rooted our love and commitment to one another more deeply than I ever thought possible.
        Father, I pray our commitment to you and each other will grow stronger with every passing day. May I continue to be a source of inspiration and encouragement to my husband and may our home be a safe haven he can return to each night.