Sunday, August 26, 2007

Thank you...

Last week, a boy from the town where I work was killed in Iraq. The words look so stark as I type them. They look, I guess, the way it felt when I read it in the paper. I didn't know him, don't know his family; the grief I feel at his loss is only a pinprick compared to what those who love him feel. And yet...

Signs of support and gratitude showed up in front of churches and stores and homes this, the flag at our office flies at half staff, other flags--usually out for the 4th of July and Memorial Day--have come out now. It makes me think of the weeks following 9/11, when we all flew them not only as an "in your face" gesture but also because our grief was unspeakable. Symbolically, we dried our tears with the flag. We were all changed in that week.

And now we are changed again, those of us who stood alongside the street to help escort a dead boy to his final resting place. Veterans stood straight and saluted as the hearse drove slowly past. The procession of vehicles seemed to go on forever. It included at least 100 motorcycles that rode in a pack, their drivers staring straight ahead.

We cried as we stood in silent support. The mail carrier across the street, those among us who are mothers and know the worst thing possible has happened to one of us, the fathers who know it, too, even the children who waved tribute flags as the dark, sad cars passed.

There is nothing I can do, nothing I can say here, that hasn't been done and said before. So I will only say Thank You to all who serve, and hope that those families who lose their loved ones will find their grief lessened by the knowledge that we all share it.

Sunday, August 12, 2007
The boyfriend Duane and I--okay, we've been married for 36 years; I'm just trying for a little excitement here--took a trip down memory lane this weekend. His memories, not mine.

We went 250 miles to Rhodelia, Kentucky to the picnic at St. Teresa's Catholic Church. This is the parish where my father-in-law grew up, across the hollers from where my mother-in-law's family lived. We like to go to the picnic because Mom can't anymore. We call her while we're on the road and she visits "back home" vicariously, reminding us where to place flowers on the graves of family members long gone.

It was suffocatingly hot and humid, we were both tired from a week at work, and I wasn't prepared for anything special. Except for the food, of course. The food at St. Teresa's is superb.

But when we got there, we walked through the museum in the old school, seeing Flaherty cousins in class photographs and in a big writeup from a 50s newspaper when Duane's grandmother had only 84 grandchildren. We saw pictures of the priest who was my husband's namesake.

We laid down dimes for the cakewalk and I won within fifty cents, choosing macadamia cookies. It took the boyfriend more than a dollar, and he took a pan of brownies. We put our names on our prize sweets and left them on the front pew of the church where it was cool. When we went back to get them, someone had taken my cookies, and I wondered if God was reminding me gently that I did just join Weight Watchers--again.

There were reunions with cousins so long unseen that Duane didn't know them until someone took him around and introduced him. And reunions with cousins seen more recently but not on this common ground where they could say, "Remember when?" and they all would. Remember, I mean.

It was a lovely day despite the heat; the friendliness of the little parish made it so. As we drove away, we called Mom again, telling her who we'd seen and that there are no fresh graves in the little cemetery down at Ammons. I mentioned a name and she said, "Oh, my, I was in love with him," and she and I laughed long and loud in a way that women understand and men never will.

Duane and I talked about the day as we headed north, about the pleasure and sometimes the pain that nostalgia can bring. We laughed about the macadamia cookies and I ate one of his brownies.

And the memories? They're mine now, too.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Happy Birthday

...to me. Not that birthdays thrill me a lot, but having the book coming out soon is making this into exciting time. And while we're talking about birthdays, my oldest granddaughter Mari turned 17 the other day. It kills me seeing her grow up, but her first 17 years have been much easier on us than her dad's were. :-)

We've had a really nice summer here in Indiana, and we're paying for it now. It's HOT and it's MUGGY. This is the way I remember August being when I was a kid. It's better now, with air conditioning everywhere, but it's still hot.

Oh, have you been over to the eharlequin website? I'm featured in the authors' section. It's so cool!

Oops, need to go to work. Have a good day, everyone!


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