Category: Family

Through the Window

I made a more upbeat post a couple weeks ago. I will apologize in advance that today’s is more melancholy than the last one. But it’s what I felt led to write on Mother’s Day. This one is a fictional story, but it is based on what several women I know have been going through.

She sat down on her bed slowly. Of course, she laughed to herself. She seemed to be doing everything slowly these days. What would be the point in doing anything quickly? There weren’t enough things to do in a day as it was, so there was no rush to do any of them, now was there?

She stared out the window again, but couldn’t see anything different outside. She wondered why she bothered to look again and again, since the view never changed. Slowly she moved away from it. Something had made her look out the window earlier that day but she was having trouble remembering what it was.

Slowly, it was coming back to her. Her daughter. That was why she had gone to the window earlier. Her daughter had been there, waving at her, and holding a lovely bouquet of flowers. Her daughter’s mouth had been formed in the shape of a smile, but she had seen the tears flowing down her face.

She remembered being confused by that. Her daughter shouldn’t have been smiling and crying at the same time. And she certainly shouldn’t have been crying while holding those beautiful flowers.

She had wanted to go outside and hug her daughter and make the tears go away. But for some reason she couldn’t do it. That bothered her. But again she couldn’t remember why.

Her daughter used to come to visit her regularly. She did remember that. It was always sometime around lunch time, she remembered that too. Sometimes her own lunch had already been eaten, but sometimes it came while her daughter was visiting.

She smiled again. She could remember those meals the best. She liked it when her daughter sat in the chair and talked to her while she ate.

Slowly she turned and looked at the chair. Was her daughter sitting there now? No, the chair was empty. Again. It seemed like it was always empty these days. Why wasn’t her daughter sitting in it anymore? She had known at one time what the reason was, but now she couldn’t remember. It seemed there were alot of things she couldn’t remember these days.

She stood back up, slowly going back to the window. It was a big window and she was glad about that. It let in lots of sun on sunny days. But lately it seemed to be raining alot. Or was that her tears? She was having trouble telling them apart.
She found herself standing in the window again. Her daughter wasn’t there now, but she could see the spot where she had been standing earlier. Standing there holding a big bouquet of beautiful flowers.

She turned around slowly again, looking at her dresser across the room. Those flowers, she thought, as the smile on her face came back. Those were the flowers her daughter had been holding outside earlier today.

She crossed the small room again, carefully going by the empty chair and then reaching the dresser and the beautiful flowers. She thought she remembered seeing a card with the flowers. But had she remembered to open the card? She didn’t know.

She found the card and carried it carefully back across the room. Sitting down in the empty chair, she opened it. It’s beautiful, she thought. There was a rainbow splashed across the card. And in beautiful letters she saw the words “Happy Mother’s Day.” She smiled at the rainbow. I think I saw one of those recently she thought. Didn’t I?

Slowly she opened the card. She recognized her daughter’s handwriting. Her daughter hadn’t written much, just a few beautiful words, “I love you, Mom. I look forward to giving you a hug.”

She read the words again. A hug. I haven’t had one of those in a long time, have I? Why not? Is there a reason she can’t give me a hug like she used to? I know she told me. But I don’t remember.

She heard the rain starting outside her window and she glanced that direction. I haven’t felt the rain in a long time, have I? But I don’t know why. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been outside this room in a long time.

She sat trying to remember what she had been told. There were reasons her daughter wasn’t sitting in the chair anymore, reasons that she couldn’t go outside anymore, reasons that she missed the hugs, but she couldn’t remember what they were. She hoped they were good reasons, at least.

She sat for a long time, looking at the beautiful card and the lovely rainbow and listened to the rain. She like the sound of rain when it was like this, not too hard and not too loud. She wasn’t fond of the loud noises that sometimes came with the rain, she remembered that. She did like the bright lights that sometimes accompanied it. They lit up the sky like a show, and she enjoyed watching them out her window.

Carefully she put the card back with the flowers, hoping she remembered it was there. She would like to look at it again someday. She stood in front of the flowers for another long time, enjoying their smell. And their pretty colors. Her daughter made sure they were each a different color, just like she liked them.
Her daughter? Was that who had brought the flowers earlier today? Yes, her daughter, she was sure of it.

She walked slowly back to the window, looking out at the spot her daughter had stood with the flowers. Every day she stands there. At least I think she does. I sort of remember that. But she doesn’t have flowers for me every day. Just on special days. So today must be a special day.

What was special about today? Did she know? Did she remember? Yes, that’s right, the card had told her. It was Mother’s Day. A special day.

She looked out the window again. The rain had stopped and the sun was starting to shine. As she gazed again at the spot her daughter had been standing, she saw the rainbow. The beautiful rainbow peaking out from behind the clouds.
She smiled again. A rainbow. Just like the one on her daughter’s card. No, on her card from her daughter. The card that promised her a hug. That was something worth remembering. One day, at some point in the future, hugs would come back.

Lights on the Horizon

I had planned to write my next blog post on what the first two years of retirement had been like, or maybe even one on the joy of writing with writing prompts (something I’ve been doing alot of lately!). But as often happens, my plans this spring have been in a constant state of flux. So, instead, I break my fast from blogging with a short “story” I wrote yesterday as I celebrated the beginning of my 64th year.

I wrote it as a third person account, because that’s how it developed in my mind. After sharing it with several family members, I was encouraged to change it to first person, because it really is my story of how the last six weeks or so have affected me and those around me. But I just couldn’t get it to work as well in the first person, so I’ve stuck to third. Have no doubt, though, it is very much my thoughts on this current craziness:

It had been a dismal start to the spring. All was doom and gloom with the predictions about a virus taking over the world. Politicians had jumped at the prospect of not wasting a good crisis and had pulled out all the stops on taking people’s liberties away from them in the name of “keeping them safe.”

The virus didn’t scare her. Her neighbors didn’t bother her. But the idea that a country could be turned upside down inside mere days and weeks, based on few facts, many assumptions, and countless fear-mongering, that worried her! She lived in one of the greatest countries in the world. But she was beginning to doubt that it could stay that way.

Fiction masquerading under the guise of facts had scared people into what only months before would have been unthinkable: Trips were being forced to be canceled, stores were being closed, jobs were being lost, and activities were being called off at alarming rates.

Meanwhile people were being told to stay home and stay safe, while no allowance was being made for how to keep them sane at the same time. As the time stretched on, she started hearing stories that made her want to cry: people living alone who were slowly dying inside as a result, kids who couldn’t go outside anymore, even as the spring weather was becoming more and more beautiful, people with so much time on their hands, and few good ways to fill it, folks who had lost their jobs and wondered where the money for their next meals would come from, never mind the rent or the mortgage payment that could never be paid. Small businesses were closing their doors, some in hopes that it would be a temporary closure, but many knowing this would just be the beginning of the end. She had owned a small business once and could too well imagine what even a month or two of forced closure would have done to her bottom line. It was painful to think of the harm being done.

She was personally faring fairly well during all of this, at least in the short run. Her health was good, she lived in a home with someone else, rather than alone or in a tiny apartment, she had family members close by that could still come for visits, and even had a backyard she could go into anytime she desired. And as a retiree, at least for now, her finances were in pretty good shape. But her heart ached for all those she knew and knew of that were suffering greatly through all of this. What were the uncalculated damages being done to family, friends, and strangers throughout this shutdown? It made her heart hurt to think on it.

But then slowly, just as it seemed that all would continue to spiral downward based on lies being touted as truths, she began to see small lights of hope appearing on the horizon. They were small and infrequent at first. There had been the lone representative that had dared to speak out against the socialist “stimulus” bill that had raced through Congress at the end of March. But that light seemed to go out almost as soon as it had been lit, and she was back to wondering where and when this would end.

Then there was the epidemiologist from a prestigious university questioning the assumptions being made in the doom and gloom models. Followed by a professor (also from a well known university) who came out and dared to analyze the facts and point out the fiction that too many people had been accepting as reality. Listening to them, hope had welled up temporarily once again. But each time someone came out with such good news, it seemed that those peddling darkness were stepping up their attacks.

And then, wonder of wonder, she saw the group of doctors from a small southern state who had risked discussing the false “facts” that were being used to scare people into accepting this scenario, followed within two days by two doctors in California raising similar points. In both cases their analysis of facts versus fiction had really made hope rise within her.

So as the second month of craziness was speeding towards a close, she could almost smile again. Almost hold out hope that the lies would be revealed and that freedom might actually not be gone forever. She considered the fact that so many were pushing for more testing, when the reality was we didn’t need to know how many had already had the disease. Enough tests had been done to show us that the number of people who had gotten the virus and recovered from it was much larger than we had ever suspected. To her that fact alone had done more to disprove the doom and gloom prophets than it had done to prove them right.

She wanted to shake those who kept pointing at these numbers as if they were evidence of a big, almost insurmountable problem. Of course the numbers were rising, the number of tests were rising! How could people not see that? But as long as political figures at every level were allowed to use those figures to frighten people in their county, state, or country, we would not be making forward progress.

She didn’t know what blinded some to the realities, but she was ready to stop focusing on what had been being thrown at her from so many directions for so long. She wanted to start watching the horizon for more lights. Surely more would come, little by little, and eventually the sun would rise again and put an end to all of this! And that was where she would need to keep her focus in the days and weeks to come. God help her country if the lights did not continue to shine brighter on the horizon!

Celebrating “Retirement”

Changing Directions – Again

As happens so often, I have changed directions on this week’s blog post. Hopefully, my previously planned topic will appear in a future post, but not this week.  Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a post, Celebrating 35 years of Homeschooling, 40 years of Parenting, 60 years of Life, on my other blog, at www.CreativeLearningConnection.com. I did not expect that I would be writing a follow up post here on my author’s blog, but that’s exactly what I’m now doing.

Last Year’s Surprise

Last year’s post came as a result of a video my children surprised me with for my 60th birthday.  The video was unexpected, to say the least, and was an amazing blessing as my children shared some of their favorite memories of growing up with me. (They were kind enough to leave out any unpleasant memories they may have.)

This Year’s Surprise

I would really have thought they couldn’t top that surprise/blessing. But they managed. This year, on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, when I thought a dozen of us were going out to an early Mother’s Day luncheon, I found myself at our church surrounded by a very large group (about 50, by my best count) of family, friends, students, and former students, to celebrate my “retirement.” The brainchild of one of my children, “Saying Thank You to Catherine Jaime” was like the previous year’s video on steroids.

My daughter had managed to interview dozens and dozens of people I had interacted with during the last three plus decades as  I homeschooled, taught class after class, and coached team after team of mock trial students. As I watched the audio/visual presentation she had so carefully put together, I was brought to (happy) tears yet again.

The Upcoming Reunion

And the timing could not have been better. In less than a month I will be attending my husband’s 40th reunion at MIT. (I attended MIT also, but my 40th isn’t until next year.) I have been to numerous reunions over the past 40 years and have always enjoyed getting together with our friends there. But, sometimes, I have to work hard to make sure I’m not falling prey to second thoughts on how I’ve spent the last (fill in the blank, depending on the reunion) years.

Following A Different Path

I didn’t follow the same career path as the vast majority of my college classmates, choosing instead to primarily stay home and raise/homeschool my children. Of course, as our little party on Saturday showed, my version of staying home and raising my children probably didn’t look like most other people’s version for several reasons:

  1. I did LOTS of writing during that time.
  2. I did LOTS of traveling (with and without my children).
  3. And I taught LOTS of other people’s kids while I was at it.

Traveling More and Writing More

In fact, last year when I was closing down my homeschool resource center, Creative Learning Connection, I often heard the “What will you do now?” question. I usually answered: “Travel more and write more.” People that knew me well often questioned how I could do more of either, but I have!

So, just like the last 40 years of my life didn’t fit most people’s expectations, it’s likely that my future years (how ever many God blesses me with) will not look much like that of most of my peers (but why should I start now!).

Retired Government Club Advisor

I have officially passed on the mantle of Government Club Advisor/Coach/Mentor to family members for next fall. (Scheduling two cruises for that time of year sort of forced the issue.) And I’m more or less retired from teaching classes now (though I’m not sure the students who will be at my house in a couple of days for Shakespeare will believe that).

Favorite Memories

But I’ll settle for the fact that I’m semi-retired for now. And as I move into this somewhat new phase, I will be looking back on Saturday’s event with great pleasure. In fact, the real fun of watching and listening to the presentation was seeing how many people gave similar answers on how I had impacted their lives – most had to do with travel, or Mock Trial, or both, with some general homeschool encouragement and Shakespeare thrown in there for good measure. And considering my favorite memories of the last 40 years revolve around pretty much those same things, it was cool to hear others sharing my sentiment.

I think the saying in the little plaque I received as a gift, says it well, “I’m not retired. I’m just getting started.”

Now, off to help at a homeschool graduation, and then back to trying to finish that Michelangelo book I’ve been trying to write since the beginning of March!

Happy traveling and learning.

Cathy

Relaxing with Family

Fun at Family Reunions

I spent this past weekend attending a family reunion. The reunion itself, with our extended family members, was only about two hours long. But, for the second year in a row, attending the reunion gave my sisters and I an excuse to spend extended time together with each other and with our mom. In theory, we shouldn’t need such excuses, and we have worked hard at getting the four of us together at least once a year for a few days for quite some time now. But with the four of us now living in four different parts of the country, we will take all the excuses we can find.

In addition to spending more time with each other we spent additional time with my mom’s only surviving sister and the cousin that we’re all closest to (who both live in a fifth state).  All of that extended the “reunion time” by several days in each direction – giving us the “excuse” to spend a week away from our respective jobs and just enjoying each other’s company.

A Great Way to Spend a Weekend

It was a great weekend – fairly low key, with little planned outside the reunion time itself. But around that we ate together and played together (we’re all big board game and card game players!). And we swam together and walked together.

No History Lessons This Time

And while I am a historian by nature, and love learning the history of the areas I visit, I don’t have to turn every trip into a history lesson. (My children may have doubted that fact when they were growing up, but that was a different time with different priorities!) I certainly want to become immersed in the history related to many of my trips, but this wasn’t one of those times.  This was just a trip to relax and to enjoy each other’s company.

Family Games

I was struck by one comment that was made at the reunion. With twelve children, I’m accustomed to being the outlier when it comes to family size. But I do have a cousin who also has a large family. When the topic of a conversation turned to games my cousin mentioned that because of the younger children they didn’t play many games with the older children. Since the youngest ones would either want to play with the games that were above their heads and would likely get ahold of the pieces and ruin the games.

Legos v. Duplos

The comment reminded me of a friend in Germany many years ago that didn’t plan to buy actual Legos (instead of Duplos) until her youngest child was old enough to safely play with Legos. Since there is a twenty-one year gap between my oldest and youngest, my oldest children would never have played with Legos.  And they would never have played some really great games had I waited on those. (You can see some of our favorites on my other blog,  at www.CreativeLearningConnection.com) For us, dealing with the ramifications of Legos and games aimed at older kids and adults was worth it.

The Value of Games

Throughout my life, games have been a big part of how our family relaxed and related. And that’s something I have happily passed on to my children, and as they get older, hope to help pass on to the grandchildren. This week’s reunion time has been another wonderful reminder of how much joy families can get from engaging in games together.

Happy playing!

Cathy

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