50th Wedding Anniversary…Skylark…Jackson…Royal Wedding…And Love Becomes Devotion…

(I thought just before Valentine’s Day I would republish this post from July 2013, for the love of my life…well, also to others who may deem this fit to read…of course it is more than our 50th anniversary…we are headed to our 52 year…but why quibble, I just love to be married to Judie)…

Can you imagine, Judie and I will have been married 50 years on August 3, 2013…now thatJudie and Jim doesn’t seem possible except the math of the deal proves it…We met the summer of 1961…I in my 1953 green Ford and she with a group of college girls just coming out of Feld’s grocery store on Highway 55 in Golden Valley, Minnesota…being the great guy I was, ah, change that…being the great guy, I am…I tried to make those girls comfortable in their new surroundings, if you know what I mean…no motives on my part, of course, except to be helpful…but it did only take about two years before Judie and I were married…so something happened…I’m still trying to figure out what and how it happened…

Johnny Cash and June CarterJust the other day someone a bit younger than we are asked how love changes from the beginning of a marriage and throughout that marriage…if I understood the question…not that after 50 years you don’t love your wife/husband, but how does it change…both Judie and I said yes, love changes but it all starts with an attraction…all I could think of was a song by Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter, called “Jackson”…it’s a fun song talking about a “big talkin’ man”…it starts and ends like this…”We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout.” and then says, “We’ve been talkin’ about Jackson, ever since the fire went out.”…Oh, I think all marriages begin with that descriptive phrase…and it’s what I thought about when asked this question…”We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout.”…I think everyone begins at that level of love…but what then…

I remember very well that “hotter than a pepper sprout” time and it was important…but when we started talking about marriage…there were more important things that became important…spiritual things, children, etc…and if couples Skylark Glenn Close, Christopher Walkendon’t…50 years of marriage is a lot harder than if you do consider them…I remember the movie “Skylark” with Glenn Close and Christopher Walken…it is a great movie…the middle movie of a trilogy…”Sarah, Plain and Tall” was the first…but in “Skylark”, they were now married and they were suffering a terrible drought on the prairie…and Jacob had to send Sarah and the two kids back to her home in New England…when the rain finally came on the prairie…Jacob went back East to bring them home…that love scene is one of the best I have ever seen/heard…and opposed to what is around today…it was not in bed or in private…but out in the open for all to see…I will add it here with this explanation…I gave this to Judie, in written form, for Christmas in 2010…it will help that questioner with how love changes, yet stays the same…it is a wonderful scene…with a little written by me, for Judie, that Christmas, then the scene…here goes:

 

Skylark: Sarah Plain and Tall

A memorable quote

(The best quote I know…I have loved this scene since the first time I saw it…and wondered how I could use these words with you…this Christmas seems to be the time…I love you with this kind of passion…and though it may not be exactly like the passion of our youth…it is as powerful and even more real…read and enjoy…this is my love for you…and us for one another…as it is, today…)

Jacob Witting: I love you, Sarah. There are some things that can’t be written… in a letter. I’m not good with words.
Skylark Glenn CloseSarah Witting: You’re fine with words. I never thought you’d come. I dreamed about it at night when the sea sounded like wind through the grasses. I thought about it at night when Caleb had bad dreams. I saw your face everywhere, Jacob, everywhere. I’d look at the sea and see your face there, and in the sky. When I looked at Anna and Caleb you were there. Once in the street I saw somebody that looked like you and I rushed after him. Once I met the train because something told me maybe you’d be there… but I never thought you’d come. Here I was like a child come home to my beautiful sea and I should’ve been happy but I was frightened. And I am frightened because… this terrible love for you is so strong I, I’ve never known such a thing before.
Jacob Witting: [whispered] I know.
Sarah Witting: I never thought you’d come.
Caleb: [Jacob kisses Sarah] They’re kissing and hugging!
Chub ‘Chubbers’ Horatio: Of course they are.
Sarah Witting: Once Matty asked me how long I’d stay here and I know now. I came to stay long enough to say goodbye. I think, Jacob, our baby should be born on the prairie. It’s the right thing.
[pauses]
Sarah Witting: You were right – some things can’t be written in a letter. You, you said it once; sometimes words aren’t good enough Jacob?
[he smiles, they laugh and hug]

Now that still causes tears to come to my eyes…and those of you who know this kind of love or have had this kind of love, understand the words and the emotion and the feelings…you feel it now, don’t you?…the scene goes on with some words like this: “This terrible love for you is so strong.” and “Nobody ever told me how hard it is to love someone.”…all this is a love that I term, “is turned loose”…not holding anything back…and it develops over time…

In thinking about this post, I read again something from a “My Daily Bread” that I use everyday…it was about Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding…”Be who God meant Prince William and Kate Middleton Weddingyou to be and you will set the world on fire.”, the Bishop of London began his message to the Prince and his bride…he quoted St. Catherine of Sienna…he affirmed their choice “to be married in the sight of a generous God Who so loved the world that He gave Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.”…then he urged the couple to pursue a love that finds its center beyond themselves…it was a serious ceremony as you can imagine, full of pomp, ritual and ceremony…if you have a few hours you can watch it on Youtube…or watch bits and pieces…I recommend it…the brides brother read from Romans 12: 1-18…”I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God…what is good and acceptable and perfect.”(vv. 1-2 nrsv)…

Fairly serious stuff…but marriage is some serious stuff…there will be highs and low…ups and downs…but if love finds its center beyond ourselves…love will grow to something we cannot fully explain…and in talking to those who have lost their mate after many years, they can tell you that that love still remains in their lives…with reminders that keep on blessing their lives even years later…

Molt Prairie Winds CafeA number of years ago we took a trip to Billings, Montana…it was September of 2007…I have written about Molt, Montana before…a very small town outside Billings…about 20 miles…and in one of the few buildings left in town is the Prairie Winds Cafe…a great restaurant…but I’m not going to talk about that now…while there, I was looking around and on their bulletin board was a news clipping…I wrote about it back then…here is some of that:…While we were there last September we found a picture on the bulletin board…I had Judie “take a picture of the picture”…the picture of John and Grace Leuthold…it was an article about them being married 71 years…but the thing that caught my eye was the statement John made…”Love becomes devotion. That’s what we have.”…that spoke volumes to me…it really doesn’t matter the relationship…with a spouse, children, parents, with others or with our God…as I wrote just the other day: a committed love always turns to devotion…a loyal, steadfast, faithful love…the idea of belonging together in the relationship…Molt...Love Becomes Devotion

Both John and Grace are gone…even before we saw the article on the bulletin board at the Prairie Winds Cafe last fall…Grace passed away peacefully, Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 90…and John passed away at his ranch home of 75 years, in Molt, Wednesday, May 26, 2005 at 98…The picture we saw on the bulletin board is below…the caption on the picture from the “Billings Gazette” in Billings, MT, February 14, 2002, (Valentines Day) was...John and Grace Leuthold, who live near Molt, have been married 71 years. “Love becomes devotion,” John said. “That’s what we have.”

So I bring you full circle…how does love change?…well, I don’t really know, but I do know it does…and it become better and Jim and Judie 2013better…deeper and deeper…so for your 50th Judie…I may have to change my gift to you…maybe it will be more than a trip to McDonald’s for coffee and a Sausage McMuffin with Egg and Cheese…I may have to add us sharing some Biscuits and Gravy…or maybe even an apple pie…or maybe this post can be part of our 50th…I love you more than you know…or maybe you do know…Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary…

Posted by: Jim E | December 22, 2014

Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake…A Gift To You…

Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake…A Gift To You…

 

I wrote this about 1995, give or take a few years, I really can’t pinpoint the year…I think I have shared this every year since then in some form or another…with some audience or another…read it to the students at school over the intercom…gave it as a Christmas letter…Oh, all kinds of ways…I always thought it was about my Grandma and her fruitcake she always made…but in the end it became something more…I don’t really know what it will be for you…but enjoy Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake and all the love that always came with it…

There are all kinds of jokes and stories about fruitcakes…there is one that says…there are only so many fruitcakes that have ever been made in the world and they are the same ones being given away every year…or the one that fruitcakes are good for something, like a doorstop…and another, that the post office this time of year puts out a warning…if you get a package with no return address, it is over 5 pounds and it smells funny, be careful, it may be a fruitcake…and it goes on and on…

But I can tell a story about fruitcake and about a woman who made them…it was my grandmother…Grandma Reggin, my mom’s mother…she is the only one I know who made fruitcake and did what is suppose to be done with them…gave them away…

Grandma was born in 1896…in fact she would have been 114 years old last July…she lived a little over 72 years…and she could cook and bake…and she made fruitcake…every year, I always ate a little fruitcake but never cared much for it…the candied fruit was a little much for me…but my Grandpa Reggin, he loved it…he loved the candied fruit, the nuts, the spices and the dark cake, full of flavor…he loved everything about fruitcake…and because he was a hero to me…I tried to eat it…but just couldn’t get into it…

My Grandma, at Christmas time, when people visited, would put out ample slices of fruitcake, and I would watch while the Hungry Boy cookies, the decorated sugar cookies and the date-filled cookies, that my Grandma was famous for, would disappear…but much of the fruitcake was still on the plate…

My Grandfather, as I said, loved fruitcake…and he really liked it with a real cup of coffee…(Grandpa was a coffee roaster for McGarvey Coffee Company in Minneapolis…I use to go and watch him roast those green beans that had no smell…into those dark beans we know as coffee beans…full of aroma)…and by a real cup of coffee, I mean he wanted one that, as he put it, “That I can stand a spoon up in.”…and maybe a little cream…and he would savor that fruitcake with that “real cup” of coffee…I can see that picture in my mind, and “I savor” that time with him…

So Grandma would make fruitcake…I mean she made fruitcake!…we lived next door to my grandparents and I went over there everyday…and close to Christmas every year she would begin to bake in earnest…she made pounds of fruitcake…wrapped them in waxed paper, “tin foil” and ribbon…and put them on the unheated covered back porch to keep fresh until she gave them away…she also made Hungry Boy cookies by the hundreds and other cookies to give away…she would give them to the paperboy, milkman, mailman, at the gas station, the meter reader…just anyone who provided service to her during the year…and off they would go with some cookies and of course a fruitcake to share at home…it was her gift of love at Christmas…

No doubt I loved Grandma very much…her modeling this love at Christmas…her unselfishness and devotion to others came out often…when anyone would criticize someone…she would say, “You just don’t understand.”…the idea was, if you only understood, you would not criticize…never an unkind word came out of her mouth, at least in my presence…she was without peer in that area of life…

I remember getting in the car with her and going down to pick up my Grandpa after work…I would go with her often when I was quite young…and especially the day or so before Christmas, when she and I would load up the old Plymouth with all the precious cargo she had made…go down to McGarvey’s and take the bounty into the office area and the giving would begin…

It was an large open office area…with all the desks in a row…and down at the far end, behind glass walls, were the offices of the president and other officers…and in we walked…Grandma in front and me trailing behind carrying my share…as we passed each desk, she would place some cookies, all wrapped up…and of course, a fruitcake at each desk…they all thanked her and talked to her as we went on with our Christmas giving…

And as we inched toward the president’s office, I was apprehensive…but my Grandmother was not…she was a simple woman…as people would look at her today and even then…but not to me and to those who knew her…she was kind, generous and loving…and did not hold a negative thought about anyone…nor that they would ever think anything negative about her…that was her attitude and it was disarming then as it is today…it didn’t really matter what the president or those in the other offices were doing, she would stand there patiently…and they would always stop what they were doing and come out to wish her “Merry Christmas”…talk for a while…thank her for her gifts and we would leave…I don’t know if anyone else could have got away with that…but she did…

So this wonderful woman, who spent some of her growing up years in an orphanage, because her mother could not take care of her…had four children…all raised in a house 20 feet by 40 feet…and out of that kitchen in that house came a legacy which I share with you today…one of giving and love…it was Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake…

And at the end of her life…I sat on the hospital bed next to what had become a frail body of this marvelous woman…and leaned over and took her beautiful face in my hands…kissed her and told her again, the wonderful gospel story of Jesus…who came as a babe, who lived and died for her…who was waiting for her…to escort her home…and for the last time told her I loved her…and let her go…

I wish you Joy, Peace…and wonderful memories…Merry Christmas…

Ingebretsen’s…Swedish Sausage…And A Lake Benton Christmas Story…

 

This post I wrote in 2010…and it starts with comments about the year before that…but that’s okay…and you will have to put up with my Minnesota/Scandinavian talk again…but it really won’t hurt you, I promise…just a little trip down memory lane for me…and for you, well, to get you to go back to your memories…stretch a little and remember…it’s where life really begins, when you begin to remember…and don’t miss the very short story at the end…it is full of  forgiveness, giving, mercy and grace…and part of small town living, that is for the most part gone…it happens here and there, but for the most part gone from our “popular culture”…so this then, if we will “remember”, is all part of your and my Christmas celebration…enjoy…

I started this blog a year ago…and one of the first posts was about our son Jess, in Minneapolis, sending us Swedish sausage from Ingebretsen’s on Lake Street in South Minneapolis…and you can read that post by browsing the archives on the right of this post…it was a great moment as Jeremy and I saw that Fedex truck…and knew it was the Swedish sausage that was going toward our house…well, read it for yourself if you wish…

Ingebretson’s…they have been on that corner of Lake Street in South Minneapolis for longer than I have been alive…it was started in 1921…so that is 89 years, give or take a month here or there…I mentioned that we bought some Swedish sausage (also some meatball mix) when we were in Minneapolis this summer…we have had some at Thanksgiving and will have another “ring” at Christmas…although Swedish sausage is available all over the Twin Cities, of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Ingebretsen’s is the best I have ever had…my grandparents, my parents, and now our family has had their sausage for most of that 89 years…that area of Minneapolis was filled with Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finish and Icelandic immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century…and they looked for what they had in the old country…Ingebretsen’s is still run by the family…and the meat market is very busy at Christmas time…they will sell more than 7 tons of Swedish sausage in one season…in fact at the height of the Christmas season the butcher shop sells a ton (literally) of Swedish sausage and meatball mix daily…so out of that store on Lake Street not only those two meats but lutefisk, herring and all kinds of specialty items for Scandinavian tastes…like lefse and of course something I forgot to add to my post yesterday was, Lingonberries…lingonberry jam for lefse…it is so good…a tart taste but wonderful on pancakes, toast or lefse…we will have some of that when we make lefse in a few days…

One of their sayings that hits a homerun with me is: “Come to Ingebretsen’s…where some things never change because some things never should.”…and, “Keeping traditions alive.”...they also are teaching Scandinavian crafts and their gift shop is wonderful…(is this an ad or what???)…okay enough…you can see I kinda like the place…I just hope you are making traditions at your home…or continuing to carry on traditions…what ever it is for you…keep it up…

So if it’s not Swedish sausage or Swedish meatballs or lefse or lutefisk…make it your traditions that will make Christmas season a special time for your family…to gather to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child…it is a family time to be shared and to share with another generation what Christmas is and is about…

I promise a Christmas story in the title…this is one I have had for some time…it is short, simple but full of what Christmas is all about and relates to all of us at some level…for me, I know the small town in the story…know the streets…and have known people who lived there…but also I grew up with a small grocery store nearby who we knew as a friend and neighbor who allowed my mom to charge groceries from time to time…(hope you enjoy this story that came from the Minneapolis Star and Tribune on December 8, 2001…sent in by Rod Broding of Coon Rapids, Minnesota, called: Paid In Full)…

I remember the winter in Lake Benton after my dad died. It was cold. Money was scarce. We had bought fuel twice already before Christmas. Mother had charged nearly $50 worth of groceries at Ernie Gieneart’s grocery store, and it bothered her.

One morning she put $10 in an envelope for me to drop off at the store on my way to school. In fact, she insisted on pinning it to my shirt so I would not lose it. I delivered the envelope, and Ernie told me to stop by after school and pick up the receipt.

When I arrived home, I gave it to Mother. She opened it and began to cry. The $10 bill was still there, along with a wad of grocery slips. On the top one was written: “Paid in full. Merry Christmas!”

Now if that doesn’t turn on some emotion…check your pulse…I have saved that story all these years…and have read or shared it every year since 2001…

May this bring memories, hope and joy…Merry Christmas…

Posted by: Jim E | December 16, 2014

A Christmas Story…Well, Make It Two…

A Christmas Story…Well, Make It Two…

I wrote this in 2012, a Christmas story, well, two of them really…they take me back to Minnesota and my childhood…with a dear neighbor…and then a story from a teacher I worked with for years…both very important to me…and I hope will make you think of your life and memories you have…Merry Christmas…

At Christmastime, I reach back to memories of the past…and my childhood…when you get my age, most people that I meet everyday are much, much younger than I am…it gives you Christmas tree snow coveredpause…Oh, it is not a negative thing…it’s positive…I love the fact that I can remember so much more than most around me…that I actually experienced the history that most people talk about…and you know, I remember talking to people who were born just after the Civil War…who fought in WWI…who fought in WWII…these were actual people, who were there…and, of course, with my age comes the passing of most of those people…almost all of them have died…and just yesterday, Judie’s Mom died…she was 92, almost 93…so much history she experienced…and of course, all of that personal history is now gone…only what we remember of her wonderful life is still with us…all of us who knew her will try and keep that alive…

Age is a funny thing…it comes upon us while we are awake or asleep…it comes with or without our permission…and Christmas upon Christmas comes and goes…I remember so many…but in my 70 plus years, they all seem to run together…it is hard to remember each and every one…in fact what happens is we layer them, one upon the other, so we view them as a stack of slides…viewing them as a whole rather than separating them…only special circumstances make one memorable from the others…let me tell you of two memories…one that is many stories, stacked upon the others…and one that someone told me and experiences it over and over every year…these two stories are the same kind of thing, only different…stay with me here…

When I was born on February 3, 1942, Jim Burton was about 70…about my age now…and 26 pendulum clock Jim Burtonyears later, I officiated at his funeral…now that may not seem strange to you…but it does to me…he and his wife, Mary, were great friends of our family…Mr. and Mrs. Burton (as I respectfully called them growing up) were our neighbors…they lived next door to my grandparents on the south, separated by two lots and we lived next to my grandparents on the north…that neighborhood was two generations old when I was born…Jim Burton was the real estate agent who sold those small lots to people like my grandparents…all during my youth, because Mary was blind and they were aging, my mom took care of them and their needs all the years I can remember…this was a close neighborhood and everyone knew Jim and Mary Burton 1everyone…

On Christmas Eve my mom and we three boys walked over to Burton’s (many times on the way home from Christmas Eve services at church)…to spend some of the evening with them…I wish you could have seen the inside of that small house…Jim had been in the jewelry business and the house was filled with clocks (in fact I attached a picture of the clock he gave Judie and I for our wedding, almost 50 years ago)…to a young child they were beyond counting…10 or so grandfather clocks, wall clocks, mantel clocks, “Regulator” clocks…just all kinds…large and small…and it certainly fascinated a young child…inside, it was reminiscent of a “Charles Dickens” scene…dark but welcoming…the furniture was from another century it seemed…overstuffed, worn and it had that “old” look and smell…and there on the table was their Christmas tree…lights and decorations and a fewChristmas lights in dark presents…and we would relax there with a cup of tea and goodies…settle back and listen again to the stories they told…the stories of other Christmas’ in other countries (she from Norway, he from England)…and stories of their time in America…there in the dim light…dancing over our faces…this couple, whom we loved and had become such an important part of our lives…weaved the stories of a lifetime into our lives on those Christmas Eve nights…

On the way home in the darkness, with the snow crunching under our feet…we asked mom questions and rehearsed things we heard…so much of which I have now forgotten…I miss the stories of Jim and Mary…from another age…from another time…

Christmas Tree at nightAnd so with that story of Jim and Mary Burton…in reality, many stories stacked upon each other year after year…I go to a story of someone who grew up on the plains of North Dakota…we worked together in my former life…a friend and a great teacher, who sent me this after I told one of my Christmas stories to the staff…it is a keeper…you will understand after you read it…he virtually re-lives this every year…

“That takes me back to my youth on the plains of North Dakota, when on Christmas Eve afternoon, my mother packed a shoebox of items to give to an old bachelor neighbor who lived by the river a mile south of us…I can still see the box and its contents: cookies, a Christmas napkin, a new handkerchief and a tin of Prince Albert pipe tobacco…About four o’clock, my dad and I walked to his place and gave it to him…It was a Hallmark scene and I can still see the snow falling and hear and feel the wind as it made small drifts on the path in the pasture…That was a long time ago, but I still take a walk on Christmas Eve afternoon around four o’clock…Even though my father has been gone for seventeen years, he still goes along just like he did on that special trip so long ago”…

With that I wish you Joy and Peace…and wonderful memories…Merry Christmas…

Posted by: Jim E | December 13, 2014

Wonder…Christmas…Mom…C.S. Lewis…And Others…

I wrote this in 2012…It still speaks to what I believe and feel during the Christmas season…it is filled with Wonder…the birth of Jesus Christ…my past, my present…and my Mom…what more can a person ask…

Wonder…Christmas…Mom…C.S. Lewis…And Others…

I like to get up early…in fact sleeping until 7:00 is pretty much out of the question…if I happen to wake up at 5:00, its hard for me to go back to sleep…afraid I will sleep too long or something…I keep thinking, “People have to get up and are on the road by 6:00, even before, so what am I doing in bed.”…I get more done in the morning…and just enjoy the time…and of Christmas lights on mantlecourse I don’t need to go to work, so I get to use my time as I like…

Every morning I get up and turn off the home alarm…then turn on the lights…empty the dishwasher, maybe the garbage…just a few things, so we can have a “fresh start”…then I go sit on the couch for a few minutes…the only lights on are the Christmas lights…the tree, on the mantel, and above the bookshelves…Judie decorates beautifully, and especially at Christmas…so I sit back, relax and think…go through the plans for the day, about our family, about, just things…it is a wonderful time…that’s the word I want…Wonder…I have a fresh senseChristmas tree Little Rock, AR of wonder…I love that time…to wonder about all kinds of things…

My Mom had that, wonder, that is…she was a master of it…she lived with wonder in mind at all times…I don’t know if she ever read of C.S. Lewis but she had some of what he had…someone wrote, “my belief that Lewis’s mind was above all characterized by a willingness to be enchanted”…”his delight in laughter, his willingness to accept a world made by a good and loving God, and his willingness to submit to the charms of a wonderful story”…”an openness to delight”…”the possibility that anything could happen to someone who is ready to meet that anything.”…Heavens, Mom had that…let me explain by telling you about her…portions of this are from something I wrote 8 years ago…just before Mom died…

It’s just a few days after Thanksgiving…and my Mom is in a nursing home…she no longer knowsimg019 us and sleeps most of the time…she is losing weight…but her heart just keeps beating…she is so strong…but then she has always been strong…her life was not easy, but I guess life itself is not easy…there are all kinds of mishaps along the way…things we did not plan…things we did not expect…but what I find amazing is how she approached a difficult life…she did it with such contentment, acceptance and yes, wonder…

At our house at Thanksgiving, out come the recipe cards…some Mom’s, some of both Grandmas…and it seems every year I am reminded of my growing up years…when Dad got back from the Navy at the end of WWII…they built a basement for a house that I”m sure Mom expected to build someday…I’m not so sure about my Dad…but they put a roof on the basement and we lived in what we called “The Basement House” all during my growing up years…

That basement house had no indoor plumbing (we had an outhouse), no plumbing under theimg018 sink (we emptied the pail in the back yard when full), Mom’s cupboards were wooden apple boxes attached to the wall (painted and had small curtains that Mom made), the walls of the two bedrooms were 2 x 2′s covered with cardboard (painted and sometimes wallpapered), the ceilings were cardboard too…no doors to the rooms…just curtains…a furnace in the corner of the large room…a refrigerator and stove…table and chairs…and a sofa, etc…

And though compared to today and even compared to that day, she had little…I never heard her even once, complain…not then or since then…and though she had a hard life, she faced it with such contentment…and she accepted what was given her, she was devoted to her three boys and her husband…and though Dad drank throughout our growing up years, was so difficult to live with and gave little money to Mom to run the home, yet my Mom worked, and made it work…

Recapture the WonderAnd she never gave up on Wonder…in “Recapture the Wonder”, Ravi Zacharias captures what Mom seemed to have…she saw things differently than most…she saw that “Fulfilled dreams are not necessarily fulfilled hopes. Attainment and fulfillment are not the same.”…many have dreams of careers, position, power…thinking that these will bring fulfillment…but what my Mom had, she could not put into words and I don’t think I can either…but her life and her fulfillment seems to have been above the “realities” of her life…she found contentment, acceptance and wonder within her experience…and I think that is within all of us…that place that is empty or nearly so…we may have attained much, but that place is still not “filled”…and my Mom found that place and filled it, in spite of her circumstances…it was what wonder is all about…

So how could a person like my Mom find at Thanksgiving and Christmas…and really at every time of the year…such fulfillment in what she “had”…it was more than happiness…it was wonder…she was always so excited about life…though many days brought hard, hard experiences and disappointment…yet she saw with eyes the wonder of life itself…of nature, of family, of living, of friendship, of caring, of work, of things she really did not fully understand…but she had it…she had wonder…

Ravi Zacharias has some descriptions of wonder…let me share a few: “Wonder is that possession of the mind that enchants the emotions while never surrendering reason. It is a grasp on reality that does not need constant high points in order to be maintained, nor is it made vulnerable by the low points of life’s struggle. It sees in the ordinary the extraordinary, and it finds in the extraordinary the reaffirmations for what it already knows. Wonder interprets life through the eyes of eternity while enjoying the moment, but never lets the momentary vision exhaust the eternal.”

Mom had it…she had it…it is how she faced what to me were very difficult circumstances…yet she followed “the voice of direction”…that “still small voice”, which says, “This is the way, walk ye in it” (Isaiah 30:21)…and though her voice was not strong…she would sing around the house…and that song came from this wonder...”But how do we find this wonder, not merely in His name but in such a way that our heart rests in that delight?”…So in whatever life brings we need to see the wonder all around us…and fill us with that wonder that makes life wonderfulPsalm sixty five verse 8 and sacred…no matter our circumstances…

So tomorrow morning…I will wake up early…I will sit on the couch…enjoy the lights and relish the wonder of all of this…Christmas and all it holds…and memories of my Mom…and remember Psalm 65:8 “You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.”…

Posted by: Jim E | December 7, 2014

Pearl Harbor…December 7, 1941…And Christmas…

Pearl Harbor…December 7, 1941…And Christmas…

I post this again this year…how for me, Pearl Harbor and Christmas come together…enjoy and remember…Jim E

It was in 2010, that I wrote this Pearl Harbor/Christmas post…and because my Dad served in WWII, remembering Pearl Harbor is easy for me…we got a light snowfall last night…just enough to cover the grass and the Christmas lights on our bushes…a pretty sight…and it sets up this post for me and you to enjoy…I hope you get the feeling of the American people on that December day in 1941…enjoy and remember…Jim E

It was only 17 days between the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7th, 1941 and Christmas Eve, December 24th, 1941…even for someone who loves history, it becomes difficult to comprehend how close those two dates were…and to think about how people in the United States were feeling about that time, it was so close to Christmas…I was born February 3, 1942…that was a little over a month later…my brother had been born in 1939…(here is a picture of our family taken in 1944)…my Mom and Dad were very young parents, struggling through the depression that still held a tight grip on this country…in fact the world…so it was a hard time anyway, and then comes the attack on Pearl Harbor and over night this country was in the middle of the Second World War, and so was our family…not only at war with Japan but Germany also declared war on America…this country was not ready to defend itself, let alone attack our enemies…it was a dark time…

I don’t know how to put it so we might have a perspective of how Americans felt at the time…the closest thing that comes to it would be “9/11″…if you remember how numb you were and how we didn’t really know what was going to happen…I remember that night, after all planes where ordered out of the skies over America…and a number of military helicopters flew over our house…I really wondered where things were and if we would be attacked again…it was a helpless feeling…one full of possible danger and questions…

If that was our feeling, how must it felt for those living in 1941…many people didn’t even know where Pearl Harbor was…and thought our oceans that surrounded us would keep us out of war…it was a very difficult, frightening and dark time…

Today is December 7th…it is always a time for me to remember as well as do many other Americans…it is one date that we should remember and be thankful for those who served in that war…and it is because of them that we are still free…

About two months ago I found a book that connects those two dates…it is really a Christmas book…but it is also about two songs of that time as well as our time…”O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”…the book is, “In The Dark Streets Shineth”…it is written by David McCullough, who wrote “Truman”…”John Adams” and many others…he is one of my favorites…because of what he writes about and how he writes…his books are compelling…this one is no different…it comes with a DVD which shows McCullough with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at their Christmas concert…I will add a portion of his presentation of his book on YouTube…the rest you will have to get the book to see the rest of the DVD…the book is only a little over 50 pages but it is very good…it also has pictures of people of that time…both at home and also overseas…the book is unusual because the DVD and the book are the same…when you see the DVD you are hearing the book in its entirety…the book has many more pictures and it has the speeches of both Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt…both are worth the read…

Churchill came, as McCullough says, “at considerable personal risk”…across the Atlantic “in great secrecy” to meet with Roosevelt…and then he would speak to the combined Congress before he returned to England…but before that would happen, they appeared together at the White House, Christmas Eve, to light the Christmas tree…both would speak…before 20,000 people gathered there…it would have been an unusual night…the world at war, raging all over the world, with no end in sight…with things going very badly for both Britain and America…and it would be that way for a couple of years yet…no victories on the battle field or at sea for a long time…everyday bad news…

But their messages both referred to the idea of “light”…our faith, our freedom…and as Churchill said, “amid all the tumult, we have tonight the peace of the spirit in each cottage home and in every generous heart…Here, then, for one night only, each home…should be a brightly-lighted island of happiness and peace.”…the next day, Christmas Day, Churchill and Roosevelt went to church…”where with the congregation they joined in singing ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ which Churchill had never heard before.”…this American Christmas carol written in the late 1800′s has a line in the first stanza “Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light.”…McCullough then tells how that line in particular must have stood out to Churchill and Roosevelt…after his comments the night before of every home being a “brightly lighted island” in the dark…here I will add part of the DVD…it is only about 3 minutes of the over 10 minutes…but will give you a feeling of the rest of the book…[Note: I found the entire 10 plus minute video from the book, and add it here, it’s worth your time]

McCullough then goes to the song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”…written in 1943 by two New Yorkers…by 1942 there were one million Americans serving overseas…and that would grow…”when recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943, the song became the most popular song of the era, even more than ‘White Christmas’…”…this song expressed the longing for home and a light in the darkness felt by so many of those away from home for so long… click here for the song…06 – I’ll Be Home for Christmas …and who can now listen to this without understanding the longing for home by our troops who are overseas right now…the feeling is palpable…

So please, as you enjoy your Christmas season with family and friends…don’t forget how “History can be a great source of strength and affirmation, and especially in difficult, dangerous times.”…and the music we love can give us more than just something to listen to…

And how about this Christmas photo nostalgia…two young kids, oh, about 1949 or 1950…that’s me and my younger brother…just after WWII…seeing Santa…Jerry looks a little wary…me?…just as good-looking as usual…

Okay, okay…but let me wish you a Merry Christmas…we all need to remember…because that’s when life really begins…and will give us strength to bear whatever comes…memories are powerful reminders and give us courage to go on…remember our troops and do some good things for people you don’t know this Christmas…it will leave memories for you to remember…

And as this book does and as the two leaders of that day did…they “delivered a powerful message of hope that still resonates today.”…lets do the same…may joy, hope and peace be a part of your Christmas season…

When we moved into our first home in June of 1971, in Andover, Minnesota…it was in a Backyard 1new addition that was being built on what used to be a farm field…there were no trees and the ground between houses was still rutted with rows that used to be planted with crops…our builder bought this acreage between two county roads for the purpose of dividing the land into half acre lots…enough room for a house and septic system, the allotted land needed at the time to do that…so between our house and the next was plenty of room and behind our house was  adjacent land still used for pasture, where horses grazed…yup, we were out in the country at that time, though things changed rapidly…many houses were built around us…and we planted trees…just “sticks” really…Green Ash, Maple, flowering Crab apple and a number of evergreens…balsam, Colorado blue spruce…Oh, maybe 20 plus trees in all…no shade for a long time with those trees…but we had hope…

Backyard 2All this to tell a story…something that I had never seen before, nor since…but let me fill you in a bit about how this came about…the pasture behind our house was all grass with horses grazing…the kids played in that pasture over the years as it changed…even back then I remembered what I learned in 10th grade Biology class…I remember the topic, the book, the pictures on the page…the lesson was about “ecological succession”…and how a bare field would change…and over the 36 years we spent in that house, not only our kids grew up, but our lot and the field behind the house changed too…simply, the idea of ecologic succession is that if you have a  bare field of land it will change…first grass, then small woody plants, then bushes, then trees, etc…coming to what they called a climax or what it was before it was a field…animals change as well as vegetation…mites and ants, bugs and spiders, snakes and worms, mice and voles, squirrels and fox, deer and raccoon, etc….that is as quick a biology lesson as I can come up with…it is more complex than that…but that will do…

The story, okay the story…I’ll get to that…just hang on a bit…I remember all the MeadowMeadowlark Larks that we had in that field behind the house…our kids would love its “call”, that is “before” the ecological succession I talked about…the kids used to find their nests in the grass…and see them fly right to it…sit on a fence post and sing their hearts out, its a beautiful song…thinking of that always makes me think of Willa Cather’s book “O Pioneers”, about first and second generation life on the prairie, and relates to what I write about here…a quote from the book I love:

“Yes, sometimes, when I think about father and mother and those who are gone; so many of our old neighbors.” Alexandra paused and looked up thoughtfully at the stars. “We can remember the graveyard when it was wild prairie, Carl, and now–”

“And now the old story has begun to write itself over there,” said Carl softly. “Isn’t it queer: there are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before; like the larks in this country, that have been singing the same five notes over for thousands of years.”

Each generation is so certain they are the first…like the larks…same five notes over for thousands of years…oh, listen, he’s so sure he’s the first…

But when the changes happened over the 36 years we lived there…the Meadowlarks disappeared…they need open land, grass and few trees to live as they have for thousands Backyard 3of years…so the last 20 years…no Meadowlarks…we think things are going to remain the same…but they never do…life is moving, we need to get on board…there may be only two or three human stories, repeating themselves like the lark but they are our stories…

And so things changed, the Meadowlarks were gone but the trees grew…the field behind our house changed too…Cedar trees began to grow there as well as the ones in our yard…we put up bird feeders…it was one of Jeremy’s hobbies…we had feeders for hummingbirds and every other kind too…it was fun to see how many we had coming to the feeders…but like all other things in life, one moveMinnesota backyard 7 seems to make other things happen…one move causes another…(just a little Sir Isaac Newton there)…

When we put up the bird feeders, and like expected, the birds came…in droves, then we added more feeders…during migration we had visitors on their way to many places…birds of all colors and kinds…some bold and bossy…some big, some small…just all kinds…Jeremy bought birdseed by the fifty pound bag…we had a feed mill in town that we bought it from…and the birds loved it…but with birds come problems, that’s where my story comes into play…birds attract predators…and with backyard feeders come hawks…the kind of hawk most attracted is the Cooper’s Hawk…it is a smaller hawk…the Red-tail Hawk picks on bigger meals, like rabbits and the Bald Eagle goes after bigger prey…but for the Cooper’s hawk songbirds are a perfect sized meal and if you have a hawk at your feeder, it Hawk, Cooper'sis most likely a Cooper’s Hawk…they are a beautiful bird even though they can cause problems at the feeders…

Now my story has nothing to do with a hawk and songbirds…even though I could tell you about the many times we saw a Cooper’s Hawk perching on the deck railing eating a Bluejay or some other bird…or on the logs around the fire ring…and we would see the feathers that it left after eating the bird…but birds are not stupid…they warn each other if a hawk is in the area…which is what happened the day my story happened…I was on the deck looking out at the backyard…it was all the sudden very quiet…no birds at the feeders and we knew when that happened there is a hawk in the area…the warning had gone out…but out on the ground under one of the feeders was a squirrel…just eating away…he evidently didn’t “get the word”…I looked around and didn’t see any birds or hawks in my view…now, for backyard bird feeder enthusiasts, squirrels are a pain…and unlike me, Cooper’s Hawks love squirrels…so I just sat and waited…

Minnesota Backyard 5It only took a few seconds of waiting…I don’t know if you have ever seen a hawk in motion or going in for the kill…but it is a natural and beautiful thing to behold…they are quick and lethal in their movements…this Cooper’s Hawk came gliding in completely silent…a couple of flaps and a long glide…it flew through trees and bushes gliding around all the trees we had planted so long ago…the squirrel all the sudden saw him out of the corner of his eye…and though he had ignored the earlier warning and had made himself a lonely and very obvious target, he ran for his life…the closest thing to him was one of our Colorado Blue Spruce…it was about 25 feet tall and about 20 feet from where he was…the hawk was right on him but missed him as he scampered into the tree…the hawk was now on the ground having missed him…but if you know about the Cooper’s Hawk, they will fly into Squirrel, Greyheavy brush or even run on the ground in pursuit…

The hawk did just that…this is what I had never seen before or since…the hawk ran into the blue spruce and climbed right after the squirrel, using his wings like we would our arms and hands…and he was quick about it…the squirrel went up, so did the hawk…the squirrel changed positions, so did the hawk…finally the squirrel must have realized as I did that he was “toast” if he kept on moving around…he found a place up high and hunkered down…so did the hawk…no one moved for a few seconds…then the squirrel tried to break down the tree, so did the Minnesota Backyardhawk…the squirrel decided that his best bet was to stay quiet…he was right, I don’t know if he even breathed…after a few more seconds…finally the hawk must have thought this was taking too much energy and time…he came out of the tree…probably said “Harrumph” a couple of times…and flew away…the squirrel after a minute or two came down and left for home and a nap…the birds???…they came back as if nothing had happened…me??? I sat there amazed…a once in a lifetime experience…

Okay, catch your breath…okay maybe not “that” good…but an okay story right???…and best of all it was all true…nature is wonderful…get out and enjoy it…plus we had a little lesson on life…a Biology lesson…and no one died…I’m giving myself some kudos for that…

 

 

 

 

I thought you might like to read this on Memorial Day 2014…I get Fox News First everyday…and it is mostly political in nature…but not today…it is just, very good writing…and touches the heart, which is what good writing does…it’s all good, but two of his comments are also poignant comments about our culture…
 
Americans don’t much do cemetery trips these days – or cemeteries, for that matter. If Marine on the St. Croix cemeteryyou don’t believe in those words “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting,” then a cemetery wouldn’t be of much use to you. But more than that, we have a culture now based on “closure,” in which we learn to seal off the hurts of our hearts and bury them deeper than the deepest grave. Remembrance is of no virtue to people who believe that their purpose is the pursuit and maintenance of their own happiness.

What an impoverishment of spirit that is. I once had an editor who believed that the best way for foreigners to understand Americans was to read our obituaries – to meet these gentle, kind, faithful, loved and loving people who passed their lives unknown to all but those whom they touched directly. I increasingly believe she was right

Livingston Cemetery, Clark County, IllinoisI found myself, as I read this, in southern Illinois, near Marshall…near “The Farm”…everyone in the extended Yeley family knows what that means…strolling through the Livingston Cemetery…but also I found myself looking through the Marine on the St. Croix Cemetery, in Minnesota, high on the bluff above the St. Croix River…searching to find the Elmquist family graves…and of course Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, where my Mom and Dad are buried…thoughts and feelings explode into memories, as I move through those relativelyFort Snelling 1 small plots of land…all within my own mind…
So enjoy this the way I did…slowly read and let your experience, your history, waft through your mind…remembering those who’s legacy you carry…Jim E

 

Fox News First: May 26
By Chris Stirewalt

On Memorial Day, Some Portals to the Past

My recollections of Memorial Day are dusty and filled with the creaking sound of the springs on my cousin’s Buick Roadmaster as it forded dry streambeds and trundled along rutted country roads in southern Illinois – and then the thwack of fat June bugs popping on the windshield as she picked up speed on the blacktop down towards the Harmony Grove church.

To the eyes of a suburban boy, the places she took my father and me were just empty prairie. To my father’s eyes, they were filled with the faint lines of places and people he had known as a boy. That caved-in pile of sheet metal and rotten boards was Wick Cage’s general store where his father carried eggs to sell. That empty corner was where his grandfather’s little house had stood in the dirt yard where the old man, standing in his best starched overalls at the head of a long table carried outside for the occasion, had poured dippers of iced tea out of a galvanized bucket. Where the hens watched nervously as one of their own made for Sunday dinner.

Just as my old man would start waxing nostalgic, our tour guide moved us along. We were not there to remember life. We were there to visit the dead. My cousin had been retired from the Air Force longer than I had been alive, and she took seriously her job not just as family historian, but as one who would see that our family would do its part for Memorial Day – for Decoration Day as it was once properly known.

GravestonesAnd on to another cemetery we would go, this one clutched by slender locust trees and set back from the road on a rise above Hurricane Creek. Who came to this ancient place keep it up? Who oiled and painted that wrought-iron gate? Who trimmed back the grass from the tiny headstone of an unnamed stillborn child dead for 120 years? Why? No time for questions. Cousin mustered us out and deployed the flag markers for the military men and flowers for the civilians. Back in the Roadmaster and back on the road. A whole day went by that way, graves of my ancestors and graves of those unknown to us. The Black Hawk War, the Civil War, World War I, and on and on.

You can stand at the Dodge Grove Cemetery up the highway in Mattoon, where my Flags on graves, Memorial Daygrandmother’s people were well-off enough to be laid to rest beneath monuments amid mausoleums. From there you see the rise of the earth reveal the graves of hundreds of Civil War dead, including three generals, as the locals will tell you. And any of them, officers or enlisted, who had no one to decorate their graves that day, got a flag, courtesy of our little honor guard.

Americans don’t much do cemetery trips these days – or cemeteries, for that matter. If you don’t believe in those words “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting,” then a cemetery wouldn’t be of much use to you. But more than that, we have a culture now based on “closure,” in which we learn to seal off the hurts of our hearts and bury them deeper than the deepest grave. Remembrance is of no virtue to people who believe that their purpose is the pursuit and maintenance of their own happiness.

What an impoverishment of spirit that is. I once had an editor who believed that the best way for foreigners to understand Americans was to read our obituaries – to meet these gentle, kind, faithful, loved and loving people who passed their lives unknown to all but those whom they touched directly. I increasingly believe she was right.

Marine on the St. Croix houseBut I have a corollary to add: The best way for Americans to know themselves and their history is to walk among the quiet headstones of our graveyards. See the dates and realize how young they were. Read the inscriptions. Feel the cool marble. Imagine. You can know your family that way, but you can know what America is by placing yourself among the remains of the men and now women who died to make her and to defend her.

No politics today. Instead, we offer you a few of the portals from which to begin that journey – places to let that knowledge start to wash over you. Places where you can leave a flag and offer up a little word of thanks.

— The inscription at the Daughters of the American Revolution Memorial Marker in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania reads  “Near this spot, lies Lieutenant John Waterman, died April 23, 1778, whose grave alone of all his comrades was marked.” Some 2,000 Continental soldiers died at Valley Forge or in distant hospitals. Most expired not in the dead cold of winter, but in the spring, when influenza, typhus, typhoid and dysentery more than decimated the camp. Waterman died during this time. His lonely gravestone on the grand parade ground was marked simply, “JW 1778.” He was later identified by his initials as aAmerican flag Rhode Island officer.

— In Grafton National Cemetery, Grafton, West Virginia rests Private Thornesberry Bailey Brown, believed to be the first Union casualty of the Civil War.  Brown mustered into service in Company B, 2nd Virginia Infantry, and served under Captain George R. Latham as part of the “Grafton Guards.”  On May 22, 1861, near present-day Grafton, a Confederate sentry ordered Brown to halt.  Brown refused and shot the sentry in the ear.  The sentry returned fire, shooting Brown in the heart.

— At Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York lies Sgt. Wilbur E. Colyer. Served in the U.S. Army in World War I and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery near Verdun, France, on October 9, 1918. His citation reads “Volunteering with 2 other soldiers to locate machinegun nests, Sgt. Colyer advanced on the hostile positions to a point where he was half surrounded by the nests, which were in ambush. He killed the gunner of one gun with a captured German grenade and then turned this gun on the other nests silencing all of them before he returned to his platoon. He was later killed in action.”

— Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee is the final resting place of Cornelia Fort. Nashville’s first woman flight instructor,  she was giving a flying lesson as a civilian instructor over Honolulu, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941 and witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Fort was the second woman to join the Woman’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, which ferried planes to free up male pilots for combat assignments. She was the first WAFS pilot to die in the line of duty. Cornelia Fort was killed while ferrying a BT-13 Valiant trainer when it collided with another plane over Texas on March Flags Memorial Day21, 1943.

–On April 5 1951, Naval Hospitalman Richard D. Wert was serving with the Marines as they cleared North Korean guerrillas from rural areas of South Korea and as they aided in driving the enemy beyond the Thirty-Eighth Parallel. While with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines during an attack on Chinese Communist forces, De Wert continually rejected medical treatment for his wounds to provide first aid to fallen marines. Under intense fire he provided treatment to four marines, De Wert was killed in action while tending to an injured comrade. The Medal of Honor and Purple Heart recipient was originally buried in Korea, re-interred at the Woodlawn National Cemetery, Elmira, N.Y, but in 1987 upon request from his family, was laid to rest in his home where his grave can be found in section 5 at the Massachusetts’s National Cemetery in Bourne.

— At Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Oakville, Missouri you can find Air Force Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who served in the 8th Special Operations Squadron. He was shot down and killed while piloting his A-37B Dragonfly aircraft in the vicinity of An Loc, in South Vietnam. His remains were buried in Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of The Unknowns as an unidentified soldier from the Vietnam War. After petitioning the United States Government for permission, his family had his body exhumed. DNA tests confirmed that the previously unknown soldier was, in fact, Michael Blassie.

— Staff Sgt. James M. Christen of Loomis, California died in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, on his third deployment overseas. Sgt. Christen previously served two tours in Iraq. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Staff Sgt. James Christen now rests with many of his comrades from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan in Section 60, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.


 

Worth the trip don’t you think???…hope you enjoyed reading this trip into all our Fort Snelling 2past…and then I will leave you with another picture where my folks are buried…Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis…its a cemetery for all who served in the armed forces…my Dad served in WWII, in the Navy…they both wanted to be buried there…my Dad kept reminding us that they were to be buried there…he was proud of his service and wanted to be buried with those whom he related to best…I think all who served never lost that bond…the war changed my Dad in profound ways, too many to talk about here…but his relationship to other veterans never changed with all that he experienced since WWII…may they all rest in peace…with our thanks for all they gave…

Posted by: Jim E | May 24, 2014

Memorial Day, I Remember…

 

Memorial Day, I Remember…

(This is something I wrote in 2010,  for Memorial Day…thought I would post it again…enjoy and if you can,  fly the flag…and remember how fragile our freedom is…how precious our liberty…and though it seems impossible, how easy it would be to lose it…we have come close in our history a number of times, who knows we could be close to it now…so this is not the time to forget that or to lose hope in this special and exceptional country…)

Another Memorial Day…and I don’t mean, “just another Memorial Day”…I do mean, “It IS another Memorial Day”…I am humbled by the day itself…this is not, as even some presidents mistakenly view it, a day to honor all our men and women in the armed forces…(though we do honor them)…there are other days set aside for that…Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day, days to honor the different services…this day is for the fallen…those who have given their lives for this great country of ours…

On the way to church this morning we went by a sign in front of Parkway Automotive, an auto repair shop, it said…”Closed Memorial Day…to honor those who have fallen”…that pretty much says it all…across our country there are ceremonies to remember what it takes to be free…it takes men and woman who are willing to give their lives to make sure we stay free…I have our flag flying outside our house all year…but as you can see, I add a few others to honor Memorial Day…

Arlington National Cemetery, just outside Washington D. C., is very well known…it was the family home of Robert E. Lee before the Civil War…but it was basically “taken” because of he fought on the side of the South during the war…(there is more to that story if you would like to Google it)…and it was turned into a cemetery during the Civil War…and after…many famous Americans are buried there…this song by Trace Adkins may make the story a little more personal…

But Arlington National Cemetery is not the only place our fallen are buried…my Dad, who served in WWII, is buried in Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN…and because of his service, my Mom was is buried right beside him…this picture of Fort Snelling is so beautiful…I remember very well the day we buried my Dad and then the day we buried my Mom…and I remember exactly where it is…I think I could drive right to it…but all those markers sure tell a story…they all served, many of them died far before their “time” in wars that keep us free even today…and many others were able to live full lives because others gave theirs…and my Dad knew the difference…he often told us that the real heroes never made it back…

He served in the south Pacific in the Navy…saw more than he ever wanted to…didn’t talk much about it…but was so proud that he served…and he wanted us to know, when he and Mom died, they wanted to be buried at Fort Snelling…along with all those who went before…he lived to be almost 83…and he along with so many that I knew, were forever changed by The War…and much like that war, men and women who serve today are changed in ways the rest of us cannot know…

One more picture of Fort Snelling…my Mom and Dad are there…I honor them today…but not only them…all of those who served and died to keep us Free…We honor them today…

Posted by: Jim E | May 7, 2014

Jeremy’s 44th Birthday…A Rehash…

Birthday rehash…so Jeremy went to work this morning…could have had the day off…but wanted the hours (no doubt wants to buy his wonderful Dad something special)…so I asked him last night and this morning too…”So did you have a good day for your birthday?”…he said yes, he enjoyed the day…let me tell you my interpretation of his goodJeremy's 44th birthday day…as he related it to me…
 
He got up and I fixed him the breakfast he wanted…sausage and eggs…course the eggs weren’t done to his “high standards”…but the Jimmy Dean sausage was fine (Jimmy Dean would be happy to know that)…we told him, “Heavens, for someone who wasn’t suppose to make it to four and now you’re forty four, you’re doing quite well.”…then lunch at “Senor Te…”…Oh, never mind, he always calls it “The Mexican Place” (too difficult to say it’s name, I guess)…I wait in the car, he and Mom take in “The Mexican Place”…he can eat 6 or 8 times a day, I can’t…well, I could but I don’t…then “His Birthday Meal”…for those who were there, by watching the “Ever Effervescent Jeremy”, you might not believe he enjoyed the meal or the company…but you would be mistaken…he is thinking more than he says or tells…Mom Jeremy's 44th birthday 4and I can “read” him after all these years…
 
While the rest of us are “Chopped Liver”…when Jared Jr. came in…that was one of the high points of his evening, he knows Jared has other things to do…like work and so on…but he asked Jared to come, but didn’t think he could make it…and was satisfied that he would have to work late…Jeremy wanted Jared to have some of his birthday cake…Creme de Menthe cake (white cake with creme de menthe in it…frosted with chocolate frosting…then frosted with Kool Whip/with creme de menthe in it, over the top the chocolate frosting)…now this cake recipe was from one of his favorite cooks at St. Francis High School, with whom Jeremy worked in the kitchen in high school…this cake is his favorite and one that Jared Jr. likes too…so Jeremy asked Jared to come…somehow, though some might not understand, those things are important to Jeremy…therefore, when Jared came in, lights went on for Jeremy…
 
And his FBI hat…Jeremy makes friends easily…they may not always understand Jeremy's 44th birthday 2him…verbal skills being what they are…but somehow they are enamored with him…I don’t know if they even know why…but I have seen it over the years…when he was very young…3-4-5 years of age, what he has now, he had then…I would notice as (something we say in Minnesota) “we had people in”…they may or may not have met Jeremy before…but all the sudden he was up in their lap…talking away (a bit of his Mom in him, dontcha know)…they being so interested in what he had to say…I sat and watched that happen over and over…”How did he do that? He just slipped up in their lap without them even understanding what happened and seemed to have no problem with it.”…he still has that ability today…maybe not “up in their lap” but finds himself within their personal space that they would not give up to most anyone else…but to Jeremy, it seems somehow okay…how he does it I don’t know…and those that know him, “in family” for example…find it hard to understand…
 
So the FBI hat…Gary and Sharon are neighbors here in Montagne Court have “taken to Jeremy”…now first, that makes them a special pair…no one has to do what they do with Jeremy…so kudos to them…but when Gary came before his birthday party started, and Jeremy's 44th birthday 3came in and gave Jeremy a card…(which of course, will be read later) but also gave him one of his FBI hats (Gary is recently retired from the FBI)…now that was a big deal…Jeremy wore that around all night long, including during the meal…and when Gary was here, Jeremy talked to him about his birthday meal…”Mom’s meat loaf”, mashed potatoes, green beans, El Grande salad (lettuce, pepperoni, black olives, red onion, grated Monterey Jack Cheese, topped with Green Goddess dressing/thinned with a splash of vinegar…voila…delicious)…every year it’s the same, along with his cake…
 
Ah, the cake…Jeremy told Gary about the cake…and told him he would bring him a piece if there was any left…Gary told Jeremy that it sounded good but that he should enjoy it and there probably would not be any left…of course, for anyone that knows Jeremy “real well” would know…that would be on Jeremy’s mind the rest of the night…and at the table and opening the gifts, he was his normal “pain in the backside Jeremy”…but on his mind during that and the “eating of the cake”…more than one piece for some…and if those who were there noticed…when all the cake was served…Jeremy disappeared…he had cut a couple of pieces and put in a container…and he was gone…Gary and Sharon were going to get the cake he promised “if there was any left”…a promise is a promise…there may be some missing links in Jeremy, as in all of us, but though he isn’t the size of an elephant…he, as the proverbial elephant, never forgets…(flavored honey at the Jeremy's 44th birthday 5Minnesota State Fair or anything else, that reference is for Jessica)…
 
So, did Jeremy have a good day…”Ya”, he said…and he meant it…he had his favorite meal…his favorite cake…Jared Jr. came directly from work…when he didn’t have to…he enjoyed the cake…received a “dancing pickle” card from Don and Carol…a card and hat from Gary and Sharon…and of course, the rest of us, yup, “Chopped Liver”…but all put together, makes a perfect birthday for someone who has a special gift to give…we, like so many over the years just have to “pick over the life” we know so well and find those special things…we, Mom and I, have decided long ago to give ourselves to that quest and to “see” the gift that we know to be Jeremy…
 

Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 128 other followers