Category Archives: Children

The Cellist

She was thirteen and just starting middle school. She felt out-of-place and disliked. It was plain to see that she had no friends. There was no one who would talk to her, no one who would eat with her during lunch time, no one who would walk with her to class, and no one who would sit with her on the bus. It seemed that no one liked her.

She struggled with homework and she had a difficult time when it came to taking tests. She felt like she couldn’t learn anything, couldn’t remember anything, and couldn’t do anything right. No one understood her, cared what happened to her, and it seemed as though no one even knew that she existed. And she felt sad as she wondered: Is this the way that it’s meant to be?

Then one day it happened. There was something new in her life, something exciting, something just for her.

A cello.

This magnificent instrument entered her life and she began to learn how to play it. She practiced and practiced and then practiced some more. It wasn’t long before she became a member of the school orchestra. Yes, it was wonderful, and her world became a better place.

Her cello became her constant companion and her best friend. This friend was always there for her, understood her, and never let her down. When she played her cello, she could be herself and everything was all right.

She began to make friends at school – friends who played in the orchestra with her. These friends introduced her to more friends. Soon, friends were calling her at home, walking with her to class, eating lunch with her, and riding with her on the bus. And she knew that life was good. She was filled with happiness as she thought: Maybe this is the way that it’s meant to be!

Three years passed and she entered high school. All the old anxieties came rushing back to her. She was sure it would be the same thing all over again – no one to understand her, no one to care about her, and no friends except for her faithful cello.

She auditioned for and subsequently won a place in the concert orchestra, which was quite a feat for a freshman because freshmen rarely were allowed to play in the concert orchestra. Surely luck played a part in her placement. It never occurred to her that it was her talent which had secured her position.

Then something wonderful happened. The other kids told her that she was good; as a matter of fact, they said that she was really good. As before, she made new friends, and those friends introduced her to more friends.

By the time she was a junior, she was the first chair in the cello section – the chair reserved only for the best cellist. At last she was really someone, someone of status, someone who played an important part in the orchestra. And she knew that life was good. With a feeling of great joy and hope she marveled: Yes! Maybe this really is the way that it’s meant to be!

Then came her senior year, the year that every teenager awaits with eager anticipation. It was a wonderful year; indeed a memorable year, and at the final orchestra concert, she and her best friend – her beloved cello – played a solo. She played for an audience of 500 people or more. The piece she played was a difficult one, but she played it perfectly, and her best friend – her cello – did not let her down.stephcello4

When she finished, there was silence. Oh no! she thought in dismay. They didn’t like it!

Then it happened – a thunderous applause! All those people were clapping for her! One by one, everyone in the auditorium stood up and applauded. She could hardly believe it – a standing ovation! This was a rare thing indeed! But it really was not that difficult to understand why this happened. The audience recognized the talent she had, they appreciated the beautiful way she had played, and they gave her the credit that she truly deserved.

She knew then that she had found her life’s work.

And finally she realized: I know this is the way that it’s meant to be.

 

* Author’s Note:  At the present time (May of 2015), our youngest daughter Stephanie has just completed her first year of studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison where she is pursuing her master’s degree in music performance on the cello. Her dream of being a professional cellist and some day performing with a symphony orchestra burns brightly.

 

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Writing 101: Day Fifteen – “Your Voice Will Find You”

Day  Fifteen – Your Voice Will Find You: 

* Today’s Prompt:  You’re told that an event that’s dear to your heart — an annual fair, festival, or conference — will be cancelled forever (or taken over by an evil organization). Write about it.

* Today’s Twist:  While writing this post, focus again on your own voice.

The event that is near and dear to my heart and which would create quite an emotional reaction from me if it were forever cancelled would be the Minnesota State Fair.

The Minnesota State Fair, which is also known to us Minnesotans as “The Great Minnesota Get-Together” runs for twelve days from MN State Fair 1late August into early September, ending on Labor Day. The state fairgrounds are located in the neighborhood of Falcon Heights, which is halfway between our state’s capital city of St. Paul (the city which I grew up in) and its largest city, Minneapolis. The Minnesota State Fair enjoys the reputation of being the largest state fair in the United States by average daily attendance.

I have been attending the Minnesota State Fair since my childhood and I have many fond memories associated with doing so. One such memory includes the time that my only brother (now deceased) and I rode the roller coaster together. I recall how terrified I was. I thought for certain that I was going to fly out of the roller coaster car and land on the ground to meet an early death. I began to sob, and so my brother put his arm around my shoulders and said, “Don’t worry, Cindy. It’s okay. I won’t let anything happen to you. Just close your eyes and hang on. Pretty soon it will be all over and when we’re done, I’ll buy you some cotton candy, okay?” He made me feel so safe and so loved.

bandshellDuring my teenage years, my friends and I would take the city bus every morning and arrive at the fair as soon as it opened. We didn’t have much money, but all we needed was just enough to cover the admission fee and the cost of soft drinks and lunch and dinner. Then we’d spend the day sitting in the audience at the band shell watching the free entertainment which was provided. And we had our favorites such as Billy ThunderKloud and the Chieftones and the Jack D’Johns. Then every evening at 7 p.m. the talent show was held and we’d stay to watch it, pretending that we were the judges, trying to figure out who were the best acts and who would be chosen to go on to the next round. We did this for every day of the fair, come rain or come shine, for three or four years in a row, until eventually we outgrew it.

After I was married, I didn’t attend the state fair for quite a number of years. This was due to the fact that my husband Mike has severe seasonal allergies and it is around this time of the year that he is most affected by them. There was one year, however, that he agreed to take me to the fair just to please me, but he suffered the entire time that we were there, so I never asked him to go with me again because it just didn’t seem fair to put him through such misery just so I could have a good time.

But then our children came along and I began taking them to the Minnesota State Fair and this is when many more wonderful memories were made. My two daughters and I have been to the fair together on numerous occasions, and when we go together, we have the best time ever.

Usually we park our car at Northtown Mall near my house and board a bus which shuttles passengers directly to the fairgrounds. This dairy buildingis the best way to go to the fair because then you don’t have to try to find a place to park your car near the fair grounds, and believe me, usually you wind up parking a mile or two away!

After arriving, we head straight to the Dairy Building where it’s chocolate shakes for everyone, and here they make the best chocolate shakes you’ve ever tasted – cold, smooth, creamy, and so rich and full of chocolate goodness! While we drink our shakes, we sit on a bench on the street curb and watch while animal owners walk with their goats and lambs and horses and other various animals up and down the avenue. I know this might sound boring, but it’s really quite a lot of fun. We’ve seen some very interesting things happen. As a matter of fact, we’ve seen some downright hysterical things happen. But then again, whenever we’re together, we always have a good time.

lambsSometimes we’ll take a leisurely stroll over to the Miracle of Birth Center. This building describes exactly what it is. It’s where you can watch all kinds of animals such as pigs, sheep, goats, horses, etc. – give birth at any given time. You just have to time it right. I’ll never forget the first time that we entered this building and saw a sheep give birth to her lamb. My youngest daughter Stephanie and I witnessed the entire birth, from start to finish, and had the perfect view because we were right up front. But my oldest daughter Sarah couldn’t bear to watch it. She actually had to turn away. You never saw anyone exit a building so fast! And my girls were not little girls then – I believe they were probably 12 and 14 years of age then.

We always head over to the Arts and Crafts Building. Now this is my favorite building to walk through. I just love to see the beautiful arts and crafts buildinghandicrafts that people like me have made with their very own hands, probably because I love to do arts and crafts myself. I especially enjoy looking at the quilts because again, this is a hobby of mine. And I enjoy noticing which projects received the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Grand Prizes. It usually takes us over an hour to get through this building because it’s not a building that you can rush through. But then again, we never rush through this day. We take our time. Everything is done at a leisurely pace because we want to enjoy the day and each other’s company. As a matter of fact, I always tell my girls before we leave to remember that we have to enjoy our day together and that we’re not going to rush anything. And they always chime together: “Yes, Mom. We know.”

We usually stop at the band shell at some point during the day to sit and watch the various acts for a while and then we always come back later in the evening to watch the entire talent show. And when we do, it always brings a smile to my face as I remember those days of being there during my teenage years. It is a nostalgic experience for me.

skyrideAnd what would a trip to the fair being without going to the Midway at some time throughout the day? According to my girls, it just wouldn’t be the same. And so we always go on at least a few rides. There is one ride that we always go on without fail, and that is the Skyride, which is located right before you get to the Midway. The Skyride is a cable car system that “glides” people above the treetops and across the fairgrounds. It’s a great way to see the Minnesota State Fair. Every time before we go to the fair together, I promise my girls that I will go on the Skyride with them, but then when it’s time to get on, I’m scared out of my wits because guess what? I’m afraid of heights! But I take a deep breath, gather up my courage, and get into the cable car anyway. Yep, that’s right. I sit in between my girls and I hold on to each of their hands and I squeeze their hands – hard! And while we’re on that Skyride, I think they have the time of their lives! The little buggers! Oh, well. I guess it’s good for kids to know that their parents get scared sometimes, too, right?

Now while we’re having all this fun, guess what else we’re doing? You guessed it. Eating. Our favorite foods to eat at the fair are: chocolate shakes, cheeseburgers, roasted ears of corn, pronto pups, cheese curds, cotton candy, french fries, deep-fried candy bars, caramel apples, mini-donuts, fried chicken, baked potatoes, chocolate chip cookies, and soft pretzels. Now remember – we do a lot of walking, which hopefully helps us to walk off all those calories!bullriding

We always end our day by going to the rodeo in the evening. My girls and I love to go the rodeo. But in order to go, we first make a stop at the bazaar and buy cowboy hats because you simply cannot attend the rodeo without wearing a cowboy hat, right? Our favorite event to watch at the rodeo is bull riding. My husband really gets a kick out of the fact that I enjoy the rodeo. He simply had a hard time believing that someone like me would ever enjoy an event like the rodeo, but I guess I surprised him! Yes, I’m just full of surprises.

fireworksBy the time the rodeo is finished, dark has fallen on the fairgrounds, and we hike up to the grandstand, where the performance for that evening is drawing to a close. As we get nearer to the grandstand, we can always hear that night’s band winding down. We find a spot on the street and settle down to wait for the performance to end. As soon as it does, we know what comes next, and we’re never disappointed. Soon the fireworks display begins high above the grandstand and we watch together, while we “ooh” and “ah,” happy in the moment, but also sad because we know that our day is slowly drawing to an end.

When the last of the fireworks has vanished from the skies, we walk at our slowest pace to where our bus is waiting to take us back to where our day began, and usually this is a quiet walk. It’s as though we’re all thinking about what transpired during the day. It’s as though we’re all trying to sear it into our memories forever.

We may not remember everything we did, every word we spoke, or everything we laughed about, but we will always remember the way that we felt when we were together at “The Great Minnesota Get-Together” – the Minnesota State Fair.

 

 

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Writing 101 – Day Twelve: “(Virtual) Dark Clouds on the Horizon”

Day  Twelve – (Virtual) Dark Clouds on the Horizon: 

* Today’s Prompt:  Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.

* Today’s Twist:  Include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.

As we sat around the dinner table on that Friday evening in May, everyone in my family was in good spirits. After all, Memorial Day was the following weekend, which meant a longer weekend for everyone. My husband was taking the next Friday off work and since the following Monday was Memorial Day itself, we were planning to take a family camping trip, something which everyone always enjoyed.

“So Dad,” said my son Joe, “do you think the fish will be biting next weekend up at the lake where we’ll be camping?”

“Well, they’d better be. Or else why go camping, right?” my husband Mike laughed, thinking he’d just made the funniest joke in the world.

I rolled my eyes.

“You know, dear, there is more to do than just fishing on a camping trip,” I said.

“Nothing that’s worthwhile, right, Joe?” He laughed again and Joe played along, laughing right with him.

“Honestly, Dad, you think you’re so funny,” my oldest daughter Sarah exclaimed.

“Yeah, Dad,” my youngest daughter Stephanie agreed.

“Okay, okay. Enough said. By the way, Sarah,” Mike continued, “I think maybe we should go out after dinner and have you practice your driving. What do you think?”

Sarah was silent, her eyes downcast as she pushed her food around on her plate. This was really out of the norm for my usually talkative daughter.

“Sarah?” Mike looked at her intently. “Sarah, did you hear what I said?”

“Yes, Dad. I heard you.” Sarah said this in such a soft voice that I could barely hear her.

“Well, don’t you think that’s a good idea?”

“I’m just not sure if I’m ready.”

“Not ready? Honey, you’ve been taking driver’s ed classes at school the entire last term and from your scores, you passed with flying colors. It seems to me that you’re more than ready. You’ve been behind the wheel in school, and I think it’s time for you to get behind the wheel here at home, don’t you?”

“I . . . I just don’t know, Dad.”

“Well, I do. You have to do it some time, or you’re never going to get your driver’s license.”

“But . . . but I’m afraid, Dad.”

“Afraid? What are you afraid of, honey?”

“I’m afraid that something bad is going to happen.”

“Oh, nothing bad is going to happen, I promise. And besides, I’ll be right there with you. It’ll be okay. You just have to get in there and do it, that’s all. And once you do, you’re going to wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Just try, okay? That’s all I ask.”

“Oh . . . I . . . I don’t know . . .”student driver

“Please, honey?”

“Oh . . . okay, I guess.”

“That’s my girl. It’ll be fine. You’ll see.”

And soon after all the dishes were finished being washed, dried, and put away, Mike and Sarah left for her driving practice. I noticed quite a contrast between the two of them as they left the house. Mike had the look of a proud father with a twinkle in his eye and a beaming smile; whereas Sarah had a worried look on her youthful countenance, with a furrowed brow and her lips curved down instead of the radiant smile she usually displayed. And as they walked down the driveway and into the garage, Mike did it with a bounce in his step; whereas Sarah shuffled slowly and hesitantly. For some reason, as they were opening the doors to the car, I offered up a prayer for their safety.

About an hour later, I was sitting in the living room watching a television program when suddenly I heard a loud boom! The first thought that came to my mind was: Goodness! I didn’t realize that we were going to get a storm this evening, but wasn’t that thunder I just heard? I looked out through my living room window for a peek at the clouds, but sure enough, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. This was when I realized that something was terribly wrong.

I rushed into the kitchen to look out through the kitchen window and that’s when I saw what had happened. The car that Sarah and Mike had left home in had returned, but it was not parked in the garage. It had crashed through the garage wall next to the garage door. I gasped as I realized that they were still inside, but before I even had time to react, the car doors opened and both of them emerged from the car.

Sarah was the first one to enter the house. As she rushed past me, the only thing I heard her say in an angry voice was: “I will never drive for as long as I live. Never!”

I learned from my husband that on entering the driveway, Sarah confused the brake pedal with the accelerator. He also said that if they had hit the garage wall only two feet over to the right, the entire garage wall would have come down on them. Thank God for small miracles.

I think my husband learned a valuable lesson that night – that everything has its own time. And my daughter also learned a lesson that night – that she should learn to trust herself and her feelings.

Eventually Sarah did get over her fear of driving and today she drives with the best of them. And she still has a great gift of intuition, which comes to her naturally and hereditarily. The only difference is that now she has learned to trust it.

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The Boy Who Was Meant To Be Our Son

The time had come for my husband and me to make a momentous decision that would change our lives forever. Both of us had grown up in big families; Mike had five siblings, and I had six. We both knew the joys and happiness of being part of a large family, and we wanted to have the same kind of family – with at least three children

We had moved into our four bedroom home about eight years before, but the rooms were empty and the silence was deafening. We wanted to hear the sound of children padding down the hallway in their slippers. We wanted to say goodnight prayers with them before they went to sleep. We wanted to be good parents and encourage and comfort our children as needed. This was our wish, but no matter how hard we tried, our wish would not come true.

Actually, I had been pregnant once. It was right before we moved into our house. During this time, we were so excited and happy.  We thought it was the perfect time to have a baby. Naturally, I wanted to share our happiness so I called my mother, all my sisters and my brother and told them the good news.  Mike did the same with his side of the family. At that time, life seemed so perfect.

Then it happened.  Two days after my pregnancy was confirmed, I suffered a miscarriage and our perfect dream was ruined.

I will never forget that tragic day. I was so depressed and so unhappy. What if I could never give birth to a child? What would we do then? We had tried so many times to get pregnant and when we finally did, I miscarried. Our hopes and dreams of a big family soon grew dim.

Three more years passed by and still no baby. We went to fertility specialists and had all sorts of tests and procedures done.  Nothing happened. No matter what we tried, I still did not become pregnant.

It was around this time I decided I needed a change of pace.The plan was for me to go to nursing school, and when I graduated I could work in the operating room. I had two sisters who worked in the operating room and it sounded like the perfect job for me. My husband supported me in this decision, as he always did.

I started nursing school. I had a very hectic schedule. I would go to work in the morning, still working my full-time hours, and when I finished working for the day, I went to nursing school. Then I would get home around 10:00, eat something for dinner, and shortly after that I would retire to my bed.The next morning, I woke up and started all over again. My weekends were filled with studying and doing clinicals. These were the hours we spent at the hospital working as student nurses. It was valuable experience.

But no matter how hard I worked, whether it be at my job or in school, I knew there was still a hole in our lives. I also knew that the only thing that would fill this hole would be a baby. I talked with Mike about this and after many such discussions we decided that we would go ahead and adopt a child. After all, any child was God’s child, and we would be honored to raise one of God’s children.

We decided to go through Catholic Charities and begin the process of adoption. We wanted a newborn baby, and Mike wanted a son.  So after all the paperwork and red tape, it was finally just a matter of waiting for the baby. They informed us that it would be about three years for the adoption to occur. This meant that I would have plenty of time to graduate from nursing school and find a job working as a nurse before our baby came.

As the days passed by, we redecorated one of the bedrooms and made it into the nursery. We painted it blue because blue is Mike’s favorite color. I made curtains for the windows and a matching quilt for the crib. The theme for the nursery was “Care Bears”. . Care Bears were all over the room; in the curtains, in the quilt, in the pictures on the wall, and there were even Care Bear toys in the crib.

Next came the moment to hang a plaque on the wall which matched our sentiments exactly:  On the plaque were these words:

 Not flesh of my flesh,
 Nor bone of my bone,
 But still miraculously my own.

 Never forget for a single minute;
You didn’t grow under my heart

But in it.

As a final touch, we hung a cross on the wall; a symbol that our baby was loved by the Lord.

We  were finished.  All we had to do now was wait for our son to be born. We had already decided on a name.  We would name him Joseph Michael – Joseph after my husband’s father, and Michael after my husband.

Life continued with me working every day and going to school every night. Another year passed, and then it happened. I was home studying for a big exam that we were having that evening. As I was sitting in the kitchen, surrounded by all my books and notebooks, the telephone rang. It was my husband Mike.

“What are you doing?” he asked nonchalantly.

“I’m studying for the test – what do you think I ‘m doing?”  Because of the difficulty of the upcoming exam, I was under a lot of pressure, and therefore I was a little grumpy.

“Are you sitting down?”

“That is the standard position used to study for a test; of course I am sitting down!”  I kept thinking that we were wasting valuable time on the phone when I could be studying for the exam.

“Then I have something to tell you.”

“Okay, what is it?” I answered hoping the conversation was almost over.  I wished he would just hurry up and get it over with so I could get back to studying.

“She called!”

I could hardly believe it.  When Mike said “She called,” I knew exactly who he was referring to.  I don’t know how I knew it, but I did

“Really?  Oh my gosh, really?  This isn’t one of your pranks, is it?  Did she really call?”  He had finally gotten my attention and a shiver of excitement ran through me.

“Yes, dear, she did call.  I wouldn’t fool around about something like that. Anyway, she said that tomorrow we can come and pick up our son”.

Now this was too much. When Michael said we could pick up our son, I lost it. There was a huge lump in my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes. Before I knew it, there I was, crying like a baby.

“What’s the matter, Cindy? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine; I’m just so happy, that’s all, and it’s happening a lot earlier than we thought, so I’m surprised, too!” It was a minute or two before I gained my composure back, and then I started to ask questions.

“How big is he? When was he born? Is he eating cereal yet?” I questioned, as I gave Mike the third degree about our new son.

“Whoa, hang on honey. I didn’t ask her all those questions, but I knew you would, so she gave me her telephone number and said you could call any time and she’d give you all the details.”

So Mike gave me the telephone number and now I wanted to hang up so I could call the social worker.

“Well,” I said, “you’re probably pretty busy at work and I suppose I should let you go.”

Mike laughed. “Okay, okay, I get the hint. You want me to get off the line so you can call the social worker. It’s okay. I understand. Go ahead and call her and then we’ll talk before you go to class tonight. I think we have some planning to do.”

“You’re right about that. I’ll be waiting.”

When I put the receiver down my mind was spinning out of control. All I kept thinking about was the baby. What does he look like? How big is he? Does he have a family history of any medical problems? What day was he born on?

So it went on like that and after a few minutes, when I had calmed down, I picked up the receiver and started to dial the number Mike had given to me. My hands were shaking as I punched in each number, and the first time I dialed a wrong number. So I tried it again and this time I dialed the right number. After two rings it was picked up, and a friendly voice answered.

“Catholic Social Services. How may I help you?”

“I would like to speak to Lisa, please.”

“Of course, please hold and I will transfer you”.

As I was put on hold there was music playing softly on the line. I recognized the tune as Pachelbel’s Canon in D, one of my favorites. The melody was coming to an end when finally a voice caused the music to stop.

“This is Lisa.,  How may I help you?”

“Hi Lisa. This is Cindy. I believe you spoke with my husband a little while ago?”

“Yes I did. Tomorrow’s the big day! How are you feeling? Are you excited?”

“Oh my goodness, I am so happy and excited! \Words cannot even begin to describe how I feel. We are so excited, but we didn’t expect the baby for at least another year, so you have really taken us by surprise. Today we’ll have to go out and get diapers and formula and whatever else he may need. We do have the nursery completed, thank goodness.”

“That’s wonderful. Now tell me – do you have any questions?”

“Oh my, I have so many questions. How big is he?”

“He weighs 8 lbs, 9 oz. He is a big boy.”

“How old is he now?” I asked.

“Let’s see – here it is – he is eight weeks old”.

“Wow, he is young. What is his birth date?”

“Ok, let’s see – where did I find that before? Here it is. His birth date is listed as November 22nd.”

I could not believe my ears. November 22nd! My hands started to shake and I couldn’t hold back the tears that filled my eyes. Soon I was crying so hard that it seemed as though I would never be able to stop.

“Cindy – are you okay? What’s wrong? Did I say something to upset you?” Lisa asked as I was sobbing.

I tried to stop crying and gain my composure once again. After a minute or two I was able to speak again.

“I’m sorry about that. You just took me by surprise, that’s all.”

“Took you by surprise about what?”

“Okay.”  I took a big breath. “You see, a few years back I was pregnant. We were moving into our new house and it seemed the perfect time to have a baby. We told all our family and friends about our good news and then two days later I had a miscarriage, but after that couldn’t become pregnant again. That’s why we decided to adopt a baby. But the reason I was crying is because when I was pregnant, the baby’s due date was November 22nd, the same birth date as our new son. I can hardly believe it.”

At first there was silence on the other end of the line. Then after a moment Lisa spoke very softy.

“Oh Cindy, you just gave me goosebumps. This is wonderful. I truly believe this little boy is meant to be your son.  Congratulations!”

“Thank you Lisa. What time may we come tomorrow to pick up our little Joey?” I inquired.

“Ten o’clock. And bring an outfit for him to wear when he meets his new mommy and daddy..”

After my exam that night, we rushed to Target to buy essentials for our new son – bottles, formula, diapers, and an outfit for him to wear for his homecoming. When we arrived home, I placed everything where it should be. I also thought we should clean our house; after all, we were sure to have visitors over the weekend. We worked for a couple hours and then we settled into bed. I thought I wouldn’t be able to sleep, but for some reason the minute my head hit the pillow, I fell into a deep and peaceful slumber.

In the morning, we were both in happy moods as we showered and dressed for the big day. Finally 9:30 arrived and we left for Catholic Charities. We made sure we had the car seat for the baby buckled up tight in the back seat. I also brought a couple of extra blankets since it was January and the wind chill was 20 degrees below 0. When we arrived at Catholic Charities, we told the receptionist who we were and soon enough, Lisa came and greeted us.

“Let’s go upstairs,” she said.joey-at-16-months-old

We walked up the huge staircase to the second floor. She showed us into a little room where we could sit and wait.  I gave to her the clothing I had brought for our new son. She left the room and gently closed the door. Not a word passed between me and my husband. We just sat there, holding hands, waiting for our new son to appear.

It was not very long before the door opened. Lisa came into the room carrying our new son. There he was – our baby, our son – our little Joey. I tried to hold back the tears on this happy occasion. Lisa said to us, “Mom and Dad — meet your new son.”  I held out my arms and she gently placed him into them. He was awake and alert and he didn’t seem to mind being handed over to me. When I looked up, Lisa was gone. My husband and I were alone with out new little bundle of joy.

As I looked into the face of our sweet little baby,  I felt unconditional love for him flow through me.

It was then I knew – this little boy resting in my arms truly was meant to be our son, our little Joey.

 

My Little Blossom

Stephanie and Sarah as little girls

“My Little Blossom”

A daughter is a gift from God.
There cannot be a finer thing
Than watching while she’s growing up.
Her growth reminds me of the Spring.

She’s just like a little blossom.
A tiny bud in bloom is she.
It seems she grows a bit each day,
Like a flowering apple tree.

She’s such a darling little girl.
Her personality is sweet.
She can’t help but be so charming,
And when she smiles, it’s quite a treat.

In her world, her dolls are babies
And all of her stuffed toys are real.
She plays her games of make-believe,
While playing dress-up with such zeal.

Her hugs and kisses are precious.
I melt when she says, “I love you.”
She drapes her arms around my neck,
And then I know her love is true.

I wish that my little blossom
Could remain forever with me.
But I know that she must grow up
To become her own apple tree.

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The Wedding Gown

Today we were going to look for my daughter’s wedding gown for the first time. A huge wedding gown sale had been advertised and she was determined that today she was going to find hers.

“I know exactly what I want,” Sarah said. “I want something simple, understated and elegant.”

And so the search began.

But after trying on at least nine or ten gowns, Sarah still had not found the perfect wedding gown. A frown now replaced the excited smile that had lit up her lovely face earlier that morning.

“Sarah, there’s still one more rack.”

She rummaged through the rack and soon she became excited and hopeful again.

“Look! I found two gowns I’d like to try on!”

Her cheeks were rosy with excitement and there was a smile of happiness on her face. I kept my fingers crossed.

The first gown was white and strapless with embroidered tiny pale violet flowers and small pearls in the center of each flower. The dress had an empire waist and laced up the back with a long train. For the first time that day, Sarah had stars in her eyes. The attendants placed a veil on her and tears began to well up in my eyes. All the attendants told her how beautiful she looked.

Sarah smiled. “I really do like this dress, but I think I should try on the last dress just to be sure.”

I thought: She’ll try on that other dress, but I think she’ll probably keep this one.

The last dress was a sharp contrast to the other one. It was white satin with spaghetti straps and a scoop neckline. There was no decoration on it whatsoever. Around the waist was a band like a cummerbund with four folds and approximately six inches in width. The full skirt was A-line and down the back were 26 satin-covered buttons. The skirt bottom fanned out into a circular full train of about three feet. There was a matching short sleeve bolero jacket.

This wedding gown was simple, understated and elegant.

Then they placed a veil on her.

Sarah’s face was suddenly transformed. The stars were still in her eyes, but this time her face was beaming and she smiled radiantly. She had not looked this happy since the day she and Axel had announced their engagement to us.

“I love this dress, Mom! This is the dress!

“Sarah, you look absolutely beautiful!” I said.  I stepped up on the pedestal where she was standing and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I love you so much, honey. You’re going to be a beautiful bride.”

The attendants were watching us and I could tell by the looks they exchanged that they were a_2011-04-25 03.51.55disappointed with her choice.  “Are you sure that you wouldn’t rather take the other gown instead?” one of them said.

I smiled as I shook my head. “You don’t understand my daughter at all.”

Sarah smiled as she stood tall. “Let me explain, Mom. I believe that it’s the bride who makes the wedding gown beautiful, not the wedding gown that makes the bride beautiful.”

I had never heard such profound wisdom before, and I had never heard my daughter ever speak such profound wisdom. I guess I never thought she was old enough to do so.

I beamed proudly as I gazed at my darling daughter, and then I sighed as I realized for the very first time that my little girl was all grown up now, and that she was going to be a beautiful bride, no matter Read more

Essence of Reminiscence – Week 2 – Mischiefs and Pranks: “The Little Girl in the Tree”

I’ll never forget the beautiful spring day in late May when our five-year-old daughter Stephanie found herself as the little girl who needed her daddy to be her knight in shining armor. It all started out as a bit of mischief on her part, and she was basically just trying to have a bit of fun, but it didn’t turn out to be as much fun as she had expected. I was working a late shift at the hospital at the time, but after I heard about what happened, I was glad that I wasn’t there, because I know that I would have been in panic mode. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me start at the beginning.

At the time this story happened, we had three children: Joe, age 12, Sarah, age 7, and Stephanie, age 5. Because Sarah and Stephanie are so close in age, they have always enjoyed a very close relationship as sisters and still do to this very day. They played together, shared a bedroom, argued with each other and then made up with each other five minutes later, shared secrets, and even took baths together. I have always loved their sister bond because it is like a precious gem – priceless.

OUR APPLE TREE IN BLOOM

Our apple tree in bloom

In our back yard, hanging over our deck, is our one and only apple tree, which we dearly love. This apple tree is not very tall, and it only bears these little apples which we don’t eat, but just let them fall to the ground and then my husband has the dreary task of having to gather them up from all over the ground and the deck. But the special thing about this apple tree, particularly for me is that somehow it always blooms on Mother’s Day weekend.

But our daughter Sarah loved this apple tree for another reason. She would climb into the apple tree (not very high, maybe just a a couple limbs) and then, thinking that the the rest of the world could neither see nor hear her, she would sing at the top of her lungs and to her heart’s content. It was her own little world up there in what she termed as “my apple tree” and she loved that she could escape to it whenever she wanted to. Oh, how I loved to watch her through my kitchen window. I would crack the window open very carefully so she wouldn’t hear, lest she’d catch me spying on her, and watch and listen as she sang her little girl songs, most of which were made up, suppressing my laughter. It really was quite charming.

Enter Stephanie. One day she discovered her sister Sarah in the apple tree and noticed just how much fun she was having. She didn’t mention a single word of it to Sarah or to me. She just mulled it over in her little head, which can sometimes be a dangerous thing for a 5-year-old, as we later found out!

Remember that beautiful spring day in late May that I mentioned earlier? The one on which I was working the late shift at the hospital? I forgot to mention how windy it was that day and I forgot to mention that my husband was home with the kids. The girls were in the back yard playing – nothing unusual about that, and Mike was getting supper ready, just like any good Dad should, right?  Just then, Sarah came running into the house yelling, “Daddy, Daddy, come quick! Stephie’s stuck!”

“Stuck! What do you mean, stuck?”

“She’s stuck in the apple tree, Daddy, and she can’t get down! Hurry! She’s crying!.”

Mike raced out the door and Sarah followed him to the back yard. As my husband rounded the corner of the house to the deck where the apple tree was located, he looked up, and there was our little girl – all the way on the very top branch, holding on for dear life, swaying to and fro with each gust of wind.

“Daddy! Help me!” Stephanie could barely get the words out between her sobs.

ISN'T SHE LOVELY?

Our daughter Stephanie

“I will, honey.”

“I’m scared, Daddy.”

“It’s okay, honey. Just hold on tight. ”

Then my husband had to rush to the garage, get the ladder, and even so, he was barely able to reach our youngest daughter from the top branch. How in the world she ever managed to climb onto the skinniest branch and not have it break under her weight, even though she was small, we will never know, although I believe Divine Providence may have had something to do with it.

Stephanie never did climb the apple tree again, although Sarah did continue to sing in it for a year or so after the incident, but then gradually outgrew it, a fact which saddened me. But all little girls do have to grow up sometime. It’s just that we mothers really don’t want them to, right?

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “Children have the unforgivable habit of growing up.”  ~ Bjarne Reuter

 

essence of reminisence 5This post is presented as part of the Essence of Reminiscence series. which is a weekly event presented by the WordPress Daily Post. If you’d like more information about this event, please click here:

Mischiefs And Pranks

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