Category Archives: Family

Discover Challenge: “Forgive and Forget”

I have received many pieces of advice in my almost sixty years of living here on earth, and not only that, but I was raised in a family of seven children. And believe me, my mother and father had plenty of advice to give out during the time that I was living at home – not only to me, but to my other six siblings! I heard it all – from “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch,” to “Treat others as you want them to treat you,” which I must admit is one of my all-time favorites. And in those days, sometimes the advice was given simultaneously with a spanking, so you never forgot it!

But I must say that the best advice I have ever received came from my dear mother. Because there were seven of us children, naturally we didn’t all get along all the time. We had our little arguments and we had our big arguments, too. And of course there were hurt feelings. And our mother told us that the best thing we could ever do would be to forgive and forget and not to ever hold a grudge. She said that when you hold a grudge it just festers inside you and makes you dark inside and all you are really doing is hurting yourself and the person you are holding a grudge against. But if you forgive the other person it will heal that grudge inside you and make you lighter and you will feel better.

Some years later after my mother passed away, I felt as though one of my sisters had done something wrong against me and we didn’t speak for quite a while. I was holding quite a grudge against her and I was finding it very difficult to forgive her. I knew in my heart that what I was doing was wrong, but something was holding me back from doing the right thing. I just couldn’t forget what she had done to me.

It was the day after Thanksgiving, and it was our tradition to decorate the house for Christmas. As I was unpacking a box of decorations, I found my Mom’s caroler bells. This was my special family heirloom. At that moment, her words “Forgive and forget” rang loud and clear through my head. I knew then that the healing inside me had begun. I could feel the grudge that I had been holding against my sister begin to slowly melt away.

I called her, we made amends, and things have been good between us ever since.

Forgive and forget. And never hold a grudge. It will only eat you up.

 

This is in response to the Discover Challenge: A Piece of Advice

 

Grandma’s Lilacs

Our sense of smell is our most powerful sense and smell and memory are closely linked, probably more so than any of our other senses. Those with full olfactory function may be able to think of smells that evoke particular memories; the scent of an orchard in blossom conjuring up recollections of a childhood picnic, for example. This can often happen spontaneously, with a smell acting as a trigger in recalling a long-forgotten event or experience. This is because the olfactory nerve is located very close to the area of the brain that is connected to the experience of emotion as well as emotional memory. In addition, the olfactory nerve is very close to the hippocampus, which is associated with memory; thus, the experience of the sense of smell evoking a memory. In addition to being the sense most closely linked to memory, smell is also highly emotive. The perfume industry is built around this connection, with perfumers developing fragrances that seek to convey a vast array of emotions and feelings; from desire to power, vitality to relaxation.

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As for myself, whenever I catch the scent of lilacs blooming in the spring, it reminds me of my Grandma Kramlinger. Grandma kept a beautiful garden, and her lilac bushes were her pride and joy. She not only had lilac-colored bushes, but also white, blue, dark purple, lavender, and pink. The blossoms were fragrant and cheerful, and as soon as you came upon her house, the aroma would drift all around you, assailing your senses with the sweet smell of springtime.

I have such lovely childhood memories of Sundays when she would arrive at our house for Sunday dinner. Her arms would be laden with lilac blossoms, and she’d say to my mother, “Here’s something to grace the table.” Mom would take the lilac flowers and fashion them into a lovely bouquet, put them into a vase filled with water and place them in the center of our dinner table. And there they would stay throughout the week, a reminder of Grandma, until the next Sunday when she came to visit again with fresh lilacs to replace them.

Now whenever I catch the scent of lilacs in the springtime, I wonder if the lilac bushes still bloom in her garden, and if the people who live in her house now are still appreciating their cheerful blossoms and simple beauty and enjoying their sweet fragrance.

 

Writing 101: Day Sixteen – “Serial Killer III”

Day Sixteen – Serial Killer III:  

* Today’s Prompt:   Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.

* Today’s Twist:  If you’d like to continue our serial challenge, also reflect on the theme of “lost and found” more generally in this post.

After being medically disabled in 2004, my world came crashing down and depression quickly set in. But then my husband suggested that I return to writing, a love that I had long since forgotten. It was a suggestion for which I will be forever grateful because writing changed my attitude about life and all of a sudden, my situation didn’t seem as tragic as I had pictured it to be.

With the event of my medical disability, I lost my nursing career, something which I treasured. But on the other hand, with the event of my medical disability, I found one of my first loves: writing, another treasure, which had been buried for so long and so deep within me. And I was so happy that I found it once again.

One day while cleaning out our basement, I stumbled upon a large cardboard box which contained hundreds of old photographs that I had totally forgotten were being stored in this particular part of our house. Curious, I decided to carry the box up to our kitchen and look through its contents, and I was so glad that I did.Mom Wedding pic 3

I found a photograph of my mother which was taken on her wedding day. This photograph was a black and white 8 X 10 picture and it revealed that she was indeed one of the most beautiful brides I have ever seen. It could be that I’m biased, but I have included a copy of that very same photo with this entry so that you can judge for yourself. The photo brought back a memory of the story that my mother related to me of my parents’ love story, and it was then that I realized that this was the perfect first story for me to write about after rediscovering my first love – writing.

Regarding my parents’ courtship – now this is an interesting and romantic little tale to tell. As a matter of fact, it’s just like something out of a movie.

My father John came from a very large family of eleven children. Yes, my father’s parents were good Catholics and absolutely believed in large families.

During World War II, my mother was engaged to my father’s brother, Patrick, who was the second oldest sibling. At this time, my father was a sergeant in the army and was serving overseas, and my mother had never even met my father.

My Aunt Dorothy, who was married to my Uncle Ray, the oldest sibling, was good friends with my mother. She told my mother: “Marg, (my mother’s name was Margaret) if you like Pat, just wait until you meet Jack.” She was referring to my father, who was nicknamed Jack.

When my father was discharged from the service and came home, his brother Patrick then entered the military service. It was then that my mother met my father through my Aunt Dorothy. Somehow they began to date. I think my Aunt Dorothy had a lot to do with this. I think she felt that my mother and father were destined to be together instead of my mother and my Uncle Pat being together.

My mother and father fell in love. She broke off the engagement with my Uncle Pat. And she told me that this was one of the most difficult things she ever had to do, and she felt so awful doing it, but she knew she was meant to be with my father. My father proposed to her and she accepted. Now this is the stuff that romance is made of, and who would have ever thought that something like this would happen between your mother and father, of all people? Ah, such is love.

My parents were married on November 19, 1946. And my father asked my Uncle Pat to be his best man. According to my mother, on their wedding day, my Uncle Pat said to my father: “I hope you’re never happy.” Yes, I guess he was a little bitter. But eventually he accepted their marriage and later on, my father and my Uncle Pat became the best of friends once again. My Uncle Pat married a wonderful woman – my Aunt Colleen. They would always vist us on Christmas Day, and you would never guess that my Uncle Pat held a grudge against my father for a while.

I am grateful that my mother chose my father to be her husband. They loved each other totally and deeply. And even though they never had much as far as wealth is concerned, they always had the one thing that is the most important – true love. And who could ask for anything more?

 

 

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http://blainecindy.com/2015/04/09/writing-101-day-four-the-serial-killer/

http://blainecindy.com/2015/04/23/writing-101-day-thirteen-serial-killer-ii/

 

 

 

 

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 Fourteen: “To Whom It May Concern”

Day Fourteen – To Whom It May Concern:  

* Today’s Prompt:  Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration.

* * * (The word I first word I read was “Father”)

* Today’s Twist:  Write the post in the form of a letter.

Dear Father,

Words cannot express how much I have missed you all these years since you’ve been gone. When you left us, it was as though a great void was created in our lives that was never filled. Mom did her best and kept the family together, just as you asked her to do before you left to be with God. She was so strong, Dad. You would have been proud of her. And you know it wasn’t easy, either. But she made sure that we had everything we needed, always sacrificing what she needed for herself. Then again, she’s always been that way. But we still needed you, Dad. I guess God needed you more.

I married a wonderful man named Mike. I know that you’d really like him. He’s kind, honest, compassionate, and hard-working. I couldn’t have asked for a better husband or father for our children, Dad. He’s always there for me; even when I was very ill he was with me through it all. I only wish you could have been there to walk me down the aisle on the day we were married. I thought of you on that day, Dad. I hoped that you were smiling down on us from heaven. I wish we could have danced the father-daughter dance together. How I missed you on that special day.

We have three beautiful children – your grandchildren, Dad. Do you watch them from heaven? I wish you could have bounced them on your knee when they were babies. Children are so happy when they’re with their grandparents and I know that my kids would have loved you. How I wish they could have known you, and how I wish you could have known them. They’re all grown up now. They all graduated from college – something that you wished all of your children could have done. Your grandson Joe works for a large retailer at their corporate offices and is climbing the corporate ladder; your granddaughter Sarah is married to a great guy and is working as an optometric technician; and your granddaughter Stephanie is working on her master’s degree in music performance on the cello at a university in Wisconsin. They are dad at christmas timeamazing adults and we are so proud of them. I know that you’d be proud of them, too. 

I want you to know that I think of you often, Dad. I tell your grandchildren stories about you and have shown them you photographs. I have even written stories about you to keep your memory alive. I don’t want the world to forget about you. 

And I know that even though I miss you now, I will see you again one day, Dad. Until then, watch over us. Keep smiling down upon us. And remember that I love you.

Your daughter,

Cindy

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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.

 

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