My Last Thanksgiving at Mom’s

“The weak fall, but the strong will remain and never go under!” ~ Anne Frank

Even though I was in my own home, sitting in my own bedroom, I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t like the atmosphere that was in the air, the tone that was suddenly being set. It was dirty and I could hear it and it made me feel uneasy.

My bedroom didn’t have a door. It seemed like every bedroom I had in all the apartments growing up on Magnolia Avenue, it was always my bedroom that never had the door. The only privacy I ever had came from a makeshift sheet that was usually tacked up with a bunch of nails. This was always my bedroom door. There was never any way to block out the noise from the other rooms. There was never any knocking to announce that someone wanted to come in. Instead of twisting a doorknob to enter, it was always a sweep of the arm to push the curtain aside. There was never any privacy. My bedroom appeared to have been built as an afterthought, as drywall was slapped up into the main living room to try and create another room – my bedroom. However, the wall was never completed. At the end of the wall there was a small area of approximately four feet tall by one foot wide that wasn’t drywalled, as if they had plans to tuck something within the space. Not wanting to have a gaping hole looking into my room, I took a very large board and placed it up against the hole. I drew the “Love Is” characters on it so that it didn’t look unfinished. The board didn’t cover the hole completely, but it worked enough. Once again, my privacy as a young teenager was sacrificed.

Thanksgiving was upon us and my mother was at the grocery store buying food for Thanksgiving Day dinner. Mom had received her welfare check and she was buying groceries to fill the cabinets and fridge for the holiday. This usually meant we would have a treat of chocolate chip cookies or Neapolitan ice cream. We would also have a fat turkey for Thanksgiving, with all the trimmings, canned cranberry sauce, breaded stuffing that would be made from scratch and, eventually, shoved up the turkey’s tush to cook all day. Mom would make real mashed potatoes and not instant like we normally ate. Corn from the can that tasted more like tin than corn, salad, which consisted of only lettuce, drenched in Miracle Whip salad dressing. Dinner would end with a store-bought pumpkin pie with a dollop of cool whip. This menu was a yearly traditional meal that we all looked forward to having. Mom took her grocery list and food stamps and was off to the store to buy all the holiday fixings.

Mom asked me to stay home. She asked me to wash the dishes that were in the kitchen sink while she was at the store. I hated washing the dishes, mostly, because mom never bought normal dish washing soap. Trying to save her pennies, we washed our dishes with laundry detergent. The soap would never dissolve properly and I felt as if I was washing the dishes with pellets of sand. My brothers weren’t at home. Most likely, they were with their friends playing a game of tag football at Truman College, which we lived almost directly behind. I was left at home with Melvin and a man named Butch. Butch was a family friend, who we met and knew while living in another building years before on Sheridan Avenue. I remember Butch having two daughters, Maria and Sonia, both which seemed to have been slightly off not only in the looks department, but in the personality department as well. Maria and Sonia were mentally challenged to a degree and both lived in a home that offered assistance to their kind. On occasion, they would come to visit their father, spending the weekend with him. They were larger women and they always sat outside on the building’s front stoop. Maria, the redhead, was mean and feisty, while Sonia, the brunette, was more easy-going. Her personality was much softer. She would sit there and play barbies with me. Once, Maria picked me up and literally tossed me into the air and across the sidewalk. I fell into the dirt and landed on my knees. She said I was in her way, therefore, she decided to toss me like a ragdoll so she can get down the front steps. Their father, Butch was short and chubby himself, looked like he had no teeth when he talked and always wore his hair short, like a crew cut. He seemed to have a stuttering problem, where his words took forever to say. His wardrobe consisted of only white T-shirts and Dago T’s. I always found Butch to be on the feminine side, especially by the way he talked and presented himself. He was very flamboyant and liked to dance around the room to his radio. It was hard for me to picture him as a father. I would listen in on conversations between mom and Melvin, where they would comment that Butch was a queer and would suck a dick a mile long. I was old enough to understand what that meant. He liked men. However, it was obvious that he had a relationship with a woman at one point in time because he had two daughters. Butch also had a brother named John. He seemed to be the normal one of the family, that is until I woke up one morning when I was younger and saw him boinkin’ my mother on the side of the bed. Waking up from sleeping on the floor in our one-room apartment, I asked her what was she doing. She told me to lie down and go back to sleep, which is exactly what I did and I never mentioned it again. It seemed like this family, John, the girls and, in particular, Butch, had followed us from neighborhood to neighborhood and somehow was always in our lives from the time we lived on Sheridan throughout the time we lived on Magnolia. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I do now. Now that I was older, I knew exactly what was going on, especially between Butch and Melvin.

I had finished up washing the dishes. I wanted to get back to my room and not be around Melvin whatsoever. The utter sight of him made my skin crawl. Him sitting there in his recliner chair, smoking, polluting the air that I breathe, wearing his creepy little shorts. I even noticed that they were hiked up more than usual that day. Melvin and Butch were watching TV. They were eerily quiet and said little to me. Leaving the kitchen, I crossed their path, walking back into my room. Even though I had no bedroom door to shut me out of their existence, I felt relieved to know I was in my own space. Standing in my room, I was in front of my own TV, flipping channels and trying to pass the time until mom got home. She had just left for the store and I wished that she were back home already. Melvin and Butch were in the living room. The living room consisted of two twin beds, which was sort of set up as a bedroom, with the beds up against the walls. It seems like we never had a formal living room either. Most likely, because mom and Melvin could only afford a one-bedroom apartment and my brothers always got the bedroom… and the door! As Melvin sat in his recliner chair, Butch was sitting on the edge of one of the beds, the one closest to Melvin. I could hear both of them starting to talk, their voices low, almost whispering, as if they were trying to hide what they were saying. I started to get that uncomfortable feeling again, that same feeling as when I knew Melvin was about to touch me, my breasts and, eventually, my vagina. I felt like I was in the middle of something that was wrong, something that shouldn’t be happening. As I stood in front of my TV, I turned down the volume slightly so I could hear what was going on in the other room. I was hesitant with my thoughts. I was hoping I didn’t hear what I thought I did. In between the whispers, there were noises coming from their room. They were sexual. I started to make noise of my own in my room, moving things around my dresser, banging books, trying to remind them both that I was still in the house and only a few steps away. I was hoping that they would stop whatever they had started. Did it work, I thought? Unfortunately not. They both ignored me, as if I was the Wizard of Oz himself… “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

Moments later, they continued with their groping one another. By this time, I was so uneasy with them being there that I yelled from my bedroom, “You two better stop because I can hear everything that you’re doing!” Silence filled the living room once again. When is mom getting home, I thought. For some reason I knew that they would stop once she got home, as I knew what they were doing was behind her back. They probably couldn’t wait for her to leave. On the other hand, did mom know what they were doing and, most likely have been doing, for years? Is this why she asked me to stay home with them, in hopes that they wouldn’t do anything with each other while I was in the apartment? I had a strong feeling that mom knew many of the inappropriate and crude things Melvin was doing, but just kept them all to herself.

I heard them start-up again. I could hear the wet noises coming from their privates, the slapping of skin back and forth. I could hear their whispers. By their conversation, I was under the impression that Butch couldn’t get it up, as Melvin kept asking him, “Are you sure you don’t have to go to the bathroom? Well, let me try again.” With that comment, I had heard enough. Swinging open my curtain, I stepped out into the living room. Melvin and Butch did some shuffling with a jacket that lay over Butch’s lap. I told them that they were both sick fucks and didn’t they realize that I was just in the other room? I also told them that I was going to find mom and tell her what was going on and what they were doing. With that, I stormed out of the apartment and headed to the grocery store up on Sheridan and Montrose, where I knew mom was shopping. Was Melvin nervous that his dirty little secret would be exposed? Did he even care?

As I ran to the grocery store in late November, I realized that I should have worn a jacket, as it was quite chilly outside. However, I left the apartment so quickly that I didn’t even think. I just knew that I needed to get out of there. As I was racing to reach the grocery store, my mind was having a race all its own, thinking of what I had just witnessed back at the apartment. Why can’t I have a normal life? Why do I have to live the way I do? Why do I have to run looking for my mother and report to her what I had just witnessed? Would she believe me? I never ever shared with mom the sexual abuse that Melvin did to me. Not only did Melvin like little girls, he also liked older men. Would this open up something that I knew was going to be just awful? I didn’t want her to know what Melvin had done to me. I didn’t want to disrupt our already dysfunctional life any more than it was. I didn’t want to be in trouble. I rehearsed in my mind how I was going to tell mom once I found her in the store, that Melvin was having sex with another man and while I was only in the other room.

I felt like I was running a marathon, as I ran down Montrose Avenue, past Racine, Clifton, then underneath the El tracks and then finally past Kenmore. Just up ahead there was the Jewel grocery store on Sheridan Avenue where mom was picking out a turkey for a family dinner. A dinner where we were all to sit down and be thankful that we were together, a family that doesn’t harm or fault one another, a family that doesn’t allow sexual abuse in their lives, even though I knew it was all lies.

As I walked around the store, I took a look down each of the aisles looking for mom. One after another, I knew she had to still be in the store somewhere. Finally, I found her. By the look on her face, I could tell that she was surprised to see me there, especially since she left me at home. She could tell from my own face that I was upset. I began to get angry, which made me start to cry. All my emotions were trying to spill out all at once. I tried to keep my voice down and explain to her what was happening back at home. The more I talked, the more upset I got. I told her that Melvin and Butch were doing things to each other in the living room and that they knew I was in the bedroom. She told me to stay with her, as we went to check out and buy the cart of groceries.

Mom hailed a yellow taxi, where we put all the groceries into his trunk. I remember sitting inside the cab, with its huge bench seat from window to window, looking out the window, trying to anticipate what was going to happen once we got home. Instructing the driver where to go, mom and I didn’t say a word all the way home. The palm of my hands were sweaty, as I rubbed them against my pants. My heart began to pound faster, as we pulled up in front of our building. We unloaded the groceries from the trunk and made our way up the stairs and into the apartment. Once inside, we both realized that Butch was gone. He left, leaving Melvin sleeping in one of the beds in the living room. Mom instructed me to put the groceries away, while she sat on the other bed, lighting up a cigarette. I could see her sitting there, puffing away madly, as she watched Melvin sleep and half-undressed, her head sagging low. I went into my room shortly after I was done putting all the groceries away. The silence was nerving, so I turned on my TV. I never heard another word again about the incident that happened that one holiday afternoon. I don’t know if mom ever confronted Melvin about the situation or if she kept everything to herself. Most likely, if she had brought it up to him, he would have denied it, calling me a lying whore. However, if I knew my mother, she didn’t open her mouth whatsoever. She didn’t like to confront Melvin, as he was abusive and violent. Surely, this was one of her own secret tortures within. Oh, how that asshole controlled her.

That year, Thanksgiving had come and gone, without a word being said of what had happened just days before. We continued on with our holiday meal as if we were the perfect family, smiling, laughing and joking. As we sat at the table pretending as if nothing was wrong, I would try to make my brothers giggle during grace. Grace consisted of just a few generic words. We never said grace at any other meal except for Thanksgiving. “God is good, God is great, let us thank Him for our food. Amen.” Done. As my brothers would recite the grace, I would extend my legs underneath the table, so my naked toes would reach their side of the table. As their heads were bowed low and praying, my toes would creep up from underneath the table, where they would be just inches away from their faces. Their eyes closed, my toes danced directly under their noses, wiggling them back and forth, slightly skimming the tip of their noses. We tried not to laugh out loud because the atheist in the room would have gotten pissed off because we were giggling during grace.

Melvin had sexually abused me when I was younger and it was a dirty little secret that only he and I knew. However, that day with Butch, I learned of Melvin’s other dirty little secret; that he liked to fuck men, too. Sadly, it appeared that mom had her own secrets of Melvin already scared deep within her mind that she kept there until one afternoon where she no longer could.

I found mom sitting on the back porch one summer afternoon. I came home and, as I always did, I asked my usual question… “Where is Melvin?” It was a pleasure when he wasn’t around. The atmosphere was more at ease, my brothers and I were more at ease, comfortable, as we didn’t have to whisper or walk on eggshells, tiptoe around an abusive drunk. We didn’t have to watch what we said, especially in front of Melvin, where it would trigger an argument or an ass beating. “Where is Melvin?” I asked again. “He’s sleeping in the garage.” My mother responded. I could tell mom was hiding more information than Melvin just sleeping in the garage. I questioned why he was in the garage sleeping when he had a bed in the house. “He’s in the garage sleeping and has locked the side door. I couldn’t get in, but I looked through the window. Melvin is sleeping with his pants half down, next to another man.” She quietly confessed. I thought to myself, was it Butch? But, it wasn’t. Then, she proceeded to half-ass show me a set of pictures that she found of Melvin, where he had taken at one of those photo booths in Woolworth’s. Melvin had pulled his pants down and took pictures of his genitals. I could tell that she was upset, but I wasn’t sure if it was more over the found photos or of Melvin being in the garage sexually with another man… again. Surely, it had to be both.

I wonder what mom would have thought if she knew I was on Melvin’s long list of weird sexual antics. Would that put her over the edge? Would she have cared? Did she already know? Did mom just accept Melvin’s sexual preferences? Would she finally kick him out, I thought? Being sexually abused was my own little secret and I had no intention of releasing it from my frightened mind. I was so afraid that the family we did have together, my brothers and I, would disappear, just like the little girl, Judith, who we knew growing up in our apartment building. The Department of Child Protective Services came and took her because her parents were unfit, or so they said. This had always been in the back of my mind that they would come and take my brothers and me away, never to see each other again. We were young enough to be tossed into the system, but not old enough to be on our own. Therefore, I always kept my mouth shut. My brothers and I lived at home until we were old enough to make our own decisions and move on.

It was years later when I finally had my own studio apartment, I announced that I would cook my first Thanksgiving Day dinner for everyone. I invited my brother, Jeff and my mother over to spend the day with me. Mom knew enough not to ask about Melvin’s invite. My brother, Steve, was living in Michigan at the time and unable to attend. I wanted to have all the trimmings to my dinner just like mom always made. I lived in a one-room studio apartment that consisted of a small kitchenette, bathroom and walk in closet. The appliances were small, particularly the stove. It was one of those small apartment stoves and was half the size of a normal one. It was difficult to cook a regular meal on, let alone a ten pound turkey in the oven! However, I still tried.

“On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.” ~William Jennings Bryan

Following my mother’s tradition, I set my alarm for 4:30 in the morning to prepare the turkey so that it can be popped into the oven by 5:00. Mom shared with me on how to make the stuffing and prepare the turkey, step-by-pain-in-the-ass-step! Getting up this early in the morning to prepare a turkey wasn’t exactly my ideal way of starting my day. I was so tired that I prepared the stuffing between yawns. The onions weren’t diced to perfection, they were more like chopped into chunks. The bread looked as if it was hacked by a hatchet than torn into bite size pieces. As for the celery… let’s just say that they would have looked better in a tall glass of Bloody Mary’s!

The stuffing was finally prepared, with its seasoning of sage that seemed to permeate my hands, along with the onions. Shoving the stuffing into the turkey’s cavity between slitted eyes, I packed it as much as I could. As I tied the legs up with twine, as to make sure the stuffing didn’t’ have a chance to escape, I maneuvered the pan into the small oven at 350 degrees. The turkey was in the oven to roast by 5:00 a.m. It was shortly thereafter, that I popped myself back into bed to continue my dreams!

Hours later, I woke to the smell of turkey wafting in the air. It seemed more pungent than ever, most likely due to my small apartment. Cracking open a window, I began to prepare the rest of the meal; potatoes, corn and, of course, that overly drench Miracle Whip salad. Jeff and Mom arrived a few hours later, where we sat, chatted and waited for the turkey to be done. I checked the turkey and basted several times throughout the morning. By 1:00 p.m., we were all getting hungry. Mom commented that the bird was in that oven for almost eight hours now and surely it would have to be done. She was the expert, I thought. Turning off the stove, I pulled the turkey out and oven to make its grand debut.

What an entertaining disaster, I thought! The turkey that had been bathing in its own juices for almost eight hours wasn’t even near done! It was so rubbery that it could have bounced its way back to the farmland from where it came! Mom and I came to the conclusion that it was due to my “Easy Bake Oven” of a stove. Because it was so small, the oven must have not been able to accommodate the size of the turkey. My first Thanksgiving dinner was a flippin’ flop! Laughing our way through the rest of the meal that we could eat, I had to make the best of the moment, so I took pictures of my first attempt at cooking Thanksgiving.

My attempt at cooking a turkey!

My first attempt at cooking a turkey! Circa – Early 80’s

It may not have been the traditional meal that we were use to having, but we made the best of what we had. In the end, it’s not about the meal and what you cooked or how much effort you put into it, nor is it about what went right or even what went wrong. It’s all about being thankful. My last Thanksgiving at my mom’s house with Melvin’s behavior is a memory that will always be in my mind, but I believe it’s an experience that made me stronger, not only in values, but in beliefs. My life growing up was full of challenges, but it showed me how important family is and to let nothing stand in the way of relationships. Family doesn’t hurt family, family is love and, when you have love, hurt should never exist. Simple.

Thanksgiving and the holidays are all about being together, together with family and friends and the ones you truly love. Sharing time with one another, laughing, joking and experiencing a joyful moment that will all too soon be a part of the past. We need to seize all the memories we can, holding each one of them close to our heart because as our years move on into the past, the making of memories become less and less.

Although my first turkey was a failure, I would like to think the moment of being together was a memorable success.

“As we pause to thank Him for the blessings of the past year, we must not forget to thank Him for the lessons we have learned through our difficult times. We are not to be thankful for just the pleasant, easy things, but ALL things.” ~ Millie Stamm

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Remembering Moments of Falling in Love

Hearts“We all want to fall in love. Why? Because that experience makes us feel completely alive. Where every sense is heightened, every emotion is magnified, our everyday reality is shattered and we are flying into the heavens. It may only last a moment, an hour, an afternoon. But that doesn’t diminish its value. Because we are left with memories that we treasure for the rest of our lives.” ~ Anonymous

Falling in love is such a beautiful gift and experience. Who remembers when they first thought they were falling in love? Could this be the one? He makes me feel so special inside. I laugh so much when I’m with him. He gets me! Who doesn’t want to have a love in their life that is always there, to share life experiences with, to feel and share the sparks of passion with, and to make love with passionately and wishing the moment was endless? I ached to have someone in my life to make these memories with, to love someone unconditionally, to grow old with…

However, when in love, you not only have the privilege of the deepest love possible, you also have the responsibility of death.  Finding love scared me almost as much as death does. Because you know that one day, one of you will be left behind. From time to time, I think… who will go first… me or my husband? How will it happen? When will it happen?  How will I handle life if God takes him before me? How will my heart not break into a million pieces? Who will be there to catch the tears as they fall one by one into my endless diary of memories?  Who will be there to hold me, to guide me, to protect me, to give me strength and tell me that life will go on; that I will be okay?  Death is scary, as it can be handed to you in such an untimely and unexpected manner, no preparations and with no warnings whatsoever.  Unfortunately, when someone special in our lives comes our way and we make the commitment to love them, death, one day, will be one of the unpleasant prerequisites that we agree to deal with.

This is why we must live every day as if it could be our last; remembering to always love unconditionally and to hold those wonderful moments close to our hearts that made us fall in love to begin with and not only on Valentine’s Day, but every day.  Do you remember what made your heart take an extra beat? Do you remember when you fell in love, what made you fall in love? Was it their smile, was it their tender touch, was it their passion?

As I reminisce, I remember the moments that I first fell in love with my husband, Frank…

Frank and Jack

Frank and Jack in the 80’s

Pic - Frank and Jack Bikers 2

Riding Together…

His thick hair that had a hint of curl to it when it was long and his full bushy mustache, the kind that left a lasting tickle on your upper lip or the tip of your earlobe.

Frank and Jack on Bike

I would watch the brawly Harley biker melt with mushiness when he would remove his large framed glasses to show me that his eyes were actually tearing up at the moment he said he was thinking of me.

His spirit was carefree where he found joy within each moment that passed.

Frank with Ice

When he lived life on the edge and decided where he will take the day instead of where the day will take him.

I felt love when I found myself daydreaming about the new man in my life, catching myself sighing into the air, wishing I were near him.

Holding hands and noticing that mine fit comfortably into his, nestled, as if it was a custom fit.

Hearing the phone ring, hoping that it would be him or having the same warped sense of humor as me, laughing so hard until my cheeks hurt.

Realizing you never felt comfortable enough to fart in front of a boyfriend… until now.

Feeling the passion that’s between the both of us with just by a simple kiss.

Smelling the hint of cologne on his cheeks and knew he wore it for me.

The first time we slow danced and I felt his arms around me, his body tight against mine and feeling the warm of his breath on my neckline.

Frank and Jack Vacation

Vacationing in Sanibel Island, Florida

Feeling his gentle hand sweeping over my body, softly, as if he’s touching an artful masterpiece, caressing it slowly, commenting that I was so beautiful.

Hearing the words, “I love you” within a week of your first blind date and not thinking once he was moving too fast.

Sharing the words, “I do.”

Frank and Jack Wedding Day

May 5, 1990

Remembering the first time we heard the words, Congratulations! “It’s a girl… It’s a boy!”

Frank with Arla

April 6, 1992
Frank and Arlaraye

These thoughts of love help me think of the moment, the now, and not what will eventually be all of our destinies in the end.  These are the memories that keep me moving forward, that remind me that I am a very lucky woman and that I had an opportunity to love and to love grandly. It is worth loving someone and making the commitment until “death we do part?”  My answer is yes, I believe it is, even though I know that the end result will not escape me without heartache and pain. For this, my life has become richer and I would rather have taken the chance on love then never to experience love at all.

Until the end…

Old couple holding hands

Happy Valentine’s Day, Frank. I love you!

 “For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.” ~ Judy Garland

Spirits that Surround Me

“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.” ~ Brené Brown

I have always believed in spirits, ghosts, the afterlife, whatever you would like to call them, especially since I got older and had the opportunity to learn more about the subject. I believe in After Death Communication (ADC).  I have had many encounters, on what I like to believe, were the spirits of my deceased loved ones.   Whether it was a white mist, a talking doll or softly spoken words… these are just a few of the signs that I have experienced within the last twenty years and, most of them, within my own home, where I live today.

I have found myself to be a spiritual person, more so than a religious one, although I do believe in both wholeheartedly – the afterlife with God in his kingdom, as well as my own personal spiritual one that surround me and fills my world today. I believe it was important for me to accept the rights of baptism and confirmation. These two sacraments not only opened my eyes to how much I love God and how much He loves me, but it has also made me aware of what His world truly has to offer and all the spiritual beauty that He has created. Religiously, as a Catholic, I believe that there are certain rules and restrictions that are expected of me, requests that are asked of me, requirements that are set before me that I should live by and I hope that in every sense of the word I do.   Although, I respect the church and what my religion has to give, I believe that my spiritual side is stronger; it is more of personal one. My feelings as a spiritualist go deeper within my heart and soul and the connection that I have with my God. It is a strong one, a relationship that I truly respect and am blessed to have in my life. As I have expressed in the past, this relationship with God was not one that was taught through the education of a parent but, instead, one that was self taught and through personal discovery. Not only do I find a spiritual connection with God, Himself, but I also find a spiritual connection in the things he has created that surround me, such as the deepest magenta flower that blooms to perfection with beauty and grace. A tree that soars its branches toward the sky as it sways gently with the breeze as if it is waving hello. Or the swollen clouds that dance before me in the sky that embraces and reflects the perfect shades of crimson and payne’s gray, as the sun rests for the evening. These are just a few things that I connect with spiritually and, I do believe, that they were all at the expense of God’s hands.

Because of these spiritual feelings, I don’t believe in the thought that once we die our lives just end, hushing us into a complete darkness and a forever silence, where the life we once knew, the life we once lived and was so familiar with, is simply no more. No more thinking, communicating, no more touching, loving, feeling, no more existing, completely lights out.  There just has to be more once we pass on and I believe that there is, whether it is in God’s kingdom in the Heavens or spiritually through the wings of a butterfly.

As I lay in bed at the end of my day, I have a ritual where I go over my day’s events, things that went right… things that, perhaps, didn’t. As I lay there, I tick off in my head the tasks that I had completed and tick off what yet still needs to be done, trying to create a “pocket list” for the following day. This is my time to reflect on life in general and to assess everything. I then begin to think about who I have in my life, as well as those who I have lost and how much I am missing them.

My mind starts to wander to a dubious thought that I have had so many times before. I, once again, question how can we talk and walk, think and breathe without needing the aid of being plugged into an electrical current or connected to some sort of machine, where wires and cords give us the energy to work and perform, like when a television set is plugged in or a stove, computer, or even an electrical car!  All of these need some sort of energy source to perform.

I lay there and wonder in amazement… how am I capable of breathing on my own using a set of lungs that simply ask for clean, fresh air, but yet no requirement of wires?  How amazing it is to do my own thinking with an organ that does not need any “plug ins” to dream, to remember, to hold special thoughts and memories in my mind. My heart will beat a thousand times a day without the assistance of any electrical power. My heart loves and forgives, as well as learns about compassion. My heart is not only able to beat on its own, but is actually able to love and feel without an energy source spewing high voltage power directly into me, making all these vital organs work. I vision we should be like marionettes, where strings are connected to every part of our bodies, where a Master is now our energy source, instructing and pulling at our mind, heart and body strings, giving us the power, like electricity, to move, dance, talk and make our body’s operate.

electric

How can a heart, mind and soul function without the aid of cords zapping us with an electrical force, which seems to make everything work and function? How is it that we’re free to get up and move whenever we want, without unplugging ourselves from a pod of electrical current first?  I know that a person has to feed their body with traditional air, water and food in order to obtain that “power” of energy to keep moving forward, giving their body strength to do so, however, I still find it to be a miracle in itself. Think about it… my mind is thinking and writing its own thoughts and my heart is beating to every keystroke that my fingers type out and, all of this for “free of charge,”  no pun intended, of course.  I find it such a phenomenon that I’m able to accomplish all of this “wire free.” We are our own “energy.”  My body is one circuit of energy within itself. Each circuit of  energy within my body helps the other. These are just some of my odd thoughts that I have as I lay in my bed examining my day.

It’s these thoughts that now take me to a higher plane. Although I believe that our bodies need valued nutrition in order to be energized and function properly, I also believe that there’s a higher power that allows us to walk, talk, and move around so freely.  This power, I believe, is no other than God.  I believe that God is the one who supplies our “power” and that it’s a miracle in which my brain thinks, my lungs breathe and my heart beats and loves unconditionally all on their own. If God can do all of this while I’m alive here in my physical world, then I believe that he can create the same miracle of power, keeping our spirit and soul alive after we die.

 “I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that the living sprint from the dead, that the souls of the dead are in existence.” ~ Socrates

I don’t believe that once our physical bodies die that our spirits and souls die as well and that all of these miracles abruptly come to an end. I believe that our spirits and souls are set free, to continue on with our journey but now only in another measurement of time. Just because my loved ones have moved on to a different dimension, or because their physical body is no more, it doesn’t mean that their spirits don’t exist or that they don’t surround me. Their energy and wisdom will move forward to continue on with their path, where they will now share their life lessons that they have learned here on earth, with others in the next dimension so that they may teach others what they have learned and possibly what we have not. As I believe in the same power that God gives us in our physical lives, I believe that He continues to give us this same power for our spiritual world as well.  Our spirits, souls and knowledge, I believe, will continue on, whether it’s to be shared spiritually here on earth or high within the heavens.

As I often do, I extend an invitation to my deceased loved ones, letting them know they can come to me in my dreams to visit and to talk. I have only one rule with all my spiritual family and that is NOT to appear to me in their physical form. They are more than welcome to leave me a sign, move things, send me special memories or communicate with me through my dreams. Although I believe that they can appear to me, I simply request them not to. Seeing them in this form will surely scare the living turds right out of me! They know the rules, therefore, they communicate with me in the ways I have mentioned above. Reading many books on ADC, I have learned that there are twelve forms of after death communication from a deceased loved one and I have received about nine of these:

Sensing A Presence: This is the most common form of contact. But many people discount these experiences, thinking, “Oh, I’m just imagining this.” It’s a distinct feeling that your loved one is nearby, even though he or she can’t be seen or heard. Though most often felt during the days and weeks immediately after the death, you may sense his or her presence months and even years later.

Hearing A Voice: Some people state they hear an external voice, the same as when a living person is speaking to them. However, the majority of communications are by telepathy – you hear the voice of your relative or friend in your mind. When you have two-way communication, it is usually by telepathy. In fact, it’s possible to have an entire conversation this way.

Feeling A Touch: You may feel your loved one touch you with his or her hand, or place an arm around your shoulders or back, for comfort and reassurance. You may feel a tap, a pat, a caress, a stroke, a kiss, or even a hug. These are all forms of affection, nurturing, and love.

Smelling A Fragrance: You may smell your relative’s or friend’s favorite cologne, after-shave lotion, or perfume. Other common aromas are: flowers (especially roses), bath powders, tobacco products, favorite foods, and his or her personal scent.

Visual Experiences: There are a wide variety of visual experiences, which we have divided into two broad categories: partial visual and full visual ADCs. Appearances range from “a transparent mist” to “absolutely solid” with many gradations in between. You may see only the head and shoulders of your relative or friend, or someone you love may make a full appearance to you, and you will see the entire body as well, which will appear completely solid. Some visual ADCs occur in the bedroom, next to or at the foot of the bed. Others may happen anywhere – indoors or outdoors – even in a car or aboard a plane. Typically he or she will be expressing love and well-being with a radiant smile. Loved ones virtually always appear healed and whole regardless of their cause of death. Verbal communication may take place, but not always.

Visions: You may see an image of a deceased loved one in a “picture” that is either two-dimensional and flat or three-dimensional like a hologram. It’s like seeing a 35 mm slide or a movie suspended in the air. Visions are usually in radiant colors and may be seen externally with your eyes open or internally in your mind. Communication may occur, especially during meditation.

Twilight Experiences: These occur in the alpha state – as you’re falling asleep, waking up, meditating, or praying. You may have any or all of the above types of experiences while you are in this state of consciousness.

ADC Experiences While Asleep: Sleep-state ADCs are much more vivid, intense, colorful, and real than dreams. They are very common. Both one-way and two-way communications are typical. You usually feel your loved one is with you in person – that you’re having an actual visit together. These experiences are not jumbled, filled with symbols, or fragmented the way dreams are.  Sleep-state ADCs are similar to those that occur when you are wide awake. Your relative or friend can come to you more easily, however, when you are relaxed, open, and receptive, such as while you are in the alpha state or asleep.

Out-Of-Body ADCs: These may occur while you are asleep or in a meditative state. They are dramatic experiences during which you leave your body and often visit your loved one at the place or level where he or she exists. These are extremely vivid, intense, and real – some say, “more real than physical life.” The environments usually contain beautiful flowers and butterflies, colorful bushes and trees, radiant lighting, and other lovely aspects of nature – and are filled with happiness, love, and joy.

Telephone Calls: These ADCs may occur during sleep or when you are wide awake. You will hear a phone ringing, and if you answer it, your loved one will give you a short message. Two-way conversations are possible. His or her voice will usually be clear but may seem far away. If you are awake, you will probably not hear a disconnect sound or a dial tone when the call is completed.

Physical Phenomena: People who are bereaved often report receiving a wide variety of physical signs from their deceased relative or friend, such as: lights or lamps blinking on and off; lights, radios, televisions, stereos, and mechanical objects being turned on; photographs, pictures, and various other items being turned over or moved; and a long list of “things that go bump in the night.”

Symbolic ADCs: People frequently ask a Higher Power, the universe, or their deceased loved one for a sign that he or she still exists. Many receive such a sign, though it may take some time to arrive. Occasionally these signs are so subtle they may be missed, or they may be discounted as mere “coincidences.” Common signs include: butterflies, rainbows, many species of birds and animals, flowers, and a variety of inanimate objects such as coins and pictures. (1)

Just as I believe spiritually, I strongly believe in the spirit world as well. I believe that my loved one’s spirits come to visit me, surrounding me with their guidance, protection and love. I’ve had deceased loved ones offer me advice through a dream, thank me or just extending a hug.  I don’t call what has happened to me as coincidences, I believe that they all happened for a reason and that there’s a meaning and message behind each and every one of them.  I have always welcomed my family to communicate with me, via ADC, and with the stories I mention below, I believe, they have.

The Sweet Smell of Tar

One of my first encounters of spirits was by smell.  My grandfather, Raymond, was a roofer and he often would bring home his big red roofing truck, which smelled like tar and, of course, himself, too. It was one of those pleasant memories that when I smell tar today, I think fondly of my grandfather.  However, what’s strange is that whenever I smell tar, there would be no tar truck around nor were any buildings being worked on.

The smell literally appeared out of nowhere. Such as, when I was planning to go into the hospital to have Arla by cesarean, I smelled tar inside the car on the way to the hospital.  This same smell repeated itself when I was on my way to the hospital the second time to give birth by cesarean to Tanner. Again, there were no tar trucks or buildings around me that indicated work was being done.  When having Tanner, the anesthesiologist was having trouble inserting the needle into my back for my epidural. I was told that if they couldn’t get it by the third attempt, they would have to put me under. I have a fear of going under anesthesia, so I had prayed to my grandfather, “Grandpa, please guide the physician’s hands to help her insert the needle into my back so that I don’t have to go under. You know how much I fear going under…” No sooner when my prayer ended, the anesthesiologist, Dr. Childers, was able to complete the procedure and the needle slid directly into my spine with ease. “Thank you grandpa!”  Frank commented that when I was in the hospital to have Arla, that there was an elderly man working on the sink just outside the operating room.  Of course, Frank didn’t give it a second thought… until the next time when I went to the hospital to have Tanner.  Once again, I was the same operating room as the first time and there Frank said was the same elderly man, underneath the sink, working on it.  I personally didn’t recall this man, but Frank insisted that he was there both times of delivery, working on the same sink. I do know that I smelled roofing tar for no apparent reason on both of these occasions and, along with this elderly man, I believe that this could have been grandpa stopping by to make sure that I was okay and it was his way of saying that he was there with me, protecting and watching over me.  To this day, I still continue to smell roofing tar and, when I do, I peacefully say, “Hello grandpa, how are you?”

Coming to Say Hello

As I have shared in the past, my grandfather and I were very close, especially in the latter years when he was battling his final fight with cancer.

While visiting with him and my grandmother in Madison in the early 1980’s, I realized that his condition was deteriorating, making me realize that he may not be with us too much longer.  As I sat on the couch with grandpa, we started talking about this and that, catching up on lost time. It was moments later that grandpa stood up and, with the help of his cane, he walked slowly to his bedroom to collect something from his drawer.

Sitting back down beside me, he handed me a man’s gold diamond ring, sharing with me that he had found it in a car wash decades ago.  He asked me if I would like to keep it, so that when I held it, I would think of him.  Knowing that it was a part of him, I said, “Yes, I would love to have it as a keepsake.”  Grandpa commented that he had the ring for many years and that I should never give it away and to keep it always.  I distinctly remember the moment when sitting close beside him on the couch that warm summer afternoon, playing with the ring that he gave me, twirling it around my finger. There was reminiscence in the air, along with our conversation, as we started to talk about the farm in Stoughton and all the fun time we had while living there. I could tell that this was a fond memory in grandpa’s heart. It wasn’t long when he shared with me that he wished my mother would have named me Arlaraye, like he asked her to. But, he told me that she absolutely refused. I told him that I was sorry, as I knew how important this was to him. It was then that I made a vow to him and said, “Grandpa, if I ever have a daughter in the future, I promise that I will name her after you, for you, and call her Arlaraye.”  With that, he put his arms around me and gave me the strongest hug. The strength in his arms told me that I had just made him a very happy grandfather.

Grandpa’s death came just a couple years later and it saddened me to know that he would never be around to see my promise to him become a reality, naming my first daughter for him. Almost ten years later, when I realized that I was pregnant, I was ecstatic!   I was expecting to have my first child in April 1992.  From the moment that I found out I was going to have a baby, all I wished for that it was going to be a girl.  One evening during the night, I prayed my wishes to God, expressing how much I wanted to have a daughter so that I could honor my grandfather in the way that my mother would not.  After pleading my reasons, I felt something in my belly, twisting and turning, almost as if the baby did a complete 360 flip inside me.  The feeling that I experienced that night was different, almost bizarre, as if God was answering my prayers the moment they left my lips.

My daughter, Arlaraye Niccole, was born on Monday, April 6, 1992.

It wasn’t long before Frank and I got in the routine of nightly feedings, changing poopy diapers, with a side order of not enough sleep!  At the time, we always lived in the back room.  It was our main family room, where we watched TV and entertained guests and simply hung out.  Today, this room is considered the art room. But, when Arla was a baby, this was the room we utilized the most when first moving into the house.  This family room was an addition that was built onto the house decades prior to us moving in. It’s a nice size room and it overlooks the backyard, with many windows wrapping around. The main bedrooms were on the first floor, with Arla’s room being directly across from ours.  Because the back room was an add on, Arla’s bedroom had two doors; one that originally would have led outside to the backyard if the addition wasn’t there and the main bedroom door, which leads into the hallway by the bathroom and our bedroom.

One evening, Frank and I were sitting in the back family room, enjoying some quite time, as we had just laid Arla down in her crib for the night. As young parents often do, we made sure that the noise level was at a minimum so as to not wake up our new baby girl. We made sure that both doors were tightly closed so that our cats wouldn’t disturb Arla while she slept.  Settling in for an evening of TV, it wasn’t long before we heard the unexpected. I was sitting right outside Arla’s door and Frank was lounging on the couch. It was moments later that Arla’s main door to her room, the one that faced the hallway, opened and within a few seconds it closed again, slamming shut. Suddenly, Frank and I both looked at each other simultaneously, as we spun our heads toward Arla’s bedroom.  We both knew that we were the only ones in the house. As if on cue, both Frank and I said in harmony, “Grandpa Johnson!”  Frank went to Arla’s room and, there as it was, just the way we left it, her door was completely shut. We knew that Arla didn’t open the door, as she was just a newborn, not even able to roll over yet, let open a bedroom door.  Frank and I absolutely believed that grandpa had stopped by for a visit to say hello to his new great granddaughter, his namesake, the one I promised to name for him, in honor of him.

It was a couple years later, once we had our Golden Retriever, Kassy, that this room attracted additional attention. One evening, as Kassy laid quietly on the floor next to my feet in the family room, she suddenly poked her head up, looked toward Arla’s room, and started a low toned growl. She immediately got my attention as I, too, looked toward Arla’s room.  The lights were off and Arla’s back door was slightly opened. At the time, Arla was not in her room, but in her basinet beside me. Kassy is now standing on all fours and is directing her complete attention to the open door of Arla’s room, growling making her presence known. I began to ask Kassy what was the matter and asked her to go and investigate, with a quick “who’s there girl, watch ‘em!” command. Kassy slowly walked to the open door, as if she was on a cautious hunt, but she moved no further nor did she walk inside the room.  It was if she got spooked.  Immediately turning around, she shared a small whimper and came back to my side, hugging close to my legs, which is where she remained for the remainder of the evening.  It was apparent that there was something going on in Arla’s room and that Kassy was scared.  Animals can be such intuitive animals and I believe that there was something in the room that grabbed her attention.  Although I never did learn what stirred Kassy into such a frenzy, I can only believe that it was simply another visit from grandpa, looking to say hello to his Arlaraye.

The Light in the Window

One evening, I was home by myself and Frank was out with the Arla, who was a toddler at the time. It was a rarity that I was alone, not to mention with my own thoughts. I decided to call my friend Donatta to catch up on life. I was in our back family room at the time. Doing things between both rooms, running back and forth from the kitchen and family room, and instead of resting within the chair, I decided to sit and prop myself on the arm of the recliner chair. I faced the windows toward the backyard, with my back resting toward the kitchen. It was evening out and I could see the room’s reflection in the darken window. Midway through my conversation with Donatta, while starring toward the window, I saw a large white light that suddenly took over my attention. Like a mirror, this light was being reflected in the darkened window. My reaction was somewhat puzzling, but yet uneasy, as I couldn’t grasp at the moment where the light was coming from.   The light was noticeable and prominent for at least a good ten seconds. It appeared as if something was being opened and closed, as I saw the light slowly disappear.

I immediately went to the window to investigate, thinking it was the weather, perhaps lightening, but I soon realized it wasn’t. Turning back toward the kitchen, I stood there thinking maybe Frank and the kids were home, but they weren’t. The house was quiet. There were no other lights on in the kitchen except for the accent light underneath the stove, which wasn’t in the path of the window.  Still standing in the back room, my eyes then drifted through the kitchen to the fridge. As I expected it to be, the fridge door was closed. Walking only a few feet into the kitchen from where I was standing, I went directly to the fridge. Holding the phone in my left hand, I was still on the phone talking with Donatta, explaining to her what was happening. Placing my right hand onto the fridge door handle, I turn my head to the left, where I look directly toward the back family room, to the same window where I was just at moments before. The distance between the fridge and the back room window is approximately twenty feet.  Studying the layout and the path between both rooms, the fridge was in direct alignment with the darkened window. Clutching the handle, I slowly open the fridge door, as I watched what played out in the window.  Moments later, I gradually brought the fridge door to a close.

Opening and closing the fridge door several more times, it was then that I had the evidence I needed. I was convinced that this was the exact same light that I had witnessed just minutes before while sitting on the arm of the chair starring at the back room window.  This is when Donatta asked me if I was sure I was alone. Walking through the house, I made sure that nobody else was there with me. I was completely alone… or so I thought. The only explanation that came to mind was that, perhaps, it was my grandfather’s sprit, who was coming to visit me once again, just like the time when he came to visit Arla in her bedroom. But, this time, looking into the fridge for a cold Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

Everywhere a Sign

My grandfather’s favorite beer was Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) and whenever I see a PBR beer sign, I think of him. On the way home from the hospital, after taking my mother off of life support that one September afternoon, we parked on a side street so that Frank could run an errand into the corner convenient store. I decided to stay in the car with the kids. Looking out the window, my mind started drifting off and I was back in the hospital, where I was at only moments before.  Looking up to the sky, there I saw high above my head on the top side of the building was a PBR advertisement sign. It was then that I felt my grandfather was with me at the time of my mother’s death and going through the emotions with me.

Not only do I receive signs like the above, I also receive signs by smell, such as the tar smell I spoke of earlier.  One afternoon, while walking into my bedroom, I immediately smelled my grandfather’s aftershave, as if it was just freshly slapped onto his face. I knew it was him right away and I spent the next few minutes taking in the smell of his aftershave. Moments later, it dissipated.

A Word of Comfort

As my grandfather’s scent had permeated my bedroom, believing that he was there for a visit, there was another time recently that he stopped by again. I was upset and crying very hard to myself. Someone I knew hurt me very deeply. As I walked into the bedroom, I closed the door behind me. I wanted to be alone. Sitting on the edge of the bed on my side of the room with my back to the bedroom door, I sat there sobbing, where my emotions were simply uncontrollable. My deepest emotions were coming out and I was practically drowning in my own emotions. Through my tears, I heard a soft voice behind me, a voice that uttered a reassuring “Ssssshhhhh…” My eyes looked up and I hushed myself from crying. I quickly turned around toward the door and to the other side of the room. The door was still closed. I felt like I was no longer alone.  It was then that I knew my grandfather was there with me, asking me to shush my tears, consoling me.  I will never forget this spiritual contact. I heard this Ssssshhhhh as clear as could be. My spiritual family is with me always and hearing grandpa hush me to silence made me stop crying and wipe my tears. There is no doubt in my mind that my grandfather was there helping me get through this rough time.

I have received other signs, as well, such as when doing an online search or needing to complete an online form. On several occasions, there was already a name populated within the search field or the name field before I even began typing.  The name Johnson would automatically be within these fields prior to be starting the form.  Coincidently enough, Johnson was my grandparents’ last name.

I have also encountered flickering lights while sitting next to a lamp or the light bulb would suddenly blow out while touching to turn on a light switch or turn the knob of a lamp. There was a time when the bulbs were constantly being changed because every time I reached for them, they would blow out.   These times were during when I lost a loved one, where my feelings and emotions were at their highest level. Was it my own energy source that tapped these lights dry or was it someone else, my spiritual family, letting me know that they were with me?

When I began to write my memoirs, I knew that I wanted to share and express not only the hardships I have had in my life, but also the tremendous amount of love I have experienced as well.  The day that I finished writing about my Uncle Bob and expressing how much he meant to me in my life, that evening, he came to me in a dream. Uncle Bob stood there before me, just as I remembered him, with his face full of beard wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt. He had a look that seemed to come right out of the 1970’s. Standing before me he said to me, “Thank you for individually thinking of me.”  I remember telling him that he was welcome and that I loved him. Uncle Bob started to cry and I started to cry even hard. Shortly after, I woke up and knew that Uncle Bob came to visit me.

I continue to ask for signs and welcome my spiritual family to visit me at any time during my dreams. I enjoy when they visit, except for the time when granny took her hug a bit too far or the time when she offered me words of “Peace” that she shared with me in my dream. I will share these moments with you next time, as well as when my mother who made an appearance but this time it wasn’t in my dreams, it was a physical manifestation right there in front of me while I was sitting in church…

 “Perhaps they are not stars but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pour through and shine down upon us to let us know they are happy.” ~ Eskimo Proverb

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Today, as I sat in my yard writing my blog, I had the company of two yellow butterflies playing with each other throughout the day. Bouncing from one flower to the next, they did so in unison, not once parting from each other’s side. I can’t help but to wonder… Could these two butterflies be my grandparents as they glided from one pollen pod to the other? Was it my mother and Uncle Bob, chasing each another around as they once did when they were little kids? Perhaps, it was Geno and his father, as they journeyed together catching up on life’s distant past.  Regardless of who these two butterflies may have been as they shared my whole day, I was happy to know that I was able to have this spiritual connection. I watched them both dance to the fragrance that my garden had to offer, as I listened to the birds sing in the breeze, the beautiful clouds that painted the sky and the air that carried a calmness. These are the moments that make me aware of how my body is energized; not through electrical energy, but by the power of God and my spiritual connections…

… Yes, I truly enjoyed my Spiritual Sunday.

References:

1. http://www.after-death.com/

http://www.adcrf.org/

Feelings of the Heart

“There’s no love like the first.” ~ Nicholas Sparks

If we are lucky enough, we all may experience the feeling of falling in love at least once during our lifetime. Do you remember your first love? I remember my first love; that special someone who made my heart skip a few beats whenever he was near. Being young as I was, some may call it puppy love, but I would like to believe that it was more than that.  I believe that I have had the opportunity to fall in love three times in my life, with each of them being very special in their own way.

Remembering my “first love” whose name was Harald, he was a Norwegian boy who lived across the road from my grandparents’ farm. He and I grew up together, seeing each other every summer for many years and, eventually, we started liking one another. Sitting on the front lawn, looking across the road at his farm, I wished and waited for him to ride over on one of those put together bikes that he and his brothers were always building.  Sometimes, once his farm chores were done, my heart would begin to flutter as I saw him riding down his long driveway to come over for a visit. Sometimes, his brother would come along with him and we would play cowboys and Indians around the house or we would race our bikes down the old gravel road.  Harald was a very nice person and always extended politeness and respect, not only to me, but to my grandparents as well. He liked talking with my grandmother, who he fondly called Tiny, as he caught up on all the latest gossip about the neighbors and farmers around.  “Now, Tiny, don’t be spreading any rumors about any of your neighbors now.” Nevertheless, granny insisted that it wasn’t gossip at all, only the truth. I enjoyed watching Harald, as he continued to tease granny, making her snicker to herself.  Harald’s smile was wide and inviting and his eyes always seemed to be smiling as well. He wore his hair long, long enough to peek out from underneath his cowboy hat.  I could smell the day’s work on him, but it wasn’t offensive, just enough to know that he put in a hard day’s work. Harald and I would sit and talk for the longest time or listen to country songs on the jukebox in the breezeway. We would go into town to share an ice cream cone or watch the fireworks on the fourth of July. One of my favorite times was when he came with my grandfather, Steve and I to pilfer sweet corn from the neighbor’s farm. Making our way deep within the field, Harald helped me fill up my gunnysack, watching me carefully as I walked through the corn rows. Secretly, Harald and I would hold hands and, on occasion, steal an innocent kiss when nobody was looking.

“Like an old photograph, time can make a feeling fade, but the memory of a first love never fades away.” ~Tim McGraw

Once, Harald teasingly tossed a rock at me, winking and smiling as he watched it roll toward me. I kept that rock for many years, displaying it on my dresser, along with an empty can of Mountain Dew that we had once shared together while sitting outside under the oak tree. We never openly expressed our feelings to one other, but I don’t believe we had to. We both knew that we shared a special kind of friendship and fondness that was made up of innocence and our unspoken words between us were enough.  This was the summer that grandpa was diagnosed with colon cancer, making my summer vacation with my first love suddenly cut short. Waiting to be taken home, we secretly held hands from the back window of Melvin’s car.  As the car slowly pulled away, so did the tight clutch of our hands. This was our final goodbye to one another.  The memory of Harald will always hold a special place in my heart. Everyone should have the experience where their heart falls for someone the very first time, making your heart beat faster while the butterflies twirl within your belly… Do you remember your first love?

As time went on, so did the distance between Harald and myself.  As I concentrated on my schooling back home in Chicago this is where I made new friends. I met my very close friend, Donatta, as well as meeting the second love of my life, Bill.  Sharing the same classroom together, we were both awkward teenagers, teasing and picking on one another every day. Surely, it was our way of saying we liked one another. He was considered one of the popular kids in school and I really liked Bill. He was tall, had brown wavy hair and had a gorgeous set of lips on him. One day, while in school, he wore a small pink toy, which was tightly wrapped around the earpiece of his glasses. Bill had given it to me for a keepsake and, almost forty years later, I still have it, where it rests on a shelf in my art room.

Toy

Our teasing with each other eventually grew into a long-term relationship that consisted of passion and love.  My relationship with Bill is where I learned to share my feelings on a deeper level, allowing my love for Bill to grow.  As Harald was my first love, Bill was my first lover, experiencing with each other sexually and emotionally.  However, over the years and, as relationships often do, we both went our separate ways after college.

Do you remember the moment when you believe you were falling in love with your mate, wondering if they, too, had the same feelings as you, hoping, and praying that they did? Do you remember how wonderful it made you feel inside?

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go.  Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.”  ~Flavia Weedn

Taking my love lessons from previous dating and past love experiences, I moved forward with my life, taking away from each relationship some good and some bad, teaching me to have patience, confidence, not only in a relationship, but with myself as well.  As time passed, I had met the third love of my life, Frank, who I share my life with today.  Initially, when meeting Frank for the first time on a blind date, I admit I was skeptical, especially when he continued to ask me to marry him throughout our first date.  However, after that Sunday afternoon, when he asked to come over to my apartment to watch the Bears football game, I was starting to realize that Frank was beginning to uncover a hidden spark within me, one that he was actually lighting on fire, a fire that I was hoping would burn for a long time.

 “Love is like a friendship caught on fire.  In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering.  As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.”  ~Bruce Lee

I never had dated anyone like him before, who was a biker, rugged, wearing cut off t-shirts and leather, with biker boots that always seem to make his feet drag. Either his boots were terribly heavy or he was just that cool as he shuffled along.  I felt very comfortable being with Frank. Perhaps, it was because he was just as comfortable being with me, being himself, and being very expressive with his emotions. Frank was the first man that I ever had a farting contest with or even farted in front of for that matter. That in itself speaks volumes of comfort. I had always considered myself to be somewhat of a shy person, passive, someone who would never demonstrate any openness or able to approach others. However, I seemed to be a very different person when I was with Frank. There was a sense of safety and comfort when I was with him and it gave me the opportunity to break out of my shyness, to emerge from within myself, allowing me to be carefree, open and be the person that I never knew was inside me. I discovered that I liked her. I have always credited Frank for bringing me out of my shell. I found myself daydreaming about him, sighing with contentment, waiting with anticipation until I saw him again.  My heart would skip a beat when Frank would take my hand, holding it tightly within his or when his lips would reach for mine. There was a tenderness about Frank, where he made me feel as if I was the only one of importance, the only one who mattered.

Bikers

Frank and Geno

It was Frank who confessed his love for me first, sharing that he was falling in love with me after knowing me for only a week. I, too, was beginning to have the same feelings, for him, where my heart was slowly opening, allowing my heart to feel again.  This was the third time in my life that I was experiencing falling in love and, this time, I was hoping that it was for keeps.

Do you remember when you and your love made the commitment to spend the rest of your life together, to marry, to have and to hold, until death do you part? Do you ever notice that when you’re in love, everything seems to be so right in the world, that you can endure any tribulations?  When you’re in love, don’t you feel you have everything?

 “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”  ~Lao Tzu

There are so many facets of love where this one simple four letter word can easily make your heart experience so many emotions, whether they are positive or by the means of aimed destruction.

Love, sadly, can make your heart hurt, screaming to the point as if it’s going to burst right out of your chest, making you aware of your pain with every beat your heart takes.

Love can make you feel as if your world is drowning, being submerged so deep with abuse and heartlessness that you’re unable to breathe.

Love can make your heart fill with disappointment and sadness because you can’t seem to touch the heart of your loved one who needs love the most.

Love can leave your mind so mentally exhausted from all the heartaches to the point where you question yourself if it’s all worth it.

Love can be with you and in your heart always or in the end it can just walk out the door never to return…

… or is love worth fighting for, the love that once was, the love you know is still there, praying is there, but is hidden by the day’s anger and frustrating tribulations?

Have you ever fought so hard for something that you wanted, for something that you never had before, something that you deserved, a family, a home, the love and respect of someone special?

LOVE

[luhv] noun

1. A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

2. A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

3. Sexual passion or desire.

4. A person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.

If allowed, love can make your heart sing as loud as a cardinal who’s calling for its mate on a beautiful Sunday morning.

Love can give you such a natural high that’s so intense you have to ground yourself so you don’t float away.

Love can have your mind drift off into a daydream world, where it only consists of you and your lover, perhaps, sharing an intimate moment.

Love can fill your belly with butterflies when you know your loved one is near.

Love can fill your heart with passion and desire that is so strong you can even feel it in your dreams.

Love should be open, with no obstacles between you and the one you love.

Love is having hope and optimism, sharing it with your everyday world, making it apart of your everyday life.

Love is knowing that you will never have to endure anything alone; that your loved one will always be by your side, through good times and through bad.

Love should be your strength, your ammunition to keep fighting, to move forward and to be strong enough to conquer all ills and troubles, regardless of what is placed before you.  Love your life.  This is the love that I believe…

 “Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness.”  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

 Throughout my life, I have certainly learned that life is not a Utopia, but with dedicated love, devotion and togetherness, we can conquer, overcoming any obstacles set before us. Remember, we aren’t doing it alone; we’re doing it with the help of the person who loves us, our soul mate.  The one who promised before God to love, to have, and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish ’till death do us part.

These are my feelings of the heart. I believe it was meant for me to meet, court, and marry my third love, the man who was meant to be in my life and, because of a higher power involved; I will soon be celebrating my 23rd wedding anniversary. Yes, I believe in the saying, “Third time’s the charm.”

Do you believe in fate? Do you believe in love at first sight? Do you believe things are meant to happen in our life to test us, so that it makes us stronger, better, so that we can see what blessing we have in our life? Do you believe in commitment and unconditional love. Do you believe that everything happens for a reason?

I do.

May 5, 1990

Bubby… Our Life, Our World

Bub·by: (n) \’bə-bē\  בובי  Yiddish – is a German-based Jewish dialect.  Bubby is an endearing Yiddish term for grandmother. A sweet name for the one you love, the one you adore, your Bubster, your Bubinator… your Boo! Hair worn short … Continue reading

Whisper to my Heart

Watercolor by JackAugust 2012

Watercolor by Jack
August 2012

“What do you think of God,” the teacher asked. After a pause, the young pupil replied, “He’s not a think, he’s a feel.” ~Paul Frost

My brothers and I were brought up to have no religion in our lives whatsoever. Melvin was an atheist. My mother was baptized and confirmed Lutheran, but she made no conscious effort to promote and bring God into our home and lives. We couldn’t tell you the first thing about God, his miracles, or how to even pray.

Having married a man that was Catholic and, practically having his whole family being catholic, not to mention his older brother, Joey, being a catholic priest, I knew that when we had children, we would raise them catholic as well. It was almost a prerequisite when I married into the family. I was never baptized myself and, therefore, had no religious denomination whatsoever.

Soon after my daughter, Arlaraye, was born, we had her baptized at the church where Joey was Pastor, St. Alphonsus church in Chicago, the same church that Frank and I were married at. Standing there in church was one of the most uncomfortable situations I’ve been in. I felt total awkwardness, as Joey and everyone chanted their routine prayers and blessings around me. I found my mind drifting away; wondering when mass was going to be over, wondering when I would be able to leave. I felt idiotically embarrassed standing there watching my family say prayers, watching their mouths move in unison, making the same motion when doing the sign of the cross, moving up and down, sitting, kneeling, standing. I listened as everyone would speak in harmony, praying, why I said absolutely nothing, except for one word, which was amen. That was the only word I knew because it meant that all those amens were eventually one step closer to the door, one step closer to getting out of church and going home. I was uncomfortable being in church. I was never in a church growing up. I felt embarrassed, almost displaced, as if people knew that I was illiterate when it came to the subject of religion.

Four years later, I gave birth to my son, Tanner, where I also had him baptized by Joey, once again, going through the exact same uneasy emotions all over again. I was happy that I had my children baptized and did know the importance of doing so, but when looking at both of my children’s baptism pictures, I could see the dumbfounded look on my face, where I looked completely lost!

Sometimes, I felt that there was a God above me, even acknowledging now and then, but never really gave it too much thought throughout my younger life. I recognized that God created us, the animals, flowers and, on occasion, would perform a miracle. I don’t want to say that I took God for granted in what He was capable of doing, but let’s just say that I didn’t seem to notice Him as much. I wasn’t use to having a God in my life, praying, asking for help or guidance. I never prayed for others or even myself. My mom never shared religion with me. He was never mentioned in our home. I blame my mother for this. For someone who went through the sacraments herself, I would think that she would want to share such an experience with her children. Possibly, if religion and God were a part of my life growing up, if I had learned how much God truly loved me, and that He would have been there for me when called upon, I would have knocked on his door much sooner, asking for help.

Photo by Jack

Photo by Jack

As I got older and into my late thirties, this is when I started realizing that there was something significantly missing in my life, which I wanted and, more importantly, needed. I realized that I felt left out from one of the most important relationships that a human being could ever have. And that was a relationship with one’s God. There was an absence in my heart; a feeling of vacancy, and I knew that it had the capability of embracing so much more love than what it was already holding. Every day, I found myself staring up toward the sky, memorized by the beauty of the blue skies and clouds that drifted by me, as if they were in a small town parade floating curbside as they waved hello to the crowds. I felt tranquility as I watched the lady in the moon smiling back at me. I found beauty in a rainbow, as it touched from one end of the sky to the other, while the rain softly danced against the radiant rays of sunshine. I watched the sun as it set itself for another evening, as it slightly peeked through the crimson clouds, making its journey into night’s rest. The shades of pinks, blues and grays that illuminated from the sky were as if God, Himself, had just painted another beautiful masterpiece. This was such a surreal moment for me that it left me weeping tears every single time I witnessed His miracles.

Photo by Jack

Photo by Jack

I started seeing the beauty in a flower, their smell, their color, the radiance that it extended and I was starting to realize that God, Himself can be the only one responsible for creating such exquisite wonders. It was like I had an awakening. I knew deep within my heart that I wanted to be a part of His world, to be a part of His heaven once my time on earth was done. If I was finding such beauty in the world that I was living, I could only dream how beautiful God’s world was.

“People see God every day, they just don’t recognize him.” ~Pearl Bailey

I started noticing all the miracles that God laid before me. I was even starting to get little signs, as I asked for his guidance and strength. It was at that moment that I made the decision to become a Catholic, to be baptized in Jesus’ name. I shared my feelings with Frank that I wanted to be baptized and do whatever I had to do in order to be welcomed into God’s world, to be a part of His world and my family who has since went home to Him. Frank, as well as his family, was happy that I had made such an important decision and supported me. I learned that I would have to attend RCIA (Rite of Christina Initiation of Adults) classes and that I would have to go twice a week, traveling to two different churches for over a year. I was up for the commitment and, to make it all that more special, Frank came to class with me, sharing in my experience. We didn’t miss one class or one mass throughout the time we were going. I was in a class of approximately six catechumens and we all shared the same passion. Father Dario, who was Pastor of St. Priscilla’s Church, led all the discussion groups on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Father Dario always had a way of making religious education interesting and exciting. We went to church every Sunday and, after the Gospel, I and the other catechumens were dismissed so that we could discuss what we just learned or how it made us feel. Andy, who was a very soft spoken and dedicated gentleman to his faith, led our group into discussion. There was never any right or wrong answers in our discussions, nor were there any pop quizzes. Simply, it was a conversation between others who shared the same passion and faith as I did.

As I was preparing for my sacraments, my mother had voiced her opinion on me becoming a catholic. Again, my mother was brought up Lutheran, but never practiced her religion. She knew that I was taking this avenue to become a catholic and it bothered her every step of the way. Finally, she had asked me why I was becoming a catholic, as I wasn’t one to begin with. I shared with her that I wasn’t anything from the beginning anyway thanks to her and, if it was that important to her, then she should have done something about it when I was born. Otherwise, she has no say in the situation. That was the last I ever heard of that topic from my mother.

Sacrament Day!March 2000

Sacrament Day!
March 2000

In March of 2000, I went through all the sacraments of initiation; Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. Although truly a special event in my life, I thought it would be even more special if Joey would do the honors of baptizing me. He married Frank and me, he baptized my two children and I thought it would be lovely if he baptized me as well. We had it approved by the church and Joey was given permission to share in this special day along with me. But, unbeknownst to me, Joey, Bubby and Frank’s other brother, Patrick, were in on a little secret and had made plans in the car while on the way over to the church; plans that obviously involved me. As I stood on the altar, bending over the baptismal font, I waited for Joey to bless me with holy water. I couldn’t help noticing that Joey was grinning from ear to ear, as he was about to make sure that I was completely blessed myself… from ear to ear. Joey proceeded to pour a FULL pitcher of Holy Water all over my entire head, drenching me, making sure that I was completely cleansed and washed away of all sins. Sopping wet and hair now completely a mess, I knew that I had just made one of the most important decisions of my entire life.

Today, I realized that I missed out on so many things when I was young, with religion being one of them. Being young, I realized that some kids aren’t jumping at the idea of attending church and sitting in a pew for an hour, but it would have been nice to at least have had some form of religion while growing up; to have had something to believe in. I was never told about God or that God loved me, nor was I ever shown how to pray. Thinking back, if I had known how to talk to God and pray, perhaps, my torment with Melvin would have been a lot easier to deal with. I would have asked God to help me, to be my strength. Knowing the relationship that I have with my God today, I know He would have been my strength, coming to me as my saving grace, answering my every prayer.

Photo by Jack

Photo by Jack

I cannot walk into a church today without becoming so emotionally affected. To see God suspending there before me, it has always left me in tears, with complete thankfulness for the sacrifices that He had made for me. At times, I surprise myself how I feel when I think of God and his many blessings. For someone who never had one ounce of religion in their life as a child, I find myself such an emotional and spiritual person today. I see God’s touch everywhere. There isn’t one thing that I can’t look at that I don’t see where God created something beautiful, directly touching it Himself. I see Him in every perfect flower that shares a bloom and every cloud that floats in the blue sky above me, while butterflies dance in the air.

Photo by Jack

Photo by Jack

He’s in the face of every laughing child or deep within the wrinkles of a wise elderly person’s face. He’s in the wheelchair of every handicapped child, as well as in the spirit of every mentally challenged man or woman. I see God within each glowing sunset that closes out my day. But, most importantly, when I look in the mirror or look deep into the eyes of my children, I see God, He is there.

Photo by Jack

Photo by Jack

My God loves all people. He holds no discrimination in his heart. He loves whether a person is white or if they are black, if they wear a hijab or honor the Star of David. My God doesn’t judge if a man is straight or if a woman is gay confessing her love to her wife. Surely, if my God can love unconditionally, can’t we all?

I smile to myself ever so lightly when I see His wonders; His beauty that He leaves before me time and time again, never once being disappointed. I try not to cry but, at times, I just can’t hold back my tears, as I see the perfect sunrise kissing me good morning or hearing a bird’s song filling the air. I was once told that my feelings were the spirits talking to me, whispering directly to my heart. The thought that my God can create such beauty, even if it makes me cry, is a feeling beyond belief for which I am truly thankful.

Watercolor by JackAugust 2012

Watercolor by Jack
August 2012

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s handwriting — a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Love Connection…

Pic - Frank and Jack Bikers 2

Getting ready to ride – 1988.

 

“I’ve been on so many blind dates, I should get a free dog!” ~ Wendy Liebman

It was a Saturday evening and I made myself comfortable on the couch.  The year had just begun and, as the years before, I had brought in the New Year 1988 alone. Grandpa had been gone for a few years now, although, it felt as if he just passed away the day before.  Longing to relive the precious memories that grandpa gave me on the farm, this is when I had decided to write my poetry.  As my heart emptied into every piece I wrote, that’s when I looked up to the heavens above and asked Grandpa… “Why can’t I spill this same love and passion into a relationship?  Grandpa, I have so much love inside to give to someone but, yet, I have no one in my life to share it with.”  Feeling melancholy, I continued writing my poems, one after another, ending the evening with loneliness. I missed having someone in my life to share things with, to laugh with, to hold and someone to make love to.

It was the next morning when my friend, Donatta, called me, asking if I would be interested in meeting someone and going out on a date. It appeared that her sister, Gordana, knew someone that she worked with at the hospital, who was also single.  His name was Frank Morin.  Gordana and Frank knew each other and worked at Columbus Hospital together.  Gordana asked Frank if he would be interested in meeting someone. With both Donatta and Gordana playing match maker, Frank and I agreed to talk on the phone and get to know one another. Little did we know, we were all connected in one way or another, as I knew Donatta and her family since my younger childhood and Gordana knowing Frank since the late seventies, when Frank was a teenager working at Columbus.  Although, having blind dates in the past that were definitely unsuccessful, I was feeling somewhat reluctant to having another. I once went on a blind date with a man, who was the mirror image of Anthony Perkins from the movie, Psycho.  Not recalling my date’s name as it was so long ago, but for giggles, let’s just call him… Norman.  As we went through our dinner, he asked about my family and I shared that I never knew my father. It was then that Norman “psycho”analyzed (no pun intended) everything I had to say… How did I feel about not knowing him. How did I feel not having him in my life? What would I do if I ever met him…  It was then that I realized Norman was a Psycho!  Calling me the next day, looking for a second date, he told me that he still lived at home, with his mother, then asked me to come over for Sunday dinner so I could meet his mother. Que Psycho music, please! It was then that I told him I got back together with my old boyfriend, Bill.  Yep, all within the last twelve hours of him dropping me off from our date. Okay, so I lied, but that was the last I heard from Norman.

Therefore, when Donatta asked me if I wanted to go on another blind date, I had visions of little Normans dancing around, haunting me. But, Donatta kept asking me… “What do you have to lose?!” Asking Donatta what Frank looked like, she described Frank to me as having very thick Coke-bottle glasses, he rode a Harley Davidson and he looked like Bugs Bunny! I thought to myself… wonderful! He’s blind as a bat, while riding a motorcycle and looks like a cartoon character!  Wow, he sounds great… sign me up!

Frank and I talked over the phone once or twice and he seemed very easy to speak with, as we both got to know a little bit more about one another. We decided to have our first date on Saturday. It was on January 9, 1988. Not having a car, and with it being too cold to ride a motorcycle, we had to take a bus, which was completely fine with me. Living off of Ainslie and Damen, Frank didn’t live too far from me, as he lived just off of Damen and George.

Getting ready for my blind date, I was a bit nervous, as I just wanted to have a fun time. I was excited to meet someone new, but yet apprehensive, especially by Donatta’s description of him.  Frank had plans to pick me up at my apartment early that afternoon.  I heard a knock at the door and, before opening it, I took a deep breath. Not having a peephole, I wasn’t able to steal a look prior to opening the door.  So, as the saying goes… I was going in blind.  Upon opening the door, I saw what stood before me a very nice young man, wearing blue jeans, biker boots and a leather biker jacket with a chocolate bar in one hand that he had just purchased off of a kid who was selling them in front of the Sears department store on Lawrence Avenue and a beautiful bouquet of flowers in the other. Making sure that he didn’t have any floppy ears, he did, indeed, have very thick glasses, the kind that Harry Caray wore. Thanking Frank for the flowers and candy, we both said our hellos, introducing ourselves to one another in person.  Locking up my apartment, we headed to the bus stop, where our first stop would be a trip to Lincoln Park Zoo.  While riding the bus down to the lake, it was at this point that Frank decided to propose marriage to me… “Will you marry me?”  Yes, my blind date had asked me to marry him.  I didn’t know the man for fifteen minutes and he was already asking for my hand in marriage.  Yes, Norman was back!  If memory serves me correctly, I ignored Frank’s first proposal, along with the second one at the zoo, and the one over lunch, and the marriage proposal on the bus ride home.  All I thought was GET ME HOME! Who proposes to someone on the first date?  Knowing that I had a full date ahead of me, I tried to make the best of it.  We walked through the zoo, visiting the lion’s den and going through the monkey house and eventually making our way to the reptiles.  We had lunch at the Belden Deli on Clark and Belden. I had a corned beef sandwich, which was a mistake. Every chew I took, the corned beef stuck to my teeth. Using my tongue, I eloquently and, unnoticeably, tried scrapping the corned beef from my teeth and the roof my mouth.  I probably looked like a cow chewing cud.

After lunch, Frank and I went to Chicago History Museum, where we came across a wishing well fountain, where we both decided to make a wish. Frank makes a wish and tosses his penny into the fountain. Handing me a penny, I also throw a wish into the well, longing for a relationship that would come into my life and last forever.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, Frank said he wished for the exact same thing. As our date was ending and Frank was bringing me back home, he asked if he could come over the next day, Sunday, to watch the Bears game with me.  Little did he know, I wasn’t a fan of football nor did I have any further intentions of seeing him again. I didn’t feel the connection and Frank smoked, which was a real turnoff to me.  But, I didn’t know how to say no to him when he asked if he could come over to watch the game. So, before leaving my apartment, I said, yes, sure, come on over and watch the Bears game.  Oh yay… football!  Saying our good-byes and thanking each other for a nice time, I was preparing for a kiss good-bye.  Somewhat awkward, I didn’t know if I should pucker up or politely extended a cheek.  As I was examining the consequences, it was at this point that Frank extended his right hand and offered me a handshake good-bye.  Shaking my hand, Frank explained to me that he didn’t kiss on the first date, he shook hands instead.  Was this a joke? Frank didn’t kiss on the first date, but he can propose marriage to me twenty times?!  My thoughts were… one Bears game and he’s gone!

Frank arrived just before kickoff. Timing the game, I figured he would be out of there within three hours!  But, as we spent the afternoon together, talking about this and that, I soon discovered that Frank was full of charm and had a very kind and sweet disposition to him. I also enjoyed his dry humor, which I, myself, inherited from my mother.  Sitting next to him, I noticed his clean manicured nails. Admiring his mustache, too, I noticed just a hint of chest hair that peeked out from underneath his sweater. I always loved a man with facial and chest hair. Noticing that the game had ended hours before, I realized that Frank and I did have a connection after all, we talked the afternoon away.  It wasn’t long after that Sunday football game that we were dating. It was only a week later that Frank told me that he was in love with me. Starting to have feelings myself, I looked up and thanked my grandfather for listening to my prayers that one lonely night, sending Frank to me, having someone to share my life with and love.  Frank later confided that when he went home after our first date, he shared with his two brothers that evening, Geno and Patrick, as well as Bubby that he had met the girl that he was going to marry.  He also shared with me that the moment I opened up my apartment door and greeted him, he felt this “whoosh” going through him, as if cupid’s arrow hit him directly in the heart.  He said it was love at first sight.  And, why wouldn’t he kiss me on the first date again?

Donatta was very happy that I had met someone; surely feeling proud of herself making a love connection between the two of us.  The only counseling and words of advice that Donatta offered to me were, “Don’t you sleep with him; don’t you sleep with him right away; wait a few weeks!” It was about a week later I told Donatta that Frank was very lovely; we were falling in love and he told me that he loved me.  Without delay, Donatta asked… “You slept with him, didn’t  you?!”  Ummm, why, yes, I did.

One afternoon, after Frank and I were dating for a while, he had asked to speak to my mother.  He wanted to ask her a question… if he could have my hand in marriage. My mother’s reply was typical, as she said, “You can have her hand, you can have her feet, you can have anything… just fuckin’ marry her!”  Thanks mom!

It was over the next several weeks that I had met Frank’s family. He came from such a large family that I had to meet them literally in shifts.  I met Frank’s mother, Anne, who is known affectionately to all as Bubby.  She was the most sweetest woman one can ever meet.  Bubby was very kind, aimed to accommodate and treated me as if I had been a part of their family all along. She was a petite woman, who had a head full of gray hair and wore very thick glasses.  “Like mother, like son.”  She bounced around the kitchen, cooking this, serving that, never doing enough for others. Listening and watching the older brothers around her, I sensed that she was nothing short of being the highlight of their lives. Bubby gave birth to seventeen children; eight boys and nine girls, with Frank being one of the youngest and having a twin sister to the oldest son being a Catholic priest.  I never met Frank’s father, as he had passed years before we ever met. I enjoyed meeting all of Frank’s brothers and sisters… eventually.  They all made me feel very comfortable being in their home.

Spring had sprung and it was time to unleash the motorcycle from the garage. Frank had  a Sportster and, never being around a motorcycle, let along being on one, Frank was fast to teach me the proper etiquette of riding with him on his Harley.

  1. Wear protective eye gear
  2. Mount and dismount the bike from the left
  3. Wait for the rider to mount or dismount first
  4. Don’t use the pipes as a mounting device to get on and off the bike
  5. When making a turn, lean into the turn with the rider.
  6. Don’t touch the pipes… they’re frickin’ hot!
  7. Pray for a safe ride. “… May the Angels guard my travels for they know what is ahead of me…”
Highway Riding

Riding the Highway

“The best alarm clock is sunshine on chrome.”  ~Author Unknown

Sliding my arms around Frank’s hips, I rest my fingers within the belt loop of his blue jeans, holding on as we hit the open road. Frank didn’t have a car, so his Harley was our form of transportation. Rain or shine, we rode. I enjoyed the freedom that riding offered, no barriers, sun in your face and your knees in the wind, as you became one with the pavement beneath you.   We took many runs, riding to Wisconsin to visit with my grandmother or riding with Frank’s brother, Geno, spending the weekend at Shafer Lake in the Indiana Dunes, traveling the many hills the state park offered. Some of my favorite rides were when we’d go back to the farm where my grandparents once lived. Visiting the neighbors across the road, who housed many cats, I told Frank that once home, I wanted to adopt a little baby kitty, basically so the cat that I already shared my life with, Déjà vu, had a friend. Once at the pet store, I found the perfect kitten, a black and white domestic that we decided to take him home to be a part of our family.  Not being able to carry a box on the bike, I decided to tuck the new Kitten within my jacket, riding all the way home on the back of Frank’s Harley. Not knowing what to name the new addition, we decided to name it “Leather,” as it rode all the way home nestled contently deep inside my leather jacket.

My relationship with Frank was going strong and I liked where it was heading. We had passion, laughter, a sense of playfulness. I was ready to spend the rest of my life with Frank, his family, our family.

Riding on the back of Frank’s Harley gave me a sense of freedom and excitement. For two young couples who were learning to love one another, exploring each other, it was a thrill riding with Frank, as our bodies were so close to one another, touching, almost spooning as if we were one. I watched as Frank’s skull earring dangled in the wind, as his headband kept his long hair out of his face. He looked rugged, typical biker, and I loved it. To me, there was a sensual side to riding, as with every turn of the throttle, you felt the vibration from the motor between your thighs.  It was beautiful to know that I was sharing this with Frank. I loved having the wind in my face as we rode, with my hair whipping behind me, while closing my eyes and smelling the freshness of the new day. I enjoyed early morning rides as we would watch the sun come up around us, artfully displaying our silhouettes against the blacktop, as if racing with my own shadow friend. The sun that was high in the sky was now heating my body and it felt welcoming.  Riding was such a turn on and I was very happy to have shared this experience with Frank.  Sadly, it would soon all be taken away from us, from me, as Frank and I prepare our future together.