Everyone’s Grandma Betty

Every once in awhile, God places angels right here among us. Grandma Betty, as she is affectionately known, was indeed an angel. I recently read a quote that said, “Your smile is your logo; your personality is your business card; how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark.” Betty shared her logo with everyone with whom she crossed paths, and one always felt better after spending time with her. She had the ability to make everyone feel loved and appreciated. She made others feel better about themselves simply by being Betty. That is truly a gift.

Going out shopping, to an auction, or to dinner with Betty was always an experience. She knew everyone, and it seemed that everyone was her cousin. Her family seemed to blanket Perry, Breckinridge, and Hancock counties. I often wondered if all of these people were actually her cousins, or if Betty just had so much love in her heart that she wanted everyone to feel like family.

I still remember the day I first met Betty. We had just moved into the house across the street from her, and she and Dorothy, another neighbor, came over to introduce themselves. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.Over the years, Betty became part of our family. She was a second mother to me, offering her wisdom and love whenever it was needed, even times when I didn’t know I needed it. She became a grandmother to my daughters, sharing her love of baking and of laughter with them. They loved walking across the street to Grandma Betty’s. I loved having someone who would share both my joys and my tears. No matter how down I might feel, talking to Betty always made me feel comforted. And when I had good news, she would end up being more excited than I was.

About 18 years ago, when my daughters were young and I was working full time as a hairdresser, I began to consider going to college to become a teacher. It was an intimidating decision, and I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Betty encouraged me, never doubting that I could do it, and shared her stories of nursing school. She let me know that she would be there for me, and when I finally began classes, she even kept Addie while I went to school. It was during this time that Addie started her coffee addiction. “I just give her milk with a little coffee in it,” Betty would laugh. Addie and Betty had their routine; Betty let Addie watch her shows on Nickelodeon, cooked her better lunches than she would ever get at home, and they would swing. We all have such fond memories of the swing in Betty’s yard. And her yard…that lady could grow flowers. I will never look at an iris without thinking about Betty.

She took great pride in her flowers and in her home. She and I shared a love of decorating and of antiques. We’d go to a shop where she’d purchase some treasure, usually saying, “Don’t tell anyone how much a paid for this!” Every time I went to Betty’s house, something was new or rearranged. Her table was always set, and there was always candy on the bar for all of her kids. One always felt welcome in Grandma Betty’s home.

Betty spent her life helping others. Whether it was raising her six children or nursing ill patients, teaching school children or rocking babies at daycare, so many in our community were made a little better by a hug or kind word from Betty. As we all say our final good-byes, we need to take a piece of that with us and love fully just as she did. We need to pay attention, and when someone needs a lift, provide it. We need to make every child who crosses our paths know that he or she is loved and cared for. We need to encourage those who come behind us on this journey to chase their dreams, just as she chased hers to become a nurse.

And we should all thank Betty’s children for sharing their mother with us. She was so proud that each of them had gone to college, and she was proud of the caring adults they all became. So thank you, Donna, Doug, Debbie, Lorie, Lisa, and Janet. Your mother was a gem and she will be missed by so many. We all have an emptiness in our hearts, yet our hearts are also more full because of the love Betty shared with us all. Until we meet again…

 

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See ya 2013!

I always write an Old Year/New Year post, and it’s typically long, jumbled, and possibly somewhat boring, but it’s also my way of processing the old year, and welcoming what’s to come.  So, if you’re sitting at home, avoiding laundry and housework, and need a reprieve from the daily chaos, read on.  What follows is a wrap-up of random thoughts.  Here we go…

  • Sunday, as I was waiting for my hair color to work its magic, I transferred birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates from my 2013 calendars to my 2014 calendars (one of which I bought for half price because I waited until the last minute).  As I was carefully writing in the upcoming events, I thought about how wonderful it is that each January, we get the opportunity to reflect on the past year, and start all over with a new year.  I don’t really make resolutions, but I do have a few goals.  I will share those at some random point in this blog.
  • 2013 was filled with both blessings and frustrations for us.  Health-wise, it was a tough year.  Last spring, I had the flu, and stomach bug, and then six weeks worth of eye infections.  The entire year I dealt with knee problems that resulted in surgery in August.  It isn’t completely healed, but I am hopeful that it will continue to get stronger, the pain will continue to lessen, and eventually I will return to my running routine in 2014.  Gary had to have hernia surgery, and Addison had (and continues to have) foot problems.  Because of changes to our health insurance (that are infuriating), my rates have doubled, AND we went from a $500 deductible to a $3000 deductible in 2014, so I pray for good health because we can’t afford to be sick.  We will limit trips to the doctor to dire emergencies, and suffer through all other illnesses.  We are educated, middle-class working people who can no longer afford to go to the doctor.  There’s something wrong with that.
  • Blessings…We added two members to our family in 2013!  Gary’s son Bryce was married to Krista in October.  It was an amazing weekend in Lake Tahoe.  Krista is a beautiful, intelligent, kind, and adventurous young woman, and we are thrilled to welcome her.  We also welcomed a new grandson in December.  Rhett Cail was born December 15, and we met him the following weekend.  He is a beautiful little boy just like his brother Layne and his cousin Gabe.

A Perfect Lake Tahoe Wedding

A Perfect Lake Tahoe Wedding

  • Rhett Wayne Cail December 15, 2013

    Rhett Wayne Cail
    December 15, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 2013 was a year of travel for Gary and me.  We went to Virginia Beach, Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas, and Lake Tahoe, and we added some short trips to Indy, Northern Indiana, Louisville, and Nashville.  We are fortunate that our family has chosen great vacations spots in which to live.  We won’t be traveling as much in 2014, but are grateful for the experiences we had.  In our eleven years together, Gary and I have had some awesome trips.  Most included the girls, some were just the two of us.  I am so grateful that we enjoy being together and have had some great opportunities.  I look forward to many more!
  • We also added to our family by hosting an exchange student from Germany.  Benita was already in Tell City and a student at our high school.  She had been placed with a couple who had no kids at home, and was new to our town. Because they knew no one, they wouldn’t let Benita do anything with anyone.  The poor girl was miserable.  She came to stay with us in November, and has truly been a blessing.  We have learned a lot about Germany, have enjoyed lots of chocolate, and have loved getting to know this amazing girl who, at only 16, chose to move away from her family for a year to experience America.  She will be with us until the end of May, and I already dread telling her good-bye.  On the bright side, with any luck we will one day visit her in Germany.
Our day in Nashville

Our day in Nashville

  • Along with my knee issues came weight gain.  As of this morning, I am within one pound of my pre-exercise-running-Tabata-healthier-eating weight from 2009.  I knew I would gain weight when I had surgery and could not exercise for six weeks.  After four plus years of exercising four to seven days a week, it was inevitable.  But I also thought that once I jumped back into my workout routines, the pounds would melt away.  They didn’t.  Not. One. Pound.  Finally, when December hit, I decided to not worry about it until after the holidays.  Given my love of baking – and eating what I bake – I knew it was pointless to try to shed weight during the best eating month of the year.  And so I gained another few pounds.  Right now, I am so disgusted with myself.  I worked so hard to get in shape and get to my ideal weight, and now I have to start all over.  My clothes don’t fit, I feel gross, and working out is hard.  Because I am so short, an extra eight pounds makes a huge difference.  I have two new dresses I can’t even wear until I lose the weight because they accentuate my belly flab.  Since they are winter dresses, I am going to have to make progress quickly.  Gary and I went grocery shopping Sunday and bought only healthy food.  I threw away the chocolate caramel cake that we left, gave away cookies, and refrained from baking more (even though I am dying to use my new Kitchenaid Mixer).  I have to get a grip.  I also hope to add more running to my routine because it seems to help me keep my weight down better than any other form of exercise.  I have been teaching five classes a week at the gym for the past two months, so I really haven’t had time to run as much as I like.  Enough on that – I will keep you posted.
I NEED TO RUN!

I NEED TO RUN!

  • Another goal for 2014 is to be more in the present.  I spend too much time on Facebook, and need to spend that time reading a book or chatting with my family.  I completely enjoy Facebook because many of my friends and family members live away, and it is a great way to keep up.  I love seeing their pictures, sharing my pictures, and being motivated by the fitness groups to which I belong.  But I love my family more.  I know it won’t be easy, but I will cut back on computer time, or at least spend some of that time keeping up with my blogs rather than mindlessly scrolling through Facebook.
  • I want to get some bills paid off.  I am still working on my hospital bills from August, so that is my first goal.  I also have some added credit card debt from Christmas, so that’ll be next.  I am going to keep my checkbook balanced and stick with my budget.  We finally took a leap and got rid of our home phone, and I have looked for other ways to cut monthly bills.  I think I have scaled back all I can (without causing an uprise in our family).
  • I want to nurture friendships and gently let go of relationships that cause stress.  I value my friends, and would do anything for them.  I pride myself on being a good listener, keeping confidences, and being honest.  I expect the same in return.  I am blessed with some amazing friends, and hope I never disappoint them.  I have also learned that even at our age, there are still those who choose friends based on their social statuses, what benefits they will gain from those friendships, and how it looks to others.  I care about none of that.  I choose my friends based on their character, their sense of humor, and how they treat people.  And my life is so much better because of it!

Friends!

Friends who would stand in the pouring rain to support one another!

Friends who would stand in the pouring rain to support one another!

  • Life is a gigantic lesson, and I believe we need to keep on listening and learning until we take our last breaths.  While we need to know where we stand, we also need to listen because sometimes our opinions can change.  We need to be accepting of others, and gentle with our words.  We need to let go of relationships that are no longer healthy, and hang on tightly to those that matter.  We need to love everyone, but that doesn’t mean we have to like everyone.  But we need to make our own judgments and not judge others based upon what we hear – what ‘they’ say.
    Words to live by...

    Words to live by…

    We have to – and this is big – work to positively influence our youth.  We need to encourage them to work hard, to follow their dreams, and to know that character is just as important as intelligence.  We need to model being good citizens, talk to them about our world, and show them how to treat others.  Our children are reflections of us.  Teach them well.

Some of our influence actually worked!

Some of our influence actually worked!

I wish for all of you a happy, healthy 2014.  I hope to continue with my writing, and it would help me greatly if you would share this with your friends if you enjoy reading my random thoughts.  I would also like to add some followers.  Thanks for reading.  Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Bethany, Chris, Tamara, Krista, Bryce, Gary, Me, Addie

Bethany, Chris, Tamara, Krista, Bryce, Gary, Me, Addie

Some Random Thoughts…

WARNING:  Random thoughts and possibly some stream of consciousness writing ahead!  Typically when I sit down to write a blog, I have some sort of plan.  I teach my students to pre-write; you have to have a plan!   Well, today I don’t have a plan, just some thoughts.  Here it goes…

First, I want to address my friend, Emily’s blog.  She became aware of a website on which people can anonymously post anything they want, including insults about anyone.  They can post the names of others, without having to post their own names.  Wow.  What guts it takes to sit at a computer bashing people, without attaching one’s own name to the post.  Why would any person with a conscience participate in such a forum?  Their lives must be rather pathetic if they fill their time by tearing others down.  I have never liked people who constantly criticize others, and who cannot be happy when someone is successful.  You know the type:  She thinks she is really something since she got that job.  She thinks she is so great since she lost weight.  He thinks he is better than everyone since he got that promotion.  How can they afford that big house?  Blah, blah, blah.

 Having been the topic of gossip in this town, I know it hurts.  It is easy to say we don’t care what others think, but deep down, those comments sting.  No one is perfect; we have all said or done things we aren’t particularly proud of, but gossips love to take those weaknesses and build elaborate stories.   I cannot sit here and say that I have never participated in gossip; that isn’t true.  What I can say is that I do my best to avoid it.  I know in the past there were some pretty nasty stories about me floating around, and that people said they knew it was true.  It wasn’t.  Though it was a difficult time, I learned many lessons.  Unless I have seen something myself, or have spoken with the subject of the gossip, I don’t believe much of anything.  I try to look deeper, and know that there are always two sides to every story.  And I know that it usually isn’t really any of my business.  We are all curious, but spreading rumors, trashing others, and accepting gossip as gospel is wrong.  Give others a chance.  Everyone has a story; everyone has struggles; and everyone deserves your compassion.

Emily will learn that she has so many friends and supporters, and that those anonymous people who  post negativity likely have very few friends.  Who would want them as friends?  It is hard to not get caught up in the ‘talk’; we want to defend ourselves.  Recently, I have had someone telling our mutual friends a lie about something I said (she twisted my words to her benefit).  While my instinct is to be sure to tell everyone it is simply not true, I don’t want to lower myself to that level.  I would hope that those who know me know better, so I am taking the high road (and it’s hard!).  Will I ever trust that individual again?  Absolutely not.  Okay, enough of that.

Fitness…I am barely running, and it is not going well.  I began physical therapy this week.  I have only had one session, so I can’t really expect to feel a difference, though it would have been nice.  In an odd way, I rather enjoyed the therapy.  Despite the bruises on my leg, I can’t wait to go back for more.  As the therapist was assessing my knee issues, she could come up with no reason for my pain.  Absolutely nothing hurts except running.  I can do Zumba, Pilates, Yoga, jumping jacks, and box jumps.  I just cannot run without pain.  She pushed and prodded, and kept asking if it hurt.  Nope.  I believe she was puzzled.

The best thing about my visit was that the therapist told me to try running.  She wants to see if the therapy is working.  Always one to follow orders, I hit the track with our Biggest Loser team last night.  We did ten stair laps, then took off to run or walk two miles, each at our own pace.  My friend Breanne and I took off together.  My knee began to hurt by the time I’d run a half lap.  Crap.  I went ahead and ran a lap, and then walked.  We continued alternating walking and running, and my knee continued to hurt.  By the time Gary, Addison, and I arrived home, it really hurt.  I have this fear that running might no longer be in my future.  I am fortunate (and keep reminding myself of this) that I can do everything else.  I am still able to work out, and I can still teach my classes.  I have taken this ‘opportunity’ to try new classes, and have found that I like Pilates.  It is difficult, and I feel wimpy, but I will get stronger, and hopefully gain some balance.  One bright spot last night was when Addison ran.  We have been trying to get her interested in running for four years, and she is finally showing some interest.  I bought her some new neon yellow running shoes yesterday, and she tried them out last night.  She ran a mile at a 9:48 pace, which is excellent.  She wants to try some races, and I desperately want to run with her.

I have rambled long enough.  I will leave you with some things to think about today:

  • Rather than bring others down, lift them up!  Give at least three compliments today.  I bet you will feel better!
  • Don’t believe the gossip.  And if you know it’s true, don’t judge.  You don’t know their stories.
  • Get active!  If you focus on improving your own health, you won’t have time to worry about others’ lives.
  • Likewise, if you feel good about yourself, you will want others to have that same feeling.
  • DON’T EVER PARTICIPATE IN AN ANONYMOUS FORUM!  If you have something important to say, put your name with it.  Address the person directly rather than online.  This goes for Facebook, too.
  • Have an outstanding day!

In Memory of Stephen

One year ago this week, my young nephew, Stephen, died.  As we journey through this week, our thoughts go back to this last year, when amidst back-to-school preparations and our town’s annual Schweizer Fest, our family was planning a funeral for a 26 year old young man.  The following is a story I wrote about Stephen’s death with the goal of informing other young people about the dangers that lurk at parties. 

In Memory of

Stephen Paul Fordyce

I can’t erase her voice from my mind.  Sometimes her words come back to me at random times.  As I am walking up the stairs with a load of laundry it comes to me, “Stephen died.”    I remember how weak my sister’s voice sounded on the phone as she, still in shock, told me of my nephew’s death.   She sounded like a lost child, a wounded soul.

That morning was August 8.  It was the week before school was to begin, and I was in my third grade classroom preparing for opening day.   At nine o’clock my cell phone rang.  It was one of those calls I will never forget.  At first I couldn’t comprehend what my sister, Bobbi, was saying.  How could he possibly be gone?  Stephen was 26 and had just begun to live life.  He was healthy; actually he was more healthy than had had been in previous years after starting a workout routine and improving his eating habits.

I dropped what I was doing and stopped in the office to let them know what had happened, and that I wouldn’t be in for several days.  As the words came, so did the tears.  I couldn’t believe what was coming from my mouth.  My nephew was dead.   I have lost many family members, including my father when I was seven, but this?  This was incomprehensible.  What happened?  On the drive to my sister’s house, I just kept wondering what to do.  I don’t know what I am supposed to do.  What do I do?  Whom do I call?

Shortly after arriving at my sister’s house, I watched as her co-workers walked her in from the car.  What could I possibly say to her?  All of my life I have wanted to fix others’ problems.   I could not fix this.  As she began to explain what she knew, the story only became more difficult to swallow.  First of all, it was Monday, and Stephen had died on Sunday.  Stephen lived in a city about an hour from us, and the coroner’s office had failed to notify my sister that her son had died.  How is that even possible?  His friends knew of his death before his own mother.  There are no words to describe the pain that caused.

When the coroner first informed Bobbi, the only explanation for Stephen’s death he gave was that there had been a party at his house the night before, and that one of Stephen’s friends said there might have been prescription drugs involved.   As you may or may not know, grief comes with a wide array of emotions, including anger.  While I was extremely sad about the loss of my nephew, as I pondered his own responsibility in his death, the anger occasionally seeped in.  How could this intelligent young man make such a stupid – and ultimately deadly – decision?

While we awaited the final autopsy report, there we arrangements to be made, and phone calls to make.  Every step we took was wrought with devastation.  Watching a mother make funeral arrangements for her child is heartbreaking.  Because that mother was also my sister, it was nearly unbearable, yet I needed to be there to help carry her through.  As we spoke with the funeral directors, they tried to gently give us more troubling news.  While Stephen was passed out at his party, his friends (please remember these weren’t teenagers; they were all in their twenties) thought it would be funny to write on his face with a permanent marker.  The funeral directors knew we wanted an open casket, but were not certain they could remove the black marks.  Fortunately, a couple of days later, they called to report that they were able to clean the marker off; my sister would be able to see her son’s beautiful face one last time.

Any time a young person dies, there is a large turn-out at the visitation in our small town.  Stephen’s day was no different.  It was comforting to our family to see how many friends Stephen had, and how many lives he had touched.  At the same time I wanted to scream at his friends to remember their friend lying in that casket the next time they thought it would be cool to try drugs.  Though they were clearly upset by the loss of their friend, did they really understand the implications of his choices?  Would they remember that day the next time they were at a party?

We made it through the first week, but this was by no means the end of our grief.  We had a house to clean out, financial arrangements to be made, and visits to a lawyer to make sure the legalities were handled correctly.

After a few weeks, we received the autopsy report.  Stephen’s death was caused by mixing Xanax and Oxycontin.  There was no alcohol in his system.  According to the coroner, this is becoming a common practice at parties.  Supposedly, mixing the two gives quite the euphoric feeling.  Or it kills you.  As I began to research the effects of mixing these two prescription drugs, I found that it slows one’s heart rate and blood pressure.  If it slows them too much, death is inevitable.  While a party-goer might be able to mix the two one time with no ill-effects, the next time could end in death.

According to his friends, Stephen was intoxicated at the party, but they noticed nothing out of the ordinary.  He even woke up the next morning to see his girlfriend off to work.  After she left, he returned to bed to ‘sleep it off’, and that was the end.  His life was over.  He had a great job as a heating and air conditioning technician; he owned his own home; and he had a wonderful girlfriend who cared about him very much.  In an instant, none of that mattered.

My nephew was not a drug addict.  The coroner stated that the results of the autopsy showed that he did not make of habit of taking these drugs.  He was having a good time with his friends, and he made a mistake.  That mistake cost him his life.  That mistake left a mother without her son, an aunt and uncle without their nephew, his sisters without their brother, grandparents without their grandson, and cousins missing one of their own.

Life is about making decisions, and every single decision we make has a consequence.  We all make poor choices at some point in our lives.  When I was young I took unnecessary risks, partied when I shouldn’t have, and made my share of mistakes.  By the grace of God, I was never arrested and I lived to tell about it.  Teenagers and twenty-somethings:  You are on the brink of living life as an adult.  You can be whoever you choose to be.  You have countless opportunities before you.  Take advantage of all the great adventures this life has to offer.  Enjoy life, but make smart choices.

Many young people seem to be under the misconception that since drugs such as Xanax and Oxycontin are prescription medications, they are safer than street drugs or alcohol.  They are safe only if taken by the person for whom they are prescribed, not mixed with other medications, and taken as directed.  Otherwise, you are literally risking your life.  One night of partying is not worth the chances you take.  The wrong mix of drugs and/or alcohol can cause irreversible damage, not just to you, but to your family.  Our entire family has been affected by Stephen’s decision.  His mother lives every day with the knowledge that her son’s death could have been avoided so easily.  Let his death not be in vain.  Learn from his mistake, and share that knowledge with your friends.  Consider the consequences before making a decision.  If it would help, buddy up with a friend, let him or her know your intentions before you attend a party, and ask her to make sure that under no circumstances do you go off path.  You have to look out for one another, even when it’s difficult.

Please share this story with everyone.  Share it through your own blog, email, or your Facebook page.  If by sharing our story we save one young life, perhaps we can begin to make sense of our loss.

Reflections Of My Past

This will not be one of my typical blogs about running, although it will certainly be mentioned.  Occasionally I have something else on my mind that I have to get in writing.  Today happens to be one of those days.  I am in Northwest Indiana with my friend Kim.  She is presenting professional development at Merrillville High School, and since I am from this area, I came along to show her the area, and to keep her son company while she teaches during the day.  What an adventure Spencer and I have had!

Yesterday I took Spencer to Notre Dame to see the campus.  I know my way around Lake County WEST of 65; east of 65, not so much.  It looked relatively easy – take the 80/90 east.  I did that.  Or so I thought.  Spencer was snoozing in the back seat, oblivious to our surroundings.  I was cruising along, happy as can be to be back in my hometown area.  Suddenly, a large sign appears before me:  Welcome to Michigan.  Notre Dame is in Indiana.  How the hell did I get in Michigan?  My chest began to constrict; my head began to pound.  Fortunately, there was a Welcome Center just across the state line, so I zipped in to consult my map (and pee because when I am nervous I have to pee a lot).  Spencer awakened briefly, but never noticed all the Michigan signs in the parking lot.  I didn’t want to alarm the young lad, so I just made like it was a potty break, figured out how to get back to Indiana, and ventured on.  We eventually made it to Notre Dame, and enjoyed touring the picturesque campus.

We made it back to our hotel, but not after accidentally going through a rather rough section of Gary.  If you have never been to Gary, let’s just say when I was a kid, my parents would tell us to lock the doors as soon as we hit the city limits of Gary.  It’s scary.  And Spencer and I were driving through.  I instructed him to avoid staring at people, though there are some interesting people to stare at.  Seriously, you do not look at anyone.  Ever.

So, after explaining to Kim about my errors in judgment, and telling Spencer he had been to Michigan, it was time for dinner.  I had plans to meet two of my childhood friends at Joe’s Crab Shack.  The three of us had not been together since I moved when I was eleven!  I was excited, but nervous that it might be awkward.  Let me give you some background that might make the rest of this blog make sense (or not).

When we lived in this part of the state, we were members of Southside Christian Church.  That was our family.  My parents belonged as teenagers; all of their friends were from church; and we spent much of our time at church.  When my father died suddenly, the members were there immediately.  And they never left.  The men and women of the church cared for all of the children of the church, and we respected all of them.  I have never belonged to another church like it.  It really is hard to describe how important our church family was.  Karin, Nancy, and I talked about how we were at church Sunday morning for Sunday School and church, Sunday evening for recreation, Christian Endeavors (youth group), and Sunday evening service, and Wednesday evening for services.  Many weeks there were also skating parties or youth events.  I did not keep in touch with school friends from elementary school; I kept in touch or reconnected with church friends.  So meeting up with Nancy and Karin last night was just wonderful.  We picked up where we left off 34 years ago.  With the miracle of Facebook, we knew some things about one another, so the conversation flowed easily – for three hours!

Today was another day to visit my past.  I don’t know why, but it has always been so important to me to keep those connections to my early years.  The experiences I had – good and bad – and the people who have been part of my journey made me who I am today.  The men and women of Southside taught me and loved me and nurtured me for eleven years.  I so appreciate that part of my life.  I began the day by visiting the cemetery where Dad is buried.  It is a large cemetery, and is divided into gardens.  In this part of the state, they do not use upright headstones like we have in Tell City.  They have brass plates that are flat on the ground.  This makes it very difficult to locate a grave if one doesn’t know exactly where she is going.  I knew Dad was in the Garden of the Last Supper, but had forgotten where.  I was wandering, and beginning to panic (I don’t know why.  It wasn’t as if he were lost!).  The very kind workers asked if they could help, and the began looking, and then called the office to have them look up the location.  They stood and talked with me as we waited, and were just so kind and compassionate.  I was blessed.  They took me to Dad’s grave, and then I was able to locate my grandparents.  Even after all these years, it is still tough to visit the cemetery.  I feel as if I revert back to that seven year old when I stand there.

Enough sadness…I had a great day, and I want to share it!  My next stop was Southside to pay for some books I had ordered and to wander around.  As luck (which I normally do not have) had it, two of my mother’s best friends were there!  I was so excited to see them, and they were happy that I had come in.  They were preparing a meal for the Senior Saints, and asked if I would come back to visit some more.  I didn’t know how the day would progress, but told them I would try.  I then dragged Spencer back to the car, drove by my old house in Munster, and proceeded to Hammond.  I drove by my old house on Van Buren, and then went to another of my mother’s friend’s houses to surprise her.  She wasnt’ home, but I found out she was going to the Senior Saints luncheon.  Then I went by my grandma’s little house and checked it out.  Afterward, it was time to meet my friend Kim for lunch at my absolute favorite burger joint, Miner Dunn.  It is an old, old diner, and looks pretty much the same as it did when we lived there.  The burgers and fries are awesome, and when one orders a deluxe platter, she also gets a cup of orange sherbet.  Yup, I got the platter just like I always did as a kid, and I dipped my fries in the sherbet.  Why grow up?  After a wonderful visit with Kim, Spencer and I struck a deal (this kid was a trooper).  He wanted to go to a fireworks store we had seen, and I wanted to go to Senior Saints (gosh, I never thought I’d type those words!).  We hit the fireworks store where, I might add, the saleskid gave Spencer a bunch of free firecrackers that had come out of boxes.  Spencer was all smiles the rest of the day!

We were then off to Senior Saints.  I have to admit, it was a blast to visit with the Southsiders of my youth.  Mrs. Meisner always brings up that when I was about four, I would call her and ask her to go to lunch.  This lady is 87 years old!  She helps her daughter care for her 16 year old twins who have Aspergers.  Mrs. Meisner told me all about their diagnosis and what they have been through.  It made me tired and I am half her age.  I spent time talking with Mom’s friends, Josie, Bonnie, and Bernie.  They were so much fun.  Bonnie knew my whole family, even all of my uncles and my grandparents.  What a blessing to hear about them.

To be back in my church, where my heart will always be, and to spend time with the ladies who helped raise me, was truly a magical experience.  I love those people, and won’t wait so long to go back.  I have spoken with my sister a couple times today, and we decided we are going to bring our mother up for a visit.  My brother even said he would consider coming with us.

I know this is exceptionally long, and might not be of interest to anyone, but in order for me to ‘process’ my days, I wanted to get it all down.  I have run the last couple of days.  Our hotel has a great workout facility, so I have run on the treadmill.  I was emotionally drained after today, so I cranked up my Jesus music (contemporary Christian) and ran like a gazelle.  Not really.  But it felt really good and helped relieve some of my anxiety.

Who in your past would you like to connect with?  What’s stopping you?  Take the time to start a conversation –  or play bingo at the Senior Saints!  It is so worth it!