Saturday, July 28, 2012


Grandparents are wonderful.   As a little girl I was convinced that my grandparents names were really “Grandpa” and “Grandma”, I even bragged about it to a few of my school bus companions one morning while traveling along Randall Road.  We were heading to my grade school, Hillcrest Elementary and I was only five and in kindergarten with Miss Embry as my teacher.    I blame my own parents for this misconception, for that is what they referred to them as whenever I was around
I loved my grandparents immensely.   Grandpa Robert and Grandma Adeline  were my father’s parents and they were very much a part of my life.  We went to their home every Sunday and on all the major holidays, and that’s where me and my brother were taken when Mom and Dad had “errands” to run that did not involve children. 
My Grandma was a large woman with German ancestry.  She could cook up a storm and there is nothing on earth as good as her apple pies.  My father used to brag about her skills and then he would shake his head and say with a bit of sadness, “… and then she went instant.”   Once the easy-to make meals came around, the home cooking from scratch waned considerably.      For some reason, I always remember her potatoes.  Now my Uncle C would laugh and regale to you a tale of me eating an entire bowl of mashed potatoes all by myself when I was only four and how my grandfather kept looking under the table to see if I was just throwing them out of sight.  I  don’t remember it, but I’m sure the tale is true as it has persisted throughout the years.    
I knew a few facts about my Grandmother that will always remain true….    She kept a bottle of whiskey on her nightstand to take care of the tickle in her throat.  It wasn’t a small pint, it was a gallon jug because it was more cost effective.

She had an obsession with hoarding cups you would bring home from 7-11 – we found a whole box of them she had packed away and put in storage when she moved.  – Dad said it was a residual effect of having lived through the Depression. 

There was a constant supply of butterscotch candies in her pocketbook, along with handi-wipes and a wad of crumpled Kleenex.   

Grandpa Robert  was a man of mystery to me, but one I loved dearly.  We knew the moment he pulled his truck in the drive and me and my brother would come running to get a peppermint flavored lifesaver.  He was most commonly dressed in a pair of pin striped bib overalls and a ball cap depicting the local feed store.   He was a man of few words and he always seemed to be the one supervising the work on the farm.   He drove a mint green ford pickup with a cattle rack and I would often hear him humming a tune of sorts.   I could never imagine him as a child and I learned early on that going for a walk with Grandpa Robert would always end up working in some fashion… like pulling weeds in a bean field.   

I know the relationship my father had with his father was not always one of mutual respect, but I truly believe my father loved him much deeper than he has ever let on.  I know this because even to this day, my father refers to things his own father told him and they are never said with malice, but rather as wisdom. 

These were the grandparents I knew and loved well.  I was a Senior in high school when Grandpa Robert gave up his fight to stay,  and I was a young mother when Grandma Adeline left to join him.   Often I have wished my son could have known them, almost as often as I wish he could have known his own Grandma Nancy.   

I barely knew my Grandpa Al or my Grandma Elsie.  What I do know is mostly what I’ve been told.  Eventually I will share those tales, but that’s for another day. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012


I live in a small country town, plopped down in the southwest corner of Missouri.  I haven't always lived here and in many ways that makes it easier to go about my life.  Here - the only history anyone has on me is that which I have created since my move here and that which I have chosen to share.  Its nice because I can look anyone in the eye and not wonder if they remember some embarassing thing I may have done when I was in that era of time between sixteen and thirty.  Those are the years where we seem to make our biggest decisions, our unwise choices and the mistakes we would rather forget all about.  We all have something in our past we would much rather never revisit or be reminded of.

The first few years of life here on earth, were spent in northern Illinois.  I lived there only nine years, but my memories of the place seem to burn stronger than memories I have of my later adventures.  Perhaps because it was spent in those vital years when everythng was and adventure and the bad times never seemed to linger long.  I have fond recollections of  fishing with my brother,  swinging on ropes, climbing trees and jumping in giant piles of autumn leaves.  My brother, two years older than me, was my companion and my best friend.  When school started for me, life changed drastically.  On the farm, no one cared that I was a wild tom-boy, my hair cropped short and dirt always finding a way to decorate my face.   That first day of school though, people noticed the moment I got on the bus and I can still remember well the feeling of panic and despair as the older kids pulled on my scarf and laughed and made fun of me when I began to cry.  Little did I realize this was the first of many incidents in which my peers would force me to see that I was different and therefore someone who needed to be reminded that I would never be like them. 

Most of my educational years were spent in the mountains of Colorado.  If this were an adventure story, that would sound really wild and bring forth images of log cabins and harsh untamed winters.  The reality of it was I lived in a mining-turned-tourist town that depended greatly on the flow of visitor traffic detouring off of  Interstate 70.  I lived in house that was covered with sea foam green aluminum siding.  It had a nice yard, a big garage and a neighbor who believed me and my brothers were horrible juvenile delinquents.  True, we did make a point of breaking the boards on her picket fence and pulling them back together to make them look whole, and we did have a habit of kicking our ball over that same fence, forcing us to trample on the grass she spent hundreds of hours and money on keeping it weed free and beautiful.  We were loud and rambunctious and surely it had to wear on the nerves of a spinster who had enjoyed a quiet life until my family moved next door.  We weren't bad kids, we were just a bunch of siblings moved off of a farm and thrust into town life. We lived there for nearly a decade, however the neighbor, never did warm up to us and I'm certain she breathed a huge sigh of relief once we moved away. 

For a very short time I lived in Arkansas.  I managed to get through one semester of school there and then decided to moved to Montana.  That lasted three weeks.   At nineteen I wasn't ready to be on my own, although in hindsight, I know I should have stayed and toughed it out.  Isn't hindsight a cruel thing?  If I had known the rough years ahead of me, the choice to give up on one dream to try another, may not have been made based on fear of being alone.  Seems too many of my choices were made that way.  A fear that has proven to be something that I'm not afraid of at all now.  The comfort I get from that knowledge is that I know fear of being alone will never dictate my decisions that are life changing!

In just a few short paragraphs I've laid out the most basic timeline of my life.  Between those lines is forty-two years of memories and stories to share, heartaches and happiness and a lot of choices.  I've made a plethora of friends along the way, a good many of them have phased out of my life, but a handful still remain, still sharing and creating the events that shape who I am.   As my life is about to make another change, I am turning to my passion of writing to adjust, to learn who I am now compared to who I was.