A Letter to our Daughter and Son-in-Law

Our daughter and her husband are having a baby! We’ve known for several weeks and have been wanting to share their news with the world. And now we finally can!

I actually wrote this several weeks ago, and have patiently (well not really patiently) waited until I was given permission to make the news public.

To Ashley and Chris:

You’re having a baby! There are a million thoughts going through your minds right now. Joy, excitement, wonder…and let’s face it, I’m sure just a little bit of fear. Especially with your first one.

There’s so much to think about. Now that you’ve told your family, how are you going to tell your friends? What will he/she look like? How are you going to decorate the nursery? How is your life going to change? And how in the world can you possibly get everything ready before he/she gets here?

But there’s something else you need to think about…the wonder of actually having created a new life; a new person. There’s actually a very tiny living being inside of a mother-to-be. And for nine months, Mom will be carrying that other person inside of her, nourishing him/her, and looking forward to the day when that little person actually arrives and is placed in your arms. Leaving the safety of Mom’s body and entering a whole new world. There’s nothing like it!

The wonder of all of this struck me one morning driving to work as the Lord gave me this verse and asked me to write this for you.

Jeremiah 1:5 – “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” (NIV)

The Lord already knows this baby. He knew this baby before he/she was even conceived. He knows if it’s a boy or a girl, his/her name, what he/she will look like, what his/her personality will be. He knows the struggles as well as the triumphs he/she will face in life. He knows what career he/she will have, and where he/she will live. He even already knows who your baby will marry and how many children he/she will have one day.

Imagine the enormity of all of that. The wonder of the Lord is amazing. Here you are, just discovering you’re going to be parents, and the Lord already knows all about this little being who’s only the size of a lime right now. He knows his/her total future. He has plans for him/her. And He will make sure those plans are fulfilled, even if he/she gets off track. And He personally selected YOU to be his/her parents. How totally amazing is that?

Most likely you haven’t thought of all of this; at least not yet. There’s too many other thoughts going through your heads.
But the Lord is amazing, and He has gifted you two with a wondrous and precious gift…a gift He created just for you.

Dad and I cannot wait to meet our first grandchild! We love you all!

Puffy Meringue Cookies

It’s traditionally now the start of the Christmas season, which in my household, always includes baking cookies. And usually a lot of them, not matter how many times I say each year I’m not going to make so many.

But they’re so good…….

Now I don’t remember who started the tradition of making these particular cookies, but I’m almost certain it was my mother. She was always finding the best – and delicious – cookie recipes that we all enjoyed. I always think about her when I’m making these. She always wanted to put walnuts in them, and since I don’t like nuts in my food, I never let her. But you can add a 1/2 cup of them if you want. Just make sure they’re chopped well.
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I’ve made these cookies for many years, and every time, they are the first to disappear from all of the filled cookie containers that line up across my kitchen counter. In fact, when I start my Christmas cookie baking, they’re one of the first kind that’s requested. They’re fairly easy, but also a little bit tricky, so be sure to follow the instructions closely

And be prepared to make more than one batch of them, but DON’T double the recipe as you make it, because it doesn’t work out too well…

2 egg whites, room temperature (save the yolks for other baking treats!)
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat ingredients until stiff peaks form, using an electric mixer. I now have a Kitchenaid and it works great! Be sure beaters and mixing bowl are grease-free and room temperature if it’s a metal bowl!

Gradually add 3/4 c granulated sugar and continue to beat for about a minute.

Fold in 6 ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Regular size works best; not the mini’s. And as much as you’re tempted, don’t add extra!

Line two rectangular cookie sheets with white paper or parchment paper. Drop cookies onto paper, about a tablespoon each. Space about 2” apart. Cookies do not spread. Try to get a point at the top. (And yes, that’s a rare picture of me cooking…or baking, which isn’t the same thing!)
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Bake for 25-30 minutes in preheated 300 degree oven, until just slightly browned. Let rest on sheet about a minute or so until the cookies will lift off easily, and transfer to wire rack to cool.

Store in lightly sealed container, but they probably won’t be around long!

Before It Was Black Friday

I really don’t remember when everyone started calling the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday. I should, because I began my business career working as Marketing Director at a local shopping mall near my hometown.

But that was 35+ years ago. Back then, we didn’t put up the mall Christmas decorations until the week of Thanksgiving. I spent many evenings at that mall until 2:00 AM with my staff, making sure the decorations would be ready for the day after Christmas, when we had our big Santa Claus arrival. The place was packed when the man in the red suit arrived, usually by fire truck, and the security guards were lined up to keep the crowds back as he made his way to his place of honor at the mall, “ho ho ho-ing” as he waved to all the kids.

Fast forward ten years in the future, when Ben and I had our daughter Ashley, and my mother finally had her long-awaited grandchild. Everything took on a new meaning. New traditions were made.

For us, as for countless other families, the day after Thanksgiving evolved into a day of shopping traditions, as it ushered in the Christmas shopping season. Ben and I always took my mother and Ashley and ventured to the mall to see how much Christmas shopping we could get done in one day. The four of us, and everyone else, of course.

Those early days were fun. The malls weren’t wall to wall people quite like they are now. Shopping with a small child was interesting. Especially the year when that small child was two, and decided to have a meltdown in one of the department stores. There’s nothing like watching your daughter rolling on the floor screaming and kicking because she didn’t get her way, and having a sales associate come over to ask if everything was all right, and her retired-schoolteacher grandmother calmly saying, “It’s okay, she’s just having a temper tantrum. She’ll be fine.” And I wanted to go through the floor.

Then there was the first year Ashley was old enough to really appreciate what Santa Claus represented. The wonder in her eyes as she sat in his lap that first time and told him what she wanted for Christmas was so special. She believed he’d bring her that doll! She knew it! (And of course he did!)

Time marches on, though, and the years slowed my mom down, but she still always made the effort to go shopping with us on the day after Thanksgiving. She and Ashley would go through the newspaper ads after dinner, cut out coupons, make their lists, and we’d hit the stores the next morning. Mom had to rest every so often, but she always made the effort to go. It had become a tradition, and she wasn’t going to stop it.

Black Friday wasn’t the same after we lost my mother, though. We made the best of it, but there was something missing; it just wasn’t right.

And I slowly realized the shopping tradition we’d done for so long wasn’t really about a day of shopping and spending money on gifts; sometimes buying things we really weren’t wild about for people, just because they were on our lists and we wanted to be done. It was about making memories, and enjoying being together.

Over the last few years I haven’t done the “Black Friday” shopping marathon. Yes, I still go shopping for a while with Ashley. But not the all-day excursions we used to do.

It’s not that I’m not in the holiday spirit. I’ve learned over these past years the holiday spirit is a lot more than going shopping on the day after Thanksgiving and seeing what bargains we can grab. We spend one day, Thanksgiving, saying how thankful we are for what we have, and the next day (or sometimes even later that evening!) we’re out seeing how many deals we can get, and how much money we can spend for things we, or other people, don’t really need.Christmas gifts

I’m not criticizing anyone for their shopping traditions; we had them, too, and I’m sure Ashley and Ben and I will continue them when our grandchildren arrive. We’ll take them to see Santa Claus and have pictures made…all the things parents and grandparents do.

But for me, right now, I prefer to be thankful for what we have. For the blessings, and love, of friends and family. I will still give gifts to family and special friends, but they will be gifts from my heart, and not because they were on sale. I want those gifts to mean something other than how much I saved and what bargains I found on Black Friday.

And I still want to remember what I was thankful for yesterday…..

Remembrances from Thanksgiving

This year I find myself having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit. Maybe it’s because of the stress of the past several months which have taken a toll on our family, particularly me. Or maybe it’s just more realization that as we get older, there are so many changes in our lives that we have no control over. People, both family and friends, have passed out of our lives for various reasons, and many times we either cannot, or do not, get them back.

To compound these feelings of the holiday blues, this year there have been a number of serious illnesses and deaths of friends’ family members that have added to the remembrances of loss I’ve been feeling. This is also the first year our daughter is living in her own home with her new husband, and although we’re very happy for them, it’s still a bittersweet feeling having our only child married and starting her own family. And hosting the Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in her new home!

Thanksgiving was always a fun-filled time when we were all growing up. At least that’s how I remember it. There was always tons of food, and so many people crowded around the table. Everyone was happy, and getting along, making jokes with each other, as well as talking about plans for Christmas and visits to Santa Claus. It was definitely a simpler time, at least through my eyes as a youngster. As far as I knew, there were no worries about money, jobs, health issues, or any other number of problems that affect our families.

Or maybe as a child, we just didn’t notice those problems.

Unfortunately I only vaguely remember a few holidays spent with my family with my dad also there. Being only eight years old when he died wasn’t easy, because it robbed me of so many memories I’d never have the opportunity to make. I do have some fuzzy ones in which we were all seated at my grandmother’s huge ornate walnut dining table, with her and my mom and my aunts bringing in huge plates of food, and my grandfather bowing his head and saying his quick “grace” before we all dug in to eat. But they’re that…fuzzy.

I have much better memories of those later family holiday dinners at my mother’s house. The food was wonderful, but it wasn’t picture perfect, nor served in all matching china. And we weren’t all dressed up in our best clothes. We were comfortable, in our casual clothes, and my mom and my aunts were all still wearing their aprons when we sat down to eat. We “toasted” with iced tea and soda, while my two uncles grabbed food from the plates that were passed around, with Uncle Jay dropping almost as much on the floor as went on his plate (and since he was usually the only one wearing a tie, you can imagine food went on that, too!)! The television was on in the next room, and everyone was talking at the same time. And as soon as we kids finished eating, we got up and either played games, argued good-naturedly with each other, or watched a movie on tv.serving dinner

Those days were fun. We enjoyed being together, and never even thought about not being the “perfect” picture postcard family gathering. We were Just Plain Family.

As the years went by, things changed, as they always do. Children grew up and had children of their own, and holiday dinners weren’t the same, because my aunts and uncles now spent holidays with their grown children and THEIR children. The big family dinners continued for a while, just not at holidays. My husband and I continued Thanksgiving traditions at my mother’s as long as possible, and usually with my aunt and her grown children.

As the years fast forward, holidays become increasingly difficult because our special loved ones are living now only in our memories, and not seated at the table with us. Those memories of Thanksgivings past can sometimes hurt more than they can make us smile. In my dreams I imagine the ones who are already there getting together in heaven to still share a very special Thanksgiving dinner, probably in my mother’s heavenly mansion. With Uncle Jay still spilling food on his tie! And waiting for us to join them.
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I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. I know many friends going through similar feelings. It’s normal, and it’s a part of life. We’re expected to automatically be happy because it’s the start of the holiday season. Many of us are almost forced to hide our feelings behind smiles that we make ourselves wear, because we think we’re the only ones feeling this way. But there are more out there than you know.

The next time you start feeling like that, don’t be embarrassed. If you’re having a tough time, you’re not the only one. If you’re hurting, you’re hurting. And it’s OK to feel that way. Call a close friend and talk about it. If you know someone who’s hurting, call them and welcome them into your home. You never know how significant a small gesture can be to someone this time of year. Nor do you know what new memories will be made.

An Empty Chair

For nine years there has been an empty chair at our holiday table. Although the actual chairs that are pulled up to the table may be filled with family and friends, there is still an emptiness at our table that will never be completely filled again.

Even though it’s now been nine years, it still feels empty…like my mother should be sitting there with us, talking and smiling, and eating her small portions of food like she did for so many years. (She never was a big eater, and I can honestly say I cannot ever remember her having seconds of anything, at any meal!)

Unfortunately in our family, like many others, these empty chairs have multiplied over the years. My father’s chair was the first to be empty in my family, 56 years ago. And it was followed over the years with both sets of my grandparents, numerous aunts and uncles, and close friends of our family.
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Although we know that this is an inevitable part of life, part of what happens as we and our children grow older, it still doesn’t make it easier.

The first Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other special holiday dinner following the passing of our loved one is the most difficult, and many books, stories, poems, and even songs have been written about it. We’re advised to do something to honor their memory that year, to make it less painful. Sometimes is helps; sometimes it doesn’t.

But what about the subsequent years? Does the missing automatically stop? Of course not, but somehow the pain eases a bit with each year. The memories are there, the empty chair(s) is still a memory at the table; eventually there are enough empty chairs in our memory to fill an entire separate table.

If you look closely in your memories, you can still see each and every one of your missing loved ones, just as they used to be, happy and healthy and alive…all sitting at the table in the room with you. Joining you in your celebration in spirit, and especially in your heart.

Yes, there may be a chair, or several chairs, that are physically empty, but in our hearts those chairs will always be full.

Be Thankful

Thanksgiving Day is just a few days away. A day that families traditionally get together to enjoy a huge meal and each other’s company. It seems we take so long to prepare all the food, put out our best dishes and silverware, and then in just a quick 20-30 minutes, it’s all over with, the table is cleared, food put away, and then everyone goes their separate ways until the next time. Is that your day?

But what if you don’t have family nearby? What if you can’t get home to be with them? Do you have friends to visit and enjoy the traditional meal with?

For many people, Thanksgiving is a stressful holiday. I said that myself just the other day. We’re bombarded with ads about family meals, showing families getting together for joyous times and fellowship, everyone laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

Is that really how it is at your Thanksgiving celebration?

Many people at this time of year don’t have the luxury of these traditional family meals anymore, because their families are too spread out, or no longer with them. Many people don’t even have good friends they can go and eat their Thanksgiving meal with. It becomes not only stressful, but lonesome, and a very sad and depressing time.
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So this Thanksgiving day, why not take the time to remember your friends and neighbors who may not have somewhere to go and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. If you’re having a big dinner, set the table for one or two more people and invite them over. If you’re going somewhere, call your host and ask if you could bring someone with you. After all, this holiday is about being thankful and grateful for what you have. And one of the best ways to do that is to think of others who may be less fortunate than you.

Yes, it’s something we’ve heard a lot, but this year, why not stop and do more than think about it. Do something about it. The year my mother passed away (a month before Thanksgiving) was particularly hard for my remaining small family. I didn’t know what we were going to do, and how I was going to get through the holiday. All the memories of those past Thanksgivings were filling my mind, and making me so nostalgic and sad I didn’t even want to have a holiday! Then some very good friends asked us to come share their Thanksgiving meal with them, and it was a gesture I’ll never forget. It meant so much to us at a very difficult time. Good deeds are always rewarded, and this is the time to step out.

Happy Thanksgiving! Be blessed!

Our Family’s Traditional Cranberry Sauce

It’s not really cranberry sauce, but my mother always called it that. Looking back through all the variations of it I’ve found on the internet, it’s most definitely a cranberry relish. But back then, we really didn’t know the difference! It was just good, because it was homemade by my mom!cranberries and oranges

My mother had this wonderful old food grinder she used to attach to a pull-out bread board my father had made in our little walk-in pantry, which was right off the kitchen. I always wondered why other kitchens never had such a wonderful feature. All you had to do was pull a little knob, and this great board came out, which my mom always used for rolling out pie crusts, her famous cinnamon buns, and cutting out Christmas cookies.old-fashioned-meat-grinder

But that old “meat grinder” as we called it, attached perfectly to it, and she used it for so many different things. (And yes, I still have it in my kitchen!) She used it to grind up leftover ham to make the best scrambled eggs and ham I’ve ever had.

She also used it to make a wonderful cranberry and orange side dish for Thanksgiving. She always called it cranberry sauce, but we always just enjoyed it!

It was just a simple combination of a bag of fresh cranberries, and a large orange that she cut up, removed the seeds, and then just ground them all up together in a bowl. She added about a cup of sugar, and it was ready to be refrigerated until dinner was served!

Today all the recipes call for putting everything in a food processor. Some suggest adding cinnamon, or chopped pecans, or even orange juice and/or orange liqueur to give it a more modern taste.
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For me? I think I’ll stick with tradition and get out that old meat grinder and attach it to the counter top! And surprise our daughter with a new dish for Thanksgiving!

What Are You Doing for Thanksgiving?

That’s a question we get asked every year, especially since the death of my mother several years ago. My husband’s family is mostly in the Midwest and Southwest, and what family I have left is scattered around as well. So we’ve adopted our friends here as our family. We make a few new traditions each year, and the last few years we’ve been welcomed at our daughter’s fiancé’s home for Thanksgiving dinner. This year our daughter and her new husband are hosting Thanksgiving for everyone in their first home!

So what are YOU doing for Thanksgiving? Maybe you’re just too tired to make a big fuss this year. Maybe a lot has happened in your life and you just can’t bring yourself to do what you normally do. It can be a bit stressful, to say the least! If this is the case this year, you may want to reconsider and think about having dinner at another family member’s home, or some of your friends’ homes. It’s not too late to make those plans, by the way! Or, maybe even making reservations at a favorite restaurant like we did one year! (But trust me, that wasn’t the same as having it at home and enjoying leftovers over the next few days!)

This year, especially if you’re just over-stressed, take a deep breath. Relax. And do things a bit differently. If you’re still in charge of dinner, look at that Thanksgiving menu, and ask yourself if you REALLY need all those dishes, or are you just having them because they’re a family tradition and no one really likes them anyway! (You know, like that Brussels sprouts and onion casserole Aunt Maggie used to make?) Instead take the time to enjoy the meaning of Thanksgiving and be thankful for friends and family, and all the other blessings you enjoy in your life! Count them. And even if it’s been a hard and stressful year, there ARE blessings to find! After all, shouldn’t Thanksgiving actually be all year around?

Whatever you decide, enjoy your holiday. Enjoy your friends and family. And let everything else fall into place!
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Grandmom’s Oyster Dressing

One of the traditions at our family Thanksgiving dinners, and Christmas as well, is actually a dish that not everyone likes. But it was always on every holiday dinner table when I was growing up, as well as our holiday dinner tables now.

Growing up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, which is one of the greatest seafood areas in the country (yes, I will argue with anyone on that!), we always enjoyed a some of the best blue crabs, clams, oysters, and fresh fish I’ve ever had. One of the traditional Eastern Shore holiday side dishes was what we called Oyster Dressing, also known in other areas as Scalloped Oysters.

I’m not an oyster fan per se, but this dish is something I very much enjoy. Unfortunately my husband doesn’t share my enthusiasm for it, especially since he’s allergic to oysters, but I’m thankful our son-in-law loves oysters, so I can still make it and have someone join me in eating it!

Traditionally my aunt always made the dish, and would bring it to my mom’s house just about ready to bake, so it would be piping hot when served. Since it’s just oysters, crackers, butter, and milk, she’d always bring her own quart of milk to pour into it right before she stuck it in the oven. Because she had to make sure the liquid covered all the crackers thoroughly so it wouldn’t be too dry, she always used a glass casserole dish. When we were kids we used to be fascinated by her pouring the milk in and getting the texture just right. Why, I have no idea; it was just one of those things we did…we were kids! And we didn’t have to help cook!

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So for all of you who are curious, and sea food lovers, I’m happy to share the way we made this dish, and still do today. And please, use a round glass casserole dish…trust me, it’s easier!

Here’s all you need:

1 quart fresh oysters, rinsed and drained (check for any bits of broken shell!)
1 box of saltine crackers
softened butter
milk

Butter the bottom and sides of a round 1 1/2-2 quart glass casserole dish.
Crush some of the saltines and put in the bottom of the casserole dish, at least a 1 1/2 inch or so thick.
Place about 1/3 of the oysters on top of crackers, sprinkle with pepper, and dot with butter.
Repeat the process 2-3 times, ending with another layer of crackers, dotted with butter.
Cover with wax paper or saran wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Just before putting in a pre-heated 350 degree oven, slowly pour in milk in a circular pattern until crackers are soaked. (We sometimes used a knife to cut through the crackers to be sure everything got soaked really well!0
Bake 40-55 minutes until done. During baking watch to see that it doesn’t dry out; if so, add a tiny bit more milk.

Serve hot! And if you have leftovers, cover and reheat in the oven or microwave.

Where Are Your Tears?

My mother had a difficult time crying. She told me years ago that she’d cried so much when my father died that she had no more tears left. And now I finally understand what she meant.

I’ve probably cried a river, at least, of tears. Maybe even an ocean. I look back at those times of deepest sorrow….when my father died. When my beloved uncle died three days before my husband and I were supposed to be married. All the times I’d tried to get pregnant, and the answer was “no”. When I had my miscarriage and tubal pregnancy. And sitting in the car in my driveway after I had driven back from Maryland after the last time I saw my mother alive, just crying uncontrollably and inconsolably, because I knew in my spirit that I wouldn’t see her alive again on this earth. All those tears….that night alone I think I soaked my sweater so badly it shrunk. I felt like I’d been deserted, even though my husband came out to the car and sat with me and held me, and then our daughter came out and sat on the other side and cried with me, too….

I think I’ve cried so many tears in my lifetime, I don’t have any more left to cry.

All those tears. My sorrows. My heartache. Gut wrenching pain. And not ONE of them wasted. Because in my sorrow, and my lowest hours, the Lord was there, and He had his bottle out and caught each and every one of them, because He never wanted to forget the pain I was experiencing. Because He was there to make it better. As someone said, He doesn’t need our tears, because He has enough of His own from when his only son Jesus was crucified.

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I find myself wondering at times what my bottle of tears looks like. There’s nothing I’ve found in the scriptures to actually describe what our own bottles of tears look like, but after reading the descriptions of heaven, I can imagine a beautiful crystal bottle, with hundreds and hundreds of facets, so many that we can’t count them all. And it reflects like so many rainbows that we can’t even count them all. We know that Heaven is filled with wonders and colors and beauty we can’t begin to imagine in our earthly minds.

Our bottle of tears is like that. Because God loves us so much, He takes our earthly sorrows and turns them into immeasurable joys when we finally get into His presence. Sometimes I wonder how in the world one bottle can hold all the tears I’ve cried. Surely some of them have evaporated, or been missed. But God in His infinite mercy and love has saved each and every one, and that one bottle that each of us has with our name on it holds each and every tear. If a day is His presence is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day, can we expect any less?

Because I love the beach, I imagine my bottle of tears has tiny starfish and seashells pasted on a delicate sea foam blue glass bottle, with a bit of sand in the bottom, and tied with a narrow string of rope.

But I know that whatever the Lord has used for our individual bottles of tears, it’s perfect. Because He selected it especially for us, and has engraved our name on it.

What does your bottle of tears look like?

Memories Lighting My Mind

But what if the memories suddenly start fading….or if the light doesn’t always come on any more?

Most of us, if we are fortunate, will have our parents live long enough that some (hopefully only a few) of their memories will start to blur. It’s not something they can help, and trust me, they are just as upset over it as we are. Maybe more. Because these are their memories. Memories of days before we were ever born; before we were ever even thought of, because they were still children at the time. Many of their stories take place before they even met the person they would share their life with, and eventually become the two parents that made us.

We all have memories that we don’t want to fade. Memories of growing up. Fun times and special dinners with family members and friends when we were children…when we had no idea what the world would bring when we grew up. We remember high school, our first love, our prom, our graduation, and other special events.

Our parents remember those things, too. If only I had known years ago how precious those thoughts and memories were. If only I had asked the questions then that I want to ask now. And can’t.

Unfortunately, life intervenes, and we don’t always do and ask the things we should.

As our parents age, unless they, and we, are very lucky, their memories do start to fade somewhat. Sometimes they recognize it and talk to us about it, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they try to avoid the subject and try to go on as if nothing is happening out of the ordinary.

Ask questions while you still can, and help your parents cherish their memories. Write down the answers, maybe in a special journal you’ve bought just for that particular purpose. One day you’re going to want to be able to remember those stories, just as your parents told them to you. Because as they relate those stories, if you close your eyes, you can almost see in your mind the pictures they are re-living through their words. journal

Artists paint pictures on a canvas for us to see with our eyes; writers are artists who paint with words and create pictures in our minds. Our parents should be the artists we most want to paint for us while they are still able to do so.

What pictures do you want your parents to paint for you? What pictures do you wish they’d painted for you before they left? Take those pictures still in your mind and remember them before it’s too late.

To the Man on the Sidewalk

I did not write this. I do not take credit for it in any way.

I wish I had, but I didn’t. This was written by Julie Nelson, anchor of the 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 news on KARE-TV in Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota. I do not know Julie, and had never heard of her until I read this, but I admire her and her heart. She had written and posted this on her Facebook wall in the early morning hours of November 14, 2015, just hours after the horrific and senseless massacres in Paris.

Those events have shattered our hearts and our very being, and brought to our minds once again how short life really is. As many of us have said, “tomorrow is never promised.”

Julie, very well said. May you never have to write anything like this again. My heart and prayers go out to all who were affected by this senseless tragedy.

11/14/2015
“To the Man on the Sidewalk in Paris:

He had a plan. That is what strikes me. The man lying cold and unmoving on that Paris sidewalk.

He had a plan…for how he would spend his Friday night, his weekend, his 401k. He had people to call and texts to return but first, a pause, a delight…really…a dinner on a sidewalk café in Paris.

I wonder if he felt blessed as he put on his ironed, starched white shirt, the cuff of which would soon peek out from under a white sheet on a picture that would be seen around the world.

Did he feel relaxed, full of life and the senses that only a dinner in Paris under the lights can bring? I mean, really, is there anything better than dinner at a café in Paris?

And yet, there is was, his form. Outlined under a shroud, the curves and the concave, the faceless mound on a sidewalk where life should’ve been busily passing by.

I see you. I want you know, I see you. I see that you had a phone full of contact numbers, a calendar full of events. A life.

You didn’t know that here you’d be, under a sheet, concealed and yet, so exposed. To a woman across the Atlantic. How could you have known that she would see you and hurt for you and wonder: What were your plans? Did you feel blessed? I think yes, judging by so little…not much more than the desire you had to be out living on a night in Paris, wearing a white, starched shirt.

I see you.

And I am desperately sorry.”

Julie Nelson
Anchor, KARE-TV (5,6 and 10:00 news)
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN