Miles are Irrelevant Between Friends

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I listen to the laughter of my almost 13-year-old daughter enjoying a sleepover with three of her friends. I smile, and I smile again even larger on the inside. I am glad that she has a circle of great friends. I know first hand, how this will be one of her greatest treasures in life~her friends. Will they always be together? Chances are they will probably not, but I know a secret, one they have not yet discovered. Miles and distance are irrelevant when it comes to friends. They will all follow different paths, have different dreams, but this time that they have now is irreplaceable. I hope they always take time to nurture their friendships.

Out of almost a “double-dare” comes the rest of todays blog. I threatened one of my best friends, that if she didn’t at least let me coax her into facebook/phone/email occasionally? I was going to blog about us. I think it scared her LOL. Yes, sometimes I call her to just make sure she is amongst the living. I know where she is. She is not even close to being “lost” I joke with her about flushing her out of her self-made fortress.

I’ve heard people comment that “friends just lose touch” or “grow apart” I have found this to not always be the case.  I will admit that we all have friends that we just don’t interact with every day. Then, we have those friends that can be apart for a very long time and pick right back up where you left off in a matter of hours. I love that about them!

From the time I entered into the seventh grade, graduated, married, and moved away, I have been fortunate to have such a friend. Although I have not seen her in  more years than I care to admit? I have never doubted that time and miles would be totally irrelevant between us. We were inseparable from the day we met. We have led different lives, been in opposite stages of parenting (she’s almost through the teen years!) The one thing that has been constant – our friendship. We own each other’s vaults, as best friends should. I know if I called her this instant? the sound of her voice would be a comfort, regardless of the actual words. (okay, this would be more true if she would ANSWER her phone) I think she knows it would be the same way if the tables were turned. I consider her one of my life’s blessings, part of my “original” tapestry. Like a homemade quilt, she will always be part of my “home.” The same goes for our family members that are also forever intertwined.

I know when we have aged beyond remembering even half of the laughter, tears, disappointments, and (well, just some things that we will be grateful that senility buffers) I don’t think either of us will ever be politicians, but a little old-age memory loss will probably serve us well one day. We will always consider ourselves blessed in knowing one another. Friends keep one another anchored. I have a tendency to want to keep my head in the clouds, being a dreamer, while she, on the other hand, resonates to me reality, and pulls out those scales of balance. I must say that she is one of the few people I know that can be real, without making you feel like she is passing judgement – those are priceless!

So, I kind of made good on my threat to blog…and knowing her? it will sit for weeks in her inbox before she reads it! But, eventually I know she will, and while the miles are still very much between us…with my friend…they will always be irrelevant.

“Gotcha”

me and vicky

A Safe Place

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He was always a giant in my eyes, not only when I was a little girl around the age of six, but even as an adult. I called him “Cecil” for some time. He was my step-dad, although I don’t think I ever recall him referring to me as his “step-daughter”, if he did? it was never in my presence. The day came when I crawled up into his lap and asked if he minded if I began to call him “Daddy” It was settled with a hug. I was confident nothing could ever harm me as long as he was around.  I would call him Daddy/Dad for the remainder. He never tried to replace my real Dad, he respected that and it made me love him even more. Not all men are cut out of the cloth that can be a step-parent. He was one of the few that seemed to ease into that role.

Today, is flag day..but it is also his birthday..June 14. He has celebrated his birthday in heaven since August 9, 1998. This weekend is also Father’ Day, so it is always bittersweet.

I think the earliest memories go back to feeling secure. He watched over us and provided for us by going deep into the mines for many years. The word that comes to mind when I think of Dad is “safe.” He was involved in many different things during my childhood. He was often called away with a rescue call, a neighbor in need, or just helping out when called upon. He was called away a lot, but he was a constant – he always came home, and when he did, I always slept much better.

At times it was frustrating because he knew everyone. This meant that I seldom got away with much, and when I felt I did? I had the guilt that he knew and I had disappointed him in some unspoken way. It didn’t matter whether it was a snow storm, thundering skies, or just a time when I was afraid, he was my bigger than life protector. If I needed anything, all I had to say the word. Even after moving 400 miles away, he remained the same. Once, he offered to make the drive to bring me whatever we needed after we had been through our first major hurricane. He would have done it in an instant.

He was always the “safe place” for me. I considered it fortunate to not have one Dad, but two, atleast until I turned ten. He taught me a lot about life, about caring for people and the importance of being a rock for those around you. He showed me how to be an encourager. I learned by watching his example.

I can only hope that I can relay the feeling of a “safe place” to my own child, since she was never able to meet him. An unconditional place where she can always feel protected, no matter what her age. It’s important to be anchored to something you can depend on. Thank you Daddy (Dad) for being that for me. You left me the inheritance of a good example – to always look for the good in everyone. I will see you again one day, and we’ll have many more of our great discussions like old times, I am looking forward to it…in our eternal safe place.

Perspective

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tireswing2tire swing

Everything changes. Seasons Change. Circumstances Change. People Change….Why are we surprised when our “Perspective” changes also? What was half full, is now just half empty. We see the dark, but fail to notice the stars.

Sometimes we have to adjust our sails, storms come in many different shapes and sizes. Some storms we can see coming on the horizon, others blind side us so fiercely that we never knew what hit us, only leaving destruction in its wake.

Changing our perspective is not always easy. It is the way that we regard situations, judge their importance. Since all of the above have the potential for change? It is no wonder that we end up changing our perspective as needed. It’s how we manage to survive, process, and work towards a new outlook on the things that are important to us.

I have had to adjust my perspective on several different levels in the last few months. I don’t like it. I am a planner. If I go on vacation? I make a list. If I go shopping? I make a list. If I say I am going somewhere on a specific day? I usually stick with the plan. Life doesn’t always adjust for my lists. Impromptu sicknesses, injuries, accidents and just bands of things not going my way. Sometimes, life just happens differently than you plan.

I have often been told that I have a disorder called SAD…Seasonal Affective Disorder (the weather determines my mood) Okay, so I whine a lot about rainy/gloomy days. I just do. I am translucent sometimes. In other words… I let light pass through but sometimes manage to “diffuse” it. Sometimes I just don’t see the silver lining, or the light at the end of the tunnel. It does not, however, prevent me from continuing my search for it. Perspective goes hand in hand of one of my favorite words – “Hope” and.. it’s just easier for me to see it when the sun is peeking out.

My mother used to say that I was “annoying”…not nice coming from your Momma I know. What? It hurt my feelings. I asked her to explain to me what she meant by that.. Her replies went something like this…. “You always have something to say!” If I say it’s cold outside, you say well at least it’s warm on the inside” If I say “life isn’t fair, you say – no, but it can still be good..” If I say that “you don’t understand what I am going through, you say, help me to understand.”  In other words, she sometimes didn’t want me to encourage her.  She didn’t want me to give her a reason or tell her it would be better. Her perspective and mine were often times different. Don’t get me wrong, I never had regrets about encouraging her. Sometimes she just wanted me to say “I’m sorry” or “Oh wow, that is terrible.”

Perspective changes for me. I learn from it. Often, my outlook on things will do a 360 without thinking twice about it.  I have to encourage myself some days. The hardest perspective I have had to change, have been the stories that I had already written the endings. Things that I mapped out, made  my life lists, and waited for them to come my way.

I still have dreams that will never change. They will always be for the same things. The perspective may change more than once, sort of like a detour, my destination is still the same. It’s my perspective only that changes and adjust on how I will get there.

Life is definitely not always fair, as my momma reminded me often, but it is still worth it. Every hurdle, roadblock or traffic jam we encounter has a reason behind it. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees..You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. (pooh)

I took the above photos of the same object/tireswing…Although the swing doesn’t change..everything around it seems to do so. It’s a cold place sometimes while we are waiting for warmer days.. It is a stormy place at times, so much that we long for some kind of peace…and lastly….

tireswing

Often, it’s a little hazy and humid….stiffling the air we need to breathe. It can be confusing at times… but Perspective has a lot to do with what we focus on. Who cares if you have to adjust it often? As long as you are willing to make it work. Press on toward something better, keep looking for the good stuff.

Closing the Gap

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I have realized that you can never really be “lost” as long as someone is looking for you and  you can never be forgotten, as long as someone knows you exist. So begins this story.

Coming from divorced parents, things are always different. Separated. Distanced. Disconnected. No matter how much parents try to keep the gap from developing, it usually happens. I had a relationship with my Daddy. I saw him more than most divorced kids had the opportunity. My mother and her sister married brothers. Our lives were forever intertwined. It helped that I had an understanding stepdad. He never denied us that opportunity, I was always thankful for that.

At the age of eight, I knew that my parents were not reconciling. I had known it for a very long time. I also knew that he had moved on as much as an eight year old could understand. The apparent evidence was not in what he told me..but what he showed me.

A white bassinett, a small bundle, wrapped in blankets. I remember it very well. I played with my cousins the entire day, but was always aware of the baby boy sleeping amongst the noise we created. I knew who he was. I knew he belonged to my Daddy. For an eight year old, I understood only that and happily resumed my much cherished time with my cousins. It would be the last time I would see the baby boy, but far from the last time I would think about him. You can’t be lost… when someone knows you exist.

My Daddy, at the young age of 3o, passed away when I was only ten years old, and my younger brother was only six. A tragic automobile accident that would widen the gap for an eternity. The comfort of knowing he was always there when I visited, was now severed. It was a huge loss for me, the life changing kind.

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Years would pass, developing our family reunion during the Memorial Weekend Holiday.  I could always count on my Grandpa Kelly to ask me the same question year after year. He would ask me, “Have you found your brother yet?” It was a haunting question, because he knew that I had started looking ten years later after my Daddy had died. This time, I was 20 years old. My answer was always the same, a quiet “no” I haven’t had any luck. The only thing I really ever knew was his mothers’ name, and the fact that he lived in Maryland. It was not much to go on, but it was all I had. I would love to say that everyone encouraged me to look, however, it was not the case. It’s a little scary looking for someone you know nothing about. What if he was not a nice person? What if he was dangerous? But my answer was, “What if he is the opposite?” So I held onto my optimism.

I started my search with the vital records department. I had his birth certificate mailed to my address. It was a start. I ended up filing a “missing persons” report with a service through the Salvation Army. The letter was returned, with an “apology” that the search was uneventful. Although I hadn’t forgotten about him, it would be my last attempt in closing the gap. Dead end.

In the meantime, other family members would pass on, links to Johnny and his whereabouts – My grandpa, my Daddy’s last living brother. The gap seemed to only get wider and the hope of finding Johnny was even more hopeless – or so I had thought.

Fast forward to the year 2004. It had been 15 years since my search had ended. I received a phone call from my Aunt saying that I was getting ready to get a phone call from someone I wanted to talk to? Who? I will never forget her words, “He found us” I don’t know the whole story, but her words echoed.

I hung up the phone and waited. Amazing how many thoughts can swirl through your mind in 15 minutes. I was extremely nervous. I could hardly explain to my husband what the phone call was about. It was a long wait… He was almost 30 years old now. What if he was disappointed in what he found? How can you make a good first impression over the phone? What kind of questions would he have. Would I have the answers he was looking for? It was a whirlwind of emotions. What would he look like? Like me? Like my younger brother? So many questions I wanted to ask him, but I didn’t want to overwhelm him. I can only imagine how difficult it was on his part.

I can’t tell you what we discussed that day. I really can’t remember the details. Only that it was awkward for us both. There were 30 years of the unknown hovering in the air between us. It was the start for us both to closing the gap.

He was able to meet the family that lived in Kentucky first. They gave him an awesome homecoming. Next, would be my turn for us to meet.

This would be the most emotional weekend I would ever experience. It is hard to put into words, without sounding just plain “weird” but that’s the only description I could use.

How do you meet your brother for the first (technically) time? How much is too much information? Keeping in mind that he was only three when Daddy died. Both of my brothers have next to zero memories of him. It would be a huge responsibility for me to close these gaps. I only hoped that I could offer something he could hold onto. Something that could come from my memories of who my Daddy was, what kind of person he was. What if I couldn’t convey that. What if I failed in attempting to closing the gap? The day came, I would meet Johnny for the first time.

As far as physical appearance? The first thing I notice is that he was extremely tall! Six- foot seven, compared to my five-foot three? He was a giant. He was very polite, and well-mannered, not that I didn’t know this from our phone conversations. The hardest thing about our first visit? He looked so much like my Daddy, but more than I had expected him to. I had the overwhelming feeling that I was staring at his ghost- present in front of me. My Daddy’s dimple was the first thing I noticed..since my daughter has it also. Both of my brothers look like him. I am thankful for this. It keeps his memory well for me. I only wish they were able to have my memories also.

When the weekend was over, I think it took me a few days for it all to sink in. I was on an emotional rollercoaster. If he only knew how much it was like having a part of my Daddy back in my life. It was not only appearance, but actions and parts of his personality that were parallel. How do you explain that to someone who has few memories. I hope I relayed that in a healing sort of way.

We have had other visits since then, and Johnny has since married and I have a beautiful niece (who happens to have inherited her grandfathers dimple!)  We have continued to have a relationship as brother and sister. I like to think of me and my brothers’ as being the best parts of our Daddy. I am blessed with two awesome brothers. They are my heart, I hope they know this. We continue our efforts in closing the gap, visiting when we can.

A couple of years ago, I had a wish come true….. I had both of my brothers here at the same time. All three of us. They have no idea what this meant to me. For that particular day.. the gap was closed. Daddy’s circle was complete for once. The best parts of him in one place. They never noticed how I would find myself staring at them both. My heart was full – because I could sense that my Daddy smiling at the three of us. No longer lost, but finding each other. I know it was a great moment for him also.