Freed Christmas Tree: My Traditional Heart-Warming Christmas Story

I first posted this story last Christmas season . Like all good stories (or not), I decided to make it an annual tradition – at least this year (mostly because I’ve been too busy lazy caught up in the awe of the season). This is one that deserves a hot cup of cocoa while reading it by the fire.


 

I need to begin this story with a very important disclaimer. By the time you get to the end, I can’t imagine that there could possibly be a dry eye among you. Consider yourself fairly warned.

I was driving down the road the other day with a couple of family members in tow. I’d give you their names, but it’s not easy to recall who always does or does not decide to go along with me on excursions I can’t clearly remember. Besides, you’d probably want to corroborate the details of this story with them – if you knew who they were – and, er, they probably wouldn’t want to be bothered with such disturbing distractions. Just take my word that this is how it all went down…

Early on in this outing, I realized that swerving to miss a large object in the upcoming lane was going to be called for. It was a green, bushy, triangular-shaped something or other that we managed to just barely miss while traveling 65 miles per hour down the Interstate. I couldn’t help but frown as my mind registered what sort of bundled-branched package would meet these specifications at this time of year. Sadly, it appeared as though someone had lost a Christmas tree. (No, I do not have a picture of this particular event, as I was driving 65 miles per hour up – I mean down – the Interstate and had to quickly swerve to avoid impact with this misplaced seasonal symbol. I’m going to have to ask you to help me out here, even if you weren’t prepared to be participative this early in the story.You’ll have to use your imagination on this one. Tis the season for that, you know. Ho ho ho.)

But I personally wasn’t feeling ‘ho, ho, ho’ over this incident. I was feeling ‘no, no, no’…this can’t be. What a terrible thing for some family (couple, crazy cat lady, whoever) to have traveled up the Interstate to have so lovingly picked out the perfect holiday tree (so they could curse stepping on old, hidden, sap-stuck pine needles that would painfully sink into the base of their toes by Easter) and to be on the way to take that new puppy home and unwrap it – so they could proudly re-wrap it in hazardous lights and decorations to the point that any Fire Marshall would blatantly and openly cringe – only to find it had escaped from the top of their vehicle somewhere between stopping to engorge their bodies with a dozen snow-capped Krispy Kreme donuts and home. I tried to imagine how I could help.

Perhaps I could…

turn around at the next exit, backtrack north on the Interstate, turn around again at the exit coming back in this southward direction,

stop my car in the middle of the Interstate with no worries of trucks that looked like they could turn into Decepticons barreling down the muffler of my little car that sips gas through a coffee straw,

strap that cumbersome tree onto the hood of my cargo-challenged car without the benefit of any twine (perhaps my un-remembered family members would hold it across their laps in the back seat and out both sides of the windows?),

and get it home so I could post it on a Lost and Found site until someone filed a Missing Christmas Tree report.

The site of the reunion would be tear-jerking. (Okay, my imagination gets a little outside of its own limits sometimes.)

About the time I was ready to convince myself that I could have this story all wrong – that maybe these people were driving through with their Christmas tree from the east coast and heading back to Colorado, where they’d be too tickled and too hungry with themselves to notice they were even missing the tree, I had to swerve to miss clipping another one…then another one. The next three were dotted, back and forth, on the opposite shoulders of the road. It was beginning to appear more like the driver of a Christmas tree delivery truck who was from Colorado – happily buzzing down the Interstate without a care in the world about flying Christmas trees in his rear view mirror.

This led me to a string of other theories (not to be mistaken with THE String Theory, of course, though that, too, could have been a possibility).

Some of my more plausible theories included:

  1. Santa had gotten into the eggnog and rum cake early this year while thinking of the needs of the poverty-stricken who might otherwise be treeless. Of course, Santa doesn’t prescribe to the notion of welfare without work, as evidenced by his Northern elven sweat factory. Rather than allow these poor families to feel as if they were recipients of charity, in which they might feel looked down upon, Santa decided he’d create a challenge for them to claim these free Christmas trees. If they could dodge the oncoming traffic, heck, that was proof enough that they’d earned ’em – fair and square.
  2. This was the work of a disgruntled member of the Elf Manufacturing Union (EMU – not to be mistaken with those freakishly frighteningly large birds, who are much more freakish than gigantic 20-point reindeer who fly and stomp across roofs; or with Eastern Michigan University, which is very close to the North Pole, from my southern state perspective). I’m guessing this elf was clearly upset because he was expected to labor during the holiday season. He was making his way south to apply for a job at Walmart. He’d laid out a trail of Christmas trees, so that he might find his rebellious little way back home if things didn’t work out any better for him at Walmart.
  3. Colorado driver buzzing down the road with his package of holiday brownies – oh yeah, I forgot. We’ve already covered that one.
  4. Perhaps a boyscout, who had been working on his Christmas Tree Ranch Handling merit badge, suddenly felt convicted over holding all those poor Christmas trees for ransom. Fed by the holiday spirit (and the 2 dozen cookies one of the moms had dropped off that he’d scarfed down in the last 5 minutes), he might have experienced a rush of compassion (okay, maybe it was just sugar) that caused him to throw open the corral gate and yell, “Run for your lives!” while barely escaping with his own before the stampede began. Some of the strays had apparently made their way out onto the freeway. It’s possible that this incident will lead to the discontinuation of the Christmas Tree Ranch Handling merit badge.

In any case, by the time I came back onto the scene from wrapping up my errands, I noticed that the southbound lane had been freed of all the Christmas trees. Just as I was about to wonder where they’d all gone…

When what to my wondering eyes should appear?
Why! An F150 truck, its bumper hanging off its rear!

I noticed one of the concerned Citizenry for the Over-Forestation of Freeways (OFF) promptly dealing with the issue. (Incidentally, I’ve heard rumor that this group actually wanted to be the Federation for the Over-Forestation of Freeways, but when their president made application, it was denied because – for some strange reason – the court clerk took it as a personal offense that he wanted her to sign approval to F-OFF. More unfortunately, there is an insect repellent company who is rumored to have filed a lawsuit for use of its registered trademark name.) Nevertheless, this particular concerned citizen was not going to let that pesky little aggravation stop him from performing his self-assigned civic duty.

Upon spotting the poor, frightened tree from over the tipped-up end of his nearly emptied quart of beer, this in-the-seasonal-spirited gentleman yanked up on his emergency brake and selflessly turned a 360 in the middle of the freeway. He had to thereafter signal with his most visible finger for the trucker – who was leaning out the window while jake-braking and laying on his horn, urging this upstanding citizen as to how he might best go about his business – to go on around him and responsibly get back to his own. As Mr. Civic Duty got around to the rear of his F-150 truck with its holiday-tinted primer/rust mix, he joyfully threw his arms around that lonely, abandoned Christmas tree and adopted it quicker than if it had been his long, lost cousin, Earl, who’d just won the Powerball. He then tossed that tree into the bed of his pick-up, trading it out for about a 12-pack of empty beer cans that bounced off the tail gate and down the freeway behind him. I couldn’t help but think what a considerate and generous person he must be to want to leave those cans for someone to pick up later and exchange for the high rate offered in aluminum trade.

As if he hadn’t already exhibited an over-abundance of holiday spirit and generosity, I truly came to understand the meaning of Christmas in my final glimpse of this remarkable citizen in his over-exuberant heroic act.

Found at: http://gallery.markheadrick.com/humorous/christmas-tree-with-beer-can-ornaments/“Yeehaw!” he belched, as he floored it out of sight.
“I got this durned Christmas tree for freed – without a bar fight!”

I ask you, where else could I have witnessed such a spectacularly heart-tugging story during this special holiday season?

So, now I must say…

Merry Christmas to y’all! And to all a good night!

Ah, crud. That was a copyright issue, wasn’t it?

(Nope, nope. It has ya’ll. I believe I’m good on this one.)

***

 

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Of Brothers, Worms, and Men…

“Let me get this straight. You’re telling me that, before Pop Crawley died, he entrusted you with this key document that’s centuries and centuries old and that, if disclosed to the wrong people, could cause the beginning of the whole freaking apocalypse?”

Cereal and milk spewed from my mouth somewhere in the middle of this repeated declaration. Partly because of my incredulity about it all. Mostly because my twenty-eight-year-old baby brother practiced the same amount of responsibility in assuring the freshness of his dairy products as he ordinarily did in things like, say, keeping up with a full pair of shoes.

“I guess Pop Craw had gotten dementia, after all.” I dropped my head in a sad pause about the loss of our mom’s stepdad, before continuing my inquisition. “So I’m dying to know…where exactly did you stash away this theoretically vital piece of information for safekeeping?” I figured there was a catch in here somewhere.

My brother acted as if he was having a conflict of conscious about answering me. I knew better. It just took a long sigh, a dropped chin, and an arched eyebrow to get him talking. “C’mon, let’s get this over with. What’s it going to take to worm this out of you?”

“Well, I knew it needed a sweet place – like only a trip across three oceans, over a ridiculously mega-mountain, and some sick spelunking into the deepest, darkest cave could guarantee.”

“So, basically, what I’m hearing you say is that it’s here…in your apartment…probably out in the open somewhere. Does that just about sum things up?”

“Pretty much, yup. I figured maybe you’d be awesome enough to help me clean up and find it – I mean, since you’re already here and all…”

***

Trifecta has us squirming with a new word to open the week, so wiggle on in & join up!

I hadn’t noticed the squishy 33 word limit (since that usually only comes with a Trifextra), so I won’t be linking up officially this week – no time for rewrites on anything other than Research Questions 4 through 6. But that shouldn’t stop you from digging down deep and submitting! And it won’t stop me from sharing unofficially in the fun.

This week’s word is:

WORM (transitive verb)    (betcha’ didn’t catch me fishing for that one, huh?!)

1a :  to proceed or make (one’s way) insidiously or deviously<worm their way into positions of power     — Bill Franzen>

:  to insinuate or introduce (oneself) by devious or subtle means

:  to cause to move or proceed in or as if in the manner of a worm
:  to wind rope or yarn spirally round and between the strands of (a cable or rope) before serving
Remember:
• Your response must be exactly 33 words.
• You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
• The word itself needs to be included in your response.
• You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
• Only one entry per writer.
• If your post doesn’t meet our requirements, please leave your link in the comments section, not in the linkz.
• Trifecta is open to everyone. Please join us.

– See more at: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/#sthash.6vNTN58A.dpuf

Freed Christmas Tree: A Heart-Warming Christmas Story

I need to begin this story with a very important disclaimer. By the time you get to the end, I can’t imagine that there could possibly be a dry eye among you. Consider yourself fairly warned.

I was driving down the road the other day with a couple of family members in tow. I’d give you their names, but it’s not easy to recall who always does or does not decide to go along with me on excursions I can’t clearly remember. Besides, you’d probably want to corroborate the details of this story with them – if you knew who they were – and, er, they probably wouldn’t want to be bothered with such disturbing distractions. Just take my word that this is how it all went down…

Early on in this outing, I realized that swerving to miss a large object in the upcoming lane was going to be called for. It was a green, bushy, triangular-shaped something or other that we managed to just barely miss while traveling 65 miles per hour down the Interstate. I couldn’t help but frown as my mind registered what sort of bundled-branched package would meet these specifications at this time of year. Sadly, it appeared as though someone had lost a Christmas tree. (No, I do not have a picture of this particular event, as I was driving 65 miles per hour up – I mean down – the Interstate and had to quickly swerve to avoid impact with this misplaced seasonal symbol. I’m going to have to ask you to help me out here, even if you weren’t prepared to be participative this early in the story.You’ll have to use your imagination on this one. Tis the season for that, you know. Ho ho ho.)

But I personally wasn’t feeling ‘ho, ho, ho’ over this incident. I was feeling ‘no, no, no’…this can’t be. What a terrible thing for some family (couple, crazy cat lady, whoever) to have traveled up the Interstate to have so lovingly picked out the perfect holiday tree (so they could curse stepping on old, hidden, sap-stuck pine needles that would painfully sink into the base of their toes by Easter) and to be on the way to take that new puppy home and unwrap it – so they could proudly re-wrap it in hazardous lights and decorations to the point that any Fire Marshall would blatantly and openly cringe – only to find it had escaped from the top of their vehicle somewhere between stopping to engorge their bodies with a dozen snow-capped Krispy Kreme donuts and home. I tried to imagine how I could help.

Perhaps I could…

turn around at the next exit, backtrack north on the Interstate, turn around again at the exit coming back in this southward direction,

stop my car in the middle of the Interstate with no worries of trucks that looked like they could turn into Decepticons barreling down the muffler of my little car that sips gas through a coffee straw,

strap that cumbersome tree onto the hood of my cargo-challenged car without the benefit of any twine (perhaps my un-remembered family members would hold it across their laps in the back seat and out both sides of the windows?),

and get it home so I could post it on a Lost and Found site until someone filed a Missing Christmas Tree report.

The site of the reunion would be tear-jerking. (Okay, my imagination gets a little outside of its own limits sometimes.)

About the time I was ready to convince myself that I could have this story all wrong – that maybe these people were driving through with their Christmas tree from the east coast and heading back to Colorado, where they’d be too tickled and too hungry with themselves to notice they were even missing the tree, I had to swerve to miss clipping another one…then another one. The next three were dotted, back and forth, on the opposite shoulders of the road. It was beginning to appear more like the driver of a Christmas tree delivery truck who was from Colorado – happily buzzing down the Interstate without a care in the world about flying Christmas trees in his rear view mirror.

This led me to a string of other theories (not to be mistaken with THE String Theory, of course, though that, too, could have been a possibility).

Some of my more plausible theories included:

  1. Santa had gotten into the eggnog and rum cake early this year while thinking of the needs of the poverty-stricken who might otherwise be treeless. Of course, Santa doesn’t prescribe to the notion of welfare without work, as evidenced by his Northern elven sweat factory. Rather than allow these poor families to feel as if they were recipients of charity, in which they might feel looked down upon, Santa decided he’d create a challenge for them to claim these free Christmas trees. If they could dodge the oncoming traffic, heck, that was proof enough that they’d earned ’em – fair and square.
  2. This was the work of a disgruntled member of the Elf Manufacturing Union (EMU – not to be mistaken with those freakishly frighteningly large birds, who are much more freakish than gigantic 20-point reindeer who fly and stomp across roofs; or with Eastern Michigan University, which is very close to the North Pole, from my southern state perspective). I’m guessing this elf was clearly upset because he was expected to labor during the holiday season. He was making his way south to apply for a job at Walmart. He’d laid out a trail of Christmas trees, so that he might find his rebellious little way back home if things didn’t work out any better for him at Walmart.
  3. Colorado driver buzzing down the road with his package of holiday brownies – oh yeah, I forgot. We’ve already covered that one.
  4. Perhaps a boyscout, who had been working on his Christmas Tree Ranch Handling merit badge, suddenly felt convicted over holding all those poor Christmas trees for ransom. Fed by the holiday spirit (and the 2 dozen cookies one of the moms had dropped off that he’d scarfed down in the last 5 minutes), he might have experienced a rush of compassion (okay, maybe it was just sugar) that caused him to throw open the corral gate and yell, “Run for your lives!” while barely escaping with his own before the stampede began. Some of the strays had apparently made their way out onto the freeway. It’s possible that this incident will lead to the discontinuation of the Christmas Tree Ranch Handling merit badge.

In any case, by the time I came back onto the scene from wrapping up my errands, I noticed that the southbound lane had been freed of all the Christmas trees. Just as I was about to wonder where they’d all gone…

When what to my wondering eyes should appear?
Why! An F150 truck, its bumper hanging off its rear!

I noticed one of the concerned Citizenry for the Over-Forestation of Freeways (OFF) promptly dealing with the issue. (Incidentally, I’ve heard rumor that this group actually wanted to be the Federation for the Over-Forestation of Freeways, but when their president made application, it was denied because – for some strange reason – the court clerk took it as a personal offense that he wanted her to sign approval to F-OFF. More unfortunately, there is an insect repellent company who is rumored to have filed a lawsuit for use of its registered trademark name.) Nevertheless, this particular concerned citizen was not going to let that pesky little aggravation stop him from performing his self-assigned civic duty.

Upon spotting the poor, frightened tree from over the tipped-up end of his nearly emptied quart of beer, this in-the-seasonal-spirited gentleman yanked up on his emergency brake and selflessly turned a 360 in the middle of the freeway. He had to thereafter signal with his most visible finger for the trucker – who was leaning out the window while jake-braking and laying on his horn, urging this upstanding citizen as to how he might best go about his business – to go on around him and responsibly get back to his own. As Mr. Civic Duty got around to the rear of his F-150 truck with its holiday-tinted primer/rust mix, he joyfully threw his arms around that lonely, abandoned Christmas tree and adopted it quicker than if it had been his long, lost cousin, Earl, who’d just won the Powerball. He then tossed that tree into the bed of his pick-up, trading it out for about a 12-pack of empty beer cans that bounced off the tail gate and down the freeway behind him. I couldn’t help but think what a considerate and generous person he must be to want to leave those cans for someone to pick up later and exchange for the high rate offered in aluminum trade.

As if he hadn’t already exhibited an over-abundance of holiday spirit and generosity, I truly came to understand the meaning of Christmas in my final glimpse of this remarkable citizen in his over-exuberant heroic act.

Found at: http://gallery.markheadrick.com/humorous/christmas-tree-with-beer-can-ornaments/“Yeehaw!” he belched, as he floored it out of sight.
“I got this durned Christmas tree for freed – without a bar fight!”

I ask you, where else could I have witnessed such a spectacularly heart-tugging story during this special holiday season?

So, now I must say…

Merry Christmas to y’all! And to all a good night!

Ah, crud. That was a copyright issue, wasn’t it?

(Nope, nope. It has ya’ll. I believe I’m good on this one.)

***

 

When the world seems in shambles, that’s the time to Give Thanks

The holidays can, undoubtedly, bring out the worst in us sometimes (as evidenced by the increased sense of loss we often feel with the realization that loved ones are no longer with us; or the highly viewed Youtube Black Friday shopping debacles that get cast across the Internet). But they also remind of us of what’s still good about this world – with ‘thanks’ and ‘giving’ being abundantly displayed. 

I’m being a typical mom this week, with the important reminder:

Don’t forget to say thank-you.

It’s not just about showing appreciation for the kindness that someone has bestowed upon you. It’s just as much about reflecting who you truly are – and better yet, who you yet have the ability to be – because of filling your heart with gratitude. (Funny that, as we give thanks, we are the ones who also get filled.)

This past weekend, the man I knew as my pastor from my earliest childhood memories until my young adulthood retired. As I went to attend the reception in his honor, I revisited many early life memories, and I also saw the additional years on those who I remembered from there. It was clear that my dear, long-time pastor had earned his right to this time (probably even long before now – but pastors usually retire from the earth before they get to retire from ministry). I thought back to this time last year when I’d last been there and had witnessed him as he performed what I suppose was one of the toughest, and yet one of the most important, services of his life. As a matter of fact, I felt blessed to have made it back then, as I listened to him share how he and his wife met, how he courted her, how they began their lives together, and how they’d shared in ministry – until her time had come to depart for her heavenly home. She’d specified that he should be the one to lead the service; she simply reasoned that no one else knew her as well as he had, so it made the most sense. After being helped up the stairs that day, he gave us all the opportunity to journey with him back in time and catch a glimpse into the lives of two very young people I would have otherwise never known.

I was grateful to be a part of that sweet service. I was also relieved that I’d answered a nudge I’d received in my spirit a couple of weeks before that, when I’d decided to mail a Christmas card to my prior pastor and his wife, thanking them for the effect their ministry had ultimately had on me.

So, in celebration of their love for so many others in their ministry (who I’m sure weren’t always so lovable), I’d feel privileged to share with you the following words I sent out this time last year (I suppose on angels’ wings):

***

Dear Rev. and Mrs. G-

I pray this letter finds you in good spirits for the celebration time of our Lord’s birth. I wanted you to know that you are in my prayers for your personal lives and for your continued ministry. More than anything, I realize that I am many years overdue in sending out a thank you letter for the hugely positive impact that you both have had on my life.

Whenever I recall my fondest childhood, teenage and young adult memories, they always somehow relate back to our church and its people. I still hold many close relationships, to this day, with so many friends from there; and I know, without a doubt, whenever I’ve walked through those doors, before or since my time away, I have always felt welcomed. I can think of so many times in my life when other church bodies might have been less welcoming to my behaviors or my situations – but you all were the definition of I Corinthians 13 in your love towards me, most especially being patient and kind. The fruits of the Spirit were always as abundant as the ice cream and good cheer that flowed around our summers of Vacation Bible School or the many receptions taking place in our well-used fellowship hall.

From Christmas plays (with practices that brought our youth group so close together) to lock-ins (where Scavenger hunts took us to outreach opportunities within the neighborhood) to games on the softball field (where our church was so much a part of our larger community) to bible studies that ranged from Communicant’s class to catechisms (where I began proclaiming my own faith), and well beyond into my adulthood (when I finally got around to learning all the books of my bible), I’ve come to deeply realize how I was being prepared to become an everyday evangelist (even if I still don’t set the example I strive to follow). There are so many things I learned from Sunday School to VBS to Wednesday night classes that I never realized I was retaining until people asked me through the years, “How do you know this stuff?” Time and time again, it comes back to my early foundation, the biblical grounding I received at the church I will always call home.

My beliefs, to this day, were formed and shaped there. Whether it was you, boldly proclaiming, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,” or whether it was your ‘better half’, sweetly exhorting, “Jody, how could you think you wouldn’t become a teacher? It’s in your blood,” you have each shaped so much of the person I am (whether you’d prefer to take any credit for it or not!). You allowed me to grow up in a loving church environment that, rather than scolding me for questioning things I couldn’t comprehend in the Word or for sometimes just being downright disruptive and rebellious, I was abundantly nurtured. Each time I now stand up in front of the people of the Church to speak or to teach, I think back to those Sunday mornings, before the Sunday School hour, where we assembled and where I was not only allowed, but encouraged, as a youth to lead that opening worship service. I had absolutely no idea that God had me in training for something more for His Kingdom down the road.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the relationship I was blessed to have with your family, for my friendships with your sons, for the joy and laughter that went on among our youth who were like siblings, for the extended family I had in our congregation, for the many scriptural teachings learned, and for the ability to experiment with who I was going to become within the body of Christ (with all my messy mistakes included).

This side of heaven can quite often be difficult, trying to push us to give in when circumstances feel impossible. Through many trials and tribulations, I’ve come to learn to temper my emotions compared only to one thing, and that is the measure of those other words I’ve heard you proclaim, over and over, and have learned to yearn for one day in the presence of our Lord and Savior: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” In all joy and assuredness, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that you both will hear those precious words one day.

Thank you for giving to the Lord in my life and the lives of others. Please know how very much your gift is treasured.

With great  love and respect,

jody

***

Maybe they never received it.
Perhaps it didn’t get read on time.
Even if so, it might not have held the same meaning as it did for me.
Nevertheless, I needed to take time to express my love, my admiration…
my gratitude.
It made a distinctive difference to – maybe even ‘in’ – me.

So to the rest of you, I urge:
“Please don’t forget to say Thank You.”

To this very day, Vacation Bible School is still one of my favorite weeks of the year.

To this very day, Vacation Bible School is still one of my favorite weeks of the year.

How to turn your teacher into a cry-baby

I haven’t been able to visit the blogging community too often lately – mostly because I’ve been traveling across five states for the past few months, gathering the final data for 5 years of longitudinal research (otherwise lovingly, or sometimes not, referred to as my dissertation project). By the time I reached my final graduate from whom I would gather this data, I was feeling a great mix of emotions – – elation (that no more data would need to be collected), trepidation (that all this data still had to be analyzed), exhaustion (from gathering months of data across 5 states), and depression (that I may never see many of these folks again with whom I’d gotten to catch up – or at least it may be a very long time until our paths crossed again).

I wasn’t actually expecting to cry though.
But that’s exactly what I did.

After gathering my last set of data, I was pleasantly surprised to find that all of this particular graduate’s patients were completed for the day, so we’d have some fun catch-up time. Now this is a delightful, beautiful young lady; but the most special characteristic of E is her enthusiastic honesty. She’s never afraid to share her thoughts or even tell on herself, and this day was no exception. Because she’s such a warm person, she enjoys connecting with people. That’s exactly what she set out to do, too – connect with me on my level, telling me about her first whitewater rafting adventure (because she knows that’s something I love to do). By the time she had finished her story, also explaining how someone could’ve videotaped her to demonstrate all the things one should NOT do on a river, she had me holding my sides and tearing up in our shared laughter.

But those aren’t the tears I meant.

Sharing a celebratory moment together on graduation day.

Sharing a celebratory stage moment together on
E’s graduation day.

As I stood to go, telling E how very proud I was of all she was accomplishing in her career and all the wonderful life experiences I knew she had ahead, she stopped me from leaving with these words (as well as I can recall them): “I don’t want you to leave without me saying this to you. You need to hear it from me because it’s important for people to know how others feel about them. People need to feel special, and I want you to know what an impact you’ve made on my life – and I don’t just mean in my career. I mean, I appreciate everything you taught me about my profession, but that’s not the most important thing I learned from you. You’ve made an impact on me way beyond that. I think you’re an incredibly strong person in your faith and the way you deal with hardships in life. I’ve watched how you’ve handled things you couldn’t control and didn’t give in, and I look up to you for that. Thank you for letting us see you for who you really are. That’s the kind of person I want to be.”

I was floored.
I never saw it coming.
I’m a hugger, but it’s hard to make me cry. (I even have a twice-broken nose to prove it.)
I cried. (Must’ve been fatigue setting in.)

E was right. Everyone needs a good dose of encouragement, and I wish I could say that I’ve always had the opportunity to tell others exactly how I felt about them (well, the good stuff, anyway). Even if I’ve gotten it right sometimes; sadly, I know I’ve missed many other opportunities. This lovely, young lady didn’t miss hers this time around, and she made me feel something I can’t even quite describe. (Sad testimony for a blogger, I know.)

E taught a good lesson of her own that I hope sticks with me for life. She’s the kind of person I want to be, and I thank her for that. Because of her, my new goal is to set out to make many others do exactly what I did.

Yep, I hope I can make you all cry – –  like babies.

Trifecta Fiction: Seeking Graceful Closure in a Generational Gap

There she stood, in that dream space of familiar unfamiliarity, gazing upon a fair-haired young lady displayed in a breath-taking formal dress, likely dating to the early 1900’s, with a hand-tatted lace chemisette collar matching the gloves spilling over her wrists. Mounds of navy taffeta swirled about, pulled up into a small bustle in the back. A satin sash gathered it all in, with dainty pearl buttons carefully placed as opulent accents. The woman’s hair was elegantly piled upward in a loose pompadour. She had a fancy parasol opened to cover her in the mist, though it looked too elegant for anyone to actually consider using.

Danielle searched the beautiful profile questioningly, wondering who she was – until the other young woman turned directly towards her, her gaze soft, loving and kind. She extended a gloved hand to Danielle’s face, fingertips gliding across her cheek, brushing away a tendril of hair. Danielle gasped at the flawlessness of the woman’s skin, the way her bright blue eyes glittered and danced, rather than being faded to gray and sunken back into her head. This woman’s lips were full and vivid, her skin was the peachiest shade with the rosiest of cheeks. Danielle wanted to call the woman by name, but the only label she knew for this angelic creature didn’t suffice.  This beauty could surely never pass for anyone’s ‘Granny.’ After a few seconds of consideration, the best she could conjure was, “Mary?”

The other young woman’s eyes twinkled, her lips spreading upward, as she nodded her head, her face radiant. She took Danielle’s hand, gently pulling her back towards an ancient stone that could serve well as a make-shift bench. Mary carefully sat sideways, one foot crossed over the other in such a lady-like fashion that Danielle felt archaic and without any sense of grace at all. Mary daintily closed her parasol and leaned it against the rock, taking both of Danielle’s hands. Her eyes searched Danielle’s face, intent on finding something specific there.

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This one’s a little rewrite of a scene from At the Water’s Edge, in which my protagonist, Danielle, is wrestling with an important life-altering decision…and about to engage in a life-altering (as in, she might not have hers anymore) action. She’s in her current predicament after trying to honor her now-deceased grandmother’s final words to her. Or were they?

I’m submitting these 333 words in response to the Trifecta Challenge for Week Ninety-Three, in which the word was:

GRACE (noun)

– See more at: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/#sthash.d4MOL4ll.dpuf

And thanks to a lovely invitation from my lovely friend, Kir, I’m also submitting it to WriteOnEdge’s Write at the Merge, with this week’s theme: “The Space Between” (the pause between two events).

Bygone Bar-Flies in Destined Disguise

“Quick! Come here! I need you to create a distraction.”

“Uh-oh. You don’t sound so good. But look at it this way. This can’t be any worse than that time you went back into that bar and pretended to be searching for something, in hopes those two guys, given a second chance and several minutes closer to closing time, would engage us in conversation.”

“You didn’t seem to think it was such a bad idea at the time…Ouch!!!!! But maybe I do now!”

“Easy there. Hey! Remember how everything was good until the one guy asked if you’d lost something? When you said yes, I had a feeling things were going to go down quickly from there!”

“So, I panicked, okay?”

“Just don’t panic now. Going back to that evening though…I would’ve gone for the answer ‘keys.’ Just sayin’…ow, ow, ow – don’t squeeze my hand so hard, please!”

“It’s entirely feasible that a girl searching around aimlessly in a bar at 1:50 in the morning could have had a lost voice…especially when she couldn’t think of a better response to give at the spur of the moment. My voice did get a little lost in his eyes, you know.”

“Yeah, most people who show up at the bar around 10:00 are still trying to figure out how to adjust the mask to put on their charade. By 2:00, they’ve generally given up. But not you. You ripped that mask right off for full exposure of what little self-esteem you – I mean, we – had left. I’ll give you extra credit points for that final burst of effort. And speaking of masks, has Jerry gotten his on yet, Doc? He needs to hurry up and get in here!!”

“Heck, it was either that or go watch the peeling paint dry on our little efficiency apartment walls until the sun came up, and we’d giggled our way into finally deciding to call it a night. Ohhhhhhhhh!!!!! Geez, this hurts! This is getting worse. Keep talking…”

“Fast breaths, remember?…Funny to think back to the good ol’ days. Wonder if Jerry would’ve laughed and offered you a ride home that night if he could’ve fast-forwarded into the future and foreseen the pressure of a 4-bedroom mortgage, two kids, and another bun in the oven – that’s about to burst open at this very moment?!”

“Well, that’s all about to be history now….Jerry!!!!!!”

“Yeah, but it’s made room for a new history in both your lives together. Sometimes I miss the stupid things we used to do, but I’m proud of the woman you’ve become, sis. Look, there’s your husband now – looking a little green around the gills. Now, push!!!!!”

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inmonsterbadge1Writing for Inspiration Monday on this one (which means it will officially post on BeKindRewrite this coming Monday, and yes, Mondays are always difficult for me to keep straight!).

I’ve bold-typed all the prompts – and for an extra challenge to myself this week, I used them all – in order of how they were prompted.

I also managed to stay within the word count of 200-500 words. My Word Count = 447.

Not too bad for anything having to do with a Monday!