Finding Time in the Midst of Chaos


Mom and meWell it has been quite a while since I’ve had a post. I thought it is time to sit down and try to write. It is not an easy task in my life.

Since my last entry, I have returned to work and as you know, the home front continues to become more of a challenge. All through the experience I keep reminding myself that I am not working my plan for my life, as much as I am submitting to my heavenly Father’s plans and purpose for me. Once I acknowledged this; my life seemed to make sense for the very first time. When things don’t go my way, I accept that it is my Father rearranging things. When things fall into place, miraculously, there is just no way I can take credit.

I just flew with someone who told me, “no you need to pat yourself on the back!” Really? Why? I don’t want to pat myself on the back. (First of all, because it is physically impossible) and secondly, I don’t feel I have done anything so great. I know that I handle my life because God gives me the strength to handle these challenges. But I cannot say that I have always been happy about the responsibilities He’s given me. And sometimes, I’ve downright lost it! I’ve had temper tantrums and been filled with self-pity. “Why me? Why not someone else?” I’ve had all of those angry questions. But in the end, He keeps me grounded. He reminds me that I can handle it. He reminds me that His son had those very same feelings.

When I went to Israel many years ago, I saw the huge stone where Jesus had wept and prayed so fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane. Everyone was placing their hands on this stone as if they could feel His anguish. This is what makes me remember that even He asked the Father, “to take this cup of suffering from me.” In the end our Lord knew that it was not His plan He was working, but His Father’s plan. This picture of Christ’s grief is a stark reminder that He did indeed, “Suffer  all things which are common to man.” He knows my fears and my sadness. He knows my joy when I see that this suffering, is worth the end result. “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:12)

Wow! If He could do that for me, I certainly can’t complain about my circumstances. He has chosen these things for me, “to perfect my faith.” Who cares about me more than He does?

I had to keep this in the forefront of my mind when I received a recall notice to work. I had been on a furlough for almost 3 years. Granted, the furlough was another blessing from the Lord. I had just begun to see my mom slipping more and more each day, when along came this offer to take the furlough. This couldn’t have been at a more opportune time. However, I didn’t really know that at the time.

I was really sitting on the fence with that offer, as I was a little fearful of losing an income. “How am I going to make it with no money coming in?” I asked the Lord. I wasn’t sure if this was something I should do. Then He placed people in my path, that I can only describe as messengers on behalf of Him. They encouraged me to take this offer and one person, asked if he could call and speak to me. This was a few nights before the deadline for our decision. He completely encouraged me to do this as he knew my circumstances. He knew that my mother is not going to get better, but she would decline.

I decided to take the offer because of all of ‘the encouragers.’ What a great time I’ve had with my mom, my brother and my children! I took her on a road trip to Wisconsin along with my son and my brother. Though she did not know anyone, I felt rewarded in the fact that her friends and family had the chance to see her. I also didn’t feel the guilt I had before. She has been obsessed with moving back to Wisconsin. In some way I felt I was holding her hostage. This trip was a revelation to me as well. I could see that the Wisconsin she remembers only exists in her mind. She can visit anytime she chooses. My son exclaimed, “We could have driven around the block and told her she was in Wisconsin!” lol Yes, I suppose that’s true, but besides seeing Palm trees everywhere, it wouldn’t have been as effective. As I said, I felt this trip was more for my benefit and those who could see her.

The past 3 years gave me a chance to be completely involved in my son’s life, when he needed me most. I didn’t know so many things were happening until I was present every day. There were people that would have wished I would just return to work, but that was not going to happen! The Lord wanted to expose so many things to me. He knows that I am a staunch advocate for people who cannot speak for themselves, and this is the very reason I have the care of my mother and brother  and a young son.

However, had I not had some of the experiences in my own life, I would not have been as discerning. Now some of my suffering began to make sense to me. I have the ability to see things that the average person may not. I also have the strength to speak up, where most people will not. I find that my anger at such injustice overpowers any fears I may have. If I was not equipped with this righteous anger, I wouldn’t have the ability to take a stand.

Each year that the furlough was almost up; I would ask the Lord what He wanted me to do. Two times, I would receive another offer to take a year off. But this last year it has been different. This time we would receive an offer of an ‘early-out.’ Buyout offer plus benefits. Wow! This must be the answer, I thought! This was a big offer too! As I pondered this offer, I was ready to jump. Thinking that this would help me tremendously; I now heard the Lord speaking to me. “Hold on, don’t be impulsive.” As I weighed out the pros and cons of the offer, I asked the Lord to do what He has always done. To show me His will in this. To speak to me. He did and it was a surprising answer. He spoke to my spirit and He also sent people to me to give me answers. And just like always, the best plan is the most difficult!

As I began to see that this looked good on the surface, but it wasn’t really what the Lord had planned, I now wondered at how He was going to make my return to work possible. I am now mature enough in my faith that I know He will provide; but I still wanted to know how!

Now, I was most concerned with care for my mother. I can’t leave her and 24 hour nursing care is way too expensive. This would hardly make my return to work reasonable.

One day as I was praying and asking God for the answer to this dilemma, a person came to my mind. It was a woman who used to care for another elderly woman in a group my brother was a part of. My brother had a bowling group and this woman had a daughter with Down’s Syndrome. Her daughter was an excellent bowler. I had become friends with her and some of the other older ladies in the group. We used to sit and play cards together as the people bowled. You may remember an earlier post about this, “Kings in the Corner.” These women taught me many things. The woman that took care of her was a sweet, little Jamaican lady. She was so cute.

Marilyn eventually passed away, so the caregiver took care of her daughter. It was only a few years later that the daughter also died. She had a heart problem. I still have a picture of her smiling face on my bulletin board. She was full of joy and the sweetest girl. I remember at her funeral, the sister, coming up to me and saying, “You know Carrie, you and me are the same!” She was referring to the fact that she had taken care of her mother, and her sister after her mother’s passing. The caregiver lived with her and helped her take care of both of them.

As I thought of this, I thought, “I should call her and ask about Marlene! (the caregiver) She was excited when I called her. I told her that I had been called back to work and needed someone for my mom. I asked about Marlene. She said, “Wow! I can’t believeyou’re calling right now! She was caring for a woman and she just passed away about 2 weeks ago. She’s looking for someone else to care for right now.” I was so thrilled. I also knew that the was the Lord’s hand in all of this. He constantly reassures me that if He has called me to do something, then He will also provide!

It was only a few weeks later that I was back in training for 6 days. I had complete security knowing that this woman is experienced with people like my mom and she has compassion. She also knows my brother and is very experienced with special needs too. She told me that if she ever has a problem with her schedule, “her sister is her backup.” What a great thing! God not only provides our needs; He goes above and beyond what we need!

My son has proven to be a responsible and caring person from this experience as well. The other day, I messed up my own schedule and thought that I had given the information to Marlene and I did not. So of course, she wasn’t at the house. At first I thought that my printer didn’t print the trip, or she was reading the schedule wrong. I called her in a panic and she was already on her way out of town. She said, “Don’t worry. I’ll get someone to cover for me.” She did and this woman was her cousin. She was so wonderful and had also been living in the north for years taking care of an elderly woman. In the meantime, my son was able to ‘hold down the fort,’ until she arrived. He was asking me where the chucks were for my mom’s bed and I thought, “Is he really changing the bed linens?” This was just unfathomable, as he doesn’t do this in his own room! He had given my mom breakfast and helped my brother get up for school. I thought, this kind of responsibility is good for him and he will never regret the things he did for his grandma.

So now I’m thanking the Lord for all He has done and is doing to grow us. In the midst of the chaos of my life. I see His hand reaching through and holding me as I walk through all the storms. I’m grateful for the people that He sends to me to encourage me and give me wisdom for decisions. He removes those who have tried to bring me harm and continues to reveal His plans for me as I roll everything over to His ultimate will.

I think that my first layover was when it hit me; hey I don’t think I’ve had time to relax like this in years! Now I can understand the benefits to this decision. I felt refreshed for the first time in a very long time. I’m so appreciative of this time I’ve had with my family but also my ‘alone time,’ now. I also want to thank you people who have been a part of this journey with me. I am touched that those of you (and some complete strangers) have helped me through the most difficult times. I know who you are; and I know who has sent you! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

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Please Don’t Try To Rap!


Image

Ok, I’m upset that today, my son told me he didn’t want to go to the Christmas ceremony, at our City Hall. Well, not that he didn’t want to go, but that he didn’t want to go with, “his mom, and grandma, because it’s dorky!” 

“Oh, really? So, you are now at an age, where, it’s dorky, to be seen with your mom and grandma?” “Well yea!” He says, as if I should just know when he’s hit that magic number. He tells me that, “all my friends will be there ,and they won’t be with their parents.” “Why wouldn’t they be?” I ask. “If they’re going by themselves, that’s just to start trouble.”Wow. Now I’m really turning into a stern parent. When I tell him that he can just come with us, and go hang out with his friends, he responds, “My friends wouldn’t just go there to hang out!” Ok, now I’m confused.

I realize that my mom, really can’t get around that well, and thought, she’d just enjoy looking at the lights. But I have to admit, it wasn’t the greatest thing to take her to. I drove up to a good spot in front of the City Hall. But as I went around to retrieve my mom, I saw swarms of teenagers, everywhere. And they were running like they were late for something. You know they sure wouldn’t be doing that for a class! So, I surmised that, they had all their little cliques, and my mom and I had wandered smack, dab into the feeding frenzy. These kids were, standing in mobs..

At one point, as my mom had her ‘death-grip,’ on my arm, a crowd of girls, were standing right in front of us on the sidewalk. We seemed to be invisible, as I said, “Hello!” “Oh,” a girl said, “Sorry.”

I began to think, “where are these kids parents?” When I looked around, I saw some people my age, and they were all kind of hanging together as well.And I could swear, smelled the distinct odor of alcohol, as I walked by many of them. Not the kids, the parent’s.It made me think of the remark one of my friends made, after seeing my son run head-first into a big bunch of sand as soon as we arrived to our hotel. He got up and was covered. “I firmly believe that every mother should have a flask, strapped to her belt.” She said.

I thought, “those are probably the parents, and I can’t say I blame them. I wouldn’t want to hang with my son either. Not when I see these crazy kids, running in packs. I would definitely gravitate to friends my own age. Another sympathetic person, of an aging parent, and a  teen. Yes, I can see why the need to bond, with someone in the midst of this madness.

I navigated my mom through the chaotic scene. Each time some kids came running past, I felt her grip my arm, tighter. I just wanted her to see some pretty Christmas decorations. As she’s constantly telling me that, “it doesn’t feel like Christmas, if their isn’t snow.”

Upon returning home, I shared with my son. “Hey, I saw your friends.” “How do you know?” He asked. “Cause, they were all a bunch of punks!” I said. And I started laughing. “You should have seen them. And they weren’t with their parents. They were just hanging out, causing trouble, like I told you. Geesh! They almost knocked your grandma down a few times.”

Now, he said, “Told you!” Ok, I had to concede. He was right. I didn’t want him there. But as he stands over me, it’s hard to let go. Now, he stands on his toes, and he’s towering above me. “Hey, mom. In a few more months, I’m going to be wayyyy, over your head!” As if this is proof of his maturity. Now he picks me up. Oh, doesn’t every boy love to do this to his mom?

I realized, he’s really growing up. I always want to give him kisses, or hugs, and that’s another, no-no, in the general vicinity of his friends. I get it. But I guilt him anyway. Just because that’s a mom’s job. “Hey, we only get just so many kisses and hugs, in our lives, and then it’s done.” But I’m starting to see that this, is losing it’s levity as well. I’ve got to come up with a new game-plan.

Now I’m sitting quietly with my mom. I watch her, and  try tothink back to when I stopped, participating in my life with her. When was it, ‘not cool?’  I was pretty young. Actually, about my son’s age. I still remember, her bringing us back from Lake Michigan. We had gone down to the lake-front, on a nice summer day. Now, looking back, it was quite a feat, for my mom, with all of us. And, on a bus.

Yet, when we were at the lake, I heard music playing from down the beach. I wandered off. I came to a place, which would become my favorite hang-out, a few years later. ‘The Site,’ as it was called. Here, a  rock band was playing. I still remember,the name; Sigmund Snopek. One of the guys was just flirting with me, and I was so giddy. A teenage girl, with so much attention, from this older guy. And he was a rock star. Well, at least, that’s what it seemed to me.

Well, on the way home, we were standing on a street corner, when we heard loud yelling. We were amazed, to see a guy being tossed out onto the street, from a bar, appropriately named, Hooligan’s.’ Now this is a place, I want to visit. My brother and I both laughed at this, and decided, that it looked like a really fun place to be.

I think of the passage of time, as I watch my mom and the difficulty she has, with just the little things. Then I begin to wonder, if I have any hopes of depending on my son or daughter, when I get like this. I sure hope they store some of this in ‘the archives,’ so when I have just a few marbles, they will remember, “Oh, yea, I remember what mom did, when grandma was losing it.” Then hoping they have the compassion to put some of this into action. But, it’s really a crap shoot.I’ve only got two. And my mom, had a whole bunch, but in the end, just one, to rely on. The odd’s are not in my favor.

Now a commercial comes on. That annoying AFLAC, commercial. It’s a guy, my age,which means, old) trying to rap. With a bunch of stupid,  fake,animals. It makes no sense, and my son and I crack up, every time we see it. Who came up with this? Another group of overpaid, ad exec’s with a power-point presentation. And no one had the guts to say, “This sucks.”

The duck used to be bad enough, but now, a rapping menagerie. And the words, are terrible. They don’t have the correct rythym. I said, He says, “There’s just something major medical, doesn’t do.” When it’s perfectly obvious, to anyone writing rap, it should have another word. Like, “There’s something’s, major medical… just doesn’t do.’

It’s irritating enough, just to see a stupid frog on a lilly pad, singing, but this is just beyond, hoaky! But then, maybe that’s the point. I started to think, it’s the last frontier, between my son and I. We both agree it is so ridiculous, so that’s proof, that I’m not that old or dorky.

It is also a moment of bonding between my mother and I, because she’s just as annoyed by this. So, perhaps, this is the really effective part of this commercial. It annoys all kinds of people, of all ages, and it brings us together in agreement.

My son imitates it constantly. Out of the blue, he’ll say, “Hey mom…”there’s just some things, major medical, doesn’t do.” I laugh each time he says, it, because he know’s it is so obnoxious.

So now, I think, there just may be some hope for me. He tell’s me, “Women belong in the kitchen.” He will say things that he knows are ridiculous, just to make me laugh. But knowing that we have a full on  agreement on some things, gives me a little glimmer of hope. I entertain it for a minute. “Perhaps, I won’t just be a little old woman with a bunch of cats.” Then I snap back to reality. Better get that AFLAC, in place.

Oh Those Darn Teenagers!


Dr, Who?

Well, my post yesterday, covered a part of my teenage years, and it’s plain to see I was pretty rebellious. The day before had a post about my mother, in her belief that almost anyone could be a doctor.

Well, today, on the front page news, I see a story of this 17-year-old, who had practiced as a physician’s assistant, in a hospital, in Florida.

Apparently, he had already done physical exams on a few people, and even CPR, on someone for 5 minutes, before applying a defibrillator. So it’s obvious, that he was also good, at what he was doing.

When you read the account of this, it’s clear that it wasn’t this teenager’s first rodeo, either. They said, he had already been in a “Sheriff’s Program, and he “was kicked out, for giving the impression, that he was a deputy.”

I just had to share this with my mom. “Mom, you’re right! Look at this kid. He told everyone he was 23, and started working with a doctor, in the hospital!” My mom said, “See? I told you anyone could do that!” Sounding as if she was totally vindicated. I’m already expecting her to use this as ammunition, once her test results arrive. And I was dumb enough to hand it to her.

I said, “My question is,” What’s the problem? Hey, he’s a teenager, and he actually wants to work! My 24-year-old daughter doesn’t have that kind of work ethic. And forget about my son. It’s difficult enough to get him to take out the trash. I think this kid should get some kind of an award! We can blow this whole thing, if it’s handled wrong. We have teenager’s everywhere, who are going to use this against us.

I can already hear them, “Oh no. I have to take my time, in my job search. I sure wouldn’t want someone to think I’m impersonating, a hard-working teenager. That could land me in jail.  I’ll never forget that guy, Matthew. Look what happened to him. He was just trying to make an honest living, and he now has a rap sheet.

Teenager’s are highly manipulative. I remember washing dishes, as a teen. That’s right, it was ‘pre-dishwasher. I had cut my hand on a jar. This was my excuse, not to do any dishes again.

When I was that age, I just didn’t know any teenager’s who would go to the lengths this guy went to, just to get a position. And he did it more than once.

I mean, I want to meet this guy and shake his hand! I want to say, ” Wow, how in the world did you acquire the creative boldness and energy, to come up with this plan? This is, even to people your age, ‘ over-the-top . It’s not like someone, dared you to get a job. Your parents must be very proud! Not to mention, all the cash you’ve saved them on college tuition. Hey, you should skip ahead of everyone, with the “Life skills credit, you’ve received.”

I thought about it, and asked my son, “Who would you impersonate?” I was kind of hoping, he was going for a major league baseball team, but he chose, a firefighter. “Well, that’s a good job,” I said.
I think you should go for a government job. I don’t think he understands, job security and benefits, since, as I shared, he already has that. But he may be right. Who knows how much will be left in a few more years.

Now I know, all of you are thinking, “Hey, this was a crime! He needs to be punished!” Yea, yea, but  isn’t the real crime, that the prosecutors and anyone involved, are thinking, “This is outrageous! I’ve spent all this money and years in school to get my degree. Only to have this punk come along and get away with this? He’s just a reminder to everyone, that we can all be replaced.

So I’m thinking that acting lessons, would be a better investment for my son. And for those who are responsible for bringing punishment to this teenager, I have a better suggestion. He could be a Motivational Speaker, for teens. Why not have him teach our kids, how to build such an impressive resume, before they graduate from high school?

Daze Gone By


camping 74

I was watching an episode of Benny Hill, tonight and I thought of my dad. He loved this show. He’d sit in his favorite chair and watch this show, while just cracking up. I didn’t think it was that funny back then, but now, watching, I was very amused. It was another reminder of my father and his own sense of humor.

I began to think back to my own youth and the days with my friends. We were straight out of, ‘That 70’s Show. Sometimes, I thought they must have modeled it after our lives. So similar. Even the state of Wisconsin, was chosen for the setting.

I had different people in my life for different seasons. And I was fond of all of them. But for this early 70’s, I was particularly fond.

It seemed I was just discovering so much. I had more challenges in my life,than most of my friends. But I learned to adapt. For example, I didn’t have a car until, I was 19. I rode my bike, everywhere. I loved my bike. My father bought it for me, and it was so light. I could pop the tires off the front and the back. And when I arrived at a party, I could easily fit it into someones car. i usually rode places, with my friend, Heidi. She lived a few miles away from me, and she didn’t have a car either.  My girlfriend, Grace, was joking, that I seemed to get around everywhere. She was amazed that I knew the streets so well, and rode to the lake front multiple times. This was a jaunt, and it sure beat the days, in high school, when we would hitch rides everywhere. Heidi and I hitched a ride by our house once, and these guys scared the crap out of us. It was a huge ghetto-cruiser. I think an Impala, or something. I just remembered, it was all pimped out. After getting in, the guy looked at his buddy, and flipped the locks down. I had a vivid recall of the big, silver globe, locks. When they went, “Click.” The saw us give each other a panicked look, and they started laughing. When we realized they were just trying to scare us. They chatted with us to our stop, and unlocked the doors.

When we were in high school, we would have groups of us hitching rides together. One day, my friend Carol, and I were with a few other girlfriends. We had two guys with us, and one, Frank Hyack, had beautiful long hair. He turned around with his back to the traffic and stuck his thumb out. Yep, in short order, a van stopped. We were laughing as we came running up, and the guy driving realized, he’d been duped.

Another night, I was with a group of girls, and a guy picked us up. He was so drunk. He had a case of beer in the back and we had to put our legs up on it. We were so terrified, as he was driving, and just told us to let us out, miles ahead of our destination. We talked about the nerve this guy had to stop and pick us up! I have to laugh, now, at how stupid we were, and thank God, for protecting us in our stupidity. But those days, seemed more innocent. It’s not to say that they actually were. Even now, on the rare occasion, that I see someone doing this, I’m shocked. I imagine, I sound like a typical mom. “I can’t believe a person would do that, in this day in age!” I say. “I mean times were different when I was young.” Come to think of it, I sound just like my mom, right now. She is always saying that.

We heard about so many terrible things happening to people. A friend of my brother’s, named Hillary, was picked up by some guys. She was thrown out of a car, and she was found. She later ended up in a nursing home. She had no recollection, of anyone or anything after that, tragic day. My brother was heartbroken as after his visit.  But those of us who did these things, felt immortal. This stuff only happened to other people. 

My best friend in high school, was a friend named, Carol. We would arrange to meet each other, and hitch rides together. We usually would go to a place at the Lakefront, called, The Site. All the hippies, hung out here. We would ask people to stop, so we could buy some Boones Farm, before arriving. It was the only wine, that teenagers, on a budget, could buy. The normal drinks, were either,  Boones Farm  Strawberry Hill, or Apple. If someone had beer, it more than likely was, Pabst Blue Ribbon. And we all thought, we had a secret code, because in the year book, people would answer, the favorite’s section with, PBR. Yea, like the teachers could never figure that one out.

One day, my friend Carol and I were being very cool. Our methods were probably no different from most teens, trying to buy wine or beer. We would ask the adults to make the purchase. The drinking age was 21, and that was way too long for us to wait. One night, we decided to go to East Side of Milwaukee. Another hippie hangout. Head shops everywhere you looked. Panhandlers, were common. And they were usually teens or young adults, trying to score pot or something else. I loved the area. Everyone wore Army jackets, and Navy Pea Coats. We were all about being so cool and anti-establishment. I would ‘freak my hair.’ Meaning, braid it very tightly, and let the braids out the hours later, to a full afro. And as anyone knows, with me, it’s all about the hair.

On this particular evening, Carol and me, stuck out our thumbs, and two guys pulled over. We got in and Carol asked, “Hey would you guys mind buying us some wine?” “Oh, no problem,” the driver said. We have a liquor store we go to all the time. We’ll just stop there.” A few minutes later, we were on our way. We gave them our money and they both went in. After getting into the car, they handed us the brown bag, with our two bottles of  Boones Farm. Hmm, “that was easy I thought.” “Where do you want to get out?” The driver asked. “Oh, just drop us off a few blocks from here,” Carol said.

So, we drove a couple blocks away and got out of the car. I had the bag in my hand and Carol was going to take her’s when she stooped down to tie her shoe. As she was getting up, a young-looking guy comes walking past. He says, “How you doing girls?” Just as I was about to say, “fine,”I see his hand reaching out toward us. He flashes a badge and says, “Police Officer. Let’s see what you have in the bag.” I felt the sickest feeling come over me. Wow, in less than a second,  I just lost my coolness.

He took us into the car as we were both crying and yelling about the unfairness of this. Of course we mentioned that their were, way more important things they could be doing, but making a bust such as this. I mean look at all the drug dealers and real criminals walking by.

As the officer explained what would happen, they said, “Because you were the one holding the bag, you will be the one going to court.” “What? I said. I finally understood, what “left holding the bag,” really meant.They drove both of us home. I thought my mother was going to explode, but she didn’t. All she said was, “I was a teenager once too.” “Wow! I didn’t see that one coming from my mom. And I had a hard time imagining her as a teenager. Living in a small town with her grandmother and my grandmother. I just couldn’t picture the connection to my experience. But whatever. I was happy enough, that she wasn’t angry.

That was a lot easier than I thought.” But no, that was the end of it. I had to go to court. I had to sit in a little hallway, as I heard the police officer tell me, that the guy that actually made the purchase, was not the driver of the car. He was also under 21. “Oh, that’s just great.” I thought. How did we assume, both of them were of age? Next he told me that they’d been watching this liquor store for a while. They’d heard they were selling to minors, and were just waiting to catch them. I also had to see the owner of the liquor store.  I got a warning and a strong reprimand from the judge about the dangers of hitch hiking.

I’m good friends with her. We still laugh about it every time we talk about it. At any rate, God was trying to teach me a valuable lesson. “Don’t get caught with the bag!” Ok, I know, that wasn’t the lesson, but hey, it was funny.

Hanging out behind our high school

Now, when I started going out with my boyfriend, John, we had a group of friends, that went to a public high school. I suppose, going to a Christian High School, made it uncool, to hang out with too many people from our school It was the public schools, which we always heard about. They were always behind in academics, but ahead in everything else. So we had parties with the people from Marshall. We were always hearing about their escapades,which made us seem tame.

We would all meet at Lannon Quarry and go night swimming. We would have huge parties. We once had a caravan of people driving out to a farm. We only had just arrived and we were laughing as we watched, all the cars, driving down through the cow pasture. We thought we were in a secluded area. But even so, police arrived shortly after tapping the half-barrel. We hadn’t counted on the owners of the little farmhouse, calling authorities. What a waste that was.

I liked the groups. The inner circle was, Scott, Dave O., Dave H, Jim H, Jim B, Claude, Dean and a few others. Then there were others, who would come to the parties. We would cross paths at other parties. But John and me, hung out with Scott and Dave O, most of the time. They all worked at ‘Go-Clean car wash, or Bagels and Bialeys. We would go to Go-Clean and hang out until the guys were off work. They would start the pumps at $1 or $2, for people filling up, so that they could use the extra $$$ for, John’s car, or someone else. Yes, in the old days, when attendants pumped your gas? You didn’t always get what you paid for. Especially when their were teenagers as attendants. As the cars were going through the car wash, they’d clean out any change they could find, as they were detailing the car. So, ‘Go-Clean,’ made sure your car was totally clean of anything. As long as these guys were on the job. The owner’s son, went to Marshall as well. And he’d show up every once in a while, to hang out with us, and peel out in the parking lot, with the new car, daddy gave him.

We would stop by Bagels and Bialeys, and wait for Jim, his girlfriend Robin, or their friend, Marcy. After they got out, we would take a ton of bagels, that were meant for the trash. We’d end up having bagel fights, from car to car. If you had an opened window, and happened to get smacked with one of those, you’d believe they could be used as a dangerous weapon. Especially when they were stale. I’m thinking of making this suggestion to the Israeli Defense League. You can  use them for food or ammunition.

We all went on a camping trip to Minoqua, Wisconsin. I was about 15. I rode in my boyfriends, Mustang. Bright orange, and breaking down, constantly. There were 5 of us in that car. My girlfriend, Susan went with her boyfriend, in his Volkswagen Beetle. They brought, Dwight. We were going to stay outside, of John’s family cabin. To this day, I don’t know why, we picked that place. We didn’t have a key, so it didn’t matter where we camped. We drove for hours, just to get there.  I just chalked it up to pure stupidity.

One night, we heard could hear one person complaining about the cold. It was Jim H. All he brought was a thin, little blanket with holes in it. It looked like a baby blanket.  Each person stuck their head through one of the holes, so we could get a picture. I wondered how he could go on a trip with it. Homeless people had better blankets.

Community blanket

 

I murdered the melon!

My friend, Susan and I, were left alone, while the guys went into town. We were screaming, as we heard something outside and held the flashlight to see a big racoon eating the melon I smashed earlier.

We just weren’t cut out for camping. On the way back, Sue and her boyfriend, had car trouble. Everyone was fighting.

Still, it was funny later to remember, our time in this little town. These became priceless memories. Especially years later, when my boyfriend had been killed in a car accident. I lost touch with most of our friends from this group, after that.

I did hear about our  friend, Robin. She  married Jim. Later, they split and she married his brother. She had a girl and named her, Carrie. I was so touched by this. I went to visit her and her little baby. We reminisced about our days, before responsibilities.

I do speak to Sue, on occasion. And I was happy to find out that Scott is now a man of great faith.  After our experience with the loss of John, we were all affected. We “put away childish things.” We lost many people and it was the Lord’s grace to protect us in our wildest times. But although, I am not unscathed by my foolish days, I am much stronger. And the friends I’ve had throughout my life, helped to weave the fabric of my being. I think we are all like, Jim’s blanket. We have our flaws. The holes in the protection.  But the friends, who are able to fill the gaps, keep us covered. And God’s grace, covers us all!

I had to laugh one day, when I met a girl at work. She told me her name was, Keri, and she was from Wisconsin. “I’m from Wisconsin!” I said. “What part are you from?” I asked. “Oh, you’ve never heard of it,” she said. “It’s way up north. A little town called, Minoqua.” I began to laugh, as I asked if they still had the little grocery store. I worried that she might say, her family owned it. I may have to pay for those eggs or watermelon. Of course, the statute of limitations, must have certainly worn off by now. But, thankfully, they didn’t own it.

Yes, as I look back,  I thank the Lord, for the good, and the bad. I thank Him, for my blanket of friends, that have kept me warm, when I was cold.

Eggs and beer! Breakfast of champions!