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Entries in Mom (3)


An Early Morning Visit...A Christmas Story




Christmas morning, early, I wake up and think of you.  I lay in bed remembering our Christmas mornings together. In all the days of the year, this is the day I miss you most.  We would quietly creep down the stairs and I would put the coffee pot on for you and Jim and make tea for myself.  I remember you still, sitting at the kitchen table in your red bathrobe, hair a bit funky, whose isn't when they first wake up, legs crossed, your pink pajama's peeking out as if to say hello, a look of excitement on your face that was not there any other morning of the year.  The feeling in the kitchen was one of great expectation, even in the silence that we were experiencing at the moment. The kids had not woken yet and so we waited.  You lived not five minutes away from us for the last 15 years of your life, yet each Christmas eve you would sleep over. It was something we started when Chris was a baby and he didn't even know who Santa Claus was, but you came, and you stayed each year except for last Christmas.  I look back now and wonder who was more excited, your or the kids.  Growing up we didn't have much. No gifts or toys during the year, nonew clothes except at the begninning of the school year.  We just didn't have the money but somehow, each Christmas a miracle came to be, and Santa always came to us.  I don't know how you did it but you were a big believer in the Christmas mircle and you always made it happen.  So it was not surprising to me to see you excited when I had my own kids and Christmas once again became your joy.  Not so much because of the gifts, but because of the excitement and laughter of the day.  Your gift was my kids and when those little ones finally got up, you would move from the kitchen into the living room, always sitting in the red chair, with a dog tucked in beside you and just watched.  It was like you turned into a kid again yourself.  You had presents to open each Christmas morning also but you never opened them until later in the day when the entire family came. Christmas morning at my house was reserved for just being in the Santa moment, with the kids.  Finally, when all the gifts for them were open and they had come to you to show you a special toy and you made plans with how you both would spend time with gift.  Then after a million kisses and hugs, they would talk you into opening your stocking. I have never, until this day, seen anyone take so long to open a stocking. They stood by your side as you reached in and pulled each little item out. You would study it and tell them how much you loved it and when you were going to use, read, or smell it.  Chocolate at the bottom was your favorite gift in that big old stocking and as neatly as you unpacked it, you repacked it to take home with you. The kids loved that you were there.  You made Christmas morning special.

So as the sun was rising, we were talking, about all the things that Mom's and daughter's share on a quiet early Christmas morning...what the day will bring, who will come, comparing one year to the next.  How fast the kids are growing...then all of a sudden the silence is broken...little feet, sweet baby voices, calling from upstairs...Nana did Santa come yet.  You yelled back, yes "yes he did and you better get down here quick"...and they would come running, the smiles were priceless the excitement un-containable as they greeted us with wow's and "this is just what I wanted" all this confusion Jim would work his way down the stairs, but you didn't notice as you just joined in the fun.

As I look back, those were priceless years, how fortunate Chris and Jenna were to have you celebrate each Christmas morning with them.  To sleep over with them, in their beds and tell them the stories of Santa and how one year you told Chris that Santa and the reindeer were up on the roof and he believed you.  I laugh about it now but if you said it, it must be true and who knows, maybe it did happen that way.  Chris believed and that made it magical.

So, now I go to Jenna's each Christmas morning.  No, I don't sleep over but I do get there before the boys wake up.  It's an early morning call but no worries, I'm awake and ready.  We drive over in the dark, again only five mintues, it just occurs to me the similarity of the distances between our houses, first my Mom's to mine and now mine to Jenna's.  Jenna and I sit and talk like my Mom and I did, we work around the kitchen, sharing the same excitement as we wait for the boys to get up.  Last year we had to wake Jaxson but this year he should be up much earlier.  Then after hugs and kisses and a few photo's, I will take my place on the brown couch and watch the boys, as my Mom watched mine and the joy goes generation to the next.

I find it pretty amazing how sometimes these thoughts come into my head so early in the morning.  I find I do my best writing when I am in bed either falling asleep or just waking up.  I think my mind is working when I'm resting but I also think that in those quiet, pre-conscience moments, is really when our love ones visit.  Yes, I do believe that's true and what better time for my Mom to come clearly into my mind and heart than on Christmas eve morning...reminding me that she is close as we once again witness the Magic and Miracle of Christmas in the eyes and the hearts of the "little ones".


The Kiss...Part 2


Once upon a time there was a young girl with a big love for her Navy man...but so many obstacles stood  in her  way.  Once upon a time stories, are usually fairy tales, but not this time.  That young, pretty girl, found her courage and stood her ground against all the forces that were against her, all the people that would have tried to persuade her not to go...but instead she followed her heart, across this country,  at what expense I do not know. Not only did she go and find her man, she married him.  That brave girl was my Mom and if you read the original blog post of the Kiss, you will be familiar with why part 2 in necessary.

I came across the beginning of the story after finding the above photo in my Father's belongings after he died. A few years after that I had taken a trip to San Diego and saw the statue of the Kiss.  I read the placque and saw the dates and at that moment I knew that those were the times my Mom and Dad would have been involved with each other but I didn't know the story of their marriage, although I did know it was in when the photo's emerged I started my journey to follow my Mom and try to recreate, as best I could, her journey to reach her man.  All I had was a photo, my aunt who filled me in a bit and the internet to get me started. Without these photo's I would still not know of my Mother's journey both figuratively and personally.

The very first thing I did was look up St. Benedict's church, Seattle Washington.  Amazingly it was there. I made a phone call to be sure that it was still a parish church, it was and I wrote down the address...and then I added Seattle Washington to my bucket list.  Two weeks ago, with that photo in hand and my Father's date of  March 1945 on the back, a phone number for the church...Jim and I were on our way.  It was a surreal experience for me..because my Mom never shared this part of her journey with any of us kids...and I was feeling sad about that...but off I went.



We arrived in Seattle Washington after two long years of waiting and it couldn't have been more beautiful..after checking into our hotel..I was eager to get off to finish this journey both for me and for my Mom.  On a tree lined, neighborhood street, with the color of fall and sunlight all around me , we found our destination, St. Benedict's church. I was both nervous and excited to see what I would discover.  The first thing was that the church looked nothing like the church in my photo and my heart skipped a beat thinking I was to late.  I'm not sure I would have handled that very well.  Instead what I found was the school...that school matched my photo.  Well, I was happy for that bit.  Next we were shown to the office of the Administrative Assistant and I do believe God had a hand in my finding her, and this is where I learned of my parents marriage...when Becky pulled out the old, very large, record book I was holding my breath that their names would not be in there.  They were, but surprisingly enough..they were married on February 2, 1945, not in March as my Father had dated the photo..we were able to find out about their baptism's and also who stood up for them. It turns out they were friends of my Dad's.. I felt like I had come home in some small way.  Their presence was very strong that day and at the that time in particular...Becky,and another lovely lady and I talked of what that journey would have been like and how my Mom could even have gotten married there because she was not Catholic.  I had always thought she was married in that church but they were most likely married in the Pastor's office or another room..she would not have been allowed to marry in the church santuary at that time...and one last grandfather, whom we always knew as Alfred was not Alfred at all but William...but I'm not going to chase that mystery.

I came a long way to find the roots of my Mother and Father...and I felt good about knowing that some stories I heard were not true and that they really just wanted to be with photo in hand Jim and I went and stood where they stood, the same way that they stood because they wanted to show those naysayers that yes, indeed they were married.  So their rings were the focus of that original photograph. The building was the same..but a bench was added and the Mass sign was removed when the new church was built...but we stand in their spot...finally.

I sat for awhile on that bench and I thought of my Mother's journey...and I felt so sad for her...she had no one to support her, to be with her as she wed the love of her life...and although my parents did divorce much later, I do believe they had that one love that we are all hoping for.  She traveled during war time, most likey on a train for many days..a young, beautiful woman alone. It was a bittersweet moment for me, in the coming to be in her spot...almost like I was telling her I wish I could have been there for her..cheering her on for her bravery and knowing her own mind...making her own dreams come true...I even wish that many years later she could have shared this with me, trusting that I would have understood her need to go.  I do believe that back in those many things were so private...but I'm thinking that if she were to see this post it would set her free, just as it sets me free now.  It also gives me a much better understanding of those time and a what a truly strong woman she Becky and I were pondering this journey and I was questioning my Mom's coming and then the eventual divorce...Becky said to me..."she came because she loved your Dad...that's all you really need to know...she loved him".. And that is my take away from this trip...Once upon a time...a young girl headed west...and many years later her daughter found her.


Two months after retirement 
my father is here, to get away 
from 6 A.M. and his cup 
of empty destination. 

At a football game we huddle 
under his umbrella
talking about the obvious. 
He brings me coffee 
to hold warm between my hands, 
a gift of no occasion. 

When we rise for the anthem 
I hear the rusty crack of his voice 
for the first time maybe ever. 

Thirty-three years of coughing 
thick factory air, of drifting to sleep 
through the heavy ring of machinery, 
of twelve-hour days. In my sleep 
I felt the cold bump of his late-night kiss.

I shiver in the rain 
as my father sings me 
what now I hear as 
a children's song. I lean into him, 
the umbrella and rain my excuse, 
my shoulder against his, 
and I imagine my mother 
falling in love.


"A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it." Virginia Woolf.

Two notes...a special thank you to Becky Ortiz from St. Benedict's for her help in researching this marriage and also a thank you to the other girl who took us around and told of stories of those days and how it might have been...I am so sorry I didn't get her name...

Finally...check out my Mom's cool are glad she had them.  Probably why I'm like I am...


The Kiss

 There are some that say that today we give away kisses so freely.   I suppose in some ways "they" are right. Years ago hugs and kisses were reserved for family and very special friends.   They had a deeper meaning than the sometimes superfical ones that we share today.  In San Diego recently I came across the statue of "The Kiss".  I had not been aware of this real life event before and I must admit that it touched me deeply and on many levels.   It got me to thinking about my parents and the times in which they fell in love.   In a time when men where hero's,  fighting in wars and coming home with a warm welcome of thanks and pride.   Today seemed like the perfect day to post this amazing statue that tells of the ending of World War 11.


“Unconditional Surrender,” a 25-foot, 6,000 pound statue by world-renowned artist J. Seward Johnson commemorating a famous World War II photo was unveiled Feb. 10 at Mole Park in San Diego. Unconditional Surrender is a three-dimensional interpretation of a photo taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt of a Sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square, New York City on Aug. 14, 1945, following the announcement of V-J Day.Edith Shain, the nurse memorialized in Eisenstaedt’s photo, and members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Inc., attended the ceremony along with hundreds of San Diego residents.“This statue brings back so many memories of peace, love and happiness,” said Shain. “There is so much romance in the statue; it gives such a feeling of hope to all who look at it.”“During the moment of the kiss I don’t remember much, it happened so fast and it happened at the perfect time. I didn’t even look at the Sailor who was kissing me,” Shain continued. “I closed my eyes and enjoyed the moment like any woman would have done.” Sailors attending the ceremony had the opportunity to meet the woman pictured in the photograph famous throughout the Navy community, and the world.“This sculpture represents hope and freedom,” said Quartermaster Seaman Hannah R. Salyer, PCU Green Bay (LPD-20).

Today also seems like the perfect day to share the story of my Mom and Dad and how those days must have been for them.   My mom was never a big talker so when I saw this "Kiss" I started thinking of their early days together.   After much thought I came to the conclusion that my Mom and Dad must have felt exactly like this couple at this very time.

 When I got home from San Diego I remembered a small photo that I had of my parents marriage.   It kept nagging at me as I tried to put together the dates of that statue.   Finally I was able to find the photo.  It was taken in Seattle Washington in March of 1945...My Dad had marked the back of the photo.   It was a photo of my Dad in his Navy uniform, with my Mom standing next to him,  outside of St. Benedict's church.   They had just gotten married.   You see, my Mom, went by herself, to meet my Dad who was stationed in Seattle Washington.   She was 18 years old,  not a traveler, and I'm sure she had a limited income.   This was 5 months before World War 11 ended.   How in love they must have been for her to make such a long journey, at such a young age, alone and in a time of war.  The reason for the journey, most likely by train, all the way across the country,  was because they eloped.  It's an amazing journey in so many ways.   I wish that they could have shared that time with us.  In the yesteryears of my life we did not get to hear of that trip.  Love was private and so were the stories.  

As I look back, knowing more about how it might have been,  I am amazed at my Mom's courage to make that trip.  I know it could not have been easy for her.   My Grandmother ruled with an iron hand and I'm sure she must not have been happy about my Mom's going.   A young woman alone,  on a train full of who know's what kind of people,  well shame on you is what I hear.   My Mom was beautiful her entire life and I'm sure that was also another concern while traveling in war time.   Those trains could be full of service men just waiting for a young pretty lady.   Then money,  where would she get the money,  not from my Grandmother or Grandfather for sure.  They would have held back thinking she couldn't come up with the funds so then she wouldn't be able to go.  Way back then my Mom knew what she wanted and she went and got it.   I wish we had shared her journey.   In the end though the journey speaks for itself doesn't it.   Love conquers all.

Memorial Day is a day to honor all the men and women who have died for our freedom,  for our country.   I have always been proud of my Dad for serving his entire life.   He went in as a young man,  probably 17 years old. Tried other jobs along the way but always before his time-lapsed he would re-up and go off again. My Mom's one brave trip to marry him was all she took. We were a military family but not a traveling family. That can create problems in a marriage and ultimately my parents divorced.    I am sure though that in 1945 when a young girl traveled across American to seek her love, her Navy man,  that the kiss they shared upon arrival was as passionate and loving as the one in the statue.  My brother was born 10 months later in December 1945.   War would not keep them apart.   In the end, life did.   In my heart though, I know that with all the pain and suffering that went on at home during my growing up years,  my parents loved each other their entire life.   I think we all have one great love and no matter where life takes us the memory of that Kiss stays with us forever.

To all who fought the good fight of Love and War...Happy Memorial Day.