The radiant red ruby ring

I noticed it was missing right before we left for church on Sunday morning.

The ruby ring was a very special college graduation gift from my mother. It had a large rectangular radiant cut ruby with 4 small rubies and 8 tiny diamonds on a gold band. I wore it last to a Christmas party a week and a half before.

It was gone and another ring was put in its place. I searched the whole jewelry box, but it was still missing. Stolen, I believe, with a painful realization on the way to church. Paul, Luke, and I went to church while the rest of our families slept in. I was planning on going to a Christmas Eve service with the rest of the family at another church the next day.

The church service started out with Joy to the World, but I wasn’t feeling much joy in my world as the tears quietly slipped from my eyes. Someone stole my ring. When we got home, my nieces wanted to play detective and solve the mystery of the missing ring. They left to go home after lunch. I felt relieved when they left. It was hard to hold it all together. I felt very low and was rather snappy.

I wasted the day with my grief…grief over losing my ring, grief over losing my job. I felt like it was one of the worst Christmases ever. I knew it would be a hard week with my employment ending on Friday. I had planned on going to the gym on Monday and running 10 miles. I also planned on going to the candlelight Christmas Eve service. I woke up with swollen eyes and decided I wasn’t going to go anywhere. It wouldn’t have worked out anyway. Angel had a Christmas party with Dan’s family, Alex was with friends, and Arabella had to work. My kids were gone too.

Instead, I spent the day scouring the internet looking for my ring. I called a local pawn shop which was very helpful. I tried to get an idea of how valuable the ring is.

I checked all of my jewelry to see if anything else was missing. Nothing was. I checked all of my pockets on all of my pants and coats. I took everything out of my jewelry box. Did I misplace the ring? Maybe if I check everyday, then one day it will magically be there.

Who was at our house since it was gone? I counted 16 people outside of my immediate family. It could be anybody. At first we put a lot of blame on the boy with the face tattoo. He has been living with us off and on for the past 6 months, without incident though. We just don’t think it was him.

I also called the parent of one of Alex’s friends who was over. She admitted that her son tried to steal some of her jewelry. I think it might be him. As of yet, I haven’t filed a police report. I’m not sure what to do. I hate to cast blame on an innocent person. I just want my ring back. It was one of my most expensive and favorite pieces of jewelry. It was a special gift from my mother for a big accomplishment. So it had high sentimental value as well.

I don’t have any pictures of the ring. Big mistake, but you know what they say about hindsight. My mom has the original receipt with the description of the ring. I haven’t had the heart to tell her that it was stolen. She is so much more sentimental than I am. She just threw out my brother’s baby blanket a few years back and he is almost 40.

I feel stupid for not locking up my valuable items. Who would’ve thought that someone would go into my bedroom and take jewelry out of my jewelry box? I never had anything of any value stolen from me before.

I also visited a used jewelry store. I talked with them about my stolen ring. The next day I went back and bought myself another ruby ring. I also bought a lock box to store my valuable possessions in. I have to somehow let it go. I will probably never get it back. But I’m going to do everything I can to make sure this never happens again.

The wedding of my best friend’s son

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There is a time in your life when you get invited to a lot of weddings. For a long period of time, that time was over for me.

Last year the last of my friends turned 40. Last year the first of my friends started turning 50.

It’s strange, I’m starting to get invited to weddings again. This time for my friend’s children. Ted turned 50 this last week and ended the week with his 25 year old son getting married.

Ted and Cindy are very excited that their son choose a wonderful partner to marry. I suppose as parents you couldn’t ask for more.

The wedding itself was held outdoors in a garden. It was a little stressful because it was supposed to rain. We could hear thunder in the distance all morning. I worried that perhaps I missed the call that the wedding would be moved elsewhere. We were in the boonies with limited cell phone reception. We brought umbrellas, but didn’t end up needing them.

Despite the forecast, the wedding went without a hitch unless you count the bride and groom. The ceremony itself was short and sweet. The longest part of the wedding was the procession with somewhere around 10 couples that stood up. The pastor was a newly ordained friend of the groom. There wasn’t a sermon. We didn’t sit long enough to shift around on the hay bales.

That evening at the reception hall, I felt a little old. I was tired. I felt rather mopey. Cindy was having a great time and dragged me out on the dance floor. I made a conscious effort to get out there and have fun. We were at a wedding, a grand celebration of love. I am a marathon runner for crying out loud. I can’t be sitting around watching the young folks dance.

I knew their son since he was little.

I really wasn’t expecting to feel nostalgic. I wasn’t expecting that I would need to hold back tears as the bride walked down the aisle with her dad. I wasn’t expecting to have watery eyes thinking about kids growing up and leaving. I wasn’t expecting to feel pensive and sad on a very happy day. Emotions can be funny that way…

I’m not ready for this.

This was the first wedding of a close friend’s child. I didn’t expect that it would be so emotional.

I love weddings…

 

I didn’t hit a deer, but…

Can you believe that I live in Wisconsin and never hit a deer?? I probably shouldn’t have said that, now I am doomed..I remember as a kid riding up north with Aunt Grace. She always said, “I wonder if we will see a deer?” It never failed that one would pop out of the woods after those words were spoken.

I didn’t hit a deer this past month, but I almost got hit by a car while out running. I was very angry and it prompted me to rant on Facebook about running etiquette for drivers. Seriously! After that post, the people that know me have given me a wider berth and do a lot of waving.

I also was the victim of road rage. There was a guy at the stop sign across from me. He was going straight and I was turning left. I waited for awhile and he didn’t make a move, so I started to head into the intersection. It was at that point that he floored it around me. I slammed on my brakes while he accelerated squealing tires, literally burning rubber, and spewing up rocks that scarred my car and scared me.

In both situations, I didn’t have time to respond. I didn’t honk my horn, give them the finger, or get a good description of the vehicle.

Then I hit a raccoon. This wasn’t just an ordinary raccoon either. It was the size of a small horse or large dog. It looked like it had been hitting up the Halloween candy big time, like REALLY BIG time. It left the front end of my car hanging on the ground and me having to come up with lies, more lies, something I am not good at doing.

Why would I lie? The dark evening that I hit the raccoon, I was picking up my daughter from a car pool. Angel had a day off of school and wanted to come home to surprise everyone. Paul was out of town for business and would come home to see our daughter unexpectedly there. I was the only one that knew of these plans. So I had no explanation for being out that night when I said I was going to be home all evening.

So here I was with a smashed front end that ended up costing over $1,000 in damages. That kind of excitement was hard to mask during a quiet uneventful evening spent at home.

My daughter received a ride home from the mother of a girl that she used to be friends with. This girl almost dropped out of college because she thought that the music program was too competitive and blamed it on my daughter. So the 4 hour ride included glares from the mom and awkward silence.

But apparently the long, uncomfortable ride home was worth it for Angel to surprise the family. It was pretty exciting to see everyone’s reaction. It was the first time she was home since she left for college.

Yesterday, I got my car fixed. I never would’ve guessed that a raccoon could do so much damage. Afterwards, I took a little detour and wandered through the garage to watch the mechanics work on vehicles. I knew I shouldn’t have been there. I felt like I was sneaking through the surgical department, but no one kicked me out. In situations like those, it is always smart to play the dumb blonde card.

My little adventure did cost me though. I ended up going out the wrong door and spent the next half hour wandering around the huge parking lot looking for my car. Embarrassingly enough, I had to ask for help finding my vehicle. I thought I would have to buy a new vehicle from the lot to get back home. Hey, it was starting to get cold out.

Being in the garage gave me a brief second of nostalgia for the old family auto business. I love the smell of garages, gasoline, and rubber tires (not burning ones though). It brought back childhood memories of my grandma ringing up the antique till, the rows of tires for sale, and Uncle Harold working on the cars. That is all gone now.. They are all gone now..

I am such a sentimental sap.. I picture them forever working there in my head..They are breathing, living on a faded out film that continuously loops through my head..they always look the same and wear the same clothes..

What can I say? It makes me happy, yet so sad.

Anyway, my car is up and running now. Let’s just hope I don’t hit a deer!

 

 

Enjoying the present

I decided to not audition for the next community theater musical. 

Oh, I am not afraid of being on stage. I have many fears, but that is not one of them. I find public speaking and performing fascinating. 

I decided to give it up to watch Angel perform in her first college concert. She told me that she was going to be given solos that are only typically given to seniors. Watching your child perform is as exciting as performing yourself with a lot less work. 

I wish my grandma was alive to see her perform. Angel and I got my grandma’s voice. I feel very sad that I don’t have a recording of my grandma singing. With an 8th grade education, my grandma never had the opportunity to use her gift. She never sang in a choir or sang a solo in public, but she could’ve been an opera singer. She just sang to soothe her tired or crying grandchildren or in church with everyone else. The only thing she was able to do was to pass it on to future generations.

This past weekend, I was looking through old pictures with Arabella. She wanted to know who was holding her in a photo. She didn’t recognize my grandma. My children don’t know much about some of the most influential people in my life. My grandparents, Uncle Harold, and Aunt Grace shaped me into the person that I am today. 

This weekend we took the dock out of water up north. It is sad to say good-bye to the cabin until next May. My great-grandparents built the cabin in the 1950’s. What a gift! But after reflection I found that I didn’t know a lot about the giver.

I know small tidbits about my great-grandparents. Little facts, but nothing about who they really were. I know for a fact that I couldn’t pick out the pictures of all of my greats if they were in a lineup with other photos. I might have their nose, but not know them..

How soon we are forgotten. Time moves so fast. When I was a child, a day seemed long. Now a day is nothing. 

These have been my thoughts lately. 

I am so thankful for the gifts passed on to me, but so sad that I know nothing of the gift giver. It is a strange type of nostalgia. I don’t want their memory to fade like an old picture in an album. But I can’t seem to grasp onto them anymore.

Instead, I will enjoy the present…the gifts we have been given. 

There will always be another play. 

Something is fishy- 911, poison control, and other parenting mishaps

This morning while riding my bike, I thought of what I might write. I was so deep in thought that I almost hit a skunk. Of course, that would have been a very interesting story. The little stinker was two feet away in the ditch. It could’ve had a good shot at my legs if I would’ve screamed like I wanted to. Glad I avoided that bump in the road. Phew!

I was thinking about the time when Angel was a little girl. I had a friend over that had a little boy Angel’s age. The boy was a bit of a stinker. He still is as far as I know. They were playing quietly in the other room. That should have been the first indication that there was a problem.

When I entered the room, I noticed that they emptied a large container of fish food into the tank. I couldn’t even see the fish. A few of them died that day. It looked like a big tank of corn flakes that has been sitting in milk all day. It was a huge filthy mess. I spent the afternoon unexpectedly cleaning out the fish tank with my friend.

It made me think of other stories of fish tanks over the years. Like that time when my youngest aunt took her wild kids over to my cleaning freak uncle’s house. The kids were running wild and they knocked over the fish tank. They got kicked out of the house that day. It probably didn’t help that their parents laughed about it instead of offering to clean up the mess.

Then it brought me back to the time when I was a kid when our fish tank broke. We had our fish tank near a front door that was never used. One day my brother Luke came through the front door quickly. He flung the door open and the handle went straight through the fish tank breaking a hole in the glass. Water leaked all over the floor and was seeping into the basement which angered my dad.

I reached into the fish tank to save the fish cutting my arm on the broken glass. My dad grabbed me and threw me out of the house while swearing at me. It was a very painful moment in my life. I was just trying to save the fish.

As I was riding, I realized that a majority of my most remembered childhood memories are tragic. There is a little drawer in my mind where they are stored. They never change but are starting to fade away. The strange part is that all of the emotions that go along with those tragic events are stored in a different drawer. That drawer is locked, sometimes I can open the drawer and sometimes I cannot. I don’t seem to have control over whether the key works. Mainly, I want the door to remain locked with the key hidden away. Writing about these things sometimes unlocks the door. I can see why people don’t want to think or write about such things.

Then I spent some time pouring over other painful memories. Still no emotions at all. Nothing. Then I thought for awhile if there were any good memories in there from my childhood. Any at all?? Then I thought of all of the evenings that my mom would take us on walks to visit my grandparents and Aunt Grace whom lived nearby. Those were the best memories. I remembered the comfort, quiet, and peacefulness of their houses. I remembered visiting with them talking about nothing of importance. Those memories are tinged with emotion, more of a nostalgia that my grandparents and Aunt Grace are all gone now.

Then I put my bike and thoughts away, took a shower, and headed to work..

 

Grace uncommon, part 8

Aunt Grace was way ahead of her times. Aunt Grace was the Vice President of the local bank.

Aunt Grace earned what would be equivalent of an Associate Degree in Business in a time when most young ladies like my grandma only received an 8th grade education. She loved money and finance. She was most likely the richest woman in our small town. But she was never greedy. There once was a bank employee whose husband left her with several kids at home. One day an anonymous letter arrived at the bank with money in it for that woman. We all knew it was Aunt Grace because that was the kind of thing she would do. Another family had a tragedy where their house burned down. Aunt Grace took the children shopping to buy them new winter coats and clothes.

When it was our birthday, she would give us $50 in an envelope marked love always, Aunt Grace. At Halloween, she didn’t give out candy. She gave out rolls of nickels and dimes. At Christmas, we all received $10 worth of McDonald’s gift cards. If she ever gave someone a gift, she would wrap it in the comics section of the newspaper. Grace herself was a miser, it was sad to see how destitute she lived when she could afford to take better care of herself. Her washer didn’t wring out her clothes and her dryer took 2 hours to dry a load of clothes. Her clothes were old and worn. I didn’t find out how cheap she lived until I stayed with her at the end.

Grace worked as a bookkeeper for the family business. She also worked at the local bank. When I was a young girl, she was the VP of the bank. She would give me suckers and take me into her private office. She was so excited, she wanted to be President of the bank but women just didn’t do that in her day. Everybody knew her and respected her.

She always told me that I could do anything that a man could do. She went to a conference and brought a duffle bag back for me that read never underestimate the power of a woman. She was very upset that I didn’t go to college for business.

There were some things though that she thought that women shouldn’t do. She frowned upon me hanging out in the garage with the men. I didn’t hear the end of it if I went in there with shorts on. I loved the smell of rubber from the tires that were on sale there and even the scent of gasoline brought me comfort. But I never even learned basic things about cars.

One day while I was in college, I had car trouble. It happened on the day of a snow storm. I flooded my car. Today things are so easy, I step on the brake and push a button to start my car. Back then, I had to push the gas pedal to the floor once. Then while I had the key in the ignition I had to pump the gas to get the car to start. The day of the storm, I flooded my car. I knew that there was a way to pop open my hood and pull up on something to ease this problem, but I didn’t know how. I ran back inside to find a pay phone to call my grandpa who spent his whole life as a mechanic. It was all a fool’s errand because all I needed to do was pop the hood and about 10 guys offered assistance. I miss calling Grace or my grandparents for guidance. Now somehow I am supposed to be an adult with all of the answers. 

Last night all of these memories came back to me like a flood. Stupid things. Silly things. I felt overwhelmed by nostalgia, a longing for my loved ones long gone. I asked myself why I seem to be so plagued by these memories. Then I reminded myself that I opened the door by thinking and writing of these things. I feel very compelled to write everything that happened down so someday it won’t be forgotten. While I was studying genealogy, I searched to understand, to really know, the people that came before me. All I found were names and dates scratched on a piece of paper. It really meant nothing. Aunt Grace kept our family geneaology. The funny thing was that after she was gone I continued it for her. But with the internet and all of modern technology, I did not get any further than she did.

My childhood has been gone for a long time now. Now the childhood years of my children are coming to an end. It has been a difficult transition for me. I struggle with accepting change, even if it is for the better.

I have to keep writing.

 

Grace uncommon, part 2

Aunt Grace only wore navy blue. She was a part of the Navy military reserves (WAVES) in WWII.

Aunt Grace, like me, was a firstborn with three younger brothers. They were also close in age like I am with my brothers. When her brothers all joined the military in WWII, Aunt Grace joined too. She joined in a time that it was uncommon and perhaps frowned upon for women to serve. But that never stopped Aunt Grace. She was patriotic down to the core.

She decorated her house with a nautical theme. She loved lighthouses, anchors, and anything with the Navy emblem on it. Strange enough, however, I have never seen her swim or ride on a boat.

Aunt Grace was proud of her time in the military. She bought everything that she could having to do with the WAVES. She bought mugs, shirts, and any military novels she could get her hands on. She wrote letters to the women that she served with, but I never had the chance to meet them.

When it was time for the WAVES 45th reunion, it was in our area so I went along. I was very young so I don’t remember a lot of the speakers or the meal. I just remember Grace smiling a lot as she drank her coffee. She bought us all reunion shirts. My grandma went out to eat one time wearing that shirt and a stranger paid for her meal with the note attached saying thanks for serving our country. My grandma never served, it was all Aunt Grace.

Over time, the WAVES group grew smaller and smaller. After Aunt Grace and her brothers passed away, my parents donated their uniforms to the local historical society. I never told her that I was proud of her, I was too young at the time to understand. I can’t remember ever meeting any other women of her time that served. When at events that veterans were asked to stand to acknowledge their service, Aunt Grace was always the only woman in the room that stood up.

Aunt Grace was uncommon.

 

 

Living on video

Today I saw my whole life pass before my eyes. No, I didn’t have a near death experience. I sat and watched my past fly by in fast forward as I was sitting with someone going through the old family videos. I started the project of converting those old videos onto hard drive.

I saw my grandma today. It was just a fleeting glimpse. She was living on video, beautiful and younger than my parents are now. Someday I will see her again. Until then, I will have to be satified seeing her at birthdays, concerts, and weddings living on video.