Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Walk With My Son

    No high  dollar adventures, small pleasures suit me fine,  like today when my son, Gavin  came upstairs and said he was going for a walk and asked if I'd like to go with him. It took me less than a second to say yes. I quickly changed my shoes and off we went down the old rock road. Our dog , Maggie doodle trailing happily behind.


    The sky overhead a beautiful blue, the  April sun warm against our still   wintery, pale white skin. I thought about long ago years, that don't seem so long ago,  when my son and I spent hours together sharing, and playing with Fisher-Price  Litte People , Disney characters,   and Ninja Turtles. Throwing the ball back and forth.  Reading books and coloring books. 

    Gavin is no longer a little boy , and has his own view of a grown up world , busy with life and work and love,  but  happy am I  on our afternoon walk as  he tells me about his  hopes and scope of future dreams.  I listen , and my heart smiles as  he talks of possibility and  his goals to achieve.



Friday, March 7, 2014

The Lovely Mrs. Wagner

     Some people we meet at a very young age, and their influence leaves a lasting impression throughout our life. I'm blessed to have many such people in my life,  and think of one person now who is very dear to me. It  was 1957 and I was  in second  grade  when I met Mrs. Wagner. My mother had arranged  for me to  ride   to school with the Wagner's.

  The Wagner children , including daughter , Susan attended  Zion Lutheran, while I went to St.Rose of Lima on the opposite corner.  Over the years , Susan and I would become best of friends and share many adventures and momentous times together.

   But at that first meeting, I was a kid who didn't much like being away from my mother and dad, or familiar folks and was a little shy to be riding to school with people  I didn't know. It was Mrs. Wagner's  kindliness and happy  smile that helped me feel secure, and welcome. March 10th, Mrs. Wagner will be celebrating her 99th birthday, and  her smile is the  same great smile  I remember from long ago - a joyful, happy smile that still makes me feel secure and welcome, and  makes me want to smile, too !

    While Susan and I got a ride to school with her parents, we would often walk home. I must say, a walk much easier for me than for Susan as she suffered with Leg Perthes and had to walk with metal crutches and a brace strapped  around her waist until she was ten years old. In my youthful innocence, I'm not sure I really understood Susan's challenge, but am happy to say,  intuitively , I knew  Susan had to walk at a slower stride , and so  never tried to outpace her, but always walked by her side.  Well, until we got into high school, and Susan had the fastest time around the track !

     At night Mr. and Mrs. Wagner set up an apparatus to keep Susan from putting any weight on her foot and  used a 5lb. bag of sugar as a pulley to keep her foot suspended in air. Susan remembers her parents never complained about that chore they did night after night, and says  watching the care her mom and dad so lovingly gave, helped shape how she cares for her own children and grandchildren;  and   how her  difficulties at such a young age molded her determination, competitive  spirit  and can do personality.

       Throughout our teenage years, Susan and I were always at each others house - I don't think a day  went by we didn't see each other or talk on the phone.  One afternoon while at Susan's, Mrs. Wagner was  gently  reprimanding  her older brother, Terry for neglecting a chore. I remember Terry picked up a broom , danced around the room, saying  in a teasing, light hearted  way, "Here, Mom! Go ahead,  take it , and give me swat". Mrs. Wagner got the giggles , and we all started to laugh. It was an endearing moment, and one that has stuck with me all these years. The last time I visited with Mrs. Wagner, a year or so ago,  I shared that memory with her, and she got the giggles all over again.
        I don't recall seeing Mrs. Wagner ever wear slacks or capri pants, only dresses , like Mrs. Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver.  Even when she drove Susan and I to the beach after our 9th grade graduation , she wore a summer dress. Her example of how women should look and live, and conduct themselves  was a positive role model to all of us young gals.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Wagner lived their faith by example - Mr. Wagner owned Don's Hamburgers  on the corner  of Heliotrope and Randolph. My mother, brother and I lived across the street.

    One Saturday evening  when mom stopped in for hamburgers for us, Mr. Wagner  added 3 vanilla malts. Mom, looked surprised, and told Mr. Wagner she only ordered hamburgers. At that time  Mom was on a pretty strict budget, and the malts would have been an extravagance.  Mr. Wagner told her, " You just take these home to Kathy and Walt, Mrs. Cooney, it'll make their hamburger taste better, and add a little calcium for their bones".  My mother has  never forgot that kindness, and said it is one she has tried to immolate.

       Don and  Neoma Wagner were married in 1944, and together raised five children -  Don (Mike), Terrence, Susan, Pamela, and Reid - all  of which I'm privileged to have  known.  Mr. Wagner passed away at age 67, and eldest son, Mike,  two years ago.  The Wagner's were, and are a wonderful family.  And as anchor and guide, their dear  mother, Mrs. Wagner!,  who leaves  a  legacy of wisdom and joy,  deep faith in  our Lord and  Savior,  Jesus Christ,  and love - not only to her children, but also her grandchildren and great-grandchildren - and to all, like me,  who have been graced by her goodness.

                          Happy Birthday, Mrs. Wagner !














Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Winter Camp

     One of my favorite memories growing up is going to  summer camp. I was a member of Junior Catholic Daughters - an organization similar to Girl Scouts and Camp Fire, and many of us looked forward to making the 75 mile bus ride from  Maywood to Wrightwood, California to spend a week at Camp Teresita Pines.  I can still picture the metal bunkbeds  in our cabin, and screen windows - they looked a lot like the camp cabins in the classic Disney movie, Parent Trap.

     All week long we swam, did crafts, played games; went on an overnight hike where campers cooked hamburgers wrapped in tinfoil in a hole in the ground, and attended daily Mass  at what looked like an outdoor amphitheater; We played a lot of volleyball,  sang around the campfire every night, and visited the camp store every afternoon.  I still remember counselors, Miss Sue and Miss Pat, and how I teased Miss Sue by continually calling her Sappy Sue. She took it all in good stride though,  and retaliated by calling  me Looney Cooney.

     For most of us our camp experience ends when we reach our teen years ,  and what remains of that special time is only a memory.  That's one reason I looked forward to  Winter Camp.  To make a new camp memory! Although , not the same place or same season, and definetely not the same age ,  it was fun to gather with a group of women who cherish their own camp experience as much as I did.
   I first met these ladies , who call themselves The Goldens when we paddled the shores of Lake Coeur d Alene last September for PaddleFest . Our 104 mile journey around the lake was  a fund raiser for Camp Sweyolakan in Mica Bay to help bring attention to the camp's unique legacy and present day financial needs. It's the camp these women, now in their 60's attended when they were Camp Fire Girls ,  and later served as camp  counselors.                                              
     Hearing their stories about camp, and the bond they share made me wish I had been a Camp Fire Girl, too. Several months ago while at a pot luck dinner for the paddlers, I was delighted when Mitch presented me with Honor Beads. Each color represents a particular achievement, i.e. Brown - Outdoors, red-Sports and Games, green - Creative Arts, and so on. They are called Camp Fire honors because when you have done any one of these successfully, you have the honor of wearing a bead. I was proud to wear mine at Winter Camp !
     It was a great couple days, too !  We  played marathon games of Progressive Rummy and Mexican Train, did some bird watching - even saw a magnificent Eagle glide slowly across Scottie's deck to perch in a nearby pine tree. Some of us  enjoyed a cold, snowy night sitting outside in the Hot Tub.  Huck gave instruction about Tatting, and shared pictures of her talented work. Cooking was no problem as we divided into teams of three, and took turns preparing Brunch and dinner - all the meals were wonderful ! Including,  Miss Jonny's  best ever Blueberry Waffles with her specialty, homemade Blueberry syrup.

     I happily learned during PaddleFest, singing camp songs play a very rich and important part of the Sweyolakan tradition, so was pleased at Winter Camp we continued that tradition by singing the blessing before each meal.

    What's fun  is the Goldens still call each other by their camp  (counselor) names - Huck, Scottie , Mitch, Miss Margie,  Miss Jonny, Miss Kari, MoJo. These women ,  most of whom are now retired had successful careers, raised families and continue to be active with Camp Fire and Sweyolakan.

     I admire loyalty. Perhaps that's another reason I like The Goldens, not only are they loyal  to Camp Sweyolakan, but are loyal to one another.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Angry Wind

The wind blew angry
all through the night
whipping through trees
like hurricane waves
slapping hard against
a sandy shore, reminding me
of my own angry mood
when I lose my temper
or feel misunderstood
The churlish sound
constant and loud
like the night of
the dead on
All Hallow's Eve
pounding my head -
while  quiet sleep
escapes my realm
Oh! How I long
for soft lullaby
of gentle breeze
and whispering pines
to sooth my soul

Monday, January 27, 2014

Old Log Swing in January

Here's  the  old log swing
where I sit and gaze
at the dark blue water
of Lake Coeur d Alene
and its shadowy shoreline
in the distance
to contemplate life
and its living and loving
and goodness and giving
throughout the ages;
Its magnificence
and beauty
even on this cold, bleak
January day