12/27/2008

A New Day


I wrote a blog a few weeks back about a twenty dollar bill I received in the mail. This came from my birth mother, Margie Ketterman of Michigan this year as a belated birthday gift. The story has touched the heart strings of many as it seemed to touch a chord in those that read it of relationships that, perhaps, needed mending. Or perhaps validation? Or maybe just another simple sign of I love you.

My brother’s favorite saying for years was “Life is about choices we make, we must accept responsibility for those choices.” My mother made a choice to not be involved in my life the day she left my father. She did attempt to stay in contact but it was sporadic for years. At times, non existent. She had her own issues to deal with and somehow I got left standing out in the cold with the feeling that my birth mother did not care about me. I have felt for years she did not deserve to have a relationship with me either. She made a choice to step out and leave me and not support me in any fashion. Therefore, why should I put any energy into a relationship with her? She is not what most would consider ‘mother material.”

As I have aged and endured the long treatment of cancer, my attitude has changed. It is important to dissect our past and learn from it. It is still vital we accept responsibility for the decisions we make with our life but there is also a time to let go of our past and live for today. My decision to send the twenty dollar bill blog to my mother was to say “I have forgiven you and still embrace you in my heart in love. I recognize you love me as much as you can and I do not fault you for not being the mother I wanted.” This was healing to us both.

This Christmas morning, we spoke for the first time in literally years on the phone. The dialogue began like two strangers and quickly, the time and the distance evaporated. We became who we are, mother and daughter, full of wonder about the other, full of sadness for what we missed out on and grateful for the moment. Isn’t that was Christmas is really about, the moment. The moment Jesus was born, our world changed forever. The “I love you and always have” my mother and I shared this Christmas will forever change us both.

May you create many moments like this in your life in 2009!

12/18/2008

Women to Women: 10 Traits of Best Female Friends




10 – A good friend is loyal. She stands by your side when others walk away.

9- A good friend has a wonderful sense of humor, she can take it as well as she can give it. She knows not to take herself too seriously ..or you!

8-She is trustworthy. When you say “Don’t tell anyone” you just know, even if you didn’t say it, she wouldn’t. She guards your words like her own.

7-A good friend pumps you up, gives you encouragement to be all that you can be. She also knows how to take a compliment when you give her one. She knows the importance of this also; taking positive reinforcement is important and lets the giver feel blessed you took it!

6-She knows how to shop. Good female friends shop together, this is a given. Like men bond on the golf course, women bond at the mall, at a good clothing store like nothing else!

5-She puts time into the relationship, not taking it for granted. Even with the hustle and bustle of life, she makes you one of her priorities in life so you stay connected. You mutually share your lives.

4-A good friend is like a good marriage partner, they grow with you. The experiences that shape you shape her as well.

3-A good friend is honest. When you ask her opinion, she freely gives it. She handles her honesty with respect but values the relationship too much to just tell you what you want to hear.

2-A good friend practices good communication skills. She listens, attentively, responds accordingly and shares the gamut of the conversation. She does not need to constantly be the center of the conversation or the talker.

1- A good friend knows how to love another woman, like a sister loves a sister, unconditionally and accepts you, the good, the bad and the ugly. She knows that God is seen thru those around us and feels her friendship with you is another side of the face of God.

Blessed are those of us with a good female friend or two in our lives. Truly God is somersaulting in heaven with delight in our joy!

12/14/2008

The Love of a Good ------ Dog!



All over the country, shouts of “Hello, I am home” sends four footed doggies, tails wagging and behinds swiveling left to right, running to their owners. This is the highlight of their day!

In this day and age of hustle and bustle, it is hard to find a friend, the kind that listens with intensity, and does not interrupt. Dogs seem to be the exception. Many dogs tilt their head to ensure the sound waves are redirected so they don’t miss a beat of what their owners are saying. You can say your deepest darkest secrets and know they will not be revealed. You will not be judged, and at the end of your recanting your dastardly deeds, your pet will proudly lick your face for bearing all. It is a validation of the courage you have shown your four legged friend! Dogs make the best listeners. If nobody listens to you, you either need to evaluate the content and delivery of your message, or get a dog.

Buddies are an affirmation of your worth. As my one friend tells me, our dog loves to drink (small amounts!) of beer. When my husband needs a break from the rest of the world and the family drama, he can be found out in the backyard ,grilling out, beer in hand and just chilling with the family dog! These are moments that show how the simplicity of life are truly memorable. As I listened to her recant these memories, her face was full of love and laughter. I saw a twinkle in her eye as if she was picturing it from the distance. Her dog is her husband’s drinking buddy and it keeps him safe, home and content!

My old high school chum has had dysfunction in her life for many years. All that emotional scarring has long healed. She is now fulfilled, living with the man she should have married the first time, and busy as ever between work, sharing her life with her husband and their two children. Did I mention, both are four legged? Yep, the dogs are the center of attention frequently and bring so much joy to their happy union.

I reconnected a few months ago with a dear friend recently divorced. She has gone thru two divorces in a relatively short time. The one stable element in her life is her dog, a beautiful golden retriever that is as loyal today as when her and her first husband brought her home to their apartment. She told me that, through it all, not only was the love of her family a strength provider during tough times but her dog let her know that she will always be there. This dog is so loyal and caring. If she cries, the dog licks away her tears and reminds her she is blessed.

My pet, a beloved Labrador retriever found a lump in my breast which turned out to be breast cancer in the fall of 2007. He rammed his head into my chest, when I bent over to pet him; on the right side so hard it bruised my skin on the outside. This bruising forced me to feel and examine my breast closer to see if the tissue was damaged. When I did that, I noticed a large size mass. This turned out to be cancer. When the malignant tumor was removed, my surgeon told me the tumor matched up identically to the shape of the bruising and the placement of it on the outside of my chest where Charley had plowed into me. To this day, the surgeon credits my dog for saving my life. I had aggressive cancer and with out Charley’s sensing something was wrong there, I might not have life left to spend time reflecting. Note: Charley cannot be used in place of mammograms.

I met a man a few months ago. He lived alone, was quite poor and never left his house. His wife passed away a few years back and his life has never been the same as they shared a profound deep love and over thirty years of marital bliss. When I met him, he was as happy as a lark. Why? Because the one thing him and his wife shared was the love a small mutt and that mutt, to this day, sits on the center of the old man’s lap every day faithfully. As the old man watches his favorite TV programs him and his deceased wife use to share, the dog is diligent in being near his master. The dog relieves this man’s loneliness and reminds him that a piece of his wife will always be with him. And, the dog shares in this man’s sense of loss. That can be so healing, to have someone who can relate to your emotional loss. Hence, he is a happy man, full of smiles and joys to interact with those that care to come into his home. His dog is happy also as they have each other!

When you see a stray dog, call the Animal Control. These are God’s creatures too and they do not deserve to suffer an untimely painful death by starvation or being hit by a car to lie dying on the roadside. Someone might need them in their life. Dogs can be a blessing. Give them a chance. They may be the best friend you ever make!

12/10/2008

A Single Twenty Dollar Bill


A lot of years went by with no dialogue between the two. Many years had passed since they had seen each other, hugged each other or even made eye contact. Their relationship, whatever it was, however you defined it, was a thing of the past.

These two, mother and daughter, shared very little memories. There was a faint glimpse of laughter at a hotel during a weekend visit to town, a memory of a home shared where the two had resided in many moons ago and a connection via the usual exchanged cards, birthday and Christmas. Mother’s Days have came and went with a simple card mailed that said “Thinking of you with love.” There was even a phone call here and there made, with a gasp of surprise on either end to know they were, all these years later, connected, the bond somehow not totally broken.

Choices were made by the mother that led her life in a new direction, one that did not include her daughter. Choices were made by the daughter that excluded having the mother a part of her life, a part of her joys and her sorrows. She found others to confide in, to offer solace and to share memories of life with. These two lived, as if on separate continents but yet knew, in side, the bond of mother and daughter is never really broken. The years had been unkind to them both in many of the same ways and in different ways. But they both knew, in spite of it, their prayers were always inclusive of the other.

This mother grew up poor in money and rich in laughter. The daughter grew up much richer in money and short on laughter. Both had abusive husband experiences, hurt feelings from children disappointments, and health issues. Both shared vulnerability towards life and a sensitivity that lead to hurt feelings and wondering why life had dealt such a hard hand to them.

Then there was a twenty that is a twenty dollar bill in the mail. It was carefully tucked and folded inside of a birthday card that read ‘To daughter with love.” And this birthday, indeed, was special; it was one year out from a cancer diagnosis. This birthday left this daughter feeling grateful she was alive.

Cards had poured in the entire year from a mom besot with sadness that her daughter was going thru such a tough battle and she was powerless to do anything but say I love you in cards and letters to her daughter and remind her that she continued to pray for her healing from this battle. No phone calls were exchanged between the two, just an occasional update thru others to say ‘Your mom had more heart problems’ and a ‘Your daughter is quite sick from chemo.’

But that all changed, that day the twenty dollar bill came. It was a huge sacrifice from the mother to send that kind of money to her daughter, the one she had not seen in well over 37 years. She lived in a one bedroom apartment and struggled to make ends meet. In the midst of all this, she took and gathered up enough money to send her daughter that money with a note that said how very proud she was her daughter had fought the battle and won. It spoke in very few words of the love she felt brimming over for her daughter. Her daughter knew that day unlike every before; she was blessed indeed with a mother that loved her beyond words. She knew the twenty dollar bill would never ever be forgotten. It had arrived late because the mother had to wait to get paid to come up with the money. She told her daughter she wanted this birthday to be the most special one in her life. It was, because of this mother. It represented a token of her mother’s love. It proved without a shadow of a doubt that no number of years could take away the bond this mother and this daughter shared.