Hello readers! This is the second in a series of introductions. Did you remember I promised (way back in August) to introduce you to some of the regular blog readers/commenters ? The first one was Laurie Buchanan. The second guest blog is written by my friend Susan–someone I actually know from our community–who lives across the Keweenaw Bay. Please warmly welcome my dear friend. I am still shaking my head that she shared our death story!! (For any of you who are worried–we are both doing fine. All that laughter healed us.)
It was a dark and stormy night. Really. Born in a blizzard on a Monday night, in Frankfort, Michigan, 60 ½ years ago, I’ve since lived in the following states, in this order: Lower Michigan, Florida, Connecticut, Florida, Virginia, Texas, California, and Upper Michigan. No, I wasn’t a military brat; just the daughter of brilliant, zany parents (okay, Dad liked to drink) who liked to move a lot. I caught the gypsy-spirit and drinking genes, but managed to stay put at times for the sake of my twin daughters. Four years ago, I stuffed what fit into my car, sold the rest, bade farewell to CA, after 28 years, and arrived in the U.P. Why? One of my twins married a Yooper, who is never leaving the Yoop, and grandchildren appeared.
Finding employment poses problems in our otherwise lovely area. After a lifetime of working mainly in teaching and counseling, I found myself in a different social service position: clerking and stocking at Family Dollar. The stocking part was fun (I love organizing)! However, I’m no good at the register, and got hollered at for being too slow.
Here’s one of my life assessment tools: Observe how people treat clerks and wait staff. Based on whether or not they are kind to these hard-working folks, I sometimes eliminate friends and men from my life. Nothing brings out the true nature of humans more than the ways in which they interact with and treat so-called “peripheral people.” Conversely, the same can be said of how people treat their most significant others. Try using this barometer for gauging people’s authentic selves. It’s amazingly accurate!
I’m getting to how I met Kathy, I promise. A position opened up at Arvon School, where Kathy is the Business Manager, and where my daughter was teaching, at the time. Thanks to her and to the lovely principal, I got the job. At first, Kathy thought I was quiet and reserved, and I thought that she looked quiet and reserved. HA – On both counts! If asked to pick one thing that birthed our friendship, I’d say it’s joy. Kathy’s very present during conversation and sharing. However, during our most serious of exchanges, we erupt in laughter over a turn of phrase or a facial expression, or nothing. Let me give you a sampling:
Some months ago, Kathy and I went on a short hike, followed by a fish dinner. Over the tasty fare, Kathy mentioned – with some hesitation – that she had the strangest sense that she might be dying. She spoke of unexplained body pain and a haunting sense that the end was near. My immediate reaction was acute relief. I’d been feeling the same way. Odd body pain in addition to questions about being unexpectedly unemployed had me wondering if God was giving me time for “good-byes” and final amends-making. Neither Kathy nor I had uttered a word to anyone else about these thoughts. Perhaps five minutes passed as we shared our thoughts, including potential preparation plans for our families. Suddenly, laughter! Gut-wrenching guffaws echoed throughout the restaurant, punctuated by more serious talk, interrupted again by laughter. Laughter that continued on the drive home – slamming-on-the-brakes kind of laughter! Now, I ask you: Is there anything sweeter than this kind of friendship?
Kathy was delighted when I confessed to her that I often laugh at her blog posts. Her use of language is original and frequently tickles my funny bone. Both of my daughters also find Kathy funny and entertaining. I think a lot of you do, too! Here is a good place to tell you how much I enjoy getting to know you all, through reading your comments to Kathy. What a wonderful on-line community of friends you’ve become to me!
What else do I want you to know about me?
– I love football. Growing up in a rural part of Florida in the 50s and 60s, liking football was a requirement for residency. As a cheerleader, I learned the rudiments of the game when I discovered that guys really liked cute chicks who knew their football and wore short skirts. At the University of Florida, I was a Gators fan and remain one for life.
– If you’ve ever seen the movie A Beautiful Mind, you’ve met my ex-husband, who is still the love of my life. He was a brilliant PhD chemist with bi-polar disorder. When our daughters were almost five, and a year after our divorce, he committed suicide. Those incredible daughters are the biggest blessings of my life! And they look like their dad.
– I gave up drinking 22 years ago and believe that alcoholism is a disease and is hereditary. I still smoke. Ouch. Don’t throw rotten tomatoes at me.
– I don’t like Tupperware parties, candle parties, showers (bridal or baby), or phones.
– I love fishing, swimming, hiking, gardening, cold snowy weather, book stores and hardware stores.
– I am a poet, and I love to sing and strum my guitar.
– I attract and get along well with teenagers. The more troubled, the better. What does that tell you about me?
Currently unemployed and seeking, I anticipate what’s next? At an age when slowing down ought to be on the horizon, food, shelter and staying close to family and my grandkids (one of each) top the list. Blessings, despite hardship and often in the forms of hardship, have followed me up to this point. Why would I expect anything less from this amazing life? Spending some time with you on this gorgeous autumn day has been delicious. Thank you for coming along. And, thank you, Kathy, for asking ….