Getting My Full Attention

After one year of marriage and living in California we moved back to the Cincinnati area. Bob had decided not to pursue Medical School, but to go for a degree in Medical Technology. At that time you needed 4 years of college, 1 year of training and then licensing before you could do in-house hospital work. The University of Cincinnati took all of their Med Tech students from their college enrollment. He searched further afield and found a Med Tech school in Lexington Kentucky.

When we were wed Bob made me promise we would not have kids until we were married 5 years. I reluctantly agreed. I have always loved babies. For the first 5 years it seemed that all I saw were pregnant ladies and newborn babies. Finally in Lexington we ‘got pregnant.’

On my due date my mother insisted on visiting us in Lexington. I told her the obstetrician was certain nothing would happen on that date, but she was determined. She came with a Styrofoam cooler of food. She wanted to go shopping. I could barely fit my belly behind her steering wheel to drive.

That night she died in her sleep. (Cerebral hemorrhage ran in her family.) Sadly, I found her the next morning. Bob checked for a pulse and we knew she was gone. It was quite shocking.

Shortly after Bob determined that indeed Mom was dead, I heard her voice repeating, “God works in mysterious ways.” She often said this. I believe she took the saying from a hymn by William Cowper written about 1774 and carried in most Protestant hymnals.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Within an hour of finding my mother dead I told Bob that in some ways it was such a relief. She had been determined to buy a playpen. She said when we came to visit in Cincinnati she would keep the baby and we could go out. I knew I could never let that happen and was going to find a way to tell her so that very weekend. My mother had some sort of personality disorder thing. It was not just the alcoholism. She would be fine, go in the bathroom and when she emerged have this distinct other personality. She was not in the bathroom long enough to get drunk. I would never have felt safe leaving my infant with her.

So, I never had to tell her something that I feared might kill her. I did have to raise my children without their Grandmother around.

The Lord has indeed led and guide me through my years. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Here is a contemporary version of the hymn with a few added lines.

So Off I Went

Finally off to college and the world of learning, lust and various forms of sin. I participated in quite a few of those. After one year at college I ran out of money. People were telling me I could eat peanut butter and get a degree with debt at the end, or I could go to work. I chose to go to work.

Got an apartment, full time job as a key punch operator and was on my own. My mother was calling me every day. When she was questioning me one day about where I had been the night before I had quite enough. She had called. I was asleep and never heard the phone. This was way before answering machines. My boyfriend had left for California. I started contemplating moving there to help Mom cut the apron strings. Found out I could have a job as a nanny if I wanted it.

Soon I was off to California to work full time as a nanny to a Chinese family. There was not much sign of Christian life in me at the time, though I had kept my prayer book and Bible. I went into somewhat of a depression trying to reconcile what had happened to my life in Cincinnati. The niece I never knew was put up for adoption immediately upon birth. My family was splintered.

Peet’s Coffee

The best part of Berkeley California was I worked across the street from Peet’s coffee shop. They roasted coffee every day. What a glorious aroma!! After a few months I broke up with the boyfriend. Eventually I changed jobs and went to work at AAA as a touring counselor. It was fun. I even waited on Ray Kroc once, the owner of McDonald’s. I thought he was teasing me about being the owner.

While enjoying the park one Saturday I met a young man named Don William. He introduced me to his roommate, Bob. Bob was only coming to their shared apartment on weekends. He lived in Fremont with his family of origin during the week because he worked with his dad even further south near San Jose. It was literally love at first sight.

We met in July, got engaged in August and married in September. We only waited until September so the people from Ohio could get there. I knew I wanted to be married in the eyes of the church as well as the state. So we began prenuptial meetings with a priest in Oakland. The priest agreed to do our wedding out of doors at Live Oak park in Berkeley. He just wanted assurance that we planned to wear clothes! It was 1970 and a bit wild in Berkeley those days. I chose the park because I knew God was much larger than any church building.

I had a gown I had purchased for $30 from a used clothing store and had altered for $30 to fit me. Bob wore the jacket his mother had purchased at a yard sale for his high school dances. We made all the plans we could before my mother arrived from Ohio.

Bob waiting for me.

It wasn’t until five years later that the Lord got my full attention.

As we now approach our 51st wedding anniversary, I am amazed at the joys we have shared over the years. We have supported each other in times of sorrow and difficulty, too. God has been so good to us. We are forever grateful to Him.

Lucky Dog

I often take Lucky out into the front yard and brush her. And brush her. and brush her. This beagle seems to shed huge amounts constantly.

The other thing she really likes is a good massage. I told her she was in for a treat when she met Dan and Betty last week for the first time. They do not just pet a dog. They massage!

Three handed massage!!

(An aside: Oh look! Bob and Molly have hung a picture in the new house!!)

We do not have a guest room in this new house. After Dan and Betty went to their motel room every evening I would get out the vacuum and clean up the beagle shed. I kept the pet hair roller next to Betty’s place on the sofa.

You can see in this photo that Lucky turned around for a Dan massage. Sadly, Dan likely has dog hair in his eye.

Lucky has seemed sad the last couple days as Dan and Betty are no longer visiting here, but continuing their tour of Ohio to see their son and Grandson and Greats.

I am sad, too. I miss them terribly. The four of us are great friends and have even done ministry together over the years. So unusual. They are much more like family than friends! I believe the four of us could live together comfortably!

Focus or Observation?

Focus is defined as the main or central point of something, especially of attention or interest. Over 45 years ago Bob and I were driving around Kentucky. As usual he was taking photos. After he snapped the one below I commented, “Oh I can’t wait to see how that horse comes out!” He responded, “What horse?”

I said, “Why the horse in the barn!”

“I didn’t see any horse,” he said.

“Didn’t you see the galvanized tub hanging out the side of the barn for the horse to drink from?” I asked.

“No. I just took a photo of the barn!”

As we drove on down the road I said, “Well, when you develop and print those photos you will see the horse. I thought it made the picture special.”

Amazing how people can look at the very same thing and see totally different items. Was it focus or observation? Now fifty years into the marriage we continue to focus and observe different things even when we are in the very same setting. I find that continuously amazing!

One of Our Favorite Songs

Years ago we had both kids in college. Bob had promised to take me to Paris for our anniversary, never dreaming we’d be strapped for money due to college bills. We had heard this song and I told him he had to take me to Paris, Kentucky since we could not afford to go to Paris, France. And He did!

Bob still has the song on his You Tube Music and other playlists. A little crude, but it makes me giggle with the memory! When you have been married 50+ years, you gather this stuff! We remember the music of John Prine fondly. Hope it makes you laugh!

Saying Goodbye

When we moved here 15 years ago we named the house “Treetops.” The driveway and front entrance are on the street level. The yard slopes down sharply so that the walkout and basement level and actually a story down. The upper story windows are almost level with the treetops. With the sloping yard it has always seemed larger than the dimensions.

After the backyard slope there is a small drainage ditch. Then our yard slopes up rather sharply and is covered with woods. We have enjoyed watching the seasons change and the wildlife that populate the woods, especially the birds.

Our new house is on a tiny level lot. The neighbors behind us have a sprinkling of trees. Kitchen, dining room and bedroom windows have the view there. Our windows on each side of the house look at the siding of the houses to our left and right. The office windows look out on the street. This will be a major change!!

So many major changes in store. I have been grieving the loss of this lovely home. And that grief is healthy. This has been a gorgeous place to live. We simply cannot do those stairs to the basement any longer.

One day this week our son gave me his Christmas gift to me. He dug up a few plants for us to take with us to the new house. They will not go in the ground until we get some sort of planting beds. At this point we are uncertain if we will even have sod before we move!

As Jeff dug, I walked around consoling myself that next year I can easily purchase pink bleeding heart and lily of the valley. See we have spent the last 15 years enjoying and improving our flower beds here. Funny, one rationale for moving 15 years ago was I could no longer take care of the flower beds because of arthritis. My husband and I spent 15 years making new flower beds here. I am shaking my head, “Go figure!” Guess as long as there is a spot to grow things I am unlikely to learn not to garden!

We will move to a little green house on Platform Street. What a place to launch last era of life! Fooling around with trying to think in haiku (to me, sparse words to contain broad thoughts) I recently wrote:

Loved living in treetops
Spring mornings I grieve
Packin' I land on the ground
Lot 49, soon to be 27 Platform Street!
Gloomy day, but the rock work is done!

We are so blessed I am at a loss for words.

Humor

Since we began looking at moving, buying a house with laundry on the first floor, and finally realizing we would have to build to get that – my greatest fear has been what if one of us dies before we move in? With the pandemic and both of us health compromised it was not an outrageous fear. Now that we are both immunized and within 3 weeks of moving I have begun to breath much easier.

I was on YouTube looking to identify the sparrow in the tree outside the office when I came across this joke. It is SO fitting for our age and situation, though I do not play golf.

Too many sparrows and none recorded with the song I am hearing, but laughter is BEST and I think God approves!!

Even to your old age and gray hairs

    I am He, I am He who will sustain you.

I have made you and I will carry you;

    I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

Isaiah 46:4 NIV

Ireland 2011

We traveled to Ireland to celebrate my belated 60th birthday. When we went walking the first morning my ears immediately perked up to the lambs in the distance. They were crying and as they did it pierced my heart. I could not help but remember that I am under the care of the Great Shepherd, no matter what continent or island I am walking upon.

In the Old Testament God is called the Shepherd of His people.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters
” Psalm 23:1-2

In the New Testament Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd in John 10:11.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

As we meandered through the lanes of Glendalough I could tell by the cries we were getting closer and closer to the lamb. Then we turned a corner and there it was! Bob caught this tremendous photo of it on the hillside. There were other ewes and lambs around it.

r m dutina

Right after he snapped the photo I busted out the laughing as the lamb sneezed, and then rolled a bit down the hillside. What a sense of humor my God has!

Humor

So I have had back pain flair up since mid-September. Recently I had an epidural to try to bring the pain under control. While recovering one of the ways my husband has been helping me is to remind me not to try to bend down to get things off the floor. He is willing to help me and do that for me. It has amazed me how MANY things I drop in any given day!

Recently I was wrapping gifts in basement while he also worked on basement items. At first I was angered by the following incident and then I just busted out laughing!!

Yes, the wrapping paper roll dropped off the table and literally rolled across the floor! We have got to keep finding humor where ever we can! No I won’t tell you who the gift is for! But I do like that the floor mat next to the incident declares winter JOY!

And then …

When we first arrived in Colorado, Bob had taught the family how to drive the mule and the ATVs. They especially liked those ATVs! One evening Bob was going out into the meadow with Emily and Ellie on the ATVs. He really wanted me to go as his passenger. So I agreed and off we went. Through the meadow and the hard to open gate, on to the next meadow.

So we were tooling around the meadow, taking in the sights and even doing selfies! So unlike us old folks.

We came to a gully-ditch. Emily got off their ATV and guided Ellie how to drive through it. We came over and they assured Bob that he, too, could drive through it. As the passenger, I never even saw the thing. After Emily gave Bob instructions everyone began hollering at me to “HOLD ON!!!” There is a steel bar that runs around the passenger area of the ATV. I suppose it is designed to tie down cargo, but also provides hand holds for a passenger. So I held on and Bob drove into the ditch. Little did I know I was about to join the Camp Grenada group.

As he drove down the black bar I was holding to came up and banged me in both elbows. I instinctively let go. At which point I proceeded to get a whiplash from my groin to top of my head. We made it to the other side. I was not thrown off the ATV. I cried in pain, shock and surprise at being hurt. I composed myself after a couple minutes and we continued. We reached another gully as we headed for home. As they debated how to cross I insisted Bob just let me off! I began to walk for home.

They got across that gully and I got back on. We made it home. Both my elbows turned dark purple. The ATV had hit my back across the bottom of my shoulder blades and along my lower back. Lots of pain that night. Went to bed with pillows under both elbows, neck and any other place that hurt.

I moved very slowly the next day and the day after that. I missed posts here the last few weeks because of doctor appointments, x-rays, physical therapy and finally an MRI. Determination is I have more arthritis in my spine than previously. As far as anyone can tell nothing is broken. Bone bruises on elbows may take a long time to go away. No results on MRI yet. From what I have read whiplash can also take a long time to heal. Oy! soft tissue, please heal.

So our Camp Grenada experience continued. One friend said it sounded like a bad movie. But you know what? It was a beautiful place. We were so grateful to be able to take family and friends there. We likely can never go back because of breathing difficulties. Overall, it was a grand way to celebrate 50 years of marriage. Betty is finally out of the boot and did not have to have surgery for her broken ankle. Bob;s wounds are all healed up. We think his knee is not torn again. Time will tell!

My dear friend, Betty, remembered this saying and I will adopt it for myself.

“Growing old gracefully means letting go of the things you can no longer do and rejoicing in the things you can still do.”

Ah! Grandeur of Yellow Ponderosa Pine right outside your window!

 It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;  to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night.  For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.  How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep!

Psalm 92:1-2,4-5 (NRSV)