This past week I have been asked to help two of my grandchildren with their family trees. They are in the first and second grades and have reports due about their heritage. My granddaughter interviewed me and asked questions about what it was like when I was her age. She was so surprised when I told her I had to wear dresses to school – no pants were allowed. I walked to school without supervision, carried a metal lunchbox and backpacks were unheard of. She thought that was pretty crazy.
I have this old steamer trunk in my garage that belonged to my parents. My husband drug it out to see if it contained some facts that might help the kids with their reports. This old trunk was hauled across the Atlantic Ocean by my own grandparents when they came to America in the early 1900’s. They came by boat from Edinburgh, Scotland. They settled in Atlanta, Georgia where my mom was born. My grandfather left his family when my mother was three and she never saw him again. My grandmother died in her mid thirties when my mother was just thirteen. I often wondered what they were like.
In this trunk I found pictures of them, old letters and cards. Memorabilia engraved with their name, McCulloch. I found old dolls made of wooden legs and arms, handmade doll and baby clothes. I found my mom’s ice skates from when she later lived near Cleveland, Ohio, and skated on Lake Erie. Beaded purses, bibles with hinges and a mans shirt – maybe my grandfathers? I will never know.
What I do know, is that Charles and Mary McCulloch were my grandparents, born in the late 1800’s, who immigrated from Scotland and gave me my mother. I’m thinking of restoring this old steamer trunk, preserving it and passing it along to the next generation.
We all have roots, something to cherish.
Years ago I remember receiving a letter from my aunt. I had sent her some pictures of our busy life with kids and described to her how hectic our weekends were with three boys in little league. Seems like we were gone all day on Saturdays, running from one game to another. My husband was either coaching, managing a team or filling in as umpire. I either kept score, served as team mom or minded the snack bar. And of course there were practices in between, not to mention our jobs and school. When baseball season ended, there was basketball and golf in between. As with most families, our plates were full.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed at times, I hung on to the words in my aunt’s letter. She had written, “You will miss this one day. These are the BEST years of your life.”
Today my grown children all have families of their own. They are the ones juggling work, and school and all that comes with raising kids. I hear all about karate, ski lessons, soccer, gymnasctics, swimming, and dance class. I love getting pictures of my grandchildren in their uniforms and beaming smiles. Sports is serious business and they all take such pride in their activities. As they keep their parents, my own children busy and on the go, I want to tell them, just like my aunt, “you will miss this one day, these really are the BEST years of your life!”
One year ago yesterday I said goodbye to my beloved Maggie. I couldn’t believe I was losing her. And the day she had to be put down was my birthday of all days. Two days prior I had taken her to the vet thinking she was just constipated from a new medication she was on for arthritis. It was a beautiful day as she hung her head out of the car window, in the breeze, enjoying what would turn out to be her last car ride. A song came on the radio that would become “our song.” It was Christina Perri’s hit, “A Thousand Years.”
Maggie was my dream dog. My first yellow lab that was given to me as a Christmas gift from all five of my children. The lyrics to this song just seemed to express my love for her. I had waited a long time for this breed of puppy and she was the love of my life. Wherever I went, Maggie was by my side.
As it turned out, my sweet girl had cancer that had engulfed her entire colon and the vet told me there was really no hope. I remember sitting in the office with her in shock. “Are you kidding me?” She was only supposed to be constipated. I left her there so they could run a few tests because I wanted to be absolutely sure there really was no hope. I cried all the way home as the lyrics of “our song” played, in my head.
“I have died every day waiting for you… darlin’ don’t be afraid… all along I believed I would find you, time has brought your heart to me…”
March 12, 2013 was a beautiful Spring day as my husband and I drove back to the vet to hold and be with our beloved girl on her journey to rainbow bridge. She was sedated, outiside on a blanket on their peaceful patio. As soon as she heard our voices, she whimpered letting us know she knew we were there. We petted her and hugged her and told her what a great dog she had been. She looked at us as if she truly knew how very much we loved her.
Maggie, I will never forget you – every time I hear “our song” I think of you. “I have loved you for a thousand years, I will love you for a thousand more.” And I just know ALL dogs go to heaven.
Last night I found out that someone who made a real impact on my life had passed. I had met this man in 1961 when I was 10 years old. He was going door to door in our community letting people know that he was new in town. He was a pastor and wanted to start a church in our neighborhood. He didn’t yet have a building but invited us to attend services in his garage around the corner.
My brother was outside that day playing basketball on the driveway. As this nice man was heading to the house next door, he shot a couple of hoops himself and left with a great big grin and a giant wave. He had rather sizeable hands and a very warm smile.
Our family decided to try this new “church” around the corner, in his garage. We sat on folding chairs. There were not a lot of people those first few Sundays, but as time passed, our little congregation grew and spilled out onto his driveway. There was something about this man… he just made you feel good!
Eventually we got a building, a church name and had a full congregation every week. There was Sunday school, a youth group, and adult and children’s choirs.
Years later, I went away to college and left my home town. My parents still attended this church and kept in touch with this wonderful man long after he had retired. He had become more than a pastor, he was a true and loving friend.
There would be many pastors that followed but no one could ever replace him. There was just something about this man with the big hands and the warm smile. He made everyone feel good.
As my parents aged, I moved back to the area to care for them and started going to church again where my former pastor still attended. Mom was too ill to go anymore but Dad and I went every Sunday. Mom had asked him several years before that she wanted him and only him to conduct her memorial service when the time came. Well, the time came and he did and I wouldnt have wanted it any other way. As Dad became less and less mobile, he came to our home, prayed with us and helped my dad prepare for his own journey to his eternal home. And of course, he would be there to conduct Dad’s service too.
Today I have been tearful and sad. A man I had met on my driveway, going door to door, waving and smiling and shooting hoops, is gone. The man with the big hands, the warm smile and the most loving heart. I will never forget you Reverend Evers… you will always be the man who made everyone feel good.