Dress De-Coding

We went to church. Then, we kept going to church. For the most part, I enjoyed it. I found similarities in prayers and biblical stories. When I skipped over the Jesus part, the sermon always had some good message. Once a month, I remembered I was an interloping fish out water. Communion stressed me out.

Staying seated in a small-ish church was an obvious choice. Despite the invisible but unmistakable arrow of non-belief over my head, greetings were sincerely cordial. “Just wait ‘til they find out,” I’d think to myself, running an uneducated scenario in my head. It was easy to envision stone-faced, blank-wall welcome-retraction.

I noticed while most members sported Sunday clothes, a few regularly did not. It seemed Jeff and I were over-dressed, based on the attire of other attendees in our age range. So, I asked him about the dress code. “I know,” Jeff said. “I just can’t wear jeans to church. It doesn’t seem right. I’d be uncomfortable. I think it’s kinda disrespectful.” Then, as usual, he gave me a choice in the matter by adding, “… but, you can, if you want to.”

I thought about and reached the same conclusion. I would never have worn jeans to a Friday night service. Without ever having done it, or been given the opportunity to, I instinctively felt I’d be uncomfortable, anyway. Dressing up with Jeff made the day feel more special. Sunday mornings became our version of date night. Over brunch we’d talk about the sermon and religion and the store, and whatever else came up. 

Pretty much unfailingly, following “Go in Peace,” Jeff would sort of hopefully ask, “Wanna go to coffee-hour?” At my request or rather my denial, coffee hour was a no-go. Because that would mean socializing, and that would mean questions. One day, Jeff told me he’d really like to go to coffee hour someday, just for a little bit. I explained I was dreading the day when someone would ask me why I don’t participate. “I mean,” I explained, with a double wrist wave  “I’m sure they’ve already figured it out, but…”

“Nah…” Jeff shrugged. “… they probably think you’re Catholic.”

Quote for the Week:

2018 02 13 we choose our clothes to reflect our attitude jakorte

 

 

 

 

Memorable

The first time we went to church, Jeff was reluctant to ask if anyone knew our caller. I’m not sure why. When I asked about it, he just said, “Next time.” I didn’t push it, because, well, I wasn’t the reason we were there.

The second time we went, I encouraged him to ask. Jeff said, “Ok.” He slid down the pew to ask a woman he sort-of knew. He remembered her name from years ago, as a friend of Nannee. Surprisingly, she remembered Jeff quite well, and enveloped him in a back-slapping hug.

It was surprising, to me, at the time. You’d think after about the 100th time someone he hadn’t seen in 30-40 years recognized him, remembered him and was happy to see him – that I wouldn’t be astonished.

I never got used to it, certainly never expected it. It happened a lot. Like the time Jeff and I were standing in line to pay at the food auction. When we were just a few people back from cashing out, Jeff left me to pay while he went to get the car. The woman behind me tapped me on the should and asked, “Is that Jeff?” I confirmed and she lit up with a huge smile. “I was his teacher!” As she told me he was such a nice young man, I was picturing a junior high connection.

When Jeff came back in to load up our purchases, he was greeted with a hug. He explained that she was one of his early grade-school teachers.  (3rd grade, maybe?) That surprised me because I’m sure he was a little shorter and had a lesser amount of facial hair at that age. I’d never seen him sans mustache ad beard, and momentarily wondered if I’d recognize him at first glance without them. 

The final recognition surprise came a few days after Jeff passed. I received a phone call from the coroner’s office. It was the medical examiner offering personal condolences with the explanation that he had been Jeff’s pediatrician when Jeff was very young. He wanted me to know that he remembered Jeff very well and fondly, too.

Thinking about it now, so many people saw something in Jeff that could easily be dismissed as recognition; but I think what they were really remembering was his never-changing soul.

(And the fact that his laugh was so distinct, someone an aisle over in the grocery store would rush around the corner and exclaim, “I knew it HAD to be YOU!” Happened. More than once.)

Quote for the Week:

2018 02 06 faces are easily recognizable jakorte

Bonus School Photo Collage (a gift, compiled by my niece):

Jeff school photo collage 20180206_190706~2

 

Called

I answered the call because Jeff was busy cooking, and said, “Hey, could you get it? Please?”

He also added that he didn’t want dinner to burn, which added a little extra unspoken urgency as to why I should. I don’t like answering the phone. Never have. Teenage girls on phones for hours? Not me. Music for hours was my choice.

I don’t like talking on the phone. My timing is always off. I adore text even though it sometimes takes me a good ten minutes to write out what could have been said in three. Phone calls also require you and the person you are planning to talk to be available at the exact same moment.

Anyway, the point is – I didn’t often answer our phone. The guy with the gift of gab usually handled that.

But, that night, I acquiesced. Because, dinner.

Everything that followed “Hello” was a bit awkward and odd. I was told upfront that I was talking to a complete stranger who was offering kindness and support. I wasn’t clear why and I had no idea what to do with this situation, but Jeff was unavailable and so I listened.

She introduced herself as some sort of committee member of Tecumseh United Methodist Church. She was just checking on us after our most recent loss; said she was just seeing if we needed anything, offering her support, extending an invitation to visit the church.

We talked for a few minutes, or rather she talked. I said, “Oh,” “Ok’” and “Thank you” a lot. Then she asked if she could call us back in a few weeks, just to see how we were doing. I thought it’d seem kind of rude to say no, so I said, “Sure.”

When I hung up, Jeff asked me who it was. “I don’t know her name, but…” I started. (although I 100% believe she must have told me when she introduced herself, I’d found the whole thing befuddling)  “… she’s from… the church,” I finished, referring to the church where Sally’s funeral had been.

“Well, what’d she want?”

“Um,” I said. “Something about a committee that checks on people after someone dies and wanted to know if we were doing ok.”

Jeff listened intently to my sketchy, scattered bits of recall, nodding his head like everything I was saying made perfect sense to him.

“Hmm,” he said, with an accepting nod. “Supper’s done.”

Quote for the Week:

2018 01 23 There seem to have been more leaps of faith jakorte

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Phone: Pro

Phone: Con

Phone: 1990 Argument that caller ID invades privacy

 

The Intersection

This is still not easy for me to accept, but I need to. I keep banging my head against the same brick wall. I am the Queen of the Love Concussion.

I keep flinging my heart against the same rough-hewn timbers, surprised again and again, as it slides and shreds, again and again.

Where parched ground meets life liquid, mud of my own making crawls along seeking holes to sink into.

If you keep watering the flood, it’s never going to dry. I know this.

I need to allow those crevices to solidify; to harden, flush with the surface.

On that note, I guess it’s time to start going where I’ve been meaning to go.

This is where I was headed when ‘A Year of Memories’ was born, September 2015. Except, we’re now 2 plus years in, and finally in the spot.

This is the Intersection.

The most important part of our saga: how we began a too short, but blessedly new and renewed life together.

It’s complex, but the launch was simple:

I answered the phone….

Quote for the Week:

2018 01 16 if we keep watering the flood jakorte

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Story: Goal

Story: Timing

Story: Write It (even if no one see it but you.)

Legacy (Intermission 2)

I was pretty sure there wasn’t a name for it, but I went looking, anyway. Because, you know, Google. I’m often a bit too wordy in my searches, which always brings some sketchy results. I hopefully clicked on the search box and full-sentence typed in, “What do you call a biography about 2 people?”

The answer seems to be “Legacy Writing,” according to Dr. Andrew Weil.

‘Legacy’ though, is a multi-layered word, with an extreme spectrum. Summarizing from MacMillan, I’ll skip to the applicable parts:

Something that someone has achieved that continues to exist after they stop working or die.  

The principle that a thing which exists as a result of something that happened in the past can later be used in a different way

If I were to legacy, it would be for my thought. My style isn’t emulation oriented, except in the sense that it may easily be surpassed.

My grammar is not perfect: I allow myself sprawling loose liberties. My notes are not void of typographical errors, run-on sentences or devoid of undocumentable words.

Tuesday night writer’s fatigue often effects my error sharpness. Unlike my unguarded uncanny tendency to immediately zone in on the one menu misspelling at nearly every restaurant I’ve taken a seat in. My own weekly Knabble document review often self-relays what I meant to say and not necessarily how I typed it.

My messages cay be murky. I muddle through them, too.  I think I’m pretty good at casting an issue without aim or allude. This a humbly self-examinatory conclusion drawn on revsited archives. It’s quite clear I always have a point, but I’ve noticed I’m not always sure why I felt compelled to make it. (If I ever get to the end of this story, I’ll amuse us by republishing.)

The truth is the more I muddle, the less I understand. The less I understand, and the more I struggle. There are countless times I’ve heard this command: Be still and know that I am God. When I can stop thrashing, my muddy storm waters eventually settle. Maybe, when my deeper streams clear, I will be able to return and clarify.

I’m pretty sure having a writing obligation to anyone other than myself would not be met with enthusiasm. I don’t know that I could be placidly accepting of rejections intimating I do not have an amazingly wide-reaching professional talent.

I would rather continue to be a familiar folk artist, engaging in wide-open irregular keystrokes, portraying only the patterns in my life which might help you make sense of yours.

Quote for the Week:

2017 06 20 to share and encourage and enlighten requires love jakorte 06 18 2017

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Love Isn’t Love (Til You Give It Away)

Per Oscar Hammerstein: The Sound of Music: I spent an hour searching for a male version of this song. Frank Sinatra is the voice in my head with the added word ‘baby’ Couldn’t find it, but this is an interesting story of how the lyric made it into the play but not to the soundtrack.  16 Going on 17 (Love isn’t Love Til You Give it Away)

Per Reba McIntyre:  very similar, liberties, perhaps: love isn’t love (Til You Give It Away)

Per Michael W. Smith: different and a great message:  Give It Away

 

Broth – no ‘el’

Nannee went back and forth a few times, but eventually settled into an extended stay with us.

That was precipitated by a very bad flu. She had terrible coughing fits, trouble keeping anything down, and was reluctant to eat. Through badgering, I finally got Nannee to agree to try some beef broth and crackers.

When I brought them to her, she looked up at me tiredly and apologized ‘for being such a burden.’ “You shouldn’t be taking care of me,” she said. “You should be doing what young people do…”

“What do young people do?” I laughed, as I set down the tray. “Nannee,” I told her. “We want you here with us. The only time we feel you’re safe is when you’re here.”

What I meant was if she was with us, we weren’t worrying about her at home alone. It didn’t come out that way, of course. She distastefully screwed up her face, looked at me sidewise, and said she was going to rest.

“Ok,” I replied, backing out, well aware I’d managed to insult her again. This time by inferring she was incompetent and couldn’t take care of herself.

I didn’t get a chance to explain it all to Jeff when he came home because he stopped in Nannee’s room first.

After a while, he came into the kitchen and gave me a look of complete unfathomableness.

“Why,” he asked, extending his arm and thrusting out his pointer finger, “did you tell Nannee the only time we have sex is when she’s here?”

“That’s not what I said!” I protested.  “What I said was – the only time we feel you’re safe is when you’re here!”

Jeff let out an uproarious laugh. Then, the doorbell rang. Pastor David had come to give Nannee communion at her request. Jeff ushered him into the guest room and within 30 seconds, I heard more uproarious laughter coming from that end of the house.

Of course, I was mortified. First, because I would have never said what she thought I said. Second, because now the pastor was in on this situation. Third, because Jeff’s brother Eric was also in on it, as well.

After communion, and after Pastor and Eric left, I slid by Jeff. “Nannee,” I sat on the edge of the bed, “I didn’t say that!” “Jeff told me,” she smiled widely, patting my hand with hers.  Jeff started laughing, again, which made me laugh. That set Nannee off into a combo laughing/coughing fit.

When we all calmed down a bit, I noticed she hadn’t eaten anything. I took the tray off the nightstand and told her I was going to warm up the broth, again.

On my way to the kitchen, I heard Jeff laughing again. Although I saw the amusement in the situation, it just wasn’t funny enough to keep carrying on like that. It didn’t last long, so I guessed it was finally over.

I came back in with the reheated cup. Jeff took one look at me and doubled over. He was laughing and sweating and slapping his knee and trying to breathe. “Nannee thought,” he wheezed out.

“Oh, Jeff – don’t… ’” Nannee interrupted him.

“Nannee thought,” he continued after a deep breath.

“Jeeehhhff!” Nannee squawked.

Jeff was determined. “Nannee said…” He straightened up a bit and another deep breath.

“She said,” he hiccupped like a broken record. “She said – ‘Did she say something about a brothel?!’”

Quote for the week:

 

2017 05 30 Speak softly jakorte

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For: softly

Against:  softly

Musically:  killing me softly

Apologetic Delay

Certain times a year, the regrets really pile up. Lately, I’m practically buried.

So many things went wrong. Small things became disproportionate disasters. Mostly, due to my stubbornness, but always with help from Jeff.

I’m being stubborn again, all by myself. Memories are flying in from all directions and I want to accurately order them. Actually, I feel I have to accurately order them. I so want to skip over the regrets. I do want to include them, too. Our story’s weave will be weak without them.

Apologizing to people who may not have known they were slighted won’t make me feel better. Probably won’t make them feel any better, either.

I’m also a bit uninspired from having to sort through some rather uninspiring parts of my recent life. It would be nice to be self-inspired, but that’s not working so well.

Pushing a stalled car may get you somewhere, but it’s still going to be stalled when you get there. I’m trying but I could use a little outside inspiration… and a magic wand.

In the meantime, while I’m unrealistically waiting for my thoughts to spring from my being onto paper or into my computer, I’ll tell you about the start of something. But first, let me tell you about the start of the start of our most important journey.

About Nannee, Mary Vincze was a strong woman with a strong faith. She buried her husband young and lost her only child, her daughter Sally. They were close and I do believe that she struggled, although she would never admit it. Nannee was a smart woman, worldly wise, I’d say. She’d seen much in her lifetime; poverty and boons, war and peace, births and deaths.

She never hesitated to put a positive spin on any situation, often quoting condensed bible verses. When Jeff and I would take her to church, she’d always advise me that I could indeed take communion because it was “open to anyone.”  I’d just smile politely and shake my head, “No.”

Quote for the Week:

2017 05 09 if regrets really were a dime a dozen jakorte

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