Seriousness

The letter led to some good things. Calls from folks Jeff might not have spoken to in a few months, cheered him up greatly. Most of the calls that came when I was home were lengthy, full of laughter, and ended with some sort of promise.

“Yes, I’ll call you.” “Yes, I’m doing ok.” “Yes, I’m going to try harder.”

More people stopped at the store to see him, which he loved. He’d end up with a few new stories to tell me. Keeping current meant he was making new memories.

Jeff spent his time at the store talking to people, too. Other business owners, hot sauce heads, and entourages of brides and grooms – each and every one had a story to tell. Somehow, he always managed to extract them. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this one or twice, but truly, you only ever met Jeff once. After that, he was your friend.

I’m not going to say Jeff and his dad didn’t get along, but they weren’t always close. About the time Jeff and I started dating, Jeff and Roger, began to have more of a relationship. Our dating wasn’t the reason for that. It was just timing, the stars aligning, the universe sending peace, whatever you’d like to call it.

The three Korte men in my immediate life, Jeff, Eric and Roger, were always joking, laughing, guffawing, boisterous and generally loud. The loudness startled me at first, but it didn’t take long to figure out the Korte laugh was a genetic trait.

I enjoyed an abundance of that joyful and wonderful noise that to this day remains with me. I hear it in my head when I see something funny. I feel it in my heart and chest,  reverberating. If I’d have thought to record it, I’d probably have been able to sell it as a starter warm-up for laughter yoga. Or maybe I’d have just made a CD to play when I needed a reason to laugh, or just wanted to not laugh alone.

Also, genetic, I suspect, is the Korte tendency to smile and report all is right with the world, even when it wasn’t. There was only seriousness when there had to be seriousness.

Quote for the Week:

2018 05 01 I_d rather not have to say

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Serious: What it Means

Serious: Try Not to Be So

Serious: Fun

 

believers & broken snow globes & christmas ferrets

I love Christmas. In a completely different way than ever before. Before Jeff, I mean. And before after Jeff, too. Especially, in the middle.

I wish I could have spent a believer’s Christmas with Sally and Nannee. It’s only being a believer that makes it ok now. Well, more than Ok. My Christmas’s now are Thankful.

Oh, it’s still about the presents, but with a difference. I enjoy being the Christmas ferret. I’m sure I’m not the one out there trying to find something that will mean something more than just a gift. I listen all year in a kleptomaniac sort of way, hiding away personal tidbits. I suppose you could say I hoard memories.

One of which came to mind while I was drafting this week’s entry. The only thing that broke on our move from the townhouse was a Christmas gift we had purchased for Sally. I discovered it while my mother was helping us unpack in our new home. I didn’t grow up with snow globes. I know it sounds silly, but I didn’t know they could easily break.

It was irreparably broken. Another thing I didn’t know about real snow globes – the bottoms don’t twist off and globes aren’t always replaceable. I immediately burst into tears, and Jeff immediately promised we’d get another. It wouldn’t be hers but it would still remind me of her.

We made the trek to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth. It wasn’t winter but it never even crossed either of our minds that we wouldn’t find one there. Or that the particular one we were looking for would be discontinued. Still, we were well into the days of internet, so Jeff consoled me with the backup promise of finding it on line. He scoured, I scoured.

We both came up empty; just like the place in my heart I was sure would never mend from losing this piece of Sally.

In fact, it still bothers me so much that I interrupted my story myself just now, opened a new tab, and searched. My heart did a funny flip-flop as the very first image to pop up was my missing treasure. He was perfect. Just as I remembered. Even came with the original box. I couldn’t wait to buy him, my mind already jumping ahead: I’ll put it in my cart and then I’ll go get my wallet. I clicked on the image and a whole lot of other items came up. I carefully scrolled through and reviewed all 2 pages, twice. My shoulders slumped. Of course, it wouldn’t be that easy.

But then again, it was. Just that easy to remember how much I thought it looked like her spirit. Easy to remember how her eyes lit up. Easy to remember her laugh. Just that easy to remember, it’s the memories that matter, not the matter of the memories.

Quote for the Week:

2017 12 12 Its not the matter of your memories jakorte 12 12 2017
Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Why We Hold On: Sentimental Items

Snow Globes: All About

And Just Because: Frosty the Snowman

 

The Cornbread Lesson

There’s an obvious family trait passed down from Nannee to Sally and then to Jeff, and Eric and Nicole – having a purpose was and is important to each of them. I don’t know that it’s ever been acknowledged, but the way I’ve seen it, that purpose was always to be sure everyone was treated as if they were the most important person in the world, and to do everything in their power not to be a burden to anyone else.

Jeff and I talked it over and knew Nannee was independent enough, and that she’d be stubborn enough, to not accept our permanent hospitality. We didn’t kidnap her, we just kindly informed her she would be coming to stay with us for a weekend… or so.

The first time Nannee stayed with us was only for a day or so. She insisted that she enjoyed the visit but had to get home to attend to her laundry.

The next time was 2 full days and we brought her laundry with her. She insisted that she enjoyed the visit, but had to get home for her mail.

The third time, Nannee said she had the flu, and welcomed a little more extended stay. She lasted an entire week, and by the end of her visit, she was up and about, doing our laundry and helping cook dinner.

I arrived home about an hour later than normal one Friday night after another long week of 9 ½ hour days and 2 ½ hour vanpool commuter roundtrips to find that they hadn’t waited for me for supper. I was overly tired, unreasonably disappointed and very hungry. There’s a common name for that now: hangry.

They were watching TV, Nannee on the couch and Jeff in his chair, when he called out to me from the den, “There’s chili on the stove and corn muffins on the counter!”

I walked into the kitchen, took a look at the counter and yelled, “What the hell, Jeff?!?!”

“What?” he asked in that hurt and hesitant voice I wish I hadn’t induced many times and wish I could forget now, as well.  “What the hell did you do this muffin pan?” I raged.  “There’re gouge marks in every cup!”

When I peered through the pass-thru, Nannee was looking concerned. Jeff’s eyes were huge. He was shortly shaking his head and doing an abbreviated version of the hand-jive, which dramatically finished with the universal finger across the neck sign for “Stop!” I immediately assimilated what that meant, burst into tears and ran into our bedroom.

When I didn’t come back out, Jeff came in after me. “She was just trying to help out,” he said. “She really wanted to do something nice for us.” When I just kept crying, Jeff continued, “She’s feeling pretty good. We had a fun time cooking together.” I felt like a heel and told him so. “It’s alright,” he said. “It’s not!” I wailed. “Give me a minute and I will come apologize.”

By the time I got myself together and changed my clothes, Nannee had decided to go to bed. I felt even worse about that. “It’s ok,” Jeff said. “She understands. I told her you were sorry and she said that she’s glad you feel like you’re able to be yourself around her.”

Saturday morning, Nannee decided it was time to go home, again. “It’s the weekend,” she reasoned. “You should be able to relax and spend some time together without me here.”

I apologized profusely. If I had known she’d been the one to ruin the pan or even if Jeff had been responsible, I had no right speaking to either of them that way. They’d made me dinner and I behaved poorly.

Nannee just pshaw’d me. “Life has bumps,” she said. “.. ‘t doesn’t make the love any less.”

In this case, it made the love even more.

Quote for the Week:

2017 05 23 life has bumps jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Why We Say It: Hangriness

Don’t Say It: Biblically Speaking

Eat This: Cornbread

Stealth & Pink Purses

Jeff’s father’s side step-family is tremendous, based on the size of my family. It only took me a few events to remember all of the children’s names. The names of the seven plus parents and all of their spouses calling out to them, took me a little longer. What a bunch of wonderful, fun and funny people.

Not a white-elephant or a Yankee-swap since we’re in Michigan, this group’s Christmas gifting tradition included a set budget, and an indication on the gender of the intended recipient or not.  Order picking was determined by drawing of numbers, and some rules designed to make the exchange only an hour or two long. The free range made for lots of laughter and gift stealing.

My second year of participation, I was a nervous wreck. Jeff had solely taken care of my first, but gave me the duty of picking out a women’s gift the following year. We went shopping together, of course. I don’t remember what he purchased, but I decided on an adorable pink purse. I was terrified no one would like it, no one would want it, and it would become the unintentional joke gift of the year.

I promised, myself I would watch carefully and if the hands it ended up showed any reluctance, I would make a point to steal it back. By the time the gathering came around, I had pretty much convinced myself it wasn’t a good fit for the exchange, even though I loved it. I fully expected to be going home with the pink purse. I did have it in my hands for one round, but it was stolen away from me! I ended up with some beautiful Christmas towels. We didn’t own any fancy guest towels. It was a good fit for us.

But, still, I wished I’d ended up with that purse, because, truly, it was just that cute. On the way home, Jeff commented that the purse had been well-received. “I know,” I said. “I kinda wish it hadn’t. I got sorta attached to it.”

Jeff chuckled, shook his head a little and gave me that “you’re adorable,  but crazy” look.

A few weeks later, I was unwrapping Jeff’s Christmas gift for me. I truly expected some sort of cute chicken/rooster thing. I was amazed and astounded when I parted tissue paper to find a pink purse! No, it wasn’t the same as the one that went to a good home. It was actually more awesome and I absolutely loved it.

Of course, it came with a story. Jeff had managed to run through JC Penney on his way home from work. He’d had to wait until we weren’t together to do it. He spent quite a bit of time searching the accessories section and was about to give up when he saw one on display. He related how he’d stealthily slipped the purse off of the mannequin’s arm and then run (briskly walked) across the entire store to pay for it.

He thought if he spent too much time, was later getting home that I thought he would be, I’d probably worry and ask him where he’d been. He didn’t want to have to tell me. “You’re impossible to surprise,” Jeff pointed out, mid-story. “You’re always looking at statements!”

He said felt weird carrying it. So, to make sure it was clear that it was not his personal purse and that he had no intention of stealing it, he held it at arm’s length stuck straight out in front of him, moving as quickly as possible. Jeff reached down and picked up my newly unwrapped purse to demonstrate his technique.

My big burly, bearded guy in his work uniform, duck boots along with a plaid jacket, big M ball cap and suspenders; swaggering and trying not to swing a pink purse.

That image crinkles the corners of my eyes and makes me giggle every time.  Sometimes silently; sometimes aloud.

I wore out that purse. Used it every day for years. Finally had to let it go due to serious non-repairable deterioration. I suppose I could have kept it for some crafty reason, but at the time I had no idea I would miss it or the man.

It still ranks up there as one of my all-time favorites gifts, and has given me yet another, more-laughing-than-crying story to share.

God Bless.

Quote for the Week:

2016-12-20-stealth-purse-jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Purses: Ew, that’s gross

Purses:  sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t

Purses:  J Geils Band, First I Look at the Purse

 

Between the Two

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas isn’t easy.

Thanksgiving was my father’s favorite holiday. My Dad passed in July 2002. He didn’t made it to our first anniversary.

Christmas was my mother-in-law’s favorite holiday. Sally passed in December 2002. She didn’t make it to our first married Christmas.

I got to speak to my dad two days before he passed. He expressed regret that he’d never seen the Grand Canyon. Jeff told him we were heading up to Traverse City for the Cherry Festival. Dad said he guessed he’d never get to see that, either.  I got to speak at my dad, the day before he died. I described the festival as best I could through impending tears. He couldn’t talk to me or answer, but my mother told me he smiled widely when he heard our voices.

When Thanksgiving came around, I was sad, mopey and weepy. Jeff didn’t understand. He’d lost grandparents and he’d say, “They were old. They had a good life.” To me, he said, “I thought you’d be over this by now.” I burst into tears and cried, “You don’t understand!” He didn’t, but he did hold me until I’d cried myself out.

I didn’t get to speak to Sally. I know not everyone is as lucky as I was to have a friend in their mother-in-law. She truly was a gentle guide, although I didn’t realize that, at the time.

In August of 2002, Jeff and I were trying to find ways to make extra income. We’d heard about an indoor holiday market at the Adrian Mall, and decided to take a booth. Jeff began making painted ornaments using a technique he had seen in magazine. I had been given a booklet of Mason jar cookie recipes ideal for gift giving, so I decided to sell those, as well.

A few evenings before the show, Sally called with her usual enthusiasm and invited us to her house. I told Jeff, “We can’t go. I’m not done with the jars and we’re not ready for this show.” Jeff relayed my message and then relayed her message back to me. “She said to bring the jars and she’ll help.” Then told me aside, that she was so excited because her stepsons were visiting and she felt she could have all of her children in one place.

“How about we go tomorrow night, after the show?” I asked. “They might not be there, then.” He replied. But, I shook my head and said, “I really don’t think we should.”

We sold a few things on the quiet first half-day. Two ornaments, two cookie jars, 1 sunflower garden stake. The second day, we were setting up to open, when Jeff received a call saying he had to get home to Tecumseh. His mom had been taken to Herrick Hospital.

The serious condition turned out to be a diabetic coma she never woke up from.

Quote for the Week:

2016-12-06-sometimes-i-laugh-when-i-tell-stories-jakorte

(Yes, these are some of the ornaments Jeff made. 🙂

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Ornamental:  DIY – Marbled Paint Ornaments

Cookie Jars: DIY – Cookies in a Jar

Healing Power: Story Telling