Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A Little Spunk and a Whole Lot of Resiliency

This week I had someone tell me I have “spunk and resiliency.” 
Seriously. An image of me as Katharine Hepburn came to mind. 

“Oh my…that is a frightful thought, now isn’t it?” 

Young Hepburn
Free Image From Pixabay
(Looks More Like Audrey than Katharine)

Then I looked up spunk and resiliency in the dictionary. 

The informal definition says spunk refers to courage and determination. Another definition says it applies to someone willing to take on a daunting task with energy and conviction.

Resiliency refers to the ability to be happy or successful again after a person has gone through a difficult time or experience.

Do those words really apply to me? 

This week marks one year since I returned from Europe. I took stock. Since my return I’ve built three dollhouses for my granddaughters, had knee surgery, installed a kitchenette in my basement (more about that in a later post), and pitched a proposed series to a major publishing house. 

Spunk? Maybe.

I’ve also taken on shoveling snow in the winter and mowing the lawn now that the weather is warm. I’m learning how to use Tom’s tools on an as needed basis.
Launch of Libby's Cuppa Joe

I’ve hosted dinners and brunches for friends and family. I’ve entertained people in my home and opened my doors to a family reunion. I’ve celebrated holidays and held my annual caroling party. I’ve played with my grandchildren and traveled with my daughters and my mother. 

I launched Libby’s Cuppa Joe and finished writing the first of a three book series. I’m now on book two.

Resiliency? I guess. 

So where does that come from? It isn’t my own invention. It is something of a legacy handed down to me by my parents. 

My Mom and Dad Modeled Spunk and Resiliency!
My mom, the middle of seven children, was the first in her family to graduate from high school and the only one to continue her education. Then she set off to see the world. She started that journey in Ohio where she met my dad.

My dad joined the US Navy and was the only one in his family to serve. He worked hard and boldly started several businesses, all of which were successful. 

When I was four-years-old, my parents left behind all they knew to move to Arizona. The doctor said it was the best way to treat my asthma. They didn’t know anyone who lived there. They had no idea where they would live. Dad left a good job in Ohio with no promise of work in Tucson.

The move was a success. My breathing improved and my parents carved out a good life while we lived there.

I've always described my parents as “positive thinkers.” Maybe that’s the best definition for both spunk and resiliency.

So maybe those are the words to describe me after all. I am a positive thinker. 
One Year Ago This Week I Returned From Kosovo

The thing is, though, I don’t feel all that spunky. And resilient? To my thinking, I just keep plugging along. Doing my best. 

But then maybe that’s all Katharine did, too. I’ll take “spunk” and “resiliency.” It sure beats “wimpy” and “stuck.”

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Good Sons, Good Men.

L-R Brian, Me, and Walt: Cousins
I had the privilege of spending some time this week with a couple of cousins I really never knew. Our fathers were first cousins. Actually, they were double first cousins. My grandmother was a Kadle who married a Williams and their grandmother was a Williams who married a Kadle. A brother and sister married a sister and brother. 

Confused? Don’t worry. It was all on the up and up.

Our paths likely crossed through the years at family reunions and funerals but I can’t say “the boys” and I really played together or ever had a meaningful conversation. Our parents stayed in touch, though. When my parents moved back to Ohio, they reconnected with my dad’s cousins. They went to Lake Cumberland together and occasionally shared a meal.

A few years ago, the younger of the two brothers and I became Facebook friends. Brian and I share a love for family history. Although both Brian and Walt live “out west,” I knew they faithfully visited their mother after their father died. I knew they supported her when she remarried. I watched on Facebook as they travelled to be with her when her health was failing. I mourned with them from afar as they buried their mother last fall.

They have been good sons.

This week they were faced with the daunting task of going through her house; making decisions about what to do with her things. They are spending the week sorting, packing, cleaning, and reliving a life well lived. 

My mother and I offered what little help we could. 

I’ve walked a similar road. When Tom died I did nothing at first with his things. It was hard to let go. Eventually, I offered some of his clothes to my sons-in-law. I gave some of his better shoes to my grandson and made sure each of my grandsons had at least one of his ties.  

The Kadle Boys Childhood Home
I couldn’t, for whatever reason, dump his things in a Goodwill bin. It felt disrespectful. I know Goodwill does good things, but they seemed like a “middle man” to get to the people I knew could use his shirts and pants and suits. When it came time to clear out the closet, I donated his good clothes left there to a homeless shelter. Helping others in need was part of Tom’s DNA. 

(Okay, true confession: A few of Tom's favorite shirts continue to have a place in my closet. But I digress.)

Brian lives in New Mexico and Walt lives in Arizona. It isn’t like they can make a couple of trips back and forth with a few boxes on the front seat of their car. And they don’t need most of the kitchen things. They held tight to the photos and those items steeped in childhood memories but gave other things to family members and friends who had a use for them. 

And they had a “yard sale.” Oh, it wasn’t like any yard sale I’ve ever seen. There were no prices on anything. If someone offered them a dollar or two for an item, they accepted it, but if the person obviously liked something and it was out of their price range, no problem. Brian and Walt would give it to them.

I watched as a little girl from a few houses away eyed a doll. Brian showed her how the doll transformed to tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood. The little girl was delighted. “How many monies is the doll?” she asked. Before Brian could answer, the child’s mother said, “We just walked down here. I don’t have any money on me. I’ll have to go back to the house for it.” Brian squatted down and looked at the little girl eye-to-eye. He put the doll in her arms. “I think you should have this doll,” he said. 

I watched time and again as the men gave things to people stopping by. A few things they sold, pricing them well below any sort of “fair market value.” Why? Because they aren’t greedy. The way they handled themselves through this most difficult time actually honored their parents. 

The things their mother and father valued, they value. Those items that still have life and use in them will continue to be used by others in the neighborhood. They’re donating other things to community centers and gifting treasures to members of the family.

You see, Brian and Walt aren’t just good sons. They’re good men. And I’m honored to call them family.

Children will not remember you for the material things you provided for them but for the feeling that you cherished them. --Richard Evans

Be sure to leave a comment. I'll respond.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

We Are All A Work In Progress

WIP…Work In Progress. 

A work in progress. We’re all there. Trying to figure out life and our role in it. Trying to be a little bit better as a human each day. Just as writers craft and draft a story then spend countless hours revising it and editing it to make it a little better, we do the same with our lives. 

Two of My Grands Figuring Out Life
Childhood resembles that first draft stage where we try many things as we discover what works best for us. I’ve watched as my children and now my grandchildren discover their gifts and talents. Childhood is that time to explore the world and get to know the people in it. We discover the ways in which we differ from others and, hopefully, the many ways we are the same. It’s also the time we learn to be kind and helpful to people around us.

As my oldest grandson enters his last year of high school, he is visiting colleges and determining which one will help him take his strengths to the next level. Education is definitely a state of revision. It’s where our thinking is challenged and we learn to articulate who we are and what we want to do in life with skill and accuracy. Mostly. 

We change. The characters in our personal story change over time. I went from being only a daughter to also being a wife and then a mother and now a grandmother. I was once defined only as a teacher or professor but now I’m a writer. Even my titles changed. Miss Williams to Mrs. Waters to Dr. Waters. And with each new role or experience, the main character in my story has added some new dimension to who she is and what she can do. 

And even though I don’t care for the term, I am unwillingly now a widow. That characterization brings with it significant changes to what I can or cannot do as my story continues to unfold. 

Through it all, I claim God as the author of my life and try to follow His writing of it, I know that I have it within me to determine if I am going to be a protagonist or antagonist. I choose protagonist. Hands down.

But editing? I’m pretty sure that is a lifelong venture.

Yep, when I started to write this post, I thought I would return to the subject of writing. I intended to tell my readers about my current WIP. I was going to tell you about the sweet romance series I’m crafting that takes place in Florida. I call it the Azalea Lakes Series and it has three books in it.

Then my daughter sent me the picture I featured here of my granddaughters sitting by a frozen lake in the mountains. Who knows what they’re talking about? All I know is that they’re in this place called childhood…in the beginning stages of a first draft.

Do leave a comment. I so enjoy hearing from my readers. Where are you in your story?