Be Careful What You Wish For

Most of us have dreams, hopes, and wishes. Some come true; some don’t.

As children, most of us received encouragement to make a wish and blow out the candles on a birthday cake. And don’t forget blowing a dandelion into the air is another way to make a wish. Children learn to wish upon a star from a variety of people, including Walt Disney. Spring and summer are fruitful for finding lucky four-leaf clovers. There are likely other ways of wishing or finding luck.

But did anyone tell us our wishes didn’t always come true? Suppose our wishes caused pain and problems for someone else?

I hear many complain of the pandemic’s inconveniences. And with their complaints comes a list of wishes, such as:

    • I wish this pandemic was over, done with, gone!
    • I wish we could get back to normal.
    • I wish we didn’t have to wear face masks.
    • I wish we could get together in large groups like we used to.
    • I wish they would open the schools.
    • I wish the governor would open restaurants and bars.
    • I wish we could hug our friends.
    • I wish we didn’t have to miss our friends.

And I could go on and on and on.

While writing this post, my thoughts drifted back in time to a family member making a wish as he headed to bed. And then he awoke the next day to fear and trembling. It’s long in its telling, but I think it has value here.

My younger brother (eight years my junior) never liked school. There were no specific reasons for his dislike of learning. He was bright, energetic (too much so), and strong-willed. He wasn’t a disciplinary problem. Because like his siblings, his behavior fell under the control of our mother’s treatment when she received the news!

On the evening of Wednesday, March 20, 1967, at age 13 and in the eighth grade, my brother grumbled the evening away. He had a heavy homework load; too much homework, according to his thinking. It was the bane of his existence.

As he trundled off to bed, we heard him wishing he didn’t have to go to school the next day. Actually, he wished the school would burn down. Daddy then pointed out in a firm voice he should be careful what he wished for.

The next morning my folks turned on the local news as always. The big story of the day was the overnight fire of none other than the school my younger brother attended. There was no mistaking he would not be going to school that day.

Daddy went to wake him up and tell him the news. The report came back to Mom and me that his boy looked like he was going to pass out.

He trembled at the thought someone would learn he’d wished the school would burn down as he went to sleep the night before. Worse yet, at that moment the news reporter stated the fire was likely the result of arson. We agreed not to tell my brother that bit of news.

This child could be the most Nervous Nellie in the bunch, and this morning he was. Thus, I knew the moment he called me to come into his room that there would be more questions than answers:

“Sis, what am I gonna do?”

“About what?”

“Last night I wished the school would burn down, and it did. All the way to the ground!”

“Yeah, so what? You were home in your bed when the fire started.”

He hesitated — “Well, weren’t you?”

“Sure I was. But will the police and firefighters believe that?”

“Why are you questioning this? Unless they come to question you, and likely they won’t, you need not worry. Are you perhaps hiding something from me?”

“Thanks, sis, I love your confidence in me!”

“Come on. Dad and I have to leave for work or we’ll be late. You have no place to be this morning. Just go back to bed.”

And I walked out and closed the door. I stopped long enough to warn mom she would probably not have a peaceful day with our resident Worry Wart.

The arson investigation completed rather quickly. (No one questioned my brother.) But I don’t remember if they caught the arsonist or not. Yet, to think my younger brother believed so strongly in his wishes still makes me laugh. I concede I couldn’t believe he didn’t have some impact on the whole affair with his bedtime wishes.

When you wish for something, do you ever consider the possibility your wish might come true? Or maybe not?

 
Featured Image Attribution: martinnlp90 from Pixabay

Hey Mom!

Hey Mom!

 
I knew immediately who was calling—the dinner hour, traveling for work, alone, no one else to talk to. It had to be our older son, Craig. At 48, he still called home when he needed to talk or ask a question. Your kids may grow up but in some instances, they never grow away.
 
At the dinner table, I put the phone on speaker so Bob could hear. 
 
Hey Craig! What’s up?
 
He began by reminding me he was in Eastern Oregon on business and happened to be in Pendleton. A town with which we have a little travel history from our trip moving to Portland. We drove cross-country with two dogs and a cat. Our itinerary had planned stops in interesting places. At age 12, Craig had much he could learn by traveling 2200 miles from Tennessee to Oregon. One stop brought us to Pendleton, a rodeo town full of cowboys and interesting places and people.
 
Mom, can you remember the name of the hotel we stayed in?
 
I couldn’t and neither could Bob so Craig continued with his description of the place in question.
 
It’s the place we stayed and when we went down to the restaurant for dinner, we sat by the window. There was a sidewalk there, and I looked out the window and saw this guy walk into a lampost. Then he turned around and walking in the opposite direction, he stopped and peed on the post! Remember how hard we laughed?
 
No doubt we remembered the story Craig was sharing. We had to work hard to calm ourselves down to stop drawing the attention of other diners.
 
Amazing as it seemed, Craig remembered that night. His recollections were detailed and as funny as the time it happened.
 
As a family, we have many memories from that cross-country trip in 1983. And it was gratifying to have your son call to share one with you. Maybe it’s one of those forever memories I talked about in a post several days ago. A memory you’ll never forget and have ready to tell your kids or grandkids someday.

 

Hey Mom!, memories, forever memories, Dr. Suess

 

Feature Image Attribution:  Rohit Tandon on Unsplash

College Move-In Day | Day in the Life #12

 
 
Transitions are never easy. We are habitual creatures and enjoy life when all goes along as usual. Move-in day my freshman year of college is a memory like none other. It is representative of life going any way but the usual.
 
My parents drove my roommate, Nancy, and me to the small town of Pulaski, TN, about 70 miles south of Nashville. Daddy had done his very best at getting everything into the trunk or between Nancy and me in the back seat.
 
college move-in day, transitions, moving, changesWhen we arrived at the address we’d received for our dorm, we found a mass of cars, parents, and other students. Dad began to unload the car, and Nancy and I ran ahead to the front doors of the building. When we gave the receptionist our names, she had less than a large smile on her face.
 
It was not good news. The room assigned to us was on the first floor. Unfortunately, the first floor of this brand new building was still under construction. The first thing that popped into my mind was where would we sleep that night. But better yet, where we would shower the next morning?  
 
Our housemother arrived just then with new living arrangements. We would be living on the third floor of the home of the Dean of Students and his young family. The dean’s home was in an old Victorian house. This meant no air conditioning and no bath on the third floor. 
 
The Housing Office had gone out of its way to provide comfortable accommodations. Finding space for eight freshmen girls and one sophomore “big sister” in one place was a challenge. However, the situation provided the nine of us with the opportunity to get to know each other in a smaller community. Solid friendships were formed during this time.
 
Many good memories grew out of this experience. We did get noisy at times. Dean White had a clever way of alerting us to lower the noise level. He used the light switch at the bottom of the stairs to douse us into total darkness if we were bothering his family.
 
Spending your freshman year in college at “The White House” is not something everyone can brag about!

Forever Memories

 
 
Forever memories are those that stay with you for…well, forever. In conversation with others, forever memories trigger a certain response from you. You want to share the excitement, the reactions you felt, the way the memory has lasted. Almost as if whatever happened was yesterday.
 
A decade or so ago we took a vacation that has become a forever memory. And if you’ve read William Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways, you know what blue highways are. If not, the answer is simple. Older Rand McNally road atlases and maps identified the various types of roadways with color. Major highways appeared in red. Out-of-the-way highways running through small, almost unknown, rural towns appeared in blue.
 
Our trip was not as long as Heat-Moon’s nor was it circular as his was. But we did have certain restrictions that forced the use of blue highways:
 
  • The direction in which we traveled remained unknown until our morning of departure. This part of our trip was decided over breakfast. We would pull a direction—north, south, east or west—from a hat. Bob drew north.
  • A hard and almost fast rule depended on one condition. Travel had to be via blue highways unless there was no access between Points A and B other than a major highway. This forced a sense of nostalgia and relaxation as a major component of our travel.
  • We confirmed no reservations for overnight accommodations. And only once had a difficult time finding availability.
  • No time schedule was set for each day. Serendipitous activities awaited us. We visited attractions we’d never heard of and visited parks we’d never passed. Meals took place in some of the greatest eateries along the way.
 
As we headed out of Portland north on Highway 30, we had no idea where we’d end up that night or what we’d see along the way. By lunchtime, we found ourselves at Mt. St. Helen’s and enjoyed a brief visit there as well as had a picnic lunch we’d brought along. The rest of the day we wandered along blue highways. The casual drive presented beautiful farms with old barns and outbuildings. Another bonus was the beauty of the world around us, the peace and quiet of rural Washington state.
 
By dusk, we started searching for a place to stay. A look at the map showed we were not far from Centralia, WA. Centralia is 90.8 miles and 1.5 hours from Portland. It is clear we didn’t make it very far that first day. Yet, our plan was to relax and enjoy this trip, not worry about a schedule.
 
Over the next 10 days or so, we spent our time the same way. We visited interesting towns and places we’d never thought about or heard of. Our travel took us as far north as the Northern Cascade Mountains where we saw snowfall during June.
 
Our memories of this trip are quite memorable. Their uniqueness makes them unforgettable. We have talked many times about how much we enjoyed this trip and how we’d like to do it again.
 
We haven’t yet, but there is always tomorrow. And there are plenty of blue highways we haven’t hit.
 
 
Featured Image Attribution:
Methow Valley, WA in Northern Cascades
Lidija Kamansky/Getty Images

Swinging Delights

 
Yesterday afternoon I took a few minutes to sit in our porch swing on the back deck. Something I haven’t done for quite some time. I’ve loved swings since childhood, but the variety of my swinging delights are many.
 
Dad put up a swingset in our backyard that had swings, a glider, and monkey bars. Out of all its features, I loved the swings best. To soar through the air and feel the wind in my hair was pure delight. 
 
Swings at our favorite park were even better because they had the ability to go higher. Sundays were a highlight because we’d gather at the park with family. This called for a contest among the cousins to see who could swing the highest.
 
A friend’s dad created one of the best swings ever in a large tree in their backyard. The harder we pumped the higher it would go. I’m certain neighbors could hear our laughter and screams across their yards. Standing on the ground, the tree made me feel very small. Looking up, I could see the sky through its branches and even up to the branch where the swing began. Oh, how high up it was.
 
Today sitting in our swing made me think of another swing with many memories tied to it. It was on the front porch of the home of friends of my folks. Their oldest daughter and I were classmates in grade school. Their front porch spanned across the front and down one side of the house. The swing hung at the corner where the porch made its turn. Our joy was to see how far out we could get that swing to go. All the while we giggled and laughed—and hoped our folks wouldn’t catch us at our risk-taking.
 
Robert Louis Stevenson summed up the delight of swinging in his poem, The Swing:

The Swing

How do you like to go up in a swing,
   Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
   Ever a child can do!
 
Up in the air and over the wall,
   Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
   Over the countryside—
 
Till I look down on the garden green,
   Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
   Up in the air and down!
 
 

*See Disclosures

Image attribution: Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay 

Car Guys | Day in the Life #11

Sunday started the cruise-in season for car guys. Last year was our first year to take part. We had purchased a 1964 Studebaker Commander (see above image) in May of 2018, and we wanted to show her off. Cars have interested Bob since he was a young boy. As his wife, I came along carrying my dad’s interest in cars and built on that history to enjoy Bob’s interests.
 
Studie is the child of one previous owner. The gentleman who owned her took meticulous care of her outside and inside. Not much, if any, restoration occurred during that initial ownership. Car records note a new paint job (in the original color) and new upholstery (close to the original). 
 
 
We never fail to receive a thumbs up along the highway, and then at the cruise-in a lot of “she’s a beauty.” Who knew you could feel as proud of a vintage vehicle as you do your three children? Well, it isn’t quite the same but similar.
 
Dad also had a love of Studebakers. So when Bob mentioned he’d found one for sale nearby, there was no question that we’d go take a look and kick some tires. I loved Dad’s Studebaker. It was where I got some of my best alone time with him.
 
Dad’s Studebaker was also a Commander but a few years older than ours. It was born in 1949.
 
The pictures below are of Dad at the wheel of his blue Studebaker. The other is of me on the first day of school (either first or second grade) waiting for my ride to school with Dad.
 
 
I find it amazing how threads of passion weave themselves through your life. Who knew as a young girl in first or second grade I’d be the wife of a man who, like my dad, had a special love of cars? Who knew I’d have fun going to cruise-ins?
 
Gratitude fills my heart for a lot of things shared in this story. My car guys are men so similar. A father like my Father in Heaven with plenty of unconditional love. And a  husband, also a good, hardworking man who loves and cares for his family. I stand in awe of the connections found across two generations in our family.