Category Archives: “Through the Years”

White Lace and Promises

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There once was a girl who was from a different elementary school from my children’s

school. There are five elementary schools, hers was Conger, my kids went to Smith.

She lived across the street from us, she became ‘fast friends’ one summer, when she

found out my youngest daughter was going to Willis Middle School in the fall with

her. We had just moved in, when they met on the sidewalk. Soon, the two girls were

inseparable. They would go down to the pool, they would go to Blue Limestone Park

and travel around the neighborhood, upon their bikes.

This girl is named Holly, my daughter is Felicia. They would call each other up, on

land line telephones. I look at my same land line phone, set up in my current apt. and

remember that there was a chair in our foyer, this white telephone with its gold edges

and push button numbers was one I have a photograph with Felicia talking to the girl

who lived across the street. Why weren’t they visiting, instead of on the phone? I am

not sure but this was an age when ‘grounding’ occurred, sometimes as the meted out

punishment.

Soon Holly would call up and ask what we were having for dinner, she liked the way

I ‘grilled’ the hot dogs in butter in a skillet, the way I used a can of spaghetti sauce,

(Hunts brand, mushroom sauce) adding oregano, basil and onion salt. She thought

it was fun to come over and eat dinner, sometimes lingering around in the back yard

with Felicia, pretending they were acrobats and other imaginary circus players on

our wooden ‘gym set.’ Often, one or the other home would be the place they had a

‘sleepover.’

These two friends went through high school, joining soccer and basketball together,

along with their separate interests. Felicia quit soccer, to become a Cross Country

runner, Holly became a cheerleader. They shared a lot of common thoughts and

goals. They both were runners-up, or ‘contestants’ for Homecoming Queen, their

senior year. They shared a great graduation party held at the Delaware County

Fair, where the cost of $200 was divided up amongst five good and solid friends.

All five girls went off to college, staying in touch, going and visiting each other’s

campuses.

The first of the original five friends is getting married today. I have to choose

between three dresses to wear, my youngest daughter wishes me to wear the

longest, new dress. It is a sleeveless dress, with cream, pastel peach, tan and

black details geometric dress. She helped me choose it a young people’s

clothing store, called “Forever Twenty-One.” I have a beautiful autumn mid-

length dress I wore at my son’s wedding six years ago. It has a brighter fall

colors palette with a lovely sweater I could wear over it. I have only worn it

twice. Once on a date and possibly today. The third choice of dresses is a

right below the knee dress, with more ‘pizzazz’ which I have never worn;

like the first choice. It has a jeweled burnt orange diamond that makes my

bodice area look more fuller, with the way it creates folds on both sides of

the diamond. It has the deepest autumn colors which includes swirls and

paisley designs. I went from the pastels in the first, the medium tones in

the second and the deeper ‘jewel’ tones in the last one, with a brighter

orange, olive green and cream background. Each one I will probably wear

gray or tan hose, black velvet pumps and they are about 3 inches high. I

don’t like the brown purse, brown set of shoes I tried all three on, although

you would think they would ‘match’ the fall colors, the black outlines in

each dress seems to need black shoes and purse.

My best girlfriend, Jenny, and I were discussing the 3:30 wedding and

the evening reception. It is not going to start much past 5:00 since even

the longest wedding would not go on that long. She left the length question

unanswered, as a good friend she just said, “Wear whichever you feel you

look best in. Don’t worry about the length.”

After looking at George Clooney and recent bride, Amal’s wedding photos,

studying the guests, I saw no one except the bridal party wearing long

dresses. It put doubts into my youngest daughter’s reassurances about the

sleeveless dress, the first choice I described. Since today’s high may be too

cool to take off the sweater chosen for this dress. (Black with black with gold

edged buttons.) I have a burnt orange colored stone necklace for the two

other dresses, which was made by an artist, looks very stunning with v-neck

dresses, as the two mid-length and knee-length dresses.

My youngest daughter is not a bridesmaid in this wedding, not sure of who

was chosen, since I will find out when I go to the wedding. Felicia was chosen

to read the quotation taken from the end of the 2001 “Love Actually” British

movie. It is meaningful, powerful and brings tears to my eyes. About airports,

greetings and partings, how the world changed for some from 9/11/01 World

Trade Center bombings, but how people still embrace and have hope for Love.

 

White lace and promises, most may remember is taken from that all-time

favorite wedding song of the 70’s through today by the Carpenters:

“We’ve Only Just Begun.”

Memories of a friendship that traveled over the years, through thick and

thin, to transformation of closeness and dear friendship to where they are

right now, Felicia will have a special and meaningful place in the story.

 

It will be forever changed when Holly marries Nate today on October 4, 2014.

They dated for four years, they have been engaged for a year now and own a

home together.

Best wishes for happiness to the Bride (who is like a daughter) and Groom!

Makes me hum the song, “Through the Years,” which Kenny Rogers sang.

“Big Bird” and Gary

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While walking in May around the Delaware Arts Festival, I ran into

one of my favorite coworkers, Jean. I will tell you about her great

personality and quirky character in awhile. Right now, I want to

tell you that this woman is so lively and fun! I was happy to see her

holding hands with a handsome man wearing a cowboy shirt and

cowboy boots.

At work, Jean wears her hair in a tight bun. In contrast on this cool

May day, she had flowing golden hair. The wind caught it for a

moment and it went across her eyes. I thought of how she looked

like she had a “veil” of gold.

I see Jean in a different light now, that I have seen her on that May

day. At work, she is rather silly, when we gather for our morning

“meeting.” Every day,  our boss will say, “Good morning, bin order

fillers!” (He has a dry sense of humor, but I get him!) and the only

voice who answers is Jean’s:

“Good morning, Mr. Borden, sir!”

Then, he gives us our “numbers” for the day and how it breaks

down into the number of  hours we will endure. After that, we do

our morning exercises.  Our boss will demonstrate each one,

which we have memorized the “routine.” I keep my eyes on Jean,

because to me, her movements are so hilarious! I “keep it in” most

days, but my smile is in place. While our boss, Mike, has his arms

out and says, “Little circles, forward, now backward,” then switches

to “Big circles, forward, now backward.”  Jean’s arms are flying in a

wild rotating fashion, like badly timed propellors! She somewhat

resembles those ducks with the separate paddle wings. Have you

ever seen them in a wind storm?

They go around in opposite directions and look manic.

Well, this is how Jean looks.

There are days that Jean, who is about 5′ 8″ looks kind of haggard,

poor thing! She is over 60 years old and came to work here as a

“temporary employee” from “temp” services and stayed. Most

stop in, work a few days or a few hours, and give up! Seriously, I

have seen many people come and go, like a revolving door,

especially during the “hot” season.

This means both busy times (when the products are “hot” and

flying off the store shelves and we have to fill their orders and

temperatures that are hot.

Jean is always scanning the pop machines and the beverage

machines at the end of the day. She cracks me up by saying,

aloud, “Now, what do I feel like drinking today on my drive

home?”

She will sometimes catch me out of the corner of her eye,

and she will say, “Come here, Little Bird. I need you to pick

something for me to drink and I will buy you a drink, too.”

I have only taken her up on the “free” drink/beverage once

in three years. I always feel we are all on “tight” budgets

andI don’t want to be on the receiving end too often. I look

at the drinks and I will say,

“How does a Coke sound today?”

Jean will respond, “Not today, honey, pick another one.”

(Sometimes this game goes on for awhile, but we enjoy the

banter and process, too.)

Finally, she will say, using a pretend exasperating tone,

“Well, why didn’t you pick the diet Lipton tea with lemon,

Little Bird?”

I tell her, “That is too easy, I know that is your favorite one!”

We then walk to the lockers while she is taking big draws on

the bottle. I get there and unlock my locker and she reaches

over my head to unlock hers on the top. I have to not get

up all of a sudden, or we will collide. In the morning, if we

don’t come in at different times, I wait on her. But at the end

of  the day, I am grabbing my stuff, sticking my work box

back into the locker and trying to get to the bathroom next.

We are usually the “last order fillers of the day.” We agree that

we need to talk to the boss about this sometime, but we never

do! I think he knows we are not the “whiners” or “complainers”

in the group. We get a lot of Bravo points that we can use for

snacks or add up 30 of them and get a half unpaid day or 60 and

get a whole unpaid day.

We both tend to figure we would rather have the snack money

than take off and not get paid!

In the bathroom today, I glanced over at Jean and said, “How’s

things going with Gary?” She said, “Oh, just fine and dandy!”

(I know you might think I am embellishing Jean’s way of talking

but believe me, she is exactly like “Big Bird!” She is always so

“chipper” and overly generous with her hugs and kindnesses.

When she looked over at me, she responded quietly,

“Are you okay? You seem a little “down” today.”

I told her a little about the recent dating situation, how high

my hopes had been. How I felt he was not very mature for a

46 year old and I needed respect, courtesy, and understanding

of how hard we work. When I would get home, both daughters

will  tell you, oldest one drops by sometimes with a plate of food

or youngest one will come home to find me sitting in the dark,

watching television, in my jammies at 6 or 7 or 8 o’clock, depends

on how late the shift ran. Summers are hard to get me to go on

a walk, unless you have a “‘carrot on a stick” and offer to buy me

ice cream!

I told Jean that this man texted me a lot and I had other problems

that added up to his being insecure. He felt I should have more

energy. While standing at the Indians game, I was really tired then,

too. I liked his mother and I am sure she taught him courtesy.

“Little bird, you need to figure out if you are really over all the past,

are you ready to find someone again? I feel you may just want to

relax, enjoy the grandkids, like I do. Maybe not look for a man to

be there, just a friend or two.”

I told Jean I would ponder upon that tonight and probably blog

about her love story.

Jean was married for over 20 years and when she got divorced, it

was not her choice. She had “love in her heart” for her ex-husband,

but did not know how to keep him from “straying.”  She had told

me this when I had told her I was blogging last Spring, 2012.  Jean

had added emphatically,

“My love story isn’t finished yet! So wait till it is, to write it down yet,

please!”

When Jean and Gary got divorced, they were in their forties. She

saw him marry a woman and that marriage “didn’t take.” She saw

him ‘out and about’, sometimes he would offer her a drink, but

most times she would bring up the kids. She tried to act like she

didn’t even have “the time of day” for him.

Gary got remarried when I started at Advance Auto, 2008. He did

not work there, nor did I know him. Jean came in 2010 and was,

as mentioned, a temporary worker. She was about 20 pounds

overweight, wore her hair short and had some frumpy, large

tee shirts on each day. Her spirit and loveliness shone through

to me, right away. I never saw Jean as anything but beautiful.

Sometimes Jean would say, “I am waiting on Gary to come to

his senses, still, Little Bird!”

I would usually reply “Gary and you are in my prayers, Jean!”

She would answer back, “Your special someone out there is

in my prayers, and you, too, sweetie!”

Last year when she had said her love story wasn’t finished,

the chances still seemed “slim to none” that Gary would ever

miss Jean or choose to ask her out. He had divorced again and

she still had her hopes up.

At Christmas, Jean brought her granddaughter to our family

holiday party and I brought my sweet Marley (age 3 at the time).

We sat and watched the girls get their faces painted with candy

canes and glitter on each cheek. We stood in line to see Geo, our

coworker, who played Santa and we ate our lunch together.

(Hot dogs, popcorn and jello, nice and generous of the company,

huh?!) There were frosted cookies as we were getting up to leave.

We sat back down while the kids ran over to play a game set up

with fishing rods and toys wrapped to catch.  Jean sighed as she

spoke,

“Robin, I think this Christmas season Gary is going to miss being

with the family. I think his wandering eyes have come back to see

me, maybe coming home for good.”

Jean had lost her weight, grown her hair, and wore it up in that tight

bun. She had started to dye it blonde, she had started to wear new

makeup and her shirts were tucked into nice, form fitting tall pants.

I looked at her and told her the truth,

“Jean, you were always beautiful but finally his eyes are open to the

way you must make him feel. I can tell how you must pour your love

all over him, when he stops by to see the kids or grandkids. Your

home,although I have never been there, must be full of joy and

homey things.

His bachelor apartment must be kind of lonely and stark without

“his Jean” there. I believe, like you believe, it will happen very soon!

(She had been divorced at this time almost eighteen years! Her

patience and faithfulness to her ex were not only evident, but

exemplary.)

They had a happy holiday as a whole family and Gary went back

to his own apartment. They had a Happy New Year, and he stayed

and lingered until two a.m. But she insisted he “go on home.”

When I saw them in May, it was surely more than hand holding

going on there, but I did not say a word!

Then, due to my current distress and feeling a little wave of

nostalgia, I asked her,

“Jean, I never asked how you and Gary finally decided to move

back in together.  How did you get the whole thing changed after

the holidays?”

We left the bathroom, went out past the security guards that we

show our lunch box, keys and cell phone to. We got our steel toed

shoes setting off the electronic shield, like at courthouses,  and

beeping.

We walked through and finally got outside to the bench by the

pine trees. We sat down and she finished up the rest of the story

fairly quickly.

“Promise, you tell no one!” she urgently said.

I looked at her and chuckled, “Well no one who knows you! But you

know, I have been dying to tell your story since I saw you and Gary

at the Arts Fest in May!”

She burst out, “Little Bird, I lied!”

“What? I don’t understand!”

She said, “Robin, I told all my four children before Valentine’s Day,

that I was dating someone and not to text nor call me.”

“But where did you go? How did this change anything?”

Jean said, “Gary stopped by my house at nine o’clock in the

evening and I wasn’t home. He had flowers for me. He had

a ring for me!”

I said, “So you didn’t come home to find him waiting on you?”

Jean said, with a big grin on her face, “I drove home and saw

his truck in my driveway, no one had called or texted me that

he was there, and I had taken my good old sweet time going

home, not knowing if one of my busybody kids had told him

I was dating someone, but hoping one of them had! Sure

enough! One of them, or more than one, had blabbed,

‘Mom’s out on a date for Valentine’s Day, Dad!”

He had gone to WalMart, bought a nice medium sized ruby ring

for my birthday and Valentine’s Day (red) and a big bouquet of

red roses, over 2 dozen of them!”

Jean told me that when they remarry in the Fall, it will be just

family gathering, but she wanted me to write that the song

they want playing while they walk out of the church will be”

“Through the Years” sung by Kenny Rogers. So appropriate

and true, she waited a lot of years for their happy ending!

So, that is the end, or should I say, the beginning of the next

chapter of Jean and Gary.

I love Jean, so he BETTER be good, this time!!