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WESTWINDWRITER

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SAN ANGELO STANDARD TIMES

MY turn COLUMNS

WORDS (MY TITLE)

Woman explores love of words, hopes writings will survive time (MY turn title)

    I don't remember my first words but words are a lifeline of great importance to me. They are kernels of corn eagerly awaiting their opportunity to burst open, fill the popper then spill over the sides of a container in delicious abundance.

    Before I was able to read my mother read to me. At my request she read one particular story many times. The repetition was important in ways that as a child I didn't recognize. I was learning. It was not very long before I was able to surprise and amaze my daddy with my ability to read at age three. Of course I was not really reading but had memorized the words and knew from the picture placement when to turn the pages.

    Once I was in school, learning to read was a challenge I grew to love. I remember the thrill that came the first time I stood in a little village church building and had the ability to really read the words to the hymns I sang. Understanding those words took a while longer.

    A love for poetry came years later when my 9th grade English teacher taught me how to take sections of a poem to glean the meaning intended by the author. Even now poetry instills within me a calming rhythm akin to observing the rolling in and out of the lazy waves at the ocean. It is a comfort like no other.

    Words bring relaxation on sleepless nights. I go to my recliner and vicariously live the lives of Pioneer women or follow the antics of aging residents in a rest home. "A merry heart is good medicine," according to the scripture and a few moments spent in reading is a better prescription for me than a sleeping pill.

Words mean keeping in touch with loved ones who are in my home, neighbors next door, or acquaintances who live anywhere in this world. Uplifting messages of love and encouragement arrive in, and leave regularly from, my e-mail and my U.S. mailbox. These missives expand my mind's eye to more than words: Painted pictures arrive, coaxed smiles appear, and remembered voices of dear ones come to my ears through those printed words.

    I wish I had started keeping a written journal many years before I did. To go back over my life in my mind now, and then put descriptive words on paper means I will have a good time remembering but regular writings much earlier would have been more complete. As I write, I wonder, will the words that wander through my journal mean something to the generations who follow me? I choose to believe they will because my genes as well as my words will be there. Somewhere, mixed in that genetic pool of future readers there will be an I-love-words child and my message in the written word will continue to travel on from there.

Marilyn Sue Moore                      4-4-02                          Publish Date 5-14-02

 

THE GRANDMOTHER CONNECTION (MY TITLE)

Neither sickness nor distance can break special connection (MY turn title)

    Two little girls were born one day apart.  One was born in Maine, the other in Texas.  They have a connection yet they have never met.  That connection is their grand-mothers.  One is in Maine and I, the other, am in Texas but that was not always so.

    Twenty-five years ago both grandmothers were in Maine.  One had a house that was for sale at the time the other was looking for a home.  This connection was the start of a friendship that never ends.

    The grandmothers grew as close as sisters as they spent hours together sharing their love of homemaking skills as well as additional common interests.  Nature came alive to us with the seasonal picking of summer’s wild strawberries and cultivated raspberries.  Following close behind came autumn’s artistic foliage to enjoy.  Winter’s wonder of white snow found us trudging through the forest’s treasure trove for the perfect Christmas tree.  Spring always brought times of renewal.  One spring included the births of our granddaughters with whom we could share our love of life.

    Spring of 1984 brought the diagnosis of breast cancer to my special friend and a work transfer to the southwest for my husband came at about the same time.  Being so far away, in my concern I not only prayed but also called those who should know to ask how I could best help my friend. I was given a grim response that included this advice:

(1)              Take the time to make up for all the things you wish you had done earlier.

(2)              Don’t expect to be sitting on the front porch in rocking chairs comparing grandchildren in the future.

   As to the first comment, it did not apply to my friend and me.  We had lived our days together to the fullest!  We had no regret-filled wishes that we had done “better” or “more”.

    The second remark devastated me.  Following this search for advice, I sobbed out my heart and wrote daily notes to encourage my special friend, who, according to the above advice wasn’t likely to live long.

    This spring, nineteen years removed from those remarks, our two granddaughters, born one day apart, will celebrate the start of their teenage years.  As predicted, the grandmother connection is not sitting on the front porch in rocking chairs.  Instead we are now both survivors of breast cancer sharing (not comparing) grandchildren stories in the miles between Maine and Texas over the Internet.  What a connection!

Marilyn Sue Moore                     2-26-03                        Publish Date 3-10-03

 

OLD PHOTOGRAPHS (MY TITLE)

Old photos help family members connect (MY turn title)

    My mother passed away nearly seven years ago.  It was time for me to look through the stash of disorganized negatives to determine who should be the recipient of each one.  The more I saw, the more I realized that each one should belong, not to just one, but to many family members. 

    How do you divide such things up?  I think I have found a wonderful solution and that is to have the negatives taken by a photo restorer and put in picture thumbprints on CD’s for the computer.  It is neat and easy to take one at a time to study, print, and/or to add to a story about some time in your life or in the life of others. 

    Another great thing about this time in life is the fact that these pictures can be shared via e-messaging.  I recently received a message from a woman I have not yet met, the wife of a cousin.  She said she had seen the prints I had sent to other family members and she’d love to share some she had and receive some from me.  Those old photos have helped create a family bond from the early 1900’s until today. 

    My cousin’s wife sent a photo of my dad’s family when he was an infant in the arms of his mother.  As I looked at the photo I was struck with the clarity with which I could “visit” the youth of my grandparents, see the children as I’d never before seen them, and gaze with wonder at my daddy as a baby!  There is my grandmother with sandy red hair.  The photo is black and white but I know that fact about her.  I didn’t know that my grandfather was a handsome young man.  And look at the hands of my dad’s sister…did anyone guess how hard those hands would work as she later became the wife of a farmer who raised eight children and cared lovingly for several foster children as well? Could they have guessed that my daddy would later use his hands as a machinist in the work of making airplane parts to help our country in the WW2 efforts? 

    Old pictures of people already gone…yet as they come to life in our hearts and memories we are reminded of how precious the photos of today will be when they become old negatives stuffed in an envelope, found by someone too busy at the moment to care very much, but a real treasure chest to share in that same person’s life in later years.

Marilyn Sue Moore                     1-29-03                        Publish Date 7-25-04

 

THE FLAG THAT CAUSES ME TO WONDER (MY TITLE)

POW/MIA flag spurs musings (MY turn title)

    Many of us have shared our family members with this country as they have served with the military in one capacity or another.  There are those of us who have been military members.  Some have served briefly while others have made it their life’s work.  Whichever way these men and women have chosen, each American has benefited from their honorable service.  There are times when I wonder about some of these who have helped to keep our country free.     

    One time I wonder is when I travel down a street in the city of San Angelo and I see not only the American flag briskly blowing in the breeze but under it just as proudly lifted by the winds is an MIA/POW flag.  Since I frequently go by one particular house whose flag pole often has both flags fluttering, my imagination goes a little like this:  I make a purposeful trip to that house, stop my vehicle, get, go up the walk, ring the doorbell, and hope the people who live there answer the door with open hearts.  I deeply desire to know the story of the person behind that MIA/POW flag so I imagine asking them about it.  So far I have not been bold enough to do that but I have already conjured up in my mind that this particular flag represents a Vietnam Veteran, possibly the brother of the man who lives there. 

    One day as I drove by, imagination intact, the man was out with a boy who was probably new at being a teen.  That day I decided that the homeowner might be the uncle of the boy and had him visiting in order to help fill the empty place caused by the MIA/POW’s absence.  Or maybe, the teen is the son of the homeowner and his dad is helping him learn to remember the fallen.  They were working in a flower garden and I felt it was to honor the loved one who wasn’t there.  Now, a couple of years later, each time I pass by that flower garden, my mind’s eye sees the man and the boy working together and I wonder some more.

    I also wonder about this draw that has my mind so wrapped up in wanting to know.  Deep down inside I am sure it is because the flag represents a person who left hearts at home and whose presence is loved, missed, and will never be forgotten.  Isn’t that something each one of us would like to know when we are gone from the presence of those we love?  Would this MIA/POW be any different? 

    The white-on-black flag tells us that it is obvious that this MIA/POW has not returned…or, here goes my imagination causing me to wonder again…is it possible that our flag person was a POW/MIA, who continues to fly that flag as an honoring remembrance of those who didn’t make it back? 

    I wonder.

Marilyn Sue Moore                     4-19-05                        Publish Date 5-29-05

 

REMINDERS OF FALL (MY TITLE)

Fall season brings back great childhood memories (MY turn title)

    I could use a trip to Maine right now but it’s too far to go!  Besides that I spent at least forty-five years of my life greeting the glorious fall foliage so I probably have had my share of its beauty.  However in the last 22 years fall has found me living in Arizona, New Hampshire, Illinois, Ohio, and Texas.  While the three years I spent the fall seasons in New Hampshire didn’t count as personally as the ones in Maine had, there was still that achingly beautiful fall glory there.

     As much as I have always appreciated the colors of fall even when I was a child there was something about that season that made me feel sad.  Now that those in the know have found that some people need light to keep their bodies happy I have realized that is most likely why I felt the sadness I did.  The lack of light was probably at least a part of it although another part was most likely seeing the glorious colors projected against a brilliant blue sky one day and fallen to the ground the next day.  That happens so fast as a result of the fall winds and rains in Maine.  Even then there was beauty of another kind though.  After the dampness had dried I loved listening to the crunch of the dried and dull rusty leaves underfoot as I walked to and from school and the babysitting jobs I had.

    Before I was old enough to babysit (indeed I needed to be babysat!) my family lived in a village in central Maine.  We lived where the road came to a “T” and there was a general store on each of two parts of the “T” and our house on a third part.  When folks came in from the country to get groceries at one of the stores, their kids would come across the road to play in our yard sometimes whether my brother and I were out or not.  That seemed to be mostly in the summertime though.  School was always in session the day after Labor Day in our town so during the fall and with darkness coming on earlier in the day it was mostly children from the neighborhood who played in the leaves with us.  We spent lots of time piling leaves then jumping in them never knowing anything about something called allergies.  Of course there were many things we didn’t know about then and probably would have been just as well off never learning.

    The fall of 1984 was the first fall in my life that I was not in the northeast for the change of seasons.  I wrote to my mother-in-law from our home in Tucson and mentioned how I missed the colorful leaves.  Return mail brought an envelope packed with brightly-colored fallen leaves she had collected especially for me from the town along the coast of Maine where she lived!  I used dressmaker straight pins to attach the leaves to the light yellow curtains that hung over our kitchen sink and as a result I probably had the fall colors longer than the people in Maine did because I left those leaves there until they got dry and crackly.  Those leaves still bring a smile even though they and my mother-in-law have both been gone too long, each having left us during a fall season.        

    We are now approaching another fall season and while my thoughts return to the land of my birth, my memories seem enough for right now.  Maybe next year I’ll go to Maine to collect some new memories along with some colorful fall leaves. 

Marilyn Sue Moore                     9-14-06                        Publish Date 9-24-06

 

THE LOST CORD (MY TITLE)

Kindness remembered (MY turn title)

    Have you heard the old adage that “One good deed deserves another”?  On August 29th I was blessed with the opportunity of hosting some out-of-town family members and a friend around the River Walk and the International Water Lily Collection.  Little did I know when we left home that morning that I would be thinking about that phrase so many times in the next couple of days.

    Our friend who had not arrived in our city with a camera used one of mine as we found many delightful shots while our group wandered around together, then apart.  When the time came to depart the Water Lily Collection, we were hot and ready to go so packed our cameras in their cases and headed out. Close to the entrance we found a few more floral displays we simply had to have pictures of so once again we pulled our cameras from their cases.  Without realizing we also pulled a picture-to-computer transfer cord and it fell to the ground.  Pictures taken, we were blissfully unaware of the missing cord until later at home when we were ready to transfer the pictures.  Personal pockets were searched, the van in which we had traveled was thoroughly checked, and our steps through the house were retraced, all to no avail.  Our guests suggested perhaps it had fallen out at our last stop.  Since it had been such a busy day we were too tired to retrace all those steps to find the missing cord that evening.  Thankfully we were able to swap the memory cards into a different camera so we were able to download the pictures into the computer so we could see our photo collection right away anyway.  

    The following morning after our guests had left for their home, I went back to the Lily Garden, prepared to wander, search, and not to be beaten down, I was ready with my camera to take more pictures as well!  I parked the van, searched carefully up and down the area where we had gotten out and back into the van the previous day, but saw no cord.  Since it had been wrapped with a brilliant narrow red strap I was sure it would be fairly easy to see. 

    As I approached the entry to the gardens, there on the top of one of the rock pillars lay my neatly red wrapped cord!  Upon seeing it, I immediately thanked God that it was there! Next, I thanked Him for the kind heart of the person who so thoughtfully recognized the cord’s importance, took time to pick it up and place it in such an obvious spot. 

    My family, our friend, and I are most thankful to the caring person who instead of just passing by chose to do a good deed that continues to grow in our hearts today.

    Since we have no way to say so in person, writing was the only way we felt able to let you know that your good deed will be remembered as long as this memory lives on in our family stories in mind and print. 

Marilyn Sue Moore                     9-9-07                        Publish Date 10-21-07

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