Saturday, November 17, 2012

Acornucopia


Little vessels of promise, acorns litter my driveway.  When I crunch them with my tires or feet, it feels like a random act of violence, obliterating the opportunity each little seed represents.  I’m a goofball about such things. 



We have a tree at one of my schools that drops acorns on steroids.  I think someone called it a burl oak, and its acorns are the size of golfballs.  I love that tree.  I have a funny mental image of a squirrel trying to lug that nut home for dinner. The shells are a deep, burnished brown and they wear the equivalent of a ten-gallon hat.  I pick them up on my way to work and store them guiltily, wondering how many rodents I’m depriving of a winter meal.



The tree over my driveway drops millions of acorns and once smushed they stain the concrete. Some scientist at A&M is probably trying to find a way to harvest that crop in a more meaningful way.  I can imagine a green engineer finding a way to recycle them into countertops or laminate.  That’s what we do as human beings, exploit what we love in nature. 



My mom had a tree in her backyard that dropped bombs.  I don’t think it was an oak tree;  she called it a horse chestnut. The size of baseballs, the bright green nuts would litter the yard without decomposing for years. She used to pay the grandkids a dime a piece to pick them up before the lawn mower chipped a blade. It cost her a pretty penny.

When my grandchildren and I go on a walkabout, we fill our pockets with acorns.  They see what I see…little treasures that can easily be used to create acorn people or other crafty things, and as it turns out, when you forget where you put them they come through the washing machine just fine. Squeaky clean and intact.



One time I bought a bag of acorns carved from oak.  That was dumb, but they were so pretty I couldn’t resist. At Hobby Lobby I found acorns formed from resin, their hats covered with glitter in autumn colors. A shameful substitute for what falls from the trees.  I’m pretty sure the Little Red Hen knows what I mean. I could start my own club…AA… for suckers like me, powerless over our acorn impulsivity.


So many acorns...so little time.


I can't believe I ate the whole thing...


...like most 12-step programs, this AA chapter offers help for those with an identity crisis.
Who am I without acorns?


I visited a lady’s house the other night and she had a big bowl of beautiful acorns on her dining room table.  Mahogany in color with tops that looked like braided rope, they were a bountiful reflection of fall.  She said she polished them with vegetable oil.  I lusted after those acorns.  She told me she found them in the woods beside her house, so I’m on a mission.  I want my own bowl full. Sorry, squirrels.

I've proposed a unique birth announcement for the little life developing in Lauren right now...her own little creation.  I haven't convinced her that my idea is superior to others she's found on her own...but I think acorns represent a great analogy for how life begins...



A man on my street wrote a wonderful book about crawdads.  I had no idea there were so many varieties.  He’s obsessed with these mudbugs.  I have been mulling over the idea of a similar tome on acorns.  The possibilities are endless.  There are probably some really cool acorns in Micronesia or New Zealand.  What’s not fascinating about that?




My love for acorns is not obsessive, but when they start to fall in the fall, bumping me on the shoulder as they tumble from the trees or cracking underfoot when I set my pumpkins on the porch, my mind begins turning them into projects rather than simple gifts.  Better to just take notice of the season and enjoy them...it's hard to improve on their beauty anyways.





What is it that I love besides their color, texture, and shape?



I think it’s the hope hidden inside.  From that tiny green pod, a huge, sprawling, spreading oak can grow.  It’s the equivalent of a mustard seed of faith.  Without any help from us, that little acorn can roll into the dirt, take root, and develop over time into giant spreading boughs that become an oxygenated ecosystem that will regenerate ad infinitum.  I love that idea.  Our world is full of temporary and ugly things, but it’s also full of enormous beauty and possibility.

Like acorns.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hot Guns







I know a man who’s handled hot guns, and hot ammo, and has withstood the burns that such weapons can create.  And I’ve been thinking of him off and on for the past several days.  

I was doing a little arts and crafts project, and stuck a ten-inch glue stick into my hot glue gun, waiting for it to heat up.  In order to put a ‘little of this’ next to a ‘bit of that’, I pulled the trigger and a big glob of glue slid onto the end of my finger.  Just the end.  It was extremely hot, though not as hot as a fiery furnace, not as hot as the tip of a bullet, not as hot as the searing fire of an explosion.  I grabbed my finger, wiped it against a rag, and put my hand under cold running water.  That was five days ago.  Today the tip of my finger is still numb.  


Layers of skin that seared away are just starting to grow back.  I can see the top layer, my epidermis, trying to stretch toward the other side of the gaping hole where the blister went deepest into my fingertip.


And I think about the man I know.  The one who was blown up.  The one with partial and full thickness burns over 30% of his body and I think about courage.  What kind of courage must a man possess to handle the burn, the damage assessment, the healing road?  What kind of courage must a man possess to accept the damage, and furthermore embrace the Healer? 

I put myself in harm’s way when I picked up that glue gun.  I knew that getting burned was a possibility.  But I was willing to take the risk.  

What kind of courage does it require to put yourself in harm’s way, when the risk is an IED, an RPG, a blast of uranium? Who can agree to such a possibility, and for many, such a probability?

Our Bible study is working through the book of Daniel right now, and I was reading of a different time and place, a different kingdom.  A king commanded that three of God’s men be bound and thrown into a furnace, demanding a fire so hot that the soldiers tossing the men into the flames were killed instantly. Just getting close to the flames brought death.   The three men fell down into the fiery furnace, but suddenly, onlookers noticed that there were four men in the flames.  Four men, unbound, walking around in the fire, unscathed, unhurt. And the fourth ‘looked like a god.’

It was not just any god. It was ours. Yours and mine.  And for my friend, I believe he had a companion, a protector, as well. The fire touched him—there was no doubt;  it burned off skin, fingers, ears, nose, lips, hair…he was burned down to the bone in a fire that left him comatose for months…but in that furnace with him there was a Savior who spared him, who took over the rescue operation, and did not leave his side for a moment.

We’re never promised that we won’t go through fire. But we are promised we won’t be destroyed by it.

My finger’s going to heal in a couple more days. Representing probably less than .00001 of the burn area of my soldier friend; this minor scrape is nothing.   Underscore nothing. My friend’s healing will continue for a lifetime.  But the God who saved him, the God who is able, fully able, to handle the healing journey, was with him in the blast and will be with him for always.

You’ll meet my friend pretty soon.  You’ll find out what he found out…where Jesus is when your body’s destroyed by fire. His story is nearly complete. I can’t wait to share it with you.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Miss Right





I put my wild horses pictures on this post first, just so you know where I'm coming from. 

I want to talk about marriage.  You know, because I’m so qualified to do that.  I was a pioneer in my own marriage…riding that wagon through a lot of wild, dangerous, and quiet terrain before I had to bury my partner on the prairie and continue alone. No one escaped unscathed. I am no expert. But I get asked to help with marriages, to give some solace or advice, to offer help or hope, and I want to talk about marriage for a minute. 

Our media is inundated with stories of weddings, but there are very few reports, shows,  or specials that capture the realism of marriage.  Weddings are the sitcom of our time;  marriages are the documentary. Weddings get Emmy’s.  Marriages get Oscar’s. Marriage begins with the pursuit of passion and perfection, but few folks succeed at keeping their eyes on the prize. It’s a privilege and a challenge to be asked to define and refine the difficulties of marriage when I felt so unsuccessful at it.  It’s a tough pursuit for any one of us.  But together, it can be done and done well.

Husband and Wife.
Mr. and Mrs.
His and Hers.
Me becomes We.

Most of us do believe in marriage, eventually.  

Finding that one person you want to revere and annoy for as long as you both shall live isn’t easy. Lancelot found his Guinevere.  Henry found his Eleanor. Petrarch found his Laura. Even Geoffrey Chaucer found his Pippa. Such couples have much to teach us about making love last a lifetime.  If Elizabeth Browning could deliver her sonnets to Robert after the wedding as well as before, and if Tristan could behold Isolde and treasure her heart when they were old and grey, surely today’s couples stand a chance.  A lot of famous couples in history tell us that it can be done.  I agree.  It can be done and done well.  It’s a matter of keeping focused on the prize…the long haul.  It’s a matter of staying true to what you’re doing right, right now, and repeating that process day after day, week after week, year after year.  The ceremony was the fun part; the pomp and circumstance. Staying the course, after the party’s over, that’s the hard stuff.  But worth it…so worth it.

When God invented marriage, he was quite optimistic. The secret of a happy marriage is still, in 2012, a secret. I love to meet couples who’re celebrating 10 years of marriage, or 25, or 53.   They have a lot to teach us. Nuptials nail your promise to paper, bearing witness to what you’ve agreed to give one another.  Living together without marriage vows is just not the same.  When I talk to husbands or wives who’ve met the next benchmark, I hear them repeat the mantra:  Stay the course. Don’t quit.  Don’t give up. 

Here are a few recommendations that will help you on your way.  

  • In marriage, you will find your home in each other’s arms-- always go home.

  • You will find your hunger satisfied at your own dinner table—don’t settle for the drive-thru. A real meal takes time to prepare and enjoy. You’ll get better at it.

  • You’re not passengers in a wedding limo.  In marriage you’re in the front seat;  sometimes the pilot and other times the copilot.  It’s a global trip.  But there’s a map.  It’s called the Bible.  And it will never lead you astray.  When you lose your way, Jesus is still your GPS.

  • You will never quench your thirst in wine or spirits—drink from the same well of living water.

  • You don’t have an adoring public like Kate and William. You have a relatively small group of well-wishers.  Seek accountability in the eyes of God, not in the eyes of the world.

  • You’re not in a marriage to get happy; you’re there to give happiness to your partner and the family you’ve created.  Don’t look for what you can get out of marriage;  look for what you can give.

  • Marriage is a union of body, mind, and spirit. Don’t neglect or disrespect the body, mind, or spirit of your spouse. A headache every night turns into a loveless marriage and someone who is starving will become discouraged, disheartened, angry, or apathetic.  No one needs sex.  We all need intimacy.  There's a difference. 

  • You will fight and argue; fight fair and fight clean. If you shame or humiliate your partner, you are reducing who you profess to be and you will not be trusted. Remember that the root of every argument is self-protection.  Ergo, ego.

  • Marriage is quantum physics:  One plus one equals two that become one.

  • At the end of the day, forgive the slights.   In the real scheme of things, they don’t add up to a pile of beans.

Whoever said marriage was impossible never tried to nail pudding to a tree.

You can do it. Together. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Safety Net



I have never longed to jump out of an airplane, much less dive off a cliff, bridge, or other scary height. My brother, Steve,  used to jump off Stillhouse Lake bridge in high school and I thought he was nuts. He did, too.  My dad jumped out of airplanes for a living, but he said they were all night jumps (he had his eyes closed). My brothers and husband earned parachute badges, because that's what the military expected them to do.  But my girls, my girls....why do they insist on doing this?  They know that I am going to look for the hidden meaning, for the reason behind such decisions.


I think we all long to understand our safety nets.  What protects us from harm?  If you jump out of an airplane, it's a pretty sure thing you're not going to do that without a parachute.  And on your first couple of jumps, someone's gotta travel tandem with you so you know what you're doing, and they'll pull the ripcord in time.  Someone's gotta pack that chute. And someone's gotta sew that chute so it's not going to rip apart.  Someone's gotta fly to an acceptable altitude to push you out of that plane.  And someone's gotta prepare that plane for flight.  And someone's gotta prepare that pilot for safe transport.  You get my drift.  There are layers and layers of protection and risk between deciding to jump out of a plane, and actually doing it.


But I didn't have that conversation with Charlotte today.  I said something simple, like, "Be safe."  When she and I were done talking, thus began my conversation with God.  I wasn't wheeling and dealing.  I was just asking God if He would place that airplane safely in the sky, pluck Charlotte out of it with His huge hands, dangle her around in the sky so that she thinks she's jumping freefall, and then still holding her between His index finger and thumb, please just place her back on the ground safe and sound.  I mentioned that it would be okay with me if she scraped her knee on the ground just a little, not an injury, just a little rough spot,  so maybe it'll discourage her from going again.  You know, just in case. She can jump out of an airplane for one reason, and one reason only:  
He always has us in His hands, in every moment.



Friday, July 6, 2012

Family Love

video





With the month of July come three opportunities to thank God once more for my family…we celebrate the birthdays of Lauren, Michelle, and Charlotte. They always hate it when I say I was really fertile in October, so I’ll say it again just to get under their skin. That’s what families do…we get under each other’s skin.


As we raise our children, we have the opportunity to rewrite history…we can do the things we want to do differently with our children as compared to the way we were raised by our own parents.  Some of us have a really long list of how we want to do things differently.  My list is pretty short.  But either way, we can revise, revisit, and relearn how to be a good mom or dad.   Re-parenting gives us a way to release the past and the future all in one fell swoop.



When I look at the life my parents gave me, and what I have tried to do differently as a parent and grandparent, I think the first and foremost revision falls squarely in the spiritual realm.  When we were little, my mother took us to Sunday school and church.  We were each baptized at some point in one denomination or another. We weren’t “Lutherans” or “Baptists”…we were Protestants, and this had to do with the fact that we attended military chapels for the most part.


I don’t remember ever seeing my father in church except at our weddings.  He had faith, I know that for sure.  But he had no desire to practice his faith within the walls of a church.  He would tell you there was no mistaking the fact that we each need God, and he found that out firsthand in a foxhole.  He had a general mistrust for organized religion, and I don’t know where that came from.  His mother was very religious, as well as very spiritual.  She lived with us on and off during my childhood, and I have a clear picture of her sitting in her bed in my room, reading her Bible.  I also have a clear picture of her with boobs down to her knees that she hoisted into her bra each morning, but that’s another conversation. She knew her Bible so well, and it showed in the kind of life she led.  She was gentle in nature; I never saw her angry or upset.  Her kindness was a part of my father, and it is now a part of my brothers and me. There were things my parents did that she disagreed with, such as their cocktail hour, but she never interfered.  She would occasionally ask for a little medicinal brandy, but she stayed out of the fray when it came to vocalizing her opinions. I wish I were more like her in that regard. 


My mother was raised a little differently.  She shared memories of her early childhood that included her father’s disappearance, her mother’s remarriage, and difficult teen years. She would not say that faith mattered to her but she showed us, by taking us to church regularly in our early years.  She would say that by the time we reached adolescence, she was tired of fighting to get us to go to church, so she quit taking us.  I think it was lonely for her to take us to church by herself. And that was that.  Over the years, no amount of convincing could get her to go back.  By the grace of God, each of us kids found our way back nevertheless. When we’d visit our parents in our adult years, or they’d visit us, they would not entertain the idea of going to church.  It just wasn’t going to happen.


Door-to-door Christians were not welcome.  I can remember my mother hotly cutting off anyone who rang the doorbell to share his or her beliefs with her.  That was never going to cut it with her.  My parents were not hostile towards Christians; they just did not want anyone to impose their beliefs on them. They were generous to the needy in their own way; they did this anonymously and did not seek or want public or private recognition.   My father would say, “God doesn’t owe me anything.”  When I told him that was the beauty of the gift; all He asks is for us to receive, he thought it just sounded too good to be true. Neither my mother or father wanted proselytizing; once they figured out where a conversation was going, they would nip it in the bud.  To win their hearts in terms of trusting God, you had to show them by your example what it meant to believe in Jesus.  Telling them never worked. 

I run into this same issue with my own children.  When faced with a problem, they do not want me to use the “what would Jesus do” approach.  They don’t trust it at all.  It’s not a matter of not trusting God; it’s a matter of not trusting what people do with the word of God.  We can all point to one event as a turning point in our spiritual walk as a family,  and we have each had to deal with that wound both corporately and individually over the years. 

When Bo died, the pastor of the little community church we were attending as a family came to our house to discuss the service.  I was separated from Bo at the time, but even when we were married, he didn’t go to church with us, so if I had a conversation with a pastor as a parent, it was just me; we weren’t a unified team.  The pastor asked how we wanted to remember Bo, and we talked about his life and the hope that our family needed for healing.

The service was a hot mess.  Our good friend, Pete Marion, spoke eloquently and lovingly about Bo, and it meant a great deal to all of us.  My brother, Todd, spoke quietly and succinctly about God’s love for Bo and for us.  Then the pastor spoke, and it went downhill from there.  He made it clear that we didn’t really know what the future would be for Bo.  Did he believe in God?  Maybe, maybe not.  Was he saved?  Maybe, maybe not.  Did he go to heaven?  Maybe, maybe not.  Did he do well as a father, husband, son, brother, friend?  Maybe, maybe not.  In a few short minutes, he managed to offend just about everyone.  It was all we could do to get through it. 

A week later, I went to my pastor and asked, “Was that the message God laid on your heart for our family?”

He said, “Yes, pretty much.”

I don’t think so.  I know he missed the mark.  And that’s what we do as Christians.  We miss the mark a lot.  Without consistent, quiet, and mature study and reflection on God’s word, we miss the message that God has for us and we miss the message that God gives us to share with others. 

My children deserved to be surrounded by the hope, the grace, and the love of Christ that day, but a careless pastor neglected his responsibility to that little congregation of 5.  He exercised judgment, not compassion. His eye seemed to be on all the visitors instead of the five young people sitting on the front pew, waiting for him to say something that would help them make sense of all this. People asked me later if he was trying to drum up church members. It was a confusing time for all of us. I could not speak for why he said the things he said. I had to accept that as wrong as the message seemed to be in my way of thinking, God had permitted it nonetheless.  Without the love of our family and friends, that day would have drowned us in grief. It was going to be a hard enough road;  why would anyone want to make it harder?

As a parent, how I wish I could reparent my children during this time of our lives.  Instead of finding a new church home for us, I hid out.  I made excuses on Sunday mornings.  I got busy with other activities and tested the water occasionally at church events like vacation Bible school or TV evangelism, but I let my children down as their mother and spiritual leader of our home. 

I know I can cut myself a certain amount of slack; I was just trying to make it through each day, putting one foot in front of the other to take care of our five children.

And yet.  And yet.  I had a responsibility to these five youngsters; they were looking at all of the adults in their lives to figure out how to live.  They saw my parents as pillars of safety and security; they knew that no matter how much they hurt, no matter how much their mother was hurting, their grandparents were squarely in their corner.  This spoke volumes to them about the love of God and His provision for us as a family.

For us, as a Christian community, I think this is where the rubber meets the road.  Where are we for those who are hurting in our midst?  Are we present?  Can we be trusted?  Are we real?  How do we love?

I have tried to show my children a good and right and real example of what it means to have faith and to follow Christ in my words, actions, deeds.  I am still working on it.  I will spend the rest of my life trying to show them that Jesus matters.  When they parent their own children, they will have to right the wrongs; adjust their parenting styles and decisions to reflect a higher version of what God wants and desires for their own families.  I don’t want them to be confused about the blueprint, or where it comes from.  I want to be stunned by what God does in their lives.  He has stunned me already, in so many ways.  I want my children, their spouses, and my grandchildren to know Him intimately, as their rock and their shield.  He has been that for me.

My brothers and I, each of us believers, honor our parents by our example in living lives that demonstrate what it means to believe in Jesus.  When we said goodbye to them on this earth, we had faith that God had taken them home, unto Himself, with the mustard seed of faith firmly planted in their hearts.  I have great respect for what my mother and father believed and came to understand about God through the course of their lives. In their suffering they did not cry out or complain; they accepted and understood the grace that God had given them each day of their lives. They had great courage, and I draw from that every day.  My brothers and I, each of us believers, try to show our children and grandchildren by our example what it means to believe in Jesus, so that when our children and grandchildren say goodbye to us on this earth, they will have faith that God has taken us home, unto Himself, hopefully with a harvest of hearts changed by the reflection of God that they’ve experienced in us, in our daily walk.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.

For He knows what we are made of, remembering that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass—he blooms like a flower of the field; when the wind passes over it, it vanishes, and its place is no longer known. 

But from eternity to eternity the Lord’s faithful love is toward those who fear Him, and his righteousness toward the grandchildren of those who keep His covenant, who remember to observe His instructions.

The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.

Praise the Lord,
All his angels of great strength,
Who do his word, obedient to his command.   Ps 103: 13-21










p.s.  Another July birthday! Happy birthday to my brother Stacy, who was born on my dad's birthday, July 3rd. 




Monday, June 18, 2012

Angry Birds

My grandkids play this game called “Angry Birds.” I really couldn’t figure out the point. Then I realized that it’s kind of a healthy tool. These birds get mad, and then they do something about it. Sometimes their actions are effective, and at other times they make a bigger mess. There really are some life lessons hidden in the subtext. Are there subliminal programmers at work? I may be overthinking it. But one of the areas in my life that I wish I had figured out better when I was a young woman is in the area of emotions. I wish I had understood better how to express my own sadness or anger, so that I could have taught my children better strategies for doing the same. I love my parents, and am grateful for them every single day; every single moment. Do you feel a ‘but’ coming on? When I was a little girl, and well into my teens, okay, fifties, if I felt angry or sad, I was always told to go to my room. I wasn’t allowed out until I was back in a happy mood. I don’t think that was always a bad idea. Sometimes I was just a brat, and I needed correction. But other times, I felt bad, sad, afraid, or angry, and I needed to find my voice. Most of the time, I was taught that anger, fear, and sadness were “negative” emotions, and I’m not sure that’s true. I wish I knew how to express righteous anger. I wish I could express anger without tears. But I can’t. My parents had different ways of sharing their strategies for dealing with anger. My dad carried an imaginary rooster around in his shirt pocket. If we were pouting or sad, he would take his rooster out of his pocket, squeeze it between his thumb and index finger, and tell us, “This rooster’s going to poop on your lip.” You can bet that you sucked in that pouty lip pretty damn quick. When he was G-3 at Fort Hood, he didn’t want to get confused about what buildings and services were under his command, so he painted them all Infantry blue and put a big yellow smiley face on the side that said, “Have a Nice Day.” He was that kind of guy. He might have been a warrior, but he did not like conflict. My mother had no tolerance for the anger or sadness. She was fearless that way. You just flat got sent to your room. We always knew it was “mom’s way or the highway.” It would have been handy if someone had asked you later, “What were you so mad about?” But that never happened. My parents raised us just like most folks did in their generation. We were spoiled, and it was their way of creating a balance. In their childhoods, their families were coming off the Great Depression; there were world wars. Pondering your navel was inexcusable. If someone did you wrong, you better build a bridge and get over it in about twenty minutes. And yet. We do have the right to be sad. And angry. And we do need to find a way to say what needs to be said; to do what needs to be done, without worrying that our relationships are going to end or we’re going to have a disgusting mess on our bottom lip. When my children were sad or angry, I didn’t send them to their rooms, but I’m not sure I did all I could do to help them express their true feelings. I think they tried to spare me a good bit of honest reflection because I was a single mother for so long, but they seem to have gotten over that in their adult years. I think they each deal with anger, fear, and sadness very differently, and I realize that’s completely normal, too. But wouldn’t it be a healthy thing to be able to say what you mean, mean what you say, and get heard and understood in the process? Wouldn’t that kind of communication be refreshing, knowing that your love for each other was secure, unconditional, and not tied to how you were feeling or not feeling at the moment? I’m the woman who apologizes to the store clerk when she’s rude to me. I’m the one who pays the mechanic for shoddy work. I’m the one who gripes in private but smiles in public. I want more honesty. I want to learn how to be an Angry Bird when I need to be. But an Angry Bird doesn’t need an audience, or a victim. Releasing our anger to God is first and foremost. He can transform us when we come face to face with what we are truly feeling. If we “get angry” that implies that our anger has a target and in the midst of our anger, we probably don’t have the clarity we need. Through prayer and supplication, through reflection and introspection, we can figure out if our anger is righteous or self-righteous. Self-righteous anger is sin. Righteous anger requires something of us…we must bring it to God and listen for His direction. It may be to stay silent, or it may be to confront, to change the outcome for the better. I’m working on it. I don’t ever want to get to the point where I’m throwing chairs or sobbing at the counter. But I do want to figure out how to say, “I’m pissed when you do this or that…” or “I’m sad because I wanted this or that…” I want to be a good listener, sounding board, and confidante. I’m not there yet. I’d like to learn how to deal with my anger, fear, or sadness without creating a foul/fowl mess. I’d like to learn how to deal with my anger without putting on a happy face, without making chicken salad out of chicken shit. I want to bring it to Him, and leave it with Him, and be transformed by the renewing of my mind and attitude. As it turns out, Angry Birds don’t have wings. They have to function without any mode of transportation. I’m not sure how they ever win the battle against those green pigs once and for all. But you and I, we have wings, and we have the ability to handle our anger without dropping bombs or morphing into multiple personalities. I want to make myself stronger, and I want to make my family stronger. I want to purge myself of unhealthy habits. I want to invent a new game, “Empowered Birds”…”Confident Birds”…but it’s never going to catch on with that kind of title!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Beautiful Poison

God’s been doing His work in me, and I have learned something from Him in the process, painful as it is. He has shared this with me: I am never holy. Only He is holy. Sin is always within my grasp, within my reach, in my heart, in my thoughts, in my DNA. Just when I think that I am knowing Him, growing closer to Him, gaining ground in terms of spirituality or holiness, He shows me that there it is, sin, like a weed, growing in this beautiful garden that He calls me. Did you know the Easter lily is a poisonous plant? We associate it with new birth, with redemption, with holiness. And yet. And yet. Our God tells us, “Be holy, for I am holy,” in 1 Peter 1:13-16. He goes on, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.” I’m just wondering. Is that possible for me? It seems I try and try, but I don’t meet the Maker’s mark. I know that I want to live a life of holiness, in order to understand and fit into the plan God has for my life. But the older I get, the more I discover how strenuous that is. Life, it seems, is an obstacle course. It requires spiritual, mental, and physical effort. I must work to prepare, to arm myself, for the duties and trials and conflicts of this life. He requires me to be sober, reflective, watchful, and active. I must ask for His protection against my pride, my self-will, my arrogance, my self-loathing…in other words, whatever weakens me in faithfulness. It’s a small path, and a narrow gate, that leads me to Him. He gives me hope, hope for holiness. I know that I am saved by grace through faith. But as I go, as I go through each day, I need the anchor of His word to stay the course. I'm writing a book. I don't think it's self-indulgent. I think the book has an important message. And, it's a dream come true for me. It's going well. I don't quite understand what comes next, but I am hopeful. But writing this book with Shilo has forced me to consider my selfless devotion, as well as my selfish desires. I want, more than anything else, to make sure that the reading of this text leads someone, anyone, to decide to be transformed by the renewing of his/her mind, as that is surely what Shilo’s story is all about. No matter what the world says, his story cannot be told separate or apart from the grace of God. So I’m just praying that sin doesn’t enter in too boldly or too sneaky either; that we each ask every day to be transformed so that what we say, what we write, is holy and pleasing to God. That it doesn’t turn out to be beautiful but poisonous. That it leads to new life, rebirth, holiness before God. Let this work be a living sacrifice, through us, holy and pleasing to God. Let it be an act of spiritual worship. Because long after the pages disappear, and long after we leave this earth, if we have pointed no one, no person, no family, no seeker or sinner to our God, then really, why did we bother?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lucky Me

I have something to say about the friends in this photo. Their faces make me grin, and I remember a lot of meetings, conversations, emails, and texts that have crisscrossed the time and space that separates us. We share many commonalities, but perhaps the strand that connects us first is the fact that we are all librarians. Some people will read those words and think, okay, so they all love books, so they know how to do the Dewey, but so what? I have an idea that there’s a bond that is really quite profound between us. If you were to overlay our personalities in a 6-part Venn diagram, the place where we would all intersect is the place in our hearts that we reserve for children. Nothing and no one else can fill that space. It is what drew us to one another, and it is what makes our friendships with one another thrive and grow. The diagram reveals another intersection as well…it is our ability to picture a special future for the children in our midst. We believe in who they are, as well as who they could be. We get to practice becoming the people we are called to be…and we get to stimulate that practice in the children around us. Empowering children makes us feel powerful, and grateful. We have a knowing between us. We choose to work with young people. We know that the children we reach have as much to teach us as we have to share with them. The school bell rings, and most folks think our students are marching through the door to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. But we see the bigger picture. We know what they’re really going to learn from us. Through our example, we attempt to teach them how to love. We can each accept that all children need this, but there is no age when those children stop needing it from us. We love in order to live well ourselves. Children who are loved well succeed at anything and everything. I think we have a kind of envy for our young friends. Their slates are much cleaner than ours, and it seems easier to erase the mistakes. They are quick to forgive. Charles Dickens said something about what a blessing it is to realize that children, so fresh from God, love us. The slights and griefs, doubts and fears, angers and anxieties we carry with us in adulthood help to diminish and minimize the child within. Yet we understand that inside each one of us is a younger version of ourselves. Do we have the same souls at 54, 38, 57, 31 that we had as children of 8, 9, 10? I believe we do…but I believe that working with children allows us to become more illumined and enlightened about that inner being. I feel lucky to be in the picture with these library girls. I look to my right and left, and I’m trying to imagine how I got so lucky to be friends with each one of these remarkable women. Which led me to contemplating the idea of luck. I wondered if I searched the Word of God if I would find that He uses that word. Sometimes I’ll glibly state that I don’t believe in luck, but it’s in my vocabulary, and perhaps I better understand the word a little better before I discount its meaning or existence. I looked for synonyms—fortune, favor, happenstance. I found something quite illuminating. Is there such a thing as luck? Is it luck that puts us together, or is it Providence? I found what I needed, along with many examples from history, in God’s word. But the bottom line is this: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” Prov. 16:33 Luck seems like random favor or fortune, or the lack thereof. It can be randomly good or bad. Luck reeks of hopelessness in my mind. Luck relinquishes us of any responsibility. The current secular vernacular that is all around us calls god “the universe”. I hear people say that “the universe” will bring them good luck or bad luck, this or that. Really? Many folks in the world around me believe in a lower case god. That’s fine. But make mine upper case. It’s another thing I have in common with my library girls. We spell God with a capital G. Our undergirding is belief. We may describe our denominations differently, but we have a common denominator. Faith. Our relationships with Him are different; we’re at different points in our journey. That’s half the fun. We weren’t thrown together by luck; we were brought together by design. I like knowing that. The picture was taken after we presented to several hundred fellow librarians at our annual conference, TLA. We’d all prepared well for the day; we had a lot of ideas we wanted to share with our colleagues from around the state. There was no arrogance in our midst; we all felt a little intimidated by the idea that we were sharing with a lot of experts in the room. But we got through it. So when I look at our silly moustaches, I see our collective sigh of relief. I feel gratitude to God for bringing us together, and I say a prayer of thanksgiving. Am I lucky? Maybe. My Alpha and Omega provides me with all the “luck” I could ever want or need. He gives me unmerited favor. Screw luck. He gives me grace.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Happy Birthday, Pam



March 29, 2012

Today is the birthday of my oldest friend, Pam. She’s not really my oldest friend. I have friends who are older. But she and I have been friends the longest. We’ve been together since 1965. That’s before most of you were born. Our fathers were stationed at Fort Benning when we met. We were in the same school-- Edward A. White Elementary. She lived up the hill in the colonel’s quarters and I lived down the road from her. There are probably still skid marks on Lumpkin Road from the days when I raced up to her house or she skated down to mine. 45 years later, I’m in College Station and she’s in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and in my mind, we’re still as close as ever. And though I have something to say, she’s going to do the talking. Because I saved them. All of them. Her letters.

Over the years, they piled up and I placed them in shoeboxes, bags, all sorts of odd containers. As they spilled out and became a mess, I used my big empty guitar case to store them. Moving from house to house, I would remind my parents not to get rid of that guitar case. It was many years before they realized there was no guitar inside. I never had a context or conscientious reason for saving and storing these old letters, it just felt like a kind of disloyalty to throw them away. But I've been cleaning house lately, and I've gotten to the place where continuing to cart these cartons around requires an explanation. What’s the point, I ask, as I attempt to reduce, reuse, and recycle? I begin to go through the guitar case. But rereading these letters, trying to decide which ones to toss, I find I cannot make a decision. So I begin to save them in one long strand, and that strand begins to form a timeline that I find interesting, intricate, and intensely personal. The strand tells a story-- an interwoven, layered landfill of sorts that represents a chronology of a friendship; it has become a memoir that I did not write.

The epistolary art seems all but lost in this digital age. Yet our need to communicate, heart to heart, is as strong as ever. In the years of the 1960’s and 70’s, “my space” was the path between two friends, requiring some 3-4 days delivery time. In the 80's and 90's, our letters became more infrequent, but we were busy with babies, growing families, the hectic lives of extended families. We shared the loss of our parents, my husband, Pam's sister, and friends. As we've reached out to one another over the years, our faith has grown and become a vital part of our lives. Pam is the finest person I've ever known. She did not have an easy life; but she will never tell you that. Generous to a fault, she gives freely and unconditionally. She is a prayer warrior, and I know that the reason I am where I am today is due to her prayers on my behalf. She blesses everyone who knows her, yet she is very unassuming about her talents. She is the anonymous giver. Looking at the contents of my guitar case, I feel grateful for the time we spent creating, deliberating, reading, and sending letter, after letter, after letter. I understand the commitment we had more today than I did when this project began.

It’s been said that who we are is determined by the environment we create. I’ve tried not to recreate the environment in which these letters originated and then resided. Each letter has been delivered in the same way as the date it was received. This project, with all its imperfections, is one of friendship. It speaks for itself.


January 1, 1968

Dear begotten Rob,
Listen, Rob, believe it or not, when you don’t write I go utterly mad. What’s wrong? The reasons why I haven’t written you are (1) - because I wrote last; (2) and I was going to give you time to write ;( 3) but your time is up, buster. I tried a few hunches myself- you know I think the worst first, so I thought maybe your whole family got in an accident, but I pray I was wrong and still am. Then I thought you were too busy to write, but I hoped it was not that either, so please, Rob, write and tell me a reason.

Oh Rob, I love my present. It’s the biggest one object I have in my room and it stands out so well it looks fluorescent. I hope you liked your present- real topaz and everything. I thought you’d like it because you liked Steve’s topaz ring so much and were always asking him if you could wear it. I got so many beautiful gifts that I can’t name them all, but I’ll name the big ones: a Lady Bulova watch, an electric Lady Sunbeam, a mohair beige sweater, a mother of pearl collar pin, a stuffed reindeer and two stuffed fish, a jewelry case covered with make believe gems, Ambush, Unforgotten, Somewhere, and Here’s My Heart perfumes, talc, and cream sachets. Then I got lots of lipstick, jewelry, and other knick-knacks. Enclosed are some pictures we finally got developed.

Write,
Pam

January 15, 1968

Dear Rob,
How come we don’t communicate anymore? I guess it’s my turn to write because I did await your long awaited letter and it finally arrived. You sure got a lot of nice things for Christmas, especially that topaz necklace. I wonder who sent you that. Ho ho ho. I have named my stuffed dog, Robin. Guess who I named it after? Ho ho ho. Boy, am I ever in a good mood. It’s about 9:00 here on Wednesday night and I already have studied for our big science test, covering 100 pages, read my literature story, and rolled my hair. After I finish writing you, I’ll try to sneak in polishing my fingernails before bedtime. Guess what? I and two other girls in my class like the same boy, Rick.


Love,
Pam


June 21, 1968

Dear Rob,
Gosh! You don’t know how glad I was when your letter came. Barb had gone to the mailbox and brought it back and I grabbed it from her and saw that it was from you. Boy, was I happy! First to answer your questions: Yes, Barb found a great number of colleges that she liked better than the others. She really liked Winthrop College, Furman University, and the University of South Carolina. I really liked USC and Furman. Barb and I agree that Furman is the best because it is so neat. Everything on the campus is brand new and they have this huge lake. Frank is fine and he found that little cat- but he’s not little anymore. My father is home now and will be there until the 29th. We are all coming home on the evening of the 30th. Yes, the Gay Dolphin was fun, but it was at Myrtle Beach, which is on the coast, and Salem is around 200 miles from there for it isn’t near the coast. But, the Gay Dolphin was right on the shore. We had so much fun there. We all hated to leave. I think that is great about your dad being okay. I’m even happier that he didn’t get hurt while he was being shot at. When will Vietnam’s war be over? My mother thinks it is really remarkable that your dad is okay.

Oh Rob, how I wish I had been at the pool when Jimmy spoke to you. I really wish he would even glance at me. But he doesn’t even know I’m alive. When I come home the next day you and I will go to the pool and maybe Jimmy will be there, okay? I really hope your prediction comes true, about we all becoming friends again. Right now, Frank, Barb, and I are drinking Pepsi out of goblet-shaped clear glass dessert glasses. It’s getting pretty boring around here because I don’t have any friends around here. I’m sending you a picture I drew of Frank. He just called me a few bad names for daring to draw a picture of him. Can’t wait to see you.

Bye,
Pam

June 25, 1968

Dear Rob,
I just received your 2 groovy, marv, way-out, and zany letters- Boy, was I happy! I’m sending you a sticker from some Monkee bubblegum. The “Monkees” come on every Friday night here and last for 30 groovy minutes. It’s so funny and Davy Jones and Peter Tork are my favorites. Thanks for that wacky postcard. Barb agrees with it wholeheartedly. I’m sad to hear that you have Dr. L’Home –he was one of the orthodontists who examined me and told me I didn’t need braces- boy did I ever show him off! Golly, Rob, I just can’t believe that Prissy is back. If you see her, tell her hi for me. But I might be able to say that to her myself since I’m coming home Sunday.
Boy, when I get home I’m going to rent a court and just you and I can play tennis. I’m not too good, but my mother is great, and she can give me a few helpful pointers. That blood idea is also great and I’m going into the kitchen right now to try to prick myself. Oh, sheesh. I can’t because my forefinger is full of holes but no blood will come through. Oh well, I’ll keep trying. We went to Seneca today and I got a groovy pair of shades. They are twice as big as those white ones you and I have. They look cool on me. Guess what? My mom has let me start shaving my legs. She said I could use Neet or the razor and I said the razor because Neet stings. Guess what else? I’ve decided to let my hair grow long so I’m only going to have my hair trimmed so that it will grow faster. My favorite aunt, Edith, and her husband, Uncle Bee are coming to dinner at my grandfather’s house. We’ve been cleaning this house from top to bottom. Boy, we’re going to have a feast- pork chops, baked potatoes, sundaes, etc. Doesn’t that sound good? I’ll be seeing you soon.


Love,
Pam



October 30, 1968
Dear Rob,
I am writing this letter in happiness as well as sorrow. For one thing, I didn’t understand any of your letter because the first page was gone. For another you made me worry so much I thought I’d die. First of all, I guessed the worst to have happened to you because I thought you’d never write (but I didn’t realize that it took 2 days to get here). I thought maybe you had been in an accident, and my mother was going to call long distance and ask the operator if you were listed in the phone book yet. Then I thought you forgot my address. Oh, Rob! You know how I get so excited when I have a lot to tell you. Well I’m that way now. I guess I’ll tell you the good part of my news first. Well, I was elected alternate of our class and a girl named Vicky was elected representative of our class (mainly because she’s cute) and I was really disappointed because I had wanted to run for vice president and I thought you had to be a representative to be it. But then Vicky and I went to the first student council meeting and I found out that you could be an alternate and run for vice president or secretary but you had to be an eighth grade representative to be president so I decided to run for secretary and I am. The people who want to run for an office had to attend a meeting 7th period in Mr. Hollingsworth’s class so I went. I found out that my running-mate was an unpopular 7th grade girl. Now I’m not saying that I’m popular, but no one has heard of her before. Carol, a girl who is real popular and is running for president said I was bound to get it and Sue, that girl I met and her friend I told you was so beautiful, also Sue, are going around spreading the word that I’m running. We have to give our campaign speeches Thursday the 10th and I’m so nervous. My campaign manager is Jessie, one of my good school buddies (although she is not in my class). She is in the group I walk to school with. I’ve already written my speech, but it is too long to write to you, besides I have too much to tell you anyway. Oh Rob, this week has been the busiest of my life.

Now I guess I can tell you the bad news. Well, I think it was this last Tuesday night, and Frank woke up and he was crying his heart out. So I walked over to his bed and asked him what was wrong. He said his leg hurt (the right one). The next morning then he tried to go down to eat breakfast and he couldn’t move and he was still crying because he said it hurt a lot. My father came up to examine him and found out he couldn’t move his right arm or leg. My mother then struggled trying to dress him while my father called an ambulance to come with a stretcher since Frank couldn’t walk (not to mention sit up). While I was walking to school I saw his ambulance go up Running Avenue. When I came home, my mother was in tears. She said Frank had had a slight brain stroke. The doctors said a blood vessel collapsed in his brain which controlled his right side. Oh Rob! Healthy ol’ Frank! As soon as word got out, people we’ve never met before sent Frank flowers, sent us all sorts of food, so my mother wouldn’t have to cook and instead visit Frank; came to visit us and him. Even Barb’s Follow-Me director, Chaplain Vaughn, came to visit Frank and say a silent prayer with my mother. My father went directly to the hospital after work that afternoon and found out everything. He himself came home in tears. That’s when the seriousness of Frank’s condition hit me (like a ten ton rock) and I cried and prayed with all my strength that night. You see, out of all the things that a brain stroke can cause- a collapsed blood vessel is the least. We were all thankful for that. He could have had polio or been paralyzed on his right side for the rest of his life. He still can’t move his arm or leg. He had a spinal tap done twice-that’s when they stuck a needle into your spine and take a sample of marrow from the bone and test it for serious diseases. After each one he has to lie flat for 2 hours. The doctors think they might have to go through with a very serious operation in which they would have to inject a needle into his head and watch the fluid go through his brain. The slightest mistake could paralyze Frank’s brain for life and he would die. They said that they might not have to go through with it, but if they do, my father is going to consult a civilian doctor to make sure. There is a good doctor in Birmingham, Ala, and my father said it didn’t matter the cost as long as he was sure Frank is in the same ward that I was in, but I haven’t seen him though because I’m younger than sixteen. Rob, if you really want to help him, he would love a letter from you. He was glad to hear that you wrote me, because he was getting worried, too. The doctors say he might be in for 2 weeks- the same amount of time that I was in. His address would be A-E, Martin Army Hospital, Ft. Benning, GA 31905. Make sure you put his name on the top. He really is depressed my mother told me, so don’t by all means ask him anything about the hospital. My mother has gotten him about 20 models to exercise using his hands.

Love,
Pam

Oct 1, 1968

Dear Rob,
I memorized my speech so now I’ll write it down: “Members of the faculty, students council members, and the student body. I’m not up here to put false ideas into your heads or to promise impossible feats. No, I’m up here to proclaim myself, Pam, a candidate for secretary of YOUR student council. Yes, it is yours, because without you, neither I nor any other of these candidates would be up here, but thanks to you, we are. Each and every one of you has the right, as Faith School students, to evaluate and then choose the candidate of your choice, and I hope your choice for secretary is me. I realize what the job I will be taking on is like, and I know the heaviness of this task, but I know I am capable of accepting it. So I ask for your support in electing me secretary of YOUR student council.” Everyone said I didn’t mess up and the two times I gave the speech-once for the eighth grade and the other for the sixth and seventh combined. Wiley was running but didn’t make it. Monday they’ll have a run-off for vice president Terry vs. Judy and one for president, Sue vs. Teddy. I hope Terry wins because he’s not as stuck up as Judy and not nearly that as his brother Tom. I hope Sue wins for president because she’s a friend of mine.

Rob, we haven’t received your packages but I’m very anxious to get them. This Saturday, the 12th, I went to the Chattahoochee County Fair. It was real fun and I went in a “barrel of fun” house- a spook house two times. I bought Frank a monkey (fur) that moves its hands and feet. By the way, Frank is doing better and can walk now. The doctors haven’t decided if they are going to carry through with that serious operation, yet. My father is going to hire a tutor to come to the hospital starting Monday to teach Frank.

Love,
Pam


October 31, 1968

Dear Rob,
I don’t know why you didn’t receive my latest letter, but I guess it’s like you said, the mail probably got fumbled up. That trip to Philadelphia sure seems like it was exciting. I’m glad you finally got to see the Washington Monument. That pool of water below the Washington Monument is called the “reflecting pool” because it reflects the Washington Monument. You still haven’t told me about your school, subjects, or teachers, and I wish you would. Rob, Frank really appreciated your letter. He went back to the hospital to get that operation and did. Nothing was found that could cause more trouble- like a tumor- luckily! He is home now, and will start school Monday. He will be tutored by his same tutor, Miss Perrin. Tonight is Halloween and instead of being happy, I’m mad at my mother. I was going to go trick-or-treating with Sue, Jessie, and a few other girls at 6:30. It’s real dark by then, since we changed to standard time. But my mother says I can only go at 7:30 and the daily bulletin says we have to be in by 9:00. She is getting so mean. As soon as I came home and she told me I wasn’t respecting her consent, she made me wash the lunch dishes and put up yesterday’s and today’s clothes. She keeps telling me to rest and think but she never gives me time, there’s always something I can do. I’ve already started Christmas shopping and have bought Barb 2 presents and my mother one of the 2 I have to buy. I bought them at Kiralfy’s and the gift wrapping was free! They’ll probably be the prettiest presents under the tree. Last night we got our flu shots and boy, did that hurt when the man made us hold a cotton pad dipped in rubbing alcohol on it! Now they’re kind of sore. Bozo’s fine and lazy as ever, he even lets Snoopy eat his food for him.

Oh well, love
Pam


November 5, 1968

Dear Rob,
Hi, how’s everything/ Oh, Rob, I just can’t wait till summer comes. I told you you’d be going on field trips, didn’t I? Barb is fine-she has a new boyfriend. Grant. He’s the one Jenny likes and he’s on the football team. Guess what? Frank’s out of the hospital. They said he has to come back in two weeks for that serious operation. He has to wear a brace though and takes it off before he goes to sleep. A tutor comes every 3 days but in two weeks, the Monday after the operation, he can go to school. Your science class seems hard, Rob. I didn’t even see that article since I don’t read the Army Times. And I still don’t know my father’s job-to-be. I can’t wait till it’s cold so I can wear my suit and all my matching accessories. Fred left and came by to say goodby to us- not my sister since they broke up. I’m enclosing a letter from Frank- he misses you so much. Thanks so much for the packages. I took some of the candy and took it to school to eat at the ten-minute break. How do you like the paper? My mother bought it for me. In school we had achievement tests again!


Love,
Pam

November 10, 1968

Dear Rob,
I got your letter, and by the looks, I could tell why an extra stamp was needed. First off, the way you take PE is the same way we combined PE and health last year, but this year we take straight PE and no health. We got our report cards the same day you did. I got straight A’s except a B in PE! So, I get $7.00 for Christmas and that means I have $6.75 to spend on everybody, now haven’t I been saving?

Oh, Rob, when I read that Tuffy got run over, I just couldn’t imagine that playful dog that used to greet me at your door every time I came, lying unconscious on an operating table just like Bozo when his right hind leg was almost all chewed up in Arlington by our neighbor’s cat, Arthur. Don’t worry, Rob, if Tuffy has an excellent chance of recovery, no sweat! Bozo was condemned to be put to sleep, but he’s alive and frisky today, isn’t he? Barb and the rest of the family are fine on this rainy Saturday night.

At Faith, a school-wide panic swept the school Friday right before 7th period began. There was a rumor going around that said Mr. Shirley, my English teacher, was moving to Florida and not coming back. Then we went and asked a few girls in his class if he was really moving and they said yes. They were crying since he told them 3d period. Mary Ann, a girl in my class then started crying, too. Oh, Rob, if you only knew what a good teacher he is. Never, and I mean never, did we once look in our English text, or take an English test., but we learned a lot of things because he knew so much and he would just answer all our questions without ever referring to the book, and then we would do workbook pages. Our next time to see him before he left was 7th period and I had a student council meeting so I signed this letter to him and explained why I couldn’t say goodbye. The girls in my class all kissed him goodbye and the boys shook his hand!

Barb sent off for some cool book covers and they came a few days ago. They sent some stickers along. One is called “The Garden.” They glow in the dark! Aren’t you glad they invented the exclamation point!

Love,
Pam
November 11, 1968

Dear Rob,
Hya! That’s my famous saying now at school! Rob, to me that $19.00 sure seems like a lot. I’ve already bought Barb’s present- a red velvet belt hanger that hangs in your closet and is full of sachet. It is round with little gold hooks around it and it has a tassel at the bottom. It really is pretty. I got it at Kiralfy’s in Columbus Square. I got my mother one of her presents- a net celebrity little scrubby thing. It’s blue and she’s seen them before and she said that she wanted one. I got it at Kiralfy’s too. Next I’m going to get her a real expensive sweater from my “A” money and I want it to be a white cashmere. Kiralfy’s has free gift wrapping so I already got 2 presents wrapped. I also got Barb some more John Romain shoe polish. I still have a lot more shopping to do and I really don’t know where I’ll find the time! We got that new English teacher and her name is Mrs. Gunnels, she really is nice and now I guess I realize that we didn’t learn anything from Mr. Shirley after all- although we did have a lot of fun. We had Open House and I went to say hi to Mrs. Search, you know, my fifth grade teacher, and now she’s Frank’s. Guess who else I saw? Miss Maples. She doesn’t know me but she said she missed you. Remember that nice colored librarian at White? Well, she’s still there, too. Your report card sounded good to me and that is a real good start for next semester. So far I’ve got A’s and B’s.


Love,
Pam

November 15, 1968

Dear Rob,
How’s everything? You sure are getting me curious about my present- you see I’ve decided to have my room red, white, and blue when my father retires. Now I’ll give you a clue- your present only comes in one color and one size. How’s that? Now don’t be disappointed because you can’t choose your own color. I’m sure you’ll just love it. When you lived in Holly Hills you gave me some unnoticeable clues to what you wanted.

We’re going to my grandfather’s in SC for Thanksgiving so if I write you about 4 days late, don’t worry, it’s just that we’ll be spending 4 days at my grandfather’s. It sure will be cold up there and his only source of heat is his fireplace- burrrr!

As the secretary, I take notes at each meeting and read those notes at the beginning of the next meeting. I write up amendments etc and add them to the student council constitution. Frank is fine. He is on a camp-out with the Boy Scouts. Barb just came home last night (Friday) from Baker’s game with Lanier at Macon, Ga. But they lost. Oh well, they’re still the triple A region winners and they haven’t been that since 3 or 5 years. Good, huh?


Love,
Pam

December 7, 1968
Dear Robin,
I hope you have received my note about not opening your present till Christmas before you received your present. Oh! Rob! They have been modernizing all the old houses- colonel’s houses- kitchens on post and now they’re almost through with ours. They first took off every piece of tile and board from our floors and walls- then it looked like a mess. That was a week ago- now they have put this really cool tile on the floor- beige- and painted the wall beige. They put new cupboards in- copper brown- as well as a new kitchen sink and they also rearranged the pantry. It has a walnut sliding door. Our door from the dining room to the kitchen – they knocked out the bar room and sink in there and they put another walnut sliding door, too. They put a chandelier in our dining room- right over our table. It is a gas one. The most beautiful one I’ve ever seen- really! Then they put miniature chandeliers on our dining room walls- they have these tear drops of glass hanging from them and the big and little chandeliers are all antique gold. They put new tile around where you come in the back door. While they were working in our kitchen, we had to eat in the study and cook in the basement in the maid’s quarters. I haven’t told you this before because I wanted to wait and see what it would look like in the end. It’s so pretty in our kitchen- everything’s copper colored. You really have got me wondering about my present. I’m making good grades in most of my subjects. Oh, Rob, your picture was beautiful! ! My father says it looks like you so much, but your hair has grown lighter. We’re having a Christmas party this week. All the girls are going to wear slacks because everyone is bringing games like Tight Squeeze and Twister to play. Oh, well, I’ve got to bring 2 dozen cupcakes. It really will be fun. I got the girl in my class whose name I picked a champagne bottle of bubble bath at Penney’s. I guess I’ve told you I like this boy in my class, Rick. He looks like he’s Swedish and he lives on Rainbow Ave. He’s so tall and has a really good personality.

Love,
Pam


December 9, 1968

Dear Rob,
I really enjoyed reading the newspaper and I really wish Faith would have something like it. Rob, I still want that present to be pink- you see, I’ve changed the color scheme of my room. A brilliant red, white, and blue room is no ideal color scheme for a girl. I don’t like pink and I’m so used to blue- it makes me sick! Especially since I have every color of blue from midnight to sky blue! So I was going to have it a spring green- pretty, huh? But Barb said hers was going to be that color. So get this brilliant idea- My walls will be painted a very light pastel violet instead of blood red, midnight blue, and shocking white. My accessories will all be coordinated to the colors in my bedspread instead of exactly the opposite. Instead of white and ebony furniture I’ll get a Victorian wicker colored double bed and a desk, vanity, etc. My bedspread will be a dark violet background with little pink rosebuds and green leaves as the foreground. So everything in my room will be pink, green, or violet. Today, Saturday, we’re going Christmas shopping and I’ll buy Frank a tie and cuff links and Dad a bottle of Canoe. I am so lucky; I discovered a few extra dollars in change in my secret hiding place! We had pretty much fun coming and going from my grandfather’s but while we were there, the word was work! He really should hire a housekeeper-but he thinks he can take care of himself. I was so cold up there and the only source of heat was one fireplace. Burr! But luckily the rats were hibernating for the winter. In school we’re having a Christmas party and this weekend when we go shopping I’m going to buy some new loafers and some slacks to wear during the party.


Love,
Pam


January 5, 1969

Dear Rob,
Guess what I got on my report card? All A’s but a B in PE so I get $8.00 because an O in home ec is just like an A to my father since it was a period. We have exactly the opposite arrangement of yours- we just finished 2 marking periods and now we’re taking art, music, and library instead. In art we’re shading and I did a still life. Mrs. Southwood put it on the hall bulletin board. In music, we’re studying the music of the British Isles and I’m doing 3 reports on composers for 30 extra points. To get an O in music you must have 100 points. Boy, Rob, I wish we could go on field trips. Gee- New York! I’ve always wanted to see it. As secretary of Faith Student Council, I’ve got a lot of work! Two dumb representatives thought up all these cute little amendments to add to the constitution and we just finished making a new one up with its first amendment. Now we have to do it all again. Rob, you still didn’t tell me when you could come up for 3 days. How do you like my idea of summer vacation? Now it’s your turn to answer the questions. Rob, Mr. Schaubheit, homeroom teacher, gave us some slips on love and this certain passage hit me as our relationship: “Love is union. It’s really being one with another person or group of people or place or thing.” Rob, you don’t know how I laughed when you were remembering our cream puffs, etc. Now I have some sweet memories- those long walks we used to take when I spent the night with you- the picnic Frank, you, and I had in back of the Capehart and I hit the tree. Speaking of Sunset Canyon, Jimmy has been starting to socialize with me, but I still like Rick in my class, he’s so sweet and not as snobbish as Jimmy is.


Love,
Pam


January 18, 1969

Dear Robin,
How’s every little thing? Well, (my English teacher says that’s the worst way to start out anything, but who listens to her?)…We have been having some pretty warm weather and I wish I could start wearing my cotton dresses, but society does not permit such mistakes, so I must wear my winter dresses until the first day of spring, or as the scholars say- until the fledglings leave the nest! You were telling me in your last letter of the things you were doing in your different subjects, so here goes: Math- changing percent to ratio, PE- ping pong, English- diagramming sentences, Home Ec- foreign foods (I made crème Brule!), Science-communities and problems, Lunch- how sick food can be, Civics- types of government. Frank wrote you a letter. I’m expecting a letter from Stacy pretty soon.


Love,
Pam

January 31, 1969

Dear Rob,
I thought of a name for my autobiography- “Heartbreak and Sorrow, but the Band Plays On” or “Round the Pendulum”. I was talking to my English teacher about pen names and this is the one I’ve chosen- Scott Kelley- how’s that? I’ve already written 2 beginnings to two different chapters. My English teacher read them and said I should make them into 2 different books! In my last letter I told you how I was but to keep you up to date, Barb is okay. Now Linda is her very, very best friend and when I come up to visit you this summer, she and Linda are going half-way with me an then on to Richmond, Va, to stay with their friend, Jane, who lives there now. Write me and tell me what you think of that plan. Rob, when are you coming for 3 days? Write and tell me the whole plan, ok? Just a few days ago we got some new neighbors and my mother said maybe there would be a girl my age but I said, “As long as I’ve got Rob, who needs another?” Just the other day my father said, “You know, I miss that Robin. She was a sweet little girl.” Then I told him about my plan and he agreed to it although I have a feeling he wasn’t taking me seriously. And boy, am I serious! In the past few weeks I have been thinking of another profession besides scientist of electronics, and that is writer!


Love,
Pam



February 25, 1969

Dear Rob,
How’s every little thing? Guess what? I accepted Christ a week ago at this Billy Graham movie called “For Pete’s Sake” sponsored by the Follow Me group. This last weekend my family went down to South Carolina to see my grand father for George Washington’s birthday. It sure was cold! It snowed 4 inches while we were there. That was the first time I had seen snow in 4 years. That Valentine’s Dance sounded fun. What dress did you wear? For Valentine’s Day, we gave my mother some carnations (white) and a box of candy. I got two golden leaf pins, Barb- a cameo pin, Frank- a traveling clock. Tell me more about Scott. Rick and I went down to French Field to fly his gas airplane and then he walked me home. Rob, he’s so much cuter than Jimmy and he has a better personality than Jimmy. He called Mary and asked her if I was mad at her and Mary called me to ask me. Of course I said no, but he thought I liked his best friend, Mark. He’s real cute, too, but I don’t think I could like him more than Rick. Guess what? My father said we must move to Columbia the first week of June. So one of us will have to visit the other and then the other one can see the other one’s family at Christmas. Like you can come down for the summer and me go up for the winter. Barb is going with a real cute guy named Dana and we don’t know where Fred is. Barb was accepted into the Ft. Benning sorority and has to wear some old clothes for 2 weeks without rolling her hair or anything!


Love,
Pam


March 8, 1969

Dear Rob,
We didn’t get that house I described to you. We went up to Columbia this last weekend and looked at about 30 homes! Boy were we tired when we came back Sunday night at 8:35 PM! We found a beautiful house and my father signed the contract- it’s 3 years old but in perfect condition. It’s red brick with black shutters and a brick-walled in backyard with black iron gates at each side. There are azalea bushes in the front and some nice shade trees. It has a patio with a built-in grill. It is split level and real modern. It is on Rockbridge Rd, a suburb of Columbia. It is an exclusive street-which means only those people on that street can go to the Rockbridge Country Club! It has a real big club- a dining house- real modern architecture that seats 500. It has an Olympic-sized pool, tennis courts, golf course, fishing lake, ice skating rink, and other activities. All around our area there are big lakes scattered everywhere- we are only blocks from 4 big lakes. We wanted a lake house (a house on the lake) but none were for sale. Guess what? I’m one of the nominees for the Don C. Faith Award!

Love,
Pam

March 14, 1969

Rob,
Guess what? I’ll give ya three guesses and the first two don’t count! You can come! Yea! I feel like jumping up and down and doing 2 somersaults. Rob, are you sure it’s alright for you to come? Have you made your reservations for your flight? We have holidays 4-7 April—same as yours. So when you can come I’ll be able to do everything and I’ll have to plan our schedule, but of course we’ll use about 3 days just for talking. I have so much to tell you, so many things have happened since you left. If you can come, phone or write me and tell me the time your plane will come in and which airport. You could even take a jet- since Columbia is a jet city now. I hope your parents don’t mind you not being there over the Easter holidays. Baker and the other high schools downtown had their holidays this weekend and I don’t know if they get out for Easter holidays, but I hope Barb can get out because she really misses you. Linda, her girlfriend, is spending the holidays with her this weekend. Linda has a good sense of humor and is real funny. I’m saving my money up to go see you in July or August sometime. We’re in music and we’re listening to Irish music at the moment. We have a substitute and thus I can write you.

See ya, and I mean it!
Pam

April 10, 1969

Dear Robin,
Please, please write! Oh, Rob, I’m worried about you! How I’ve wondered if you landed safely. Rob I hope you are well and fine, but I do hope you weren’t not writing for minute reasons. Really I enjoyed your visit and can’t wait until I can come down this summer. I hope everyone liked their candy. Robin, I have granted you more than enough time to write so, so , well, I thought you were dead. Oh, Robin, please write. I’m so worried about you. My father is in Columbia looking for a house. Please write. This letter is brief but I want to make sure you’re safe.

Love,
Pam




April 18, 1969

Robin,
I received your letter and was so very glad to hear you made it safely. Oh, Rob, I was so worried. My father arrived tonight safely, thank heavens. He has signed a contract for a red brick, rambler, modern house. He put down a deposit lasting for 10 days and so Friday, Barb, Frank, and I get out of school to go to Columbia to look at the house and make our final decision to buy it or not. My father described it to us and it sounds perfect. My father said there was a patio and a big fenced-in backyard for the dog Frank is going to get after we move. The realtor said there was a big mall shopping center nearby and a 7-11 down the block. This lake is about a block and a half away. We’ll be buying the house for $38,000 and that’s pretty good bargaining if you ask me. In school we’re doing Law Day themes and I am turning mine in tomorrow. 25 winners will be chosen from Faith to go to all other Ft. Benning schools and read them orally to classrooms. About the house- Frank’s room is wood paneled and his and mine bathrooms have 2 sinks and a big long mirror. There is a built-in bookcase and desk in the family room.


Love,
Pam


May 26, 1969

Dear Rob,
Your trip sure sounded exciting. Did Scott talk to you when you were touring? I don’t see why they took you to Skid Row and Harlem. Thank you for the flower- it’s so cute. Rich didn’t move because his dad’s orders got changed again. Rob I don’t like him for the same reason Jimmy and I quit liking each other-we lost interest in one another. Now he likes this Kay girl in Harp’s class. Guess who I like? Wiley. Maybe you’re shocked but, last Saturday he and Richard were riding a motorbike in my backyard. I was down in the basement cleaning our furniture we are going to sell. Then I heard the doorbell ring and someone answered it. I went upstairs and asked my mom who it was- she said it was my 5th grade boyfriend, Wiley and he wanted to know if I could ride the motorbike with him. Guess what my mother said? “She’s busy in the basement!” Ohhh! I could have killed her (not really). That’s when I started liking him. Then at our last student council meeting I accidentally (on purpose) dropped my books and guess who helped me pick them up-Wiley! Oh! Rob! He’s so good-looking and taller than me by far (and he’s a 7th grader!) I guess I’ve liked him ever since 5th grade, but it sure took me long enough to realize it! Now we’re moving and I won’t be able to make friends with him! We will be singing “The Impossible Dream” and “No Man is an Island” on the last day of school- I really love them both. I’m a soprano- on the last row because I’m one of the tallest girls. We sure have some cute boys in our eighth grade chorus. We’re having a graduation picnic at Harmony Church pool.

Love,
Pam


June 1, 1969

Dear Robin,
Tell your mother thank you for her note. Talking about the valedictorian winner for the Don C. Faith award- me and the other nominees were sent to room 7 and a lady there said we were to take an achievement test. We took the first part and missed 3 periods. Then the next day we finished it and took an intelligence test. Some of the problems were so weird. I’m sure I made 100 on it and it had 8 pages of that silly stuff. The counselors said those 2 tests would help in deciding who would win. I’m sorry but I won’t be able to write and tell you who won because they’re not announcing it yet. I’m sure you observed Law Day at your school- we did. Last year they picked 50 themes for Law Day to read at other schools. This year they only chose 25 and I was one of them. I read my theme at Lloyd School. It was nice but I was so nervous. We are going to move about June 10th. Then we’ll get settled and buy our new refrigerator- turquoise to match the range and other appliances in the kitchen. The wood in the kitchen is a knotty pine and my mother doesn’t like it so we’ll paint it antique white when we get settled. The lawn is beautiful so all we have to do is keep watering it and fertilize it every year. We’ll be settled by July I’m sure. The Tharp’s bought a huge camper this week with a built in tent. It’s called a “Pop-Up Camper.”


Love,
Pam

June 6, 1969

Dear Rob,
I wish you hadn’t apologized for blowing up your friendship between Scott and you. Because it made me cry. Oh, Rob, if only we teenagers could venture into the adult’s true love and not the questionable love we must experience now, how easier it would be on us! Rob, I understand it al because I have done it many a time and finally I had to face the truth- he only noticed me, that was all. Now as advice, I’m not going to give you that malarkey about boys being mentally younger than us and not yet able to become interested in the other sex to an extent of love, because you already know that. So, I guess I can just tell you to try to treat him like a man, not a boy, and maybe he’ll play the part.

Yes, we had exams, which didn’t help my grades any, I can admit, except my English and spelling exams. Rob, all I can say about my vacation time is my father hasn’t discussed it yet. But I hope I can stay long. Rob, can’t you come to Columbia anytime other than the summer of ’70? Oh, please see if you can. I had a real fun time at the graduation picnic and guess what tomorrow is? Graduation! June 6th at 3; 45 all the 8th graders get out at ll: 00 to get ready. I’m having my hair done. Linda, my sister’s friend, suggested a style to me that has big curls pinned up in the back with my bangs brought over tightly and long tendrils on the sides. A girl at Faith wore her hair like that yesterday. It really looks cuter than I drew it. It really doesn’t seem like graduation is tomorrow. I have to sing in chorus and I have a cold! Woe is me. I guess I’ll just have to fake sing it. Rob, the valedictorian has already been picked, Wesley, but the boys and girls Don C. Faith Award winner hasn’t, and will be announced at graduation tomorrow. Our last day of school is June 9th. On June 10th my family and I are going to spend at Greene Hall on main post. Then June 11th, I’m leaving Ft. Benning forever. Oh, Rob, I’m really going to miss it and all of my friends and teachers. So Rob, don’t write to me until I write to you from our new home on Rockbridge Road in Columbia, SC. I’ll drop you a note while we’re moving. Just think, Rob, it’s merely weeks until we can see each other. Well this is my last goodbye from Ft. Benning- doesn’t that sound sad?


Love,
Pam


June 13, 1969

Dear Rob,
I’m so sorry I was unable to write you sooner but you know how it is when your whole family travels on a move. We (my mom, Barb, and me) drove the Chevrolet and my father and brother drove the Oldsmobile. I have such a horrid cold from driving to our hotel in an un-air-conditioned car and then sleeping in air conditioning in our hotels. We stayed at a real big hotel in Aiken, SC and when we arrived in Columbia last night our realty company had made reservations for us at this real expensive hotel- it was just beautiful. This is what I’ve found out about Columbia so far- I have two choices for schools to go to in my school district- one is a junior high and the other is Dentsville- a high school. I think I’ll go there with Barb. There are only 2 people in my close neighborhood that are 14- both are boys! One’s name is Steve. I’ve just met him- we’re waiting for the packers to come. We’re at our house now. We had a really safe trip.

Love,
Pam

June 20, 1969

Dear Rob,
I’m sorry I didn’t write a very long letter last time but I hope I’m making up for it this time. I really think it’s great about you joining Bible School. And I sure would appreciate it if you would sign me up to because we just moved and we aren’t that active in our church and yesterday we received a church bulletin and it didn’t list anything like that. Your jumpsuit sounds so cute. Oh, Rob. How can you sew so well? I am interested in sewing but I need a lot of help. Maybe while I’m up there you and I can make a skirt or something. I sure am glad to hear your Grandma made it safely. All I can say about her age is I pray she’ll reach the age of 91. Yes, I’ve decided to go to Dentsville. Today my father took Barb and I to get registered there- it took an hour but a nice man helped us. I’ve met 4 girls, they’re all nice except one who won’t talk to me and then I won’t talk to her…she’s a snob. We have bought some new furniture- a refrigerator with an automatic ice maker, a dryer, and a dining room set out of pure mahogany, with an oval table, 6 chairs, and a huge china chest designed like they were built in colonial days. Next we’re buying my bedroom suit. I’ve looked at at least 30 bedroom suits and have narrowed it down to 1. It’s a dark oak in Mediterranean style with a double bed, double dresser, desk, chair, and nightstand. But my father says we can’t buy it yet until we go to my grandfather’s and go past Greenville. My father knows the manager and he promised to give him 50% OFF THE PRICE!

Last night I went to go see the movie “Charly”…Rob, if it comes before I do, see it! You know when you came to visit me I gave you some books. I think I gave you “Stories of Suspense.” If I did, look in it and read “Flowers for Algernon.” The movie is taken from that story. I’m not going to tell you about it because it would take too much space. No, I don’t like Steve- at least not as a boyfriend. Perhaps as a friend. He sure is nice- and short! Walter, the other one who likes to make out makes me sick. He’s handsome, but he’s a sex maniac. Everyone says all the cute boys go to Dentsville so perhaps I’m in luck. Barb is making me a swimsuit top tomorrow made out of white swiss dot.


Love,
Pam




August 20, 1969

Dear Rob,
I’m sorry for writing a little late but we’ve had to do some last minute school shopping. I say last minute because this last week is the only time we’ve had to do any shopping since we’re leaving for our vacation this Tuesday. We’ll probably go to Myrtle Beach, but if it’s too crowded, we will go on down the coast to Garden City. I’ll drop you a line after we get there and let you know. We’re going to leave Garden City on the 30th to go to my grandfather’s farm by Clemson. We’ll spend a night there and leave the next day around noontime. So we’ll have Sept. 1st to buy hose, etc and get ready for school the next day. Our bus comes across the street from our house at 7:30! So I have to wake up at 6:00 because it takes me so long to get ready. Did you get my last letter? I wrote it while you were at the beach. It has an article, check, a few pictures, and a letter in it so postage might be due and since you weren’t there the post office might be holding the letter. So if you haven’t received it, maybe it’s because it’s at the post office. You better look into it.

I bought some Paganini shoes for school. Barb already had some and said they were the most comfortable shoes she’s ever had. They’re a greenish-mustard color and are low-heeled. I just love them. I got a matching purse for them- it’s real cute. I got the shoes at Berry’s and the purse at Haltiwanger’s.

Love,
Pam
PS
The reason why I wrote so late after we came home from our vacation is because I was waiting for the first day of school (today) so I could also write to you about it. It rained and that’s a terrible way to start a school year. My classes go like this: 1st period is PE. I have my homeroom teacher. Her name is Miss Howard and she reminds me of Jimmy. She’s the real sporty type but I don’t think she’s the personal type. 2d period- Mrs. Snider. She’s okay. She’s one of those old and experienced teachers who know you for your brothers or sisters that she has taught before. 3rd period- I never got his name- he teaches chorus. The room is packed and he kind of just goofed off today. 4th period- physical science- Mrs. Walker. She’s swell. She acts tougher than tough, but I can see through her- she has a soft core. She really is funny, but we got a long assignment-the first day! And it was a half-day, too. We were just supposed to meet our teachers and fellow students, but she seemed to avoid that bit. 5th period- Spanish I- Mr. Rooney. He’s nice but he lets all the kids push him around. The first couple of weeks we are going to listen to Spanish tapes. 6th period- Mrs. Greer- she was absent today, she’s having a baby, so the substitute, who is also pregnant, came into the classroom, told us we could do what we wished, and left. You can imagine what happened. Everyone started talking and yelling- I read my manual. So far, all the girls I’ve seen are either popular and know it or are quiet as a mouse. The boys are either greasers or cute and loud or cute and quiet. There are a lot of cute boys, though. We did a number of things on our vacation, so I’ll just list them and when you come I’ll explain in detail- ate at Hurl Rock, a famous converted plantation, went to Myrtle Beach Amusement park, went to Astro Needle Amusement Park, played Bingo- I won my mother a milk glass vanity lamp. Went to Gay Dolphin Gift Cove, that’s where I got your present. Don’t write me until you receive my present to you. I hope you’ll like it. We’re getting a new den set and a new bed set for Frank. Rob, I can’t wait till you come- we sure will have a blast. My father has gone on a business trip to New York for the reserves. I told him to bring me back something weird. He’ll probably get me a toothpick or a postcard. Tomorrow is a half-day but Thursday is the real beginning of school. I’m not used to riding a bus and coming home with the “bus blues” from all the bus fumes. There’s this one kid on my bus who is a rat. He started picking on Frank and Barb and I really put him in his place.


Love,
Pam


September 30, 1969

Dear Rob,
I am writing this in my 6th period. The reasons for the lateness of this letter are- a) I’ve been piled on with homework; tomorrow I have an algebra test. I’ve already had a literature and an algebra test; b) it took me a day to get over the shock that you are moving. Maybe it isn’t that much a shock because I knew your rent would be up and you’d be moving anyway, but to Ft. Hood, Texas? Rob, you know that will be a greater distance from South Carolina? It’ll cost more for you to come and so far I’ve only saved up $8.25. Oh, Rob, yes, I know it’s hard to be a new girl- I’m one, myself! We have a canteen, so I didn’t have to ask anyone if I could sit with them- like you had to. I’ve met a girl in my homeroom, her name is Shirley- I actually don’t like her at all- but I have no one else to eat with. She isn’t the kind of friend you’d like to keep. She constantly is acting as if she doesn’t hear me nor care to, but she seems to like everyone else- why don’t they eat lunch with her? The reason- she is trying to impress me- I don’t know why, but she is trying to make me think she is very popular. Most of the people she says hi to don’t even turn their head. I’ve also met a girl named Judy in chorus who is crazy. She’s very funny but a little too immature. She switches friends like I change rubber bands on my braces, which is really always. Dentsville is playing a game at Rock Hill, SC, and if you want to ride the bus, it costs $2.75. I decided it would be fun. Judy and Sherrie, a girl I met through Judy- are going with me. Sherrie is real nice, but I know she never understands what I say because she starts agreeing with things I never finish saying. No one around her thinks deeply- like you and I like to. They all act so dumb-founded. That’s why I wanted to change from Dentsville to Cardinal Newman- which has a higher aptitude in the student body. But Barb and I decided we would stay at Dentsville because if we transferred we would have to start all over again as new girls, and that is too much to bear in the same month.

Another reason for me writing so late is because it took me awhile to compute your family problem and try to think of a way to help you. It would be so much easier to discuss it with you if you were here, but it looks like I have to settle for less soooo…here goes it. There’s a saying “one who looks for a flower, will only find the seed, though one who plants a seed and nourishes it daily will soon have a flower…” This, perhaps, pertains to you. If you look for happiness, you will find it, but if you plant a spark of happiness and keep it glowing- it will still be there- forever. I don’t know, Rob, I really should be giving you advice, but it seems like you’re in such a tight spot, I better. As you know, all you have to do is profess your faith in God, and He will be your lifelong friend. Although, sometimes it doesn’t seem like that much of a comfort, but it is only your fault- not his. But Rob, don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying you can’t live without human contact, because without having you as my best friend, Rob, I probably would have had a mental breakdown by now, but there is always that comfort within me that brightens my hope for living which is- “I always have God-and Rob!” Rob, without that thought, I probably would be crushed under the strain of an objecting society by now. And for your statement- “I don’t want to grow up!” Rob, you’re not alone. No! Everyone wants to stay young- everyone except those blind teenagers who think it’s big to be an adult. That’s why there is so much use of the new youth pill- hardly anyone wants to grow up. But I have come to a philosophical reason for us to grow old- God wants us to have a better understanding of him so that we can accept him as our God and then come to his house- heaven. Now maybe that won’t satisfy you, but that’s just because it’s just a guess- not even an educated guess. But maybe you want to do some guessing on the subject yourself. And Rob- you said, “No one will listen to me-no one understands.” Oh, Rob, if only you knew what I’d give to listen to you now. And Rob, I actually understand you more than I do myself. Please, Rob, look to the brighter side-you’ll have to admit, it’ll be fun moving to a new town-you might meet lots of nice people. Just always remember, I’m here- I do the same to you.

Love,
Pam


October 10, 1969

Dear Pam,

Well now that I have time and now that I’ve got your stationary, I can write you a letter (surprise!). We are still waiting for our movers. In two more days if they haven’t come we have to send out a search party for it. So, for the past week I’ve had to keep repeating 3 dresses. That alone can get embarrassing. People wonder if that’s all the clothes I’ve got.

Before we came to Virginia, we were warned about the difficult schools, which turned out to be easy. Well, Texas schools are hard in comparison. Algebra, for instance, that I was finding so easy, is made so difficult down here, even though I have the same book. And most people take related math. And they don’t offer any history or geography. So I have to take physical science. It’s not very hard. I take study hall, English lit, and French. French is pretty hard. They’re a lot further ahead of where I was at Lee. About the worst thing is that I have to go to a junior high. Nolan Junior High. With 7th and 8th and 9th graders. No seniors, juniors, or sophomores. Boys. That’s really disappointing! There’s nothing to do around here. Just go over to the 7-11 or something. It’s really a bore.

Sure wish I was back in Springfield. Back with all my friends. But I’m not alone, I’ll always have you. Here, there are only those girls at school that give you their polite little smiles, but never understand what I go through trying to make new friends. The friends I do make live miles in the opposite direction. Except one girl, Helen. She’s really nice, lives down the street, and seems like a good friend. She’s in my PE class and I walk to and from school with her. She has a sister in the same grade that’s in my homeroom. Name’s Rosie. She’s nice, too. So 2 friends down the street. Helen really sounds like more fun. She likes to get in trouble.

We’re staying in, are you ready, the Cowhouse Motel. We stayed in room 213 and 214. And right next to us in 211 and 212, 4 people were arrested for possession of marijuana. Two girls got 2 soldiers involved in their racket by prostitution. If the men would carry the marijuana for them. SO unsuspecting. But somehow they were caught then the man in 215 was robbed. So it was a busy week at the Cowhouse. Now there’s nothing to do.


Love,
Rob



October 20, 1969

Dear Rob,
How are ya? We’re all fine and dandy. Last week, my mother, father, and Barb went to Lincolnton, NC (Barb got out of school!) to look for Barb’s bedroom suite and our den furniture. They bought Barb’s bedroom suite. It is pecan and in the old Spanish mode. Its pieces are a twin bed, double vanity, night table, and they bought a brass mirror because they didn’t like the mirror that came with the suite. Our den set is called harvest: It is mainly a yellow background with orange and red speckles in it. It consists of a sofa, two end tables, a coffee table, a matching chair, and my father got a black leather recliner that matches the black lines in the sofa and chair. I really can’t describe them because I haven’t seen them yet. I’m just repeating my mom’s description of it. It’s supposed to arrive next week. We got our report cards last week. The SC State Fair came and went. It was so big. I won a giant (and I mean giant!) blow-up Chiquita banana! Doesn’t it sound cool? It really looks cool in my room. We went shopping today and I got a turtleneck, long sleeve, pullover sweater with brown leather buttons on the sleeves. There are 6 buttons up each sleeve. It looks so cool on me- not good, but cool. You know nothing could look good on me! It makes me feel cool when I wear it. I’m going to wear it with my brown wool skirt. Have you bought any new clothes/ Have you sold are your ones you were going to sell?

Love,
Pam


November 4, 1969

Dear Rob,
How do you like this way-out stationery? It’s homemade because I’m almost out of stationery, so I’m making some so I won’t have to buy some, so I can save my money. You know, ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to design stationery for sale. I’d name them Pam’s People Pads. How’s that? You know, I could do that while we’re in college to help pay for our summer trips that we’ve planned for between terms in college. Since I’ve already reported my money account I might as well tell you that I decreased it by $1.25; I used it for the fair I told you about. About that art school, I told you I’d tell you when you come on Thanksgiving, so…

Love,
Pam





December 3, 1969

Rob, Read this first!
I just received your disheartening letter. It’s okay if you call Christmas Eve, but why can’t you come sometime after Christmas, or in the spring or on Easter vacation? Then, if those 2 aren’t possible, I guess summer will be okay. Rob, you don’t know how high I built up my ego for that Christmas visit from you. Sometimes life didn’t have a purpose, as with unpleasant family affairs and school disappointments, but then I’d remember your trip- but now@ I don’t think I can wait for summer. Maybe I can come Easter and you can come summer! This letter is kind of outdated since you can’t come Christmas. About presents, I guess I want some picture or plaque for my walls in a Mediterranean décor or a long wool scarf for my neck with colors of gold, brown, beige, or white. You can get me anything Mediterranean for my room, but don’t spend hardly anything on it so that if I can come Easter we’ll have some money. PS This really isn’t the end, since there is a whole letter waiting for you to finish reading.
Dear Rob,
I’m sorry for writing so late, but I’ve been waiting for some real exciting news to spring up. Well I guess you’ve seen that horror picture I enclosed. Oh it makes me so mad. That day it was raining and my hair was starting to wave, so I had to pull it back, or I would have looked like a freak (no kidding, not that I don’t always look freaky, but I would have looked super freaky- not just ordinary freaky). The photographer asked me if I wanted my braces to show- I said, “NO!” so he told me to close my mouth, immediately he took the picture-ugh!

Rob, your Christmas holidays start Dec. 19th…and I was thinking that you could come early in the Christmas holidays so you would be home by Christmas. Find out when you get your holidays and do talk to your parents about it. My mother has agreed and my father hasn’t said no when I keep blending it in with all the conversations we have. If you have time, call Delta or Eastern and see if there is a flight table suitable. I tried out for Powder Puff two weeks ago and got in. My position was offensive end. The freshmen and seniors played against the sophomores and juniors. We played our game last Wednesday after a week of after school practicing. We played a good game, but the coaches were only looking for our fouls and penalties. Everybody was just interested in winning- not for the spirit of the game. The Powders, soph and jrs won with a score of 24-6. Oh well.

This Sunday my chorus at school is going to the capital for the annual lighting of the tree. The governor’s going to give a speech and then all the high school choruses will sing Silent Night and O, Come All Ye Faithful and Joy to the World with the crowds. Then, we’ll sing some more by ourselves.

We’re at my grandfather’s and it is pretty cold with only a fire for heat, and that’s in the combination TV room and kitchen. Right now I’m sitting by the fire, listening to fish stories which my grandfather is telling us. I wish you were here…we’d be outside playing in the barn or something. We just came back from my Uncle Homer’s and Aunt Margie’s – they run the mill which grinds my grandfather’s corn into meal. Tomorrow we’ll go back home so I’ll be in time for the tree lighting. Barb just offered me a spring which fell apart and she tried to mend it back but it didn’t work. We had a good Thanksgiving with turkey and all the trimmings. How was your Thanksgiving? Our report cards are coming next week. How about yours? I hope you make real good on it so your parents will be in a good mood for you to tell them about our plan for Christmas.

By the way, what do you want for Christmas? Don’t say, oh, nothing. I have a vague idea but I might get something you already have. There is a new store near us called The Purple Turtle. I haven’t gone there yet, but it looks so cool from the outside. There are some big windows with a purple turtle on it and the door and the window casings are purple too. It looks really cool on the inside, from what I can see on the outside. I think I’ll get yours and Barb’s present there. I hope everybody’s in good shape. We’re all fine and dandy.


Love,
Pam Pastrami
(Like on pizzas)

December 11, 1969

Dear Rob,
I’m sorry for writing so late, but I have all these reports, term papers, etc, that I have to turn in before the Christmas holidays. I do understand your suggestion to wait for the summer holidays. We would really be looking forward to it then, and when you came in the summer, there’d be a million and one things for us to do, like go to Myrtle Beach and then go The Gay Dolphin, the biggest gift shop in the south, and go to a shop there at Myrtle where a little old man makes homemade taffy and other delicious kinds of candy. We went there last summer and bought three pounds of delicious saltwater taffy- 30 flavors. Then we could go to all the little boutiques around there and at night go to any of the 4 big amusement parks or play bingo at this bingo place and win stuff for our families like I did. And then there’s always the beach with beautiful white sand and blue waves to swim in. We might also go to my grandfather’s and have some of his homegrown watermelons and ride his mule and go into his pasture with a pretty spring running through it and we could play on the kind of islands in it. It sounds so fun, I can hardly wait. I think I know what I can get you for Christmas, but I’m not sure. Nothing much has happened around here. It’s been raining for a week and it makes me depressed. Friday we’re putting on a Christmas program for the whole school, by “we” I mean my chorus class. Barb’s going to Ft. Benning for the JADA (Junior Army Daughters of America) formal and will be back on the 24th! She’s going with Terry, remember him? He was the lifeguard at the YAC pool. He’s going to the Citadel and will meet Barb in Ft. Benning. Barb’s boyfriend, Jeff, has gone out with her 3 times so far and I think she really likes him. Oh well, I knew she’d hitch on to someone sooner or later. Do you have anyone? I don’t. Oh well. No more news, sorry. I’m lonely. Are you lonely? I’m lonely. Are you lonely? I’m so crazy. Are you crazy?


Love,
Pam

December 17, 1969

Dear Albert Einstein,
I hope you get my present before Christmas- I sent it air mail! But, I haven’t gotten your present yet. I hope nothing happened to it. Boy, do I ever! Have you put up your Christmas tree yet? We have our aluminum one up, but we’re going to get a real one to go outside so we can put lights on it. You wouldn’t believe at what time of day that I’m writing this—12:30 pm…I mean 30 minutes after midnight. I can hardly keep my eyes open- so I’m not writing too well. The reason(s) why I’m writing so late at night and haven’t written you sooner: 1- I’ve had two major tests just the beginning of this last school week! 2- I have a term paper due this Friday, and we’ve only had 2 weeks to work on it and every weekend I spent hunting you a present so it’s get there in time. 3- My dad’s birthday was last Tuesday and I had to spend that afternoon fixing stuff up. Boy! Am I sleepy! No! I won’t go to sleep! Now, where were we? Oh, yes (Boy, don’t you just adore these 1-sided conversations of ours?) I guess I’ll tell you what I’ve got everybody so far: Mom-a 4-slice toaster with a little help from Frank-money wise, that is! Dad- Ban Lon trousers with matching socks! Barb- an opal necklace! I think she’ll love it. It really didn’t cost all that much and it’s not fake- a good buy, that’s all. Rob- uh, oh, almost told ya’. Better wait and see what it is, okay?


Sweet dreams,
Pam




December 27, 1969

Dear Rob,
I hope your Christmas was merry. Rob, why didn’t you call Christmas Eve? I hope and pray nothing is wrong. Oh, Rob, you shouldn’t have spent so much money on me- but I just love the dress- it’s so cool. It’ll be a long time until I can wear it though because it’s so cold up here. Did it snow on Christmas there? It rained up here- such a dreary Christmas climate. What did you get for Christmas? I got gold, fitted bedspread for my bed-it’s real nice and from Santa I also got a cool red dress with long puffy sleeves and long, thin cuffs and long, pointed collar. It’s red and the two buttons at each sleeve and the 3 coming down the front top are bells. It’s so cute. I guess I spent too much time describing it. Oh well, I got some Flambeau perfume from my mother and a miniature mirror for my purse and an apple pin from her, too. I got the coolest dress you’ve ever seen from an unknown person (clue?). I got gobs of candy canes from her, too. Yum, yum. I got a real cool blouse (white) with puffy sleeves and long thin cuffs. It has 2 pockets in front and a long pointed collar. She got it at Kiralfy’s in Columbus while she was there. I got a real cozy, long granny gown and a wooden TV table to put make-up on in my room. I also got a black desk set and the usual stocking of goodies. Tomorrow, there are some great Christmas sales, and I get to get a few more presents (that’s what my dad thinks-man; I’m going to get a truckload!) I hope you liked your present from me. I’m real sorry I couldn’t get the eye shadow for brown eyes, but they were out of it. I hope none of the eye shadow cracked on the way. Those colors just looked like you and you said you wanted some stuff like cold cream. So I hope you like your chain.


Love,
Pam


January 2, 1970

Dear Rob,
Barb just gave me this stationary- she must be sick! I’ve enclosed Barb’s senior picture- I think it really looks like her. No, our school pictures don’t come in color. I got the coolest winter coat- I just can’t describe it to you. It’s too beautiful for words. So I’m going to ask my mom to take a picture of me in it for 2 reasons: 1. So you can see what it looks like; 2. And so you’ll have a recent picture of me instead of that freaky school picture. We just came back from visiting my grandfather in SC= when I wrote my last letter I was here in Columbia- you asked me that in your last letter. Today I got the coolest outfit, a burgundy, white, and spring green plaid culottes set with a burgundy crepe blouse with flouncy sleeves. I might return my blouse though. It looks cute. Oh, Rob, you depressed me so much when you said in your last letter, “If we decide for me to come up and see you in the summer…” Of course you’re going to come up and see me- what’s gotten into you? I dream about when you come every night. It’d just kill me if you didn’t come. You never know, I just might. I get so depressed with boyfriend developments, etc. Barb’s always having so much fun with her boyfriend, Jeff, and all her friends. I try to open up and have gobs of friends, but it’s so hard for me. I ‘ve enclosed a poem I wrote recently- just thought you’d like it- sounds like a Rod McKuen poem- kinda. Rob, maybe your dad has an ulcer. I don’t mean to scare you, but it is a possibility so get him to the hospital, okay?

Love,
Pam

January 30, 1970

Dear Rob,
I’m in my fenced backyard and the sun is shining and the birds are singing (no kidding). Streisand is sitting next to me on the ground- playing with bugs-ugh! Streisand’s three brothers are basking in the sun and shade. You just wouldn’t believe this beautiful weather-it makes me want to stay outside forever. Last night Dentsville (my school) played Flora (both are here in Columbia). It was the ‘Game of the Year’ and I’m not kidding- Dentsville and Flora are in the top 4 of high schools in SC. Thursday night the two head coaches from each team were on TV discussing team tactics and who would be lined up against whom, etc. The tickets for the game were sold out a week before the game. I was only able to go because my friend Sherri’s uncle is our principal and her father is a teacher so he has a free pass. There was barely standing room and since we came a little late we could hardly see what was going on. It was 53-53 at the end of the game, so overtime was called and at the end of that it was 57-53-we were leading, then a second overtime was called and they won with 60-57. We were so tense at the end, that the ball kept slipping from the player’s hands. My Aunt Betty (well, really she’s not my aunt-we just adopted her) is coming up from Charleston today and she’s bringing Schatzi- her miniature German schnauzer that happens to be expecting puppies. Streisand is really gonna have fun with him. I can hardly wait to see how they react when they see each other. I have that term paper due in two weeks and I can’t take any notes because we don’t have any index cards and Barb and my father have taken both cars. Oh well, I didn’t feel like taking any notes on any boring book today anyway. I just feel like sitting in my backyard, writing you a letter with the sun and wind making me feel great.

I can’t wait till summer comes, have you looked into the flight schedule? My dad made me get some different kind of glasses with my new prescription. They’re not wire like I wanted them to be, but they really look much better on me. They’re square and tortoise shell colored. I still don’t have to wear these all the time either.

Love,
Pam


February 18, 1970

Dear Rob,
I’ll tell you the good news first (especially since there is no bad news). I get my braces off in the first part of March or the last part of February. Just think, I’ll be able to smile again in pictures and let my beautiful straight teeth show! Oh, I’m so happy. We’ll both have our braces off when you come up then. That reminds me, this coming weekend Barb and her friends (and maybe I’ll go if I’ve done a lot on my term paper) are going to Myrtle Beach to make reservations for all of us (all 12 girls that are going) at a good hotel. They’re going to try to get it cheap, but near the pavilion, even though we’ll have about 3 cars, we might like to walk up to the pavilion along the seashore. I think my dad is paying for Barb’s, yours, and my reservations and rental cost, so just bring money to spend for gifts and stuff. I’ve got $12 saved to send you and I’m sure I’ll have $25 to send you by May. We still don’t have a definite date for going to Myrtle Beach, until we make the reservations. I was thinking you should come up 3 days before we go to Myrtle Beach to visit with my family and so we can do some pre-Myrtle Beach shopping here in Columbia, so don’t buy a lot down there, because we’ll have gobs of fun shopping up here and it might be cheaper. My mother might be our chaperone. In my next letter I’ll have a definite date for you, so you can call up and get the cost of a flight up here at that time. Your father is really being nice to pay for your trip. There’s not much other news up here. How’s everyone there? I sure do miss you, Rob. I just can’t wait until summer.


Love,
Pam
P.S. I liked your stationery.


March 13, 1970

Dear Rob,
Gee, man, I just can’t figure it out! Every time I get a letter from you (3 times this week), I’m afraid to open it, because I think you’ll get mad at me for not writing, but instead you are apologizing for you not writing. This week has been the most exciting week of my life- there really wasn’t that much to do, but it was prestigiously exciting (if you know what I mean). First off, I got elected class council representative out of my homeroom. Then I got elected as one of the 5 contestants for Miss Spring Valley High, out of my homeroom. Although they narrowed it down to 20 out of every class (that is sophomore, junior, and senior), the 20 were picked also by the boys’ homerooms and the teachers. I didn’t get it and no one out of my homeroom did, except a colored girl named Evelyn. She’s really beautiful, but the other 20 were all the snobs and they got in it last year. I don’t think they should let the same ones get it year after year. And what’s more, not half of them are cute- they’re all so fake. Well, to get on with my week, we got petitions out for sophomore class representatives, that are president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary, and all of my friends were telling me to run, so I got up a petition and you just wouldn’t believe all the kids that were running. All of the teachers just couldn’t believe it and kept congratulating us for the masses of cool posters we had out- ranging from a 10’x10’ tie-dye cloth poster to a huge mobile in the main lobby. Well, I got in the run-offs! Out of the 12 running, 3 were selected for each office. And none of the snobs got it! Chris, Heli, and I are in the run-offs for secretary. It’s so funny; too, because they haven’t put up one piece of campaigning- posters or anything- I wonder how they got in the run-offs. I had about 20 huge, beautiful posters up before the primary, and I mean beautiful! Cindy did some for me and just about everyone I saw asked me who did my posters for me. Then last Wednesday after the primary, they were all torn down and I didn’t even know about it. I just came into school Thursday and all the walls were clean. Now I’ve got 5 posters up and the run-off elections are this Monday. Boy, do I ever get frustrated with Wade. He bawled me out for not eating lunch with him last week and so today he didn’t even speak to me. When he saw me, he walked away. And Rob, you’re just not going to believe what he asked me last Friday night, especially compared to the way he acted today. He asked me to marry him! Rob, it’s the most important thing in my life- my first marriage proposal! Cindy knew about it all along. It was after we came back from Grand Funk Railroad (which by the way was fantastic and loud!) We discussed the next Sunday, how I had all these plans to go to college with you and all that stuff, and that my dad wouldn’t send me to college if I was married and he asked me if we could be secretly married and I didn’t see the use in it. It really scared me when I got home and thought about it, but when he asked me I was so happy that I could just cry and say, “Wade!” I told him that I loved him enough now to marry him, but that we can’t make all these plans. We have to see what happens tomorrow. He agreed time was the factor and told me that he’d wait forever. But compared to the way he acted today, I just think he’s using me.


Love,
Pam
March 17, 1970

Dear Rob,
I’m sorry for writing so late, but I just haven’t been in the mood for writing and I’ve sure had a lot of homework with the end of the 4th six weeks. Gee, Rob! You and I have so much in common. You said Sammy and I are both Aries- and Carl (my boyfriend) and you are both Scorpios. Both our boyfriends and girlfriends are the same sign of the zodiac. I’ve been doing lots of research on my sign and yours and Carl’s. I’ve learned gobs about me and you and Carl, which is true. I’ll tell you about Carl now. I’ve just got to- you told me all about Sammy and he sounds kind of like Carl. Carl is 16, but is a senior, because he skipped his junior year. He should be a junior now. He’s got jet black straight hair- it’s cut kind of in a bowl cut and sometimes he sweeps it over on the side. He’s got to be at least 6’2” or more. He’s really brilliant. He has a Presidential nomination to West Point, but he’s going to the Citadel in Charleston because that’s where is family is going to retire. Besides his mom and dad, he has an older sister, Chris, who’s going to finish college this year. He plays in a band, too. It’s called the Sands of Time. And they play at really cool places around here. He’s the drummer and boy, I think he’s the best drummer I’ve ever heard. He’s playing for our Sing-Out Columbia- that’s how I got to meet him. And after every meeting on Sunday we go out someplace to eat- he took me to Shoney’s where everyone else was going, and then we went to Silver Dome Lodge, this supposed haunted house about 10 miles from my house. It was so much fun. We went with all the other Sing-Out kids and almost scared ourselves to death. All this happened months ago, but I never thought I should start talking about it until I knew it was for real. And from all reports and that “look” in his eyes that you told me about, I now am sure of it. I don’t have any classes with him, of course, but I do have the same lunch period. And even though he has a car, he stays at school and talks to me for the whole 25 minutes of the lunch period, since freshmen aren’t allowed off campus. He gives me time to eat and then at this certain time- I don’t know when it is but I always can sense when it’s approaching- I go to my locker and he’s hanging around there. He’s kind of shy, but now he comes over and leans against my locker and looks at me with his dreamy blue eyes. When I look into his eyes, I’m so happy that I laugh. But he never asks me why, because we’re always laughing, and maybe he feels the same way. He just sounds too good to be true probably and you might think he must be ugly, but Rob, he’s the handsomest boy I’ve met. Tons handsomer than Rick. And he’s really popular with the girls (as well as everyone else). That’s why I kept looking out for him in the beginning. But now he kid of diverts the conversation every time I mention another boy or look at one. He hasn’t asked me out yet, but Barb says he probably needs to be sure, because he hasn’t really like a girl in a long time. Barb says she thinks he really like me. I kind of think I love him, Rob. I can’t express it any plainer, and your feelings are duplicate to mine. He’s in Sumter, SC, today and tomorrow taking a test for an Air Force scholarship to the Citadel. I miss him so much. Life’s a drag without him near me. Rob, I wish you’d look up how much your trip will cost. I was going to send you the $25 but my mom came up with a good idea- I can save it for our spending money at the beach. I hope you agree. Love, Pam

March 19, 1970

Dear Rob,

My uncle and aunt, Ray and Iva, and my cousin, David, (he’s one year older than Frank was) are coming to visit us from Huntsville, Ala, on the weekend of April 4th. They were on vacation in Mexico during Frank’s funeral and weren’t able to attend. They’ll sure make us feel better. How’s your Aunt Martha? I pray she and everyone else in your family is safe and well. What your grandmother wrote was so good- I’m going to ask my Dad if we can put a section of it on Frank’s tombstone.


Love,
Pam


April 2, 1970

Dear Pam,

Frank is gone and it is unbelievable. It was just like he just went on a long trip. I saw a light in the corner of my room. I really thought it was a message from God. He was giving me and you strength for each new day- a bit of faith. Here is what I think love is- happiness, special things, heart glowing, eyes sparkling, warmth, a feeling of being loved. Here’s what Carl Sandburg said, “I asked professors who teach the meaning of life to tell me what is happiness. And I went to famous executives who boss the work of thousands of men. They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though I was trying to fool them. And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along the Deplanes River. And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with their women and children and a keg of beer and an accordion.” That’s where love is.


Love,
Rob



Re-reading our letters, I am reminded once more of how kooky we were, and yet how devoted. The letters create a tapestry of sorts. The underside might look messy or mundane. The letters reflect the warp and woof of two adolescent girls, trying to figure out who we were, and who we might become. I could add hundreds of letters to this strand, but I'm not sure how much a blog can hold. But this sample, this strand of letters, is something very beautiful to me. Pam gave me my first Bible. She has prayed for me all my life. We went to college together, as we promised each other we would. After college, I was in her wedding and she was in mine. We both married military men and our lives diverged. I gave my daughter Michelle the middle name of Pamela. Over the next thirty years, she shared her faith with me and we grew together as wives, mothers, and now grandmothers. Pam taught me that it would be safe for me to be a mother when I was so afraid of that role. She encouraged me in all the ways I worried. We have grieved, laughed, and wept for one another. Her friendship has always been a restorative gift. When we were little, we'd make such a big deal out of one another's birthdays, trying to outdo each other on cards and letters. I still have all those birthday cards. If you don't believe me, come on over. We'll get out the guitar case and I'll show you through Pam's words what real friendship is all about. This blog entry is Pam's birthday card, from her to her. I've typed a lot of words to say one simple thing: I love you, my friend.