Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Man And His Truck ~ A Painful Visual Reminder

I am sometimes caught off guard by the power of the visual! That has been the case once again, as I encountered an unexpected situation this week. I recently had the title for my husband's pick-up truck transferred into my step-daughter's name, so that she could benefit from the sale of her daddy's vehicle. For the past two years, the truck has resided alongside the camper, where we lived for eight months while we built our new home. Buck's truck was hidden from my view all that time. I would only see it whenever I was returning home from an outing. Under those circumstances, seeing the truck never bothered me because I would be quickly distracted with getting inside the garage and into my home.

I was away from home this weekend and returned to find Buck's truck in my driveway. Jessi found a buyer for the truck, but it isn't drivable due to a brake-line leak and will need to be towed. They parked it in the driveway for easier access when they come to tow it to Baltimore. I knew of the pending transaction and assumed the truck would be gone when I returned to my home. I was totally unprepared for the flood of emotion that arrived as I approached my driveway and found the powerful reminder of my sweetheart.

Just a few days ago, I was inside Buck's truck, cleaning out any remaining personal belongings and even took pictures for Jessi to show her prospective buyer.  I had no problem with it then, as I had faced the initial pain of cleaning out his truck about a month after he was called home. That experience was excruciating for me, but was beneficial in that it helped me to pour out my grief! I really thought I had fully dealt with my feelings in that area, but it is very evident that more healing is necessary in facing the association of my man and his truck. I hate that my emotions can be so powerfully affected by an object. The feeling of powerlessness and helplessness can be overwhelming as I begin to crumble emotionally each time I catch a glimpse of his much-loved emerald green Silverado. This afternoon, I closed my blinds so I didn't have to look at it any more. 

It  is amazing to me that the location could make that much of an impact. Out of sight; out of mind was working so well for all this time. Seeing Buck's truck in the driveway is extra hard to face, because that is where I thought it would be in my present and my future, with my precious man behind the steering wheel, smiling with his ornery grin and signing I love you through the windshield as he often did. And of course there are many memories connected to his truck, namely, our day-long first date, when he drove me to Skyline Drive; the day we fell in love. Then eight months later, when he proposed in that same magical, mountainous setting and the transmission went up as he put the truck into reverse immediately following our mountaintop experience!

I can't help but think of all the times we loaded up the truck and towed our dinosaur camper to our favorite campgrounds in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Vermont. We made so many wonderful memories on those adventure filled vacations!

The cargo was always changing as it carried everything from building supplies to prepare our previous home for the real estate market, to tons of wood pellets to heat our home and also for the cabin where my daughter and grandson lived. I can visualize the bed of the truck filled with power tools, ladders and tool boxes, equipping Buck and church family friends for the many mission trips that he so willingly poured himself into during unpaid vacation time. The truck was also used for many trips to West Virginia, filled with his hunting gear, making it possible to indulge in two of his favorite pastimes: visiting his family and the pursuit of deer meat and wild turkey. Almost always, he would return with a cooler full of venison for our freezer and an occasional turkey as well. Buck excelled in his marksmanship skills and his hunting strategies and did a great job of providing for his mom and ourselves. Such a trip was the last one he made, returning home just three weeks before his heart attack that forever changed our lives.

As hard as the past few days have been, I am thankful to relive these memories before Buck's truck finds a new home, but I will be glad when it isn't here any longer to torture me. Although I still often feel heartbroken, I know I have traveled a long way on this grief journey and the days of heartache are growing farther apart and have less intensity. God has taught me so much during these many months and I sense His Presence so often in my quiet times of personal devotion as well as times of corporate worship. I don't understand how it is possible, but I can honestly say that I have Peace in spite of the pain. I guess that's why they call it the Peace that transcends all understanding in one of my favorite verses. Such Grace He pours out! Thank You Lord!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians  4: 6-7

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More Memories From the Cookstove Days

My life with Buck had been so busy and full, especially the three years prior to moving to our new property, as we prepared to sell and planned our new home, that these days had been tucked away, unvisited for a very long time. My cookstove days that I shared about in my last post, led to memories that went farther back and reminded me about the birth of our daughter, Sarah.

Her birthplace was the little cabin in the woods, with a large creek in the front yard, where Sarah’s dad and I lived in Whiteford, Md. Being part of the hippie generation, we were thrilled to hear about a woman obstetrician, who still believed in delivering babies at home. When Sarah was ready to make her debut, Dr. Gordon came to visit in the early afternoon, left to deliver another baby over an hour’s worth of traveling time away, and returned at midnight to deliver Sarah around 1AM. After twenty-four hours of labor and doing the natural-childbirth breathing techniques I had practiced; all went like clock-work for her arrival and I was so thankful to have the opportunity to deliver Sarah naturally, into the familiar setting of home. What a precious gift and blessing she has been to our lives!!!


Unfortunately, this is not a picture of Sarah. We didn't have a camera back then. As I remember, Sarah spent her first night in a blanket-lined, wicker, laundry basket, because we didn't have her bassinet in our possession yet. Such a sweet memory! I kept the handles from the well-used basket for sentimental reasons, for many years, until they literally disintegrated! Such a sappy mommy! Sarah was not the only one who had a make-shift bed, as her hippie parents had to trade in the waterbed for a regular boxspring and's orders. During one of my prenatal, doctor appointments, I mentioned that we had a waterbed. Dr. Gordon shook her head as she quickly responded: " I can't deliver a moving target. The waterbed will have to go!" We didn't think of it, but she knew full well that each contraction would bring a wave of motion, making her job impossible! I was not saddened to see it go. In true hippie fashion, our new bedding sat atop four cinder blocks. How resourceful we were...ha! You know your a hippie when...!

We didn’t have a telephone back then, so early the next afternoon, I slipped into my long denim skirt, tee shirt and sandals, bundled Sarah, walked across our foot-bridge and we went to a neighbors to share the news with our parents. My mom didn’t believe me, thinking there was no way I would be up and getting in touch so soon. Bill had to get on the phone to convince his mother-in-law that indeed, it was true! Her granddaughter was really here!

Those homesteading days were some of the most productive days of my life. How I would love to have a fraction of that energy and motivation now! Although my life is certainly not what I thought it would be, having faced many ups and downs as we all do; it is still so very good, as I face my future with the Lord at my side each step of the way. Missing my Bofren and adjusting to widowhood has been painful and challenging ; but, my here and now is filled with more moments of blessings and beauty than I could possibly count, thanks to all the special people God has brought into my life! Just the same, many precious memories took place in those days and live happily in the archive of my heart! It was wonderful to revisit! Thanks for the inspiration, Tess!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Memories From My Pioneer Days

In my last post, I shared about my 24-hour power outage story and my journal entry addressed to my late husband, Buck. When my power was restored the next day, I mentioned my little adventure on my Facebook status, and my friend, Tess, commented that she remembered me being a pioneer woman when we first met many years ago.

Her comment made me think about those days when I was in my twenties and thirties and a flood of memories took me down a long-neglected memory lane. According to the dictionary, I didn't fit into a pioneer profile in any way. But, I think it would be fair to say that Sarah's dad and I explored the road less traveled with our back to the basics, self-sufficient lifestyle, as did many of our peers. We heated our little cabin in the woods with firewood from our property, raised pigs for our neighbors and ourselves and enjoyed fresh, brown eggs from our Rhode Island Red hens. I'll save my memories about the beautiful, but equally mean rooster, named Harold!

We grew a gigantic garden, and I canned tomatoes in every possible form: whole, chopped, tomato sauce and juice. I even made ketchup to use up some of the bazillion tomatoes that we couldn't give away. That's what happens when you combine good manure-rich soil with newbie gardener's ignorance and plant 100 tomato plants! I dreamed (well...had nightmares would probably be more accurate) about bushel baskets full of the beauties . Bill and I did learn our lesson and were more reasonable in our future gardening efforts after that first bumper crop.

I remember the many days of picking, cleaning and snapping green beans and canning them in mason jars in my canning pressure cooker.  I also recall making homemade sauerkraut on several occasions. We were blessed to have an orchard near by, where we picked peaches and apples when they were in season. It was our custom to pick about forty pounds of their sour cherries when they were available in early summer and I would pit (more dreams) and freeze them for future use. I loved picking blackberries and wineberries from wild, roadside bushes and using them to make jams and homemade pies with the lard from our pigs. There was nothing better than a made-from-scratch fruit pie in late winter!

I recall participating in a street festival in Bel Air, Md. in the seventies with some of our neighbors. I spent days making all kinds of baked goods and actually selling my homemade pies for two dollars each! I wonder what one would bring today? Making our bread was another endeavor I enjoyed. My bread-baking day would yield six loaves. This was my routine for a season, until Sarah and her dad decided they only liked my whole wheat bread on baking day and bread from the freezer didn't appeal to their taste buds.

I was thrilled to find this photo of a Home Comfort stove that was identical to the one I cherished many years ago. Notice the tank for heating water on the side.
Website for this image

Tess had a vivid memory about coming to visit and seeing my wood-burning, cook-stove in my country kitchen. She also erroneously thought I had baked the cake in the cook-stove that I served to them that day. Nothing could have been farther from the truth, as I never even came close to mastering the art of baking in that stove. My brother, John, also has a memory connected to that stove and will never let me forget the "stone pizza" I tried to feed him that was prepared in that oven. No Tess, clearly, I had baked that cake in my electric oven! I'm so glad you shared your memory about that day. It was good to think and reminisce about those days again.

I sincerely hope this post didn't come across as boastful in any way. It was my attempt to share several verbal snapshots from my past. I hope you enjoyed walking down my memory lane along with me.