Surrender 88: Get a Clue

As I have been packing up the house in Arkansas, room by room, it’s often the little, seemingly insignificant finds that tug at my heart the most or spark precious memories. Today’s discovery was one of these unexpected triggers into emotions and joyful recollections. 

 

Sorting through a stack of papers, cards and photos, pulled from a drawer, I uncovered a small collection of folded pieces of paper. I could tell the yellow note papers had writing on them, and they were numbered on the outside. Opening one of the notes, I laughed, recognizing my own handwriting. 
  
Memory stirred. When my three children were young, I used to create scavenger hunts for them, writing out rhyming clues that led them through out the house or yard. Each clue led to another location, where they had to find the next clue, and so on, until the hidden treasure was found.

  
 

The kids loved doing scavenger hunts. And I enjoyed creating them. I had forgotten, until today, that I had once created a scavenger hunt while we were visiting the grandparents in Arkansas. I sent the children outside to play so that I could write up the clues and hide them, and tuck away a treat. 

  
I placed one of the clues in the front pocket of Papa Bob’s shirt, instructing him to not give away the secret. He didn’t. He sat on the sofa with a big grin lighting up his face. The kids squealed with delight as they found that clue!  

Mimi Leta seemed to enjoy the experience as much as the kids. She had a wonderful child-like sense of wonder about life and the world. When the game was over, after the kids had found the hidden treat, I gathered the clues to throw them away. Mimi Leta asked if she could have them. She thought the whole idea was fun and clever. 
  
My eyes blurred with tears, reading through the notes this afternoon, realizing she had, indeed, kept these bright scraps of paper. I’m glad she did. I relived a wonderfully warm memory. 

And I am reminded of two vital truths in my life:

I am a creative person. I always have been. Although I didn’t write as a career while my family was young, I never veered far from it. I wrote newsletters and school curriculum, stories and classes that I taught…and rhyming scavenger hunt clues. 

  
And, I live my life as one HUGE Divine scavenger hunt. Each day I watch for the clues that are given to me, leading me onward and upward to the next clue, or sign, and the next, and the next. There is as much thought and planning and joy evident in my daily clues as there were in my imaginative creations. 

I get it now. And while the last clue leading me to the final hidden treasure is going to far outshine any clue I ever wrote, or any treasure that I ever hid, what a journey of discovery I have been offered. What fun I am having. And the Clue Writer, the Dream Giver, expresses so much delight.

Truly, there is joy in the journey…this journey full of clues and signs and surprises. 

  

  

Surrender 51: Heavenly Birthday and Earthly Treasures

Today is Bob Moore’s birthday. He was not a world renowned man and yet I felt a sense of wonder and loss, realizing that for the first time in 95 years, a century nearly, this unique person was not present in his earthly body on this day. There was no party, no birthday lunch as there was last year, no massive slices of chocolate cream pie to laugh over and devour. Surely the world noticed the absence of this bright, beautiful soul. 

 

All three of his grandchildren and his son noticed. They were aware that this was his first birthday celebrated in a heavenly way, with a host of family members on the other side of the veil. By Divine appointment, Greg and I, Elissa and Josh, Adriel and Nate Pugh, spent part of the day in Arkansas, at Bob’s house. Nathanael had to work today and couldn’t join us, however he communicated by text, and he will go with us to Arkansas on Monday. 
 Papa Bob with Elissa, who was 9 months old.  

As we are preparing the house for the market, Greg and I have been sorting through all the items left behind. We are ready to empty the house so Greg can paint and new carpet can go down. It was time for the kids to walk through the only house they remember their grandparents living in, and decide what they wanted to take to their own homes. 

 Papa Bob and Mimi Leta with Nathanael, who was 1.  

It was a sweet time today, watching the girls look through drawers and cupboards, stacks of photos and a vast assortment of momentos. They exclaimed over found treasures, full of memories. I heard them say often to each other, those magical words that have the power to unlock the past, “Do you remember…?”

 Papa Bob with newborn Adriel.  

One of the fun discoveries today was when the kids, all in their 30’s, uncovered the stereo. Adriel confessed she always thought that piece of furniture was a table! In a short time the top was cleared and the lid opened, revealing a turntable, a radio and an 8 track player. It’s been at least 20 years since anyone has peered inside, much less dropped an album in. 

 

The 8 track player was tried first, being such a novelty! It worked. The kids found a Sound of Music vinyl. After tinkering with the record player briefly, Julie Andrews’ voice sang forth. It was such an enchanting moment. 

The young men also discovered that the Japanese sake set, a gift to Leta years ago from one of Peterson’s traveling salespersons, actually had sake in the bottle. Sake is an alcoholic drink made from rice. For 30 years or more that set has been on display on a shelf, and I never picked up the bottle. In honor of the day, and Papa Bob’s birth 95 years ago, for the memories and the love and the joys, the four young adults each had a shot of sake, using a cut crystal glass rather than the little ceramic sake cup. I passed on having a taste, but I laughed, watching their faces, as they experienced the fire of vintage sake. 

 

It was a precious, memorable day, and a start to clearing the house. The girls experienced a bit of overwhelm, looking through so many items, recalling so many memories. I understand! Each sister took home a small collection of treasures, wanting their brother to have a chance to look before they make further decisions. The girls expressed gratitude for their family today, how love and compassion for one another governs our actions and flavors our words. There’s no greed or selfishness exhibited here…only cooperation and care. 

I was proud of them. I know Papa Bob was too. What an amazing birthday for him, to have his granddaughters and their sweeties laughing and remembering in his house, to have his grandson present Monday, to see his son there telling stories to the children. Happy heavenly birthday, Dad! I miss you, and yet I know you are not far away, watching over us all. I love you. 

  
 

Surrender 39: Hidden Treasures

For the next six to eight weeks, Mondays will be spent in Arkansas. I am helping Greg get his dad’s house ready to go on the market, to be sold. We’ve spent random days there, sorting items and hauling out the stuff that accumulates over a lifetime. This is now a very focused and intentional plan to complete the necessary tasks and have my realtor friend in Arkansas list the property. 

It’s been interesting, opening up drawers and clearing out closets and cupboards. So many memories hidden within. So many times Greg and I have laughed or teared up. For Greg especially, these items we are bringing into the light again represent his past, and his parents’ lives, captured in old photos or a favorite watch or a worn billfold. 

 

Greg’s mother, Leta, had Alzheimer’s the last nine years of her life. I’ve found treasures that she apparently tucked away and then forgot about. They are reminders of her illness, yes, but more so, finding these forgotten purchases and half completed craft projects remind me of her love for her family and her creativity. 

I love the cloth balls I found recently in the bottom drawer of an armoire. I don’t know if she bought them or made them, these simple balls created from strips of colorful fabric. They are homey. And perfect nestled in a white footed bowl in my vintage wooden sieve after the paperwhites finished blooming. 
 

Today I worked methodically through kitchen cabinets, throwing away plastic containers and paper goods, and sorting through a large variety of knick knacks, kitchen gadgets and keepsakes. High in an upper cupboard, I found stacks of delicate cups and saucers.  Leta, who enjoyed hot tea as I do, collected tea cup sets. 
  
I had fun looking at each cup and finding the matching saucers. I discovered a small cup that looks like it’s made from polished alabaster. Within the cup was a scrap of paper with Leta’s distinctive handwriting on it, identifying the cup as being from Cairo, Egypt, a gift from Aunt Pearl. I was delighted! Greg’s great-aunt Pearl was one of my favorite people. This bright and adventurous woman was traveling the world well into her 80’s. 

  
I picked up a pretty bone china cup. It was so delicately made that the light shown through it when I held the tea cup up to the light. I peered within and found another scrap of paper, folded up and yellowed with age. Unfolding the paper, I was amazed at what Greg’s mom had written: 

A gift to Bob’s grandparents/Kygar, on their 20th wedding anniversary. 

I felt a little shaky! This cup was given to a couple who married in 1888. Their 20th wedding anniversary would have been in 1918…98 years ago. The saucer must have been broken long ago and there is a very fine crack noticeable in the bottom of the cup. But for the cup to have survived this long, through countless moves, and the hands of children and grandchildren, is astounding. 

  

Anna and Daniel Kygar, on the left, are pictured above with Ruby (Kygar) and Bill Moore on their wedding day. The other couple is Bill’s parents, T.O. and Lillian Moore. Anna and Daniel celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary the next year. 

I carefully returned the cup to the shelf. I am thrilled to have found this treasure, and I want to continue to preserve this keepsake for my children and grandchildren. The world won’t shatter, if the tea cup does, but I don’t want that happening on my watch. I’m thinking about how best to display the cup, with its tiny scrap of information. 

I’m grateful to Leta Moore. As her Alzheimer’s progressed, she often wrote little notes to herself, so that she would remember. And when all memory was gone, she trusted that others would find her notes, and becoming the keeper of the information, continue on the story. Well done, Mom Moore. I found your hidden treasures and your words. I’ll pass on the items, and the stories . 

   

Journey 218: Siloam Springs AR Historic District

Last year, during my year of firsts, I enjoyed experiencing something new every day. That journey changed me, shifting my perceptions about life and myself. I opened to infinite possibilities  and adventure, simply by being willing to try things I’d never tried before. 

  
So today, finding myself in the beautiful historic district of Siloam Springs, AR, I decided to visit a new shop and experience a restaurant I had not eaten at before.

Having a little time before a scheduled appointment, Greg and I stepped into one of my favorite types of shops, a junk store. 2 Gals’ Junk, located at 120 S Broadway, offers cozy cubicles and cubby holes full of interesting items, antiques, collectibles and yes, good ole junk. We spent a leisurely 15 minutes browsing and remarking over familiar items and new-to-us gadgets, interesting bits and pieces, all with stories attached. 

  
After the appointment, we wandered down the pretty street looking for a unique restaurant to have a late lunch. Fratelli’s Wood-fired Pizzeria caught our attention. Also located on Broadway, this charming little restaurant features 12″ speciality pizzas that are indeed wood-fired. 

We wavered between pizzas with interesting names such as 3 Little Pigs, Gorgonspeck and Bavarian. We settled on the Bavarian…tomato sauce, mozzarella, sliced Italian sausage, onions, and bell peppers on a hand tossed Italian  crust. 

  
As we waited for our pizza, I looked around at the earthy decor…exposed brick walls, intimate tables and comfy booths, wooden floors and art on the walls. I noticed for the first time the print hanging above our booth. It was a bi-wing airplane. Greg and I smiled. The airplane has already become the symbol for Greg’s dad. We were seated by the only airplane print in the restaurant. 

We enjoyed our meal when it arrived! The tasty 12″ pizza was the perfect size  for two people to share. Fratelli’s also serves gelato. We each purchased a small cup to savor as we left the restaurant…peanut butter chocolate for Greg and brown sugar pecan for me. 

  
Sitting on a bench facing the street, we finished our dessert and watched the activities on the busy street. It was a quiet moment to pause and enjoy a treat and also consider what task we next needed to do. It continues to be a busy time as we settle Greg’s dad’s estate and make plans for dispersing property. 

At the end of a long life, there are cupboards and closets and drawers full of items, momentoes of the journey. Like the little shop we visited, full of interesting tidbits, Bob’s house is full of items with their own unique stories attached. Over the coming days and weeks, Greg and I and our children and grandchildren will sort through these special memory laden pieces and decide what to do with each item. 

It will be a beautiful journey through time and recollections. I’m sure there will be stories told, tears shed and laughter shared. And each person will take home what is dear to their hearts, a small part of Bob and Leta Moore to cherish. This afternoon, however, I enjoyed the beauty that surrounded me and a cold gelato and quiet conversation. The journey ahead will unfold in its own time. And that’s just perfect! 

  

Day 131: Mother’s Day Blessings

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What a lovely weekend, connecting with my kids and grandkids, mom, stepmom and sisters, and the other lovely women in my family! This was not my first Mother’s Day, of course, but today brought a couple of firsts!

My sister, Linda, and I enjoyed taking my mom and stepdad to lunch yesterday, for an early Mother’s Day treat. We enjoyed a leisurely meal and lively conversations. I am blessed to have my mom living nearby in Joplin. I get to see her often…we even attend Zumba classes together… and she never fails to offer love, support and encouragement to me on my journey.

Today I received sweet texts wishing me Happy Mother’s Day from both my daughters and Dayan. I love those girls and that amazing grandson. They bring me much joy. As I was out running errands, I heard from my son, Nate, and his fiancé, asking if they and the kids could stop by. I didn’t see the text when it was sent and almost missed getting to see this precious group! They had already stopped by the house and left a surprise, when I saw their text and arranged to meet them away from the house so I could see the kids and get hugs! This was a delightful first for today, Mother’s Day wishes and a gift from my soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Megan, and new grandsons, Joey and Oliver, along with Nate and granddaughter, Aubrey. I’m so excited to be welcoming Megan and the boys to our family.

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After a quick visit and hugs and kisses, I returned home to find the surprise from Nate, Megan and the kids on the front porch, a gorgeous fuchsia plant! Another first, as I have not owned one of these plants before. I immediately hung it from a hook on the front porch, so I can enjoy looking at it as I sit on the porch swing. I love it, and I love Nate and Megan and those darling kids.

Interestingly, I have a special connection to the fuchsia plant. There is another woman who has been a wonderful mother figure in my life, Greg’s mom, whom the kids called Mimi Leta.  She was a gentle, generous woman who, never having had a daughter of her own, showered me with affection and kindness. Mimi Leta adored her grandkids and my children have fond memories of her tenderness, playfulness and her funny sayings. Sadly, she succumbed to Alzheimer’s 15 years ago.

Earlier today, Greg and I had been talking about his mother and reminiscing about her as we looked through old photos. This afternoon, looking at the beautiful plant, I remembered that Mimi Leta loved fuchsias and always had one hanging on her front porch during the summer months. Nate didn’t remember that, and Megan didn’t know. This surprise is a wonderful reminder of their love and a sweet connection to someone who welcomed me into her family with open arms and an open heart. I will think of Nate, Megan and their kids as I water and care for the plant, and remember Leta warmly. I think she would be delighted that I have a fuchsia this summer!

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Leta Davidson Moore