Just Yesterday

Dressed up in satin and lace, I walked slowly down the aisle of the church sanctuary. Strolling arm in arm with my father, I loved hearing the swish from my dress with each graceful step. My eyes focused on my to-be-husband standing in front of the sanctuary. He looked quite dashing in his black tux. Wasn’t this special occasion just yesterday?
Yesterday that transported into thirty-one years of marriage.

Well, it was just yesterday when I saw the item sitting on the shelf: a gift from my bridal shower in 1988. I recall opening the box and pulling out a white mini food chopper. A great gift, but did I expect to keep it for three decades? I thought for sure it would’ve been replaced with an updated version sometime between then and now. Yet, over the years, it has stood the test of time, still working, and the only change is its color; instead of a glossy white, it’s now faded into a pale yellow.

The question is: should I replace the little food chopper because it looks weathered? If so, shouldn’t anything old be swapped out for a newer version? Think about cars. They may have all the parts, their engines may roar when the key is turned, but if they’re scraped up and bruised, shouldn’t they be traded in for shiny new models? Let’s expand our thinking even further: Should spouses sprouting gray hair, wearing mazes of facial wrinkles be substituted with younger partners? Is the end-all goal a better-looking copy?

Let’s do the math: if that mini chopper has aged, so have I and I am not going to be traded in. Buying brand-new, shiny, and flawless is exciting and I won’t lie and say that I never have, but sometimes the memories deep within are more valuable than the “itemitself. Regarding life partners, what about the good memories: the laughter, tears, adventures, intimacy, and the love both partners felt in the beginning when that spark ignited? This is why my faded chopper still sits on the shelf, rather content with the cookie sheets and mixing bowls.

I don’t know how long the chopper will stay in the family, but as long as it does, I’ll remember that Saturday afternoon: women gathered to celebrate my upcoming wedding day. Silly games brought fits of laughter, deep conversations evoked precious memories, words of wisdom were spoken by women who had lived through the cracks and crevices of life. Most importantly, my faded gift reminds me of when my mom and mother-in-law were still in my life. They were two amazing women with more stories to tell and wisdom to share and I miss them more than words convey.

Mom on my right and
my mother-in-law on my left.

So, if you’re questioning whether you should toss that old worn-out item even though it functions perfectly, allow yourself to pause in the moment, to reflect upon the wonderful memories.

January 21, 1989

The answer could just be in one of them.

Lauren Scott (c) 2020

Letters in the Sky

A loving marriage lasting over six decades is as awe-inspiring as a star-filled night sky. I never grew tired of hearing my parents talk about how they met. Each detail was infused with love that put a twinkle in their eyes as they grew older.

It was springtime in Milwaukee when the city began to thaw and patio furniture came out of hibernation. Locals, excited for warmer temperatures, bid their parkas farewell and reached for shorts and sandals. It did not matter if the weather was only in the fifties; it was still much warmer than living through winter’s aggression. World War II had already begun. The atmosphere was unsettling.

The writing of my parents’ story would not have transpired without Dad’s friend, George. Dad was in the U.S. Army Air Force at the time but home on a 3-day pass. He happened to visit George at work one day at the bank, and walking into the bank’s entry, he noticed a beautiful gal with gorgeous legs sitting behind a desk. He was captivated.

mom

George managed to talk Mom into a blind date with Dad, but the condition was for George and his girlfriend to join in. And so, a double date was set. The beautiful young woman with the nice legs was nineteen and the handsome young gentleman was twenty-one when they met on June 29, 1941. The two couples enjoyed good conversation, laughter, dinner at Wegerman’s Resort at Pewaukee Lake, and dancing to the tunes of Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller. This evening proved to be the spark that ignited my parent’s love for each other.

Do you believe in love at first sight? They did. Early the following year, Dad was informed that his squadron was to be dispatched to the European Theater. This news and the fact that he was in love with Mom complicated matters. He did not want to lose her, so he proposed, hoping with all his heart her answer would be yes. Her feelings matched his, but she declined Dad’s proposal because of the imminent uncertainty. Mom had never been impulsive, so had she left the decision up to her heart, she would have married him immediately. Dad was disappointed but respected her wishes. However, I should tell you that persistence turned into his new middle name.

Some time passed and while they were out for dinner one night, Dad asked Mom to marry him again. He felt a second try was worthwhile because she was the only woman who held his heart. In the restaurant, they sat on red velvet chairs and their table was dressed in a silky white tablecloth. Twinkle lights glistened above as Dad proposed in the glow of the soft-lit candle on their table. Restaurant patrons nearby witnessed this occasion, clapping when they heard her say, “Yes!” Mom offered her left hand as Dad slipped the solitaire on her ring finger. Its sparkle matched the tears of joy in her eyes. She loved him without a doubt and realized life will always be full of unknowns.

Dad was then stationed overseas for three years – a long time for them to be apart. They stayed in touch by old-fashioned letter writing, which enabled them to learn more about each other and grow closer while separated by an ocean and war. I imagine them holding the precious envelope to their cheek as though it was the cheek of their beloved. They professed their love as their letters flew back and forth among the cotton ball clouds in the sky, befitting as the glue in their long-distance relationship.

The year was 1945 and the weather was frosty in early February. Dad was fortunate to return to America on a “rotation plan,” meaning thirty days at home then returning to Italy. After taking a quick two weeks to plan their wedding, the aisle of the church sanctuary gracefully carried Mom towards her future husband on February 24th as he waited at the altar. She wore an ivory satin wedding gown that cost $39.95 and she looked as elegant and classy as Rita Hayworth. Dad looked handsome as ever in his Air Force Uniform. Following their honeymoon in Chicago at The Edgewater Beach Hotel on Lake Michigan, he returned to Europe and the ink on the stationery kept the fires burning until he was honorably discharged in September.

Mom and Dad wedding 1945

Over the years, their faces lit up when they told of those early memories. Their romance, love, and excitement danced in every sentence. Now that they have both passed, I miss the story-telling. I miss the animation in Dad’s voice and facial expressions, how Mom filled in the gaps where Dad left blank spaces, or how she fine-tuned his recollections. Their marriage was not devoid of struggles, but it was one of commitment and everlasting love. They were “attached at the hip.” He was her best friend and she was his.

As Dad once said, “That blind date blossomed into sixty-seven years of marriage, three lovely daughters, seven grandchildren, and thirteen great-grandchildren. So, I am very grateful to my friend, George!” To fall in love on a blind date, to hug good-bye in distressing war times, to stay in touch through handwritten letters, and to share seventy years is my parents’ story. Dad is not around to tell their tale anymore, nor is Mom to chime in when she should, but the memories stay vivid and their story is ageless. What a journey they traveled together through rainbows and rainstorms.

 

mom and baby lauren

Mom and guess who?

family

My family…
I have older sisters who are almost two years apart.
Then I came ten years later. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed my parent’s love story. ❤

Lauren Scott (c) 2020

 

 

 

 

Grieving with a Backpack On

The inevitable is happening – turning sixty is only a few years away, so what better time to experience a new adventure? When my children were young, my husband, Matt, often took them backpacking, teaching them about his lifelong passion. I, on the other hand, had no interest whatsoever to carry a pack on my back. But since birthdays seemingly arrive faster and getting older is a sure thing, I was inspired to try something new. When the summer of 2017 came around, I told him I was ready to wear that pack and leave my footprints on the trail. I had enjoyed listening to my family’s tales of their past trips, but now I longed to be the narrator of my own stories.

Their trips were weekend get-a-ways, and although Matt had gone on two 50-milers in the past, these short outings were a subtle way of introducing backpacking to his family and much more manageable for his family. And so, my first trip was on a weekend in July, backpacking in Point Reyes not far from home. After pulling into the parking lot on a Friday afternoon, we “suited up” and I almost toppled over, feeling a bit like Lucille Ball in one of her slapstick scenes – although I managed to find balance eventually. 

When we found the trailhead, I had to document this new beginning with some photos, then we were on our way. The trail was fairly easy with a few minor inclines and dips. I tried to enjoy the scenery, but I was fixated on each step in my what-felt-like “moon” boots. The bulkiness took some getting used to, but it was humbling to carry everything I needed on my back. After just over an hour, we arrived at Coast Camp, sweaty and slightly dirty. Our site was nothing fancy, but it came with a picnic table which proved to be convenient. We set up the tent and made our wilderness bedroom as comfortable as possible. The trip was off to a great start…

We hiked around local trails, reveling in the beauty of the wildflowers – shades of yellows, reds, pinks, and purples – while the bees serenaded. We trekked down to the beach a few times where the temperature had dropped and the wind lost its temper. The ocean inhaled then exhaled, greeting us with a palpable roughness as if to say, “Don’t you dare come in.” We wouldn’t dare, but the sight was beautiful just the same. After trekking back to our campsite, we had a reaffirmed respect for the ocean.

Our dinners were convenient consisting of freeze-dried backpacking food such as beef stroganoff and chicken and dumplings. Occasionally, we indulged in our favorite desserts – raspberry crumble or apple crisp. All we had to do for hot meal preparation was heat water, pour, stir, wait a few minutes, and dinner was ready. In the morning when the sun rose, we had oatmeal and that cup of coffee, which hit the spot. Fruit, cheese, nuts, and sometimes, a little salami and crackers served as lunch. We definitely did not lack in nutrition or hunger.

We appreciated moments of sitting together in silence, reading, enjoying nature’s entertainment, or watching other hikers pass by. Everyone offered a familiar wave as though we were all members of the same backpacking club out for a weekend. Other than an unexpected allergy attack, the trip was a success. When Sunday morning arrived, knowing it was time to pack up and leave, I was sad that this amazing experience was coming to an end, yet I was eager for a hot shower. The drive home was picturesque on the quiet country roads with only the cows lifting their heads to see us as we drove by. We drifted into silence, absorbing the wonderful adventure we had together. A few days later, we jumped into the planning stages for our next adventure to Shealor Lakes in the Sierra for the following month.

Sometimes though, plans do not always work out. Soon after our July trip, my dad’s health suddenly weakened. He began having heart trouble, which initiated a much-needed hospital visit. Dad was ninety-seven years old, but surprisingly, he had never suffered through any major health issues. My family had no reason to believe he would not get the chance to blow out ninety-eight candles in two months. The only pain we knew he felt was missing Mom – his wife of sixty-seven years who had passed away five years prior. Dad was poked, prodded, and x-rayed, and after only three days in the hospital, he peacefully passed away.

It was all so strange – losing my dad, and at the same time having planned the trip. After talking to my sisters, they encouraged us to stick with our original plans. “It’s what Dad would want,” they said. I was unsure, but after much thought, we took my sisters’ advice. Yet, the slight guilt of going while it was all so fresh could not be ignored. If Dad was still in the hospital, I would have stayed, but he was at peace now, no longer suffering. In some otherworldly way, I felt his approval.

We began our four-hour drive a few days after Dad’s passing. After arriving, we unloaded our stuff and “suited up” just like on our first trip. While we prepared and packed, as well as on the drive, Matt repeated to me, “It’s only a mile and a half to the lake!” What he failed to mention was that the hike entailed an ascent over a huge granite dome. I stared at the dome that I was about to embark on and became anxious because I did not feel physically prepared. But Matt’s confidence in my ability was apparent, so we began the uphill hike. What was I going to do, back out now?

After hiking for forty-five minutes, we reached the top, and when I looked down that sleek granite dome, I was amazed at what I had achieved. Never underestimate our abilities. On the other side, Shealor Lake was in full view. We gave our legs a short rest, quenched our thirst and souls with water that tasted better than ever, then headed downhill with the enticing pull of the lake’s beauty. As we neared the bottom, my emotions ran wild. I felt relieved that we finally made it, but a sudden wave of grief washed over me. We removed our packs and rested on a nearby log. I was so overwhelmed that I did not fight the tears. I let them roll down my cheeks with purpose. I cried for the loss of Dad and I cried for having completed this hike that I did not think I was capable of. I would have wiggled out graciously had I known the details much earlier.

Once the last tear had fallen, I composed myself and looked to the lake. The water was a jeweled phenomenon. It sparkled, inviting us for a swim. While we set up our back-country camp, the orange-hot sun blazed down on us as if we had drastically turned up the thermostat, so the cool lake water soothed our sun-kissed skin. The fact that we were all alone in this canyon full of forest and smooth granite was beyond welcoming. The tranquility offered me the chance to reminisce about Dad and my parents together. The solitude afforded a perfect destination to grieve, think, remember, and cry. Mourning the loss of one parent was difficult enough, but losing both felt surreal – a new stage of life had begun.

This Sierra adventure provided a chance for hiking and granite-rock hopping. The sun was our alarm clock, bidding us good morning and night as it rose and faded behind the hills. In the evenings, we sat mesmerized by the campfire’s dancing flames and were enchanted by the dark, star-sprinkled sky. No matter where we explored, magic wrapped us in its warm embrace. This trip challenged my mind, body, and soul. I gained insight into my deepest being, learning not to limit myself. This amazing destination and experience proved to be the best medicine.

I approached that summer with enthusiasm for a new adventure to backpack and I am proud of my ascent over the granite dome. I often wonder if my grieving process would have been more difficult had I not agreed to go on the second trip. I will never know, but I believe I made the right choice at a time when my life unfortunately shifted in a hard-to-process direction. I thanked my sisters for encouraging us to go; their intuition knew it would be the right thing to do. Now, I can honestly say that my footprints are embedded in Point Reyes and the Sierra, and I am grateful to finally be my own narrator. I know Dad would be proud and I can not wait for a new story to emerge on the horizon.

Lauren Scott (c) 2020

 

 

 

Fair Day

My daughter and I had to carve out time for a day at the county fair since she is busy adulting these days. We stand in the line that snakes around endlessly for the Ferris Wheel, but our chance finally arrives. I step into the slightly swinging bucket, gripping the middle pole as a lifeline before sitting down. She relaxes across from me holding onto nothing. I want to be in her comfort zone. 

The ride begins to carry us higher and higher and knowing I’m wrestling with jittery nerves, she says, “Mom, you’ll be fine, just breathe.” Heeding her advice, I slowly inhale, and then look down; surprisingly, my stomach doesn’t flip. My eyes take in the scene unfolding below: fair patrons waiting for their turn in the sky resemble an ant colony. A summer breeze gently caresses my face; it soothes me as much as this moment does with my daughter.

daylight ferris wheel

“Hanging out with your grown-up kids is like visiting the best parts of yourself.” ~Anonymous

My husband and I had planned to visit our daughter this spring who lives across country. But now with sheltering-in-place, that’s not happening. So, it’s special memories like this one about the county fair day that keep us company until the powers-that-be lift the orders. And of course, there’s phone calls, Facetime, texting, and emailing. My husband still wonders what in the world mom and daughter manage to talk about for two hours. All I can say is when we chat, there is never a moment of silence!

Lauren Scott (c) 2020 💗

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five O’clock

The table was always
beautifully adorned
with pretty linen and
mouthwatering aromas

three sets of pigtails
never starved
for love and care

ashtrays were fixtures,
but laps in the pool
would offset inhaling –
years later, those clear-
colored decorations
would disappear

they loved and laughed
into their ninth decade,

but the secret remained
a mystery, until…

with a wink and a smile,
it was said to be
the olive in the martini

Lauren Scott © 2018

Your Reflection

mirror

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you smile or do you turn your back on yourself? Do you sometimes wish your house was mirror-less?

How did your year end? Did you love yourself last year?

How is your new year beginning? Do you love yourself now?

“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.” Kurt Cobain

We’ve all heard the saying, “You have to love yourself before you can love others.”

It’s so easy to find faults with ourselves, whether they’re physical or results of something we said or did. Or maybe we’re just not smart enough. The list is ongoing. Most people doubt themselves at some time in their lives. Self-worth and self-esteem waver every so often. After all, we’re only human. We occasionally make choices that create an outcome making us wish we chose a different door.

“We torture ourselves incessantly, and for what purpose? Wouldn’t life be so much more fun, productive, and sexy if we fully embraced our magnificently delightful selves?” Jen Sincero 

Love yourself

Regarding physical appearance, we have screens of all sizes telling us how to be good-looking (for both women and men) and how to defy age. We learn that, instead of embracing laugh lines and those wonderful memories that caused them, they should be covered because looking young “forever” is what matters most. I suppose I’ll be an anomaly then because Botox or anything that requires a needle on the face is not an option for me. Of course, I’ve noticed changes that I’m not thrilled about, but it’s all a part of growing older, and between you and me, it’s the better alternative. I’ve had dear friends who were never given the chance to grow old. 

men ageing

“There will never be anyone exactly like you. You were given special gifts and talents to share with the world, and even though everybody has special gifts and talents, nobody will use theirs quite the same way you do…You are the only you that will ever be. You are kind of a big deal.” Jen Sincero

So, if you’re struggling with yourself, choose to Forgive yourself. Don’t be so quick to beat yourself up. Accept who You are and Love Yourself. If you do all these things, then your outlook on the world and people around you will be so much brighter. You’ll be able to allow others into your circle and give them the authentic gift of Kindness, Compassion, and Love…the authentic gift of You!

girl looking in mirror

“You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.” Charlie Chaplin

FORGIVE YOURSELF, LOVE YOURSELF, AND SMILE. ISN’T THIS A GREAT WAY TO START THE NEW YEAR?

~Lauren Scott
(All photos courtesy of Google)