A time of gratitude…

A couple weeks ago, when I was in the middle of Christmas Chocolate Craziness, I decided to hold off on opening any more Christmas cards.

They were getting lost in my Christmas Craziness, a cursory glance was all I could muster in my long hours, and cramped mind.

But, here’s the thing. These people took the time to write our names on the envelope, they wanted to share in our Christmas joy.

What an amazing blessing that is. With the holidays being what they are for me, it’s a rare year for me to send out Christmas cards. Many of you feel the same, no?

And yet, these twenty eight people have not let us get lost in the Season’s shuffle. They thought about us as they stuffed, stamped, addressed, and sent us a card.

That has blessed us.

So, on this morning, I got all snuggly by the tree and read each card, reflecting on each face, phrase, and image. I felt like my heart could not hold more gratitude than it did in this quiet hour of reflection.

I’m so grateful, just as I am in life, for the family and friends who value us enough to remember us in their holiday joy.

With these beautiful moments warming my heart on a bitter cold New Year’s Eve morning, I enter into the new year, with a renewed promise, that next holiday season, I will do the same.


The Waves, They Carry Me All the Way Home.


I have exactly ten minutes to write this in the practice of free writing–write, brush the editor off your shoulder, set the timer, go (not to mention that I can hear Mudslides being made in the blender.)

Today we went to the beach and we paddle boarded.  This was not easy, since the waves were rushing in willing any novice on a board from the Midwest to fall over.  But, we prevailed.  I was able to stay up on that board despite the waves that welled and lifted me up, because, I understood them.  Oh, I fell off a few times, and my thighs are KILLING me, but, it’s not mine to overcome the waves, it’s mine to understand that they are a will of Another.

This is how I am with water, and yet, I was raised surrounded by cornfields.  There was no water nearby, yet, when I am by a body of water, I am at peace. When I walk the river paths, my heart is happy. When I ride the waves my face toward the sun, I feel that rhythm in my soul.

Some people would say that is because I am a Pisces.  I dunno.  I DO think there is something to the lunar phases–years of working on the oncology unit will point to something that goes on during the full moon.  And I gravitate toward these things, yet, I would say, that there is a Hand bigger than just the “universe” at play here.

The tide comes in and goes out according to the pull of the moon, but who put the moon into action?

Good question.

In the meantime, after riding the board, I began to swim, and I was riding the waves of the ocean, they swelled under me, they pulled me close, and then pushed me away.  I was at will to their wanting.  I couldn’t hold my hand up and say, STOP!

I tried, they did not.

They swept me up, held me briefly, and then rushed back to the depths of the ocean that have literally never been explored, so deep, so profound, that no human has seen it.

Isn’t that amazing?

My time here is coming to an end with my hubby and our Besties.

The palms trees will whisper that we were here to the waves that carried us at their whim, while we usher in the golden reds of autumn in the Midwest.

I pray that the whispers of the palms and the ocean waves will reach my ears as I sit in the quiet of an autumn dawn.  My heart is alive in the seasons of my youth, and in that ocean of my dreams, and I am blessed to experience it all.






I met our best friends on the same exact day I met my husband, September 20th, 1980. They came along with him as moral support, but first stopping at K-Mart to get him a shirt, to meet some girl his sister wanted him to meet.  BAM! Magic.

Scott and Rick were best friends.  On May 24th that year, Rick stood up as best man at their wedding, little did we know that in less than a year, Scott would stand up in ours.

When we were young, we didn’t know what friendships would endure, and I honestly don’t think we even thought too much about it.  Friendships need cultivating, nurturing, and love.  But, some, like our Besties, come with minimal effort because they are so natural, like “meant to be” natural, that the love, nurturing and enduring is easy.  We could no more think of our life without automatically thinking of our life with our Besties. Our lives are intertwined with memories and moments that build a beautiful life together.

We’ve had some crazy times, C-R-A-Z-Y times, my friends.  We laugh until our bellies ache, and our cheeks hurt, and tears stream from our eyes when Rick and Scott recount again the antics of their youth.  I love hearing those stories, it was BM. Before Me.

After almost 40 years there is nothing left to say, and everything to say because there are so many memories to talk about, so much laughter, so much to look forward to together, and some sadness mixed in there, too.  That’s what Besties do, they hang tough when the tough stuff happens.  We  know if anything would happen, in a heartbeat we would be at their side, and they to ours.

Years ago in the quiet while our tiny kids were sleeping in the living room of our house on Oakley Ave, and we were talking around the table, we all made a pact that we could never EVER get a divorce, because we came as a group deal

Of course, as marriages go, that pact was tested, but weirdly, at least for me, I know that pact held import in how I dealt with the hard times, because, divorcing Rick would most likely mean, I’d be divorcing Scott and Jill and that would have broken my heart into a million MORE pieces. What can I say?  I’m a sucker for them.

Without them, Super Bowls would just be a football game, vacations would just be places to visit,  and lobster races of lore, would have just been food.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of our 25 Annual Second Honeymoon (I think it’s our 25th, but don’t quote me).  We began this crazy annual thing back in Galena, and like the pact above, Jillie and I said, let’s have an Annual Second Honeymoon every year, and so began an amazing adventure.

Oh, there were times when we were all broke and spent the night in a hotel in a nearby town, ate snacks and watched movies, or, maybe we had dinner downtown.  Last year, our Annual Second Honeymoon was the wedding of our daughter, who is their goddaughter. One to remember for sure.

We’ve been to Pismo Beach, Seattle, Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Phoenix, Florida, Hilton Head, Hawaii, Michigan in wintertime, and more…  So many trips and memories.

We’ve ridden horses, gambled, seen landmarks, been nearly eaten by a gator in the Everglades (okay, that one is a hyperbole), fed giraffes, eaten at some of the best restaurants, and witnessed historic events.

We’ve driven through the desert, along the ocean, over the mountains, by the canyons, and through the snow.

So, tomorrow, we’ll meet at the airport, the guys will have a big breakfast, and we will sigh contentedly and just let the busyness of life slide off us.  Jillie and I will have a Baileys on the plane.  And we will all sit in aisle seats across from each other so we can stretch our legs.

When we land, we will go eat somewhere fabulous (Hey, barbeque is fabulous, right?), then we will find the house we are renting, scope out the best light to set out the puzzles, go to the grocery, put on swimming suits, hike up the music, and hit the ball around to see how many times we can hit it before it drops, and we have gotten to over one thousand hits, I KID YOU NOT!  It’s legend–our prowess in the pool.

But, mostly, we will settle in like not a minute has passed since the last time, we will talk, laugh, eat, drink, work puzzles, and make memories like only Besties can.

Sticks and Stones…


I was talking to a childhood friend a number of years ago, we’d been reaquainted when we were planning one of our class reunions.  She admitted that she was a bit of a bully as a kid.

We graduated with about 61 kids.  The majority of us grew up together, twinsie and I came to town in November of first grade, some kids came and went, but a good many of us can name all the teachers from first grade on.

My friend said that she wishes she could take back the things she said then, the hurt she caused, and I could see how honest those words were.  Her face was awash with sadness and pain that only that kind of confession and regret could garner.  I wasn’t a bully, I mean really?  But, I do remember bullying happening and watching with sadness.  I mean, who’d go up against the mean girls, right?  It was very scary, but no more than to the person being bullied.  That’s my regret, I remember the faces too, I remember the words that were said, and the pain they caused, and I didn’t do anything at all, except maybe stick around after the mean ones had gone and try to comfort the injured. I licked my own wounds from the names called me.

The carnage of words leave deep wounds that are scars on souls that people don’t see.  “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me…” We used to say that as kids, maybe stick out our tongues at our sisters, brothers or friends, but it’s not true, that’s the worst lie we ever said.

Words damage the core of a person, they damage the beauty of a person, they change the way a person thinks about his or herself.  Words hurt more than any broken bone, because bones mend and souls don’t as easily.  These are the words we hear when we doubt ourselves, when we look in the mirror, or seek the courage to go for that promotion, or job interview…  Stupid.  Ugly.  Fat. Carpenter’s Dream (Flat as a board and thin as a nail, this one was particularly harsh for 7th grader me.)  Dumb. Retard. Failure. Delinquent. Pig. And worse names that I just can’t put into writing.

These are the words of bullies, and there are new ones now, and new ways to shoot those painful arrows through texts and tweets and facebook pages.  And it’s not just the young, it’s all ages and people gaining control by getting in “here” (in our heads) reinforcing the words that stung and stuck so long ago.

And it’s isolating, and it’s painful, and we all remember, now don’t we?

So, where’s the hope in all of this if you were the bully, the standby, or the bullied, or maybe you were all three?

For that reunion, I volunteered to call the people I thought were most vulnerable of our class.  I called each person and talked to them, and personally invited them to come.  I heard many of them say, “Why would I want to subject myself to those who hurt me so badly, or even relive those years?”  And my only response was “People change, and I want to see you again, others do too.”

And a few of those men and women came to that reunion. When everyone came together, there was a genuine sense of healing.  Twenty or more years later, yah, but healing. We danced, we ate, we drank, we talked about old times, and we reveled in the discovery of the new.

After we’d done the “Hustle” and sat at almost every table chatting, one of the gals hurt more than anyone, I think, came up to me.  She said, “Bonnie, you’re right.  People do change.  I’m so glad I came, it was like coming home to a safe place.”  

Indeed. Finally. 

Home Again

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Writer Ella Winter once mentioned to Thomas Wolfe that you really “Can’t go home again.”  I don’t remember the context of the conversation, or maybe was not even taught it, but Wolfe went on to write a fascinating novel with that title. And it always made me wonder, Maybe you can’t go home again?

As a child, I had always dreamed I’d fall in love and stay forever in the village where I grew up but love, fate, and God had other plans.

Some years ago, maybe 15, I sat with a bunch of friends in our hometown park as we celebrated one of our high school reunions.  One buddy scowled, “Our hometown has changed so much, this isn’t coming home anymore.”  And I responded, “Doesn’t matter how much the town changes, it’s the people you come home to.”

And I believed that, and it finally answered the question, Can we really go home again? Yes, we can, and it’s better than ever no matter how much the buildings and streets have changed. Or if the farmland now grows storefronts, homes, and gas stations instead of soybeans and corn.  No matter how large the population has grown, and in our hometown that means from about 900+ in 1977 to a whopping 26,611 as of 2016.

It’s. Still. Home.

This weekend, these same friends, and my twinsie and I, gathered for our 40th class reunion. FORTY YEARS, people!

All of a sudden 40 years have passed since we graduated and the day is warm, the plans have been made, the food is coming, the tents are pitched, the tables are clothed, and we are together again.

I can’t speak for the others, but it felt like we were kids again, like time had stood still for a moment.  Yet we spoke of our children, our marriages, our grandchildren, our parents who’ve passed, or are still living, our lives, retiring, getting ready to retire. And still the nuances, the crooked smiles, the laughter, the memories brought out the kids in us.

Of our class of 61 kids, 3 passed away very early on, and 23 came to our reunion this weekend.  Our buddy Bubba said that was 37.7 %.  I said that was amazing, and he agreed.

For the people who didn’t come, I just want to say that life changes us.  If you were a bully, maybe there were regrets.  If you were bullied, maybe there was redemption.  If you were shy, maybe you blossomed, if you were pimply maybe your skin cleared up, if you were skinny, maybe you filled out more, if you were chubby, maybe you weighed less.  If you were the class clown, maybe you were serious, if you were an only child, maybe you had six. If you were poor, maybe you were rich now, if you were a sad kid, maybe you were happy?

In the end it’s all spoken there in the kindnesses we showed, in the hugs, the laughter, the earnest caring joy.  If only every kid could go “home” and feel that.  Right?  If only.

In all of it, there was this uncanny need to reach out to each other, to find that place where everyone felt familiar, even if we didn’t look the same.  Even though we weren’t the same.

We spent a long beautiful Indian summer day (which is apropos since we were The Redskins back in the day) talking, playing bags (I totally stink at it), drinking beer, wine, margaritas, sake (ode to Daddio), smoking cigars, and just found home again.  Really found home.

There was much laughter, catching up, double checking memories, and ribbing of each other, which by the way, to my Home Ec buddy who kept sticking his finger in the meringue of our baked Alaska while I chastised him and hid it from our teacher Ma Mowers, I just want to say, if you got a passing grade in that class, I saved your behind. And I will always love you and those memories. I always will, you made me sweat it out, but it was worth it just to be your pal.  Of course, being your pal in driver’s ed is a thing for another blog.  🙂

Our faces, hair lines, and hair color has changed, our bodies ache a bit more, and our life experiences for many have led us in directions no one could have even conceived 40 years ago.  But, in this group, just as the moon gathered the stars in the sky, we gathered our “family,” and celebrated “home” again.


Chain of Fools or Destiny?

Sharing this blog again as I remember my friend–gone too soon.



I am not a fan of the movie, Michael.  It was dark, sad, and depressing.  Travolta’s Michael was nothing like the Archangel in my head.  But that dance.  You remember it.  Chain of Fools.  Oh man.  Every woman remembers that dance.

I got to thinking about the title to that song.  Chain of Fools. How our lives are one long chain, and the people in it are the links.  Some, like the lyrics say, are weak, others are strong, but whatever they are, they are meant to be a part of the chain that makes up our lives.

Years ago I worked with an adorable towheaded, curly haired girl with blue eyes.  She had a cherubic face and translucent skin.  She looked like a fragile, porcelain doll.

She was a great nurse, and a great friend.  We were doing some pretty serious work at the bedside, all us girls on…

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Mother’s Day is nothing without Dad.




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Mother’s Day in my house, would be nothing without my husband.  When I think about the dad my husband is to our children, truly, “Baby, I’m amazed at the way you love me all the time…” As Paul would sing.  A father loving a mother, and a mother loving a father, this is the greatest gift to give a child.  If we did anything at all right raising our babies it is that we loved each other and them more than anything else in the world.

We didn’t hide our arguments, we didn’t have a ton of them either.  I remember once when we were having a tussle, and Little Ricky asked me, “Are you and daddy gonna get a divorce?”  My heart ached for that little boy, but of course I told him, “No, sweetie.  We are just mad, like you get mad at us sometimes.  When you are…

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From Whom You Come…

Remembering Mom.


Who you come from...I’m thinking about siblings today.  This photo above was the first time in many years that just the six of us were together.  We were laying to rest our mom’s ashes who had passed away on Mother’s Day night 2009.  It took us four years to find her final resting place in the small town where we grew up and where we feel she was the happiest. I love this picture because it resembles one from 1962 when our mother and her siblings all were photographed at her father’s funeral.


Though, both are at funerals of a parent, the similarities of the two are striking.  You have the smilers in front  Aunt Kay and Aunt Margie, and over to the left Aunt Evelyn is trying to suppress her smile, Uncle Jim smiling.  Our mother is in the rose-colored coat obscuring my Uncle Elwon.

Generational family photos and their similarities and…

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The Shore

This is a short story I wrote about 18 years ago, the only one I’ve ever written, that is really nonfiction in disguise.  My dad had moved on in his second marriage some 20 years earlier, and I had no beefs with that, we were all grown, but twinsie and I had been very close to him, so this sudden break just made us believe that he’d not only divorced our mom, but had also divorced us.  And without having a true conversation with him about it, this brought a sense of pain and abandonment, like he’d forgotten about his former life, and all of us.

At the same time I wrote this, my best friend’s dad was dying from colon cancer and was only in his mid 50s.  She had moved to Phoenix, and he and her mom had followed.  We had long phone calls about her father’s suffering, but mostly about the tears that wouldn’t stop after he’d had chemo, and how she daubed them for her dad.  I sorrowed so deeply  for my friend.  I went and visited her with twinsie, and I could see his dying in her eyes.  It broke my heart for her.

Soon after he passed away and she asked me to write his eulogy, this story came to me, intertwining the stories, and releasing much of the pain I had for my friend, and the loss I felt for my father.

Ironically, since I’m no fiction writer true, at the urging of my writing friends, I submitted this and won second prize in a Hemingway competition celebrating the writer’s would-be 100th birthday. And that is stranger than fiction.  

So, I give you, then:

The Shore.

The sun felt warm on this spring day on the Jersey Shore. The gulls swooped and cried echoing the sounds of the woman’s heart. Her father’s eyes were pale blue, watered down by infirmity. He couldn’t see. Not the way he used to, for nothing was familiar. They sat in silence, breathing in and out, their shoulders touching in the salty breeze.

Annie glanced at the old man at her side. The ravages of illness had long since robbed him of his dreams and memories. There was only a wise, pleasant man in an old body with milky eyes that stared into the distance as if he searched for the person he once was.

She held his hand and gently pulled on the thin skin mottled with dots from age and sun until it formed a peak. She traced her fingers over the soft, well cared for hands, the nails hard and oval shaped. She carefully lifted each finger and watched them fall back into place.

A woman dressed in a flowered tunic lumbered by, her belly round and swollen, a young boy skipping at her side. “Look, Dad,” Annie said, pointing to the woman. “She looks ready to give birth at any moment!”

The old man squinted, “My wife is expecting too,” he said, a wistful, dreamy look washing across his face.

Annie smiled, sadly. “You’ll make a wonderful father.”

The old man sighed as he watched the mother and son pass by. Then his eyes silently searched the place where the ocean meets the sky. The waves swept rhythmically onto shore washing away the sand like so many yesterdays. Memories and those things familiar were lost in a vast ocean deep and dark. They’d surface occasionally; bobbing and winking like the glint of the sun as they rode the waves back to obscurity.

Annie watched a man in a gray business suit as he shuffled his feet along in the sand, his briefcase dangling from one hand, his shoes, and socks from the other. His trousers were rolled up to show smooth, youthful calves.

She let go her father’s hand and leaned her elbows on her knees. Sadness welled inside her so deep it filled her, pushing everything good aside. She wanted to cry, finally. But was afraid that if she started she’d never stop. Like Lizzie’s tears.

Lizzie. Her best friend. The cancer was bad enough, but the chemo caused her long, auburn hair to fall out leaving a smooth, shiny cap of skin. She got so sick she wondered which was worse, the cancer or the treatment? Her eyes watered constantly. Lizzie didn’t mind the baldness so much, the nausea and vomiting ceased after a time, but the tears were too much for her. It was as if her body wept at its inability to protect her from the beast that raged within. Even when Lizzie smiled her body wept in defeat.

When Lizzie became too weak to daub her eyes, Annie did it for her. Finally, the tears ceased at the moment Lizzie’s breath slipped away in a sigh.

“Daddy,” Annie whispered into the wind. “Do you remember Lizzie? She died last week. She just closed her eyes and fell asleep.”

“Look!” her father said, startling her and pointing to a little girl with dark hair making a castle in the sand. “That’s my daughter Annie.”

Annie watched the child as she dug into the sand with a yellow, plastic shovel. The wind fingered the child’s hair, while the sun bathed it in golden light.

“She’s like sunshine in the winter,” her father murmured, his eyes glistening with vitality. “In my dreams I’ve walked her down the aisle, lifted her veil and kissed her goodbye. I’ve held her babies in my arms and smoked cigars with her husband. I’ve heard her laugh a thousand times in my dreams. Just to know her is reason enough for living.”

He chuckled softly, shaking his head. Annie felt her sadness well in her eyes and slip silently from her soul. They sat there quietly, daughter and father, one in the present, the other in the past.

She glanced up and sighed as the orderly approached, “Hey, Harry,” he said. “It’s time for your therapy.”

Annie’s father slowly stood. He took her hand in his and said, “Thanks for keeping an old man company.”

“My pleasure,” Annie replied, reaching up and kissing her father’s smooth cheek. She watched as he took the orderly’s arm and began to walk away. She noticed his shoulders listed to the right just a bit, and his legs didn’t quite straighten all the way, but he was still in fine shape.

Suddenly, he turned to her, his eyes engaging her own for the first time that day. “That friend of yours who died. Would your life have been better if you hadn’t known her at all, sparing you all this sadness?”

Annie shook her head slowly. “No,” she replied, and they gazed at one another for a moment. Annie smiled and said, “You know, that’s exactly the type of question my own father would have asked.”

“Ah,” he said, chuckling softly. “Then he was not only a lucky man, but a wise one at that.” And with a wave and a wink he turned and walked away.