Stolen Tulips

True story, late 1920s. My grandparents are in their late teens or 20s. From the perspective of my grandmother, Doris Glanders.

My Johnny and I are walking with my brothers Donny and Dale. It is a beautiful Spring night and the air is heavy with the aroma of the freshly blooming lilac bushes lining the sidewalk. The four of us are laughing, telling jokes, enjoying the night and each other’s company. Johnny and I walk ahead of the boys, our arms wrapped around each other, eyes twinkling with the young love that has been growing since we were nine and ten years old. I’ve been with Johnny my whole life and I feel like he’s a part of me. As we’re walking and giggling like lovers do, we noticed that the joking behind us has stopped. We turned around suspiciously to see what happened to my pesky brothers. We could see in the dimness of the lone street lamp two figures bending over something, so we quickly walked back to see what kind of trouble we were going to get them out of this time.

We walk up to Dale who is directing his obeying brother to turn around because there’s something behind him. I squint my eyes to see what he’s doing and see a bouquet of tulips in his hands. Johnny and I look at each other, a huge grin spread across both of our faces and we sprint to where the flowers are. Now the 3 of us are picking tulips as fast as we can. There are so many that Dale joins us. We are silently laughing as the four of us run between the houses and pick every tulip we can see in the dark. Donny and I saw the last red tulip under a window so we both ran to it. We bumped heads and I yelled out “ouch”. I slapped my hand to my mouth as my big brother and I stared at each other in silence.

Sure enough, a light came on so the 4 of us ran to the end of Fox street here in our hometown of LaPorte, Indiana. We separated with armfuls of tulips in hand as I went home with my brothers and Johnny took off for the safety of his own house after a fast peck on my cheek. The next morning as I laid in my bed daydreaming about the man I was going to marry soon, I could hear laughter mixed with the smell of coffee. I slowly got up, put on my chenille robe and buried my nose in my gorgeous tulips on the vanity with the big round Victorian mirror.

My joy turned to a stunned expression as Donny came up the stairs and shoved the morning newspaper in my hands. In bold letters on the Herald Argus’ front page read, ‘Thief Picks Over A Hundred Tulips In The Darkness Of Night!’ I again slap my hand to my mouth as I stared at my brother who is smiling from ear to ear. He shrieked, “We made headlines little sis!” I look at my tulips, then back at my big bro and laugh with him until my tummy hurts! Dale bounded up the stairs next and grabbed the paper to make sure the ‘Coppers’ have no clue who the thieves were. The paper stated that nobody saw anything, but Mrs. Dickerson heard a noise in the middle of the night, but was too afraid to go outside. Continuing that she is very upset that every tulip in her yard is now gone, with all she has to show for her hard work all Spring being green stems. After Dale got done reading this out loud, we knew we should feel bad, but we didn’t.

We gathered our stolen tulips and hid them in the closet where mom found them later that day. Mother never said a word to us, but pointed her finger at my beau Johnny as he had a yellow tulip pinned on his jacket when he came over that night and growled “You”! We avoided Fox Street for the rest of the summer as my love for Johnny came to full bloom.


Well…we were seriously considering walking a llama or two in the parade since almost all of LP county knows about Addie Acres. We don’t think the llamas would be able to walk that far on the hard road and thousands of folks yelling would probably freak them out.

So, for 3.5 seconds, I had this bright idea that we could walk Dunkay with an Addie Acres banner draped over both sides his of back! As soon as this bright light turned on over my head…I saw this black cloud come in like a tornado and sweep it away. This is the reality I was left with…

Chad and I are walking a sparkling clean Dunkay (yes, Super Farmer gave him a bath complete with bubbles and a rubber ducky that he ate) down the road. Dunkay has a cute Addie Acres banner that goes over both sides of his back. Chad has the lead and I’m walking beside them holding Chippie as he growls. We made the mistake by following a circus act with clowns that throws candy to all the kids. Within 30 feet of walking the parade, Dunkay, (who by the way is smarter than the average bear or famer) has figured out that there is candy flying over his head and landing within inches of his now watering mouth!! He breaks away from Chad and runs to a group of happy children with sticky fingers, chewing on the delicious food that Dunkay wants…NOW! The kids are delighted to see a donkey running towards them as Super Farmer runs behind him yelling for him to stop!

Oh a disaster is about to happen!

Dunkay doesn’t want to be petted, he wants to grab every piece of candy out of the hands of little ones! He starts with the smallest, the toddlers. He grabs candy out of their shaking hands, making them cry and run to mommy. Dunkay then turns to the other kids who are freaked out and throw their sweets to him to keep him away! They too turn and run to hide behind daddy. Dunkay is now doing his vacuum cleaner act, sucking up all candy, wrappers and all! Chad catches up with the naughty animal and apologizes to the line of angry parents with upset children cowering. He pulls him away back into line before the Herald Argus gets wind of the donkey terrorizing small kids! We walk another 40 feet when Dunkay realizes that there are two clowns within eye sight that throws candy to all the kids who have pockets and bags FULL of treats! He breaks away from Chad again and chases one of the clowns down the street as the poor guy throws candy at him to make him stop! Dunkay doesn’t want a few pieces, he wants it all! The last I would see, would be a clown running past all the floats, marching bands and tiny ballerinas with a donkey a nose behind him, mouth opening and closing like a machine, the Addie Acres banner flapping in the wind with Super Farmer right behind yelling at Dunkay to stop! I’m sure it would all be caught on camera to become a YouTube sensation with every news station in the WORLD showing clips of the circus clown being chased by a donkey and a guy yelling at the animal about not getting grain for a year!

That’s how I imagine our walk in the parade with Dunkay to go.

The Lost Child

MY true story…..”The Lost Child”

April 1976…..

It’s almost midnight and I am sitting in the bathroom wringing my hands and wiping away tears. I am waiting to see if my life is going to change or if I am going to keep on living the way I have been these last few months, wild and free, unstoppable and feeling undestructable. When the timer goes off, I almost fall off the toilet from fear. I pick up my home test with shaking hands and look, but I cannot see; my brain won’t let the reality of it sink in. I keep looking, but I am rejecting it. The color my brain denies is the haunting color of blue. I am willing that color to change, but it stubbornly refuses to turn pink. Blue: there it is, my life will surely not go on the way I have planned. I am barely sixteen years old and I am pregnant. Worse yet, I just ended my relationship with my boyfriend and have my eyes on another. My mind starts to yell, “What ya gonna do now…what ya gonna do now?” “Shut up!” I scream at myself, “I don’t know what I am going to do!” All I can do now is hide the test, go to bed, and pray. Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a heart for the Lord. Tonight, I need answers and I pray, I beg, and I plead, but all the response is the condemning silence. I roll over, feeling that God is mad at me for this stupid mistake. I lay my hand gently on my tummy, give it a soft pat, and smile at the knowledge of the little life inside of me. At the break of dawn, my weary mind finally tires of fighting against itself and sleep closes my eyes. I awake late in the afternoon and I sneak out of bed, trying not to face anyone. I am terrified that my words may betray me. I walk past my sister and mother with my head down, avoiding eyes and conversation. My mother is smarter than I give her credit for and she has this magical radar that picks up anything at any moment. It is hard to avoid her antennas of perception that are constantly bouncing in my direction. “Honey, have you started your period yet?” (She always keeps track of these embarrassing milestones in my life.) “Yeah mom, last week.” It is too easy to lie and I’m feeling guilty. My mothers radar is still bouncing off of me and she will not shut it off completely. Something is stirring and she knows it. Mom goes into the bathroom and unwraps all my kotex pads in the waste basket. They give me up as the criminal I feel like, because of their cleanliness. Some how, I thought I was clever in my ripe old age of sixteen! She comes out of the bathroom, her face is pale white with a sick expression, like she just got hit in the belly by a professional boxer. As she looks at me, I break down crying, feeling my shame envelope me. My mom is in shock but she still takes me into her arms and I sob, “I’m so sorry, mommy.” After our initial shock and tears,we sit down with dad, which is harder than telling my mom. After all, I am daddy’s little girl, his princess, as he calls me. I do not feel like a princess at the moment, but rather like one of her ragged servants. I fight for this baby, because I want to feel this child grow and I want to give her life. But at sixteen, my life is not my own as I find out. I will not have this child, after all, it is not a baby yet, it is just a little piece of tissue and some cells, so I am told. When your sixteen, pregnant, scared, and are used to adults making all of your decisions, it is hard not to believe them so I put my total trust and life into their hands. I handed over my life and the life of my child. Calls are made, appointments are set up with decisions made in a whirlwind of two days. I do not have much time left with this baby, I have to say goodbye soon. I am up almost all night before my little “problem” gets fixed and I write a letter to her ( I feel that it is a girl) explaining why I cannot keep her and saying my goodbyes. I cry all night, patting and rubbing my tummy, talking to a child who cannot and who will never hear my voice. The morning rushes in quickly and even though the sun is shining, there is a dark, stormy cloud over me and it is pouring on my emotions. I refuse to get up! My parents have no sympathy for me on this bright, beautiful day, there is a job to be done, a problem to be taken care of, a life to end. We drive for an hour in silence with long, sad faces, each of us seem lost in thoughts of, “What if, maybe we can, and should we.” I remember looking out the window of the car all the way up to Chicago with my hand on my tummy, gently rubbing it, watching people on the outside going on with their lives. The life of my baby will soon come to an end and no one will ever know of even care. We arrive all too soon and we walk the two windy blocks to the women’s clinic. There is a protest going on today in front of this building. Angry women and men with big, accusing signs shouting in protest against abortion and the murder of children. We have to walk straight through that mob to get in. My mother wraps her arms around me tightly as we quickly walk up the sidewalk. The protesters see us coming and they know what we are about to do. They surround us and yell their angry words. I keep my head down and avoid all eyes. I do not want to be there, I am on their side, I agree with them, but I am in my mothers grip and I have to go forward. One angry woman steps in front of us and starts to yell, ” do you know that you are going to kill a baby?!” I want so badly to stop & talk to her, I look her in the eyes and she seems to see the hurt and desperation in my face. She gives me a look of pity and understanding and steps aside. The others are not so kind or merciful.

The inside of this clinic was cold and uninviting. Nurses were rushing about. Young men had long sad faces, full of worry and guilt. There were parents fitfully pacing the floors, waiting, suffering in silence. It was a place where new life walked in and was then tricked into death. I was forced to see a counselor before my “procedure” and I poured out my fears, hopes and dreams for keeping this baby and giving her life, but she has heard this sob story a million times and some where in her heart, it all became just words, not real people. She politely nodded her head and then sent me on my way. That walk down the lonely hallway was cold, bare and uncaring, I could almost hear the faint cries of newborns bouncing off the walls pleading for a different way!

As I was placed on that hard cold metal table, the doctor who has made a life out of taking it, seems tired and irritable, rushing to get this little problem out of the way. He is very matter of fact, not really looking at me, but rather through me. He hurriedly explains what he is doing as he has a thousand times before, ” a little cold, some cramping, over in a minute”. Just like that…..over…done…gone…no more. As he turns on his machine of death, I break down and cry, “Goodbye my little one, do not be scared, I love you!” The young nurse who did not look much older than myself, took my hand and held it as she wiped away my tears, it was the only kind thing that happened to me that day. I feel like the hardness of that environment had not yet penetrated her heart. In the recovery room or should I say the grieving room, was another young girl my age who had just gone through her own little procedure. Her story was a lot like mine ,but her father was a big politician with a nice career ahead of him and having a pregnant teenage daughter was out of the question. So here she was, getting fixed for daddy. We cried together.

In one short day I had a new life inside of me, full of promise and who wanted to live as we all do, yet she was taken away in a matter of seconds because having her would have been inconvenient for a few people. So she was sent to live her life with Jesus and just knowing that my daughter is with God makes the pain bearable. I shall meet her some day and will finally become her mommy. I often wonder what kind of woman and mother she would have been ,and I have thought about her every week for the last 31 years. She is my child & I am her mother and nothing can ever change that fact.

The end

NOBODY ever gets over an abortion, I know, it has been over 30 years and I still think about her & I ask the Lord on a weekly basis to give her a hug from mommy.

I know that much of the time we focus so much on the act of abortion itself that we look past the person who made the decision to do it & throw our fingers in their face. When my mother & I had to walk through that angry mob, no one tried to speak kindly to us or offer us an option. They surrounded us like hungry lions out for the kill, screaming at us with their big ‘holy’ signs! I remember when we left the building hours later, the mob was gone, no one was there to help the young ladies with their pain. I cried all the way down those steps, my mom & dad were helping me to stay on my feet as the guilt & pain came out in sobs. That mob of accusing people left a bad taste in my mouth about Christan’s for a long time until the Lord took/touched my heart for His Glory about 12 years ago. He has set me free from the guilt & pain of that day, but my arms & heart still ache for a daughter that I am looking forward to meeting in Heaven some day.

So this is/was my ‘reproductive rights’….a child is gone & I still live with it.

Nancy Addie

Will You Marry Me

Another story after talking with my mom the other day…..

“Tom, NO, that’s the kitty food!” I quickly grabbed the can from my husband’s hands before he could take another bite. “Honey, that is canned cat food, we don’t eat that,” I said to him while scraping the canned bits into the sink. He looked at me with a grasping look and shuffled out of the kitchen and back into the den. After the can was free of all remaining turkey giblets, I wearily hung my head, arms stretched over to the side of the sink as I gripped the porcelain edge. I cried. The faucet spewed out clear water as my tears mixed in, slowly disappearing down the drain. Sometimes, I now wonder how long I can keep this up… this blunt unhappy circus that has taken over.

I join my confused husband of 63 years in the tiny TV room, the only one we fully heat due to the monthly nemesis known as NIPSCO. I watch as Tom sits in the overstuffed lazy boy chair staring at the box that flashes nonsensical images and jumbled words. I plop into my matching chair and look over to my love, my man, my one and only. I give him a slight smile and ask him how he’s feeling. He returns the glance, only his is filled with the now normal ‘I don’t know you’ look.

There are times I just want to shake that dreadful disease out of his brain and at the same time relieve some of my own built up stress. I resist the urge and I kneel in front of him even though my knees beg me not to. “Hon, it’s me, Donna, your wife…remember”? He shakes his head no and turns away so I don’t see his lip quiver in frustration. I take his now ancient hand into my own, putting it up to my cheek. I tightly close my watered eyes as I feel the fading warmth of his skin against mine.

I let myself float back to a happier moment. I am 17 years old, walking along the beach of Lake Michigan in the summer of ‘51. I am holding the hand of my boyfriend, Tommy. We talk about school, playfully kicking sand at each other. We stroll ankle-deep into the inviting blue water. I have my head on his shoulder as his strong farm boy arm wraps around my waist. We walk for a little while in silence, enjoying our togetherness. The setting sun silhouettes us with a backdrop of orange as seagulls circle high above, swooping down once in a while screeching for food.

Tommy hands me a small brown paper bag from the local drug store, asking me if I want some candy that he brought along. I’m enjoying his presence and the world around me and I politely say no, pushing his hand away. He insists that I take some of the ‘special treats’ he picked out just for me. I stop as warm water invites me to put my hand inside this wrinkled bag. “Where is the candy?” I wonder. Instead, I pull out a tiny blue velvet box. I turn it over and over in my hands, not sure what it is I’m looking at. I look at Tommy, he is on his knees in front of me with jet black hair blowing in the summer breeze. A smile breaks from ear to ear, his eyes twinkling in the sun. I put my hand to my mouth as I hear those Cinderella words that little girls dream about, “Will you marry me?” Time pauses, but for a moment.

I’m still standing there, not moving except for the tears that are now running down my cheeks. Tommy gets up from the sand and takes the box from my clutched fingers and opens it. He puts the box back into my now shaking hands and there it was! My promise that I will wear for the next 63 years! A tiny gold ring with a small diamond chip that was so small you almost had to squint to see it. In my heart, it is the most beautiful, biggest rock I had ever seen! He took it out, slipped it onto my finger and asked me again, nose to nose, in a whisper that only my heart could hear. “Will you marry me?” I shook my head YES, over and over, as my tears are now joined with a muffled cry into his firm shoulder. I hugged my Tommy, gently kissing him. I recall on the way back to my parent’s house, I sat on his lap as he was trying to drive my father’s 1949 Dodge. My legs were on the passenger seat kicking as I smooched his sunburned face over and over. I still don’t know how we made it home!

The memory of my engagement is so fresh that my aching heart can still smell the water and feel his touch. I open my eyes and look at my present life and see Tom struggling with his confusion. He gets up and goes back to the kitchen looking for the snack he has already eaten minutes ago. He picks up another can of cat food and opens the silverware drawer looking for the opener. I once again take the can out of his hands, reminding myself to hide it another cabinet. I get out some cookies and hand the plate to him. My Tommy is a toddler. My devotion and commitment to my beloved Tom is not. I love my Husband of 6 decades, I am waiting… needing him to come back home to me.

The calling Fog

He shuffles through the dirty slush as it seeps over the sides of his worn brown loafers. His white socks, now wet with the winter grime, change to the same color of his shoes. Clouded blue eyes and accompanying gray thoughts are fixed on the road ahead. His breath coming out in short puffs as his heart beats in syncopation with each step . Clump, clump clump…the feet persist forward. The fog, inside his confused thoughts, compels him to keep walking..go faster…don’t stop!

He isn’t sure where it is taking him, he just knows he has to get there soon. The cars speed past him, some even slow down with a concerned driver asking if he needs a ride. The elderly man, with an unfinished business calling, refuses to look up and casually waves the driver to keep going, to leave him alone. Walk…he walks. He must get to…where? He stops and looks around at homes that do not look familiar. He shakes his head trying to remember where it was that he was headed to. It doesn’t matter, he only knows that he must walk.

He shuffles down the sidewalk and heads for the highway that will take him back to the place he once belonged. He persists. After what seems like hours, the elderly man stops again, listening to the mysterious voice he hears calling out his name in the far distance. He shields his eyes from the glaring sun reflecting off the snow and squints to see where the sound is coming from. The voice calls out again, “Tom, honey, come this way”. Where…what way? “Hon, over here, come and get in the car, let’s go home”.

He is confused. The fog is enticing him to keep walking but the unfamiliar voice, comforting, beckons him to turn around and abandon the adventure. The mist inside his mind wins, he walks faster. The voice follows him, calling him back to the place he was trying to escape from. “Must go, need to get away, walk”. After 10 minutes of fighting the voice and fog battle, he gives up and lets the sound of love reach his heart. He swings around and grabs the door handle. He sits with the woman who claims to have known him for the last 63 years, but her claims don’t register. He only wants to go somewhere warm and take off the soaked shoes and frozen socks. He leans back into the leather seat and closes his eyes. A lone tear escapes, announcing his defeat.

The nice lady puts a comforting hand on his arm and squeezes it. He looks over and softly asks, “Donna”? She looks at him with shock. He seems to know who this woman is, his wife, his first love and life partner. They drive home in silence, the old man, slipping back into his dampening fog, and the devoted wife. She will eventually follow him again in the old and faithful red Cadillac, when the fog tells him to walk to that unseen place that he must get to for a reason that is unknown even to him.




Cody our faithful retriever

Ta Ta, Cody

We have a faithful aging dog, a golden retriever mix with speckled Spaniel feet.  Cody, or affectionately known to us as “Ta Ta”,  is now 17 years old, that’s around 119 in human years.  Cody came to us from the animal shelter here in Laporte, Indiana and, we were told, arrived at the shelter after being found as a runaway bolting down a State highway.  Chad and I had been married less than a year and had just moved into our sprawling Victorian-era home on C Street with our blended family of 8.  On the day Cody found me, I was looking at the pup in the cage next to him, I really wanted a puppy, but my eyes kept going over to Cody.  He was standing there with tail wagging and a ‘PICK ME’ persistence trying to woo me through his prison cell.  I tried to ignore him and asked to see the little spotted doggy as I desired to own a little dog, not a full grown retriever.  I took the pup out and kissed him thinking how adorable he was.  Out of the corner of my eye, I could see ‘that dog’, wiggling his whole body, shifting from one paw to the other, staring at me with gleeful energy!  I put the puppy back and walked over to Cody who was now into a full blown body wag and eyes dancing with a doggy love gleam!  I put my hand through the bars and touched him, that’s all it took.  One touch and a bond of love was formed that is still going strong 14 years later.  

Cody has been loyal and faithful.  He gives hugs and is, in every sense, a family dog.  Cody could run with the wind and every bit an expert escape artist.  If there was a way to get free to the world beyond the house and yard, Cody found it.  We found him running down the highway almost 10 miles from our house once.  We bailed him out of jail more than 3 times and spent many nights sitting up worried because he was indiscriminately exploring the neighborhood.  We also met some very nice families who brought Cody back to us after finding him kissing their children in backyards miles away.  Cody had a wandering and free spirit true to the ‘in the hunt’ nature of his untamed breed. He loved to run and if a chase could be had, it was all GO, especially as Cody was the bane of LaPorte’s rabbit community.

Our faithful dog is now a senior citizen and has trouble walking.  He goes up the stairs slowly and carefully on shaky legs unlike the days when he would leap up the stairs in 4 or 5 graceful bounds.  Now he gets up slow, most times I help, trying to steady him on legs that seem too weak to hold up his frail body.  When standing, he follows his people and props himself up against any solid object that allows him to maintain close contact.  Cody is also 100% deaf, all the words of praise and the sounds that only he could hear as a canine are now fading memories.  He can’t hear me, but he can see me…barely through milky white cataracts.   He can feel my touch and understands ‘doggy sign language’.

Our wonderful boy sleeps allot, always next to me.  I’m never out his clouded sight.  No matter how much I try to sneak away from my deaf dog, he knows when I’m moving and automatically wakes up to see where I’m going.  If I am on the move, this faithful companion will force his tired and aching bones to get up and follow me.  I have tried to get him to just lay still, not to come with me but he can’t help himself.  He needs to be with his mommy and the potential for one more adventurous pursuit.  Our 17 year old dog, who was once young, strong and full of energy, still fulfills his duties to his family.  He spends every waking moment with us, living each day as though it may be his last.  

I’ve noticed that my friend and companion has really slowed down the last week or two.  Even though he is determined to be with me, it is hard for him to tag along.  I keep an extra dog bed next to my lazy boy recliner so I can rest my hand on his body, softly caressing him as he sleeps next to me.  Every now and then Cody will pop up his head and look at me, tail slightly wagging like the first day we bonded.  His eyes locked onto mine, the connection, the love being spoken from human to dog.  It’s almost like he’s trying to tell me something, trying to make me understand.  During those special times, I will wrap my left arm around his neck and do a nose to nose with him, letting him know that I love him, that all is okay, that mommy is still here and she isn’t going anywhere.  I found him, I brought him home, I shared my life, my family, our love with him and I will help him ease into the next stage.  The other day I caught a glimpse of this as Cody hobbled outside only to have an unsuspecting white tailed rabbit hop by in the snow and, without pause, Cody bounded over the snow drift, once again momentarily free, young, healthy and running like the wind only 1 step behind.  Ta Ta, Cody!


My Toddler husband

 This is a story I wrote after listening to my mom describe a now normal day with my daddy….

Honey, lift up your leg and put it though the hole here…that’s good hon…now let’s do the other leg… yes, that one, good job! Okay, let’s put on our shirt…yes, that is yours on the bed”.   As I hear myself repeat the same daily sequence of words, my heart tells me to remember he is not a two year old child, but an 81 year old man.  He is my man, my husband of 62 years.  This man, a captain of industry who built a multi-million dollar tool & dye shop by flying all over the country to negotiate deals, supported a family business  nestled in the heart of town.  This proud man who only a bit over a decade ago won the Indiana Small Business Leader award 20 years ago despite only armed with a  high school diploma!

This my life, our life, a shadow of the promised retirement of leisure sharing life with Tom in our Florida PGA golf course home.  I didn’t plan on this nor did I prepare for it.  The life I dreamed of started 64 years ago in the office building of the Kingsbury Locker Plant.  I was 16 years old, giggling with my older sister Barb about the cute new factory worker, my soon to be soul mate.  Tom, the shy farm boy from Kansas, rode into town in the back of a junky 1940s Ford pick-up truck with 4 other young farmer escapees.  Our eyes would occasionally meet, his faint smile matching my own.  At the persistent teasing of my bossy sibling, we went on a group date and have never been apart since. We worked together, raised a family, built a business, traveled the world and shared a love that never wavered.  

Now, here we are in our Golden years, the time when we are supposed to reap the rewards of our labor.  The hoped for latter years of holding hands, going for leisurely walks and enjoying great grandchildren, have been replaced by an ongoing struggle to simply live together.  Like the chalkboard of his one room schoolhouse youth, my life partner’s memories of who I am are now erased, including the simplest understandings of what it means to live and how to do it.  I do not have an escape, nor am I seeking one.  I hold tightly for us both the memories etched in my heart, never buried, not forgotten.  I live in a routine with a repetition of words that unceasingly mock my hope.  “I am your wife, Donna…yes, you live here….we are home….these are your clothes, you wear them….yes, that is a chair that you sit on….no honey, that’s a glass not a bucket….it’s called a cat, his name is Jake”.  Today, as I dress my toddler husband, I keep the flowing tears inside my heart not on my cheeks.  I kiss my love on the forehead when we are done and take his aged, trusting hand into mine, leading him to the den knowing that I will explain again “what a chair is…that he sits in it…yes, the little black ball of fur that adores you is indeed a cat that lives with us…that no, I won’t be leaving, that I too live here and my dear one…my name is Donna”.





My mother and father came over to Addie Acres the other day for a visit.  Dad usually sits on the far end of the couch watching us ‘strangers’ with a blank smile.  He will be 81 this March and has lost 98% of his memories.  Our faithful retriever, Cody, is golden in many ways as he is approaching 17 in human years with cloudy eyes and a painstaking gate. As I watched, Cody gently rested his head on dad’s lap.  My father, not knowing Cody anymore, looked down at him with confusion, not sure what to do with this dog.  Cody stood there on his shaky legs, tail wagging, and waited for my dad to acknowledge him.  After about 2 minutes, dad finally put his aged wrinkled hand on top of Cody’s now gray-speckled head.  The elderly dog looked up at him through once-brown milky white cataract eyes, trying to pierce through my father’s fog.  It seemed as if he was inviting him to remember.   My dad sparked momentarily and appeared to connect beyond his mind’s capacity, perhaps from a place deep within his heart.  I could see the confusion soften a little as he started to rub the soft fur around his ears like he always had before the disease ate away at his personality.  I’m sure it was painful for Cody to stand there on his arthritic legs as fur was both petted and pulled, yet he faithfully stayed his ground with dad.  Before long, it became clear that the two of them were communicating with each other. Their eyes were locked, no words or sounds being exchanged.  For a moment, both were once young again, pain free, reminiscing about a life lived richly and full of new discoveries. I wondered if the golden retriever’s memories of chasing rabbits and prancing around his humans melded with my father’s own of plowing the field behind a mule, muscular and strong.  The old man and the aging canine connected for a moment, for a lifetime.  Years of memories for each mixed with indifference and yet arriving at similar ends.  Cody, the faithful, sensing the increasing fog slid away from my father and eased his aching bones down next to me.  My daddy straightened his back and wiped away a tear before the cold mist of memory lost had fully rolled in, but not before mutual understanding broke through and our golden Cody had retrieved, even for a moment, hope from years gone by.  


My Daddy

My daddy.  The man who used to pick up my little sister and I and throw us dangerously into the air as we screamed with delight (and fright!) is now reduced to sitting quietly in the lazy boy recliner, staring confusingly into space, trying to recapture those moments in time when the world around him made sense.  He looks at us with a smile, eyes searching for a name, trying to find a place in his life …that we were in.  He fails.  My daddy, the man who would slop down 4 kids half eaten ice cream cones on a hot summer day standing in front of Dairy Queen.  The same place Big C Lumber now dominates hears the echoes of my mother and her teeny bopper high school girlfriends catching up on gossip, ladies who were barely women, giggling like the girls inside still found in their hearts!  My daddy, the man who would dare to take 4 children, a poodle and a pull-behind trailer across country from Indiana to California just to go experience Disney Land, the ‘Four Corners’, and go to Hollywood to throw fake boulders at us.  Now, he takes off down the road believing he has to get to Ohio or Florida because an unseen force  beckons him to flee, to complete that important business deal or that unfinished something he forgot to complete on his ‘Life List’ of things to accomplish.  My daddy, the man with the warm inviting smile and corny jokes always drew rolling eyes from those who loved him most.  In the dim-lit TV light, he now grins with caution at us strangers and his jokes are locked somewhere inside his forgotten memory.  My daddy, the man I grew up to admire and love is now lost to his family, the people who will gently guide him back to the house from down the highway and babble at him about the farm life he grew up in, hoping it will spark a memory.  My daddy, the man who loved his family with a passion is trying to figure out who we are through white-out conditions of cold and foggy memory.  My daddy is gone, yet deep inside, I must believe, is a little girl’s hero, twirling her high into the air, still holding the pet salamander knowing he would  get out the perfect crusty fish bowl for ‘Sally’ to live in.  My daddy isn’t gone, he just lives somewhere else.


Ever Green

Ever Green By Nancy (Teter) Addie
I went to a garage sale today at 113 Evergreen Drive.  It also was the neighborhood where I grew up.  Evergreen drive is off of Monroe Street in rustic LaPorte, Indiana and, in the early 1960s, was a brand new neighborhood with young families.  The grassy center of a modern circular drive featured homes springing up similar to the tiny evergreen trees planted around it.  As fresh as the neighborhood appeared from the front, a conversely spooky swamp and small woods claimed space behind the homes.  My mother and father designed and built the house in the Circle at 119 Evergreen Drive and moved our growing family into the new house in 1962.  I was just shy of turning 3 years old.   My Nana and Poppy lived 2 houses down from our new home, Dr. Mueller lived next door and the strawberry patch growing wild in the field on the right side of the house soon became home for the Rosenows.  I can remember the smell of the new house and running through it with my siblings before we moved in.  It was a wonderful place to raise a family!  New homes and growing families like ours soon filled up the Circle, lots of kids, pets and a swamp to call our own!  We dug up arrow heads, pottery, and lots of ‘Indian beads’! Every summer we played kick-the-can and went on salamander hunts.  Mueller’s had the only built-in pool and we spent many hot days cooling off in the clear blue water! 
So today, I stopped in front of our past, looking at the huge Birch tree that us kids helped daddy plant, who would years prior get mad at us for jumping over it.  The huge cast iron school bell that my dad would BONG for us to come home “NOW” is now gone. I can still hear the steadily increasing ringing that screamed “COME HOME” and indicated how mad he was the faster it rang.  The tiny evergreens that we could playfully step over are now towering pines that look as old as the dated houses still there.  The swamp now has a new house invading its space and our bike trails and tree house are memorialized by dust and climbing weeds.  My Nana and Poppy are gone, so are most of our friend’s parents, their memories swept away in the evergreen scented wind.  I cried.  I sat there in my jeep crying over my childhood, crying for my grandparents, crying for my puddle at the end of Rosenows driveway where I spent many days playing in the warm water with my Barbies.  I cried for the youth of my mommy and daddy with their new family, big dreams and hope for a life filled with laughter and joy as they moved boxes of soon to be new memories inside the house of 119 Evergreen Dr!  I cried thankful tears all the way home as now I am the grandma with new memories and a family of my own.  Still, I can’t help but long for my childhood and the days of swinging my feet under the kitchen table, eating peanut butter sandwiches with my baby sister, and giggling as my mama gave us her ‘you eat-don’t play’ look!  My mother is now 80, my father is slowing losing his own memories, their youth along with Evergreen Drive is but a distant memory.  I drove slowly out of the Circle, I didn’t want to leave, I felt the need to hang onto my family, to turn around and will it back into existence!  Then, I thought of Isaac, my grand-baby, my joy and blessing, it Was then I realized in and through this child, 119 Evergreen Drive still lives, ever green.