the best valentine’s day ever!

After nearly 37 years, I must admit that this has to have been our best Valentine’s day…
ever!!!

Here’s how it went…

Firstly— “mom” and “da” drove down to Atlanta to babysit so a young couple with little
children could actually go out to eat like real civilized adults…alone as a couple…
all without the typical pure chaos that usually occurs at their dinner table.

Next there was ball toss and catch…

Followed by some good napping…and eventually Sunday night bath time…

First for “Je” (aka James the Sheriff)

Then it was the Mayor’s turn to beautify…

Finally…once everyone had played, bathed, eaten and gotten their parents back…
“mom” and “da” journeyed homeward on the highways and the byways, all through the misty dark
only to have their own late but extra special romantic dinner…
who knew prosecco and hotdogs could totally compliment one another —-

Ode to the love of family and grandkids….

“…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua 24:15

her name was Eunice Dunn

I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was younger
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was stronger

Lyrics by
Ron Lane / Ronald David Wood
Sung by Rod Stewart


(Eunice and mom / June 16th, 1953)

Throughout my entire life, I only knew her by her first name…Eunice.

Eunice passed from this life shortly after I arrived into this world–
into this family…

I was born in 1959 and eventually adopted in early 1960— Eunice,
on the other hand, had already long since “retired” from the years she spent
with my grandmother, mother, and aunt.

I imagine that our family’s circle was somewhat complete when Eunice finally
met me when mom and dad had brought me home from the adoption agency in 1960.
They were so proud to show off their new baby to this very special part of my
mom’s story.

I had always heard about Eunice but really knew very little about her.
As long as they had lived, both my mom and aunt spoke of Eunice with
only adoration and abiding love.

For you see, Eunice was more the mother to these two girls rather than their
own mother.

Eunice was a black woman, only a year older than my grandmother.
A black woman who raised two white little girls.

I found her listed on the Atlanta 1940 census records.
She was listed as a part of the household of my grandfather…listed as a servant.
And it was in that census record that I first learned of Eunice’s last name…Dunn.
And that she was but a year older than my grandmother…
My grandmother was 36, Eunice was 37.

This, however, is not a tale about the well-to-do verses something akin to “The Help.”

This is a story about a young working widow and the other woman who helped her
raise her daughters.

Two women working to make ends meet during a precarious time in our Nation’s history.

The part of the story that I always knew was that my grandmother was widowed in 1940,
at the ripe young age of 36.
She had two young daughters–one who was 6 and the youngest who was 1.
My grandmother’s husband, my grandfather, died of alcohol-induced TB while
spending his final days in a TB sanatorium–dying at the age of 40.

My grandfather had squandered their entire life’s savings during the great depression.
My grandmother, as long as I had known her, had a deep wariness of men and
never trusted a man who drank…despite her affinity for Vodka later in life.
Over the years, she liked my dad yet despised my uncle, my aunt’s husband.
Probably with good reason but that’s a story for another day.

Growing up, I can never ever recall my grandmother ever speaking of her husband…
my grandfather.
A man who died nearly 20 years before I was born.

This man–his name, his memory was deemed persona non gratis within this small family.
No pictures.
No stories.
No recognition.

But Eunice…Eunice, she was special.

My grandmother, at 36 years old, while during a depression and world war,
had two little girls who she needed to provide for.

Eunice at 37 also had a family she needed to provide for.

My grandmother went to work and even took in borders during the War.

Yet despite these precarious times, I always knew that my mom,
aunt and grandmother had Eunice.

Eunice was a black woman who worked as a housekeeper for my grandmother.
Later, in order to make ends meet, my grandmother actually took in her older unmarried sister.
The two opened a beauty salon for the upper crust women of Atlanta.

While they spent their days cutting, perming, and dying the hair of Atlanta’s upper crust,
Eunice tended to my mother and aunt.
She cooked, cleaned, and fed the family.
She bought groceries, got my mom and aunt ready for school each morning
and met them each afternoon following school.
She always had supper ready and waiting for my grandmother and her sister after they’d
take the bus home late each evening.

Eunice would arrive each Monday morning and would stay until Saturday morning.
She had her own room and basically kept the house running.
She would go home to her own family on Saturday afternoon, only to return to my grandmother
every Monday morning.
This routine ran for 20 plus years.

Years later my aunt and I would both lament about the sacrifices Eunice had made
for both her own family and my grandmother’s family.
It was a difficult time as the world suffered through both the Great Depression and a world war.
This was a generation that was more familiar with the idea of sacrifice over protests
and demonstrations.

I remember my aunt telling me about how, as a little girl, she would have to ride
in the back of the bus with Eunice.
This being life in the South during segregation.

However to my mother, aunt, and grandmother…there were never any color barriers…
no segregation…all they knew was what made a family, family…
and Eunice was very much a part of that family.

The only pictures I’ve ever seen of Eunice were found in a musty old envelope of photos
that had been stored away in our attic…in a box of things that had been dads following
mother’s death in 1986.

I’ve looked and looked over the internet for any little nugget I could find regarding
Eunice—but the only thing I found was the 1940 census record which listed her
as a part of the Watson’s family.

I wanted to write something that would provide Eunice with the place of honor
that she so rightly deserved and held in the hearts of both my mom and aunt…
but with so little to go on, that has proved difficult.
With the loss of my grandmother in 1989, mother in 1986, and Martha in 2017—
those who knew best are now long gone.

I wanted people to know that despite what our current culture screams about racism,
there has been love that remained colorblind long before the radicalism
of movements such as the Black Panthers or today’s Black Lives Matter.

So I want to say thank you to a woman who I never really knew but who had met me
a very long time ago.

I want to thank her for making both my mom and aunt into the women they become,
in turn, making me the woman who I have become.

Love and family are strong bonds.
Bonds that have each helped to make me the person I am today.

Thank you, Eunice.


(Mother and Eunice, 1953)


(Mother on her big day / 1953)


(Mother with her mother, Mimi / 1953)


(mother with her father in law, my beloved Pop / 1953)


(Mother and dad off to a honeymoon / 1953)

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household,
he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:8

Once upon a book…

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero


(one of many piles of accumulated cookbooks / Julie Cook / 2020)

Once upon a time, long ago and far away…long before there was a thing
known as the internet…
a time when landlines were all that we knew for communication and payphones
were the only way we could touch base with others when away from home…
it was a time when the printed word was all we had—newspapers,
magazines and books…it was a time when the printed word connected us
to what was and what could be.
Our world was intertwined and deeply entrenched with all things typeset.

And so I am finding that during this trying time of packing up my world…
I’m finding that I am slightly overwhelmed by the number of books I have
accumulated over the years.

As an art teacher with a proclivity for the Renaissance, as an
armchair historian who devours all things World War II,
as a huge fan of Winston Chruchill, as a person deeply interested in Christian symbology
and mysticism…I have amassed a small personal library.
Heck, it’s more like a decent sized library.

Books, books everywhere a book!

So during yesterday’s sorting, the task was to puruse, purge and pack cookbooks.

A love of cooking has run deep in my veins.

I had grown up watching Julia Child’s cooking shows with my mom.
Later it was Atlanta’s own Natalie Dupree.
Any and all cookig shows on PBS.

Throw in all of Mother’s Southern Living cookbooks and I learned early on
the importance of food—
an importance that reaches far beyond mere sustenance.

Food is communion.
It is a tie that binds.

My mom was not the greatest cook but she could make wonderful,
made from scratch, biscuits.
Whereas I did not inherit my mother’s biscuit magic,
I did develop however a love for the magic that rests in the
creativity of any kitchen.

Yet I can vividly remember the day I felt defeat when my mother discovered the thrill
of the cooking bag and hamburger helper.
I, on the other hand, was growing more and more fascinated by all things French,
Itlaian, fricased and sauteed.

So as I was knee deep in the cull taking place in the kitchen,
seeing so many of the older books–
my mind suddenly went racing back to a different time.

This is from a post I wrote back in 2013–it was a reflection about my life in 1986…
the year mom got sick.

“Many years ago when my mom was in ICU battling cancer, and I was a
newly married young woman, I would go each day to the ICU Waiting Room
carrying an armload of cookbooks–upwards of 8 at a time.
As I would sit for hours waiting for the three 15 minute times of visitation allowed
in a 24 hour period, I would read page per page, cover to cover of every type
of recipe and cookbook imaginable.
It was my therapy and my catharsis.
Maybe I needed to know that in the dark shadows of death,
where I had found myself in a vigil for my mom, Creativity,
which I equate with life and living, was still very much present and attainable.”

I should add that I was driving about an hour and a half each day over to Atlanta just
to sit in that ICU, only to drive that hour and a half back home each evening.
A sorrowful ritual that I kept up for 9 weeks.
It was a lonely and very difficult time…but I found an necessary diversion
as well as solace in my cookbooks.

They were cookbooks that my aunt had bought on her various trips and books I had found
while rumaging through the cooking section of every book store I could find.

So as I made the difficult decision yesterday of what books I would keep and what books
I would “release”–I found myself feeling a heavy sense of sadness—
sadness not so much over losing some long loved books, but rather sadness over the fact that
we live in a time when books are becoming obsolete.

Despite my cullig and purging, I fear our movers will be none too pleased when they
find the number of boxes full of books that I have packed up.
Boxes I can’t even begin to pick up…as in they are heavy as lead.

But some things will just have to make this journey with me.
Solace that will be there for me as I unpack in a new world come January.

The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, bring when thou comest,
and the books, especially the parchments.

2 Timothy 4:13

interesting musings—both good and bad…

“If you take temptations into account,
who is to say that he is better than his neighbour?
A comfortable career of prosperity,
if it does not make people honest, at least keeps them so.”

William Makepeace Thackeray


(Eco Canada header)

Okay—I’m back home from having watched over a sickly Mayor for the past couple of days.
The Sheriff shared his viral infection with his sister and these sort of sharings preclude
anyone from attending daycare while mom and dad attempt to work…thus—
in walks “mom”

“mom” is now tired and has some of that “cold” floating around in her head shared
by both the Mayor and Sherrif…
Yet before much more time passed us by,
I wanted to share a few observations that I’ve taken in
over the past couple of days…

Firstly, I saw this today on a Catholic site which got me thinking…

There’s good news and bad news.

In 1964, a Benedictine monk named Hubert
van Zeller wrote that “the prevailing weakness
among Christians of today” is the fact that we
see the apparent hopelessness of the situation
in our world…think we can’t do anything to
change it…and lose our effectiveness as
witnesses of Christ and His Church.

So that’s the bad news.

But here’s the good news.

We can do something to change the
current situation, and it starts at home.

“starts at home”…haven’t we heard that before?!

The other thing that caught my eye was on Sunday.

I was on my way to Atlanta, leaving town when I passed by a little country
church headed my way to the interstate…
the church had a sign that read “Beware Marananta”

Now I know that I was not raised in the Baptist fold and from all I know, Maranatha simply
referred to a choir, thus this little foreboding warning piqued my interst.

And so I tucked away this little obscure warning into the back of my mind, with the intent of
investigating such once I had a bit of quiet time to delve further.

And so this is what I discovered.

Maranatha
(1 Corinthians 16:22 ) consists of two Aramean words, Maran’athah, meaning,
“our Lord comes,” or is “coming.”
If the latter interpretation is adopted, the meaning of the phrase is,
“Our Lord is coming, and he will judge those who have set him at naught.”
(Compare Phil 4:5; James 5:8 James 5:9 .)

And according to Wikipedia:
Maranatha (Aramaic: מרנאתא‎; Koinē Greek: Μαρανα θα, romanized: marana-tha, lit.
‘come, our lord!’; Latin: Maran-Atha) is an Aramaic phrase.
It occurs once in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 16:22).
It also appears in Didache 10:14, which is part of the Apostolic Fathers’ collection.
It is transliterated into Greek letters rather than translated and,
given the nature of early manuscripts, the lexical difficulty rests in determining
just which two Aramaic words constitute the single Greek expression,
found at the end of Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians (16:22).

So I take that this might mean that we should be careful about what ask for…
and that asking, as I keep reading from various folks, being, Come, Lord Jesus.
Because the aksing of the coming of the Lord…in turn comes with judgment.
And the question which remains, are we ready for that judgment for which we are
therefore calling upon?

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else,
for at whatever point you judge another,
you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

Romans 2:1 NIV

let’s do this…going forward

“Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.”
Margaret Thatcher


(the Mayor on a mayorial visit, enjoying a BLT with homegrown tomatoes/ Julie Cook/ 2020)

Both the Mayor and the Sheriff started a new daycare this past week.

Due to the Pandemic and life shuttering back in early March,
they’ve basically been footloose and fancy-free for a near 5 months.

With their mom’s school preparing to reopen, while she’s having to gear up for what will
be both an open school coupled with optional virtual learning—in other words, teaching
to those seated in desks alongside those opting to stay home—a new daycare was in order
and the only option was to begin now.

As a retired educator, whose child served bided his time in daycare,
I can vividly remember those trying days–
a time that our pediatrician dubbed ‘the necessary evil’.

But since both their mom and dad must each work, and we live over an hour away,
daycare becomes a difficult, yet necessary, thing to utilize.

I can remember crying each and every morning, after having dropped off our son
at his daycare, as I drove on to work.

Guilt is always the working mom’s middle name.

The Mayor and Sheriff’s mom has also experienced this same sense heaviness,
each morning this past week.

So “mom” (aka moi, the grandmother) drove over Friday for a bit of a needed diversion.

The Sheriff was nonplused…


(the week’s new schedule has been exhausting)

And the Mayor insisted she immediately leave the Atlanta Woobooville office in order to return
ASAP to “Da” (aka my husband the grandfather) who was busy at the satellite Woobooville office.

There were no if’s, and’s or but’s…she grabbed her “pursh (aka purse),
put on her rain boots (no rain in sight), blew kisses to her parents, hugged the dog,
waved good-bye to “Je” (the Sheriff), took hold of my hand while announcing for one an all…
“SEE DA!”

And so we left to come to see Da—a weekend visit of sorts.

But with visits and kids aside,
I am painfully reminded that we are living in some mighty precarious days.

They are challenging for all of us.
Frightening.

We don’t know what’s the right thing to do.
Daycares are opening as workplaces begin to re-open…
as schools prepare to re-open…
as cases continue to increase.

And yet we trudge through it all…
we do so because that is what we do….it is who we are.
We roll up our sleeves and head forward.

Standing still or going backward are simply not options.

And so we live each day, one day at a time.

We enjoy the precious moments a bit more strongly,
while feeling the day’s heaviness a bit more keenly.

As we prepare for the coming weeks ahead of life…of school…of work…of sports…
of living…
We say, “let’s do this”—
but let’s do this with God’s grace.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

the sound of silence…can break the heart

“In the silence of the heart God speaks.
If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.
Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness,
your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers


(courtesy the web)

The school year has finally ended and thus our little extended family clan headed home
yesterday for good.

And I cried like nobody’s business.

There is now such a deafening silence that neither my husband nor I find comfortable.

No shrieks, no cries, no shouts, no laughter, no bumps nor bangs…

March 15th until May 22nd.
Holidays, birthdays, milestones, and seasons have all came and gone.

And now they are gone…

And there is still a Pandemic, a lockdown, a ‘new’ normal…
The silence isn’t helping…


(the attack of Da / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a warm spring day /Julie Cook/ 2020)


(snuggle bug siblings / Abby Cook/ 2020)


(a first hair cut / Julie Cook / 2020)


(the last morning with “mom” / Julie Cook / 2020)

ALMIGHTY God, heavenly Father, who hast blessed us with the joy and care of children;
Give us light and strength so to train them,
that they may love whatsoever things are true and pure and lovely and of good report,
following the example of their Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen.

1928 Book of Common Prayer

death warmed over

“While death isn’t a sure thing anymore, taxes still are.”
Kevin J. Anderson, Death Warmed Over


(the Sheriff watching his Mickey Mouse show/ Julie Cook / 2020)


(The Mayor likes to look inteligent / Julie Cook / 2020)

The quote above should be a most telling warning to us all as we approach a new election…
as in socialists love taxes…but that’s another story for another day…

Then the two images above are perhaps a bit misleading…
Two little people being typical little people…

But looks are certainly deceiving.

They have both been sick this past week and now their “mom” is sick.

And ‘mom’ is not their birth mother who is known as ‘mama’.

Originally I was going to be known as Mopie.
That weirdly turned into Biyah (I liked that one because it actually had a meaning–
‘gift to God’)
Then suddenly Poppie (aka papa) became Da and in turn, I became Ma
But now, it’s ‘mom.’

Having trouble keeping up?
Me too!

And since their mother is ‘mama’, I’ll happily take ‘mom’…
because at this point, I’ll take anything!

So ‘mom’ is now feeling like death warmed over.

Now whereas their mama lives somewhere between life and death on a daily basis
because that’s what working moms with two, who are both two and under, do—they exist
somewhere between exhaustion and the walking dead…but at least their mother
is young…this ‘mom’, not so much.

According to Bloomsbury International, the idiom ‘death warmed over’ comes to us via the Army:
The earliest record of the phrase is in a Soldier’s War Slang dictionary from 1939.
The phrase is suggesting that the person looks like a dead person who has been reheated
(like last night’s dinner in the microwave today).
This idiom is not usually used as an insult, but more for showing sympathy.

It’s not considered an insult but rather a lamentation for sympathy.

And I suppose I’m feeling some small need for sympathy…and like I say,
I am feeling like death warmed over…

This has been a very long week.
The week has been spent caring for two tiny puny kiddos.

A stomach bug times two.
Multiple diapers and wardrobe changes.
Add in the crud, an ear infection, a stye, a sinus infection…
and now I too am besieged.

Ode to the life of parents and caregivers.

Ash Wednesday has come and gone…seemingly without me.
Lent?
Is it already Lent?
I haven’t even thought about my lenten fasts.

The month is nearly come and gone unbeknownst to me.
The ground hog…did he or didn’t he???

The socialist wannabes are still living a life of delusion.
Bernie Sanders is still offering everything to everyone, absolutely for free…
with you and me left holding the tab.

I’m currently living with a massive sinus infection because a sick 10-month-old
has coughed, sneezed and drooled all over me all week…
not to mention the stomach bug diapers from
both The Mayor and the Sheriff…

And so now I feel the need to slap a surgical mask over my face in order
to join the coronavirus bandwagon.

And yet in all of the madness, all I truly long for is a tub of Vicks Vapor-rub
to slather under my now raw nose…


Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

average troubles and updates

“I am not more gifted than the average human being.
If you know anything about history, you would know that is so–
what hard times I had in studying and the fact that I do not have a memory like some other
people do…
I am just more curious than the average person and I will not give up on a problem
until I have found the proper solution.
This is one of my greatest satisfactions in life–
solving problems–and the harder they are, the more satisfaction do I get out of them.
Maybe you could consider me a bit more patient in continuing with my problem than is
the average human being.
Now, if you understand what I have just told you, you see that it is not a matter
of being more gifted but a matter of being more curious and maybe more patient
until you solve a problem.”

Albert Einstein


(Autumn is feeling better / Moppie Cook / 2018)

I’ve always thought my life was pretty much average.
I grew up average.
I lived in an average house.
I had an average family.
I went to an average school.
Average was good.
Average seemed safe…

Some folks think average equates to boring…

I rather like average.

Yet our life these days has been anything but average…

Things have been less than ideal for a couple of months now.
Less than average.

There have been high adulations and low dark shadows.

It started really last year with what I called the season of loss…
that was followed by the news of new life and hope.

But then our son had a massive job change the week before his first child was born.
Things were uncertain.

Next, this first child came into this world with tremendous concern and trepidation.
Yet joy pushed the worry aside.

Then it was a here there sort of life.

I was staying there, they were staying here…
As the new mom struggled through a couple of infections.

And so now we all stay here…

The two of us and the two cats have grown to three more plus a black lab.
The 3 four-legged siblings are not too keen on their new “sister”

Yet that’s all about to change again come tomorrow when our son goes back to Atlanta
to a position with new company—of which he is very excited….yet the excitement
comes with a somewhat heavy heart because his wife and young daughter will continue staying
here as mom finishes out the school year.

Blessedly there will not be the hair-raising commuting, but this new small family is now separated
while these imperfect grandparents try to make things as smooth as possible for all concerned.

Throughout all of our small world ordeal, I’ve thought a great deal about our deployed troops—
who are separated from their families for months at a time.
Worlds apart from all that is important and dear.
Our temporary imperfection pales to their sacrifices…

Which reminds me that nothing in life is ideal, is it?

To add insult to injury, during all of our transitions, our daughter-n-law had her
identity stolen.

We worry that it was actually while she was in the hospital.
It’s a top-notch hospital but if you’ve ever listened to Clark Howard,
he’ll tell you the medical field is the primary culprit when it comes
to identity theft…
and her troubles didn’t start until a day after her discharge….
when 4 iPhone 10s were bought on a plan in her name using her SS number
clear across the country in Seattle, Washington.

There were several other phone purchases and phone plan purchased in the same area.
She contacted all of the credit bureaus and had to file police reports in order to
have all the credit applications and purchases taken off of her reports.

The police explained that the phones are bought then shipped and sold overseas.

It’s been a very long story of sorting but hopefully, we’ve nipped it all in the
bud in the nick of time before too much damage has been done.

Next, adding insult to injury, the Social Security office sent out our
new granddaughter’s SS card, but it never arrived.
The SS office then told us they couldn’t track where the card went.
They sent it, that’s all they could determine.

Great.

We now have a new card…but wonder where the other one went…???
And what of a two-month-old’s identity now being compromised???

Next, our daughter-n-law got salmonella right before she was to return to work
from maternity leave.
We’d gone out to a rather nice seafood restaurant in Atlanta to celebrate birth,
life and to see if a new baby could handle public life.

After a night of being deathly sick…
she spent a day in urgent care followed by a day in the ER
The CDC even called…
This while a newborn was at home with an inept grandmother.

It wasn’t lettuce and it wasn’t E-coli…it was salmonella and it was at the restaurant.
I called the manager…he was apologetic.

Three weeks later, as you know, Autumn became deathly ill.
She spent hours in one ER only to be sent to Scottish Rite’s ER in Atlanta.
She too tested posted for salmonella.

But the jury is still out as to the source.
The doctors think the window between her mom’s outbreak and her onset had
actually been too long.
They questioned two new trial formulas.

Her fever was high.
The diarrhea was more blood than not.
As this tiny precious little one was weak and pallid.

She was hooked up to machines and had been stuck in both arms…while nurses searched
for tiny veins.
A difficult thing to bear when such small wee one is suffering.

She had a spinal tap.

The fluids were thankfully clear.

She received a powerful injection in the ER then another one the following day at her
pediatrician’s office.

We were then told we’d switch to an oral antibiotic while waiting to see what
the final cultures revealed.

As of Thursday, the hospital called and told us that nothing had grown from the cultures
and that they felt confident that the salmonella had not spread to the brain.

I spoke with my own gastroenterologist this week and he explained that salmonella
is a gravely troubling illness as it can spread rapidly throughout the body affecting
much more than just the guts…it can lead to a myriad of ailments including arthritis.

Autumn is so much better but not totally 100%.
We had been diligently working on getting her on a schedule and regime of both
eating and sleeping but this latest hurdle threw a massive curveball at all
of our best efforts.

Add to all of this my husband working toward retiring…bringing a 50-year career
in a small family business to a close…
which is an entirely different post unto itself…

Topsy turvy and far from average…a roller coaster of emotions…

So…
average is sounding pretty darn nice, doesn’t it?

We thank each of you for your prayers, thoughts and good wishes…
We couldn’t do any of this without your prayerful support…

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer,
believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Mark 11:24

A place where everybody knows your name

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart,
and all they can do is stare blankly.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald


( the wall inside the Bull and Finch Pub in Boston that was the inspriation to the television
hit series Cheers / Julie Cook / 2014)

I’ve always considered myself a rather independent individual,
as well as one who relishes in the quiet of being”alone”…
yet for the notion of loneliness, I am, like most folks, not a fan.

I’ve spent most of my married life on my own—not so much because I wanted to
or because my husband was always traveling or in the military but rather because he’s
owned and run a smalltown family retail business for right at 50 years.

He has worked 6 days a week, often 12 or more hours a day, for most of his life…
and he was working in the family business long before I came along.
The Christmas holiday season saw that time of working up to 7 days a week
at 14 or more hours a day.

At first, this wasn’t an easy adjustment.

My dad, for most of my growing up, worked for the County–a 9 to 5 sort of dad.
At one point early in his life, he had been a traveling salesman for my
Grandfather’s company, but Dad had hated it.
Dad was more lazy than not, so the idea of being on the road 24 /7 was less than appealing.
So as soon as my Grandfather died at the young age of 67 in 1967,
my dad and his brother sold the family business and dad went to work as an engineer
for the Fulton County Health Department.

So I was used to a dad who got home at a reasonable hour for supper
and who was always home on weekends.

That was not the case for the man I married.
For he has worked more than he’s been home.

He carries a great deal of regret with all of this as far as our son’s growing up was
concerned–but I continue to reassure him that he did the best he could and managed to
squeeze in good quality time with our son when it was most needed.

And I too have rendered my time to the store, especially during the holidays—
but as a career educator and eventually both teacher and a mom, my own time was
equally filled. Yet it seems that the two of us have, more or less,
been more apart then together…

So I was intrigued this morning when I caught the title of our friend the Wee Flea,
Pastor David Robertson’s title to his latest blog post—
Loneliness-the cord of three strands- Ecclesiastes 4:7-12

The Cure for Loneliness – the Cord of Three Strands – (Ecclesiastes 4:7-12)

It seems that the idea of loneliness, as a rife problem, was recently noted in
a commissioned report produced regarding life in the UK…
and it is now seen as such a real problem that the UK’s Prime Minister, Theresa May,
has just appointed a minister to be in charge of the UK’s problem of loneliness, having
named Tracey Crouch as the new Minister of Loneliness.

A rather interesting title…and I imagine there’s a song in there someplace…
such as the song ‘One is the Loneliest Number’ by the 70’s rock group, Three Dog Night,
which suddenly comes racing back into present-day focus.

Our Wee Flea friend notes that “according to the aforementioned Jo Cox report there are
9 million people in the UK who always, or mostly, feel lonely.
It’s a problem recognised in our media.
The long-running Australian soap reminds us of the importance of ‘good neighbours’
who become ‘good friends’.
Yet how many of us live in streets when we don’t even know the names of our neighbours
(other than when the Amazon parcel arrives),
never mind identify them as friends?
Likewise, Netflix has just introduced a new generation to the ever popular
Friends with its instantly recognisable theme tune, ‘I’ll be there for you’.
How many of us have friends who will be there for us?
How many of us have substituted the handful of friends that come from deep and
committed relationships, with the hundreds of online friends who mean virtually nothing?”

The long-running comedy series, Cheers was the show that first popped into
my mind when thinking of the notion of loneliness along with friends and family
being found is the some of the oddest of places.


(yours truly, along with the ever working husband who, on a business trip, found time
to go visit that place where everyone knows your name / 2014)

The story, if you recall, was set in Boston at a fictions pub named Cheers.
The actual real-life pub that was the inspiration for the TV show is named the
Bull and Finch; a Bostonian pub dating back merely to 1969.
The Bull and Finch is a much smaller place than the television version’s pub
known as Cheers–yet is set up in a rather similar fashion.

One does indeed descend down a small set of stairs from the street level while walking
into a more cramped, low ceilinged sort of tightly configured quasi-tavern.
The bar, however, is long and somewhat spacious. There is a bronze plaque screwed
to the end of the bar, commemorating the iconic seat reserved for the character Norm who
always appeared arriving at the bar after work.
He’d take his usual place at the end of the bar where he would receive his usual,
an icy cold mug of beer while he was often heard to lament about life with his wife who
was obviously home…alone.


(a plaque on the bar at the Bull and Finch Pub commemorating where Norm always
would sit / Julie Cook / 2014)

There is also a back set of stairs similar to the stairs in the TV show, that does lead up
to another restaurant, along with, of course, a Cheers gift shop.

This was a show about the lives of the hodgepodge mix of folks who were each connected
to the pub. From the bar owner, bartenders, barmaids down to the patrons–
and how they had all developed their own sort of close-knit family despite having lives
outside of the bar.

The bar was a place where regular patrons could come, having their very own seat…a place
where the bartenders knew what to serve without the patron ever having to say a word—
simply coming and sitting down said it all…as strangers each gravitated to
this nondescript little pub while eventually becoming most important one to another…
much like an extended family.

A place where everyone knew your name…your likes, your dislikes, your history,
your story, your ups, and your downs…

And whereas our friend the Wee Flee was drawn to the book of Ecclesiastes and the
pinning of a now wizened old king found in Solomon…

Ecclesiastes 4 deals with the oppressed having no comforter, a man without
the companionship of family and friends and a lonely king.
The early church had some quite fanciful interpretations of this passage.
Jerome, for example, saw in the three-fold cord the faith, hope, and love of 1 Corinthians.
Ambrose was more interesting – in speaking of Christ as the friend who sticks closer
than a brother he sees him as the one who lifts up the companion when he falls,
the one who warms, and the one who went from the prison to be a king.
He points us to the real solution for loneliness.

I myself seem to find much more comfort in those words and thoughts
offered by our friend St Ambrose rather than that wisdom uttered by the aging King Solomon.

That being the notion of Christ being closer to us than that of our very kin…

The fraternity of Christ, is closer than the fraternity of blood.”
He took what is mine in order that He might impart to me what is His.
He took it not to overturn it but to fill it.

And thus we find that it is in our very relationship with Christ in which our loneliness
dissipates as He and His very essence of being seeps in turn, into our very being,
filling every void and crack within often lonely lives.
Thus being truly the One who knows our name, our ups, our downs, our dislikes, our likes,
our best and our worst—staying right by our side despite what He knows about us
and sees—because He is us and we are Him…

Abide in me, and I in you.
John 15:4

atheists ain’t got no songs…..

Do not be afraid.
Do not be satisfied with mediocrity.
Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

John Paul II


(Steve Martin appearing on David Lettermen singing Atheists ain’t got no song / 2011)

When I scanned my emails and saw that I had a notice of a new posting
from a blog I follow, I opted to investigate a bit further—

I realized there was actually a videoclip in the posting that was sitting at
roughly 42 minutes…
I wasn’t really certain I wanted to be contained for almost three quarters of an hour watching a videoclip in the middle of the day.

There were things to do.

How could I justify sitting at the kitchen table watching a video clip for nearly 45 minutes….what about the cleaning, the wash, the filing, the bills, the shrimp…
the shrimp that needed deveining for this evening’s supper….???

I am a person who isn’t one to sit around.
I am a doer and constantly moving about…as something always needs tending to.
Sitting in the middle of the day, listening and watching a videoclip is a little
hard for me to justify

45 minutes, really??!!

Yet I was curious.
And I also do quote this man all the time.

I am constantly offering this man’s teachings, his preachings, his defenses,
his proclamations…to you…and so do I not owe it to you to really
know a bit more about him????

Of course I do.
If one wants to be truly credible, one must invest time and understanding
before sharing.

Yet I’m not Scottish…well that is… not me exactly but in heritage, yes.
I’m certainly not a Presbyterian nor am I an Evangelical…
I’m still an Episcopalian by name…but just one who happens to no longer
agree with the direction of the Episcopal Church.

What I am is a conservative Christian who believes in the importance of
spreading the word about God, Jesus, sin, death, life and salvation….

So perhaps I needed to invest the time.
Something was nagging at me to give it a look.

I clicked on the video and after about 2 minutes in, I stopped it.
I knew I needed a pen and paper as there was much to be writing down.

David Robertson, the Reformed Presbyterian Minister who heads St. Peter’s Church
in Dundee, Scotland had posted his latest blog post in which he was offering
a videoclip from address given in 2010 for the Christian organization that he
is apart of, SOLAS.
And despite the videoclip being nearly 8 years old,
David had stated that if one really wanted to understand what he was about,
this was probably the best explanation.

The Christian group there in Dundee named SOLAS—was something I really had no idea
about or what it was, I just knew it was something he had his hand in…
but now know—
Solas is a Gaelic word meaning Light—and that Light is the Light of Jesus Christ….

If you visit my world here often, you hear much reference to David.
I found him via this little blog world of ours.
And when I read the things he was writing on his Wee Flea blog, I found myself
most often in total agreement, not all the time mind you, but most of the time as
I’d find myself nodding and offering a silent “Amen”

And as I don’t always agree with everything…
I’ve yet to meet a Christian who is usually 100% with another Christian—
heck most folks find something to disagree over with their own priests, pastors or minister. I don’t know any Christians who totally agree with
each and everyone’s doctrines or denominational background…but at the end of the day
if the bottom line is Jesus Christ for each of us then that is truly our common ground.

Doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic or Baptist, Pentecostal or Greek Orthodox…
if Jesus Christ…His birth, his life, his ministry, his death, his resurrection
is the chief cornerstone in your life—then we are all on the same page.

I had not read any of David’s books.
I hadn’t even heard of him before…but it seems he was pretty famous for
having debated and besting the avowed Atheist Richard Dawkins.

He even went on to write a book that acted as a Christian follow-up to
Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion.

So today’s videoclip, which I’ve attached below was indeed enlightening.

It made me think of Wally’s little meme and comment yesterday which was
“If somebody took a poll of 10 of your acquaintances and asked them the most
notable thing about you, how many of them would say:
“Oh they really love Jesus!?”

(https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com)

This really made me think.
I told Wally I’d probably get “good wife, good mom, good cook,
good teacher’…..but would anyone start with the fact that I do love Jesus,
proclaim Him as my Salvation…have I simply done that more inwardly and
just for self….??
I wasn’t sure I could answer that “thought” and even told Wally I
had been given much to ponder.

I will spend some time over the next couple of days focusing in on some of the key
thoughts I took away from watching David’s video.

He did offer something rather hilarious and that was a mention of Steve Martin singing
the song Atheists ain’t got no songs.
He said if you’d not heard it or seen it, google
it, it was worth the look….and it was!

It was a clip from a David Lettermen show and in true Steve Martin form,
it is hysterical while ringing of so much truth…

I don’t know about Steve Martin’s religious beliefs but I think he leans
toward agnosticism….but no matter, as I thoroughly enjoyed the song…
I think you will too

Plus—do yourself a favor, carve out the roughly 42 minutes to listen to David’s
address.

It matters not that his focus is the Church there in Scotland.
Scotland has a rich Christian history—and was once the loudest Evangelistic voices
in most of the world…but then something happened…just as it is happening here
in the US.

It matters not that you may be Lutheran, Anglican, Southern Baptist, Methodist,
etc…the message is the same.

And I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again…it was a quote from the
former Anglican Bishop Gavin Ashenden,
“It is the secular culture that is attracting many believers”—as more and more
people leave the Church, preferring the worship at the altar of the worldly….

There was a time when my mom, God rest her soul…my quiet, shy and very Episcopalian
mom would have warned me not to be talking about such…I wouldn’t want folks to think
I was some sort of nut, religious fanatic or “Jesus freak” or God forbid,
part of a cult…
but I would have to now say to mother, what better time then now Mom?
What better time than now….?

Give me Scotland or I die