Friday, November 26, 2010

Giving Thanks, by Gloria Hannigan

I am thankful for –

Time to remember the past
Health of body and spirit
Acts of kindness received
Nature’s colors revealed
Knowledge gained through living
Smiles shared with strangers
Generous spurts of humor
Intelligence still growing
Variety in friendships
Imagination in abundance
New days ever dawning
Gifts of shared laughter

For more of Gloria's stories, please visit: Gloria's Blog

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving with God, By Yolanda Adele

It was 1991. Getting together with the family for Thanksgiving Dinner was not something that I was looking forward to, having lost my father, whom we called Popi, just two months earlier. Yet I felt an obligation to my mother and the rest of the family to be there to help alleviate the obvious void that was left in my parent’s home.

On holidays before my dad died the house and neighborhood had been filled with the sounds of Mexican music blasting from dad’s reel-to-reel tape-recorder. That tape recorder could play non-stop for 24 hours and sometimes did, often times to the annoyance of the neighbors, and always to the frustration of my mother, who was hard of hearing. I could hear it the minute that I turned on to their block in Huntington Park, though their house was almost at the end of the street.

Popi enjoyed having lots of activity around him, especially since my eldest daughter Yvette made him a great-grandfather, first with Jaime, born in 1986, then with Brandon who was born in 1990.

It amazed me to watch Popi interact with his great-grandchildren in a way that he never could with his own children. I came to realize that both grandparenting and great-grandparenting were God’s way of giving parents another chance to get the bonding thing right if they didn’t fare well the first time.

Jaime loved her Popi. The last time that she saw him alive she was five years old. She came with her parents to visit with Popi in his bedroom where he lay on a hospital bed. My mom called us to the kitchen to eat. I told Popi to rest and that we’d return in a bit.

After a while Jaime left the table. I got up to look for her. I went to the living room where her toys were spread out on the floor; she was not there. I checked in the bathroom; she was not there either.

I walked down the hall to my father’s bedroom. There I saw the sweetest sight. Jaime had somehow managed to squeeze through or climb over the hospital bed’s metal side guard and was lying on her side facing her Popi. They were both smiling at each other as Jaime gently stroked the top of his head.

Now the family gathered without any lively Mexican or any other kind of music playing. In fact the only sounds beside our voices were the harsh clattering of the dishes, and silverware. I didn’t know how I was going to get through this strained family gathering.

We held hands around the table and said grace. Then, with a voice like an angel, Jaime proclaimed, “Popi is so lucky. This is his first Thanksgiving with God.” Suddenly I felt all the bent up tension leave my body. A smoothing peace washed over me. Someone turned on the radio, filling the house with a joyful noise… then I knew Jaime was right.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Let's Be Thankful Every Day, by Barbara Sparks

Recently my son decided, after listening to the CD series by Anthony Robbins, that we should start our morning walks by saying things for which we are grateful.  It has been a wonderful activity for us. Though Thanksgiving is a time when we think of our blessings, it is important that we think of our blessings every day not, just one day a year.  

As Thanksgiving approaches, I think about how I celebrated Thanksgiving 12 years ago.  I went to the store to buy all the traditional items for a Thanksgiving meal.  All of my life my mother had cooked the Thanksgiving meal. However, since my mother passed away three days before Thanksgiving I was to prepare the meal for my cousins who flew in for her funeral, which was to take place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I, of course, said, “Don’t worry.  I’ll cook the meal.” Unfortunately. on Thanksgiving Day  no one was able to cook, so we all went to Hometown Buffet instead.

I remember what my mother said a week before she died.  She said, “Barbara you have to let me go.  God has blessed me with 80 years.”  In response, I said. “God has blessed me with you for 55 years.”  I think about that time and all the other times in my life when my mother had always found the bright side of difficult situations and made me remember that in all things to be grateful.  She was a continuous inspiration to me throughout my life. 

Since my mother is no longer here to celebrate Thanksgiving with me, I now have a new Thanksgiving tradition.   Every Thanksgiving my son and I travel to Olympia, Washington where I enjoy Thanksgiving with my uncle, three cousins and their children.  It is wonderful to share the holiday with family.  We enjoy a delicious feast that is cooked by my uncle, two of my cousins and my cousin’s daughter while we share family stories.   The house is filled with the aroma of turkey, dressing, green beans, mustard and collard greens, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato pie and the sounds of laughter and love. I am so grateful to be able to enjoy this time with them.

So as we approach this wonderful time of year let’s all think about our blessings which include family and friends. Each day, remember to celebrate life and the events that bring a smile to your face.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Faye, my friend of 35 years, is in a home for Dementia.  It is very heartbreaking, how she has changed in the last year. Faye was an excellent cook and loved making lunches and dinners at our Temple. Faye has traveled to many countries and collected souvenir spoons. We went shopping together and the four of us went to the movies and theater together. 

Faye tuned to a completely different person.  Her quiet personality changed completely.  Her husband had to call 911; she was put into the Hospital.  Now, she will be going to a facility in Anaheim.  Her husband Joe is selling their lovely two story home, he will be moving into an  apartment.  It breaks my heart to know this is really happening.

Joe is going through a changing lifestyle.  They were married for over 60 years.  I was thinking that "Life is not fair".  I wrote this poem for Joe.


Bless you, Joe for being such a caring husband.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veteran's Day, 2005, by Charlotte Boquist

I salute you, the men and women who bought my freedom.  It is not possible to isolate one veteran.  The life I enjoy today is the result of two hundred and fifty plus years of determined and courageous protection by hundreds of thousands of men and women.  Many of whom paid dearly so that I can live the life I enjoy today.

I salute the handful of men who were on Bunker Hill and stood up to the English soldiers, and vicariously to King George, the most powerful ruler in the world at the time.

I salute the soldiers who fought for freedom, even when they were called to stand against their brothers in a conflict that nearly tore our country apart.

I salute the brave men who marched off to the “War to end All Wars”, and the many Johnnies who didn’t march back home again.  This terrible bloody conflict was ended on November 11, 1918 by the signing of an armistice.  For years, America celebrated Armistice Day, as a day to remember.

I salute the Veterans of World War II, the 1100 sailors that lie entombed on the “Arizona” in the waters of Pearl Harbor--and that was just the beginning,  the many, many lives lost on Omaha Beach and all over the world, and the service men wounded in body and spirit.

I salute the veterans of the Korean Police Action in which my husband served in the army--close behind that came Viet Nam when my son Paul put in his time.  Desert Storm next, my grandson Jeff was in the Coast Guard during that skirmish, and now Iraq.  There seems to be one for every generation.

 Somewhere along the way Armistice Day became Veterans Day--the day to remember ALL veterans who have kept us free and the Stars and Stripes flying.  Thank you, thank you all!!

Postscript added November 2010-
Still we are at war-now in Afghanistan.  And this year I have two Great-Grandsons in the service, Steven who is in the Air Force and Kelley in the Army.  Be safe!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

AUTUMN, by Charlene Farnsworth

When I think of autumn, I think of the magnificent “Autumn in New England” tour that my Mom and I took many years ago. That was when I felt as though I really was a New England transplant rather than a native-born Californian.

Of course, we were visiting the New England states -- Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont -- during the cool, colorful autumn as opposed to the hot, humid summer or snowy, slippery winter.

The people we met were delightful and greeted us “westerners” warmly. Their pace seemed to be less driven than ours and they took time to talk with calm demeanors, eye contact and cheerful smiles. We enjoyed their charming pronunciation of the English language, especially the “maniacs” from Maine. One tour guide was a third generation “maniac” and he gave us a lesson in speaking their language. He said, “If a word ends with an ‘r,’ take it away.” (“Car” would become “ca.”) He continued, “If a word does not end in ‘r,’ add one.” (“Saw” would become “sar.”)

It also seemed as though pretty posies peered from every window. And many of the restaurants, hotels and homes had bright red geraniums blooming profusely indoors. Many homes had harvest-colored decorations adorning their porches  corn stalks, gourds, pumpkins, etc.

At this time of year we could see the red, yellow, orange and green trees in every direction, as far as the eye could see. Many times a tree would have a combination of these colors as it progressed through the fall season.

The beauty of both the landscape and the people made for an everlasting memory of our trip to New England. Upon returning home, I wrote the following poem:


Fond memories that I recall

Are of New England in the fall.

Vermont, New Hampshire, coastal Maine --

Majestic scenes that never wane.

Rolling hills that stretch for miles;

Country homes that bring warm smiles.

Each within a lovely setting --

Something I’ll not be forgetting.

The colors, brightest I have seen:

Some red, some yellow, orange and green.

It is quite rare to see a fence;

The open landscape makes more sense.

And on each porch, a friendly touch;

The fall arrangements add so much.

With corn stalks and some pumpkins, too;

They certainly do welcome you.

And folks took time to stop and chat;

I always will remember that.

These memories give me a yen

To see New England once again.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Watching the Streetcars Go By, By Yolanda Adele

When I think of streetcars I think of the past, before plastic seats marked with graffiti, aluminum rails; and a time where air conditioning came by opening the windows. Imagine that.
In the summer when my parents and I visited my maternal grandparents in El Paso, Texas, my cousins and I slept out on the little terrace facing Main Street. From our perch we’d see the Red Streetcars pass. Each streetcar had a sign over the door that read: Ride a Mile and Smile the While-Only 5 cents.
The streetcars were noisy on the rails and had a high pitched horn that made it difficult to sleep. My cousins and I amused ourselves by making up stories or making fun of passengers scurrying to get on the streetcar. Sometimes people lost their footing as they disembarked, but there always seemed to be someone there to give them a hand.
On Halloween transportation inspectors watched for pranksters who may try to water down the rails with soap to cause the streetcar to lose traction. Twice we saw automobiles cross the tracks and collide with a streetcar. There never was a shortage of surprises to be witnessed on Main Street.
We saw a drunk, coming from the cantina near by, fall on the tracks while the approaching streetcar sounded its horn. We yelled, screamed and hollered until some good Samaritans pulled him to safety.
Watching the streetcars on Main Street provided “reality” entertainment for us kids, in lieu of television, which my grandparents didn’t have.  Sometimes in the afternoon our adult relatives sat out on the terrace to visit with each other, greet friends they saw on the street, as well as watch the streetcars go by.
A horrible experience relating the streetcar and my family came in the 1950’s, when my grandfather, Jesus, was working as a maintenance mechanic for the Red Streetcar Company. 
Streetcars are propelled by on board electric motors and require a trolley pole to draw power from an overhead wire. While at the junction just a few blocks from our ‘perch’ on our grandparents terrace, Jesus had turned off the electricity in order to work on the overhead wire of one of the two streetcars that were not in service. 
A new and inexperienced employee saw that the electricity switch was not turned on. Instead of investigating the reason it was shut off, he simply pulled the switch on. Consequently, my grandfather was electrocuted. Miraculously he survived, though he was so severely burnt that he had to have his right arm amputated up to his elbow.  He remained in the hospital for nearly a year.
The streetcar accident changed his life forever. He never returned to work again, he never complained… and he never sat out in the terrace to watch the streetcars go by.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Halloween Miracle, by Peggy Knorr

On receiving photos of my two out-of-state great-grand children, Logan and Kailey, in their Halloween costumes and hearing they would be wearing their finery in the school parade, I wondered if that event would be conducted in the same manner as it was in my daughter's (their Grandma's) childhood days, 56 years earlier. At that far off time, while the kids were excitedly hopping around showing off their fanciful apparel, the teachers were standing by, busily judging which costume was the "best."

Patsy, my daughter, was about 8 years old at the time, and we were living in East Los Angeles, (a very poor neighborhood.) She wanted to be "an old fashioned lady" so I shopped the Goodwill, and at very little expense, using my resourcefulness and skill, picked out likely pieces and sewed them into a nice little hooped skirted costume.

I had no idea that there was to be a judging of best costume. I was surprised and a little disturbed when I realized they were conducting the parade as a competition. One of my neighbors, afterwards, said Pat's costume clearly should have won first prize, which it didn't; even though it stood out from the circle of kids as a gem of color, it didn't even place! I have a feeling that the school thought I had purchased an expensive costume and that it was not fair competition against what the poor people of the neighborhood could afford. Actually, for the most part they were no more "poor" than we ourselves were!

I have always found competition in that sort of setting a little distasteful; a reward for work well done is one thing, but a prize for something to which the child probably had not contributed much, was another. I felt the concept of being judged "best" versus that of "never winning anything" often started lifelong patterns of negative character formation. I knew this from my own still remembered sensitive and vulnerable childhood feelings. How much better it would have been if the kids could have just partaken of the fun of an unusual event without any aspersions as to who "won" and who "didn't."

Pat's classroom teacher, though, told me how she had noticed a complete change in her posture when she arrived at school wearing her costume that morning. From a slumped, uninterested bearing, it had changed to one of poise and pride in herself. She was holding herself up tall, regally and proudly, actually becoming the imaginary personality which she was portraying.

I think that was a turning point for her in her feelings of self esteem and confidence which grew from then onwards. It didn't seem to matter to her that she hadn't won a prize, though in the end she did get one, but in a different form than any competition could have ever brought about. I am hoping Logan and Kailey will receive as much from their associations with costumes as their Grandma did those many years ago.