WHERE THERE IS SADNESS, JOY

She began to talk to me of times of JOY. She spoke of happy things and times and places. 
Upon leaving, I said,
”See you when you come home”.
“Ok honey”, she said

Always Generous, Gracious and Giving

She was my joy.   Now she’s gone…
I asked her, only hours after Grandma died;
“How does it make you feel?”
“Like an orphan”, was her answer. 
“But Mother”, I responded, “You have us.”
“I know honey”, she said. “But this is different.”
Carrying our second child,
I was filled with the joy of life; annoyed at having to deal with death. 
I wanted Mother to tell me it wasn’t so bad.
Grandma was old. Eighty years was a long full life.
In a coma, Grandma hadn’t suffered. 
I wanted Mother to move on to lighter talk and future plans.
  I wanted her to ask how I was feeling today,
resuming our daily ritual.
She was always the giver. I was always the taker.
Years passed and now Mother was in her eighties. 
She shared with me the ominous news
that she had found a lump in her breast. 
“Mother” I said, “I am absolutely sure that it will not be malignant.”
When the report came back, Mother said,
“Well, you were wrong. It is malignant and the involvement is extensive”.
Now, I who never wanted to deal with anything uncomfortable,
was required to face the unimaginable.  
Mother was  going to die. 
Try as I would, I couldn’t get my mind around that fact.
A friend said to me,
“It’s part of life, although it’s not the best part.”
I was angry with my friend
for her crude and thoughtless remark. 
How could she be so matter of fact in the face of my devastation?
My friend offered.  I refused.

In the days and months to come,
Mother calmly accepted the diagnosis;  
Always generous, always caring, always gracious and giving.
She was ever accepting. I was ever refusing.
The following January,
a friend and I vacationed for two weeks in Florida.
Upon our return I learned that Mother had suffered a heart attack
a few days earlier.
She didn’t want me to be told about it
because she wanted me to enjoy my vacation.
I could learn of it when I returned home.
She was always protecting.  I was always accepting.
I visited Mother in the hospital the day after returning home from vacation. As she lay in her bed she was cheerful
and as usual,  interested in me.  
“Maybe it wasn’t so serious after all”, I said.
  She answered “No, something very serious is going on.” 
She began to talk to me of times of joy.  Speaking of happy things and times and places. 
Upon leaving, I said,
”See you when you come home”.
“Ok honey”, she said,
for she was due to come home on Monday.
This was Saturday; she would be in the hospital one more day.
Early Monday morning, before leaving the hospital,  she died.
Mother always gave me her love. I always accepted it.
 
She was gone.
I felt smothered by a blanket of grief.
Mother was as much a part of my life as my heart and soul.
Now she was gone.
Her belongings were still here; her clothes hung in the closet.
Pictures she had painted hung on the wall.
They were only “things”.
Weeks passed and my seemingly endless river of tears
began to subside.
On a stark February night, I visited my friend
who is a shepherd.
It was lambing time,
and it was required for her to make frequent visits to the barn
 checking on the well being of the ewes.
I found her there
and we began to talk.
Surrounded by the rumblings of her flock
and the sweet smell of freshly scattered straw,
the rawness of my grief began to pour out.
 
With gentle encouragement
my friend shared her own journey
through the painful loss of both parents
during the preceding years. 
With deep compassion she shared her healed grief. 
I knew that with her consoling love,
I too would be healed through this journey of grieving.
My friend offered. I accepted.

Next morning as I prepared my morning coffee,
my glance fell upon a plaque hanging on my kitchen wall.
Reading it as if for the first time,
I understood the message of St. Francis of Assisi.
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled
as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in the giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Dear Lord
Thank you for the loving, giving people you have placed in my life.
Help me to be the consoling,  understanding, loving and giving instrument of your peace
which has so graciously been given to me.
Amen
copyright©2020
 
Printed May 2017 at Sunlight Press
          Photographs By Mary Anne Tuck

THE RESCUE

My husband and I were standing at our living room window, watching a man walking down the distant road. The man lived nearby in a broken down house.  Every day he walked two miles to a neighborhood bar where he spent his time.

“Night fell, darkness hid the two from sight”
He worked at walking.
Stumbling,
                                             weaving,
                                                                               tumbling,
                                                                                                                falling…
Each night at dusk he turned for home, deaf to traffic sounds.  Reeling into roadside ditch, he lay upon the ground in bleak half-conscious stupor.
With effort, he crawled to the ditch’s edge, then worked at walking
once again.  
The man continued through his nightly ritual.
 My friend approached the sodden hulk.  Bending down, he knelt beside the fallen man;  with strong and steady arms, he began “The Rescue”….
 My friend was not a hero.  I was only an observer.  Though years have passed, the vivid scene remains.
 Whose life was changed?  Whose journey reached a crossroad?  Whose path was interrupted by a chance encounter?  
Was it the man?  Was it the friend?  Was it me?
 What are you thinking now?
 Night fell. Darkness hid the two from sight.
 “The Rescue” had begun.
 copyright@2020
It has been many years since this incident took place.
 We were standing at our living room window, watching a man walking down the distant road. He lived nearby in a broken down house.  Every day he walked two miles to a neighborhood bar where he spent the long hours.
 We didn’t always see him traveling on the way to his daily destination. Nor did we see him when he was going home.  
But this day, we saw him walking toward his home.  
He staggered and stumbled, repeatedly falling into the deep ditch
beside the road.
For moments he was out of sight.  Then, once more, we saw him crawling up from the ditch and struggling to his feet.  Walking a few steps, he fell once more. Again he crawled up the side of the ditch on his hands and knees and attempted to stand.
 I became aware my husband had left my side.
Now, in his truck, he was driving down our driveway toward the distant road.  Stopping at the place where the man was lying beside the ditch, my husband got out of his truck and approached the figure.
 Taking him by the arm, he helped the man to his feet.
 He later told me he had intended to help him into the cab of the truck, but the man protested.  “I’m not clean enough to sit in your truck.  Help me into the back.  I’ll ride home there.”
 As this scene unfolded before my eyes, I was surely not aware it would remain in my memory and my heart, many years later.
 How many of us, including me, would leave the comfort of home to help a drunken, smelly man get safely to his home?
 This was a side of my husband about which I wasn’t aware at the time.  Yes, he was kind, gentle and caring.  The scene I watched was more than that.
 The experience changed me.  Maybe it has changed you.
 At this stage of life it has become clear to me, we all need to be rescued.
Our Friend is on His way.
————–
 As time passed,  we discussed the incident; facts revealed themselves about the man who was rescued.
 He was a veteran from World War 2.
 We have since become aware of the experiences our soldiers endured during that time which were too horrible for them to remember.
 We now call it PTSD.
 It has been found, for some of the veterans, it is easier to drink away the memories than to relive them in their minds.
 In our village, there were three World War 2 veterans who spent their days at the same local bar.  
The world called them drunks. Should we have called them heroes?
 How do you feel about it?

http://www.thatremindsme.net

A Wish Organization for Senior Veterans

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck

The SHEPHERD CALLED THEM HOME

The Shepherd’s Barn

The Shepherd Called Them Home

 The quaint old man in knee high boots prepared to call them in…. 
“Get behind the barn,” he said. “If they see you they won’t come.”
“How many sheep?” I asked.  
‘Bout 300, lambs ‘n all,” he replied.  
Now, gesturing toward distant fields, no movement was revealed.
Obligingly, I took my place behind the aging barn.
 Waiting, watching as I hid, chuckling as I did his bidding.
Toward a crumbling fence he moved, following a trampled path.
Now he stood near leaning gate and I began my wait.
With steady steps, he called and walked.
No words escaped his weathered lips, just eerie, high toned wailing sounds known only to his flock.
Behind the barn I waited…
 and peeked toward leaning gate.
 All I saw were endless fields.
He stood alone to wait.
Suddenly a far off hill was filled with moving masses. 
Now, out of sight, no movement seen.
 A quiet moment passes.
At the crest and nearer, all racing through the fields
toward Him,
who waited, calm and still.
 His presence did not yield.
Three hundred creatures fell in line
behind the One whose voice they knew.  
Now through the gate, into the fold, now safe at last.
The Shepherd brought them home.

copyright©2020

Photography by Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck

 

1913e-shelby2527s2bewe2blambs2b19992bcopy

 

"Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."(Matt:6:21)

Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck

http://www.thatremindsme.blog – RECIPES FROM FAMILY AND FRIENDS

LIFE AT HIDDEN MEADOWS FARM

House July 4 thru pines resizrf got drnfinn.jpgresized againSometimes This Old Farm Feels Like A Long Lost Friend….
It’s always good to be back home again.
Married four years in 1959,
living on the lakeshore
with a toddler of three and an infant of six months,
we began to look for another,  safer, and perhaps more friendly place to live.
Safer was my thinking.
I’ve never learned to swim and
our lakefront home was surrounded on three sides by water.
In addition to the lake at the front, there were deep canals to the north and west. The safety of my young children was foremost on my mind.
We had no preconceived idea about the style of home we wanted to find.
We looked at several places and none of them seemed to be just right.
Someone told us there was an old farm for sale nearby.
Maybe we should check into that possibility.
Neither of us had been raised on a farm.
This was a bit of a stretch.
We approached the owners and learned the farm included twenty acres.
a cobblestone house and an old barn.  A local business had planted pine trees to later harvest for Christmas trees at both ends of the long and narrow property.
When we checked it out, we found there was also an old garage, a chicken coop, a root cellar and a corn crib.
We decided to take a look around.
We found the old farmhouse had been built by the sons of the original owners in 1936.
We’ve always assumed that’s when it was constructed
since the date is embedded in the 13 cement steps leading to the basement.
f5c48-barn2bon2bfall2bday2bfor2bcenter2bcopy
Eventually we learned the barn had been built in 1917.
It was in need of painting along with other repairs
about which we hadn’t yet learned.
After our visit with the owners, we talked on our way home.
“Well, what do you think?” my husband asked.
“I liked it”, I said. “And you know what, I felt like I’d been there before”.
He responded, “So did I”.
It seemed this was where we were meant to be.
This is our 62nd year of enjoying life at Hidden Meadows Farm.
My husband and I were in retail businesses.
He owned and operated an Ace Hardware and Sporting Goods for 25 years,
while I owned and operated a Hallmark Shop for 14 years.
During those years of involvement in retail business, we also found time to raise sheep, for ten years.
Starting with two orphan lambs, a flock of 100 was ours
when we sold them in 1998. Needless to say, we purchased several more, over time, and experimented with cross breeding which enabled us to increase lamb and wool production.
Over the years, we’ve had goats and pigs and chickens. Since we had fenced pasture it seemed appropriate to board horses, which we did, for over twenty-five years.
The pasture also afforded us the opportunity to have horses
for our sons and grandchildren.
We’ve also entertained ducks and geese and peacocks.
(Or did they entertain us?)
Many wonderful dogs have graced our acreage,
including a St. Bernard , German Shepherd, and a Collie
Several hunting dogs added greatly to the enjoyment of our sons.
Last but not least, we enjoy the one we have now, a Toy Poodle.
Yes, there were a few cats too. I seem to remember a rabbit living in the house for a time. But, that’s another story.
When we first arrived, there was an apple orchard
which has now been reduced to four trees.
(They have grown old even though we did not.)
Two pear trees
still produce very, very small fruit.
This year, one tree produced two pears.
(It may be time to plant new trees.)
In the beginning of life on Hidden Meadows Farm, we had a small orchard of cherry trees. Eventually the orchard area became our vegetable garden. Beyond the vegetable endeavor, we had a fantastic, huge wildflower garden. You just can’t get better than that.
There are enough maple trees surrounding the house and barn to hang ten or twelve sap buckets in early spring. Many labor intensive hours were given to the family by my husband.
We always had an abundance of tasty maple syrup. 
The years of “Living The Life” which have been given to our family
on this wonderful homestead are indeed a treasure for us.
In 1998,  since we both had retired from retail, we purchased a fifth-wheel and made plans to look around this great country in which we live.
When we were considering the original purchase many years ago,
we asked my Dad, who was a carpenter by trade in his early years,
what he thought about the place.
He said, “There’s probably nothing that’s level or even.
It seems solid enough, though.
If I were you I wouldn’t put much money in it,
because you don’t know how long you’ll be living here.”
If he could only have known!
copyright©2020
Photography by Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck

 

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

 
Countryside Magazine..1991..by Mary Anne

LIFE IS LIKE A DREAM

Ahead  were only dreary, boring days and years of waiting to get “old.”  There was nothing new to do nor places to see or ROADS to travel.

“When you come to a fork in the road,

take it.”

(Yogi Berra had the right idea.)

I love to  reminisce and write about bygone times, remembering the people I’ve known, especially those who have made a difference in the me I’ve become at the age of 86. I once thought 86 was really, really old.
It isn’t.
Actually, I once believed that 50 was old. As I recall, 50 was old when my grandmothers were alive.
I was devastated the day I turned thirty. Life was over, I was no longer “twenty-something”. Looking forward, there was nothing left to life.
Ahead  were only dreary, boring days and years of waiting to get “old.”  There was nothing new to do nor places to see or roads to travel.
There were no college years for me.
When I am required to check off my level of education on an application, the box to check must be “graduated high-school”.
My Dad always commented, ” Some folks attend college and still don’t have enough sense to come in out of the rain.”
I feel good about his comment because my high school education helps me to remember to carry my umbrella on a cloudy day.
That reminds me, a week or so ago I purchased a new umbrella. It was very easy to raise, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to lower it when I got inside a building.
You’ll be happy to know, with a great deal of concentration, I finally figured out how to  return it to its original closed position by pushing the little “down” arrow located right underneath the “up” arrow.
Who says a high school education isn’t worth much?
One could hardly think of me as a world traveler, but I’ve learned much about life from the shores of Michigan’s largest inland lake.
Married sixty-two years, my husband and I raised three sons. It’s difficult to imagine someone as young as I, having sons who are now in their fifties and sixties.
Facts are not always as they seem.
Life is like a dream.
I heard someone make a statement just the other day about “alternative” facts.
(Perhaps I should research some of them when describing my attributes.)
copyright©2020
Photography By Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck

* *

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one to where it bent in the undergrowth.
And took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day,
Yet knowing how way leads unto way,
I doubted that I would ever be back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood,
And I, I took the road less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
robert frost mailbox

“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

We traveled to New Hampshire many years ago and found this old mail box residing on a narrow  gravel road in front of  one of  the summer homes of Robert Frost. It’s a lovely place. This writing of his has always been my favorite. I carry a copy of it with me at all times.
I’ve read it over and over.
The only thing I lacked, was a photo of two roads, diverging into the yellow woods, in the fall of the year.
Then one day, when driving the woodland trails, the photo opportunity at the top of this page appeared before me. A perfect picture of life as Yogi saw it.
It spoke to me. Perhaps it will speak to you…
thatremindsme.net

Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck

THANKSGIVING AS THE YEARS GO BY

This may become one of the most interesting THANKSGIVING and Christmas holiday seasons to date.

THANKSGIVING

1964

(Musings of a Homemaker – Houghton Lake Resorter newspaper)

“Get that thing out of here and don’t you ever bring a snake into the house again!” 

Turning from  the kitchen sink just as my young son proudly showed me the snake he had captured in a jar;

I shouted.

It was the fall of  1964.  I had three young boys under the age of seven and dirty laundry in the laundry room. Now I was being confronted with a snake in a jar.

Reality was here to stay.

Our countryside is beautiful.

The joy of living in this wonderful place never changes for me.

Snow covered fields have not yet arrived.

Even so, the pleasant anticipation of the coming winter is a given during this precious season of Thanksgiving in northern Michigan.

There will be no time for me to fix turkey and pumpkin pie this year.

With my three boys to keep an eye on, laundry to do, and dishes always in the sink, where would I find the time?

As is often the case,

Mother and Dad will rescue me.

They will calm our appetites with an invitation to a bountiful table at their peaceful home.

The annual Thanksgiving family gathering fills us with good food and pleasant memories of being together.

My greeting card list has not reached the length it will be in the future.

I’m trusting that some of our friends, who send cards to fill our mailbox, will understand when they don’t find a card from us in their mailbox.

Each year it warms our hearts to reach out to friends and family with a greeting card.

Little boys in need of attention at unexpected times, will assure the notes will be short.  The printed verse on the card will express our feelings.

Mother always had her Christmas greeting cards prepared to send

the day after Thanksgiving.

I’m sure she remembered to prepare them even though pressing family matters used her time too.

I can assure you, there were no snakes in jars at the home of my parents. Little girls are not so prone to bring such creatures into the kitchen to show them to Mom.

 Mother was ever faithful with her early holiday greeting. She enjoyed the notoriety of being the first greeting to be received by family and friends in far off places.

A portion of Thanksgiving day was spent composing her handwritten notes; expressing love and best wishes for the coming season.

Time will tell if Mother’s traditions fall to me as the years go by.

* * *

New Memories

2017

This may become one of the most interesting Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons to date.

Married sixty-two years in 2017, my husband, at the age of eighty-seven, passed on to his next life in the month of February.

Two of our little boys are now grown men. Our middle son died four years ago.

The experiences of all our lives have taken a very different turn.

The joy of grandchildren and the arrival of two great-granddaughters,

Willow and Eva,

 has filled my heart to overflowing.

At the age of eighty-three, 

it may be a bit too much for me to entertain the entire extended family here at the farm for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Looking at it in a different way, it will become a memory in the making for the younger folks.

Someone else will step in to host the pleasant family occasions.

There is a large electric cooker in the cupboard.

 Recipes for pumpkin pie,

handed down from generations past,

 lie inside the recipe box which once belonged to my Grandmother.

Four packages of pumpkin filling waits patiently in the freezer, prepared last year by my husband from real pumpkins.

 Canning and freezing foods for the winter, from the garden which he so faithfully tended, was always part of his helpful preparation for the winter ahead.

I’ve been thinking about putting up the Christmas tree; should I or shouldn’t I?
 How could I fail to do that?
 This precious season is all about memories, families and the welcoming of the Christ Child.

The years bring changes, but love remains.

It really is the season for living and loving.

copyright©2019

Photographs By Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck
http://www.thatremindsme.net

ON HER WAY TO ETERNAL LIFE

Never indulging in self-satisfaction,
Nor pursued by dreams of personal success,
Her simple life was unadorned with expectations.

Unattractive,
    Uneducated,
          Uninformed.
Not practiced at correctness,
  Mary lived her life     
One
Simple
Uncomplicated day
At a time.
Never indulging in self-satisfaction,
Nor pursued by dreams of personal success,
Her simple life was unadorned with expectations.
Knowing no pretense
Mary cast her lot
With God.
God first
Love
Worship
Prayer
Service
Family second
Love 
Prayer
Care 
Service
Country third
Love
Service
Prayer
Respect
No unexpected event
No shortfall
No misfortune
Could cause her simple faith
To waver.
“God knows all about it,” Mary would say.
Her countenance always displayed
Unflappable peace.
Mary’s life was uneventful,
Her faith unshakable.
Her example unforgettable.
Never doubting the unquenchable supply
Of God’s love and care,
Mary lived to the fullest;
The abundant life
Of a saint.
Her legacy to those who knew her
Was a trail of unerring discipleship
On her way to eternal life with God.

March 31, 1996
copyright©2020
http://www.thatremindsme.net

I BELIEVE

But the best of all things that my two eyes can see,

Is the sight of “Old Glory” as she waves in the breeze.

 
By Thelma Whitchurch Tuck
My Sister
8th Grade – 1944
1930 – 2019
I believe in the things I can see with my eyes..
The geese and the ducks high up in the skies.
The doe with her fawn going deep in the wood,

The old mother hen as she cares for her brood.
The fisherman quietly holding the line,
The icicles hanging from oak tree and pine.
My home, as it stands on the top of a hill
Meaning warmth and contentment,
giving my heart a thrill.
But the best of all things that my two eyes can see,
Is the sight of “Old Glory” as she waves in the breeze.
I believe in the things I can hear with my ears…
The toll of a bell, the crowd with its cheers.
The song of a bird, the hum of a bee,
The low moaning wind as it blows through the trees.
The cry of a baby, the notes of a song,
The toot of a horn as the cars go along.
The croak of a frog, the rain on the roof,
Lowing cows in the pasture, a horse on the hoof.
These are the sounds that my ears bring to me
In this wonderful country, the land of the free.
I believe in the things I can smell with my nose.
A field filled with violets, a wild summer rose.

The aroma of coffee, a pie or a cake,
The smell of fish frying, fresh from the lake.
The burning of leaves, ground wet from rain,
Freshly turned earth, the smoke from a train.
The smell of the woods with its cedar and pine trees,
Newly mown hay, a soft gentle lake breeze.
Fruit blossoms in springtime, a field full of clover,
Smoke from a campfire, when the day’s fun is over.
To give up the pleasures we get from these things
Is something we hope our life never will bring.
I believe in the things I can feel with my hands,
The great rolling ocean, the small grains of sand.
The warmth of the fire, the cold of the snow,
The snow or the rain as the wintry winds blow.
The satin smooth skin of a child at its play
The fur of a puppy, the sun’s warming rays.

The feel of the earth as the garden is planted,
The vegetables harvested just as we planned it.
These are the things in this life we are living
That teach us receiving is equal to giving.
copyright©2020
Photographs By Mary Anne Tuck
http://www.thatremindsme.net

THE MILES BETWEEN

How we live out our purpose,
and with whom we travel,
is our choice.

 Our Son

Tim
October 31, 1959 – October 11, 2013 
He was employed as an “over the road” truck driver.
In three week stints,
his purpose was to cover thousands of miles,
delivering freight
to various locations throughout the country.
He chose to have his wife and their little dog travel with him.
The goal was to arrive safely at his destination.
The journey enabled him to experience the miles between.
Our journey is the same.
We have our point of origin (birth)
And our destination (death).
The paths we travel along the miles between,
define our purpose in life.
How we live out our purpose,
and with whom we travel,
is our choice.
When we choose to travel with Jesus,
the Holy Spirit is our constant companion.
Every experience, every encounter, every trial is bearable
because He is with us.   
We grow in our faith
as the miles accumulate.
God says to us….
“I am with you always,
even unto the end of time.”
My Prayer:  Thank you Lord,
for being Tim’s traveling companion as he traveled along the road of his life,
on his way back to You.
copyright©2020

Photographs By Mary Anne Tuck
http://www.thatremindsme.net