Things I remember…….


Here are some things I remember. Waiting in the car while you ran in to the store, and you always brought a treat. Usually M&Ms, peanuts or a plain Hershey bar. And falling asleep in the theater when I was very small, usually to a James Bond movie. You bought me Flicks candy in the big dark lobby…….I remember the game we always had, the one where I put my hand on the side of your face a certain way and you’d make a growling noise, like you might bite.

I remember stopping at that little roadside store where they had those little “grab bags” in a bin. You always brought us one. I remember begging for stories, the ones you tell Lauryn now. You told wonderful stories you made up about a green light in the dark and a little black kitten. I remember you always complimenting me, whatever I did you were proud.

I remember the fishing trips…..

I remember days at the public pool, the spit pool you called it, and me clinging to the side and you holding your arms out…….you never failed to catch me. I remember how we always used to get in trouble at church for laughing. Mom would give us the glare like you were the kid too. I remember you always the leader on the hiking trail, encouraging us all forward because the view from the top was worth it.

It always was, it still is.

Thank you for filling our home with love and jazz and art and for introducing me to the joys of writing and poetry and haiku. Thank you for years and years worth of  walks, and talks.

You will always be our fearless leader, Dad. It’s this guy I still see.

Happy Father’s Day…….From your girl.

Take me fishing!


What is it about fishing that stirs such romantic soulful nostalgia? If there is any activity that is more deeply ingrained into the heartbeat of American culture than fishing, I don’t know what it is. I blame Mark Twain. It’s not even possible to think of Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn without a fishing pole. I dare you to try.

And who can ever hear the theme song to the Andy Griffith show without visualizing Andy and Opie strolling along that river bank with their tackle boxes?  Later that night they’d be gathering around the supper table eating “a mess of friend trout” cooked by Aunt Bee. For me, it just has to be trout, you see. I have my own memories attached to that.

Then there was that commercial with the little kids begging their parents to take them fishing. I could almost cry right now just thinking about it.

I remember this. I remember the garbage can full of water in the backyard for the boat motor. I remember my Dad cursing it when it wouldn’t start. And I remember the victory when it would. And the Saturdays when we would drive to the Delta, the four of us on a bright California day.

I don’t remember Mom ever getting in the boat, but she would pack the lunch. It was always sandwiches and barbecued chips. Always barbecued. Even now when I close my eyes I can see the brilliant sky overhead, and somehow attached to my memory is the sound of a plane lazily buzzing overhead, that, and the rhythmic melodious sound of the waves gently lapping against the boat. Sometimes we’d fish from the shore, looking for the magic spot, straining our eyes to watch for fish jumping.

As a squeamish girl, I wasn’t into the fishing much. It was mostly the anticipation and excitement of the possible tug on the line. I never could attach that worm to the merciless barb. I remember the bright pink plastic tub of salmon eggs and the debate about which was better. And there was always someone’s favorite lure. This is the rhyme my Dad taught me from long ago:

Fishy, fishy in the brook, Daddy catch em with a hook, Mama fry em in a pan, Baby eat em like a man.

As an animal lover, I hated to see anything suffer so I could never watch the fish flopping around gasping for air. I thought it was more merciful to toss them in a bucket. I was always secretly glad when a fish was deemed too small and felt a private thrill to see it released and swim off into the deep.

But I also remember that there was nothing better than fresh caught trout and crispy skin cooked over an open fire, and weather so cold the rubber souls of your shoes would smoke.

My Dad raised us all to have a deep and abiding respect for nature and all her gifts. I was glad that he never hunted. He always said he could never look a deer in the eye and kill it. He did enjoy fishing, and even more than that, he enjoyed us all being together under the sky. For me, it was never really about the fishing. It was about being together in that magic place, when the world seemed perfect.

When I close my eyes to this day, I am there all over again. I can hear our laughter across the water, calling me back to simpler times, times when we were all young and still had so much ahead of us. A line tossed out…..a line of hope that we would always be together, always just that way.

Many years later I would think of this, sitting in a Mexican resort in the middle of my own nightmare, one memory that never leaves me.  It was what my brother said through tears, “All I wanted to do was take Jody fishing.”

And it’s only a feeling I have that someday, on that great and wonderful shore, Jesus will bring out some fishing poles and Jody, my brother and my Dad will fish together. Maybe even Jesus too. That day it will be catch and release without the hooks. There will be no need of sun, because we will have the Son right there with us.

It’s how we’ll always be, forever.



First photo, courtesy of

The Color of Time


The clock finally died. The one I got from the Spiegel catalog some 20 years ago. I thought it was so beautiful when I bought it and now, even though it’s stuck on 7:32 forever I can’t seem to get rid of it. The time piece probably costs more than it’s worth, so for now it is leaning against the wall in my bedroom.

What color is time anyway? The time that is speeding so wildly past us all. Of course it has no color for real. I guess if vapor or water has a color that would be it. But if I had to give it a color at all, it would be like looking through a stained glass window. Each color comes alive with a memory.

Every time I see purple I think of her……she owns this color now, the one to whom these sweet hands belong. I hate to think of the day she will no longer be so excited to play for hours in sand.

And sometime in the future, years from now, I will see sand and time will be that color.


Her color………….

Treasures of value can’t be measured, they can only be held in our hearts and yet God holds each one in eternity, He knows their worth.

I pour the rich brown of the coffee in my cup and hear the voices of dear ones at my Mom’s kitchen table over the years……different faces, different friends, and the joys and sorrows attached to each cup, each memory.

Yes, time can be the color of coffee too.

The Bible says there is a time for everything under Heaven. And the Byrd’s did a song that said those very words…..Turn! Turn! Turn!

     A time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

And God holds it all……not one moment is lost to Him. And the world drags time along with it, spinning rapidly beyond my control. I click moments furiously trying to stop it all. To catch every color.

To catch time.


As time continues to write its name in the dust, I pause it for just a moment. Here, can you see it on the shelf? I purposefully left it there for you to find. I guess when it comes down to it, that’s what blogging is:

Each one of us, writing our name in the dust of time.

What color is time for you?

On Alzheimer’s and feeling lost

Lodi Lake 4

We had plans to go to dinner with our neighbors from Canada who were leaving the next morning. She called me on the way to her Moms Carehome after work and asked if I would please go over and give them her apologies, that she wouldn’t be able to make it.

She was driving her route when she got the first two calls and couldn’t return them. After work, she returned the third call. One of the aides picked up. “Your Mom is not doing well, she is crying and asking why no one has been to see her and asking where her husband is?” He has been gone for almost a year and she hasn’t asked about him in just about that many months.

Her Mom has been in the facility over a year and she has settled reasonably well. But now, this.

The panic, the caregiver’s stress, in a moment it all came flooding back. Of course it never really left. Her days continue to be divided by work, home and going to see her Mom to do those tasks that seem to fall through the cracks continually.

I needed to go there, I heard the desperation in her voice and I thought maybe seeing another familiar person would help jog her Mom back into the present. I had to try.

When I got there they were seated at the dining table. E. was relieved to see me and her Mom perked up and said, “There’s Lori, Curtis must have come with her.” I groaned inwardly, and E. scurried around helping her Mom and assisting others at the table. I sat by Bethany and Joyce as they were passing out Dixie cups of ice-cream and had one myself.

Finally we got her to go back to her room, where we found she had been squirreling away socks and two bottles of water in her purse, ready to hit the road. Then the round of questions started all over again.

Where is Curtis?……When are we going home?……How long have I been here?……..What happened to the car?….. How much does all this cost?…..What do I have to do at the house?

It was like she was reliving the events of the past year all over again, back to square one.

E. looked over at me helplessly when Joyce asked where Curtis was for the 10th time. I shrugged helplessly back and mouthed the words…..”I don’t know.”

It was a day later that I had a kind of small personal epiphany. Sometimes, honestly, I feel just as lost as she does. I think we all do. We like to think we have an element of control, but as I sat in that room I wanted to ask the same questions Joyce was asking.

What happened to the last year? Where am I? Why do I feel so ill-equipped at handling day-to-day living sometimes? What happened to the person I was 5, 10, 15 years ago?

Sometimes life just beats the tar out of you.

By the time we left, Elaine was wiped out. She felt like she had propelled her Mom safely back to shore, but it took everything she had.

If dealing with Alzheimer’s has taught me anything, it’s taught me empathy. In watching Joyce, I see a bit of my own desperation and the desperation of the human condition in general. In the mirror of her lostness, I see my own.

It has also taught me the necessity of living one day at a time and doing the best I can with what God has given me. There are days that are hard, when you feel a little bit crazy, but then the next day is better.

And as long as God is the One rowing me safely back to shore, I will be okay.

Christmas adds burden, Christ relieves them


It’s as I am taking her clothes out of the dryer that it hits me. How sad it still is.

It’s been a year since Elaine‘s Mom went into Assisted Living. She still comes to visit through her clothes which I lift out of the dryer one after another along with my thoughts. I see her name, Joyce, printed on the inside of the neckline. That’s what you do once you go there. Things sometimes get lost. Clothes get mixed up like the identities, the individuals that reside there.

Will there be a time when I have my name written on my clothes? That’s a tough question that I would rather not answer.

I hope Jesus comes first.

Her Granddaughter offered to decorate her room for Christmas and she said, “I don’t believe in Christmas.” The Granddaughter recoiled……both shocked and saddened. E. was not surprised. The question remains: When do you stop trying to bring color into someone’s world when gray is where they are most comfortable? Celebrations and decorations make her ill at ease, she asks things like, “Who put those there?”

But bringing color is what we try to do because we think it will help.

Yet sometimes the best kind of helping means we meet them in their world, where they live.

I have just been writing a memory for my Dad and it makes me feel like the keeper of the flame, because keeping those memories alive for another is to stand in a place of honor. The thought flows through my mind like a ghost…… would it be to have your memory wiped clean? No memory of last year, or even 10 minutes before?

As I lift the clothes out, I remember how hard it was when she was here. So hard. And she is happier there. Her version of happy anyway. So E. continues to meet her in her world. She brings her Snickers because she likes those more than anything. She does what needs doing and she brings hope to the nurses and residents there.

You might think there is not much hope residing there, but hope sometimes comes when and where you least expect it. As E. stopped to talk to the lady who knits, she noticed lots of hats. The lady said, “I am knitting these for the kids…..the kids who have cancer. Is there any way you could see that they get there? To the sick children?”

E. said, her mind racing about when but knowing somehow she would find a way. “Yes, I will make sure they get there. And I will see if I can get a picture to bring back.”

Her face lit up. She is one who wants to bring color to others. Even though she can’t take them herself. Even there she carries hope.

Today, as I rush around and feel the stress of Christmas I remember that though Christmas and all that comes with the celebration of it might carry a weight, it’s only one I put on myself. For Christ never adds a burden, He only relieves it.

I suddenly remember why it is I am doing all this. I turn off the Christmas songs and turn up the praise songs. And I kneel on the dirty floor I still haven’t cleaned. And suddenly I am very happy I am making these cookies. I watch as they puff up in the oven. The stars, the angels, the bells, and the boot. I think of how Lauryn and I will decorate them when I see her. I smile.

I may or may not get to the floor. But somehow it no longer matters.

No Soup for You!


Seinfeld reigns supreme as king of comedies in my house. E and I recite lines from the show often, and anyone who has watched it for any length of time knows about the classic “Soup Nazi” episodes. We use the familiar line to describe just about anything, from parking spaces to disappearing leftovers, and various other missed opportunities.

It was especially apropos yesterday when we both realized the leftover turkey carcass had spent the night in the oven. It was one of those, “I thought you put it away,” moments. Suffice it to say, there will be no homemade turkey soup for me. Not from that turkey, anyway.

When you have animals in the house, cats that can jump anywhere, or very tall dogs that can reach to the back of the counter, you just learn you have to put things up. Ovens and microwaves are handy temporary places of storage, however, there is a reason someone coined the term, “out of sight, out of mind.”

There have been many food casualties down through the years, many of them made famous by Tyler, our family dog. I can’t count the leftover roasts, steaks, and turkey carcasses he has stealthily made off with, both at my folk’s and my brother’s house. He is an equal opportunist, that dog.

And If the leftovers didn’t find their way to his stomach, they perished by being left in the microwave or oven, trying to keep them away from him.

My brother brought Tyler home as a pup, an adorable mix of border collie and something else very, very tall.

His only flaw is his begging and extreme love of people food. He will go to any lengths to get it. He used to follow my niece around for hours, waiting for a single cheerio to drop. He has been such a very good dog in every other way though we tend to overlook it. Most of the time.

One of his claims to fame was the Christmas he waited for us all to leave the room so he could get at the cheese ball. We were only gone for less than five minutes and in that time, he had snatched it off the plate and consumed it whole without ever disrupting the perfectly arranged circle of crackers in the middle.

He only missed out on the crackers because we came back in the room.

Opportunity knocked for him a second holiday when he consumed the entire Thanksgiving turkey carcass that was left cooling on the counter. The entire carcass. Bones and all. They were scheduled to leave on vacation the next day and they were terrified the bones would tear his insides to pieces. The vet said to leave him there overnight and see what happened. He was fine. I am convinced his digestive system could handle anything.

That was pretty much verified when he consumed the entire box of baby laxative. And it didn’t faze him. Went right through without a hitch, not even a loose BM.

Food issues aside, he is a very good and loyal dog. You could ask him to do anything and he would do it if he possibly could. He chases the neighbor’s cats, but is a perfect gentlemen with all others in the family. He knows the difference. And like the rest of us, he is getting older. He’s pretty stiff and he hesitates awhile before he gets in the car, sometimes we have to help him in.

When I stay the night at my brothers, he is my morning partner. He goes with me out to the back forty where I drink in the first sounds of the morning with my first cup of coffee.

And when I go for a walk in the orchard across the street, he waits faithfully at the edge of the driveway until I am safely back.

This Christmas we will all spoil him with treats.

Because like us, he isn’t getting any younger and he won’t be around forever.


Just As I Am……


“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” Romans 10:14

I felt like I was time-traveling as I sat and watched the recent Billy Graham telecast, My Hope. It was that voice that brought it all back. Suddenly it was the 1970’s again, and I was in my early teens. Somewhere out there were still hippies and leftover flower children. Nixon might have declared the war in Vietnam over, but it still went on, over there and over here. But I was young and times were simple, peaceful in the evangelical world I grew up in.

The seventies brought modern translations of the Bible like “The “Good News for Modern Man” and the revolutionary,”The Way.” The old guard at my Baptist church didn’t approve. According to them, only the King James version was acceptible to God. And Jesus wore pin-striped suits. Yeah.

Those were the years of “Campus Crusade for Christ” and “Up with People”

We read spellbound about how gang member Nicky Cruz was brought to Christ by David Wilkerson’s fearless witness.

The Hiding Place movie came out, the story of what happened to Corrie Ten Boom’s family during the Holocaust.

And I am sitting in my Grandma’s warm kitchen watching the ORU singing group, the World Action Singers on her black and white set. She had an open line to the Prayer Tower and she was fond of both Oral Roberts and Ronald Reagan. Their pictures were scotch-taped in strategic places on her walls. In her broken German accent she could never master Oral’s name, instead it came out something like “Earlen B. Robbins.”

We watched Billy Graham crusades every time they came on TV.

I remembered the line he always said right before he gave the invitation to do that something bold.

That something bold was to step out of your seat and make your way to the aisle to start that trembling, wobbly, floating on your feet walk down the aisle to make a public declaration of your faith.

His message has never varied, it was always and only the Cross. Billy saw no need to fancy it up, to change with the times because he knew its message is timeless.

It’s what was known as the Altar Call. Some churches still have them. I remember the line from every crusade I ever watched. What Billy always said was, “Everyone that Jesus called he called publicly.” He always said it with a grand sweep of his arm as only he could say it.

Once, Billy Graham’s team came to my hometown and held a crusade at our festival grounds. He wasn’t there but another speaker was. All these years later I can still see his face, Lane Adams was his name. I knew by the end of that crusade that I would make that walk down my own church aisle the next Sunday.

I was fourteen and It was the best decision I ever made.

Then there was the time we all went to an actual crusade. I will never forget it. It was a hot, sweltering night in California’s beautiful capital city of Sacramento. We had to walk for what seemed like miles.

And I saw him from far, far away, and heard him speak. And it was powerful. A singer sang that night and I remember thinking, who is that girl and why does she have two first names? The singer was a young Sandy Patti. She was unknown then, but she went on to win Grammy’s and Dove awards. And she still has one of the finest voices you will ever hear.

And then Billy’s closing statements, and there was a hush as people fidgeted in the heat, shifting positions. And then the opening bar of “Just As I Am……” I can still hear the rustling of all that movement. A sea of people rose from all directions and just kept coming. It seemed there might be more up front than out in the crowd. I’ll never forget it.

My last church had an altar call, but I haven’t been to a service where they had one in a long while. Now it’s the declaration of “eyes closed, and heads bowed and a wave of the hand.” Somehow that doesn’t work for me. It’s just not the same. To me, it’s the most Holy moment of church and it brings us all closer together.

For how can we celebrate as a church family if we don’t even know it happened?

How can we acknowledge it when it happens behind closed doors?

For everyone Jesus called, He called publicly.

And He said unto them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19

A Dad’s Memory


My Dad called. He said, “I wrote it all down, about our adventure of moving to Tahoe and how I remember it.” It came yesterday in the mail, and the pages tumbled out when I tore the envelope. “Do you think you could type it all down since I am not such a good typist?” I want to be able to read it, he said.

And in the writing it, and the reading of it, I knew he was reliving something powerful.

“I will do my best, Dad,” I said. And it’s an honor. When someone has put their heart on a page, you have to be careful with it. It’s something almost sacred that they are trusting you with, not just words on a page. I will keep the handwritten version for myself and I will save the other version on my computer, the one I will type neatly with no lines crossed out. No bold underlines. I will try to put the feeling in it, just the way he felt it.

I will do my best to bring it to life as he lived it.

Because our stories, our memories, is what we have. In sharing those, we open ourselves, our hearts to each other.

And it’s always a risk.

Because there is always the chance they won’t see it or feel it the way we intended. And that’s okay. We still have to share it.


As I picked up the pages again, I saw the way he wrote and I thought of how someday he won’t be here. Even now, I squeeze my eyes shut to keep tears from leaking out because I know it’s true. Someday the letters will stop. And I will imagine him sitting in a corner spot of light in Heaven with a big feather quilled pen. Writing his thoughts of all the beauty he sees, and meeting Jesus for the first time.

I have words in my treasure box, so many words gathered over the years. Sacred ones. The lid no longer shuts, but I slide them in anyway.

Because words from someone you love are always sacred.

I will do my best, Dad with your memory. Here is my only memory of it. I remember standing in something I now know was snow and crying because I didn’t like the cold.

And someone, probably you, sticking a ski pole in a snow bank so I could see the holes it made.

That’s it.

I think maybe you can fill the blanks in my mind, since I was only 2.

We will relive it together and then it will be ours to share.


Psalm 139 and 3/4


“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

He has indeed called us Heavenward. And even as we battle down here we are thinking of that hereafter, that future time where the cares of this world are but a lost memory.

And as I lay awake in the dark tallying up my worries, thinking about all the things I wish I could fix but can’t, I write my own Psalm and call it 139 and three-quarters.

For the umpteenth time, I give Him my laundry list of things, those that He already knows about me and I feel it float Heavenward as He assures me He loves me anyway, again.

When sleep is snatched away by the cares of this world, I pray in the wide awake moments before dawn and I feel the peace of my home surrounding me like a cloak. Though worldly sorrow nips at the edges of my heart, the hope of His peace seeps in and around it like Holy smoke. This is the prayer I pray: 

“Bind us together Lord, bind us together with cords that cannot be broken.”

And then I think of the sock that made its way into my suitcase. Her little sock.


I don’t know how it got there, but I am glad it came back with me.

I think of all the pictures I didn’t take, and how my camera never left its bag. And how I couldn’t care less because what we had instead was much more beautiful.

I thought of how we hid every possible place in the house and how she covered her eyes and counted and giggled as we crouched together in the dark closet while my Dad looked for us. She still hasn’t got the part where she is supposed to stay quiet while she hides, and that makes it all the more precious somehow.

Years from now, I will remember how we all collapsed on the couch after we were done, and how Mom came in and asked what we had all been doing to look so exhausted.

I thought of how I put swim goggles on along with my wrinkles and flat hair and went all the way under the water because she wanted to see me under there with her. I can still hear her shriek of excitement, “You too, Nori!”

It was also a weekend of some firsts. She sat down beside me on the couch with a book and let me read to her, something I have dreamed of ever since she was born. It was like a mini miracle. And how she wedged herself into the couch close by me, wanting to be right by my side all weekend long.

We went to the store together and she helped me shop. Another first. Store was always a scary place for her before.

No, I didn’t get one photograph of fall, not one red leaf, not one landscape of how the morning mist lay in the vineyards, and not the one of the old barn I saw either. Sometimes life just can’t be freeze framed, it has to be lived. The leaf you see is one I took a year or so ago.

This was not the time to chase the perfect shot. It was the time to savor, and treasure, and corral that which there is never enough of.


That’s what the sock reminded me of.


And looking at it now, I’m smiling as big as the face on the sock because when I look at it, I can still hear “You too, Nori!”

Sometimes, Heaven’s a place you can find here. It’s in the love shining out from the eyes you leave and come home too.

God’s way of saying He loves us.

For the love of the game


Back when I was growing up, my Mom had a special friend. Her name was Lorna Mae. Lorna originally came from Kansas and I think her husband Dale did too. They moved to California and lived on the street next to us. Lorna was a saint, and I have no qualms about saying that. She was one of the kindest, sweetest people I have ever known.

Lorna and her husband were staunch baseball fans. On game days, they would all pile into the car and go to see (to use Dale’s vernacular) “them A’s play.” Meaning the Oakland A’s that is. “Why, Haeeellll,” he would say to my Dad, “We got up early and Doug-brian-scott-roxanne-lornamae and myself went down for hat day. I still can’t think of them all without running all their names together. Though they had four kids, all names morphed into one on game day.

I know my Dad feigned interest. He didn’t care much about baseball, having been a “leather head” himself back in the days when football wasn’t “sissified” like it is now. A good game was not only when you won, but if you got through the game without serious injury or death. He didn’t think baseball players did all that much. “They’re not athletic,” he said, “and they just stand around chewing and spitting.”

Dale loved the game of baseball so much he actually bought and installed a professional pitching machine in the backyard. A couple of his sons actually were pretty good.

Dale was also a bit on the gullible side. My Dad once told him the model airplane they were flying came out of a Wheaties Box. “Noooo kidding…….” Dale said, shaking his head.

But back to Lorna. Lorna’s house was neat as a pin and you could have probably eaten off her garage floor. She hosed it out regularly. Lorna babysat other people’s kids during the day in addition to raising her own, like my Mom did. The whole family also cleaned Doctor’s offices at night for years.

When I was in High School, Lorna gave me rides to school on rainy days because my Mom didn’t have a car and neither did I or any of my friends.

When her kids were grown she got a job at a local business where I know she won everyone over with her work ethic and kind heart.

And it was at that same job, several years later that she started getting headaches and dizziness. She also started laying her head down on her station in the middle of the day.  Her co-workers were alarmed because that was not like her at all.

Doctors discovered a brain tumor. After brain surgery, chemo and radiation, and many trips to Mexico for alternative healing, (Dale, to his credit, didn’t give up) Lorna went to be with Jesus. I know He personally welcomed her home with open arms.

I was around 28 or 9 when I went to my first major league baseball game at Candlestick Park, to see the Giants play. I was captivated. I discovered the joy and the magic of the crack of the bat……being at the Ballpark and having a hotdog in a steamed bun that cost too much. And I thought of doug-brian-scott-roxanne-lornamae and dale.

And I have a feeling Lorna was smiling from Heaven.

When I moved here, I was excited we had a major league team and I took my Dad to a game when he was visiting. He got to see Randy Johnson, the Big Unit,  throw a one hundred mile an hour practice pitch in the bullpen right below us.

He just shook his head in disbelief. He never forgot it.

And Lorna was smiling.