Tag Archive | memories

Love Letter to My Husband

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As I sauntered into the kitchen this morning in my pink robe and Chocolate Labrador themed slippers, I noticed a single piece of paper placed on the kitchen table were I normally sit for breakfast. My attention was drawn to the big red font on the signature line that read, Happy Valentine’s Day, from Russell.

Taking a seat at the table, I lifted the paper and read the words my husband penned. Countless emotions filled me – joy, happiness, thankfulness, gratefulness, love, forgiveness, and understanding.

Still sobbing, I walked the hallway to the bedroom and stroked the white-gray hair of my friend, lover, and partner for life.

I whispered in his ear, “That was the sweetest thing…that was the sweetest thing.”

Tears still flowing, I showered him with kisses. He smiled.

While I won’t divulge the contents of the letter, he expressed more than once, I was the only one for him.

Do you know how mellifluous that sounds?

You’re the only one for me.

You’re the only one for me.

Despite my many medical issues and lymphoma diagnosis, our difficult years of marriage, the passing of our animal children, and Mom’s dementia, he stayed. Even if it meant cleaning up Mom while incontinent during a dental appointment. I couldn’t do it. But he did.

Through life’s adventures, over land and sea – diving with black tip sharks, our first helicopter ride, visiting countless coffeehouses in this great nation, walking on a disappearing sand bar in the Caribbean, horseback riding, picnicking on the lawn of a home in Eleuthera with Cotton Bay in the distance, collecting seashells, writing an award-winning coffee table book – we experienced these mile markers together.

I’ve never had to want for anything, always feeling secure with Russell. And I’ve never felt lonely, like I did in my first marriage.

People, hold your loved ones tight and close.

Don’t be afraid to show affection – whether it’s a homemade card or love letter, a heart-shaped waffle, a phone call to a family member, a candlelit dinner, or a meaningful look.

Words and actions

can often mend hearts,

touch hearts,

bring hearts together.

Russell, I love you.

You are the only one for me.

You are the only one for me.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Now go celebrate your special day!

Peace out,

Sheree

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Dear Kindred Spirit…..How I’ve Missed You

DSC_1691 Ks mailbox copyri Dear Kindred Spirit, This is the fifth time in three years that I’ve visited your peaceful respite. The mailbox and the bench formed the basis for newfound friends – Nancy and Jazzy from Virginia, Jacqueline and Sandy – your keepers, and Colin and Dan from LA. It’s piqued the interest of friends back home, Lisa and Mark.

It’s with deep sadness since last I wrote in your journal, my Aunt Georgia succumbed to emphysema, and my sweet three-legged cat, Tripoli passed on. Though they’re gone, they shared a common thread. Both were both Kindred Spirits – bringing joy and happiness to all those around them.

And just last year, on the sandy shoreline, near the Kindred Spirit Bench, our dogs Sabrina and Bordeaux frolicked with Dan, the Italian greyhound, now running free on Rainbow Bridge. DSC_1702 dunes copyr

Oh Kindred Spirit, how I love your inspiration! From your weathered post, to the ocean’s depths,DSC_1697 flag copyright to your rolling dunes, to the red, white, and blue waving in the breeze!

A gracious ‘thank you’ to the couple who planted a foundation so many years, and started a movement of love…a way to share innermost thoughts and feelings in journals safely protected by a mailbox at sea’s door.

I come here today with my fur babies, and my husband – my best friend.

May your legacy live on! Xoxoxo Sheree Nielsen Wentzville, MO http://www.beachdances.com

For Mother’s Day…..Reminiscing about Uncle Willie’s Farm

me and mom backyard Meramec002 crop

Growing up, my best memories were the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of South St. Louis.

The corner confectionary sold rainbow-colored candy buttons and chunk chocolate. Housed in a shiny glass case, the candy was the main act, on show for all to see.

The brick five-and-dime store on Meramec Street, about three blocks from my house, sold everything imaginable. The same store where my cousin Carol, pounded her fists and kicked her feet in a full-out temper tantrum, because my Aunt Katie refused to buy her what she wanted.

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard on Grand Avenue, still standing to this day, made superb lemon floats. I remember many reflective walks to the custard stand with my friend and neighbor Cindy Winschel.

As an adult, I loved hearing Mom’s childhood stories. She frequented Uncle Willie’s Illinois farm as a young girl, and spent lazy weekends exploring with sisters Georgia Lee and Isabella, often getting into trouble with her cousins, the Wagner kids.

What I remember most about Mom is that she was tough. Tough as nails. And funny.

So here’s a tribute to my Mom ‘Gladys’, and to all moms everywhere.

It’s a story that was published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on October 13, 2010 titled Visiting Uncle Willie’s Farm. I hope you like it.

Visiting Uncle Willie's Farm - STL Post 2010001Happy Mother’s Day…no matter what kind of mom you are….even moms of animal children.

Visiting Uncle Willie's Farm - STL Post 2010002

A little Grapefruit Cake, and a Bittersweet Memory

DSCN0543 cake

 

I came across this note written on small yellow-lined paper from my neighbor Bob, an excellent chef. He crafted a beautiful Grapefruit Cake for friend, Donna’s, retirement party.

Along with the cake, he included some personal notes about the cake. I’d like to share the note. It’s so beautifully written.

“For decades the Hollywood Brown Derby was a magnet – drawing tourists from all over America. It was not the great food and drink that drew them; it was the chance to see Bogart, Gable, and Loy. Maybe they would rub shoulders with movie moguls – Louis B. Meyer or Frank Capra.

Two dishes invented there were the Cobb Salad and the Grapefruit Cake.

I’ve done the Grapefruit Cake for the retirement party. I’ve added some touches of my own: grapefruit marmalade, candied grapefruit peels, and a mascarpone icing. The candied peel is an acquired taste – think of it as a garnish – you don’t have to eat it. I hope you enjoy it.”

Regards,

Bob
______________

Well, the Grapefruit Cake was a hit. It is bittersweet that I found these snapshots on my camera today…..we lost Donna’s husband, Robert a couple of months ago….

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Lifegroup doing Life Together

 

Steadfast – A poem

Thinking about my Mom today, and what a strong woman she wasMom Four Ridge Road 1956 crop square….

Here’s a poem for a cold winter day in Missouri….

“Steadfast”

A fortress of brick, steel and nails,

Mom was the glue

That held us

Together.

Sheree K. Nielsen

© Copyright 2014

Are people still alive, even though they’ve passed on?

Mom & Dad (4th & 5th from right, Grandma Kate, Grandma Mary (far right)

Mom & Dad (4th & 5th from left, Grandma Kate, Grandma Mary (far right)

I read an article by Bill McClellan in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on Wednesday titled “No one to name faces in photos”.

Although I didn’t quite understand why the story was titled this, I read on.

I was touched by Mr. McClellan’s urgency to look at old photos tucked away in a corner of his home, after his father passed on.  He cleaned out the mobile home his dad and his mother lived in, all the while wondering what items to save.

He sifted through photos of his sister, dog, and parents while living in Chicago over 50 years ago.  There were photos of his grandmother from Belfast and his sister Sarah.

There were antique photographs – you know, the sharp and crisp kind, of days gone by.  People got dressed up for special occasions.  Or for no reason at all.

As he sifted through the cardboard box of memories, he realized that no one alive could identify mom and dad’s friends in the photos.

The line that struck me most from the article goes like this:

“They say a person is really dead only when nobody alive really thinks of them.”

I’ve been thinking about this statement for two days.  I wholeheartedly agree.

Although my Mom and Dad have passed on, I think about them daily.  I pray for them daily.

I often think about my grandmother on my Dad’s side, Mary.

I remember the Saturday morning drive to visit her in the Soulard district of St. Louis.

I remember walking up two flights of stairs, and the pungent smell of liver and onions wafting across the back yard.

I remember her opening the weathered and paint-chipped door to her apartment, and always being surprised to see us.

I remember her broken-Lithuanian accent and her frail, arthritic hands.

I remember she used to shake her fist at Dad, and curse at him in her native language.

I remember she used to call me “She-ree” and slip a twenty dollar bill in my hand, each time we’d visit.

I remember her smile, the wrinkles at the corner of her lips, and that sometimes she didn’t wear her dentures.

I remember she was short of stature, and had a huge heart.

I remember that she was humble.

Daily she’d trek to Soulard Market by foot for vegetables and fruits with her rolling cart.

I remember that when she passed on, my Mom, Dad, brother, and sister-in-law helped clean out her tiny walk-up apartment on 8th street.  One of the interesting artifacts we found was a bag of birdseed, within a glass jar, within another bag of birdseed, within another glass jar.  I suppose she couldn’t let go of the memory of her pet canary.

I remember a photo of my grandfather with a handlebar mustache.  Although an illness took him early in life, I felt like we’d met. The picture hung above her dusty tattered sofa.

So I guess a person is really dead, if no one thinks of them.  I don’t like the word dead.  I try to use other synonyms when referring to ‘that’ word.

I think of all those loved ones who’ve gone before me – their spirits are still alive in my heart.  And I can see their faces in front of me.  Almost like I can reach out and touch their physical presence.

Thank you Bill McClellan for your article.  Although the purpose of the article may not be what you intended, it stirred up great memories for me.

Patches of Life

Memory Quilt

Memory Quilt

Last year, as I was purging the closet of items, I discovered t-shirts from vacations. Memories of adventure and fun times spent with hubby were difficult to discard. I decided to reuse and recycle the colorful tees in the form of a quilt.

I contacted Tina from the Missouri Quilters Guild who recommended a woman name Liz Huff.  We met over coffee and discussed the specifics of the quilt.  Recently, she completed her son’s memory quilt, and brought that as an example.  I was impressed with her craftsmenship.

After Christmas, I met Liz for the unveiling.  The beauty, balance and harmony of the quilt pleasantly met my expectations. Her skillful hands stitched a masterpiece of color and personality like a series of vignettes carefully laid out by an artist or illustrator.

Blocks of fabric representing scuba diving trips, beach vacations, concerts, and liveaboard cruises connected as my eyes scanned the quilt.

The St. Louis Komen Race for the Cure tee stirred up emotion. A sunny morning in June, hubby and I walked in a sea of pink with more than 60,000 participants.   Proudly, the two of us displayed our shirts in memory of Mom who contracted breast cancer at age 82.

The “We Be Div’n” t-shirt caught my eye.  In the early ‘90’s, I became scuba certified through Hydrospace Dive Shop, Panama City, Florida.  During my skills test in the deep blue, my instructor, Thomas J. Offitt, complimented me on my ability to remain calm underwater.

I reminisced about the Sting concert at Riverport.  Hubby never alluded to our seat location prior to the show.  Turns out we’d be sitting in Row 2.  The musician’s song “Walking on the Moon” would never seem more appropriate to me.

The mint green tee with the black Labrador represented the Sanibel Island trip.  The vacation came at the perfect time – three days after my biopsy, and two days after a work layoff.  Sharing that first sunrise on the beach with my soulmate, he asked, “What do you want to do with your life?”

“I want to write.”

“Then do it.”

Four years later, I’m living that dream.

The Jimmy Buffett concert literally brought back a flood of memories.  Russell, ankle in a cast, hobbled on crutches in a torrential downpour at Riverport.  Miserable and crabby, I was soaked to the core.  My friend Lisa showed up with a pair of dry socks for me.  What a good friend.

Woven throughout the quilt were bits of a yellow-orange batik sundress – a souvenir from a dive trip to Little Cayman, and a chance encounter with a wild dolphin named Spot.

Finally, the House of Blues t-shirt from Russell’s birthday weekend in Chicago reminded me of great food, cultural events, and the especially entertaining Blue Man Group.

These twenty-something experiences barely touched the surface of our adventures.

Much like Claude Monet trusted his eyes as he recreated the world outdoors, Liz patched our life together – one block at a time.  My thanks to this special lady.