His biggest fan

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As I lovingly watched my husband playing catch in the floor with our granddaughter last night, it was like Déjà vu.  Wasn’t it just yesterday, instead of over 20 years ago that he sat doing the same thing with her mother?  One of my favorite things about my husband is unconditional the love he has always shown to his girls; daughters and granddaughters.

Today we celebrate 23 years as one and although we have been through many things, they have only served to strengthen us.  It isn’t really what you go through though, that will ultimately either make you or break you; it’s how you handle what you go through.  As you “partner” through things, making sure to communicate, you find your love and respect for each other grows.

As life happens, we are often tempted to take one of several different roles.  At times we put on our long black robe and become judge, doling out opinions of guilt or innocence, and deciding what sentence we will impose.  At other times we wear the disguise of investigator, seeking and searching for clues and facts to settle our rabid curiosity or to put our insecurities to rest.

We all think we are attorneys sometimes and we take much pride and care in arguing our case, we dwell on the offense and prepare exhaustively to defend ourselves.  It’s not always worth it; pick your battles.

Maybe (usually in our younger years) we put on a warden or police uniform and make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be at all times, dogging our charges to ensure their behavior meets our expectations, enforcing our rules.  We all like to play comedian at times and tease each other but don’t demean each other in front of others.  You shouldn’t do it anyway, but in front of people is especially cruel.  What begins as teasing or joking can become a habit of insulting and degrading each other.  Shelter each other as best you can and keep your problems to yourself within reason.  Build each other up, don’t tear down.

None of the aforementioned roles serve to strengthen when played out in a marriage; as a matter of fact they tear down and destroy.

On the positive side, we can be teachers, learning from and sharing with each other along the way.   We can put on a white coat as we nurture one another back to health.   Some of us don’t mind at all donning our waitress uniform and apron as we dazzle our beloved with delicious dishes.   Our male counterparts seem to enjoy the greasy old mechanics uniform as they try to “fix” everything, when sometimes we don’t need to be fixed, just heard (but hey, as least they are trying).

I find I am happiest when I am just intent on being his best friend, his lover and his biggest fan, praising his accomplishments and forgiving his failures.  There is a lot to be said about that old saying, “if you treat him like a king, he’ll treat you like a queen.”  Are there exceptions?  Do some marriages fail no matter what you do?  Yes and yes.

Am I saying things are always perfect?  Absolutely not, and they won’t be this side of heaven. Do I have it all figured out?  Nope, but I’m working towards it.  I do know from years of experience if I keep my focus on God and practice the kind of love He has shown to me; He will keep me in perfect peace.

 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.  1 Corinthians 13:4-8

The Anything But Ordinary Day

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Today started out like most ordinary Fridays, with me peering through half closed eyes at the clock to check the time, then realizing its almost seven and feeling like I’m wasting the day away.  I stumbled to the bathroom and on to the kitchen for coffee.  Thursday is my Friday, so today I allowed myself to sleep late (for me) and take my time getting the day started.

Most Friday’s I do errands and this day would be no exception.  As I journeyed to town, I took the time to thank God for the beauty all around me and to ask for His mercy throughout the day.  I thanked Him for loving me and loved on Him as I enjoyed the view and the drive.  I felt such peace and such a spirit of gratitude enveloped me.  I determined in my heart that nothing would take that perfect peace away today.

I thought of a quote I had read this morning that said something about how we could be standing right next to someone who is completely broken and never even know it.  I would approach others with this thought in mind and show love.

As I drove on, I didn’t sense any agitation over other drivers or traffic.  I had a busy day ahead and many things to do, but I turned up “The Message”, sung along and resolved to do each errand without rushing and with patience and kindness.

Part of my list today included picking up some of my granddaughter’s medications.  This can be a test in and of itself because often they aren’t ready, doctor hasn’t approved yet, they require a specialty pharmacy or a compound pharmacy (all things I would have never known about until Cali).   I called the farthest pharmacy away (the compound pharmacy) and although that one wasn’t ready yet, they said they would text me when it was.  My first actual stop was another pharmacy.  The prescriptions weren’t quite ready here either, but they told me to come in and by the time I got to the counter, they would have them.  They weren’t all covered by insurance, but the cashier offered to find a coupon that saved me $20.

One of these meds needed to be refrigerated, so I bought an inexpensive cooler and ice and was on my way to grab lunch.  My hubby’s business needs required my next two stops and I found what I needed without delay and readied myself to kill time waiting on the other prescription.  But, I got a text hours earlier than anticipated and proceeded to the other place, where everything was ready.

I went on about my day and every single conversation and experience was a pleasure.  Traffic seemed to be waiting to give me the best spot in line; everyone was kind and helpful and returned my smiles.  At my last stop, I talked to lady who was busily stocking shelves and she gave me a much appreciated compliment and then at the checkout I got to hear a story about a man who is helping build homes in earthquake devastated countries.

I left there with a grin on my face and the realization that today had been an extraordinarily good day; a day filled with peace and laughter.    Many days are filled with impatience and agitation.  Some “errand Fridays” I complain about traffic, rude people, long lines and anything else I can think of.  Today, I didn’t!

Yes, I know that all days aren’t amazing and bad things happen, and we are faced with trials and troubles.   However, I also know that how you approach your day makes a big difference in the outcome.  Oh, the problems are going to show up.    It’s how we deal with them that matters.

If I mediate on and implement the scriptures that say “love is patient and kind and long suffering” and the ones that say “think on good things” and “say things that edify others and build them up”, I know without a shadow of a doubt my day is going to go better than if I gripe, grumble and complain and look for the bad.  If I meet others with a long face or a scowl, guess what I will probably get in return?  If I greet the day with a grateful heart, thankful that I am saved by grace and given this precious gift that comes with such amazing peace I am much more likely to stay on the positive side of things.

As I sit here, errands done and the day winding down to a close I am thanking God again for His many blessings and for this anything but ordinary day.

Dreading the end of the season?

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This morning before leaving for work, my husband kissed me and said, “Babe, try to just relax today”.  His recognition of my recent relentless efforts to ensure everything went smoothly for Christmas made them all the more worth it, but also reminded me that my favorite holiday was over.

I refilled the lovely coffee cup, covered in cardinals and pinecones, a cherished gift from my youngest and opened the festive Ziploc bag filled with mint chocolate chip cookies baked days ago.  Even as I took one out, I lamented the number I have eaten this season.

Sitting in my chair, coffee cup in hand, I looked at our Christmas tree, the floor beneath it now bare, except for one stray shiny ornament and a lone undelivered present.  Moments later, I saw a snapchat notification from my youngest and opened a picture of her Christmas tree with the caption, “I don’t want Christmas to be over”.

Since I was entering my time of devotion and prayer, this topic was something I reflected on during my quiet time.

Why do I dread the arrival of December 26th?  To answer that question, I must first ask myself why I love the days preceding it.  That’s easy, right?  The month of December is filled with hope, with expectations, the joy of giving, and the arrival of friends and family for long overdue visits.  People take days off and spend them at home, we search for that perfect gift for those we love and for the most part people seem more cheerful.  There are more commercials and movies crafted to observe the joy of the season and it truly does seem that more love abounds or at least a better sense of family and fellowship.

As we celebrate the Christmas season, we reflect more on that life changing gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We honor the greatest love ever known and we are constantly reminded of it.   We are surrounded by Christmas carols, and many of them honor the Holy One and the virgin birth.  We see joy manifested in human form in the faces of our children and grandchildren.  We see that giving a gift means we sacrifice something to give to another.  Often, but sadly not often enough, we see forgiveness and healing in relationships.

So, if all of the above is what I love, why do I dread what I perceive in my mind to be the “end” of this glorious season?

It isn’t over.

Yes, the Christmas season is over; the last carol has been sung, the last sugar cookie decorated like a candy cane for a while, the gifts are all open, the decorations are already starting to sag and look out of place and some of our families are already homeward bound.

The seasons will change, as they should as new seasons bring new growth.    But, the reason for the season never changes and that reason always has been and always will be Jesus!  He truly is the Gift that keeps on giving!   We are abundantly blessed and we can continue to be a blessing all year long.  We can keep the spirit of Christmas strong and alive and well by loving hard all year long, by finding the perfect gifts to bless the poor, lonely and hurting.  We can freely and diligently give the gift of prayer.  We can decorate lives with compassion, empathy and laughter.  We can put God first, family second and everything else below that.  We can fellowship more often and be generous in gifting our time to those we love and we can certainly choose to allow a fresh wind of forgiveness to blow through our hearts when needed.

All of this should be obvious of course, but sometimes we need to take the time to allow God to remind of us of old truths and I for one, am glad I did that this morning.  Today is a brand new day, filled with life, breath and salvation and I intend to enjoy every minute of it!

Just give me my binky


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We sat there in the dark watching her fight sleep, contorting her little face every which way trying to hold on to her binky when it threatens to fall.  A binky is otherwise known as a pacifier for those of you who may not have heard it referred to that way.  She loves that thing.  I’ve heard folks voice their opinions on them both pro and con and have probably stated my own in the past and likely in a negative way to some poor new parent.  This is something else I have learned; don’t judge the child still sucking a binky or maybe still wearing diapers.  I don’t know their journey.

13912343_280314879008026_5289825603233603215_nCali will be 5 months old on the 13th of this month and all she knows up until now is the inside of a room without outside windows.  It is mostly white and very sterile.  Thankfully, we can dress up the crib a bit and bring some toys in, but it’s just not home.  We can’t roll around in the floor or fall asleep with her nestled on our chest.  We have to wear yellow gowns to hold her and she is still attached to several lines or tubes.

I try to imagine her discharge day and the way her little eyes will behold so much newness in one day.  She will leave the room she has grown up in thus far, see sunlight, ride in a car, see her own home and sleep in a new bed.  As anxious as I am for all of this to occur, my heart goes out to these little ones making these big adjustments.   They are used to the whiteness, the machines, the beeping and blinking and the cries of other little ones.  Maybe I’m just emotional because this is my little granddaughter, but it’s something I have never once thought about until now.

I am determined to learn from this experience, resolved to be a better person because of it, and adamant about increasing in compassion and empathy for others.  This brings to mind the verse in Hebrews, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.”

We should be able to empathize with the weaknesses of others and consider their voyage through this life and the ups and downs and tests and turmoil.  Maybe I’m being too transparent when I admit how blind to the predicaments of others I have been in the past.  Perhaps some of you will think less of me because of it.  But, when I decided to have a blog, I always intended to openly share experiences, always hoping my stories would help shed light on someone else’s path.

I am sincerely grateful to God for every opportunity I get to show love and compassion to someone else, even though I still often fail Him.  I still fail in recognizing needs or simply stay too busy to do all that I would like to.  You know, part of loving others starts with really listening, taking time enough to know a need exists.  We are a busy people and we have to make a point to slow down and be attentive, even in our own families.

PS – Cali is doing much better.  They removed her PICC line this week.  Her bottle feeding has increased greatly as tube feeding has decreased.  She is up to 8 lbs 1 oz and if she continues to do well on feeds and continues to gain weight, our discharge date will be closer 🙂

Related articles:  When life throws a curve ball and Cali; the gift that keeps on giving

 

A Few of My Favorite Things

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Inspiration from the Discover Challenge: The Poetry of List Making

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

  • Rising before dawn to have coffee and spend time with Jesus
  • Reading in bed until I am drowsy enough to fall asleep
  • Bear hugs from the ones I love
  • Good morning or good night texts from my daughters
  • A nice meal shared with friends or family around a table
  • Sitting outside in the shade enjoying God’s creation
  • Reliving old and making new memories with my girls
  • When my husband calls and plays our wedding song over the phone
  • The hauntingly beautiful sound of a hooting owl outside my window
  • Time spent in worship or fellowship with my church family
  • Sunset boat rides and fishing with the love of my life
  • Travelling anywhere with someone I love along for the trip
  • My quiet devotion time in my favorite chair
  • The satisfaction of a full day’s work
  • Anything and everything to do with my granddaughters
  • Autumn and falling leaves, cooler temperatures and pumpkin everything

Rain or shine

Storms never last

It was a muggy Sunday afternoon and the steam rose up from the pavement as I traveled towards Miami to visit my granddaughter in the hospital.

Thankfully, I was nice and chilly thanks to my Explorer’s air conditioning unit.  As I took in the beauty around me and prayed for our little Cali and other needs, I remember becoming very aware of a Florida weather phenomenon if you will.

One minute it was raining, pelting down all around me, wipers rushing side to side on high speed, struggling to keep up with the falling drops.  The next minute, the sun was peeking out, I caught glimpses of that steam rising, and I could see blue skies ahead.  Then again suddenly, the clouds overhead would fight to shed their moisture, seemingly all on in one area and then I would burst forth out of the deluge again and readjust the wipers.  As soon as I thought we were down to that low intermittent speed, the skies would open up again.

If you are from Florida or traveled Florida much in the summer, you are likely shaking your head in agreement, as the same thing has happened to you.  Maybe it happens in other places too, but I’ve only experienced it in my home state.  Rain is pouring down on my neighbor and my grass and foliage is begging for a drop.

Anyway, all of this is occurring as I am fervently praying for answers and help with all of the complicated little vignettes of drama in my life.  The same thing occurs 4 or 5 times, and I was beginning to think it was getting a little creepy like I was in the twilight zone.   Finally I go through what was to be the last storm and I see the light…the sunlight and no more clouds.  I see perfectly beautiful, clear skies with no rain in sight.   I feel like God is showing me that there will be days of rain and days of sunshine, there will be storms, there will be times when you aren’t sure what to expect but in the end you will make it through.  There will be days of bright sunshine again.

Then I feel that peace, that wonderful peace that always assures me He has heard my cries.  And I know that he will continue to give me strength for the journey.

Blessings!

Cali; the gift that keeps on giving

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The prompt was “Crisis” and since NICU parents deal with this all the time, I thought this was appropriate.

My daughter and I had a great day with our little Cali yesterday.  I blogged before about Cali’s premature arrival and the complications she has faced since.   She is 3 ½ months old and we still don’t have a homecoming date.

We stayed in Miami last night so we were with her until around 9pm and my daughter even got to help give her baby a bath for the second time ever.  It’s tricky with a PIC line.  Also, when you live over 80 miles away and spend most of your days here, and the baths are given at night, it’s tougher to participate.  Last night was the first time I had ever seen my beautiful little granddaughter’s skinny little behind.  What a sight to behold!

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All Clean!!

We got up this morning and had breakfast, anxious to arrive at the hospital.  In good spirits, I parked the car and I chose the stairs as my daughter took the elevator.  We usually park on the 5th floor but I always beat her by taking the stairs.  And believe me; I need the exercise with the delectable guava pastries (stress eating) that Nicklaus Children’s Hospital serves.  Leave it to me to know about the food.

There was a long line at the check in and since I had left my monthly pass in the car (and I wasn’t going back outside and up those stairs or in the sweltering parking lot elevator) I had to wait in it.  Impatiently, Morgan flashed her pass and went on up to the 2nd floor, eager to see Cali.

When I arrived in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) a few minutes later, I could tell by Morgan’s face that something was wrong.  The nurse explained that Cali had begun vomiting last night and her heart rate had dropped a little a few times.  This can mean so many things, but they were immediately stopping all food and doing blood work to rule out infection.  They asked us to leave so they could insert a second tube in her nose (opposite nostril from feeding tube) to pull excess air from her stomach.

My eyes welled up and in all seriousness, I wanted to curl up on the floor and cry.  However motherhood kicked in and I knew I had to be strong for my baby girl.  We went to the waiting room until the procedures were over and then my baby girl wanted to hold her baby girl.  I sat in a chair beside her, more for moral support than anything.  Cali slept and I looked around the room, which currently is home to approximately 7 babies; I overheard them say they have a total of 42 patients in NICU right now, which I understand is a lot for them.

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Morgan and Cali

There are babies in much more serious condition than Cali’s.  There are older ones, younger ones, bigger and smaller.  Some cry a lot and some you never hear a peep out of (at least when I’m there).  I pray for all of them and I ache for the parents and what they are going through.

They come here from all over, show their ID or passes, push buttons so doors will open and wash their hands thoroughly multiple times per day.  They sit in a room that is filled with beeping machines that have the power to give them quite a scare and they listen and try to understand as doctors and nurses reveal plans and strategies.  Some of their children are growing out of the clothes and diapers they got at baby showers and some have even outgrown some of the toys.

Yet, they face each crisis with a strength that I had never seen before, having had two healthy, and delivered at-term babies.  I look at them and not only compassion floods my soul, but also respect and admiration.  I will shed tears in my prayers over this little world I didn’t realize existed until April 13th.  Sure, I knew there were sick babies, but I had no idea of the big picture.

I have focused on one small group of breaking hearts in my post, yet there are hundreds of others.  More people going through this life with a heavy load and dealing with things we can’t imagine unless we have been there.

I know I’ve said this over and over, but let’s give people the benefit of the doubt because we truly don’t know.  That lady in line in front of you with the blank look on her face who doesn’t hear the cashier saying, “Next, please”, could have been my daughter this morning.  Be patient with her.

We are praying and believe that Cali will bounce back from this step backwards and come home quickly and give her doctor’s a shock.  This journey is increasing our faith and our strength and I thank God for that. God will continue to provide the strength, mercy and grace for each and every day.  He always does!

I would also be remiss if I didn’t thank the amazing team of doctors, nurses and all other staff at Nicklaus.  We couldn’t be in better, more caring hands and I’m truly grateful.  Oh, and a special kudos also to the cafeteria staff for their tasty creations and their smiles of concern.    We also have the best friends and family ever and our community has rallied around us like a great wall of love and protection.  There is NO way to begin to thank them all appropriately!

Forward progress

13511042_10154214939926763_6505748762857644676_nWas the game called Sorry where you move game piece forward or back based on where you land?  The other day my daughter said, “Two steps forward and ten steps back” and I visualized that game.  She was referring to her baby’s progress this week after three months in the NICU.  She was frustrated, exhausted both physically and mentally and was exaggerating just a tad.  It would have been easy for me to say something trite like, “Well, it could be worse”, or “All in good time”, but I knew it was better to just stay silent and try to rub the knot out of her neck.  I know my daughter and her patience level was waxing thin on that particular day.

I have learned that sometimes it is just better to say nothing.  I should say that I am learning this, because I certainly haven’t mastered it.  I have an entire library of “go to” clichés that are completely useless or even irritating in situations that I fail miserably at recognizing on occasion.  Sometimes a smile or a hug or just your being there does more to ease the angst of the weary than a thousand words could ever do.  Often, just listening is all that is needed; we don’t always have to feel compelled to “fix” things.  This is hard for me, I will admit.  I want to give advice, answers, help resolve and implement ideas!  But, as I said, I am learning.

I don’t have the time or inclination to delve into the multitude of issues that I’ve been faced with in the last few months.  However, suffice it to say that I understand being too tired to talk or too mentally exhausted to answer a simple question without emotions turning into teardrops.  With that said, I know in whom I trust and I can approach my trials and tribulations without fear and with faith.  This doesn’t mean I won’t get bone tired sometimes and need to seek a quiet peaceful place to re-fresh myself for the next battle.  (Yes, there will be more this side of heaven.)

What always compels me though to think I have to have an answer or suggestion for every tough situation I see others going through?   I don’t know.  Most of the time, I truly believe it’s that I really do want to help and soothe someone’s heart and I’m just not always sure of how best to accomplish that.   I do know that I had NO idea what people were going through when they spent months at a hospital with their child until our precious Cali was born.

Sheepishly, I think back at how silly or even heartless some of my pre-Cali comments must have sounded to others.   The thing is, we really do not know what anyone is going through unless we have walked in those same shoes and even then, experiences still vary from person to person even in the same scenario.

It amazes me that even in the tough times; God teaches us if we let Him.  As we go through pain, if we follow His lead, we can grow in the midst of it.  We can come out on the other side with a better understanding of mercy, with more empathy.

The other day as we pulled into the hospital park lot, my daughter (who still needs to learn patience) was complaining about the SUV in front of us.  She was anxious to get up to the 2nd floor and love on her baby, and this car was too slow, and in the way.  She spouted off something negative and I found myself right smack dab in the middle of a teaching moment.  I gently reminded her that the person in the car could be arriving at the hospital for the first time with a sick child, or leaving alone, never to bring theirs home.   She got my point and I have noticed her growing in grace through all of this.

So, have patience with me and I will try to have more patience with you.  Forgive me when I say all the wrong things or end up doing nothing because I didn’t know what to do.  As for me, I pray to practice giving people the benefit of the doubt, to recognize that their day might be going worse than mine and to try not to offer up trite, commonplace sentiments when a hug or a prayer might serve them better.

Life is a saga

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Life is a saga, a long and complicated story with many details. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you live very long at all this applies. Our life begins on page one, with our birth and if you have ever been in a room of women discussing childbirth, that can be a saga in itself. We live, we learn, we grow and we change.

We all have a story but it’s what we do with our stories that can make a difference. I was discussing this a little bit in my Sunday school class this morning. We go through things sometimes that make no sense, seasons filled with trials and tribulations. They are going to touch each one of us, but oh the difference when we allow God to teach us through them instead of sinking and wallowing in a big warm pile of self-pity.

I’m not saying not to grieve or that it’s wrong to cry, but when we’re done, get up and move on and let what we have learned, even when it was a tough, teach someone else. Some of the things I have been through in my life have allowed me to counsel or encourage other mothers or wives who are now going through the same thing. Can God really take that year of weeping and hurting and use it to impart healing in someone else? Why, yes He can and I can attest to having been on the giving and receiving end of both trial and help.

At times we try to pretend like we don’t know the meaning of grief or affliction and I’m not sure why, as we all are familiar with its sting. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, as long as we are this side of heaven, we will encounter difficulty. It’s how we deal with it that sets us apart.

Wouldn’t it be great to know that your saga didn’t end at your death because even after your demise other lives were still touched because of you? I think we all want to leave this world knowing we have imparted wisdom, hope and truth into others.

I was cleaning out a closet the other day and found an old journal of my mother’s. I’m sure I saw it and positive that I would have looked inside near the time of her death. The other day coming across the old treasure again I opened it up and saw that old familiar handwriting on the yellowing front page. For some reason I leafed through the other pages and buried in the middle were about five more pages that I had never seen before. They were written in and around December of 95’ and into the first months of January 96’. Mom died in June of 96’ so these “new” words were like gold to me. They were a new discovery of some of her personal thoughts in her final months. More of the saga of her much shortened life and they meant so much to me. They touched me and as I read them, I again felt her faith and strength. She imparted another precious gift to me almost twenty years after she met Jesus.

I was blessed to have a mother whose wisdom and guidance has served me well over the course of my life. Whether we are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters or friends, we too can choose to let our stories help us grow into better people and use their lessons to love on others. Isn’t that part of what love is all about?

 

Daily Prompt:  Saga

Daily Prompt: Pensive

12183926_10153666325746763_7447737793838516270_oThe Daily Prompt was pensive; below is my humble offering….

She sat there, dreamily staring out the window; both hands around her favorite cup, which was still warm from the hot tea he had watched her pour earlier. She was in a pensive mood.

He was familiar with her moods and he’d seen this particular one more after the kids were gone. She would stare out the window, a hint of sadness on her face, sometimes wiping a tear from her eye. He was pretty sure he understood how she felt, but sometimes he wasn’t quite sure how to help. She had also mentioned some lady issue that started with an “m” that made her a little more moody on some days.

He walked over to her chair and embraced her in a hug and said, “Are you missing the girls, babe?” She said, “Yes” with a shaky voice. He gently pulled her up from her favorite chair and she melted into the arms that had held her close for over 20 years.

After a long embrace he asked, “How about we go across the bay and catch dinner?” The smile twinkled in her eyes before it reached her lips and he knew he had brought her back from the walk down nostalgia lane. She ran to grab a jacket and he smiled knowing he had been her hero once again.

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