Deathdays and Birthdays – New Glarus Road – Saturday Morning Linky

If you need to catch up on All Road Lead To New Glarus click here.

The next couple of months were a blur. I kept myself busy. I didn’t think I could deal with this; the slow dying of my friend, the brave living of her husband, the exhausted clinging of the children. I threw myself into work and “other things.”

Finally my friend J. called and asked me to go to the hospital with her. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience. A woman in Sue’s body greeted me, like a sunset, red hair glowing like dying embers.  She didn’t look sick.

“Hi!” Her voice was an octave higher than it normally was.  This had happened after her previous brain surgery from the dirt bike accident, and it made me wonder, “Is this my fault?  Did she get this cancer because she had that accident?  It’s kind of strange that she would have cancer right where she had an injury.  If I’d never invited her to my parent’s house, would she by dying now?”

Sue was smiling like a schoolgirl.  Giggling and silly.  She didn’t seem to understand.  She seemed to understand more fully.  She played with now four year old E. not as mom, but as a peer.  There had been some damage Steve said.  They couldn’t get it all, Steve said.  Things would change quickly, he finished saying, eyes darting around the room.

“At least she has this time to be happy first,” his voice caught in his throat.  “The kids have missed you.”

It was my turn to avoid eyes.  “It’s been crazy at work,” the words fell empty at my feet.

Soon after my visit, Sue was brought home to die.  I prayed for a miracle.  I couldn’t let this happen, but it was happening despite my pleading.  A few weeks later I went to see her.  She moaned in pain, groaned in agony.  Gone was the little girl in a woman’s body that I had seen in the hospital.  Now she couldn’t put three words together.  Her legs twitched.  She cried out.  Her eyes opened.  She tried to say something.  I held her hand.

That was the last time that I saw her.  She died the next day.  I was broken.  I was relieved.  I was angry.

A few days later, my son and I were in the front row at church for her funeral.  I was seated with family and tried to keep E. quiet.  She had gotten bored and was coloring a picture for her mom, but her mom would never hold the picture in her hands.  Her brother looked ancient and tired in a grey suit as his father spoke.  He spoke about what Sue would want us to know now that she is in Heaven.

How could Steve stand up there smiling?  How would they survive; he and the kids?  I wanted to shake them, make them realize.  Sue was gone.

She died in their living room a few days before S.’s sixth birthday.  Even though she had a death day, he would still have a birthday…and life does that.  It goes on.  One way or another, it goes on.  With or without you.

 

To continue on with this series…click here.

Final Goodbyes – New Glarus – Saturday Morning Serial Linky

If you need to catch up on the New Glarus Series, check out the New Glarus page

It was a Sunday morning and I was busy running to and fro in the church building answering to the beck and call of a half dozen people. Steve, Sue and the kids had just returned from Minnesota where they had attended Steve’s mother’s funeral. I wanted to express my sympathy, especially since Steve had just lost his father a little over a year previous. I couldn’t even imagine losing a parent. I shuddered at the thought.

The hall was jammed with people, chatting after service, making lunch plans. I saw the back of Sue’s head in the distance and headed in that direction. I was in luck. They were picking up the kids from their classes. I would be able to see all of them without hunting them down.

Sue turned to face me. Her right eye was swollen shut.

“What happened?” I gasped.
“The doctors say it’s a brain tumor. I’m going in for surgery Tuesday.”

I was stunned. She’d only been gone ten days. We’d been garage sale-ing the Saturday before they had left and I had to talk her out of buying me a couch. Looking at Steve, or “Mr. Positive” I was sure I’d find reassurance and confirmation that Sue must be exaggerating. Instead, I found a slight nod and a pained glance.

“Tell your parents that I love them,” she said.

“Sue, you can tell them yourself when you’re better,” I forced a smile.

She paused, “And talk to my kids about me.”

Tears tumbled down my cheeks, “Don’t talk like that, Sue. You’ll be just fine.”

She hugged me, and that’s all I can remember.

Click here for the next installment…

Welcome to Saturday Morning Serial! This is the place where you can link up your continuing story! Here are the rules, 1) Fill out the linky form below 2) Scroll down on the sidebar for the Saturday Morning Serial Linky Badge and copy and paste onto your blogpost. 3)  Read at least one other linky member’s post!  That’s all there is to it! Please keep in mind that this is a family show. G and PG content only. Enjoy your breakfast!

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Thunderstorms and Homemade Donuts – New Glarus – Saturday Morning Serial Linky

Welcome to Saturday Morning Serial! This is the place where you can link up your continuing story! Here are the rules, 1) Fill out the linky form below 2) Scroll down on the sidebar for the Saturday Morning Serial Linky Badge and copy and paste onto your blogpost. That’s all there is to it! Please keep in mind that this is a family show. G and PG content only. Enjoy your breakfast!

If you need to catch up on the New Glarus Series, check out the New Glarus page…

Steve and Sue

My dear friends Steve and Sue, now owned a business and were putting in long hours. This was especially hard on their 2 children:  S., now five years old and their little girl E. who was 2.  Sue, being practical and organized, was always concerned about how I was getting on, so she suggested that I help them in the area of childcare.  It bothered me that I was unable to watch their kids for free, especially since they’d been such a help to me, but this was Sue’s way of finding a way to be a consistent blessing without hurting my pride.  So, on Friday evenings S. and E. came to spend the night, and I kept them all day Saturday.  My son J., now 4 years old, was excited to see his friends on a regular basis.

Pals

S. ended up being a funny little boy.  He still hadn’t lost his baby fat, could be very silly like his father, and loved to win.  In fact, he would get very cross and pout if he didn’t.  E. had red hair just like her mother, freckles and light brown-almost orange eyes.  She always turned her head when she spoke. She had a real flair for the dramatic;  a regular Shirley Temple.

The night was stormy.  If you have never experienced a storm in an older single-wide trailer, you’ve never lived on the edge.  It was about 8:00 at night, the children had just finished eating dinner and were playing Mario Bros. 

“You’re cheating!”  S. shouted at J.

I hope the sirens don’t go off, I thought. Whenever there was a threat of dangerous weather, the park manager would go down to the clubhouse and unlock the door so that the residents could go somewhere safe until the weather had passed.

Keeping this in my mind, I began preparing shoes and blankets and a flashlight, in case the power went out or the siren went on.  After all was ready, I took the flashlight and went back to the kitchen sink to finish the dishes. Thunder echoed in the metal trailer. 1 Mississippi…..2 Mississippi…..3 Mississippi.  According to my calcuations, the storm was about three miles away.

“Aunt Kimmie, I’m scared,”  S. said after pausing the game, “and hungry.”

“You’re still hungry?” I asked.

“Do you have any dessert?” S. was hopeful.

Dessert was a novelty around my house.  We simply couldn’t afford it.  My figure benefited.

“Well, let me see what I have.”  I thumbed through a recipe book.  Flashes of light…1 Mississippi…2 Mississippi.  The storm was closer, and I tried to swallow away a feeling of panic.

“How about if I made some homemade donuts?”  I asked.

“You can do that?”  S. was amazed.

“Sure!”  My voice squeaked as a clap of thunder made all of us jump.  E. started to cry and J. put his arm around her.

“It’s okay, E., it’s just thunder,” J. tried to reassure her.

“How would the three of you like to help me?”

No sooner had the words come out of my mouth than all three of them rushed into the kitchen.  I found a pretty apron for E. and two white chefs aprons for the boys.  S. had slid a chair into the kitchen for E.  I began to heat the oil on the stove, thankful that I had a gas stove and not electric.  The wind rattled the siding, lightening flashed and the hum of the appliances stopped.  Mario was quiet and we stood in the dark except for the blue glow of the stove.   The electricity was out.

E. squealed in delight, and said, “Peak-a-boo!”

I reached for the flashlight.

“We’ll have to finish mixing the dough by hand,” I was surprised at how calm my voice sounded.  S. was mixing the dough, and J. wanted a turn.

“I’m doing it!” S. demanded.

“Boys take turns,” I carried E. on my hip as I lit all the candles in the room.  The lightening looked even more creepy in the candlelight, and the house seem to shudder in fright.  I heard a snap, and then two and then the sound of hail pelting the roof and sides of the little trailer. Simultaneous lightening and thunder.

J.’s eyes were big and wide, and S. stopped stirring and handed the spoon to him.  “Here, you can stir now, J.”

The siren wailed.

“Children!  I have an idea.  Let’s turn off the stove and head over to the library in the clubhouse,” I tried to sound cheery.

“What for?” S. demanded. “I want my donuts!”

J. started to put on his shoes.  He’d been through this drill before and knew the routine.  I turned off the stove and blew out candles as quickly as I could.

“S. put your shoes on, now!”  I barked.

Grabbing E.’s shoes and the car keys, I slid my feet into slippers.

“But we’ll get wet!” S. whined as he pulled the velcro on his shoes.

“You’re just going to have to trust me S.”

By the time we got to the car, we were drenched.  The wind whipped the rain in waves like a sheet on a laundry line.  My hand shook as I put the key in the keyhole.  Reluctantly, the car started and we headed to the clubhouse.  There were only a few cars in the parking lot, as most of the residents ignore the tornado siren.  I hated to get the children even more wet than they were, but the car shook with the intensity of the storm.

“S., on the count of three we will open our doors, okay?”  The trees were bowing to the ground now, and swirls of rain made tiny funnels in the parking lot.  “One,”  My ears were beginning to pop.  “Two,”  my hand was on the handle.  “Three.”

The boys slid out of their side and I grabbed E. from the backseat.   She was laughing hysterically, as I placed her blanket over her head.  “Peak a boo!”  I could hear her muffled voice say.

We ran up the stairs as the park manager held the door open for us.  An older woman held out a wool blanket for the children, and we all felt safer in the brick building.  Safer and closer.  S., E. and J. were huddled together, teeth chattering, arms around each other.  Someone had started a fire in the fireplace.  Any cross words that had been spoken earlier were forgotten and the boys were interested in taking care of E. and me.  Until…

“Aunt Kimmie?” S. inquired, “I still want my donuts.”

For the next installment, click here

 

Link up with us!

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

The Apology – New Glarus Road Series

If you need to catch up on the New Glarus Series, check out the New Glarus page…

The next day, Grandma(Mama), Papa(Daddy), J. and I went to New Glarus. The weather had turned chilly overnight, and we all wore windbreakers. Daddy wore the forest green jacket that Mama still wears in his absence.  J. wore his Osh Kosh B’Gosh conductor overalls and cap with a navy sweatshirt.  Mama and I wore cozy sweaters.

We thought that it was about time J. went to the Swiss Historical Village in New Glarus, where they have live demonstrations of how the settlers lived here in south central Wisconsin.  After all, he was four years old, and had never been to New Glarus before!

The day was crisp and crunchy.  The first of autumn’s leaves carpeted planked sidewalks, and memories of this dear town invaded my mind.  I pushed them away, not sure I could handle the bittersweet pain of them at the moment.

The four of us came near the entrance where a construction worker poured concrete.  Daddy didn’t see the sign.  Wet concrete.

His foot made an outline.  All was silent.  J. looked up past the brim of his hat at the worker.  This very shy, soft spoken child spoke. “Sorry, man,” he apologized for his grandfather.  He hung his head in shame, as if a serious crime had just been committed.  Little did I know that such a sweet and funny family story, would so effectively outline the kindness and character of who J. would become; tender, compassionate, funny, responsible and truly a man of God.  His sister would later tell me that he was one of the people she admired most.  Oops, did I say sister?  That is quite another story altogether.

For the next story click here

Linking with the incredible Jen at Soli Deo Gloria


Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Even in Our Darkest Hour, Life. Is. Good. New Glarus Series

If you need to catch up on the New Glarus Series, check out the New Glarus page

Life was not good.  Things didn’t work out for T. and me.  I was never good enough, and his personal choices finally caught up to him.

Where did this leave me?  I was a 29 year old woman, who had never been out on her own, and now I needed to be the sole provider for myself and my 3 year old son, J.  I was, by nature, a helper, a second in command.  My resume consisted of my working at a church, selling retail, working at another church, and selling Mary Kay cosmetics.  I wasn’t exactly a hot commodity on the job market.

My parents helped me to buy a small trailer near the church.  My church family helped me when I was honest enough about my needs.  But…I was cryptic.  For one thing, I wanted to be in control of my own life.  For another, no one likes the person who cloaks their needs in a prayer request.  Our basic food groups were milk, cereal and ramen noodles.

My married friends, with the exception of Steve and Sue, quietly exited my life.  My single friends didn’t have children.  I felt like I fit no where.  There was no one to turn to, except Jesus.

I remember once, when someone dear to me reacted to my pipe dream of making it “big” in Mary Kay.  They wisely answered, “Are you sure?  Because I don’t see you doing that.”  It wasn’t that they thought I couldn’t do it, it was that they knew me better than I knew myself at that moment.  I gave myself out of a business.  After all, who could tell the dear elderly lady that she couldn’t have a lipstick at cost?  I certainly couldn’t.

One day, my pastor called me asking if I would work for the church.  I was relieved.  I was disappointed.  I was grateful.  I adored working at the church.  I had a constant support group loving me toward wholeness.  I was in a positive and warm environment, and I found the work tremendously fulfilling.  But it still wasn’t enough to make ends meet.  Every demon in the county seemed to be whispering, “T. was right.  You can’t do anything right.  You can’t even take care of yourself and J.”

I often found myself flat on my face before God.  In actuality, this was one of the best times in my life.  It was a Wilderness of sorts.  Everyday, I waited on God for manna.  Everday, it came.  Everyday, I asked God why I wasn’t able to make it on my own.  Everyday He answered, “My grace is sufficient.  I don’t want to to make it on your own.  I want you to depend on Me.” Often, I would have to scour the car for loose change to get a gallon of milk or gas, which ever one was most necessary at the time.  But we always had what we needed.  Always.

It was during this time that my parents invited J. and me up to Wisconsin for a much needed trip to New Glarus.  I packed my little man into the backseat of my 1988 Chevy, and slid in through the passenger side since the driver’s side door was broken.  It was a far cry from the Lexus and Porsche that used to be parked in my garage.

“I must be the most proud woman in the world, otherwise why would I need to be humbled so greatly?”  I wondered.

Three hours later, I pulled into my parent’s long black driveway, remembering the horror of Sue’s accident. Shaking the memories away, I pulled J. out of the car, his chubby little arms encircled my neck and his rosy cheek pressed against mine.

Mama knows how to present food like no one else.  She had an alfresco lunch complete with linens and china, waiting for me under the locust tree.  The lacy shadows flickered on the dark green carpet of grass.

“Welcome to your day at the spa!”  She announced.  J. ran to give her a hug, and I collapsed in the chair.  There was cool cucumber salad and homemade macaroni and Wisconsin cheese.  Mozart blasted through the house windows, and J. and Grandma played Zorro with an oversized black scarf and hat.  The comfort of home wrapped around me like a warm blanket just taken out of the dryer.  And even if it was just for the moment.  Life. Was. Good.

For the next installment click here
Linking up with the talented and beautiful Jen.

Leah’s Question – New Glarus Road

If you need to catch up on the New Glarus Series, check out the New Glarus page

It wasn’t the last time I’d see Sue.  She had emergency brain surgery in order to relieve the fluid building around her brain.  The surgery went well.  It took several months, but she fully recovered.  In the meantime, the ladies at the church and I helped take care of Baby S.

About a month later, I got flowers thanking me for all of the help I gave during the time of Sue’s recovery, they were signed from Baby S.  All of this baby experience, put T. in the mood to try for one of our own.

A little less than a year later, I was pregnant.  Sue and J. threw a huge baby shower, and my parents planned on staying at Steve and Sue’s house while I delivered, as I chose a home delivery.

Then it happened.

A tiny boy

entered the world

entered my world.

Gave me a new title

a new job

Mom.

I was crazy for him.

He was ours.

I wasn’t feeling quite grown up enough.

not ready.

For such responsibility.

But He was ours none the less.

I prayed Leah’s prayer,

and asked her question.

Maybe now that I had done this incredible thing,

this amazing feat

of bringing a life into the world.

Maybe I would be loved,

and respected.

Surely now, I would be looked upon with favor,

Surely now, I would be good enough.

For the next installment go here.

Till Death Do Us Part? Husbands, Babies and Friends – New Glarus Series

This story started out as complete truth. However, as I’ve continued, I’ve changed small details. For instance, some of these events happened within a 30 miles radius of New Glarus…and I don’t remember exactly how I was proposed to…anywho…just wanted to be honest…If you are interested in the other installments start here.

Three long years passed.  Steve and Sue and a myriad of other friends were married and had already started their families.  Although we were the first to get married, we hadn’t even thought of having a baby yet.  Baby S. was a plump little boy of seven months, with a triple chin and blue eyes; a rounder baby, I’ve never seen.

Early that spring, the five of us decided to pay my parents a visit in Wisconsin.  This brought me great relief.  Life was much more tolerable when T. and I were with other people, as it seemed I could do very little correctly when we were home alone.  He could actually be quite romantic and gentlemanly around others. After settling in our temporary quarters at my parent’s home, and Baby S. was down for a nap, the four of us discussed our day trip to New Glarus the following day.

The next morning, Steve and Sue sat down to breakfast with the “I love New Glarus” tee shirts they had purchased on our last trip a few years previous.  We helped mom clean up, and T. and I were ready to go.  But it seemed like it took forever for Steve and Sue and Baby S. to get going.  Babies made everything more complicated! I had never been on a trip with a baby before, and couldn’t believe all of the paraphernalia we had to bring along!!  There were diapers, strollers, extra clothes, and sunscreen.  After packing the car with what seemed like enough supplies for a week, we strapped the baby into the car seat. We were finally settled.

“You know, I really should nurse him before we leave, that way he’ll sleep on the way,” announced Sue.

T. glowered.  So, we unstrapped the baby, went back inside and waited for Baby S.’s feeding to be done.  Sue came back with a grinning, satisfied baby in her arms….

“Look at him smile!”  I said.  “He looks as though he’s enjoyed a good meal.”

“Uh-oh,”  Sue answered, “He’s not smiling, he’s filling his pants!”

So…we waited until he was done “doing his duty”, and then Sue changed his diaper and once again we strapped the baby into his seat, loaded ourselves into the van, waved goodbye to my parents, and finally got on the road to New Glarus.

It was a little rainy, and we hoped that by the time we arrived, the weather would turn.  To our disappointment, it only rained harder.  As we pulled into town, Baby S. was screaming to be fed and the rain made the view look like an impressionist canvas using only black, white and grey paint.

“I thought you checked the weather Kim!”  T. snapped.  He knew we couldn’t walk around town with a baby in a stroller during a monsoon.

“I did! It said we only had a 30% chance of light showers,” I  quietly defended myself, looking to see if Steve and Sue noticed the catch in my voice.

There was a tense quiet in the car.  “At least we won’t get sunburned!”  Steve tried to find the silver lining in everything.  It was usually annoying, but this time I was relieved and gave him a quick smile of gratitude.

We parked on the Main Street and opted to eat an early dinner at Ticino’s, a pizzeria named after the Italian Cannon in Switzerland.

The atmosphere was quaint, and the thin pizza amazing, even if it was sprinkled with Cheerios from Baby S.  We still had hope that the rain would let up and we could browse at all of our favorite shops. Lingering as long as the shrieking Baby S. would allow (even though the squeals were happy ones, the other customers had begun to stare), the rain was coming down even harder than it was before.

“Let me just run across the street so that I can buy the baby a matching tee shirt, then the trip won’t be a complete loss.” Sue suggested.

The guys stayed at the table with the baby, while Sue and I shattered silver puddles to the other side of the street.

I paused remembering that it was this very store that T. had whisked me away from in order to propose to me at the Christmas store.  It was this very store where he declared that someday, he would buy all of my clothes for me.  He did, and lucky for me he had very good taste, but I longed for the freedom Sue had to purchase tacky tee shirts if I wanted to.  However, the whole stroll down memory lane, caused me to feel warm and fuzzy and I wanted to get back to T. and break the tension that had been there all morning.

When Sue and I returned to the restaurant, we were soaked.  The baby had thrown all of his remaining Cheerios in a circle around his high chair which was now pulled up to a karate video game that T. and Steve were playing.  Baby S. was shrieking with delight at being left to himself.

“Steve!  Why did you let him make such a mess while we were gone?”

“We were busy,” he responded, eyes still glued to the video game.

Sue was on her hands and knees picking up as many Cheerios as she could, while I came behind T. and wrapped by arms around his waist.  He was in deep concentration with the intense game he was playing, he didn’t seem to notice my attempt at peace.

The sky did brighten a little before we got everyone packed in the car again.

“Maybe tomorrow, we’ll bring out the dirt bike, if it isn’t raining cats and dogs again,” T. suggested.

The next morning was quite a bit cooler, but there wasn’t any rain.  After attending my parent’s church, Baby S. was taking a nap, Sue and I were helping my mom make chili and the guys were on the driveway messing with T.’s dirt bike.

“This chili needs more chili powder!”  Sue announced.  She dumped in a couple of tablespoons more.  Mom and I exchanged knowing glances, for we were sure this would be the spiciest chili ever, but not about to cross her opinion, we conceded.

“I’m gonna go out there and see if the boys will let me give a try on the dirt bike.  I used to ride one when I was younger.  Do you mind keeping an eye on the baby for awhile?”  Sue asked me.

“No, go ahead.  Have fun.”

She treked out to the front yard, and T.  handed her the helmet and showed her a few things on the bike.  I thought I’d watch her first run and cheer on Team Girl, since the boys thought they could hog the bike for themselves.

There was ever-confident Sue swinging her leg over the top of the bike, kick starting it on the first try.  I had to smile.  She was still everything I was not.  I wouldn’t be caught dead on a dirt bike.  Off she went, at a reckless speed straight down the driveway.  She raced to the end of the driveway.  Why isn’t she turning?  I thought.  Instead she went straight into the neighbor’s shed.  I saw the helmet fly off, twenty feet from the shed.

Steve started jumping around and waving his arms and screaming for help.  My dad ran outside to see what he could do.  Part of me wanted to go and help and part of me wanted to run and hide.  The way the helmet flew off, I was afraid she had been decapitated.

“Mom, call 9-1-1!” I shouted.  Praying under my breath, I asked God to give me courage to deal with whatever the next few minutes would hold.  Running across the lawn, I came across a slightly calmer Steve bending over his wife’s body as my father stuck his finger in her mouth to clear it from gobs of blood.  Blood was coming out of her ears and Sue was unconscious.  I was just glad her head was attached.  The ambulance came, and T. drove behind it to the emergency room.  Steve told me to stay behind and take care of Baby S.  I wondered if it would be the last time I’d ever see Sue alive again…

For the next installment read this.

A Disappointing Bride – New Glarus Series

This story started out as complete truth. However, as I’ve continued, I’ve changed small details. For instance, some of these events happened within a 30 miles radius of New Glarus…and I don’t remember exactly how I was proposed to…anywho…just wanted to be honest…If you are interested in the first five installments start here.

Wedding Day had been bright and unseasonably warm.

Full of promise for a bright future.

I had asked God for a day just like this.

He granted me that much.

That night, there was pain, shame and I found myself

a disappointment.

Not enough.  a Failure.

The next morning the skies were grey and brewing.

Biting cold air froze my dreams, pellets of ice stung my skin,

waking me from my fairytale dream.

and I wondered if this was how it was

For all new brides.

For the next installment of this story, go here.

Christmas in July – New Glarus pt. 5

This story started out as complete truth. However, as I’ve continued, I’ve changed small details. For instance, some of these events happened within a 30 miles radius of New Glarus…and I don’t remember exactly how I was proposed to…anywho…just wanted to be honest…If you are interested in the first four installments start here.

A year after we had moved to Wisconsin, I received a phone call from T.  He was crying.

“I’m calling because my pastor said that I should let you go and let God do what He is going to do in your life.”

There was a stunned and awkward silence. I hadn’t heard from him in a year.  I had already “let go”.  However, I was more than a little flattered that he was still pining over me, “Oh.  Okay.  You’re going to a new church?”

As he told me all about his new church and friends, my interest was peaked.  In the past, T. and I were the entire youth group of our church and now he was part of a congregation with loads of young people.  T. sounded like a different person.  He knew so many Scriptures and had so much Christian fellowship.  He seemed to be having the time of his life, and now was inviting me to have the time of my life with him…if God willed it.

After a few more phone calls, T. made arrangements for me to stay with a friend of his so that I could meet this new family of believers. So much for letting me go.

Sue was ten years older than I was and worked in the corporate world.  She had her own apartment.   She was ultra organized, and prided herself on “speaking her mind.”  In other words, she was everything I was not.  She was tall, I was short.  She was independent, I was dependent.  She was full of color with bright red hair, I was pale and pasty.  To say that I admired her would be an understatement.  We became fast friends.

She was dating a man a few years her junior.  His name was Steve.  He was the craziest, funniest, most on-fire-for-God young man I’d ever met.  A real preaching machine.  He couldn’t go an hour without pulling out a small New Testament and reading for a few minutes.  He shared his faith with anyone and everyone.  His zeal was contagious.

Every other weekend, I made a trek from Janesville, Wisconsin to downtown Chicago, where I’d meet T.  He would take me out to dinner with friends, Steve and Sue usually included, and then I’d spend the night with Sue at her apartment.  After about six months of this routine, I couldn’t imagine my life without this changed T. and his wonderful ever-growing group of God fearing friends.

One weekend, I asked my parents if we could host two couples from T.’s church at our house.  The girls would take one side of the house and the boys, the other.  Of course I planned a trip to New Glarus.

Sue and Steve were one of the other couples, and D. and J. were the names of the second.  Sue, J. and I were browsing through “I Love New Glarus” tee-shirts, while the guys were eating ice cream in front of the store.  T. finished before the others, and came sauntering in, kissing the top of my head.

“What are you looking for, Suavecita?”  Suavecita was his nickname for me.

“I thought it would be nice to get a tee shirt as a momento of this weekend,”   I answered.

“You’re too classy to wear one of these.  Someday, I’m going to help you choose all of your clothes.”

I blushed at the permanence of his statement.  “I think I do a pretty good job!”  I grinned and playfully pushed him.

He didn’t seem amused.  Sue was already at the counter purchasing matching tee shirts for she and Steve and J. was still browsing.

“Let’s walk over to the Christmas store together, while they finish up.” T. nodded towards the girls and led me toward the front door.

Christmas Shop in New Glarus

“Okay,” I felt a little rushed and annoyed, but didn’t want to miss an opportunity to be alone with him.

Strolling toward the Christmas store, conscious of his arm around my waist, I was once again thrilled that I belonged to someone!  Threatening clouds darkened the once brassy sky, as we crossed the street to the store.  Sleigh bells jingled as we went in to browse. Cinnamon and cloves hung heavy in the air, and a train set chugged through a tiny winter wonderland, all to the tune of Silver Bells.  It was Christmas in July!  Thunder clapped.

On the wall opposite the Christmas village, were shelves of tiny faux Faberge eggs.

“Let’s look at these,” T. walked over nonchalantly.

I followed.  “Can you imagine how expensive the real ones are?  Especially the ones with the real jewels?”

“None of them would be more expensive than you deserve, babe.” A sneaky snake of pleasure crawled up my spine.

T. picked one up, “I like this one, don’t you?”

T. popped it open.  Inside, was a modest little engagement ring.  T. was on one knee.

“Kim, would you spend this and every Christmas with me as my wife?”

To read the next installment go here.

Obstacles in the Journey – New Glarus Pt. 4

The following story is part of a series of stories telling about how a place has had a significant part in my history.  The first three installments can be read here, here and here.

After two years of disturbing events, T. (that first boyfriend) and I, had broken up.  I thought the sun would never shine again. Even when it did, its light was harsh and abusive, and only made me want to close my eyes and shut myself in a dark room.

In the midst of accusations and scandal surrounding my ex-relationship, my parents had gone away for their anniversary, to Wisconsin, and came back with news.  They had found a beautiful earth home on an acre of property for a third less than the worth of our home in Oak Park, Illinois.

I am confident that part of their decision was with the purpose of getting me away from T., as he could be very charming and persuasive and I was far too kind and forgiving, code words for ridiculously naive bordering stupid.  Everything happened very quickly from there. Within weeks, our home in Oak Park sold for five times the amount my parents purchased it, and we were able to buy the earth home located in Janesville, Wisconsin, and have money left over.

A change of scenery was just what the doctor ordered.  Moving to this beautiful yet familiar place was better therapy than I could have paid for.  Somehow, as disappointed as I was about my past, I began to have hope for my future.

The closest church to the home was of the same persuasion we had been attending in Illinois.  I would be working for my father for half a day, when he was in town.  He traveled once a week to Chicago to work on existing projects there and was usually gone one or two days a week.  Coincidentally, our new home was  only 45 minutes away from New Glarus.  It was during one of those first trips into Chicago, that Mom and I found ourselves on a day trip there.

But this wasn’t just any day trip.  We had decided to walk the Sugar River Trail from just outside Albany, Wisconsin to New Glarus, Wisconsin where we would be staying at the Chalet Landhaus Hotel.  This was just under 16 miles.  We were both wearing the most athletic shoes we owned, which weren’t very athletic I might add.  We had a couple of water bottles on hand and a backpack with some pajamas and fresh underwear.  We were armed and ready to go.

The first stretch was about ten miles, and was fairly easy.  We walked at a pace of just over 20 minutes per mile.  The early morning summer sun played tricks with light and shadow on the crushed stone path.  Rays of light occasionally broke through the canopy of trees and sent sparkling specks of healing from heaven into my broken soul.

After conversing along the road about everything from C.S. Lewis to Frank Lloyd Wright, (two very popular topics in our home), we found ourselves just outside of Monticello.

“There’s a nice little hamburger place in Monticello,” my mom said, “It’s just a short way from the trail. Would you like to stop and have some lunch?”

Now, we had packed lunches in the backpack, but I had to admit, sitting down in an air conditioned restaurant to some hot food sounded great.

“Sure!”  We were getting a little tired, but we were more than half way there, and now we were stopping for a rest.  We turned off the path and toward the restaurant.  Big. Mistake.

“I don’t remember the diner being this far from the road do you?” I questioned after walking a least a mile before we even entered the town limits.

“It does seem like it’s a lot closer when we drive it.  We’ll feel better after we sit down and eat.”

A few blocks later, we arrived at our destination.  In a diner reminiscent of a ’50’s restaurant,  we ate our lunch of hamburgers, fries and a shake, but rather than feeling refreshed, we started to feel more and more exhausted.  This excursion added at least 2 miles to our journey, and the thought of walking over a mile just to get back to the trail was almost unbearable.

Soon, I heard my mother asking the waitress if she knew of anyone who might be willing to give us a ride to the Chalet Landhaus (which was only about 6 miles away.)  No one at the restaurant was willing to oblige.  Even the old men, who hadn’t stopped staring at us since we walked in.  (In hindsight, I’m kind of glad about that one.)

Now the thought of the remaining 7 miles seemed nearly impossible.  Our feet were aching, and we had no energy left.

“I think there’s a car dealership across the street.  Maybe they will let us rent a car!” I said with hope in my heart.

We stumbled across the street, slap happy with exhaustion.  If anyone had seen us they would have insisted we were drunk.

“My daughter and I were walking the Sugar River State Trail to New Glarus.  We are almost sick we’re so tired.  Do you have a car you could rent us?”

“No, I’m sorry we don’t.”

Silence, “Well, do you have a service where an employee drives a repair customer back to their home?  Because we are too tired to continue, we’d be glad to pay you for your time.”

“You aren’t customers.  I couldn’t do that.”

Shoulders slumped, hearts and bodies heavy, we started back on the trek towards the trail.  We have since named Monticello the most unfriendly town in Wisconsin.  The last 7 miles were torture, but we did it.  Finally, we saw The Chalet Landhaus at the end of the trail like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

Pictures of Chalet Landhaus, New Glarus
This photo of Chalet Landhaus is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The hot tub was going to feel good that night, and so was a lovely plate of Wisconsin aged cheese, crackers and fruit.  We were far too tired to walk down to the dining room and eat, so I called to see about room service.

“Yes, do you have room service?”

“No, we don’t.”

“Oh…well, my mother and I just walked 18 miles today, and we’re exhausted.  Is there anyway that I could order some food to-go and bring it up to my room?”

“I’m sorry, we don’t do to-go orders.”

With my hand over the receiver I whispered, “They won’t let me order anything to-go!”

After excusing myself from the phone as politely as possible, I knew that I had to take matters into my own hands.  I had to go down there and convince them to give me some food.  They did.  Very reluctantly, but they did.

That was one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten.  We had a fruit and cheese platter.  We ate, went to the hot tub and were in bed by 6 o’clock.

Looking back on that trip, I’m glad no one gave us a ride.  I think that it was a good lesson to learn that even though things are difficult, and that I may be tired and wishing that someone else would take the burden for me, God’s plan is to give me the grace and strength to carry my own burden and drop it at His feet.  Still, I’m glad my father came to pick us up the next morning.

For the next story go here.