The timing in Mary Ann’s life for this move impacted how she felt about it.  She had just been pulled out of a fifteen year in the making nest in Kansas City.  It coincided with a devastating diagnosis, followed almost immediately by the departure from her entire support system.  The truth is, no matter where we went, or if we stayed in Kansas City, the harsh reality of what was to come would not have changed.

I was not there when it happened.  She denied it when Daughter Lisa reminded her of it.  I have no doubt it happened.  One evening, from the window of a motel in Oklahoma City, the moon that shone out over the city from that window was named Mary Ann.  She wasn’t very talkative, but she had a way of illustrating how she felt.

Please understand, it had nothing to do with Oklahoma City.  It was simply that OKC happened to be the place to which I took her after pulling her out of that safe and comfortable nest in KC.

The house we found was spacious and comfortable.  We had looked at 39 houses and she said that when we bought it, it wasn’t even the one she thought we had picked.  As the years went by, Mary Ann’s skill at decorating resulted in a home that could have made the pages of Better Homes and Gardens.

We both ended up enjoying the expansiveness of the Oklahoma sky.  We would sometimes sit in the front yard together and watch the storms build.  We had grown up with tornadoes in Northern Illinois, so that was not really an issue — other than the fact that our house and most houses didn’t have a basement. One night when Mary Ann’s Mom was visiting, the wind knocked down our back fence.  That night at Lake Hefner, about a mile and a half from our house, the wind was clocked at 104 miles per hour.

Mary Ann was not at all thrilled with the little beast that startled her by jumping in front of her when she took the lid off the garbage can in the garage.  Actually it was not so little.  It was a very large Tarantula, whose legs formed a circle about four inches in diameter.  I wasn’t there, but Lisa was.  She managed to get it into an institutional-sized pickle jar.  We tried feeding it for a while, but it didn’t survive.

Lisa went off to college the fall of our first year in OKC.  That was tough on Mary Ann.  She and Lisa were best buds (BFF’s).  It was a striking change from Mary Ann’s experience with her Mother.  They were at odds most of the time, especially in her high school years.  The day Lisa left for college (nine hours drive away), I had a wedding that had been scheduled eight months before when I had no idea it would be the weekend Lisa needed to get to school.  I will never forget pacing around the house by myself (Micah was away from the house that day — school may have started).  That was the second time in my adult life that I cried.  A gracious member of the congregation rode with them so that Mary Ann would not have to drive back by herself.

Micah settled in pretty well, but I remember him telling me that summer, “Don’t ever do this to me again!”  He began in the last year of a Junior High (9th Grade).  It was a challenge since all the groups were set, sports teams were in their third year with players established.

I was tuned into managing money carefully.  I got that trait from my Dad.  The euphemism is frugal, a less flattering synonym is tight.  The result is that I insisted that the Kids put 50% of everything they earned into savings.  Before that, 10% came off the top for church.  That left them with 40% of their earnings available for discretionary spending.  That is a whole lot higher percent than is available as adults.  The kids knew that they would not be given a car.  They would have to buy it for themselves.

Micah had saved $250 and managed to find a truck to buy for that amount.  It had to be towed to the house.  He didn’t yet have his license, but by the time he obtained it, he had the truck running.  There was, of course, the time when I was first teaching him to drive it that he turned the key before pushing in the clutch.  It was a well built truck — no damage to the truck — moved the laundry room wall about three inches into the room.

Lisa did well in college and ended up getting a Master’s Degree in a discipline with a track in Nursing Home Administration.  Her internship gave us excuse to go to Santa Barbara, CA for a few days to visit her.  What a beautiful place.

Micah continued playing soccer through high school.  His gift for writing blossomed in his Senior year in a writing class with a wonderfully affirming teacher who caught sight of his ability.  He went on to college and got a degree (in three years) in communication.  He was the Editor of the Pitt State newspaper, resulting in a journalism emphasis in the degree.  Micah and Becky married after his second year in college.  The timing was not my favorite idea, but they have been wonderful together.  I couldn’t love Becky more.  And, of course, there is Granddaughter Chloe.  They did very well!  (Yes, Becky, I forgot to sign the license before I sent it in!)

As promised: During the years at the church in the OKC area, I officiated at  many marriage ceremonies.  A young man from the congregation was dating a young lady named Kathy.  They asked me to do the wedding.  We could not use the church of which I was Pastor, since it would only seat 200 to 250 at the very most.  This wedding would have over 800 guests.  Kathy was the Daughter of the then coach of the Oklahoma University football team.

Barry obtained the use of a large Methodist church building in Norman, OK and we were able to seat all 800.  There were six video cameras.  I called Barry aside and told him that I needed for the videographers to stay put — no wandering.  He said, “Whatever you say, Pastor Pete.”  I do not think he was always that agreeable with his players — but they certainly played well.  (Sorry, Nebraska fans — I remember that infamous Thanksgiving Day game.)  That was the largest wedding I ever did.

Enough for tonight.

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The old roller coaster was named “Living with Parkinson’s.”  This one is named “Living with Grief.”  I was too tired and grumpy last night to write a post.  The new roller coaster ride took a dip last night and earlier today.  I think it is past the bottom of this dip and on its way back up.

Yesterday began with an early walk at Cedarcrest.  That always seems to get the day off to a good start.  There were moments of the video of recent events, but they passed quickly.

Then I spent an exhilarating hour or so at the local Farmer’s Market.  It is a bustle of activity.  The moment I entered the area, I heard a “Pastor Pete!”  It was a couple of sisters who had been members of my former congregation for a time and who are back in town.  They are young folks who have learning issues, and have just returned to town to a environment served by their former Foster Parents (if I understood correctly).

There were fresh vegetables everywhere, zucchini, tomatoes (hooray!), new potatoes, freshly picked cabbage (no worms), blueberries.  That is just what I bought.  There was about anything a person could want.  I bought a loaf of herb bread that has turned out to be very tasty. Then there was the PT’s coffee at their booth.  Pleasant conversation there.

I had an enjoyable conversation with the fellow who grew the tomatoes.  He told me in detail how he went about starting the seed and growing the plants.  That is the sort of conversation I find very entertaining.  I talked at length to another vendor selling outdoor furniture he had made — about how he finishes it.  He had had a stroke and was in a wheel chair.

There were some neighbors, more former parishioners/friends.  Don told me what he was going to do with the Jalapeños — sun-pickled if I understood correctly, an intriguing process.  One of the booths was run by a former parishioner.

Then just as I was leaving, I ran into Charlotte, who had stayed with Mary Ann in earlier years.  She lost her husband to Alzheimer’s about nine months ago.  We had touched base a few times during our parallel journeys.  It was very therapeutic to talk about the grief we have both experience, mine, of course, very fresh.  She is a Nurse and has dealt with many who struggled with issues such as ours.  I suppose some of the reason that I appreciated that conversation was that both of us have the same understanding of the grieving process.  Neither of us wants to wallow in it, but we both recognize that we need to embrace it when it comes, give it its due and not try to run away from it.

I was reveling in all the social interaction and the conversations, but I had a date in KC with Son Micah and crew, so I headed on.  Micah and Granddaughter Chloe (Daughter-in-Law Becky had an appointment) took me to a wonderful local dive in the bottoms of Kansas City, among old brick buildings and architectural salvage places, surrounded by so much construction we had to use and alley to get there.  The breakfast was out of the ordinary, Italian sausage, Italian bread toasted, perfectly cooked over easy fried eggs with tasty salsa, and crispy hashed brown potatoes.  If I can ever find it again, I will eat there when next I get the chance.

Next we went shopping for some accessories to my new laptop.  That part was good, the parking lot was not.  We were both backing out at exactly the same time directly behind one another.  The bump could barely be felt, but the entire wrap around fiberglass bumper will need to be replaced.  Arrrrgh! I am grateful for Collision Insurance and a relatively low deductible.  Oh well, in the grand scheme of things it is wonderfully minor.

We spent some time at Micah/Becky’s.  I now have Skype on my new laptop.  I hope I can manage to Skype my Granddaughters in Kentucky!  After that we went together to Mass (yes a good Lutheran can go to church in other brands).  I appreciate a liturgical service that is well done.  The new priest is a good preacher, who could probably pass for a Lutheran.  As Communion was proceeding, I saw two ladies, one in a wheel chair, the other pushing it, waiting to participate.  It is interesting how quickly a sight or sound or smell can trigger the grief that lives in a person’s gut after experiencing the loss of someone very close.  The feelings were not overwhelming, but fully present.

After that I headed to a birthday party for a KC friend.  We had a tasty meal in a pleasant new little area in South Johnson County.

It was a long day and by the time it was done, the roller coaster had sunk to a low dip.  Then and this morning, the loneliness was palpable.  I slept very late, since I was so tired.  I knew today that I did not want to be sociable.  I just needed to feel sorry for myself for a while and face the reality that I will need to do this on my own.  No one, no matter how well-intentioned can do it for me.  That is something Charlotte and I also agree on.  I cannot reclaim a past that exists now only in memories.  I still don’t like it!

If I were counseling myself, I would say with firmness, “It’s only been a month!”

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Not one, but two murders in this post — but let me begin with the Call to the church in the Oklahoma City area.  The Call came a while before Christmas.  I asked for extra time so that I could consider it without Christmas looming.  There is no time to think when things are coming at such a frenetic pace during those weeks.

Even weighing the strong connection to the KC area and love for the people, it was time to move to a full Pastoral Ministry.  Lisa was a Senior in high school at the Lutheran High, Micah was in the 8th Grade at St. Peter’s Catholic school.  I could not take them out of school mid-year.

I accepted the Call and headed for Oklahoma City in February.  Mary Ann stayed in KC so that the Kids could finish at their respective schools.  Next to this last month, that was the most difficult five months in my life, and, I think, Mary Ann and the kids would say the same.

My last Sunday was January 18, 1987.  The Sunday happened to be a rare convergence of dated festivals and a Sunday.  It was the day designated as the Confession of St. Peter. I preached that day.  There was a farewell dinner scheduled shortly before that.  There were over 200 who indicated they would be there.  One of the worst snowstorms in the fifteen years hit that evening.  Almost 200 people came out for the farewell.

Leaving a congregation is excruciatingly painful.  I didn’t realize just how painful it would be.  I seem to be pretty naive when it comes to anticipating the intensity of pain.  I seem to be using the word “pain” an awful lot in this post, and in recent weeks.  What compouned the pain is that I made the choice to leave.  I have never doubted that it was the right choice, but one with consequences that are not all pleasant.

I lived with a family that became my family during that time.  John and Sherrie were truly brother and sister in Christ to me.  They are/were (Sherrie died later in my years there) the most Spiritual people I have ever known.  They lived and breathed the love of the Lord without ever presenting a hint of “holier than thou.”  They were warm and accepting to me.  They understood how hard the transition was for me, and they knew they could not do anything about that.

It was during that time that I discovered must how much I loved Mary Ann, Lisa and Micah.  One weekend, they flew to OKC for a visit.  I can still remember vividly standing in the airport by some chairs in a waiting area, watching the plane they were on take off to head back to KC.  I had then the same feeling I have had in my gut this month.  The thought of the possibility of losing them was intolerable.

A few weeks before the decision was made and I left for OKC, Lisa was on a trip to Florida, spending time with my Sister and Brother-in-Law at their condominium right on the beach on the Gulf side.  She had spent the last three and a half years with a group at the Lutheran High in Kansas City.  That group were the sort of friends who went out together in a cluster, enjoying each other’s company — all good kids.  At that time, her best friend was the Principal’s Daughter.  He had become a sort of extra Dad to Lisa while she was going to school there.

It happened while Lisa was in Florida.  Principal George was stabbed to death just outside the doors of the school.  Lisa came back to be with his Daughter, her best friend, their friends and classmates so that she could be a part of the community as together they dealt with the tragedy.  That story is more complex than appropriate for public sharing.  Lot’s of questions remain.

Then after I moved to Oklahoma City, separated from family, feeling very alone, in spite of the wonderful family with whom I was staying, it happened again.  I had bought an alarm clock from Skaggs, a Walgreen’s/CVS sort of place, just a few blocks from the church.  It was February 7.  I would be preaching my first sermon there the next day, February 8.

When I got home, I discovered that the alarm clock was faulty.  I went back to the Skaggs to return it.  As I stood at the counter just inside the doors to the store talking with the clerk, I heard a strange sound.  The doors opened and someone ran in right in front of me and hid behind the counter.  I smelled the gunpowder.  An estranged husband had just shot in the face his ex-wife right outside those doors.

I walked by to get to my car as she was dying in the arms of an EMT in the parking lot.  The estranged Husband was found some time later at a nearby lake, having taken his own life.

That was the beginning of my ministry in the Oklahoma City area.  I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

Lisa was working at a Dinner Playhouse in the Waldo area in Kansas City as her part time job while going to school.  She will have to correct my remembering about the cut.  I think it was a broken plate that caused the cut on her hand.  She had to go to the Emergency Room to get a number of stitches.  It was difficult for Lisa and hard on Mary Ann who had to deal with it by herself, while I was in OKC trying to focus on my ministry there.

Mary Ann had some tightness and pain in her left shoulder the fall before this.  It moved down her left arm to her hand.  The tests began.  One of them would be outlawed were it used as an interrogation tool.  It is called an EMG [Electromyography].  At that time (maybe still) there was a needle (or needles) stuck in her arm with electrical current going through them, testing the nerve activity.  She described it as torture.

There were other tests, all that came back negative.  She also was having some balance issues.  It was by a process of elimination that a clinical diagnosis was made.  There is no test that would give a definitive diagnosis.

I was in Oklahoma City, she was in Kansas City.  She phoned me.  The diagnosis was Parkinson’s Disease.  The vision of the old fellow shuffling along in the hallway outside my basement office years before when on my Vicarage (Internship) with a handkerchief in one hand catching the drool — that vision popped into my mind.  I never told Mary Ann about that vision.  Mary Ann needed me to be with her.  I needed to be with her.  The Kids needed for me to be there.  I was not.

This has been a difficult post to write.  Any one of those events would have been enough to make the transition very tough.  All of them together made it almost impossible to bear. I remember my feelings all to well as I was helpless to comfort the people I loved most.

All the while this was going on, I was in the midst of an exciting new beginning at a place filled with some of the most nurturing and affirming people I have ever known.  Everyone should have a chance to live in the heart of Oklahoma.  It is one of the best kept secrets in the nation.

Next will come the ministry at the church in the OKC area and our lives there.  I need a break for a post or two or three before the tragic event in Oklahoma City that had direct impact on our little congregation.  Barry Switzer comes first.  Google him if you don’t already know who he is.

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.

After so many years as an Associate Pastor, it became apparent that I needed to decide if I would continue at that parish indefinitely in that role.  I had spent eight years after high school learning to be a Pastor.  I had yet to realize that goal, since much of what a Pastor traditionally does was not in my portfolio as an Associate in a congregation too small to support two people doing the same thing. 

I had never preached a sermon on Easter.  I rarely made hospital visits.  One of the most meaningful ministries is doing funerals.  That was not in my portfolio.  I did very few Baptisms, my Son and maybe a couple of others.  The harsh reality is that it is very difficult to have two pastors in a congregation of that size doing the same thing.  John and I were good friends and an effective team.  After fifteen years, we noted that we were probably one of the very few team ministries around that actually worked.  It was time for me to be a Pastor with the duties that normally go with the role. 

In such a tiny national church body, there were almost no other opportunities available to move into the role of Pastor of a congregation.  I mentioned in the last post that since we were so small, if there was some activity at some level in the country that was open to all Lutheran churches, there were few of us to choose from to represent the AELC.

The workshop was called Options.  It was actually intended for pastors who were preparing to change professions.  That was not my goal, but since I was in transition and I was invited to participate, I did.  It was almost a week long.  There were thirteen of us.  The Staff for the week was seven.   There were personality tests to be taken.  There were interviews, group discussions, as in the old encounter groups.  The goal was for each person to come out with an understanding of how they were wired, what sorts of things fit their abilities, gifts and interests — what they would most enjoy doing. 

Since I had always thought of myself as somewhat of an outsider in the role of pastor, feeling too much like a regular person to fit the role, I was surprised at the results of the week.  It was obvious by the time the week was over, that my future profession ought to be a Pastor.  

Now came the challenge.  How can I serve as a Pastor when there is no place to go to do so in this tiny branch of Lutheranism.  I began the process of becoming certified in the other two larger bodies, the LCA and the ALC.  I became eligible for Call in the LCA.   

At the same time this was going on, a fellow named Pastor George was President of the region of the LCMS I had been in before controversy took us out.    He made sure my name was not removed from the roster of the LCMS.  That meant that I remained eligible for Call in the LCMS. 

Those of us who were dual-rostered (LCMS and AELC) were a problem to the LCMS leadership.  One day I got a surprise phone call from a Vice President of the LCMS who wanted to schedule a meeting with me at the Kansas City airport.   He was on the other end of the spectrum of church practice from me.  However, I had had him in my first year in college many years before.  As a child he had played with my Brother-in-Law.  We had ended up with a personal connection. 

At our meeting, I was candid about the areas of disagreement.  My understanding of the Scripture was that Holy Communion was to be a welcoming and inclusive event.  My understanding of Scripture was that gender should not impact eligibility for any role in the church.  (There is not time or space to review the historical context and careful study that support those positions.)  He shared his understanding.   In the end, he respected me, and I him. 

Apparently, my name had come up in national level meetings of the Council of Presidents, regional Presidents who advise the National church President.  One of those regional Presidents who happened to be even farther on the other end of the spectrum from me also knew me personally.  I had sat and talked with him in the family room of that same Brother-in-Law.  We got along well. 

I do not know what was said in those meetings but not long after those conversations a couple of Calls came from LCMS congregations.   One was from another national level leader who had a huge parish in Texas.  That one clearly seemed to be the result of conversations at that level. 

The other Call was completely independent of any of the issues above.  The retired Pastor of a congregation in the Oklahoma City area was Cousin to the Pastor (and his wife, cousin to both of them) who served the Lutheran congregation where our children had gone to school for most of their Elementary school years.  He had been hospitalized for a time, and I chose to visit him as a colleague.  Mary Ann and I really enjoyed Arlen and Ardis. 

When retired Pastor Willy asked his Cousin Arlen to suggest names for the Call list in Oklahoma, Arlen remembered the hospital calls and gave him my name with a good recommendation.  A Call to serve as Pastor of that congregation soon came. 

The decision whether to serve the current Call or the Call just received is difficult beyond words.  There were fifteen years of relationships.   If it were only that to weigh, there would have been no move. 

One of the times, the Senior Pastor where I was in the KC area needed for me to cover his role while he was on vacation or at a conference,  I called on Esther.  She was in her nineties.  Any Pastor can tell stories about how much they received from those to whom they were supposed to be giving ministry.  Esther and I talked about favorite Psalms, what they meant to us.  Her faith and sincerety filled that little house.  At that moment, I realized what I had been missing.  My gut  knew that I needed to exercise a whole dimension of my training and interest and ability that lay outside the role where I was.   

Some of what comes next you may think I just made up to embellish the story.  I wish it were so. 

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When the hands were counted and the decision made, one third of the hundred fifty or so people in the Nave, stood up and walked out.  Most never came back.  Churches are like families.  The bond is personal.  People’s histories are interwoven with the history of the church during their time there.

The controversy simmered and sometimes boiled at the national level.  Unfortunately, church folks can be at least as nasty as anyone.  Part of the reason is that deep feelings are involved.  What happened at the national level ultimately resulted in what happened at the parish I was serving when that vote was taken.

I graduated from the Seminary in 1969.  The education matched or exceeded the best of any branch of Christianity at that time.  The faculty were people of strong faith who were scholars of note as well.  At that time it was hard to find folks of faith who found good scholarship to enhance rather than challenge faith.

The year I graduated there was a change in leadership at the national level.  The battles began.  After five years of fighting, in 1974, the President of the National church body fired the President of the Seminary.  Forty-five of the fifty faculty and most of the student body marched out in protest and support for the Seminary President.

The Seminary in Exile (Seminex) began.  The issues involved polarized people beyond reason.  The break did not heal.  The congregation I was serving during that time, under the leadership of the Senior Pastor, began to study the issues that seemed to be dividing the church.  There were papers written and studied.  There were speakers reflecting both sides of the issues.  There were small group discussions and large group discussions.

In the end, the leadership of the congregation recommended joining an organization called, Evangelical Lutherans in Mission (ELIM).  It was structured as a fellowship of congregations within the national church body who aligned themselves with the faculty and students who left the Seminary.

The national church body chose to remove those congregations from its roster.  Gratefully, there were level heads that worked out pension issues so that everyone was treated fairly.

During those years, while I was open about my position on the issues, the Senior Pastor got the brunt of the nasty letters and angry words, since he took the leadership in dealing with the issues.  My relationships with those on both sides of the issues seemed to stay in place.

When the vote was taken, the future of the congregation and my future, and, as a result, Mary Ann’s future seemed to be very uncertain.  The congregation could no longer sustain itself as simply the repository for those who happened to carry our national church brand.  The church body that formed was called the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, the AELC.  There were just a tiny number throughout the nation.

Some good came from the trauma.  The congregation became energized.  Creative ministries emerged.  There is a sense in which our little branch of Lutheranism became the mouse that roared.  During that time I was part of a little group who lovingly referred to ourselves as the “Ass Pastors.”  We were four pastors who were ASSistants or ASSociates in our respective parishes.  One of us was on the roster of the Lutheran Church in America (LCA), one of us was on the roster of the American Lutheran Church (ALC), one of us was on the roster of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (the one from which we were separated), and I was from the AELC.

During that time I was privileged to serve as Celebrant for a huge ecumenical Lutheran Reformation Service held at the Redemptorist Father’s Roman Catholic Church in Kansas City.  It was a veritable happening as the former Diocesan Bishop and I embraced at the Altar during the Passing of the Peace.

The Metropolitan Inter-church agency for a time pulled together many brands to work to help the most vulnerable populations in the KC area. I was pleased to be a part in that group of servant leaders.   At the same time, since I was not part of one of the larger constituencies, I was able to chair the group that tried to pull together all the various Lutheran Agencies in the area so that we could each use our gifts more effectively.

It was such an odd time since many national organizations needed to have representatives from all four church bodies, the few of us in the AELC were in demand.  One of the perqs of being in that tiny crew was that one of the best Lutheran organists in the nation was a part of it.  Our little congregation did a workshop with Paul Manz as the leader.  The cost to us was minimal due to our common affiliation.

One of the less than pleasant side effects was that some of the pastors in the LCMS were not comfortable with the two of us in this new little group participating in worship with them.  My name had been suggested by some of the students to preach at the baccalaureate of the new Lutheran High, which Daughter Lisa was attending at the time.  The Pastoral Advisor would not allow that to happen.  My name was removed from consideration.

We were invited to participate with the ALC and LCA Youth in a national gathering of some 15,000 Youth and Counselors in Kansas city.  I served as the local arrangements manager.  It was a very demanding role.  At the next gathering, it became a paid position!

Those years were traumatic, exciting, energizing, scary, and most of all a powerful learning experience.  An odd side note is that the congregation that Mary Ann and I grew up in back in Northern Illinois also joined that little crew, the AELC.  Our home life was not impacted dramatically.  There was, however, a resulting time of transition that emerged when finally the AELC came to an end as the much larger church bodies came together into a newly formed group known now as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  Our little church body had become the catalyst for a huge change in the denominational landscape.  It is an alphabet soup of church names we have had in the last few decades.  That transition forced some decisions that effected dramatically my ministry and our future as a family.

…I am still trying to make the new blog name accessible.  I have made some progress, but so far it is still not easy enough to get to for me to begin using it.  In the meantime, this one will continue.  There is lots more to say!

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.

Mary Ann and I were invited to a Kansas City Chiefs football game after we had been at the church in the KC area for a while.  Neither of us had been to a professional football game before.  When we first entered the stadium (brand new at that time) it was as if we had entered a different world entirely.  The colors, the crowd, the sounds, the excitement, the energy, the beer and nachos.  We both were caught up in it.

Sometimes tickets were given to us.  Often for the December games.  We went.  We wrapped ourselves in plastic garbage bags and cheered the team on.  At first Mary Ann would ask about the basics, “what is this ten yard business?”  Soon she could name the quarterbacks and the stars on many of the teams.  A few times members took us with them to one of the suites at the stadium with free food and drinks.  During that time she remembered her years in Aurora and routing for the Bears.  That settled it.  The Bears it would be.  There were a number of other favorites, but always the Bears.  We had Bears’ posters and Bears’ Calendars, a Bears’ license plate frame (still on the van) and a six and a half foot tall free standing cardboard cutout of a Bears’ player. 

The ministry began with an emphasis on the Youth of the congregation.  There was a New Orleans gathering of 25,000 Lutheran Youth and Counselors.  Busloads traveled there in the August heat.  The Superdome had just opened.  The room I used to lead one of the programs was not finished yet.  I had to wait until the second day to do my sectional. 

The Youth work was not Mary Ann’s favorite.  It was not that she had a role in it.  I made sure that the Youth ministry did not encroach on our personal life.  It was more the time and energy, the attention I gave the Youth that she did not particularly appreciate.   It was not a bone of contention between us.  She knew it was my job. 

The Youth ministry flourished, especially in the first ten years or so.  The centerpiece was the annual trek in three unairconditioned school busses across all of Kansas and the flat and hot half of Colorado to Lutheran Valley Retreat [LVR] fifty miles northwest of Colorado Springs, well into the mountains.  A cluster of us wrote the program and we spent a full week immersed in faith building and community building in one of the most beautiful settings I have ever seen in my life. 

The air was dry and thin and crisp.  Cool nights and hot days, the smell the pines, the rustle of the wind through them brought a calm and peace that was wonderful to experience.  We climbed a steep hill and sat on an outcropping of rocks, watching falling stars, opening ourselves to one another, sharing our deepest struggles and finding hope in a Lord’s love of us. 

There would be as many as eight or nine people playing (or learning to play) the guitar, sitting on the front edge of the platform by the upper fire ring.  We sang songs that lifted our spirits.  We came to know them so well that we sang parts, improvised, added words and phrases, sometimes actions to them.  Every year at the major evening worship every person there was included in and experienced what it means to experience community with others — no one was left out.  There was a powerful experience of the unconditional love of a Lord who could see past our flaws.  For adolescents in search of an identity and acceptance of themselves at a time of such change physically and emotionally, it was a chance to find something powerful enough to help them through it.    

In the years I was at that congregation, I participated in thirteen trips to LVR.  That trip impacted the faith and the life of many of us over the years.  Each time when I returned, physically and emotionally drained, I knew that I needed to be careful not to be too enthusiastic in sharing the experience.  Mary Ann had just had a week by herself with the kids trying to deal with all that comes in the first week out of school in the summer. 

I worked together with the Youth Leaders of a number of congregations but especially one other congregation, much bigger than ours.  In many ways it was a joint ministry.  The Youth of the two churches met together every Wednesday evening for many years. 

When I first arrived, I trained groups of Adults who then taught classes in the Bethel Bible Series.  That provided an Adult connection.  I preached once every three Sundays for most of the time at that church.  Since I was especailly interested in worship and liturgy, the Senior Pastor and I worked together in planning worship services.

As an Assistant and then Associate Pastor, I did not have an opportunity to preach on any of the major festivals in the year.  The one exception was a service I started at 11pm on Christmas Eve.  It became a focal point in the year for me.  I began, sometimes as early as late summer, thinking about what I would say in that service.  I started the tradition of having instrumentalists introduce each carol we sang.  Some years we ended up with a small orchestra.  We had the best of the musicians in the congregation, sometimes with the addition of others they knew who were willing to play.  There were often soloists, one in particular who sang Gesu Bambino beautifully each year.  It grew into one of the major services in the year. 

One ministry that grew quietly was counseling.  It did not have as high a profile as the others, but became one of the most time consuming and satisfying of the ministries in which I participated.  There was, of course, lots to be done with the Youth.  It expanded to include marriage counseling, individual counseling, support for those who had gone through a divorce or the death of a loved one or problems with their children.  Since I had double majored including Psychology as one of the majors both at college and the Seminary and had done supervised Counseling, I knew enough to realize when I should do the Counseling myself and when I should refer them to someone who was a Phd Psychologist.  On occasion I teamed with a Psychologist when it was requested. 

The years in that church included a growing Early Childhood program.  That program was my responsibility.  Seeing the need and the opportunity to touch many families as well as raise the congregation’s visibility in the community, I supported the Early Childhood Staff as we worked together to determine how and when to expand the ministry.  We added a Mother’s Day Out program.  Then we constructed a School-age Child Care program.  At one point there were 150 children involved.  We had to rent the church across the street to accomodate one of the programs. 

There was a need to organize the community ministries.  We developed a group of people who had a heart for those in need.  That team developed numbers of ministries or connected with existing ones, serving the needs of many in the KC area.  The people on the team were creative and energetic.  If there was a need, they found a way to meet it. 

During the last five years of those ministries, I entered a Doctor of Ministry Program.  I began it around 1981 and completed it in 1986.  It took so long because those ministries to children in the community that were were the subject of my doctoral thesis took so much time to plan and implement. 

The ministries thrived, but the national church controversy finally had a direct impact on the congregation.   That is a painful part of the story of that congregation and the ministry there.   That chapter comes next.

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There must have been a lot of prayers going to the Lord on my behalf this morning.  The service seemed to go very well — and my emotions stayed at an appropriate level.  That was a gift from the Lord.  Yesterday had not been a very good day in terms of the presence of the pain.  It lay just beneath the surface of my interactions and conversations. 

This morning my apprehensions about what might bubble to the surface during the service were strong.  I had a moment by myself in the van on the way to picking up Joy who would be playing in the service.  As I drove the purpose of the service came into focus again, to affirm the Lord and the witness of Mary Ann’s life.  It was not to demonstrate my grief or display it or garner attention for myself.  Accomplishing those goals was no longer in my hands, but the Lord’s hands. 

That peace that comes sometimes when there is an encounter with the powerful love and Grace of the Lord settled as I drove.  It freed me to release the nervousness.  Lot’s of times I ask for the Lord’s help.  This time it was clear that I could not do this myself.  I don’t have control over my feelings.  They have a life of their own.  Making it through the service was a gift, not an accomplishment. 

The result was that I benefitted from the service more than anyone else.  It really did feel good to have the service at the place where Mary Ann and I both made many of the important transitions in our lives.  It helped provide perspective on her death.  It became part of a continuity, beginning, middle, end, new beginning. 

Most of the people gathered were people who knew Mary Ann when she was a child, a young adult, long before the Parkinson’s.  Their connection with her was longstanding.  It felt good to me in that way to be present again with the Mary Ann I knew from the beginning of our life together.

It was good to have a connection with the congregation from which I retired through Julianna who now lives in Chicago.  She is a Director of Christian Education at a congregation there.  Her Mother serves as the Director of Children’s Ministry at the parish from which I retired. 

It was very meaningful to me that Daughter Lisa, Denis, Abigail and Ashlyn, and Son Micah, Becky and Chloe drove so far just to be part of this community and to give me support.  The family doily that has been popping up in presents or suitcases or any number of places over the years, appeared on the lectern when I came to the front to lead the service (thanks to Becky and Lisa). 

What followed with the lunch and memory sharing time was profoundly healing to me.  It took a long time to get rolling, but the stories and impressions began coming out more and more.  I have always spent about an hour and a half with families a day or two before the funeral of their Loved One, doing what we did this afternoon.  I ask for stories from the person’s life, memories that reveal something of who they were.  I now realize that may have been the single most beneficial part of the ministry to those who are dealing with a death. 

At the moment, it feels as if I have actually regained some of the good feelings that came with having Mary Ann as a part of my life, being a part of hers.  Talking with, spending time with members of her family, nephews and nieces, sisters-in-law seemed to bring me closer to her.  Listening to her three closest friends, Joy, Terry and Cherri, brought me back to our first days together and times we all spent with one another, as well as pictures of her from before I knew her personally. 

Later in the evening, a small group gathered at my Sister’s home.  That group included all five siblings in my family.  The other four range in age from 81 to 72.  I am 6 and 1/2 years younger than my closest sibling.  We are three boys and two girls.  There were lots of memories shared.  We have different sets of memories from our growing up years.  This was a chance to connect the dots on some of them.   We all love each other and enjoy each others company.  We do not necessarily always agree on everything, but we are family.  That time was also very healing to me. 

I have absolutely no idea if the sensation of being healed of some of the pain will last hours, days, weeks or months.  I know that there will be lots of painful times to come.  At least for the moment, a sense of wholeness has returned.  Thank you for all the thoughts and prayers. 

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Lisa started in the local public school, but the class size was huge and classroom management took most of the teacher’s time and energy.  We moved her to a wonderful Lutheran Parochial school with creative teachers, a good ethnic mix of students and a class size that allowed our children to thrive.  When his turn came, Micah joined Lisa there.  We got to know the teachers well, so our poor kids could not get away with anything.  As is often so in a small school, sometimes the relationships were challenging, but the faculty was positive and affirming.   When it came time for Lisa to go to high school, a new Lutheran High had opened just a few years before.  Because of the geography of the situation, Micah moved to a large nearby Catholic school while Lisa attended the Lutheran High.  When the Lutheran high moved to a different building, Lisa’s round trip commute was 27 miles of city and Interstate driving. 

Both of the kids did very well in school.  Lisa was the first female Valedictorian at the Lutheran High, and Micah was the Lutheran at a Catholic School who was chosen to give the student address at the 8th Grade Graduation.  The kids were in endless sports activities.  Both played soccer especially well.  We got to know the families of the other kids, especially when they were in their elementary years.  Mary Ann was at every game, embarrassing the kids with her cheering them on (occasionally disagreeing with the officials’ calls — we actually got a yellow card at one soccer game).

Mary Ann volunteered at the school, especially the Lutheran Parochial School.  Her creativity made her popular with all the teachers.  She always loved most volunteering at the school library.  We provided the summer home for the rabbit and the chicken that had been a part of the learning experience in the classroom during the school year.  There was the requisite Gerbil and later, Hermit Crab. 

Mary Ann was a remarkable cook.  She learned well from her Mother and moved on from there.  As much as I loved my Mom and her cooking, there is no question that Mary Ann was a better cook.  She cooked great meals, but on occasion there would be some disapproval of the meal by one of the children, who shall remain nameless.  “This is what we are having.  If you don’t like it, make your own food.”  So he did!  Oops. 

I would hesitate to even begin to calculate the number of boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese that were eaten in those years.   Lisa had her moments too.  Mary Ann shaped it differently and called it Lisa loaf, but I don’t think Lisa ever really fell for that.  Both kids refused to eat any meat that had any visible evidence it had ever been a living being — no bones allowed.  Mary Ann did have a mental block when it came to boiling eggs.  We were at Leonard’s Restaurant when she remembered.  I left the family there, rushed back to the house and arrived some time after the eggs had exploded all over the kitchen and the pan was ruined.  We lost at least three or four pans over the years — they were never salvagable after an egg explosion.  The smell was frightening.

The ice cream obsession was just a given from day one.  Desserts of any sort were a regular addition to our days. 

MaryAnn worked part time after the kids were settled in full days in school.  There was the Midwest Health Congress.  That one demanded her staying at the hotel in Kansas City where the conference was held once a year.   I, of course, had full responsibility for the kids during those few days.   I learned tons about what it means to have 24 hour responsibility for the kids.   I didn’t realize how much having primary responsibility for the kids care, 24/7, differed from having the freedom to move in and out, leaving the primary role to the other parent much of the time.   We did have one really fun way to deal with the challenge of mealtimes while she was gone.  I asked the kids to write down menu’s for the three or four days.  We made two grocery lists that would provide the needed ingredients.  Then we went to the store, each one had her/his own shopping cart and list, and each one went out on his/her own.  When we gathered at the register, the amount of food we bought was at least twice what we would normally get, but it was worth it for the learning experience and the entertainment value. 

One of the places Mary Ann worked for quite a while was called the Living Center.  The focus was providing support for families, Family Enrichment workshops, along with all sorts of other programs to help keep families healthy.  Since we still had one car at that time, I drove her to work in the morning and picked her up in the afternoon, right after picking up the kids from school.

After dropping her off, the ritual two or three times a week was for me to stop and the nearby McDonald’s for coffee.  I had begun working at Spiritual Formation, seeking times of reflection and meditation.  I decided to try an experiment.  I would bring in my Bible and a meditative reading (usually by an author named Ed Hayes).  I would locate a spot in the middle of the McDonald’s, drink the coffee, read the next segment of the Bible, which I was reading through at that time.  I would then read the same devotion however many days I stopped there that week. 

This McDonald’s was in a mid-town location, near the art district.  There were people of all types.  There were young and old, affluent business folks and street people, handicapped and healthy, many dads getting something for their little ones before taking them to daycare.  There was ethnic variety in all the groupings just listed.   The time spent in that spot tuning in to the life of the those gathered in my peripheral vision, took the message of the Scriptures, the message of the written meditation and shaped my understanding of the message my life was about.  If the Gospel did not have meaning in that setting, it did not have meaning anywhere.  It did!  I could write many paragraphs about the people I saw there.   That is for another time.  (I have written abouto the McDonald’s experience somewhere in earlier posts.)

Next, the thriving ministry during those years and the exploding controversy in the national church body’s impact on it. 

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It is hard to imagine a more normal family life than ours — a Mom, a Dad and two children, a Daughter and a Son.  We chose to live frugally so that Mary Ann could stay home with the kids at least until they were both going to school full days.  We had one car, a fairly small house payment, and we were very careful how we spent what we had (I was the Ogre in that regard).   Having  only one car actually increased the time our family was together.  We could not all go different directions.  We did not get a second car until Lisa was driving age. 

Mary Ann was very creative, able to create good times with very simple things.  (I am hoping Lisa and Micah will write some of their memories of their Mom for me to include in a subsequent post.)  She quickly developed a neighborhood babysitting coop.  One Mom had three other Mom’s kids while they went out.  The next Thursday (not sure of the day) a different Mom would have the kids. 

There was a wading pool at a nearby vest pocket park that they often walked to.  There were summer activities there.   There was a YMCA with an outdoor pool not much farther away.  That was a favorite spot.  We went for walks in the neighborhood. 

There were the usual interesting times that come with having children.  Lisa and Chris down the block decided to cut each other’s hair one time.  Lisa got the worst of that one.  Micah was getting a push on his three-wheeled “Green Machine” by a neighbor girl who didn’t see that his toes were scraping on the cement.  The toes survived, but they looked pretty bad at the time.  Lisa ran away one time.  She told us she was doing so.  She came back shortly since when she got to the end of the block she stopped and turned around since she was not yet allowed to cross the street.  Micah, who was (is) very good at drawing, took a ball point pen to the wing back chair in the living room, making indelible circles around the two decorative buttons on it. 

We all have often remembered the time the snow was so deep that there was no school.  The four of us trudged a number of blocks to Leonard’s Restaurant that we had discovered managed to stay open.  We had a great breakfast there, as always.  Then there was the year that the ice and snow took out the power for a number of days.  We camped out in front of the fireplace. 

Then came the bees!  I got a call from Mary Ann that there were bees coming down the chimney.  As I raced home, she opened the flue and lit some papers on fire to get them out.  The papers went out and the bees came in through the open flue and started gathering on the sheer curtains in the Living Room.  When I got home, I saw a huge swarm of bees that looked like thick blanket, hanging from the outside of the chimney.  I put on a trenchcoat, jeans, boots, a hat, scarf around my face, and with spray cans and badminton rackets made a frontal assault on them.  Finally, we called a beekeeper who came with his smoker and a cardboard box, coaxed them into the box and put them in the trunk.  It took a couple of weeks for them all to leave, but since he had gotten the queen bee, they finally left completely.

We vacationed at Estes Park in Colorado one summer.  The kids road horses and played during the day.  I hiked, Mary Ann read.  We enjoyed watching a species of Prairie Dogs that had their home in an open area surrounded by cabins. 

We went on a couple of ski trips with families from the congregation.  We took sleeper busses out, skiied three days and then returned over night.  The skiing was great fun.  The first year, Mary Ann and I were still on the bunny slope the afternoon of the first day as we looked up to see our young children riding the lift up the mountain.  It was embarrassing. 

On that first trip, I watched blind skiers, handicapped skiers, snake-like strings of three year old skiers with no poles in hand pass me by.  I did gather speed once near the bottom of that run, ski over the front of a blind skier’s skis and ski at full speed straight into a very tall wall of snow at the side of the run at the very bottom.  The impact pushed the snow through the hairs of my beard to the skin beneath.  I became the butt of many jokes. 

On our last day of skiing the second year, the shuttle bus we were on in the morning slid off the road and tilted on to its side.  We all exited through the emergency door at the back of the bus.  No one was hurt.  What we did not know was that the morning bus accident was an omen of things to come. 

As all of us were sitting in the sleeper bus with the benches facing one another so that we could play cards and talk, as we were driving out of the mountains, with snow falling.  The bus began to shift and we realized it was out of control, passing between cars.  Then for a moment, time seemed to stop completely as we moved into a sort of eerie slow motion spin.  We looked at each other as the bus began to go around, back end to the front, front end to the back.  Finally, after an eternity, it came to rest against the guard rail overlooking a steep drop.  Just under our window, a car slammed into the side of the bus, injuring the driveras his head hit the windshield.  His injuries did not appear to be serious. 

That was our last ski trip.  Mary Ann always had trouble getting off the lift.  She would fall every time and could not get up without help.  She spent the last trip in the lodge drinking hot chocolate.  With hindsight, it seems likely that the symptoms were beginning to appear before we had any idea there was a problem.  The general wisdom is that a person has Parkinson’s Disease for at least five years before the symptoms become obvious enough for it to be diagnosed. 

Then there was the notorious Colorado Vacation that never happened.  We started out heading for Colorado.  We barely got out of the city and the two kids were arguing with one another (one probably dared to put a finger across the imaginary line between each one’s side).  Both Mary Ann and I were fed up with it, so we told them we were not going to Colorado.  Their punishment was Des Moines.  That is where we ended up instead of Colorado.   Lest you from Des Moines be offended, we enjoyed the Living History Farm and a Science Museum that was great for the kids.  We did the Amana Colonies afterward. 

Mary Ann had a bit of a rebellious streak as far as church was concerned.  She certainly had no interest in being a “Pastor’s Wife.”  The way we talked about it when the subject came up was that she and I were husband and wife.  I was a Pastor.  She was who she was, not an attachment to someone else.  (That is where Lisa gets it, Denis.)  She participated at church in lots of ways that were meaningful to her.  She did not, however, seek to meet some set of expectations placed on her by others.  The kids mentioned to me recently that she would always stop with them at Daylight Donuts on State line before coming to church, often making them late for church.  I, of course, was oblivious to it since I was immersed in the Sunday morning tasks. 

One Christmas Eve, Micah had been sick for a few days.  He was having strong stomach pain as the 11pm worship service at which I was preaching approached.  Finally, Mary Ann had to get him to the Emergency Room to be checked out as I was preaching the sermon.  I had lost one brother to peritonitis from a burst appendix and another brother and I had had emergency appendectomies, mine when I was seven years old.   It turned out to be dehydration, but it certainly scared me. 

Enough for now.  The family track will continue on course, but the church track will soon be impacted by the national level controversy. 

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.

Everywhere we looked, there were Moms with large bellies growing.   Mary Ann felt right at home.  It could not have been the water.  She had come from Ft. Wayne already pregnant.  Whatever it was, the babies popped out one after another, mostly boys.  The day before Micah was born, we had just come from the doctor’s office.  He said that she was already dilated some and would have the baby any time.  I was driving toward home, when to my horror, the engine stopped running.  We had run out of gas.  I don’t remember what Mary Ann said, but some things are better not to know.   Micah arrived the next day, September 7.   I have to admit that I was mightily irritated when I was told that I would have to leave now and go to the waiting room — and awful place with magazines from the 50’s.  I had been in the Delivery room when Lisa was born.  At Research Hospital, the rules changed concerning that issue two weeks after Micah was born.  I can remember taking Lisa with me to the street outside the hospital so that she could wave to her Mom.  She was a little over three years old at the time.  Mary Ann often lamented the timing of having both kids in the heat of summer in hot climates.  It just dawned on me, she may have been blaming me for that!

Then there was the house.  We looked mostly on the Kansas side, in Johnson County, since that was where the church was located.  After a while, nothing seemed to ring our chimes.  There was one possibility, but it was a little over the range that had been suggested to us based on my salary.  Then the realtor said, “We can look at the old house on the Missouri side.” 

Understand that the Missouri side meant a school system that had a typically bad reputation for quality as a city school district.  The Missouri side was more varied racially.  Johnson County was much less varied ethnically.   Both of us appreciated the older feel and ethnic variety of the Missouri side, but mostly, we just fell in love with the house the first time we saw it.   We bought it in 1972 for $22,500.

We had both grown up in older homes.  The “Old House” as she called it, was a two story shake sided house built in 1926.  The developer built to match the topography, leaving trees, curving streets around the hill.  The trees were all tall and stately.  There was a large bed of irises in full bloom.  The lilac bush was hanging with heavy clusters of blossoms filling the air with their scent.  There was the largest pussy willow bush/tree I have ever seen.  There was a spectacular Silver Weeping Birch in the front yard.  Each house in the neighborhood differed from the rest. 

There was a 25 foot long living room with a fire place — french doors to a side porch.  The dining room had a huge hand painted scene that blended with the wallpaper.  It was just an outline and was muted enough not to be distracting.  The Master bedroom was 18 feet long.  with a full bath and walk-in closet.  There were two other bedrooms, much smaller.  The house had a second full bath upstairs and a half bath in the breakfast room downstairs.  The kitchen was quaint, but there was barely room for the fridge.  There was a detached garage with a basketball hoop on the front of it.  Mary Ann loved that there was a basketball hoop out there.   There was something about being able to shoot hoops that she liked. 

The old stone basement had a little water in it at times, but it was no major problem.  There were some very entertaining camel back or cave crickets in the basement.  The house was solid as a rock.  It had shifted as much as it was going to shift decades earlier.  The plaster in a couple of ceilings was in bad shape, but both were repaired for about a hundred dollars.

Early on we remodeled the kitchen just a little, taking the wall to the breakfast room out, putting in sliding glass doors and adding a deck.  Those changes allowed much more space in the kitchen area.  We removed five layers of wallpaper from the walls, patched and sanded.  The walls were in almost perfect shape.  We heard about a fellow who would refinish wood floors.  We tore up the wall to wall carpets and found a beautiful white oak floor with red oak stairs. 

We enclosed the side porch into a multipurpose space.  A parishioner who was very skilled as a carpenter did much of the work, trading labor with me.  Dick did the carpentry for me and I helped him on his Mother’s farm.  At that time his labor would have been $16 an hour, and farm hand more like $3 an hour labor.  It sounds like a good deal at first glance.  Have you ever put up hay in 94 degree weather?  If you have, you know whereof I speak.  I almost died!  Well, maybe not quite that bad. 

Mary Ann made curtains and always had an eye for color.  The house was wonderful.  We felt very much at home there.  Mary Ann put in a little garden near the garage and used branches from the pussy willow for stakes at the ends of the rows.  The garden did not do well, the stakes thrived.  We had little pussy willows growing at the end of each row.   There was a tiny oak tree sapling that sprouted in that garden a few feet from the garage.  Mary Ann refused to let me pull it out.  I carefully explained that it was too close to the garage.  We drove by that house a couple of years ago.  In the intervening thirty some years it has grown into a tall and perfectly shaped oak tree.  The Silver Maple saplings we planted in the front yard had grown from the seeds of the neighbor’s tree.  When we went by that same time, they were huge trees.  The Monkey Grass we brought from Ron and June’s front yard in Memphis decades ago is still covering the terrace. 

I remember Jack, next door.  He was a Great Dane who was so tall that when he got curious and jumped up, his head would be above the top of the six foot privacy fence.  When he went back down the air would catch his ears and they would fly up, looking very silly.  Of course, I fed the birds and squirrels there just as I do now.  If I dared to sit out on the deck too long, interfering with the squirrels eating the olives from the Russian olive tree, one of the squirrels would find a branch right over my head and drop squirrel turds on me.  His aim was remarkable.  We had brought ferns and Jack-in-the-pulpit and wild phlox plants from my folk’s place in the country in Northern Illinois and planted them on the north side of the house in the back yard.  They thrived there for all fifteen years. 

Near the end of the fifteen years there, Mary Ann and I spent three weeks painting the outside of that shake sided house.  We scraped, primed, put on two coats of paint in three colors on that two story house.  Mary Ann did the lower story and I did the upper story.  I also scraped, primed and painted the 22 windows (all 6 panes over one). 

I thought I would tell the story of that house in one post before going on to our lives during that time.  By the way, that house for which we paid $22,500 in 1972 was on the market in 2007 or 8, listing for $310,000 — location, location, location.  

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.

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