Facets of Lucy

Looking at the various side of a life


The Good Cousins

I come from a large family that I spoke of in my second post.  I’ll share again a photo of most of my cousins in front of my grandparents’ house some Sunday afternoon.

Family Photo

Family Photo

I did not have a lot in common with my cousins.  None were exactly my age; none lived in the same town as I did.  They’d lived there their entire lives; we moved close by after my parents’ divorce. Most of them did go to school together, making me even more of an outsider.  So with no close relationships, we drifted apart and I only knew what was going on in their lives through my mother.  As she grew older, I heard less until I couldn’t have told you anything about any of them.

The first time one came back into my life was after my mother had been moved to a nursing home.  She’d been there for over a year and was very unhappy. It was a beautiful facility that was horribly run, but that’s another post.  We were looking for a new place for her and this cousin contacted me.  She and her siblings have a band, and they perform for charities and had performed at many nursing homes in the area.  She gave us the name of one she was impressed by.  We went to look at it and my mother liked it.  She’s been there now for 3 years and it was a good pick.  The facility is not shiny and new, but the staff has no turnover, is truly caring and concerned and she feels at home.

Because my mother had “dainties” that she didn’t want ruined through the nursing home’s commercial laundry, my cousin who lived nearby, offered to do my mother’s laundry for her.  It was at this point when I named her “the good cousin”.  She was just so giving.  When I thanked her, she’d say, “Now you know you’d do the same for my mother.”  Would I?  I’d like to think so.  But I live four hours from my mother and my aunt.  I wouldn’t be tested.

My cousin and I began to communicate fairly often about my mom.  I get there every month but she was my “eyes on the ground” about how Mom fared in-between.  Her sister joined in the conversation and I got to know her, too.  She was also kind.  They became “the good cousins”.  I told them and they laughed.

Then I discovered this:  their baby brother, who had beaten cancer twice was in the hospital needing a heart transplant.  The cancer treatments had done damage to his heart.  He went through some tough patches and was to go through more long periods of hospitalization.  He is self-insured, being a small business owner.  The medical bills were astronomical.

I asked my mother if there was any fund to which we could contribute to help with the medical bills he was accumulating.  I don’t know if my question got them thinking or if it was already in the works, but a fund was started at a local bank.  To get it started, a local restaurant offered its premises to hold a fund-raiser.  They had the restaurant for 7 hours, from 2pm – 9pm.  Since the “good cousins” and their brothers have a bluegrass band, they know a lot of musicians and a lot of big-hearted musicians offered to perform. My husband and I attended and were deeply moved by how many people were there to perform, to contribute and to support.  Victor was still hospitalized, but was there via Skype.

Since then, their small town community has opened its heart to do anything they could do to help out this family. There have been quite a few fundraisers since the first.  Most have had live music but not all and they’ve built up quite a large fund to help Victor pay his medical bills. I suppose it might be a drop in the bucket by the time he has his heart transplant but the fund has given caring people a way to help and has given Victor a way to recognize how much support and love he has to get him through.  I’ve gotten to know “the good cousins’” brothers as adults, and they’re men of faith and family.  I am honored that they are family.  I’ve developed an appreciation for the depth and width of what the word “family” can contain.

By the way, at the latest fundraiser, there was a wonderful R&B/Gospel singer who performed an amazing set.  She also invited a sixteen year old rocker to join her in the song “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone”.  If you want a taste of it, click below. And remember Victor in your prayers that he gets his new heart.  Thanks.

To watch on youtube, click here:  Jane Powell and Logan Stegall 02/17/2013


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Sharing a New Year Tradition

Are you interested in a fun way to start the New Year?

A number of years ago, our family started a tradition of getting together for a bowl of New Year’s Day Soup, basically a vegetable soup containing black-eyed peas which are supposed to bring good luck in the new year.  While we are together, we enjoy an activity that let’s us look back at the year just ended and look forward to what the new year will bring.  We read and write up annual predictions.

There are no rules for the predictions.  There can be as many or as few as each person wants.  Subjects vary, too, although this year, everyone had predicted the presidential election outcome.  But there are engagements, new jobs, World Series winners, pregnancy and travel predicted as well.   I bring out the predictions from where I’ve stored them for a year.  Then, we go around the table reading our prior year predictions and laughing and enjoying them, whether right or wrong.  It was interesting to observe that, last year, everyone predicted an Obama reelection regardless of our political leanings.  We laughed to see that a majority had predicted an engagement for a family member which did not occur. On and on, it went as we went around the table reading our 2012 predictions.  Although there’s no prize, there is an acknowledgement for whoever gets the most of their predictions right.

After the reading, its time to make the new year’s predictions. Once we’ve written all our predictions down, we fold the sheet of paper and put it in an envelope, which we each seal.  Then, each of us signs their name across the seal of the envelope to guarantee they remain undisturbed until the next January. There is a red ribbon which is tied around the bunch, and they go in the china cabinet and there they wait.  When we started this tradition, it was just us and our 4 children.  As they’ve married, we’ve added the new spouses to the circle.  Last year, the grandparents were here and they very happily returned today to hear how they’d done and issue their prognostications for 2013,  This year, we were joined by a friend of my son, recently returned from overseas.  I’m predicting we’ll see him again next year.

If this sounds fun to you, start the tradition yourself.  It’s not too late.


I lost another girlfriend to cancer this week, my college roommate, a bridesmaid in my wedding. Many of us are experiencing the not un-common regrets of letting everyday life interfere with keeping relationships close. In this friend’s honor and, as a reminder for us all, I am reblogging a very early post about girlfriends.

Facets of Lucy

A friend of mine from college passed away from cancer at the painfully young age of 25.  Of course, during her years of suffering, friends helped with her medical appointments, brought meals, all the things one does at such a time.  After she passed, we formed a team in her honor for local cancer walks.  I remember walking along with her mother at one of the early ones when she was expressing her gratitude for her daughter’s girlfriends.  “Girlfriends”, she said, ” Are more valuable than you know.”  She said that it was easy in college to have your girlfriends, but it got increasingly harder to maintain those relationships as we get older.  All the new stages of adulthood – marriage, children, work, work while married with children – make it harder and harder to find time for your friends.  You still consider them your friends, and yet they fall…

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My Dear and Great Friend

“My Dear and Great Friend”.  So began a touching three page, hand-written letter.  It was addressed to my step-father, building on a friendship begun in a time of war.

If you are younger than a certain age (say 30), it is entirely possible that you have never written a letter.  At the rate things are going with the USPS, I suggest you try it soon.  Letters are a much more personal and permanent communication than an email, tweet or text could ever be.  For one thing, each person’s handwriting is uniquely theirs and even that varies by mood and purpose.  You see a woman’s love letter and even the loops in the letters say romance.  Watch that same woman write an angry diatribe at a politician, a  friend who did her wrong or a partner and you’ll see where the pen pressed down deeply in the paper, where her writing slants up or down and where the letters get bigger for emphasis. And a signature, unspoiled by the speed we sign our name at a retail checkout is a part of one’s identity.  Think about where else you see the word, like the phrase “signature style” – doesn’t that mean a style that is yours alone?

A hand-written letter is more than a communication, it is a gift.  Well-written, poignant, funny, angry – whatever, they are read and re-read, shared and kept to read again another day.  I have a love letter from an old boyfriend from when I was in high school.  Its very sweet and romantic, right up  to the moment when he blows smoke from a joint on a sand crab and it dies.  Well, he was young.  There’s a letter form a boy in college, apologizing for standing me up.  Truth be told, I was mad.  But this letter contained every trite phrase ever composed.  He didn’t mean it to be a joke but it made me laugh and I never looked his way again.  But the letter I kept and brought out for a good laugh when needed. One special letter came from my husband’s grandmother when she heard we’d gotten engaged.  Her letter was more than congratulations.  She shared the highs and lows of her marriage, her philosophy on making a marriage work (with special attention to the “modern woman’s emphasis on work” which was actually quite astute.  I still have the letter from the first politician (local) who wrote me to invite me to be an official member of his campaign.  There are letters from my grandfather – what a treasure!  Letters from my father who was stationed abroad and so missed my high school graduation.  Actually, as a child, I would write letters to my father wherever he was stationed and he, a frustrated would-be English teacher, would send them back corrected in red ink.  He corrected spelling and chided me not to use worn-out greetings like “How are you?  I am fine” as we were taught to do in school.  Yes.  In school.  Children used to learn how to write a proper social letter and business letter as part of their English lessons.

Letters offer more than memories; they are a way to track history.  Did you know that Churchill and Roosevelt kept up secret correspondence throughout World War II?  They have proven to be a valuable source to learn what these world leaders  were thinking.  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were also great correspondents whose letters offer great historical insight. (Trivia: both died on July 4, 1826 within hours of each other.).  Letter writers don’t have to be famous to give us a look at history.  In my family, we have my stepfather’s correspondence during and after World War II.  Letters from home show the impact on the homefront. But the letters from friends he made overseas offer a different look into postwar rebuilding and shortages and how much the U.S. was admired and trusted.

With technology changing at a faster and faster pace, its an easy argument to make that, no matter how beautifully you write words and compose letters, emails, tweets, texts and whatever comes next to make these formats dinosaurs, its hard to imagine keeping them around in the same way.  Even if you keep print copies or digital copies, they won’t be as expressive as an actual letter.

If you’re even remotely interested, I have a challenge for you.  Get a piece of paper or two.  Its very hard to actually buy stationery anymore.  Write a hand-written letter to someone who is important to you.  It doesn’t have to be long but make it heartfelt.  Actually, send two. Send one to someone older than you who will be touched by your gesture and likely to write back.  You need the experience of receiving a letter as much as sending one.  and make the second one to whoever you choose, regardless of age.  If they’re younger than you, you’ll be giving them a gift they may never get again.  I swear to you I have no stock in the U.S. Postal Service.  This exercise will only cost you $.88 for two stamps.  But the letters will be, as they say, priceless.

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The Queen is Dead, Long Live the Queen

I have to admit I saw it coming.  The signs were all there: she was much slower than she used to be.  We still spent alot of time together but it just wasn’t as productive as in the past.  Physically, she also bore some scars and, frankly, showed her age. We were old friends as well as co-workers and I was sad recognizing that I might lose her soon.  Now, this will sound cold, but I need someone who can perform duties for me, who I can depend on, who can move forward with me.  So, I started looking around for, not necessarily a replacement, as much as an intern who could slowly transition into the job.

After looking around and researching the possibilities, I found someone who might fill that slot.  She needed a couple weeks before she could come on board which was fine.  But two days after I made the commitment, my old friend died. It really was a shock to me; I thought we had a long time to go.  I grieved, but also reached out to my new acquaintance to see if she could start earlier than planned.  Her timeline was firm, unfortunately, so I was lost all the way around.

Yesterday morning, I looked out my window and saw the FedEx delivery man stop in front of my house.  “Wait”, I thought, “She’s not supposed to be here until Thursday morning”.  But FedEx Man went to the back of his truck and emerged with something that could only be her.  As he walked towards the door, I ran down the stairs to greet them.  After I signed for her and thanked him, I invited her into the kitchen where we began to get acquainted.   She’s shiny and new, has a much better and faster memory than my old friend and really wasn’t set up to serve my needs.  Where was Firefox?  WordPress?  Quicken? It will take awhile until she’s just right for me, but she’s got alot of potential.  In fact, she just helped me type our first post.  Welcome, QueenMum2!