Surviving the Unknown World

August 1983
The cool air and the long rays of morning sun greeted the three of us as we traveled the long driveway. It took everything in me not to start crying.

“Today’s a great day!” I said, with too much pep in my voice. I wanted to make sure I told him all he needed to know for this special day. “You’ll meet new people and it’ll be terrific!”

We continued to walk, hand in hand as we always had in the past. He stopped, looked up into my eye, and with a sober voice, “It is a great day, right, Mommy?”

Little Sis skipped along singing Great day, It’s gonna be a great day … She had no idea the somberness of this moment. But how could she? How could she know what it felt like to lose a baby into an Unknown World?

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Book Review, Red Pen Redemption by Lori Roeleveld

Red Pen RedemptionWould you be bold enough to challenge God with your life? Helen Bancroft did in Lori Roeleveld’s, Red Pen Redemption.

It’s a story of Helen’s self-justification and self-indulgence. She is both hero and villain. I loved her and hated her. I wanted to reach through the pages and shake her by her shoulders, then I wanted to hug her close to protect her. Ironically, it wasn’t until I was closing into the end of the story that I realized I had seen myself—my own life—reflected in parts of this story.

Roeleveld’s use of scripture soothed, guided, and enticed me as a reader. She also expertly offered example after example how Helen tried to look God in the proverbial face, only to blink and turn away. Just as I had tried in the past, and if you dare to read this, you may see yourself, too.

I rarely give five stars ratings. I think five-stars are reserved for mothers to give their children. But this book has what it takes to change lives. A tall order for a piece of fiction. Lori Roeleveld’s, Red Pen Redemption is slated to be a beloved Christmas Season staple for years to come.

Memories of Treasures Long Ago

Dad_Robin Lk Lavine (2)

J. G. Gilbert & Robin Gilbert Luftig at Lake Lavine, MI, Summer 1958

Even though my family of origin was pretty dysfunctional, one of my favorite pastimes when I’m feeling a bit low is to remember stories about my dad and how he honored my feelings and held them close to his heart.

I always jumped at the chance to be with Dad in his room—the Gun Room. It was a treat to steal away with him when he went upstairs to his room. He kept guns, cameras, family photos and film equipment, and special sentimental pieces from his childhood there. I am certain he kept us out for our own protection when it came to the guns. We were all told the only time we were allowed to go in there by ourselves was if the house was on fire and we could safely get the family’s 8mm films out and save them from being destroyed. Other than that, the Gun Room was strictly off limits. Whenever I saw him in there, I would beg to join him. And he always obliged. While he worked away on whatever project he was concentrating on, I looked around his private sanctuary with marvel. I would fold my arms behind my back holding tightly on to my wrists, just to make sure I did not touch anything. I did not want to run the risk of inadvertently grabbing for something and causing harm.

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How Do You Treat Your Darlings?

Oscar-Wilde (2)Writing is wonderful. And there, you will find darlings–those phrases and word pictures that you dearly love. But we need to watch our relationship with these darlings.

Variations on the “murder your darlings” saying, including “kill your darlings” and “kill your babies,” have been handed down in writing workshops and guides for decades, and almost every major 20th century English author has been cited at one time or another. In addition to the common attribution to Faulkner—“In writing, you must kill all your darlings”—which seems to have been popularized in guides to screenwriting in the 1990s, the advice has also been attributed to Oscar Wilde, Eudora Welty, G.K. Chesterton, “the great master Chekov,” and Stephen King, who wrote, “kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

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Finding Focus

Definition: a state or condition permitting clear perception or understanding

Watching as the US hockey team beat the USSR’s team (Miracle on Ice) at the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980. I was focused.

Watching my firstborn pick up a leaf for the first time. He looked at it, turning it over and over, taking in all its splendor. I had never experienced anything as sacred. I was focused.

Having a doctor hold my hand and say, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Luftig, but you have a tumor on your brain about the size of my fist. Do you want a priest? Could I get the hospital chaplain for you?” Focused here, too.

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A Reminder of a Father’s Love

J. G. Gilbert & Robin Gilbert Luftig at Lake Lavine, MI, Summer 1958

J. G. Gilbert & Robin Gilbert Luftig at Lake Lavine, MI, Summer 1958

To celebrate Father’s Day, I’m re-posting a blog I shared that exemplified my relationship with my father. I’d love to hear stories from you about the relationship you have (or had) with yours. I pray it was as loving as mine was …

Happy Father’s Day

J. G. Gilbert & Robin Gilbert Luftig at Lake Lavine, MI, Summer 1958

J. G. Gilbert & Robin Gilbert Luftig at Lake Lavine, MI, Summer 1958

To celebrate Father’s Day, I’m re-posting a blog I shared that exemplified my relationship with my father. I’d love to hear stories from you about the relationship you have (or had) with yours. I pray it was as loving as mine …

Treasures in Dad’s Room

Even though my family of origin was pretty dysfunctional, one of my favorite pastimes when I’m feeling a bit low is to remember stories about my dad and how he honored my feelings and held them close to his heart.

I always jumped at the chance to be with Dad in his room—the Gun Room. It was a treat to steal away with him when he went upstairs to his room. He kept guns, cameras, family photos and film equipment, and special sentimental pieces from his childhood there. I am certain he kept us out for our own protection when it came to the guns. We were all told the only time we were allowed to go in there by ourselves was if the house was on fire and we could safely get the family’s 8mm films out and save them from being destroyed. Other than that, the Gun Room was strictly off limits. Whenever I saw him in there, I would beg to join him. And he always obliged. While he worked away on whatever project he was concentrating on, I looked around his private sanctuary with marvel. I would fold my arms behind my back holding tightly on to my wrists, just to make sure I did not touch anything. I did not want to run the risk of inadvertently grabbing for something and causing harm.

One of the items I often searched out was a stuffed bird, about the size of my palm, with wild ostrich feather plumage glued onto it. Dad kept it secured away in a glass cabinet I was completely mesmerized by its splendor. It was so odd to see this delicate piece of fluff surrounded by items dedicated to hunting and killing animals. I made stories up in my mind about why this fragile object was set apart with reverence and displayed only for Dad’s eyes to see. Was it a gift from a princess he had rescued from the grips of a ferocious dragon? Was it a piece of treasure he had found while hunting with Indians? My imagination knew no boundaries.

I figured—with all the wisdom that a four-year-old could have—that since Dad liked it so much, I should give it to him again. Father’s Day was quickly approaching and, lucky for me, Dad and I were already in his room, so I had access to the sacred bird. When Dad was not looking, I carefully walked over to the display case and opened it. Slowly, I reached into the case and carefully grabbed the stuffed bird. I held it in my tiny hands as if it were precious jewels. I abruptly left and took my stolen booty to my bedroom. Securing the bird in a safe place, I left my room to bring back newspaper and masking tape. With all the care I could muster, I wrapped the stuffed bird as his Father’s Day gift. I was sure he would be thrilled with my present.

On Father’s Day, after dinner was finished, Mom and Dad were having their coffee and The Boys ran out to play. I ran upstairs to bring down my special gift for Dad. Standing before him I ceremonially offered him my carefully wrapped package. He looked at the crumpled ball of newspaper encircled with bands of masking tape and pulled me up into his lap so I could have the perfect view of the unveiling. As he carefully unwrapped the mound of tape and paper, he revealed the soft, fragile stuffed bird that I had taken from his glass cabinet. He paused, smiled and said that he loved it. Thank you for the perfect present, Robbie. This is such a cute bird. I’ll keep it forever! With that, he smothered me with hugs and kisses. I strutted away as if I had just been awarded a national medal for being the most loving and awesome child of the year.

Later that summer, we began to prepare to celebrate Dad’s birthday that September. He never wanted much of a fuss, but we enjoyed honoring him the best we could. I had no idea how to out-gift Father’s Day. Then the answer came to me. One day while he was in the gun room, I asked to come in so I could see his precious treasures. Again, I carefully opened the display case and grabbed the feathered masterpiece. And as before, I took it to my room and wrapped it with newspaper and masking tape.

When the time came for presents after dinner, I made sure I was at the front of the pack. Dad, once again, scooped me and my ball of newspaper and masking tape up and pulled me on his lap.

Then he opened the present.

When he saw all the plumage and beautiful colors, he never missed a beat. He raved on about how beautiful this present was and how he was so pleased that I knew just what he liked. He never let on that he recognized the bird from the glass case in his room or that he even knew I had taken it. Instead, he made a fuss over me and my re-re-gifted item that had already belonged to him. He made me feel like I had offered him the moon and it was the most special gift he ever received.

In my preschool mind, life with my dad was the most perfectest life ever.

I have so many wonderful memories of my father. With Father’s Day around the corner, I will—just like every year—miss his hugs. Memories will have to be enough.

If possible, find something to thank your father for. You’ll be glad you did.

Even in the most dysfunctional family, there are good memories. What stories do you carry in your heart?