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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5 of My Favorite Writing Tools

writers-toolsHaving the right tools for writing always helps the process go smoothly. Tools can be anything. Did you start with your favorite pen when you began jotting down your thoughts? Or what about reference books–I thoroughly enjoy thumbing through them even when I’m between projects, just to get the feel of what’s out there. Do you have your favorite software? Do you support Microsoft Word person or Google docs?

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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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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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Using Words that Count

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Our hearts are full of love as we set a course full of good things when we hold our swaddled babies in our arms. We never want heartache and pain to enter their little worlds.

But it does, and sometimes we can’t save them.

Take a moment and read Beth Miesse Saadati’s latest post, It Shouldn’t Have End This Way: The Epilogue to My Daughter’s Suicide Note. Beth has felt pain no parent should feel. Maybe her words can be used to reach that special person, letting them know that they are loved.

Our children need to hear us–really hear what we say–when we tell them bad situations don’t last forever. They need to know they matter; that they fill our lives with joy every day.

Love you, Beth, and am praying for you and your family..

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… The Rest of the Story

I posted not too long ago about some fears that I had regarding returning to my childhood hometown to catch up with friends and family I haven’t seen for many years. Would they welcome me with open arms or would they hold me at arm’s length because I hadn’t measured up to their expectations?

The answer is yes.

But I must say that God blessed me abundantly though it all. I experienced the warm and all-encompassing love that only could come from a person who has known someone for years. It was wonderful to chat over pizza and share my heart with them. What a blessing it was to offer up my brokenness—not try to hide it or justify it—and have them see it as a part of my past, not as what defined me; and then love me unconditionally. It was also incredible to get together with my best friend from years long past and pick up on our relationship just as if we still lived down the street from each other. The only noticeable changes were our waistlines and the ages of our children. I even had the opportunity to share my brokenness to the next generation—as an example of God’s grace. Additionally, I was blessed with the gift of spending time with a grade school classmate who had dealt with her own brokenness … and we shared with each other the miracles that can only come from an all-powerful Heavenly Father. I get chills thinking about sitting with her at her kitchen table, holding hands and praying together. To top off my time away, I had the greatest opportunity to connect with new friends who told me I was a blessing to them. What a gift!

And I concerned myself with not being enough?!

I could tell you about the moments of awkwardness when I was with other folks who did, in fact, continue to see me as someone who will never meet up to their expectations. It happened; it was real. But it’s not worth mentioning. I can say, without a shadow of doubt, that the blessings I received far outweigh any snubs or awkwardness I dealt with.

It’s always scary to face down fears … but I didn’t do it alone. Thank all of you who prayed for me in my struggle. I felt God’s protection was all around me.

I can’t wait for my next trip back!

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?