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The Feathers of My Life

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S: The Feathers of My Life, by Heather McGregor

FC: The Feathers of My Life

1: One feather doesn’t mean much, but put a lot of them together, and you have something beautiful. These are some of my many stories of a life filled with happiness and heartache, but as I am looking back, all is well and I feel a joy beyond all understanding.

2: Majorette Boot ............................................ 5 A Donkey Story ............................................. 9 Purple Cape .................................................. 14 Gum and a Curl ........................................... 18 The Sign on My Back ...................................... 21 Turkey at the Airport .................................... 24 Chasing a Fire Truck ................................... 28 First Days at Merlin School .............................. 31 "Ugly Duckling" by Linda Goltz ......................... 39 "When God Created Mothers" by Erma Bombeck ...... 40 Dancing with My Heart .................................... 43

3: The Clown ................................................... 53 "I Refuse to Be Discouraged" .............................. 60 The Berry Bushes ........................................... 61 "Let Go" ..................................................... 67 Car Wash .................................................. 68 Ashes ......................................................... 70 Angel .......................................................... 76 My New Name ............................................... 79 "Blessed in Aging" by Esther Mary Walker ............... 83 OUCH! ........................................................ 84 My Seventh Birthday ....................................... 86

4: Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get.

5: Marjorette Boot The ninth grade was a very happy time for me. The kids at Grants Pass High School received me with open arms, for I was the “girl from California,” and, in those days, it was said that California girls were very sexy. What we all knew about that was little, and I sure didn’t think of myself as sexy. Two boys liked me right away, and it was fun being noticed by them. But what was really exciting to me was being chosen as a majorette for the band. I had never been in anything except a parade once, and the thought of being in a big band—an award-winning band—was so good to think about. At the time, there were three senior girls and one junior girl, all majorettes, and the band director that watched me try out. The girls, being older, didn’t look favorably on me, just a ninth grader. They knew how to put makeup on and were just a whole lot more experienced than me in every way. Nevertheless, I was chosen and was so excited—and totally scared! | 5 | 5

6: The band was practicing on the field the following week, and the older majorettes had never included me in their practices, so I knew none of the routines. As we went on to the field, I didn’t know what to do. I was just marching. The director asked me, “Do you know the routines?” I said I hadn’t been shown them. This made him mad. He called the older girls aside and let them know that he was mad. From then on they showed me their routines, but barely spoke to me. The first time I got to wear the uniform (I called it a “costume” because, at the dance studio, that’s what it would have been called), they berated me and said, “It is a uniform, Stupid!” I cried but tried not to let them see me. | 6

7: As each year went by, they graduated and I got stronger and better at twirling. I even ended up being the head majorette, leading the band, and wearing a very tall hat and very short skirt. I loved it. The director bought me a lighted baton and a fire baton. Twirling was very special with all the high schools in 1950. I taught baton at a dance studio where I also taught toe dancing. There were many great times leading the band; I did it for four years. Once time, at the Rose Parade in Portland, I got many blisters from my new boots. We had practiced a lot but not enough for me. If I remember right, the parade route was ten miles. I probably went twice as far as the band, for I would go all over the street performing and keeping the band in line by blowing the whistle. The director put me in the infirmary that night at the college where we were staying. I wanted to go out with the others, but he wouldn't let me. My feet were just raw. All my band friends had a lot | 7

8: of fun being in a city the size of Portland for the evening. Some of them came back and told me about their night out. The time that was the strangest happened in Marshfield, a town by the Oregon Coast, that must have gotten its name because it rains so hard there. One Saturday we took the band bus over to play a game that night. It was raining all the way over, and the field there was soaked. The team played the first half, left the field, and the band came on. It was very slippery and soggy from the team, who were muddy from head to toe. As the band hit the middle of the field, I kicked my leg up in the air but my boot stayed in the mud. The band was coming right behind me, so I just kept going, leaving my boot behind! I probably looked pretty silly kicking and marching with only one boot. The band director went out after the game to try and find it, but, after the team had played the second half, it was probably deep in the mud. My mother was very unhappy with me. Majorette boots were expensive, and I had to have a new pair for the following week’s game. We had to order them to come down to Grants Pass from Portland. | 8

9: A Donkey Story

10: Joseph yells, “Hey, Flop Ears! We have a job to do. Come here.” I slowly walk over. Joseph said we are going to go to Nazareth to pay our taxes, and Mary wants to go with me. Now Mary is Joseph’s girlfriend, but I heard she’s pregnant and ready to deliver. You ask (what was that about?), ‘Not married and pregnant.’ OOOOOOOOOOOOO-KKKKKKKKKKK. Mary gets on my back. She is a little heavy with that little baby almost to be born. She wiggles to try and get comfortable. Doesn’t she know I’m old and have bunions and corns and sore knees? OOOOOOOOO-KKKKKKKKKKK. We leave in the morning, with the sun shining bright and hot. We walk all day. For me it is very tiring. Joseph keeps saying, “Come on, Flop Ears.” OOOOOOOOOOOOOO-KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK. As we arrive at the inn, I think, oh boy, oh boy, time to eat and go to sleep. Mary slides off—ouch! My bones on my back ache. Mary stands there and says, “I’m sorry, Flop Ears." OOOOOOOOOOOOOO-KKKKKKKKKK. Joseph comes back out to where we are standing. He | 10

11: looks sad. “Mary, there aren’t any rooms, but there is a stall in the barn.” Mary says, “Just get me some place. The baby is coming." As we settle in the barn, I notice that Joseph is taking all the hay and putting it in the manger. Hey, wait a minute! That’s my dinner, and that’s my manger to eat from. OOOOOOOOOOOOOO-KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK. Joseph helps Mary lie down. Her tummy is making notice like when I eat too much and have gas. The baby just came popping out. What a sight! The baby is a boy, and his parents are so happy. I look up and am frightened by the bright lights in the night sky. No! Those are angels! They’re singing and rejoicing in the new baby. I get so caught up in this that I forget I can’t sing. I open my mouth and sing, Hallelujah! Hallelujah! All the other animals are staring at me. OOOOOOOOO-KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK. Men come forward with these fancy gifts. They look really wise, and each one lays his gift about the baby lying in my manger. | 11

12: OOOOOOOOO-KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK. The next day, Joseph says, “Flop Ears, we are going home to Nazareth.” I look at him and say, You’ve got to be crazy. While I’m complaining, the other barnyard animals call me a jack***. Don’t you know this is the baby that will grow into the Savior for all of us who believe? He will hang on the cross so our sins will be forgiven. Buck up! Put those flop ears up, and be proud.” OOOOOOOOOOO-KKKKKKKKKKKK. So me, Flop Ears, was not flop ears anymore. I was carrying the future King and mighty proud of it. As we left and got on the road, with ears held high, I wondered, Do you know, Mary, your baby boy is Jesus? | 12

13: I believe in the sun when it’s not shining. I believe in love even when I feel it not. I believe in God even when He is silent.

14: Purple Cape As I stood in front of the Hilton Hotel in Portland, Oregon, waiting for my new husband’s darling silver Porsche, the young man going to get it out of the parking garage took my keys. “Back in just a minute!” he yelled. I had only been married three weeks and had never driven this car that my husband took such joy in. He had meetings all day and had given me a credit card, his car, and a new, warm purple rain cape bought for me the night before. As I stood there, the cape was feeling very nice with its warm lining, and I thought it must look so pretty in that cold rain that was coming down. I felt on top of the world. It just could get much better than this. You know, that wonderful feeling that all is well? That was the feeling that was going on inside of me as I stood there with a big smile. Soon I found out and I should have realized: nothing stays the same for long (especially when I was feeling so much pride). I felt I was | 14

15: doing pretty darn good, and was enjoying every minute. I was so high and totally in love with my Bruce. Nothing could ruin my day. Suddenly, a man came running out of the hotel carrying a very large cake. I didn’t know what happened as he slipped in the rain and fell right into my back. The cake smashed into my new beautiful purple cape. He slid the cake plate up and off my cape and kept running. The kid that had gone to get my car was yelling for me to come and pick it up—he needed it moved! A woman waiting for her car said, “You have cake all over your back!” A nice man took out his hanky and started wiping my back, but the rain was making cake run all over my beautiful cape and down the sidewalk. I waved for the parking attendant to take my car back so he would stop yelling at me, never thinking he had my keys. I started into the hotel, thinking this was the only thing I could do. They had already told me a few minutes before that my room wasn’t ready. Another lady said, “You can’t go in there. You are dripping | 15

16: blue and green and yellow, and you look like a rainbow.” I’m sure that, with my new purple cape, I probably did. I stood there, feeling totally opposite from how I had felt only minutes ago, trying to decide what to do. I finally took off my cape. Everyone that walked by looked at me strangely and seemed to move away from me. By now I had wet hair clinging down on my head. I’m not sure but I probably had mascara running under my eyes. Pretty much everything was running down the sidewalk. The grumpy hotel clerk looked at me with horror in his eyes. I think he was thinking that someone looking like this should not be in his hotel. I told him the story of just what had happened. When I finished, all of a sudden his voice changed, and he said, “Your room is ready and waiting for you, Mrs. McGregor, and what can the hotel do for you?” I told him, “Please take me to my room.” I wish now I would have at least asked for room service, but I was new to all of this hotel stuff. Getting my room was quite enough at the moment. | 16

17: As I got to the room, I shed a few tears. My cape was ruined. I was reminded that, any time I have felt such pride, something always happens to me. Laying on the bed thinking it all through, WHAT HAD JUST HAPPENED, I had to thank God for always showing me my self, my foolish ways and thoughts, and for reminding me that is isn’t about things. P.S. When my husband came into the hotel that evening, the desk clerk stopped him and gave him the keys to the car that I had forgotten all about. He explained they had no idea who the man with the cake was and gave an apology. Bruce promised me a new cape, and I can’t really remember if he came through with that promise. The love he has continued to show is worth so much more than a silly purple cape. | 17

18: Gum and A Curl

19: When I was seven, it was very popular to wear your hair in what were called finger curls. This meant that your mom or someone would wrap your air around their finger, pull down, and you would have a long curl. Sounds strange, but this was done one curl at a time until there were many little curls on your head. For those who can remember back, we looked like Shirley Temple. My hair was bright red, very thick and long. Thinking back, it was probably pretty. My mother sure thought so. She always had a lot to say about my hair. One morning when I woke up, guess what? A whole curl had gum stuck in it. When I tried to brush it out for Mom to put the curls in, I noticed there was a whole big hunk of gum back there. I was told not to sleep with gum in my mouth, but gum was new to me and special. I probably thought I could get by with it and save it. For sure I couldn’t tell Mom what had happened, so I took care of the problem—I thought. Mom called me to come so she could fix my hair for school. I thought I had taken care of the problem curl, but it soon started to stink horribly in our house. Mom jumped up and was scurrying around to try and find the smell. I sat there, not saying a word. The smell sort of died down, so she came back to getting my | 19

20: hair in curls. About the third curl, she grabbed the rest of my hair in her hands, turned my face toward her, and said, “What have you done? You’ve cut your hair!” I looked at Mom, speechless. Then it dawned on her, “You have put the cut curl down in the furnace grate. That’s the smell!” Looking up at her, I said, “Because I HAD GUM STUCK IN IT!” Mom’s eyes looked right in mine, she made an ugly face at me and sat down to try and salvage my hair. No harm done. My mom told the story for years. I don’t recommend putting hair into the furnace to hide it. Oh, did our house stink from that hair! | 20 | "I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach; Perfection is God's business."

21: The Sign On My Back It was my first grade, and I was so happy to finally get to go to school after playing like I was going to school for so long. I made my little sister, Carolyn, who was three years younger than I, pretend we were in school. She didn’t always understand what I wanted, so I was very happy to finally be at real school with a real teacher and a real desk, not a pretend desk. Somehow along the way in my life, I began to feel I must always be perfect or no one would like me. I tried hard to be perfect. I still fight that tendency today. I know in my heart that none of us ever get perfect, but my head still tells me differently. I continue to try and fill this need, this silly need learned so many, many years ago. It still keeps me from doing a lot of things I would do if that old fear of failure would not creep in. My father always told me, “If you can’t do it perfectly, don’t do it.” I do realize now that | 21

22: is a bunch of baloney. But like so many things in our lives we learned early, we hang on to them. I want each of you to follow your dreams and desires. Listen to your thoughts and ideas; don’t let others live your life. I finally had a desk of my own. I loved my teacher, all of our studies, especially the books with big pictures and stories of Dick and Jane, and arranging my things just right in my desk. The lid lifted up so you could arrange everything in there just to suit you. I also loved recess and having all the kids around. I knew I was really big. One day the teacher had to leave the room and said we were not supposed to talk while she was out. The girl in front of me turned around and said, “Please tie my hair ribbon,” so, without saying a word, I tied her ribbon. When the teacher returned, the boy appointed to take names if we talked or if we were bad said that I had talked. I was horrified and didn’t say anything back, for I knew I hadn’t talked. I was too embarrassed to even say anything. My

23: teacher, Miss Prairie, told me to come to her desk after school. My whole body was shaking as I approached Miss Prairie. She said, “Give this note to your mother. Turn around now—you wear this home, and don’t forget to give the note to your mother.” At that time, the older kids and younger kids rode with each other to school. I couldn’t even read or see what was on my back. As I got on the bus, all the big kids started laughing and mocked me, as they all said, “I TALK TOO MUCH.” The order from Miss Prairie, I found out later, was to wear the sign home and have my mother sign the note. She was then to make me wear the sign back to school. I never asked my mom what she did about the whole thing. I did not have the sign on the next day, but I carried a note back to Miss Prairie. I think I can guess what my mom said, because, from then on, Miss Prairie was most kind, as I remember. To this day, I feel the wrong done to me that day. | 23

24: Turkey At The Airport

25: We were all at my daughter Lori’s in Sacramento one Thanksgiving, and someone got the idea to dress up like turkeys and meet Ed, Lori’s husband, at the airport. For the next hour, we worked on our outfits to wear. The palm fronds would make beautiful turkey tails, so we proceeded to cut palms at 10 p.m. in their yard. We had to pick Ed up at 11 p.m. at the Sacramento Airport, so we were really moving, and laughing like crazy. We put red ties and scarves around our heads and under our chins so they would look like the turkey’s gobbler thing. We put on tights and blouses, a belt around our waists, lots of black makeup under our eyes and bright red lipstick on our lips. The plan was to put the palms at our butts, stuck in our belts, so it looked like a tail. With the red scarves and ties we created the turkey gobbler thing over our heads and hanging down our necks. We did think we would look fabulous while holding up our signs that read, “Welcome Home, Captain ED—Enjoy Your Turkey!” In those days you could go to the gate and pick up your passenger. Now Ed was the senior captain of his plane that night, flying for Northwest Airlines, so he was the last off with his two copilots. We pulled up to the airport, and there were hundreds of people there. We were shocked that we hadn’t | 25

26: thought about it being a big holiday for everyone. We parked and said, “Let’s go for it.” Feeling a little embarrassed but being the funny family we are, we had come from across town and still thought it sounded fun. As we got out of the car and started sticking our palms into our belts, people started laughing and jeering and following us. Just as we hit the automatic doors, my granddaughter got stuck for a moment. That was scary. Her tail was almost too large, and we had to turn her sideways. There were TV cameras on us, as they were there filming the large crowd. There was no way for us to know that the TV reporters would be there. We were shocked when they started filming us! We continued on to Ed’s gate, after hamming it up for the cameras a bit. We walked toward the gate as the camera man yelled, “Good job, girls! Go for it.” We assumed we were on the news that next day or that night but didn’t check to see. Now what you don’t know is, Lori’s husband was very handsome and was not into joking around. He | 26

27: stepped into the airport looking all 6’5” the captain he was. He was still across the arrival area from us but could read our signs. At first he looked with a glance and made a joke to his copilot. Then his head whirled around. He realized it was us and it was his name on the sign. I think he wanted to run, but with so many people around watching, he started laughing and walked over to us. By now everyone was clapping and waiting to see who Ed was. He took a bow, grabbed his wife, and gave all of us a big group hug. I think he was probably afraid the rest of his flying days that we might all be there doing something silly. We will see you again, Ed, but we will have wings and be looking for you. Be looking for each of us, and we promise not to humiliate you again. Just lots of hugs and kisses. We love you, ED, and we miss you. | 27

28: Chasing A Fire Truck

29: It is probably best not to wear flip flops when chasing a fire truck. My little girls and I were visiting my mom at her house one sunny afternoon when we looked up to see a lot of smoke and flames coming from behind the neighbor’s house. I was in shock for a second, then ran for the phone. It was hung on the wall, as most phones were in the 1960s. I found the number of the fire department and quickly called them. When they asked for the address, I could not remember it, so I told them my parents’ name and they knew where to come. Amazing. That’s an advantage to living in such a small town like Grants Pass, Oregon. As the fire truck came up the hill, we stood staring over at the neighbor’s house. People were running up the hill behind where the fireman had jumped out of the truck. I looked at the big fire truck rolling backwards very slowly. To my horror, I realized that the people running up the hill to see the fire | 29

30: could not distinguish the truck rolling backwards at them. I instinctively took off after the truck, not even thinking. I had to run fast enough to pass it, then reach up, open the door and jump in. From then on I was surely being guided by God. I put the truck in gear, not even close to knowing what I was doing. The truck started to move forward up the hill to where I stopped it. The fireman who had forgotten to set the brake met me as I was sliding out, still wearing my flip flops, my legs shaking. I made it to my girls and mom, who had been screaming at me to stop, that I would be killed. We all hugged, and I praised God for His protection over me in my flip flops. | 30

31: First Days at Merlin School

32: We moved from Bakersfield, California, from a very affluent lifestyle to a home in Oregon. My father retired at 35 and had wanted all of his life to live in Oregon. We sold our house, and my dad went to Grants Pass, Oregon, to find my mother, sister and me a new home. He called Mom and said it was a beautiful area. He felt he was in “God’s Country.” When Daddy called and said he had bought a home for us and that it had a creek running through it, I think my mom was excited. Why wouldn’t she be? After all, this was “God’s Country”, or so Daddy kept saying. My dad showed up ready to pack us and very happy about the new adventure. He had sold his grocery store, cabins, and our new home with all its amenities. Even our new car. The day came for us to take the road trip to “God’s County” in Oregon. It took two days to arrive in a little town called Merlin with | 32

33: maybe 300 people, a very dark and dirty place. But there was hope--lots of hope, for our daddy had picked a great farm for us. We headed out of the town, if you could call a service station and grocery store a town. About five miles or so, Daddy stopped on a bride that was covering a beautiful creek called Jump Off Joe Creek—a horrible story we found out later. We all got out and Daddy got his gun out, which Mom didn’t even know was in the car. He lifted the gun and shot a salmon! Totally not legal—not that anyone would see him clear out there. Mom said, “What are you going to do with that thing?!” Daddy said, “Don’t you want to cook it in your new home?” as he turned and looked at our new house. What a shock! This was not much of a house and surely not what we were used to. Mom said, “NO WAY!” and laughed. Dad said, “Oh, come on now.” Poor Mom. At this moment she hadn’t realized there was no electricity. So, besides not knowing how to cook a big salmon, she had no idea how to cook on a big monster of a | 33

34: wood stove. The salmon ended up being burned. Mom and I got back into the car and my dad said, “Little Fellow, let’s walk.” He always called my little sister that nickname; I have no idea why. As we drove to the house, my mom was crying and the place scared me. Daddy and Carolyn walked up and saw how unhappy we were and said we would get used to it and love being on a farm. This was my dad’s dream, not my mom’s or mine. We settled the best we could. Our furniture was not right for a farm and there was no running water or indoor plumbing. This spoiled little girl was in shock, I think, and still get a sick feeling when I think about it. I think I could have become used to living out there and got over my fear of the animals, but. . . It came time for me to go to school and I was excited. Maybe I would meet some kids to play with. That was my ‘city thinking’, for there wasn’t a person in sight near our house. On the day I went to school, probably one of the worst days of my little girl life, I put on my Bakersfield clothes. I always wore white majorette boots. I think I liked them, and know my mother did. My long red hair with long curls down my back, my new yellow pencils, and big box of crayons with the sharpener—I felt all was well. Until I

35: went into the school. The children didn’t have shoes on and all their heads were shaved because they had lice. There I stood, with that red hair gleaming and looking totally out of place. I didn’t want to stay, but the principal said I’d be fine. Mom left, and the principal told me to go outside until she rang the bell. There has never been such a time in my life that I ever felt so afraid and helpless. The kids started spitting on me and throwing rocks at me and calling me names I had never heard before. They ran up and pulled my hair! I started crying, and the principal came hustling out, took my hand and told the kids to stop. But they continued, even after she told them to stop! I thought I was in trouble and big embarrassment tears flowed down my cheeks. She said hush to me and that she would drive me home. There wasn’t a phone yet in that area to call my parents. As we drove home, I remember how my face felt—hot eyes burning—and my heart felt broken. Mom met us at the door. The principal told her what had happened and that she must change the way I looked if I were to come back to school. | 35

36: We went into the bigger town next to Merlin, Grants Pass, and that was a ten mile drive We bought me overalls and tennis shoes, then headed back home. After a few days I put on those overalls and ugly shoes. When I complained, Mom said, “Consider the other kids. Some of them have NO shoes.” This was a start of learning probably just what my dad had wanted my sister and me to understand. Mom said, “Come, let me braid your hair.” I felt so awfully dressed, for I was used to wearing lovely little dresses. My grandparents had a large rabbit farm, so they kept me in white fur coats and hats. The outfit I had on was not anything near to what I wanted or was used to. Life was hard for me out there, and I got very sick. The doctors thought I would die and couldn’t find a diagnosis of what was wrong. I missed nine weeks of school. I wonder now if it was from nothing more than my heartache and | 36

37: utter sadness. I will never know the answer to that. The night came in the hospital when they told my parents to stay with me because it was so serious. They thought it wise that my parents be there. But a miracle happened that night, my mother always told me. The miracle was that my cousin, Garey, who is 18 months older than I, said his prayers. He told his mother that I would get well. The next morning I woke up perfectly well, just as he had told the adults I would. My first question the next morning when I finally woke up was, “Can we go get a hamburger?” My aunts worked at a hamburger restaurant and would often come to see me in the hospital after they got off work smelling of hamburgers. The doctors were dumbfounded. They had no answer, but of course, we all knew that God had intervened. The only thing the doctor said was, | 37

38: “Get her a hamburger.” I don’t remember this, but they said I ate every bite of that hamburger. That was a very big deal because I had quit eating. Mom cried, and I remember my dad hugged me and said, “Let’s go home.” From there on I settled into my situation of living on that farm—never really liked it, but settled. I even had a few friends. Garey came out in the summers and stayed with us a couple of summers. It was fun having a boy cousin to play with, although I think he just wanted to be with my dad. We lived out there three years and then moved into Grants Pass. As for me, I had many experiences out there and told my dad on my 40th birthday that I was thankful. It showed me how to deal with all kinds of people (and I mean ALL KINDS!—I could write a book just on those three years we lived in Merlin). I truly appreciate having had this experience. It surely is true God won’t give us more than we can handle. But it seems it gets close sometimes. | 38

39: “Ugly Duckling” by Linda Goltz She cannot comprehend how lovely she is or will become. She does not believe the perception of others. Her extreme beauty is enhanced by endearing humor and enchanting creativity. With looks, loyalty and the talent of a caring heart, she’s everything humanly desirable. Considering each event before her as excitement, she embraces life as an adventure. She pursues each day with the grace of an excellent swan. How sad that she still sees only the ugly duckling. | 39

40: When God Created Mothers by Erma Bombeck When the good Lord was creating mothers, He was into His sixth day of ‘overtime’ when the angel appeared and said, ‘You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.’ And the Lord said, ‘Have you read the specs on this order? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic; have 180 moveable parts all replaceable; run on black coffee and leftovers; have a lap that disappears when she stands up; a kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair; and six pairs of hands.’ The angel shook her head slowly and said, ‘Six pairs of hands...no way.’ ‘It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,’ said the Lord. ‘It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.’ ‘That’s on the standard model?’ asked the angel. The Lord nodded. ‘One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, What are you kids doing in there? when she already knows. Another here in the

41: back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, I understand and I love You, without so much as uttering a word.’ ‘Lord,’ said the angel, touching His sleeve gently. ‘Come to bed. Tomorrow.’ ‘I can’t,’ said the Lord, ‘I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick, can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger and can get a nine-year old to stand under a shower.’ The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. ‘It’s too soft,’ she sighed. ‘But tough!’ said the Lord excitedly. ‘You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure.’ ‘Can it think?’ ‘Not only think, but it can reason and compromise,’ said the Creator. Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. ‘There’s a leak,’ she pronounced. ‘I told You You were trying to put too much into this model.’ ‘It’s not a leak,’ said the Lord, ‘it’s a tear.’ ‘What’s it for?’ ‘It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.’ ‘You are a genius,’ said the angel. The Lord looked somber. ‘I didn’t put it there.’ | 41

42: Unless we live fully, not 'sometime' in the future but right now, true fulfillment in life will forever elude us.

43: Dancing With My Heart

44: I hadn’t danced for 20 years. There were so many things going on in my life that I never gave myself the time to be myself and do the things I loved. Don’t get me wrong—I loved raising my children and all the things that entails. But anyone who has been a parent knows, unless you make a special effort, taking care of yourself is not what happens—unless you have been brought up in a different way than I was. So, dance (or should I say ballet) was one of those things that I had given up. It left out a big part of my life that I always missed. One morning I was turning 60 years old. Not really feeling old, I was thinking there must be more at this time of life than this. I noticed there are no manuals on what to do when you raise your children and retire. In every other phase of life there are all kinds of help. Not after 60. Then what? Maybe a great trip? A complete body makeover? Picking up the morning paper with coffee in hand, I settled down for one of my daily routines. There, in my paper, the words jumped off the page and into my heart. Could it be possible that I could dance the ballet after so many years? | 44

45: The ad in the paper said, “Needed: Dancers for ‘The Nutcracker’.” I could feel my heart pounding as the thought or possibility that they could use me came to my mind. As I drove to the call, I could hardly drive; I was so frightened. When I arrived at the studio and saw everyone going in, I realized how old I was and felt, yes, I did need a whole new life—not just a body makeover. But even though I was shaking, I was exhilarated. Getting out of the car, two times out, then back in, then out again, feeling light-headed but determined at least to give it a try. We all were told to sit in a line on a bench, ballet shoes in hand. Mine were old and fairly ragged but loved. I could never throw them away and decided they had served me well in the past. If I made the ballet, I would get new ones. Dance studios have a certain smell. Not good, unless you love to be there and dance. I couldn’t believe how good it all felt to me. My face was shining, I’m sure. I could hardly breathe from shear excitement. The director called us two by two to do a routine that she had just showed us. It was hard to remember the steps, but I think my adrenaline made me do it. She said to go back to the bench. After all of us were through, she called three of us up. I was one of them! She said, “Welcome to this performance of ‘The

46: Nutcracker.’ This will be hard work and many rehearsals. Can you do that?” Two of us said yes; another said no. She then picked another scared person off the bench. The director was like most directors of dance—very dedicated and very strict. The director was French and her English was a little rough. When she said, “Hetter (instead of Heather), you will be the lead,"I wasn’t sure if she meant me. Her fiery eyes were staring at me. I looked dumb and she said, “Yes—you!” I had no idea what the lead had to do, but she began to describe and demonstrate our parts—especially mine. I was relieved that it sounded like I could probably do my part. It would take a lot of practice, but I would be the lead of the parents in the program. I cannot express how excited I felt. I knew there was no stopping me now. What an opportunity for me to do something that only I could have dreamed of. I was much older than everyone else, but this didn’t seem to matter to me. I was chosen for the lead parent—probably because I was the oldest. Guess there are advantages, at times, for getting old! | 46

47: We practiced two times a week for six weeks. I practiced much more at home. There were many costume fittings, makeup and hair to learn. The dress I wore weighed 18 pounds and had a huge hoop slip under it. It also had a very low neckline, which made me stand very straight through all my routines. Things went well after I got used to being called “Hetter” and yelled at if I made a mistake. The night of dress rehearsal finally came. They were filming the dress rehearsal for all of the dancers to see later. Things were going well as I went to center stage. I was supposed to kneel down and pretend I had dropped an earring. When I started to come back up, my right foot caught in my hoop skirt and I started jumping around on my left foot. The man playing my husband was reaching for me, but in all my flailing around, he couldn’t catch me. I kept jumping, looking like a crazy person, until I hit the Christmas tree, knocking some of its ornaments off, including the star on top. Finally my foot came loose and I went into some crazy butterfly dance, arms out, up on my toes. All the other parents were and ran to the

48: supposed to follow me. They also went into this crazy dance with me. I had no idea what I was doing, and neither did they. We got off the stage in hysterics, falling on the floor laughing. Except for me. I was crying and laughing at the same time, my nose running and tears flowing. We had to go back on stage, but our hair and makeup had certainly changed from all the laughing and crying. I remember catching the eye of my director. Her mouth was wide open and her arms were in the air. As I was trying to get my foot unstuck, her look, shall I say, didn’t look happy. There was a live orchestra for that production, so they continued. My feelings were very bruised and embarrassed. When the dress rehearsal was over, all that my director said (with her deep eyes looking into mine) was, “Don’t let that happen again.” I nodded. The next morning, one of the biggest days in my life, I woke early, my feelings still hurting from the night before. Needing to take my father to the doctor, I put my feelings aside. Daddy had not been feeling very well. It seemed he had a cold. I put “The Nutcracker” music on and dressed for the trip to the doctors, taking time to lay out the undergarments I would need to wear under my beautiful satin and silk dress. I left the house with a | 48

49: smile that just wouldn’t leave. I knew it wouldn’t take long to see the doctor, and it made me feel good to share my pecial day with my dad. Arriving to pick up Daddy, greeting everyone where he lived and walking like the ballerina I thought I must be, I hugged Daddy. He said, “You seem happy.” “I am,” I said. “This is the day that once more I dance the ballet.” On the way to the doctor’s office, we laughed and talked about my four children and how they all were doing. When we arrived at the doctor’s office, they took us right in. I helped Daddy get to the exam room, him walking behind me holding my shoulders. Walking slowly, we had figured out a method for getting around—this had worked for us over the past few months. Helping Daddy up on the exam table, he lay down. “I feel really cold,” he said, so I took off my coat and put it over him, tucking him in. The door opened and his doctor came in and started the exam. Listening to Daddy’s heart, he looked at me with a puzzled expression. “Can you take your father across the hall to the x-ray room?” “I’m sure we have a method, don’t we, Daddy?” I asked. He said nothing as I got him off the table. | 49

50: We took about six or eight steps, and he dropped behind me to the ground. I have no idea what happened next, until standing in the waiting room, staring a blank stare, I heard, “Heather. Heather. Heather.” I turned and the doctor put his arms out as I ran toward him. “He’s gone.” I said, “He is not!” and ran into the doctor’s arms, crying my heart out. I said, “I must see him.” The doctor agreed and took me into where they had put him on a table. It was very cold in that room, and I looked for my coat, for it seemed colder than anything I had ever known. As I looked at my daddy, I felt a loss that I had never felt before. My mother had gone a few years before, but I wasn’t there when she left us, much to my regret. As I stood there, calm came over me for a moment and these words came to me, “I’m the next in line.” The sadness was overwhelming; it had happened so suddenly. My husband and my oldest daughter were called. They came and picked me up to get my car and take it home. | 50

51: Time was running short. The day had flown by and, not having a big part in the ballet, I had no understudy. I had to be there, but wasn’t sure how I could do it. The hurt in my heart was more than my worry of how things would go. Thanks to my daughter, Pam, she got me ready and even drove me to the stage door. I knew I had to go in, but my legs felt like big chunks. Nothing was like what I thought this night would be. My husband in the ballet whispered the moves to me, pas de bourree left, pas de bourree right. This is how we got through with a nearly perfect show, I was told. The director came up to me after the show was over and said, “Thank you. That was above what most people could have done.” That sentence is stuck in my heart forever. I could feel Mom and Daddy’s presence, and how they had taught me strength whenever I needed it. Thank you, Momma and Daddy. | 51

52: I am anointed. I am creative. I am talented. I am successful. I have favor with God. People like me. I am a victor and not a victim.

53: The Clown I think twelve is a hard age; it sure was for me. That’s the year I became a woman, as all my aunts and my mom would say. That was their way to explain the happenings in a girl’s life around that age. Whatever that meant at that time, I didn’t want to know. I still felt like a little girl. Things did change that year, and one of them still haunts me to this very day. Excitement filled me so much that I started getting ready early in the afternoon. My parents, knowing how much I loved any kind of skating, had bought tickets to the Ice Capades for my birthday. My little sister, mom and dad would be going. I spent a lot of time figuring out what I should wear. It had to be a dress, for I wasn’t allowed to wear pants—it wasn’t what proper girls wore in 1949 according to my father. He himself could get by with almost anything, but he was strict with my sister Carolyn (3 years younger) and me. After spending a lot of time picking out the dress I wanted to wear, I finally chose a beautiful emerald green velvet with ruffles around the | 53

54: neck. I had only worn it once before at my mother’s best friend’s wedding. I thought the dress was really special. It was soft and I loved touching it. It didn’t itch me, for we didn’t realize at the time that I would have allergic reactions to scratchy things. I just couldn’t keep them on, which caused many silly fights with my mother. I laid the dress on my bed, then started fixing my long, bright red hair. It was very thick in those days and took a long time to dry. While it was drying I found a large clip my aunt had given me. She was my very favorite aunt, with her long red fingernails and beautiful black hair rolled up on top of her head. She worked in a cocktail lounge, and I thought she was so glamorous. I wished I could look just like her! Even her name was so different: Delma. She invited me quite often to stay overnight at her house, and we would talk lots of girl stuff and laugh together. Her mouth was so big when she laughed. Her bright red lipstick made her teeth look really white. It was so special to see someone laugh in the way that she did. I would look in the mirror and pretend to laugh, hoping I would see her beautiful laughing face, not mine. I lacked self-esteem and needed my parents to show me affection with nice words, wonderful hugs, and ‘I | 54

55: love you,’ but that wasn’t the way my family did things. One night my aunt had me stay over at her house, something I obviously loved to do, with her big bed and soft sheets that smelled so sweet, her special hair brush and comb that lay on a mirror tray that she let me use. She would rub my hair back from my face and cuddle me in bed. All the time she would talk softly about things I can’t remember now but loved at the time. She made me feel very special and loved; I could ask her anything. That night she took me to where she worked so she could pick up her check and introduce me to her friends. I so loved meeting her friends and being talked to by grownups. Where she worked was so fancy and pretty, rather dark with pretty lights all around the room. The people working wore black pants and starched white blouses with a bow at the neck. The men wore black ties and black shoes. My aunt wore black patent leather high heels that I often would try on. The name of the place was El Taejon Hotel, in Bakersfield, California, where we lived. A few days later I had to go home, and, of course I | 55

56: started telling everything we did. When my father heard she had taken me in to the nightclub where she worked, he was very mad and spoke to her harshly. He was her brother and she was used to him, I suppose, for she didn’t seem to get upset. When he was through, she came over and hugged me and said in my ear, “It’s okay, sweet girl. We would never do anything wrong.” After thinking awhile about my aunt, I continued to dress. I looked at the big hair clip and, again thinking of her, I thought the clip she gave me would be just right with my dress. My legs and neck were too long, and I hated my freckles, but I could wear a little bit of lipstick now that I was a woman. My first tube had been given to me by my aunt—a little tube of pink lip gloss. When you put it on, it would turn pink on your lips. Tan Gee was the brand, and I still can smell it. It was very perfumery, and I liked it a lot. I thought this little bit of lipstick probably made up for how ugly I usually felt about myself. We were going to the Ice Capades, a very big deal for me! I performed on roller skates at a couple of meets | 56

57: the year before and had done pretty well. I received an eight-inch tall silver girl on skates as a trophy. I wish I had kept it and am not sure where it went. I suppose everyone gets a prize, when I think about it, but when they handed me my trophy, I felt something exciting in my stomach. Not a bad feeling—but something fun and happy. Being able to go to the big arena in town was such a treat for me. Our family didn’t do a lot of this sort of thing. As the excitement of the day built up, I thought lofty dreams that maybe I would be an ice skater some day and wear beautiful costumes. Maybe I would learn how to put makeup on so people could see me with a beautiful face and a big, happy smile. Maybe people would even clap for me. And just maybe someday I might be a champion on skates. I sighed and giggled, feeling embarrassed at my thoughts and myself, knowing my thoughts were definitely pretend. My parents would really not approve of me being so vain and giving myself that much attention. As we drove to the rink, with so much anticipation in me, I made sure I sat very carefully so my dress would not have a wrinkle in it. Finally the night had come! | 57

58: As we walked into the arena, there were hundreds of people. I’m sure my eyes were as big as morning glories in full bloom. My head was darting everywhere. The excitement was magical. Then, all of a sudden from across the big arena there was an ugly large clown running right at me, yelling and screaming, skipping and hopping on one foot then the other. He was wearing big strange shoes as he came toward me, all this time making everyone hear him shouting with such a very loud voice, “Look! Look! Look, look, someone who looks just like me.” People stopped to join him in his fun, smiling and laughing. I was horrified! He was coming right to me. He had a silly big red wig and his makeup was ugly, with big orange cheeks and long white eyelashes. His lips were not like my pale pink Tan Gee lips at all, and he just kept saying, “Look! Don’t we look alike?” Tears formed in my eyes, yet everyone laughed and did not notice how upset I was. I stood there frozen as he tried to dance with me, shouting, “Looks like me! Looks like me!” Not even my mom and dad noticed. They laughed and I could see my sister thought he was really

59: funny. He finally stopped playing games with me and then left to torment someone else. I pretended to think he was funny so everyone would stay happy in my family, but my chin was quivering. I tried to make it stop. I felt a sob ready to come out. I wanted to go home, and I can’t remember seeing the show. This changed how I felt about myself the rest of my life. Even now it brings tears. For him to tell me I was ugly, or that is what I thought I heard him saying, had such an impact on my life. My heart ached, and I could only see myself through his eyes. I know it was just fun on his part and a job he was doing. And I know I was far too serious. Laughter didn’t come easy for me at twelve. On the way home, it was quite in the car. My parents never asked. They probably thought I was just taking it all in, and I guess that was the truth. I will say the one good thing I learned is to be aware of others’ feelings, and I’m thankful for that. I pray I have never done so much damage to anyone in my path. I fear I have...please forgive me if it was you. Your Mom, Heather | 59

60: I refuse to be discouraged, To be sad, or to cry; I refuse to be downhearted, And here’s the reason why: I have a God who’s mighty, Who’s sovereign and supreme; I have a God who loves me, And I am on His team. He is all-wise and powerful. Jesus is His name; Though everything is changeable, My God remains the same. My God knows all that’s happening; Beginning to the end; His presence is my comfort; He is my dearest Friend. When sickness comes to weaken me, To bring my head down low, I call upon my mighty God; Into His arms I go. When circumstances threaten To rob me of my peace; He draws me close unto His breast, Where all my strivings cease. | When my heart melts within me, And weakness takes control; He gathers me into His arms, He soothes my heart and soul. The great “I AM” is with me. My life is in His hand; The “Son of the Lord” is my hope, It’s in His strength I stand. I refuse to be defeated, My eyes are on my God; He has promised to be with me, As through this life I trod. I’m looking past all my circumstances, To Heaven’s throne above; My prayers have reached the heart of God I’m resting in His love. I give God thanks in everything. My eyes are on His face; The battle’s His, the victory mine; He’ll help me win the race. (Author Unknown) | 60

61: The Berry Bushes My cousins and I had lots of great times together when we were still in grade school. One of the most special times was Sundays. In 1946, most people went to church. There were no stores open to do any shopping on Sundays, so my family and all my cousins’ families would go to church, then off to my grandma and grandpa’s house in Wilderville, Oregon. It was a day of family and rest, and it seems we did just that. Sunday seemed to all of us to be a very special day. All of my mother’s sisters and their families would meet at Grandma and Grandpa’s log cabin. There was a barn and a creek on the property. This game us kids plenty of room to play. Our moms would bring big baskets of delicious food. We would all eat and talk and tell funny stories until we were so full. We all just lay around and needed to take naps. Some would play cards or other games. We kids liked to watch Grandpa drink his coffee from a china cup and saucer. He would pour his coffee in the cup, then put sugar and cream into his cup, stirring it all up. Then he would pour it into his saucer, lifting it to his lips. | 61

62: He would make this wonderful slurping sound then let out a big sigh, as if it was the best thing he ever tasted. We would get bored with being inside and head out, running and laughing, seeing what fun we could have. Grandpa had his big wood stove cranked up so hot we could hardly breathe. Way too hot for kids. ots of times Grandma would sit with my sister, Carolyn, and my only girl cousin, Aileen, and we would sing songs from the hymnal. It felt so good to sit close to Grandma and feel her against me. She was a little heavy, some would say, but I thought Grandma was just right. She wore her white hair in a knot in the back. She used shortening on her face and elbows. When asked why, she said it made her soft and her skin a little pink. Grandma taught us the song, “In the Garden.” Still to this day it is one of my favorite songs, and I would like it sung at my memorial when I die. Grandma and Grandpa’s house was a wonderful place—so many memories. The kitchen had a bright red water pump at the sink. My aunts and mom had made a rock draining board. It wasn’t called a countertop then. That type of countertop is all the thing now in 2011. For Sunday, Grandma hung white embroidery curtains that she had embroidered week days around the draining board. | 62

63: When I grew older and took my children up there to see the cabin, I was shocked to see how small the log cabin was. How we all fit in there on those Sundays, I will never know. One of our favorite things all of us kids liked to do was climb on the hills and slide down them on wet gunny sacks. We got absolutely filthy. Oh, and we could pee right out in the woods. That was much better than going into the outhouse. None of us kids ever told our parents about that. If we carried water to the top of the hill, it was even a faster ride down. But what a job to carry buckets of water up that hill! We always had extra clothes in the car, for our parents all knew we would get really dirty at Grandma’s. On one real hot day, we went to the river. Now looking back, I can’t believe our parents would let us go by ourselves. The Applegate River is a big river. My cousin Chuck (or Charles) had just gotten his driver’s license, and so we climbed into the car and took off to the river about three miles away. The boys all climbed up the trunk of a big tree then jumped way out, hitting the river yelling, “Tarzan!!!!”, who was a movie character. Tarzan would do dumb things, like swing from tree to tree. I’m sure they thought they were Tarzan. The boys were having so much fun that my cousin, Aileen, who was a little bit of a tomboy, decided to | 63

64: jump from the tree. Up she went, yelled “Tarzan!!!” and splashed in the water. She came up laughing hard and yelling, “That was FUN!” All the boy cousins thought she was great and yelled, “Good job! Do it again.” Well, you are probably guessing by now that I thought I would try it. I was scared to death to even climb the tree, and not at all a tomboy in any way. I had lots of encouragement, though, from everyone below. I slowly went up, hanging on to the trunk of the tree for dear life. When I got to the place where I was to jump, they were all saying, “Go ahead! You’re taking too long. You’re holding us up. We know you can do it!” Off I went, flying through the air, legs and arms going every which way. I totally missed the river and landed in blackberry bushes that were all over the banks of Oregon rivers. My arms were up above my head and I was screaming. As I yelled, I wiggled, making me fall closer to the ground that was still a long way down. My two older boy cousins climbed the tree and reached down, barely able to reach me. They grabbed my arms just in time, for I was slipping deeper into the berry bushes. Oh, the pain! Thorns | 64

65: were stuck in me everywhere. They started pulling me up, and I started to cry. “Shut up! You are such a girl. You better not tell our folks,” they yelled at me as they were pulling me up. Well, it would have been very hard for our parents not to have noticed. I was scratched from head to toe and crying. Aileen tried to soothe me, but the boys hated me and said I could never play or go with them again. You can imagine how mad and scared all the family was when we all walked in—me a mess and the boys all looked sour, scared and mad. It could have been a very bad scene, but again, God was watching over me as He has done so many times. My feelings were hurt, but I soon got over the scratches and the hurt feelings. The cousins still liked me the next Sunday, but we never got to go to the river again. I was reminded of this by all of them often. | 65

66: P.S.: My grandma died in that log house after a Sunday dinner. She got up to go to the bathroom, and, after not returning for a long time, someone went out to check. She had died on the toilet. She was 82 years old and one of the finest Christian women I have ever known. Her seven children and their mates adored her, as did all of us grandkids. Grandpa died two years later, still being the feisty man he always was and with more tales to tell than anyone I know. He could sit for hours and tell us true (and untrue) stories—we never knew which. We all loved them. My cousin Garey got Grandpa’s gift for telling tales and tells them so much like Grandpa did. I’m thankful that I still get to enjoy many of Grandpa’s great stories now told by my cousin Garey. | 66

67: Let Go TO LET GO does not mean to stop caring--it means I can’t do it for someone else. TO LET GO is not to cut myself off—it’s the realization I can’t control another. TO LET GO is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences. TO LET GO is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands. TO LET GO is not to try to change or blame another—it’s to make the most of myself. TO LET GO is not to fix but to be supportive. TO LET GO is not to judge, but to allow me to be a human being TO LET GO is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their own destinies. TO LET GO is not to be protective—it’s to permit another to face reality. TO LET GO is not to criticize or regulate anyone, but to try to become what I dream I can be. TO LET GO IS TO FEAR LESS AND TO LOVE MORE. | 67

68: Car Wash It was a rushed morning. Bruce had to get to work, and the car needed to go for its annual check-up. I put on a short set, for it was a warm summer morning. The lace top was very loose and see-through, but it was just too hot to wear much of anything under it. So, we took off. Bruce was ahead of me headed into Medford to a car dealer. We lived in Ashland at the time. When I saw a car wash, I thought that they would probably take better care of the car if it was clean. I pulled into the car wash. It wouldn’t take long. I put my money in and pulled into the wash. I sat there feeling very much in a hurry, for Bruce would be looking for me. I rolled down the window and honked my horn. The young man came out, and I told him it hadn’t come on. He reached up, hit a button and immediately all the water hit that open window so that I couldn’t get the window up. I was absolutely soaked, sitting in deep water in my leather seats. I was soaked from head to toe. There was two inches of water on the floor boards before the boy could get it stopped. I looked at him, and we both started laughing so hard as he was trying to say, “I’m sorry.” I said, “Never mind. I’m in a hurry.” I took off, water slouching everywhere. I had one small hanky that I wiped my face with so I could see the road and turned the heat up high, trying to dry.

69: When I arrived at the car dealer, Bruce rushed over to me. I stepped out of the car just as the salesman came up. They both looked at me with big eyes, and Bruce asked, “What happened?” At that moment I realized my top had stretched to my knees and you could see everything through the lace. I started to explain, but just turned and got into Bruce’s car. He took care of business and, as we drove him to work, I told him the story. He really didn’t think it was so funny. Seems he was worried more about the car. Leaving Bruce at work and taking his car, I headed home. As I arrived at the first light in Ashland, a man pulled up beside me and made gestures. Thinking this was strange with me looking like I looked, I ignored him. At the next light he made more gestures. By the third light he rolled down his window and yelled, “You have a flat tire!” I waved and smiled pitifully. I thought, you stupid woman. At the next service station I turned in and explained I needed a new tire. I’m sure they could see that. The man opened my door and said for me to wait inside. But when he saw how I looked, he must have understood when I said no, I needed to sit. Here. | 69

70: Ashes

71: The phone call came in on one beautiful morning on the Coast. Not many mornings on the Oregon coast are so beautiful. My heart was singing. The day was going to be a busy day with my girlfriend that I hadn’t seen in a while coming to visit me. As I picked up the phone, I felt the dread you sometimes feel when you just know there is something about to happen. I thought of my friend, then I heard my husband say that our friend, Jim, had died. My heart sank. We had only known Jim for a short time, but we had become good friends. My husband was told the funeral was on Saturday. He said, “I have to run to the store, so you will have to go alone to his funeral. Hon, the funeral is going to be held on his boat in the harbor.”Boats are one of my scary things. Even though my family always tried to get me to go, I never would. We called him Old Jim, for he was wise beyond his years and had a terrific sense of humor. Old Jim had tried to get me to go out on the ocean on his boat many times. During my one

72: experience in Hawaii to watch the whales, I began throwing up five minutes into the boat ride. It was very embarrassing when the people on the boat all had to hear me and see me hanging over the side. The captain kept moving me down wind. That had not been a good experience for me, so my answer was always no when asked to go boating. The time on the whale boat was nothing compared to the day of Old Jim’s funeral. As I arrived at the dock, I noticed others were getting on his boat. Oh my, I thought, that was nice. They were thinking of Jim and his many days and his love for this boat. But then I realized there was another boat that others were getting on and a Coast Guard boat, shiny and bright looking, waiting in the deep water. I felt this was a little much but a very nice gesture. Suddenly it dawned on me, they were holding the funeral on the boats. So, like the bright woman I am, I got on the second boat with many others. Old Jim’s wife was on the first boat and I thought to myself that I would speak to her once we stepped off. My heart jumped—are we moving? We were moving! | 72

73: 73 | This was awful. I would have to either jump or yell, and either way was not a good idea. Total embarrassment, in my life, is avoided at all cost. Remember Miss Strive For Perfection? We slowly moved out to sea. I could easily have cried. I knew no one on the boat, but I thought that this wouldn’t take too long. We surely wouldn’t go far. But why was the big shiny Coast Guard boat with us? The shoreline couldn’t be seen any more. My head was spinning, my stomach was ready to explode. Then they cut the motors. They tied the two boats together as the shiny Coast Guard boat sat idling over us. We started rocking side to side, back and forth. Oh dear, I could feel it coming up. The minister was on the other boat, and he started speaking over a loud speaker, giving us all the stories of the wonderful man Old Jim had been. My ears were ringing and his loud voice didn’t help my head from spinning. As the service went on, the minister handed Old Jim’s wife a large black garbage bag. Tears were running down my cheeks. I was trying so hard not to be noticed; most probably thought I was sad. In a few

74: seconds my mind changed from me to the black bag. It was a really large bag. My tears stopped. Was Old Jim that large of a man? Surely that wasn’t him in there. It took my mind off me for a moment. The minister said something, but I couldn’t hear what. The sack was raised over the side of the boat, and the ashes started coming in full abundance. As I watched in amazement, the wind picked up the ashes and blew them right at me. They filled my big Afro hair-do and my face and my black pants and my black sweater—all with white ashes. I never knew that the ashes would hurt, but they did. Not all of the bones were gone, so, besides ashes, I was ducking the small little bones that hit my face. Others on my boat were in shock as much as I. I turned and looked at them, they looked at me, and we all started laughing. I was covered and was all white instead of all black. The ashes had hit no one else but me. I made new friends that day, and, in a very sick way, it was one of the funniest things they had ever seen. We made it back to port, and I wasn’t even sick. I didn’t stop to talk to Mary, Old Jim’s wife. Getting into my car in a hurry, I stepped on the gas and started up the hill from the port to Brookings, laughing and singing, “I’m gonna wash that Jim right out of my hair!” That’s just what I did, standing in my shower, singing the song that just wouldn’t go away. I thought, yes, Old Jim, you surely do have a sense of humor. You always had teased me about my shyness. You fixed that today.”

75: 75 | "When your determination changes, everything else begins to move in the direction you desire. The moment you resolve to be victorious, every nerve and fiber in your being immediately orient themselves toward your success. On the other hand, if you think, 'This is never going to work out', at that instant every cell in your being will be deflated, giving up the fight. Everything then will move in the direction of failure. I want you to understand the subtle workings of the mind. How you orient your mind, the kind of attitude you have, greatly influences both yourself and your environment."

76: Angel Going up and down old Highway 99 (now I-5) was a common event when I was in my 20s with my three darling daughters. My husband Keith's parents and mine lived in Grants Pass, Oregon, and we lived in Santa Monica, California. The girls were 2, 4, and 6 on this special night in my life that probably was a near tragedy. My husband would make a big bed in the back seat of the car by putting our luggage on the floor so I could put big blankets to cover the whole area and make the girls a cozy play area with their dolls and coloring books and their own blankies. We didn't even know about car seats in the late 1950s. Having a place for them to play and sleep was important to us. It was a 12-hour drive, a two-lane road and not the best at that time. We were used to going at least three times a year, for we so missed our parents and friends. We would start our trip in late afternoon so the | 76

77: girls could play and settle in, then get dinner, then get their nighties on. They would go to sleep knowing that, when they woke up, we would be almost to Popo and Gamper's house. It was cozy and fun to have them asleep. My husband and I could talk and even sing. It was a long trip and got somewhat boring after awhile. We would take turns driving while the other one of us slept. This particular night it was around 3:00 in the morning, and my husband had asked me to drive. I said, sure, and he got in the back with the girls to get some sleep. I was quietly listening to whatever I could find on the radio. There wasn't much on in those days late at night. The next thing I remember is Keith screaming at me, 'What the **** are you doing?' I said, 'I can't go. See that man standing in the middle of the road, right in front of our car? Look, he is all in white!' My husband said, 'There's no man standing there! Get over!' and he came flying over the seat. Cars were going by us from every direction. On a two-lane road, there's not many places you can go. As I scooted over, I was stunned at what had just | 77

78: happened. I knew I had been stopped by an angel. I must have fallen asleep, but could this have been true? I had never heard anyone tell a story like this before. I sat there unable to speak. My husband was mad and kept asking what did I think I was doing. I finally got the only words out that I could say, and that was, 'I'M NOT SURE!' As time has gone by, I am sure we were saved that night from a terrible accident--my husband, my little girls and myself. | Selling out your dreams, you quit on yourself before you have a chance to arrive. | 78

79: My New Name

80: Not very many people are surprised when my name change comes up. I was surprised how often people change their names. Most of the time, others keep it to themselves until I mention it. There are many reasons why people choose to change their name. At first, you think they must want to hide something or something bad has happened. Usually, thought, it is for the same reason I wanted to change mine. From as far back as I can remember, I wanted my name to be Heather. My dolls were all named Heather. When I asked my mother if I could change my name at the age of 12, she had a fit and said I really hurt her. She loved the name Faye. Yes, my name was Faye Ellen. Not a bad name, just, in my head, it didn't fit me. My change of name was a little different than some others. My grandfather had a choice in it. He later molested me, so there were raw feelings that I didn't understand until I was 44 years old. When people would call out my name, it felt hurtful, like they were being mean to me, or they didn't like me. The time had come to make a lot of changes in my life. Children were grown and I

81: was divorced, hoping for a new beginning. When Bruce asked me to marry him, I knew it was the right time to change and finally do what I had wanted to do for so long. Many friends were taken aback and some refused to call me anything but Faye. Some would start to say Faye, then remember my name was Heather--so it came out Feather. The nickname has stuck with a few of my old friends to this day. That is where this book's name comes from. I asked our attorney how to go about it. He explained that I must post it on a form that you could pick up at the courthouse, then you must display it for six months in a public place. I put them at the courthouse, library, and I can't remember the third. When you picked up the form, they set up a date for the hearing in front of a judge. On the day I was to go to court, no one went with me. I think I didn't ask any one, and now wish I had. It was such a big day for me. I had never been in a courtroom, and wasn't at all sure what to do. The first man on the docket went | 81

82: forward after the judge called him, so I waited until the judge called me. As I walked to the podium, I thought my heart would jump out of my chest. The judge was older and very stern looking. He looked over the top of his glasses at my face, my big eyes taking it all in. He asked, 'Why do you wish to change your name?' I looked back and said that it was a private matter. He looked down at me again, then at the papers, and smiled. 'Have a good life, HEATHER MCGREGOR,' stamped the papers and handed them back. I walked back to my seat and a lady said I could leave now. I got up and walked out. I stood outside, legs shaking and excitement in my heart. My mind said that my new name marks a new ownership of myself, and I felt elated to start a new destiny. I love to hear people call my name. It always feels warm and loved. I have never been sorry for a minute. I wish my mother could have understood, but daughters and mothers have the right to disagree on the things in each other's life. It doesn't change the love they have for each other. PS: My mother never forgave me and never ever called me Heather.

83: Blessed In Aging by Esther Mary Walker Blessed are they who understand My faltering step and shaking hand Blessed who know my ears today Must strain to hear the things they say. Blessed are those who seem to know My eyes are dim and my mind is slow Blessed are those who look away When I spilled tea that weary day. Blessed are they who, with cheery smile, Stopped to chat for a little while Blessed are they who know the way To bring back memories of yesterday. Blessed are those who never say “You’ve told that story twice today.” Blessed are they who make it known That I am loved, respected and not alone. And blessed are they who will ease the days Of my journey home, in loving ways. | 83

84: OUCH! This is how it happened. You will think this is not a true story, but, believe me, it is. Can you remember how bad you have to go to the potty when you come out of a movie? This time I had to go so bad, but there was a long line. I thought of offering someone $1.00 if I could go ahead of them. Instead, I just stood there, a little panicked, moving up one lady at a time. Finally in the bathroom stall, I was so relieved to get to start peeing that I forgot and put the gum from my mouth into the piece of toilet paper I had pulled off. When finished with my duty, I wiped, as we all do, and to my horror, I realized the gum was stuck in my hair. Not the hair on my head, either. When I tried to pull it off, the paper was also stuck. What a mess—it was stuck big time. The more I tried to wipe, the worse it got. I got up and realized I could very uncomfortably walk. When I got to my car and sat down, I was very happy that I was able to walk at all, for it isn’t easy to walk with that

85: part of your body stuck together (especially trying not to let anybody notice). As I sat down in the car, it pulled and felt awful. My girl friend was with me, and not wanting to act like I had done something so stupid, I thought I could keep it to myself—until I broke out in laughter. She and I could not stop laughing as I explained what had happened. It was one of those funny moments that aren’t really funny. We made it to my house in spite of the hysterical laughing, and she started making wise cracks about my crack. Not funny. It was stuck to everything. Pulling it off brought tears to my eyes, and the panties went into the trash, ruined. Probably you have had too much information by now, but a razor and mayonnaise Don’t ask. It was my friend’s idea to put mayonnaise on it, and problem solved. A big bubble bath was also in order for the day. | 85

86: My Seventh Birthday How could I ever forget my seventh birthday when it was the most special birthday a child could have. Mom said I wasn't going to have a party this year, but it would be a special time for me. Well, that didn't make me very happy, for I was used to very big and special birthdays. We lived in Bakersfield in my seventh year. I had many friends from school, dance class and Sunday school. Every one I knew had regular parties and that is what I wanted. When I acted very spoiled and said I didn't want whatever it was that Momma and Daddy had planned. I would later regret those words and glad they knew best, going with what they had decided. On May 2, my supposed to be big day, I woke up feeling sad and acted not very nice to my parents. They seemed overly excited and tried to get me in a happy mood. Mom had laid out my clothes, told me to eat my breakfast and get dressed. We had to be somewhere at 10:00 that morning. | 86

87: We left in the car and proceeded to take seven more modes of transportation. What a day this was! We parked the {car} and got on a {streetcar}, then a {bus}, {taxi}, {small plane}, {train}--and the best of all, the {Goodyear blimp!}. I went by myself of the blimp, and it was one of the most exciting birthdays I could ever have. Pretty clever of my folks, I would say!!! | Not obeying is disobeying. | 87

88: Maybe I'm old. My age in numbers (74) say I am. I don't feel it--if it is so, may I remember daily to bring a little sunshine and love to those around me. Thank you, Lord, that I have had the chance to grow old. Many of my friends have not been so fortunate. Blessings to all those in my life, all the love shown me, and to the memories of my years. --Heather

89: Copyright 2011 by Heather McGregor Published by MY LIFE ART STUDIO Marilyn Zimmers (2012)

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Marilyn Zimmers
  • By: Marilyn Z.
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About This Mixbook

  • Title: The Feathers of My Life
  • Heather's Journal
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  • Published: almost 8 years ago