In September of 2013 I wrote a post about the above print of a Don LaForte engraving entitled "Trust". In order to understand the significance of what I am about to share with you, you'll need to go back and read this 2013 post entitled "A Side Note About This Sketch - Updated".
Last month on October 26th at 11:15 PM I received an email from a lady in Canada named Kim saying that she had read my blog story about the print and my search for a replacement and wanted to inform me that there was one currently for sale on a Facebook group buy and swap page in McBride Canada. Kim noted that she has a copy of the print that has been in her home since 1972 and she loves it as much as I do. I was stunned that a total stranger in Canada would be kind enough to notify me that this print was being offered for sale, and wrote back to thank her.
Excited beyond the ability to sleep, I immediately located the Facebook group Kim spoke of and requested membership. Shortly I received a message from Sheila, the group administrator, asking why someone living in Texas would want to be a member of their community group in British Columbia, Canada (and thinking I might be a spammer). I sent her a link to my post about the print and explained that I wanted the opportunity to try and purchase it from the seller. Sheila kindly added me to the group and told me that Trudy, the lady selling the print, lived just four houses down from her!
I quickly sent a message to Trudy telling her that I was interested in purchasing the print and asking if she would be willing to mail it to me in Texas if I paid for the postage. She messaged me back saying that she was concerned about the feasibility and cost of safely mailing the framed/matted/glassed print to Texas but said she would contact her post office to check into it.
A couple days later she messaged me back after talking to her local post office and we decided that the best way to ship the print would be to remove it from the frame, roll it, and send it in a mailing tube. Then began the ordeal of trying to find a source her that could convert my funds to a money order in Canadian dollars. Trudy didn't have PayPal and our local bank couldn't provide the conversion. Western Union told me they could transfer the funds to her bank there, but after processing we discovered the information their phone clerk provided me was incorrect and Trudy's bank was unable to receive the funds from Western Union. So I had to cancel that and obtain a refund, and then as a last resort on November 8th, I went to my local post office and purchased an international money order in US dollars and mailed it to her, telling her to keep the extra money from the rate conversion as a handling fee when she cashed it at her bank. At that point I really didn't care what it cost or what I had to do, I wanted that print!!!
Trudy received my money order on November 15th and mailed the tube containing the precious print to me the next day, sending me a photo of it along with it's tracking number. Looking up the Canada Post tracking number showed that it was due to arrive here on November 29th. Their last entry on Nov. 21st showed it transferring through Canadian customs and into the US, and then they had no further information. I have been on pins and needles every day since, hoping and praying it would arrive safely.
Yesterday afternoon, right on schedule, our rural delivery mailman left a note in my highway mailbox stating that there was a package from Canada waiting for me at the post office... it had arrived!! As soon as our tiny town Post Office opened this morning I drove the four miles to retrieve it, and as soon as I had the tube in my car I sent a photo to Trudy showing her that it was here!
I couldn't wait to get home and open it! Carefully unrolling the large 18 x 24 print and laying it out on my bed I was overwhelmed with emotion, not only at it's tremendous beauty but because it was identical in every way to the original print I last had in my hands 40 years ago, same heavy paper stock, same warm brown ink tones, everything.
It is hard to explain how much this print means to me. It is not only a connection to that period of my life when I was pregnant with my daughter and married to her father, but it also holds personal symbolism in the form of my inner wild child holding firmly to the hand of God and trusting.
Tonight I gave John my post from 2013 to re-read, he remembered the story about the print, and then I told him the unbelievably wonderful story of how I was told about the new print and brought her out to show him. He likes it as much as I do, and understood immediately why it is such a priceless treasure to me. Tomorrow I will take her to Hobby Lobby for matting and framing and she will occupy the place of honor I have reserved for her in our living room where I can sit and look at her every day.
After forty years, life has come full circle, what was lost has been found, and I know that in the greater scheme of life this is heralding the ending of other things and the beginning of something new. Just for tonight, this beautiful little girl will be next to my bed, safely stored within the mailing tube, and I will smile and remember my life long ago, when I knew that she belonged with me and first brought her home. Welcome back little girl, welcome home! And a million thank yous to Kim, Sheila, and Trudy for making this happen... my heart is overflowing with gratitude!
I am finding that my creative brain has gone on vacation, so I've decided to take a summer break from writing stories and such unless the urge strikes me. I've been spending less time on the computer and more time with other things I enjoy, which is good. :-)
I will still be hosting Ten Things of Thankful each weekend, and I'd love to see you join us there! I also do a weekly post on my other blog, if you need the address for that one email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will also be around a bit to check in and see what you're doing on your blog. As of late I've not kept up with that very well, which I feel kind of bad about, but I also feel like less computer time is a healthier choice for me. I'll be popping in and out, and I am always just an email away. :-)
No turning back now, Willa thought a few hours later, as the car she was riding in crossed into the neighboring state and travelled on in the darkness of night. Sitting in the back seat, wrapped in the comforting arms of the friend she had met just weeks ago, she said a silent goodbye to the life she had known, feeling that she had scored a victory but the prize was bittersweet. She wasn't sure what laid ahead, but Willa knew that she would be with people who believed in what she had come to embrace that Summer, a new religion, a way of looking at life that mirrored her own beliefs.
It wasn't just about escaping home, Willa had a purpose in going too, she was needed; the lady who had been instrumental in her conversion had been in a bad car accident and was dealing with shattered bones. With her husband working two jobs to support them and four young children at home, they needed help desperately, and Willa knew she could do that; she could take care of the children and the house and tend to her friend's physical needs as well.
When they arrived at the big city hospital parking lot the next day, the friends Willa had been travelling with went through their belongings and gave her what they could spare so she would at least have a change of clothes, then they said their goodbyes and were on their way, and before long Willa was headed to what would be her new home.
Looking back, Willa could see that she'd spent most of her life running away... from people, from places, from situations, and from herself; flight was as instinctive to her as breathing. When faced with fear the choices are fight or flight, and Willa chose flight because she didn't see herself as powerful enough to win any battles, though God knows she had tried.
The first time Willa ran away she was eighteen years old, though she'd been fantasizing about leaving for a long time. She had to get away, far away from the anger, the control and the unending condemnation; she had to find a place to stay where she could follow her own heart.
At long last the opportunity presented itself, and all Willa had to do was accept the offer... go out for a walk one summer evening, hop into the car when they came for her, and skip town; vanish before anyone knew that she was gone.
Willa didn't realize it then, but that decision would change the course of her entire life.
Growing up, Suzanna was embarrassed by her mother's use of down-home expressions in front of her friends, things like "peachy keen", "fixin' to", "hissy fit", and "drier than a popcorn fart"; it was okay if they were home alone, but she thought her mother was way too much of a country hick to impress her popular friends.
"Please, Mom" she would beg, "don't say anything dumb when my friends are around, their mom's don't talk like that."
Suzanna's mother would just smile and respond, "Suzanna, I was raised a country girl, and that's just who I am; friends you have to change your ways for aren't much worth having."
Years later Suzanna found herself missing her mom who had recently died, and even those silly old-fashioned expressions that were so much a part of her; stopping at a roadside stand to buy some fresh peaches one summer afternoon, Suzanna felt sad about all the times she'd criticized her.
Suddenly a peach tumbled from atop a basket and landed at her feet; bending over to pick it up she could almost feel her mother smiling.
"That was peachy keen, Mom" she said, laughing through her tears.
Well, well, well, would have thought that the girl who couldn't wait to see her tiny town in the rear view mirror would one day find herself growing nostalgic about those years of her life? She had always said that she would never return for a class reunion, noting that she "didn't like them then and had no desire to see them now"; and yet she finds herself forty-five years later setting up a class Facebook page and talking to people she barely spoke with back then... or was it that they barely spoke to her?
Admittedly, she was a stand-out in her class of 100, the largest class her rural Midwest school would ever have; she kept to herself mostly, dressed a little differently, and tended to promote what was then considered to be radical thinking but would be mild by today's standards. She even threatened to blow the place up a time or two, not seriously but wishfully; that would have landed her in deep trouble in today's atmosphere of violence in schools.
This weekend many of her classmates will be returning home for the 45th class reunion; she is surprised to find herself wishing that she would have made plans to join them, and even more surprised at the number of people who wished she was going to be there.
Now there's talk of meeting up at the 50th; though we all started in the same place, life has taken us many directions and most of us have mellowed considerably, and we find that the shared memories have grown sweeter with time passing.
Carlo Pacelli was the father of two sons, Carlo Jr. and Angelo; he was extremely proud of Carlo Jr., who had graduated from college with honors and was pursuing a legal career, and very disappointed with Angelo who had several minor run-ins with the law, dropped out of college, and travelled about the country bumming off friends and relatives with no real plan for his future.
After a particularly ugly scene in which Carlo accused Angelo of stealing money from his aged grandmother, Angelo had stormed out of the house shouting that he would never return as long as his father was alive, leaving his mother heartbroken.
Not long after that Carlo was dressing for a formal dinner and was stunned to find that one of his favorite monogrammed cufflinks was missing; he was unsure whether his wayward son or the household help was to blame for the theft, but assumed the intent was to pawn it for its 18K gold value since only one was taken.
True to his word, Angelo ceased all contact with his family; his father spent years and large sums of money hiring private investigators to try to find him to no avail, and when Carlo died only one son was present at his funeral.
A year later Carlo's wife became gravely ill, and Carlo Jr. placed ads online and in many newspapers begging anyone who know of Angelo's whereabouts to tell him to come home, that his mother desperately wanted to see him.
Not long after, Carlo Jr. answered the door one evening to find what appeared to be a homeless man asking to speak with him; Carlo Jr. attempted to turn him away and threatened to call the police until the weathered man in ragged clothing stretched out his hand and handed him a single monogrammed cufflink.
Lord, lift us up from the muck and mire where we find ourselves dwelling so often these days. Remind us not to stoop to the level of those who promote mockery, hatred and destruction. Grant us the wisdom to choose our words and our actions wisely. Help us to seek ways to build up rather than tear down, to promote good rather than focus on evil. Clear our minds and refresh our spirits when we feel lost and defeated, and remind us that hope is eternal. Guide us to a higher place where we live in harmony with each other and with all living things.
"Where's the manager, who's in charge here?" bellowed the large man dressed in a business suit that occupied the same table every morning at the Manny's Coffee Shop.
Everyone stopped in their tracks and stared as the young man waiting on him grew pale and was visibly shaking; he tried so hard to satisfy his customers, but apparently had done something to displease the man he knew to be the president of the city bank.
The manager scurried over to the table to quell the disturbance while the other staff shot glances at each other and waited to see what would happen. "How can I help you Mr. Jameson, is there a problem with our food or service?" he asked.
In a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, Mr. Jameson said "Sir, I come here every morning for breakfast and most of the staff who wait on me are inefficient, unconcerned and sometimes downright rude, and show no pride in their appearance; but I've been watching this young man, and every time he waits on me he is courteous and respectful, dressed sharp, pays attention to detail, and makes sure to get my order in and out quickly no matter how busy he is. This is the kind of person I want working at my bank, so I'm informing you that today is his last day here, I'm making him my new assistant!"