When Tish Met Tom

48 years ago today an uneventful meeting in a high school gym forever altered the course of my life. But the story started the summer before that…

I landed on the campus of Denver University in the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college to take a couple of classes.  Didn’t know anyone, just how I wanted it.

My soul and the rest of my life was restless and uncertain. All I thought I believed in felt questionable, God especially.  My young-girl faith couldn’t quite bridge the gaps.  The mountains seemed like a safe place to hide or find myself again.

Next to my dorm sat Evans Chapel.  Same John Evans that founded my town, Evanston, but of course I couldn’t see that far ahead.  The small aisle inside the chapel allowed me to stretch out and cry for help, if anyone was listening.

Apparently, someone was.  As I exited the chapel one evening, a guy began to talk to me about Jesus. I told him no more religion.  “No problem, this is Relationship.”  I desperately wanted relationship.

And then I fell in love.  Not with the guy (I never saw him again) but with Jesus.  OK, so it wasn’t love at first sight but by the end of the summer I didn’t want to break up.

We’re still together.  He knows all my quirks and loves me anyway.  I get mad but don’t walk out.  Our communication skills are pretty good after all this time.

Soooooo…back to campus in the Midwest.

My Colorado friends told me to look up a group called “Intervarsity” a campus group of Jesus’ followers. I never heard of it.

The first day back, I was moving too fast coming out of an elevator and literally ran into a girl carrying a poster which got knocked out of her hand due to the collision. Apologetically, I picked it up to hand it back and saw it advertising an event, for Intervarsity!

Me: Oh Intervarsity, I was going to look that up here.

Her: Why don’t you come to the event, it is this weekend?

Me: Yeah, maybe!

Her: Have you met Tom Suk? He lives in this dorm, he will be at the event, I can introduce you.

Me: Don’t know him. Thanks for the info.

Friday night, Sept 18, 1970, I nervously walked into the “Action Bash” my new friend invited me to. Fortunately, she was watching for me and quickly came over to talk.

Let me introduce you to Tom… and she led me down the hall to the gym. His long hair pulled back in a pony tail, wearing a white tee-shirt and blue jeans, he was playing basketball. Politely, he stepped out of the game to meet me.

No immediate sparks but we were in the same dorm, the same group, pretty soon the same Bible studies and by January, I was totally smitten! Him…not so fast ☹

Three years later we pledged our lives in marriage to one another forever.

And every year, on September 18, we remember the nondescript start that set everything else into motion.

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

The Lost and Found Napkin Ring

My mom was what you would call “big on manners.” She had very definite ideas of what could be on the dinner table like bowls and pitchers and what wasn’t allowed like pans and cartons.

From time to time she would fine us for “bad manners” like a dime for an infraction. Sometimes it was more fun to choose crude and sacrifice a dime for the cause. Or my brothers thought so!

I have a memory of going to something like charm school on a small-scale to improve my skills. No boys allowed in the class. She tried hard.

Cloth napkins were held in high value at our house and one day a package showed up in the mail with a silver-ish napkin ring for each of us with our name on it. My mom was so thrilled with these like she had just won the sweepstakes.

At the end of every meal we would insert our used napkin in the ring for the next round at the table. Cut down on laundry she thought, another high value.

Then the napkin rings stopped showing up because we stopped showing up. Off to college, jobs, new locations with new families. I forgot all about them.

Funny, but when I started setting my own tables though, napkin rings often made an appearance. I picked them up at my usual spots like garage sales and resale shops. I guess folks were downsizing and cast them off. I have quite a collection 🙂 Bowls and pitchers too. I guess the message “took.”

Some of my napkin rings.

Last May we had an auction for my mom’s stuff she no longer needed. Like minded stuff sold together and one of my high school classmates bought a kitchen box. A few weeks later she called my brother to tell him she found something I might want: my napkin ring! It wasn’t lost after all, just hiding.

The lowly napkin ring became like the straw turned to gold. Nothing to do with the $ value and all about nostalgia: Memories of hamburgers served at the fake wood table on Saturday nights, the way mom lined up all five napkin rings like museum artifacts, her now precious insistence we learn how to dine not just eat.

Thanks Mom for the napkin rings and all you hoped they would deliver. I think they did the job. I’ll try hard not to lose it again.

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

 

(Three) Gym Girl

My cousin inspires me! She’s 15 years older 🙂

No one would ever mistake me for a jock. I don’t run for any reason and I dislike sweating. Taking a walk is nice especially if I have a destination in mind or if there is water on my left (or right.) But I want to live long and strong and I can’t find any research that doesn’t say exercise is part of that equation.

I just never would have guessed I would end up belonging to three gyms now, all for no cost! Even more unexpected, I actually go, multiple times per week.

My gym history is pretty nil. After dreaded calisthenics in my early years, I decided no more of that and took up walking for years. “Aerobics for Women” was my guide in the 70’s and I stuck with the walking schedule.

Four kids later, I briefly joined “Women’s Workout World,” till it closed then made friends with Jane Fonda videos when the urge hit me to move a bit. We hit it off and I always felt better after the video than before (when I talked myself into it.)

Fast forward through more walking, a time at “Curves,” occasional yoga, a stint with a trainer until he quit and then back to Jane Fonda. DVD’s now instead of videos and definitely designed for women of “a certain age.” Somehow my sporadic attempts had only sporadic results.

What else could I try? A new book I picked up recommended exercise six days a week*. Sheesh I was getting busted! Clearly it was time for a new plan.

The answer came along with my new insurance policy: Silver Sneakers: A free fitness program. Five free classes a week at my local center and free gym memberships all over the country. I signed up for three! Two local and one in Quincy where I visit my mom often.

Two in town, one in Quincy!

Last January, I decided if I was going to go at all, it would be six days a week and so far, so good. I’m not so good at “occasional,” it usually results in never.

The biggest shift was in my head, I decided not to hate it.

Maybe there’s a way to live ling and strong with exercising but I’m not taking my chances…and clearly I’m out of excuses!

What’s your plan?

Hope for the Best,

Tish

* ” Younger Next Year for Women.”

The Summer of Three Reunions (part three)

Some of the women of the Class of ’68.

My inner-teenage girl pops out often at the strains of a Beach Boys song, but it’s been a long time since high school!

Yes, that’s me!

1968: “The year that transformed the nation” according to USA Today. All this year, the 50th anniversaries of that tumultuous year filled our news feed. The infamous Chicago Democratic Convention, August 26-29 of that year is the next one. I didn’t have to wait to read about this era in the history books, I lived it and it was intense. My “coming of age” year.

On May 28, the month between the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, another 1968 milestone occurred, High School Graduation. Notre Dame Class of 1968. My memories of that day are vivid. All 122 girls lined up in a waiting area and someone passed out lollipops and we all started laughing and hugging. I remember realizing we would never all be in one place again.

 

Can you spot my Simon and Garfunkel album?

Still true. But we could return for the 50th Class Reunion and many of us did.

What an amazing time!

Like most of us, I walked into the reunion Friday night full of wondering of what this would be like. Graduation day was a long time ago! Would I recognize many? Would cliques still show up? Who would I sit with? How many would remember me?

HS Friends I do see often!

One thing I knew for sure, by now everyone  has known multiple life experiences of both celebration and heartache. The playing field leveled evenly, unlike when we were all 18. I decided to talk to as many classmates as I could and hear some stories. Everyone had a few to share, along with photos of grands!

What a welcome! The collective consensus of, “we made it!” filled the room. Not just, “we made it to the reunion,” but we made it 50 years. As we saw in the beautiful tribute of those who have passed on, there was no guarantee. Not many dry eyes through that. Everyone seemed genuinely happy and grateful to see all the other classmates.

A dear friend from grade school. First time together in a long time!

My very first friend from two years old was there as well as the neighbor girls I walked to grade school with. One friend quickly recited all the names of our 1st to 8th grade teachers and another recalled funny clubs we made up in high school. On my way out the second night, I led an impromptu sing along of the old fight songs in the women’s lounge. So much fun!

Old friends now new friends and some of the best conversations included girls I never hung out with back in the day. The class Facebook page has been rocking with memories and photos. I’m hoping we do another one soon.

From the yearbook, a quote very dear to me!

The Summer of Three Reunions. Memorable indeed!

Hope for the best,

Tish

The Summer of Three Reunions (part two)

The setting!

My husband is the only person I know who came from a family of nine kids! When we were first dating in college, I spent more time trying to memorize all their names and ages than I did on my homework. Info I would need to remember a lot longer than some of my course work.

Everyone was always around for parties, BBQs, celebrations, until they weren’t. From the top down, starting with the parents, the relocations from the Chicago area began early in our marriage. One of Tom’s four sisters remained in the area but everyone else was a plane ride away.

The nine gathering for a photo in the round!

Events like weddings, graduations and anniversaries could draw a crowd but never everyone at once and the invite list kept getting bigger. Many more names to memorize! Getting all together seemed impossible but so essential. Myriads of details to plan but it finally happened.

For three days last month, in a beautiful setting in rural Washington, most of the family gathered for the fifth tri-annual reunion. An amazing array of doctors, teachers, nurses, entrepreneurs, caregivers, therapists, sales persons, bankers, paleos and vegans and more all  celebrating our common bond: family.

Puzzle almost got finished!

My mother and father-in-law never made it to one of these three-day parties but would have loved seeing the crowd hunched for over the puzzle which never quite got finished, the mob floating down Icicle River in tubes, crazy three- legged races, late into the night card games, babies passed around, cousins becoming friends.

Fun goes fast. In a minute, it was over 😦

Fun in the pool!

By the next reunion in 2021, we’ll need another vat of taco meat and double the Red Vines. Babies will be preschoolers, high-schoolers will be in college, more will hold  Medicare cards and we might need to add another lodge. We all can’t wait!

But meanwhile, Reunion # 3 is next, high school! Watch for the report!

Hope for the Best,

Tish

PS: I’ve updated the post on Reunion # 1 with the recreated photo from 1925

Summer of Three Reunions: Part One

 

 

 

 

 

The Summer of Three Reunions (part one)

Going to any reunions this summer? I’ve got three on my calendar!

I grew up with relatives all around. Except for the California ones. But we saw them too as our family piled into our non-air-conditioned car and drove across country sans seat belts. Hanging out with relatives was just what you did. On Sunday afternoons usually but for sure at the reunions.

Each side of the family had one every summer. No tee-shirts to announce our tribe but we knew who we were. Mostly I remember the food which came from those farm kitchens. Carbs galore and oh so delicious! I looked forward to the high chocolate cake with the glossy icing the most. My mom never made that kind of icing.

Then the reunions stopped, or I stopped going. Busy, you know. My immediate family of six provided my “hanging out with my relatives” and visits from and to my parents filled out the rest. I didn’t think I missed the reunions. But part of me did, and that part got bigger as I got older.

A cache of photos started it, a common catalyst. My mom gave me the old ones quite a while back, but I lost track of them for a time. Now I look at their faces and wonder, who are these relatives and what is their story? I desperately need to know.

To begin the re-connection, I started a cousins Facebook group and turns out, I’m not the only one with photos. Names and faces from the past, my past, my DNA, show up on the page along with some funny stories.

Could another reunion come together? It would be my generation’s turn now to make it happen.

The appearance of another photo (see above) jump started the momentum. Taken circa 1925, the photo’s setting was in front of a lovely old home near my grandparent’s farm. My grandpa is the one in the middle holding the straw hat, my grandmother is on the right end. My great-grandparents, whom I never met, are in the front row left. The rest of the family is great-aunts, uncles and first cousins of my mom.

None of the relatives in the photo are still living.

But the house is still standing. What if we could replicate the photo? Turns out we can.

So tomorrow we’re taking another photo, 93 years later. Not all the cousins can make it, but enough can to stage the scene once again.

After the photo, we’ll hang out with food and drink and gather again Saturday afternoon for an old-fashioned reunion picnic. This time, catered food will replace the bulging picnic baskets and there probably won’t be any high chocolate cake with the glossy icing. OK with me, I’m not coming for that anymore.

Reunions, a time to remember our “union,” our shared story, the people listed in the genealogy charts along with us. So excited to see the new picture! More important, can’t wait to see the family again.

Two more reunions later this summer, stay tuned!

Hope for the best,

Tish

PS: Here is the new picture!

 

 

 

Six Steps to an Intentional Summer*

Do you make a bucket list for each summer? June, July and August are still ahead  so plenty of time to create your personal plan for the best season of the year!

On the last day of school we used to take our kids out to the best breakfast in town to plan the summer fun and I have carried on the tradition sans the waffles.  Here’s what works:

  1. Decide what you love best about summer and plan that first:  Beach or pool?  Buy your passes.  Hitting the road?  Pick out those dates. Outdoor music?  Grab a calendar of events. Ride your bike? Check your tires. Scribble your calendar with your summer fantasies.
  2. Plan something summer-y to do this week.  Too often we put off fun for “later in the summer” and miss the opportunity of now.
  3. Change your menus.  We switch out our Sunday soups for summer salads and eat outside as often as we can. I also change out plates and silverware for summer-only colorful tableware.

  1.  Switch-up your summer reading.  Doesn’t have to qualify for a beach novel but a change of reading pace is fun. I love to read outside on summer nights until there is no light left.
  2. Try something new: Run/walk a 5 K? Try your hand at homemade salsa? Discover a new bike path? Visit a neighborhood festival? Browse an art fair? Lots of possibilities 🙂

  1. Make a “Summer List” and put it on your fridge like my grandchildren do.  Try to cross off everything by Labor Day.

According to my Memorial Day to Labor Day count we all have 99 days to soak up summer.  I want to savor each one!

Hope for the best,

Tish

* Annual post!



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