Posts Tagged 'Letitia Suk'

Finishing a Dream

One year ago today, I arrived at one of the best jobs I ever had, hospital chaplain, swiped my badge, facilitated a spirituality group on the psychiatric floor, laughed with my colleagues over lunch and then swiped out and walked away forever.

Not a decision I took lightly.

My desire to become a hospital chaplain started when I was 26 and completed when I was 56. A thirty year wait for a dream. You might have some of those too.

I absolutely loved it. All my hopes for how God might use me in this role became true. At the end of the shift though, it always seemed like I was the one who benefited the most. Like the principle we have all seen but can’t quite figure out, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”

I did receive a lot though…Deeper understanding of God, knowledge of myself, a few shifts in theology, lifetime friends.

When I started, ten years seemed like the right about of time to fully invest in this profession. I never saw it as “the rest of my life” kind of thing like I do writing but I wanted to give it a good decade. Truthfully, I wasn’t even counting until the last six months.

Almost like an apparition, the years flashed in front of me and I realized it was almost ten. During that time, two more of our children married, my grandchild count went from 1 to 9.  I wrote two books. My husband started his PhD program. I started leading small group personal retreats. Tom’s mom died, mine had a stroke. And thousands more things.

I decided to honor the sense of time commitment I felt at the beginning and began to step down. Getting a contract for a third book was an added push.

Sometimes it is the right move to leave the party while it is still going strong and you’re having the time of your life. You wonder what you might have missed but the memory of that party will be forever sweet.

Do I miss it? Absolutely! Do I have any regrets? None at all.

I’m still a chaplain though, of my everyday life. If you walk around with a little hope and encouragement in your pocket to give away, you are too.

As I was leaving the official role, my youngest brother, Mark, was coming on board as a hospital chaplain, also at a “later age.” Two of my seven first cousins are also chaplains. Must be in the genes somewhere!

Do you have a dream? Reach for it. Is it over? Lay it down so you can pick up the next one.

Hope for the best,

Tish

Who is Writing YOUR Story?*

journal-shelf

So what were you doing 30 years ago today? I took my two-year old daughter and her friend to story time at the library, got my six-year-old daughter to the ice skating, a friend stayed for dinner and we all watched the World Series. Riveting, right?

Some decades of our lives can just swoop by leaving a handful of memories like a few vacations or special events. Yet we are all writing in the book of life every day. Do you ever ponder where all that time went?

Thirty years ago on a nondescript day in October of 1988, I looked around at my four children aged 2-10 and wondered what any of us would remember about these days of playing house for real. So much of our time was all about making lunches, preparing dinner, cleaning up, tossing another load of laundry in and…you know how it goes.

That afternoon, in a rush of inspiration – the kind you have to act on immediately or it is gone for another decade – I piled them all in the van and drove to the nearest bookstore that sold blank fabric books. The next morning (because I’m not very creative at night!) I wrote this on the front page of the book:

To my children so you might know what your mother was like and how we lived our lives together when you were growing up.”

And then I jotted a couple of lines about what we did the day before:

10/18/88 (Saturday) Spent the day doing a marriage conference and Karla took the kids to the Art Institute. Christa was at Cooneys all day. Ordered pizza from Little Caesars and ate it sitting on the floor watching the first game of the World Series. Dodgers vs Oakland A’s.

For the past thirty years, I haven’t stopped.

Each morning in around 100 seconds I can record the happenings of the previous day in about three lines. Most days are just not that sensational! The notes are all about the facts, what happened. I save my emotion for my prayer journal. Can you tell I like to write?

Funny but the journals, I’m on # 29, now, have evolved into our family’s Google system. Questions like “Who did I go to prom with junior year?” “When did I get braces?” “Where did we go on vacation in 1993?” are all answered in the journals.

I hope to keep this up, for let’s say another 30 years. Maybe no one will really care that one day we ordered pizza and watched a ball game. Could be said about many days around here! But I care….and that is enough.

What is not recorded is not remembered.

Who is writing your story?

Hope for the best,

Tish

* Adapted from a previous blog post in 2016.

Crossing the (Wisconsin) Border into a Legacy

Three grandchildren, six games, one jigsaw puzzle, two movies, a jug of cider, a bag of popcorn, a box of graham crackers, a package of marshmallows, chocolate bars, M & Ms …plus all the real food we might need for a couple of days weighed down our car as we drove north to Wisconsin last weekend. Our destination was Green Lake, the charming town Tom and I discovered 42 years ago.

Other than Quincy, it is the place I have returned to most.

Surely there are trendier Wisconsin destinations like Lake Geneva or Door County, both of which I also love, but sleepy Green Lake holds memories of seasons of my life and keeps calling me back.

25 years old, looking for a weekend getaway from the city with my love in our young marriage, we found our way there. We meandered, shopped a little, stared awestruck at the brighter stars, sipped cider, talked about nothing and everything. The next year we went back, listening to a Carter-Ford debate while we drove. We returned the following year too, following the same script. Always the same tiny fishing cabin. No, we don’t fish.

Fishing for seaweed.

We took a little time off to have a few kids but started going back again, squishing everyone in the same little cabin. They loved it, we loved it. We meandered, shopped a little, stared awestruck at the brighter stars, sipped cider, talked about nothing and everything and added throwing a football around.

Fall after fall, Green Lake was always on the schedule. We worked around football games, high school jobs, crazy schedules and sometimes sold extraneous stuff to cover the costs. It was always worth it.

The first year the oldest was in college, we went to Parent’s Weekend instead. Oh sure, we talked about doing both, but it was just a fantasy. We had one weekend to spend every fall and Washington University got it. Then University of Iowa, U of I and finally Purdue. Wonderful times indeed and no regrets, we were onto something new.

A pretend adventure at sea.

Green Lake waited politely. After a 17-year break, we returned with all our kids and their kids and easily fell under the spell of Green Lake once again. Green Lake 2013 Post We meandered, shopped a little, stared awestruck at the brighter stars, sipped cider, talked about nothing and everything. We still rented the fishing cabin but added the larger lodge for our crowd sized group.

Five more years flew by sans a trip to the town until last weekend. Tom and I and the “Bigs” as we call grandchildren # 1, 2, & 3, did a perfect reenactment. Including the football that got tossed all the way into the town square. The grand adventure occurred when it landed in the river, but a dramatic rescue ensued. No doubt that story will live on for decades.

Always a puzzle on hand.

Just like always, We meandered, shopped a little, stared awestruck at the brighter stars, sipped cider, talked about nothing and everything. Like five years ago, we also built a fire and roasted s’mores right before the flashlight walk when they stayed up way later than their parent’s policy. Oh well.

Walking to “town.”

As we dropped them off, the question, “Can we go back to Green Lake next year?” was already in the air. The legacy was clearly passed to the third generation.

Yes, my loves, we can always go back. Even if just in our memories and photos, as the imprint is deep and near at hand. But I put it on the calendar just in case!

Hope for the best,

Tish

The October Makeover

Mid 80’s outside today but my electric fireplace was on this morning because it’s October* and the annual makeover is almost finished. I can’t just “fall into fall,” but love changing up little things all over our home during the first week of October. Yes, I know Autumn started last month but September is in the post-summer category for me 😊

Home: Our shelter, haven, nurturing base for those we love and others we invite in to share our table, our ideas, our lives. We can leave our imprint in the room through the ambiance as well as our words.

Fall has the best possibilities for changing out the day-to-day and besides something fresh to look at, you might see your energy rise with all the reminders that something new is in the air.

I start with asking my husband to pull out my large see-through box from Target from the garage which holds all the inexpensive decorations I have amassed over the years. A trip to Farmer’s Market for funny shaped colorful gourds and a pumpkin are usually the only new additions but this year I picked up some fresh eucalyptus too.

Candles migrate up from the basement where I stashed them last spring and I grab the bag of lap quilts from the back of the closet. Not that I can actually read by candlelight with a quilt on my lap, but I like the concept. Lots of Hygge going on here!

Like snowbirds, the summer plates and colorful flatware return to their winter home in the top of the kitchen cabinets and the Friendly Village plates from the local antique shop and white flatware return to the mainstream. Soup is back on the Sunday menu too which is such a relief as I’m not great at meal planning.

When the house is done, it’s my turn for the change-out starting with taking off my favorite ankle bracelet so I don’t break it while pulling off socks and changing my Fitbit band color. Will miss that fuchsia on my arm but it will be waiting for me in the drawer.

I’m kind of an accessory minimalist but have a few scarves and fun necklaces which also get switched out because I don’t have enough room to store everything all year round. A cute $3 box from Dollar General holds the out of season stuff until I need it again.

Wait, I need to keep notes where I’m putting all this stuff!

I’m still working on switching shorts to sweaters but with yo-yo weather until November around here, that will be a work in progress for the next few weeks. Socks and slippers are out though but don’t need either today.

Now all I need to do is need to open a can of pumpkin and start creating something!

How do you mark the change of season?

Hope for the best,

Tish

* I unplug it May-October

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 



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