The Power Of Love And Christmas

Pass it along to the kids . . .

Time folds back upon itself at Christmas and we see ourselves as once we were. My sister Bernice (Mrs. Wayne Ursenbach), is again a four-year old, lying with her head under the Christmas tree with no lights except the magic ones above her. She says ‘it was pure enchantment then and when I’ve tried it again today, it’s still magic’.

One year Santa brought her a coloring book and dozens of colored crayons and she soon became absorbed in creating a multi-colored dog. Brad, then still to become my husband, carefully told her that dogs don’t come in those colors, and Bernice still feels the frustration of that time, because she says she knew dogs weren’t those colors, but was experimenting in trying to do so, and yet didn’t know how to tell Brad. Oh, the frustrations and problems of being a child.

Another memory of my little sister, is when Brad had Santa send her a telegram, and today, a life-time later, and without pausing a moment, she word for word, repeated to me:

“Tonight when you’re asleep, I’ll tell you what I’ll do.
“My sleigh I’ll stop and out I’ll pop.
“And leave some toys for you,” Signed, Santa.

My sister Fern (Mrs. Walter Scott) remembers one Christmas Eve when she and I were washing the dinner dishes, there were suddenly sleigh bells outside, and Fern says she thought it was Santa, and begged Mama to let her go to bed, but Mama insisted we finish our chore first and, what else?

The bells, no doubt were on a neighbor’s horses and Mama knew they were out Bobsleddling, but Fern again thought that Santa had passed by us, and silently worried and fretted until morning when she found that after all Santa, had come back.

Fern also recalled when we used real candles on the tree, and though Dad carefully clipped all the branches from around the candle flame, she was petrified until the flames were put out. Such was Christmas in the long ago..

Another sister, Amber (Mrs. Angus Bodine) remembers when those candles burned low, but leaving the wax still warm, Dad would take the wax and mold small animals from it. Amber remembers playing all day long with the little lambs he made for her.

She also remembers when Santa gave our brother, Spencer Ohlin (later of Richfield, Utah) a whistle and a drum. The house rang with the noise and it was only when Spencer cut a hole in the drum, to find out what made the noise, that any kind of peace once more arrived in the home. And Santa was far wiser in his choice of toys from then on, too. Such is the power of Christmas.

Spencer remembered one Christmas Eve when there was a great knocking at the door and Mama called, “Run to the bedroom and hide. Santa’s at the door.” Well, in a few years he knew it had been Grandpa Ohlin at the door, but he also remembers that was the year Santa brought him an Eskimo Sled which was large enough to be used until he was 15 or 16 years old.

He also recalls worrying how Santa could get down our small chimney . . . how Mama decorated the house with large folding strings of colored paper ropes . . . how we threaded buttered popcorn in long cords, to drape on the tree , , , and like all children of that era, the fascination yet fear of the live, flickering burning candles.

Such are the memories of Christmases that linger on when the children have become mature men and women.

When I was a child, my siblings and I still decorated at least one chair to keep alive Dad’s Swedish tradition and even today, I’ve been known to put a ribbon, bow or such, upon a chair, in silent memory of Dad. God love him.

And there are amusing ones too. Bernice as a child, for some reason loved to claim and play with Mom’s large, long wooden spoon. It was HER spoon and when mom needed it she had to find and wash it well. Well, one Christmas one of us bought Mom a nice big wooden spoon that would be HERS, . . . . and you know w hat happened. Yeah, Bernice claimed the new one and passed the old play yard one on to mom.

Oh, yes, we all experience a time warp at Christmas and no matter when or what kind of holidays they were, to us they were wonderful and are engraved forever on our minds, hearts, Soul, and fresh as if they happened just   yesterday,

Dip into your memory book this year, and some night, perhaps as you all trim the Tree, tell those tales on to your own kids, and they will remember how ‘odd’ your celebrations were. Maybe to them?????   But to you????? Treasures of your youth. Make them happy.

I Stand Where Jane Stood

I stand where Jane, Rachel and Indian women once stood,
The mountains, sky, earth and streams, are the same they saw,
 and did they dream as I dream?  Did they dreams of some  coming woman? A me?

Jane, pioneer woman, eking out a life in a cabin by the stream,
Conceiving, Carrying and Bearing her eighteen children
On this same spot.  Did she dream as I dream?  Of me?

Or was she numbed by the cruel days and nights
Of ‘making do’ with ne’er a moment to stop and just be woman?
Did she dream as I dream? Wonder?  About some future woman?

And that sweet, child-bride Rachel, alone in a family of men.
The mountains, sky, earth and stream the same, but  . . .
Did she dream as I dream? And wonder of someday wives for her sons? 

I see countless Indian women, standing where I now stand,
Seeing the same mountains, sky,  earth and stream, and ask
Did they dream?  Did they dream and wonder?  Of other women?

Now, I stand where other women have stood before me,
Circled by the same mountains, sky, earth and stream,
And I, too, dream and wonder . . . but I dream of them.  Jane, Rachel, Indians.

The eternal mountains, sky, earth and streams are the same, but
I see a highway at my door, golf course, not pasture, Ipod in every hand.
I wonder and dream . . . of the peace and quiet no longer here.

Bewildered, do the mountains, sky, earth and stream ever wonder, too?

 

Ethel Bradford
March 8, 2015

 

Grandpa Was A Moocher

Grandpa Bradford, Archibald the First, was seen almost daily at the old AS&R Plant (American Smelter & Refinery) and though not employed by the Murray Smelter, he had a one-room-office, desk, and phone there, and the only key to it was his.

He was good-naturedly called a Moocher, and in today’s lingo, a moocher is one who makes his wages off the work done by others.   And that’s exactly what Gramp’s did. He was Moocher.

Actually, he was employed by the New York offices of AS&R and roughly, this is how it worked.

Every day AS&R took samples of the ore Smelted that day, had them assayed, to reveal how much Lead, Silver, Copper, Gold, etc. was processed that day, and the results sent to the N.Y. offices. Obviously some metals were more valuable than others, and so the percentage of each metal, in the ore processed each day, would help determine the monetary worth of that day’s smelting.

I make myself unclear, but dealing with such large sums of money, AS&R trusted no one, and so the main out-of-State AS&R office, in New York, arranged to have another person, not connected with the local Smelter in any way, to independently get samples of each day’s work, have them assayed by an entirely different, but independent assayer, and then, again entirely separately, send those reports to them.

In that manner, the double reports helped keep both sides honest, for the New York office would be able to double-check every day’s reports, and so able to quickly spot any large differences.

Here in Murray, Utah, that man was Archibald Bradford. At that time, Gramps was a busy, well-known Murray man, and those at AS&R’s main office were cagey. They needed someone willing to spend a few hours each week getting their job done, but also, intelligent, good reputation, and  not apt to be open to bribery. I understand they looked around, and Grandpa, when asked, said, “Why not? ”

So, each day the Smelter was open, Gramps took samples of the ore smelted at the Murray Plant,  had his  samples assayed by a different, reputable Assayer, and then,  sent  his  report on to the main New York  AS&R Office.  In that way,  the N.Y.office had two entirely  separate reports of the ore smelted each day at their Murray Plant for comparison.

Murray was not a large town at that time and so our Gramps and the Smelter men all knew each other and so, good naturedly, the men began calling him a Moocher, and he grinned and liked it. What his actual title was I have no idea, and probably he didn’t even have one, but the name, Moocher, held and was used throughout all parts of the Smelter. He had a small private, locked room there and was free to come and go as he chose.

The work on that report could and would not be accepted by the NYC office if it had been prepared in the Smelter buildings, and so Gramps finalized his reports at the Bradford home, and of all people, it was Gram, Rachel Crozier Bradford, who filled in the blanks on those report forms, and used the Bradford’s ancient Remington typewriter.

One of my first memories of being in that old home, was on a Sunday evening and seeing Gram, on the east side of the dining room table, poking determinedly away with her two ‘pointer’ fingers on that tiny typewriter. She had the definite air of ‘Don’t even talk to me, I’m doing important work. Come back later when I’m finished.”

Today that typewriter would be a collector’s dream, but who knew? Obviously, in time it was replaced and tossed into the garbage. But I still can see that table, the dining-cloth pushed aside, and Gram seriously typing away.

Gramps then, ‘proof read’ the finished product before he signed, sealed and sent  it in the mail. For me, it became an expected routine to see Gram busy at her job of typing the Assay Report each Sunday evening after the dinner hour was over. She was serious as ‘all get out’, too. This was Smelter business.

And then, Sunday evening, her son, who became my husband, and I took the AS&R report to the S, L. Post Office to get it in an early mailing. There was no Air Mail then and Mr. Bradford, (and AS&R) wanted that report delivered quickly, and so it went out Sunday night, and was processed in the Post Office Box Car  of the Union Pacific RR,   Such Post Offices were then to be found on all main line Rail Systems.

So, our Gramps was a Moocher. He grinned and oft times used the title when describing himself. I think he took a lot of ribbing about his ‘job’, but he liked it, the men, their teasing, and kept on Mooching for a long, long time. Fun, isn’t it???   Gramps, of all people, a Moocher.

Thanksgiving and Abortions

On this Holiday our first thoughts are thanks for the good things God has given us, and the older and wiser (?) we become, the more we know that being born an American tops the list.  Amen.

But . . .  my mind has lately been drawn toward, (of all things) abortions. To me, it seems as if every aspect of the media is writing or speaking about that unwanted-quasi-illegal operation in such way  that  makes me wonder if the  operation has  become a required rite-of-passage for today’s young girls.

And it’s interesting to me, for the media as a whole spends millions, and talks endlessly of the need of finding the causes of cholesterol; the Big C, pneumonia, of whooping cough, measles, Muscular Distrophy, AIDS, MS and on and on and on, but the media skips even mentioning the cause of abortions. A Cause we all well know. That is, everyone knows it, with the exception of those innocents under 12, 13, 14 and so on year olds, the ones who need that knowledge the most of all.

To veer aside for a moment, I taught at the State Prison for a few years, and one of my first questions to a new group was, “What do you consider your greatest problem?” and, every person groaned and answered ‘Being down here.”

And that began the ‘jumping-off’ point for my following scheduled classes, as I tried to casually  point out that ‘being in prison’ is not their problem.  Being in Prison is the Result of some earlier Cause.  It was met with a lot of silence, but what I hoped would be a new slant on ‘why’ they were in prison. Once in a while I think a few of them heard me.

For most of them, the cause of their crimes was drugs or alcohol, and so naturally, I kept talking and slowly tried to then help them find out what the Cause was that had led them into drugs and alcohol. It’s a long journey, but there has to be a starting place. And most of them became tentatively interested in what I had to say. It was a surprise to me, but a lot of very intelligent people sometimes end up ‘down at the Point’ and those classes were both a joy and a challenge to some of them as well as to me.  And, I think, hope, pray, that I might have at least opened a door for a few of them.

It seemed like a new idea to some of them, that everything is the result of what we’ve done or didn’t do, previously. Pure ‘ cause and effect’. as we see that in our entire lives, one day builds on our actions of last one.

And so, back to abortions. Now, I’m far from being a prude, but I can’t help seeing what’s in front of me, and I also know a woman who had an abortion 45 or so years ago, (then called a ‘California operation’) but to this day, although married and the mother of children, carries invisible scars and still talks about it when she has a chance, with being alone with one who knew her both then and now.

So, my thoughts, if a girl/woman is old enough to become pregnant, she most certainly is old enough to know what Causes it, and that’s where the emphasis on the media articles regarding abortions, should be. Like all other diseases, to Find and Face the Cause, before a couple of parents are faced with a surprise pregnancy and suddenly have the choice of a quickie unwanted marriage or an abortion.

I thoroughly understand how and why parents and the young girl are shy about talking about the  cause of a pregnancy, but once their daughter is pregnant and in need of either marriage or abortion, all the explaining in the world is way, way, way too late and utterly useless anyway.

And if people want to use condoms, the Pill or any other of the various methods now available, that’s great. There should be some answer, for it’s a sad commentary upon our times that nearly 75% of area couples (right here in Utah) who are married at Masses, in Temples or other religious places, are already pregnant. And you might notice that I don’t say just the girls are pregnant, because while many men are reluctant to admit it, the man is absolutely as involved as the woman.

Today, freedom of  candidly speaking, writing, reading about sex is as open now as it could be. TV, Magazines, movies, in pictures, words, the sex act is accepted whether married or not. The old fashioned idea of ‘ not sleeping around’ is perhaps the best remedy, for it not only keeps one from getting pregnant, but forever eliminates the ‘need’ for an abortion. And as an aside, It also keeps one emotionally, physically, mentally and spritually far more healthy than living the up and down life of the opposite.

Everyone with the above exceptions of children, knows what the ’cause’ is, and after an abortion the two will be forever be trying to forget that there would be a child . . . a person . . . living a life, the same as they are, if they had only remembered, when their hormones had started jumping, to take a deep breath, and in some way, taken control of the Cause and the Remedy would never have had to even been considered.

I’m not trying to campaign for no sex outside of marriage, but abortions aren’t the answer. They’re only a terribly painful, life-changing way out of a situation that no one wanted in the first place.

Have a warm comfortable Thanksgiving and TYG many times over that not a one of the above words on abortion touched you. See you next week.

A Routine Lifesaver

We all hate schedules, and yet, dang it, everyone, no matter how young or not-so-young. has a routine for their days.

To begin with, a newborn infant immediately has a schedule of food, sleep and bath, and which during all of childhood gently but constantly changes, and before long, schooling arrives, then jobs begin, and before we know it, adult Life itself sets in and we have become so ‘routined’ that we ask, “When will I ever get a little Free Time?”

But, unconsciously we like it, for after the freedom of a day or week’s vacation, we snuggle back into our routine with a comfy ‘home again’ feeling. And so it goes, until e-v-e-n-t-u-a-l-l-y Retirement, enters our mind, and when it actually becomes real, after the first month or so of ‘no routine’, we not only miss, but need having something to do with our days.

The smart ones see this coming and begin exploring hobbies that, long ago, had been set aside for lack of time. Or we recall some skill we always wanted to learn, such as wood work, a new language, plumbing, farming, writing. We all have long-buried ‘itches’ and finally know that retirement is when they can blossom. At last we have the time to do what we want, not must do. Nice.

I once took some Buddhist classes and found those old Zen Teachers were wise, wise, wise. Their thoughts are from a thousand or more years ago, but they knew about human nature, and that life was life wherever   or whenever lived. Among much else, those classes told me of the absolute necessity of a daily routine to use, and to revise as changes come. And, we were reassured, changes would come.

It was stressed to keep it simple, for our days can’t be, or should never be, ‘carbon-copies’ . Can’t be, because, the phone rings and right then, our day can change, or unexpected company comes, an illness or accident happens, you get a headache, and so on, But, the need of a pattern for our days, was still stressed, for like it or not, that’s how life is. Always changing, and after the shock of small, large, joyous or heartbreaking ones, we adjust, flow with life and this adjustment happens mainly because we have a firm foundation, our routine to fall back upon.

So, the good Teachers advised a written Routine, and mine fits nicely on one side of a type sheet, kept in my computer where it’s easily up-dated, and so can print out a few when needed. I then keep them in a loose-leaf where I can make notes for coming days, and refer to what went on a week or two ago if wanted.

On one side of the sheet I have a list of what I plan to put into this ‘machine I call Ethel’, to keep it ready and fit to accomplish what I plan to do with it. This list includes all Medications, plus Vitamins and such, And if I can get those Vitamins from Food or a Capsule, matters not, Just Get Them into my Machine. And this means keeping track of my cups of water, too

And inasmuch as each item, when done, is crossed OFF, there’s no more wondering if I did or didn’t take that pill. It’s there on the sheet.

On the To-Do side, I list my Meditation, or prayer time, plus exercise, tidying the house from yesterday’s leftovers, making phone calls or email that’s needed. Appointments made, walking forward AND backwards, shopping trips needed, etc., bathing, proper care of the body, taking care of daily garbage, my meals, massage and so on.

These lists use about half of the sheet but they will vary as time goes on, but include my writing, which to me is both my work and joy. And I tell myself how much time is spent with that writing and what it is about. I keep track of what and when I eat . . . and if I might feel unwell, I can look back to see if it was something I ate . . . or didn’t eat.

I include walking . . . forward and backward (no fooling, keep that skill, for it helps keep your balance in good condition)  Yes, and the care of toe and fingernails. Be as picky as you choose, and if some of the actions are   on a weekly or daily schedule, just the same, put them dpwn and keep track. .

Keep your daily sheet where you see it often during the day, and it will not only be a reminder to you to walk, exercise, or meditate, because, for myself, if I feel lost, or moody, I turn to my daily routine and see what I might not have done for that day, and right then and there I go and do it, But any way,  it’s usually either writing or meditation I turn to. But choose your own, and you’ll find your mood will change. Just like that. The technique wouldn’t have lasted through the ages if hadn’t worked,  then or now, and speedily, too.

Sure worth a try.

I Am An American

The melting pot will win in the end . . .

I watched TV where a beautiful woman, who had been a ‘grandchild’ on the old Bill Crosby TV Show, was being interviewed and where, quite politely, she interrupted the Host as he introduced her, telling him that she was not an African-American as he had introduced her as being, but is an American.  The Host nodded, but was not pleased with the change.

But I see that young woman’s point of view, and agree with her. See, my father was born in Sweden and so I’m a first-born generation American, and, have never, never, ever, not even once been asked to identify myself as Swedish-American. My birth name was odd enough to warrant curiosity, (Ohlin) and when giving that name, I learned early to be ready with the spelling. Every time, but never ever once, to identify the nationality.

The law is, if you were born here, you are an American with the first breath you take. Period.   No argument. However, if you were born elsewhere, came here and completed your immigration papers, you became, as my father did, an American. Again, with no if’s, and’s or but’s. The same as so many others have done, my Dad. Carl Gustav Ohlin became .  American. With no comment or argument.

Yes, because with the exception of American Indians, everyone one of us is a descendant of immigrants.  America is a nation of immigrants.  And very recently, it’s become not only interesting, but ‘big business’ to pay someone to trace one’s lineage to find out exactly where we did come from. It’s making a good TV show.

And now, for some reason, some one is trying, again, to make a big deal of the term African-American   The majority of Blacks here in the USA have been here since before the Revolutionary War, and no one can argue that fact, for we are the ones who brought them here. They did not choose to come, but we wanted them, and Abraham Lincoln’s words of Emancipation, yes, yes, that far back, gave that race all the rights of all other American citizens. Each and everyone of them, too.

They have fought, been wounded and died in all our wars, including The Revolutionary, The Civil, and every war since then. Bar none.

My father was born in Sweden, came here as a nine-ten year old, and was never called a Swedish-American. and all others, from the Chinese, Japanese, Indonesians, Mexicans, all became plain, ordinary Americans and not a two-word label of identity.

I agree with the lovely young woman, whose name I do not know, and wonder why the TV host was irritated. His facial features made it obvious he came from a foreign race, and it wasn’t Indian, and he now had a good interesting job and able to make a name and fortune such as he would have had a hard time duplicating where he had come from. That’s American. It was so obvious, that I couldn’t help but wonder why he stressed the racial facts so much.

Or is he and others, for some reason I don’t understand, striving to continue that difference and identification, once known as “The Color Line,” alive? Is it to someone’s monetary advantage to keep the division alive??? Money is usually behind all such endeavors.

And, if not, it’s time we drop all labels of what we were, and concentrate on what we are and are becoming.     AMERICANS. Just as Jefferson so boldly stated, and Lincoln emphasized, that all men (humans) are created equal, and have the same rights and privileges.

It’s why people of the entire world dream of coming here. To be American. And NOT to become half breeds wearing some superimposed two-word label. To be President of the UnIted States, it goes without saying, that person must be an American.    But is President Obama going to go down in history, (as some odd-balls seem to want) with the label as being half-American.

History, that of putting Obama’s name in millions of history records and books telling of his personal biography. Let’s get it right. He is an American, born of African lineage, yes, yes, yes. But he is an American. And let’s keep our history books true to our actions. No hyphenated two word label as to his genealogy.

We thought that skirmish was over four long years ago. but now we hear the rustlings in the edges again. And if so, if we put a two-word label next to his name, then we must go back and re-label everyone of our of Presidents, for everyone of them, from first to last, is and was a descendent of Immigrants.

Just like You. And just like me. Oh, not President of the USA, but we are all immigrants. And it’s great that it is so. A fact that makes every person in the world want to be one of us. And just like us. And thank You God.

Nothing New Under The Sun

Ethel sums up her thoughts about the current election with this look at past politics.    Dirty tricks abound but remember, we Americans are the “civilized” ones.

Nothing new to see here . . .

If you think political dirty tricks began with our time, you’re way wrong. George Washington, refused to run for his third term, partly because, “The attacks upon me have been so exaggerated and indecent they should not be directed to a convicted criminal, much less one who has given time, fortune and health to facilitate the founding of this Country.”

One of the most vicious political wars was waged between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, opponents in 1800, and now no one knows how, but a bad one was when a Baltimore newspaper received a ‘truthful’ report of the death of Jefferson at his Monticello home.

With the news traveling ‘by foot’ in those days, it was almost two months later before it was discovered that the death story was a ‘dirty trick’ to keep Jefferson from being elected. Obviously, the trick didn’t work.

Lincoln, so revered today, was maligned in a manner few other aspirants to the high office has ever been.  Some of the attacks accused him of being a coward, drunkard, and that his election would bring a deluge of rape, incest and adultery. And name calling reached its apogee (or its opposite) when, in then current publications, he was called an ape, fiend, ghoul, knave, lunatic, outlaw and a traitor.

Many presidents have been charged with drunkenness including Grover Cleveland, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Grant, William Harrison, Theodore Roosevelt, Warren Harding, and George W. Bush. And, with two or three of those names, it just might have been true.

One man, a certain E. P. Cramer, in later history, admitted before an Investigating Committee, that he began the whispering campaign that the later Roosevelt (FDR) was insane, and therefore incompetent. Tag ends of that ‘dirty trick’ still crop up in stories of that era, and FDR, though his, and his wife Eleanor’s  personal lives were quite outside conventional codes and standards, they were still far from being incompetent, illegal, or insane.

In the hot summer of 1928 when Al Smith was ‘running’ for President, his meetings were made unbearable, and people left in droves, because his opponents bribed men to ‘fire up the winter furnaces to full blast’ pouring heat into the crowded halls where the people were already overcome with the torrid summer weather. And all in the era before air conditioning was even dreamed of.

A century or so ago, and aimed at a more innocent, and far less educated electorate, and before there were neither radio or, tv, much guile was used as dirty tricks.  Calvin Coolidge told a favorite story which played upon that innocence of our ancestors. One man, running for high office, spread a whispering campaign that his opponent “practiced Nepotism, that his sister was a Thespian, that his brother was a Homo Sapien and that he had Matriculated in college.”

And those words, both true and very flattering, yet were unfamiliar and unknown to most voters, and proved to be the pivotal point in defeating the poor bewildered man against whom they were turned.

John Adams ordered and paid for, out of his own pocket, a billiard table along with special accessories. But, due to a book keeping error, those items. were initially, but quickly corrected, were in error, included in a statement of expenses to the While House, to be paid for by the electorate. But Adams, to his dying day, was constantly kept explaining why he had allowed ‘the people’ to pay for his Billiard table. Dirty tricks.

They are a long familiar part of the way we elect officials and as long as people are still human, the dirty tricks will roll along, too.  Here are a few we have listened to.

Did Kennedy’s father ‘buy’ his son’s election??  Was Carter an uneducated farmer??   Does Romney have Swiss (untaxable) Bank Accounts??  Did Viet Nam give LBJ huge financial gains??  Did McCain choose Palin for her celebrity appearance to offset both Obama and Hillary Clinton??  Were others paid to hide the problems that later ruined Edward’s entire life as well as his run for the Presidency??

Doesn’t much matter.  If it’s not these questions, it will be others, for as long as there are high level political goals, and big money to be made, there will be ‘dirty tricks’. And even with today’s speed in correcting such errors, such ‘tricks’ are of common usage and any corrections are usually far too little and too late.

Hello Young Lovers Part IV

Below is one of our favorites written by Ethel.  The basic idea for it started in the 1960’s when she worked for the Murray Eagle newspaper and wrote a column by the same name as this blog.  Go figure.  It has evolved over the years but remains timeless . . .

Ethel is doing quite well and we hope to see her writing again here soon.  Best wishes to all.

We’ve had a love of our own . . .

I recently turned a hallway corner and startled a young couple holding each other closely, sharing a moment of love and tenderness.

As soon as they saw me, they hurriedly stepped apart, blushing, embarrassed, and their reaction was obvious, that I, of another generation, could not in any way, understand their actions or what they were feeling.

I was momentarily tempted to pause and tell them that indeed I did understand.  That I was intensely aware of their happiness, and  could feel the emotion that passed between them, because, as the old song says, ”I had a love of my own, you see, I had a love of my own.”

We live in a world that seems programmed to think that love, and all its glory that ‘makes life worth living’, is meant only for the young.  And that if you are 50, or anywhere beyond, that love is foolish and out of the question.  That any  marriage, at those ages, must be nothing but empty, hollow arrangements and could never have the least thing to do with that most ‘tender emotion.’

How wrong they are.  Oh, heavens, how wrong they are and how much they have to learn as they are taking their first startled steps into the world that is at the heart, and the reason for every birth, book, opera, song, poem, sculpture or work of art.

They were so young, so starry eyed and they think the joys and love they are experiencing can, in no way, be understood by people their parent’s age.  But they must be excused, because every generation thinks the wonders and joys of love and sex are unique to them.

It is the wise (blessed? lucky?) ones who go through the young infatuations, and though moved, recognize them for what they are. To enjoy, learn, but carefully, oh most carefully avoid any acts or commitments that could entail a child, marriage, and so often a divorce.

I read, and still like to refer to Margaret Mead’s book, the world-wide classic, Coming of Age In Samoa written in 1925, after she lived there as an Anthropologist.  Among other aspects of their life, Mead wrote of Coming of Age, or as we say, the Teen years. In Samoa at that time, love and sex were routinely expected, accepted, and tolerated with no criticism. She compared sex as arriving to those of those early years, like  flash fires, bolts of lightning and over just as quickly.

However, if a Samoan pair conceived a child, (and here their rules were adamant and frighteningly strict), and with no censorship, they were automatically considered ‘married’ and would continue that responsibility until the child (children) reached adulthood.  And horribly harsh punishments followed if those rules were ignored.

But then, when those ‘family’ years were completed, they had done their duty to the next generation and were free to do as they pleased, and again with no criticism.  What did it matter, they said. It is the children who are important and must be nurtured.

But back from Samoa to my encounter in that hallway.  Teen-age love comes, and goes, and that young pair I interrupted  has so much to learn.  How swiftly that first wild love can fling them into a marriage they’re not ready for.  A child?  A divorce?  And leaving both disillusioned, bitter and knowing that the rest of their lives have been irrevocably changed.

But life does not stand still. We get older, hopefully wiser and no matter how badly burned or blessed with that first Bolt of Lightning, time passes, life heals, and then another love enters people’s lives.  Not the same as the first,  not taking the place of any cherished memories, and not to be criticized or explained, but entirely different. And welcome.

Yes, I passed the young couple I had surprised without seemingly giving them more than a passing glance, but they could not and can not know what thoughts and  memories they stirred, and at the same time, what hopes and fears of where their  lives, almost out of their control, would now go.

I knew they thought I would/could not understand them, but I understood so well that a smile touched my lips as I recalled  another song that tells us  “Love is wonderful, the second time around.”  And whoever penned those words knew exactly what they were talking about.

And while we’re on the subject, and not in Samoa or even in that hallway, and as if you don’t already know, I’ll tell you a secret.   If you’re lucky, the third time is nothing  to be  underestimated either.  And a fourth time?  You’re asking the wrong person, but each one, in its own way, is distinct, different, wonderful.

Oh me, and all this from a moment’s encounter in a out-of-the-way hallway.

Happiness and Life’s Changes

Ethel has certainly been going through some life changing experiences, and as she does so, she continues to teach us how to handle and accept what comes.   Back from death’s door, perhaps without as much energy as the ‘old’ Ethel, she remains sane and strong, and reads these posting carefully so i have to careful what I say . . .  : )

Here is one of Ethel’s earlier columns, and I think it speaks well of her current life and that of all of us.

Some years ago, a friend asked me to write about how ‘people like me’ survive the deaths of those close to you and then able to go on and lead happy lives. At first I pretended to be puzzled, and asked what she meant, for I eat, sleep, work, play, worship. What else is there?

But, truly, I knew what she meant. She was saying, “Ethel, in the time of only one short year, you lost your husband, your Gram, and your children grown and living their own lives, so what did you do…what do you do…to be as happy as you are?”

So I figured it was time to look back at the Ethel I was, and the Ethel I suddenly became the startling moment when I sat at my desk and received a sad phone call telling me that AW was dead. And no matter how it’s worded, there are no ‘right’ ones.

So I took time and compared ‘the two Ethels’ and Lordy, Lordy what a lot of difference there is.

At first there was absolute trauma. Paralysis. It was an event so new, so unexpected, so out of context to my life, that I lived through the immediate events as if hypnotized. The awful arrangements of cemetery, funeral, casket, what clothes for him to wear, should I take off his rings or not?  And horror of horrors, questions were very carefully asked, what about all that gold in the teeth?  Yeah, that, too. Terrible questions.

And then…there were so many people (thank heaven’s) helping and telling me what had to be done, that I had to be careful to make sure my husband’s funeral was what I wanted, and not what others wanted it to be. Hard.

But after the excitement (yes, there is excitement) was over, came the long haul. And it is a long haul, and I can speak only for myself.

I was scared. Scared as I never had been before in my life. Could I survive? Emotionally? Mentally? Financially? Spiritually? I felt utter terror, absolute isolation, and it was only the established routine of work, eat and sleep that saved my life.

Emotionally I didn’t think or feel, and almost became a robot and taking each day, hour and minute as it came. Not looking ahead. Not even for a day.

Mentally? Well, again, a demanding job kept me balanced and busy and I still thank God for it.

Financially, I did not spend one dime that I didn’t absolutely have to, until I found out that I could ‘make it’ on my own, but I must admit, there were many times of worry and fear. And over and over I asked myself, ‘Has anyone else ever, ever, ever been left as alone as I was?’

Spiritually? Oh, there is the saving grace that saw me through and remains my foundation. It saw me through the anger that came. Anger to think that I could be left alone. Anger at AW for dying (Oh yes, don’t be surprised, there is that, too.) Anger at the world that it could laugh, play, travel, visit and love, while I walked around wounded and bleeding.

It saw me through the despair of lonely days and nights and gave me the wisdom not to join clubs “guaranteed to find a companion.” It gave me courage not to cling to my sons for emotional support. You see, I’d seen young people crippled by a sorrowing parent and swore not to do likewise to mine.

It saw me through the fear of changing my life style from the one I had known into an unknown one.  What else?  My life had changed and it saw me through finding new friends who, first, did not replace those who had died; second, do not take the place of children, and third; did not become crutches for me to lean and weep upon.

No, but it brought me friends and activities that were new. But, you can’t be in a hurry, for it takes time. Took a long time for me not be feel guilty when I found myself laughing and happy  with people, and in situations that neither my husband, sons, or dear Gram had heard of or known.  I can tell you,  it’s a weird feeling, for it truly becomes a new life.

Yes, the spiritual life brought me through the guilts that clung to me as I carved out a new life filled with people I hadn’t even heard of while Brad lived. They, of course, now know my grown sons and all is well and good.

For me it is the only way. For me, that of  sorrowfully clinging to the old life, after it was irrevocably gone, would have not only crippled me but crippled all close to me.

So I chose to survive and be happy. It’s not knocking the old one bit, it’s just ultimately being able to say “That life is over. Now, Dear God, whatever comes next, bring it to me, for I’m ready.”

And that’s how ‘people like me’ again become happy and able to live a full and good life.  None of those I lost that terrible year would know those who now make up my life now, but that’s okay.

Ethel’s Creed

Ethel continues to mend, and is wishing everyone well.  She is unable to take calls or visits yet, but we hope that will change for the better soon.

Here is her “creed.”  It has hung in her kitchen for years . . .

MY CREED

 

So simple.

My Consciousness has never confused

Itself with my temporary body of Ethel Ohlin Bradford.

 

Before I came to earth, I was the Same.

I lived in a child’s body, but I was the Same.

I grew into womanhood,

Yet there was no change in Me. I was the Same.

 

When it was time for this body to marry and have children,

I joyously did so, but I remained the Same.

 

                                     And though this body has lived, worked and matured

I remain the Same.

 

And I learned

There are no Baby Spirits, but

There are Spirits in Baby Bodies.

There are no old-worn-out Spirits, but

There are Spirits in Old-Worn-out Bodies,

 

 

Throughout Eternity, though the Dance of Creation

changes around Me,

I shall ever be the Same.

 

The Creed

of the

One who lives in the temporary body known as

Ethel Ohlin Bradford

 

Written circa 1990.