“Polar Bears Should Be Safe . . .”

Mary brought dinner and spent a few hours with me the other night. She handed me the pan, and said, “I’ve got one more thing in the car.” When she walked back in, I saw the red flowers, green pine needles and frosted pinecones, and choked back the tears. She told me, “I know you won’t put anything out, but I wanted you to have something for the season.” And then when she pulled it out of the box, I saw the polar bears.

We sat down and chatted for a while. I shared some of John’s poetry with her and more of our story. She remembered “My Precious Flower” from the memorial service. As she read the poems, she revealed her perspective to me and what she sees in his words.  She read a few lines from several poems out loud and urged me to listen, “I must have you by my side before I can be whole”, “nature’s picture of you and I, love’s bouquet ‘til time does end”, “let me love you for all time”, “arm-in-arm together for all eternity”.  She said, “don’t you see, you and John are one — forever.”

After a while, we decided to eat. As we walked into the kitchen, I said, “after we eat, I want to show you something.” She told me about how she and Zach rummaged through her pantry as they improvised the smoked turkey stuffed shells, making red sauce with diced tomatoes and pizza sauce! They were delicious and much appreciated.

After dinner, we returned to the great room. I went to the back bedroom and grabbed the polar bear. As soon as she saw it, she was completely dumbfounded. Again, I choked back tears. She told me about her trip to the florist shop. She said she was very deliberate and measured as she looked for a gift trying to avoid emotional triggers.

Mary told me how she didn’t want to get a “live” plant so there was no chance for it to wither and die. She steered away from angels, hawks, Christmas trees, little dogs, anything that she knew would probably evoke tearful memories. She picked up the polar bears and put them back down several times. She laughed and said the people in the shop probably thought she was nuts. After much hesitancy, she picked up the polar bears one last time. She thought to herself, “polar bears should be safe.”

John bought a little red rocking chair for the polar bear. We had it sitting in his office next to his desk. She apologized and then said, “for whatever reason, John chooses me to connect him with you.” She looked at me and added, “he even has a scarf around his neck.”

She stayed for a bit longer. Before leaving, she took a picture of the arrangement and my polar bear. Later that evening, she sent a text “love you . . . enjoy your arrangement from John!” She added that it “blew Zach’s mind” when she shared the picture and story.

Once again, John, my dearest angel, spoke to me through Mary . . . this time through little polar bears.

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He Smiled At Me

The gymnasium was set up for a career fair at the high school for the Great American Teach-In. There were tables set up for participating companies, disciplines and even the U.S. Air Force from MacDill AF Base. I reluctantly signed up to help with the career fair since they said it would be 1-on-1 with students vs. classroom.

I don’t like crowds  and quickly became claustrophobic, especially with all of the chatter in the gym. Science/Technical isn’t a popular subject matter to the vast majority of students, so not many stopped by. Those who did were grabbed up by the other two at my table.  I sat quietly, tuned out the noise and watched the students mill about the gym. It was very apparent to me that the students were more interested in being out of the classroom than careers. Most students did “drive by’s” each table, picked up freebies, hung out with their friends until the bell rang.

Two and half hours was an eternity to me. A new group of students entered the gym. My two table-mates quickly found someone else to talk to. I saw the young man standing in front of our table. He was all alone and holding a U.S. history book almost as big as him. He looked uncomfortable and almost frozen in front of our table, unsure of what to do.

It pained me to see him all alone and uneasy. I saw his name tag, and said, “hello Michael”. He looked up, and said hello back, surprised that I spoke to him. I asked him how he was doing, and he said “ok”. I continued speaking and asked him if he was interested in the science/technical field. He told me he didn’t really know what he wanted to do. He told me he was a sophomore. He was shorter than me with a slight build; I surmised that he was one of the smaller boys, if not the smallest, in his class. I told him he has a lot of time to figure out what he wants to do.

Then I asked him if he liked history, and he nodded “yes” and relaxed a bit. So I asked him, “what are you studying?” to which he replied, “World War I”. I asked him to tell me what started the war, and he was eager to share. He told me that U.K., France and Russia opposed Germany and Austria-Hungary. I said that I didn’t remember the details but “why did the U.S. get involved?” He told me that we remained neutral until Germany invited Mexico to fight against the U.S. and would help them recover TX, NM and AZ.

Curious if he was abreast of current events, I asked him, “what do you think about what’s going in our world today?” He was very thoughtful and said that we need to look back on history and understand what lessons we learned. We need to think long-term and hopefully make a good decision for our country. I asked if World War II is next, and he told me the Great Depression is next. I told him, “as bad as our economy is now, it’s nothing compared to the Great Depression.”

Just then, the bell rang and it was time for him to return to class. I said, “you’re a very sharp young man. Thank you for talking to me and good luck to you.” And that’s when he broke into a full, tooth-filled smile. He held out his hand to me which I shook. He said, “thank you, thank you for coming today.”

It was an emotional drive home, mostly because I wouldn’t be able to share my experience with John. All afternoon, Michael’s smile kept coming back to my mind. Then, it dawned on me – John loved history, especially U.S. history. He always told me how he was a scrawny kid growing up, a loner, uncomfortable in crowds like me, like Michael. It was less than 10 minutes in the three hours I spent at the career fair, but it’s as if Michael stopped in front of me on purpose. He needed me to speak to him, and I needed to speak to him. It was as if John, my guardian angel, smiled at me through Michael’s smile, a tiny little God-wink for me.

An Unlikely Pair

To the casual observer, he and she were an unlikely pair.  But to those in close proximity of the two of them could feel the attraction.  He was the south end of a magnet and she the north end, forming a permanent magnetic field of closeness.  It was this closeness that was the foundation of their forever love.

He loved the wild, wild west, cowboys and Indians. She loved the tropics and Asian culture.

He wore starched shirts, perfectly-knotted ties, and cowboy boots. She wore silk, lace and high heels.

He never had a hair out of place. She let her hair flow long, sometimes with a forced wave.

He loved bluegrass and R&B. She loved 80’s and classic rock.

He was self-taught on the guitar. She was classically trained on the piano.

He drove an SUV. She drove a two-seater sports car.

He worked for the same company for over 30 years. She had already worked for three.

He had some college, military and lots of on-the-job training. She had two college degrees.

He was a fitness fanatic and weight lifter. She walked her dog for exercise.

He was a father with two children. She had no children, only a “fur-baby”.

He had lived in Florida all but four years of his life. She had not lived in one place more than four years.

He had family and friends all around him.  She had family and friends scattered across the country.

This unlikely pair was me and my husband. Our paths crossed in a meant-to-be-moment through Godwinks and guardian angels. Our differences were the lure which led us to discover shared dreams and wishes. We fell head-over-heels in love and nothing was going to keep us apart:

“Our soul mate is one who makes life come to life.” Richard Bach

We made each other’s life come to life.  From the beginning and all of our years together, we were blessed with love that strengthened and deepened into our Bea-utiful love story – an unlikely pair of hearts joined together forever.

Two Hearts

The Gray Cat With Blue Eyes

Wednesday nights, all of us place the trash and recycle bins on the curb. As I was rolling the trash can to the curb, I heard a “meow” from the garage. I went back for the recycle bin, and I saw the gray cat standing next to the car. I tried to call him out of the garage, but he kept walking towards the back door.

I crept down in the driveway and called to him again mainly because I didn’t want him to stay in the garage! He kept meowing and looking at the back door.  We’ve never been “cat people”; we have always rescued little dogs. I’m not really sure how to act around cats.  As I squatted in the driveway, I called to him.  He finally came over and gave me “cat kisses” on my hand and legs; he kept rubbing his neck and body against my legs. He put his head in my hand and wanted me to pet him and rub his head and back.

I started crying and talked to the cat through tears, and said “why are you here of all nights? I’ve been asking John to speak to me all day, and now it’s dark.” I have no idea how to take care of cats. I kept crying, petting him and letting him “kiss” my hand. Then I asked, “by chance, is your name John? Are you trying to tell me something?”

He kept returning to the garage and sitting in front of the door, and then he laid down in front of the car. At this point, I had to find a way to get him out so I could close the garage. I took the garage door opener out of the car and coaxed the cat outside again.  I started walking down the sidewalk. The cat followed me, and I closed the garage. He walked with me touching my leg as we walked.

I decided to try Mac and Bambi, hoping they would chase the cat away. I put Mac’s leash on, and he went crazy as soon as he saw the cat.  Mission accomplished — the cat ran away.  Mac and I went for a walk down the sidewalk about a block and then returned home. We went through the front door, and I tried to collect myself.

Now, Bambi was ready to go out, so I let her out the back door. As soon as I opened the back door, I heard the meowing. The cat had returned and was sitting on one of the patio chairs by the grill. About this time, my sister, Beth, called me. I told her about the strange encounter. Because she has had cats, I asked her what should I do?

I described the cat to Beth. He is mostly gray with white “boots” on each foot. He has white patches over his nose and white-striped “eye brows” that look painted on – three vertical stripes over the top of each eye. Across the bottom eyelids, it looked like white eyeshadow was painted across. Once Beth saw his picture, she said “I’ve never seen a cat with those kinds of markings.”

Beth said, “he might be hungry, but cats won’t eat dog food. Do you have any canned chicken?” I didn’t, but I decided to try Bambi’s nuggets. The cat ate every nugget in the bowl.

While Beth and I kept talking, I sat down on our glider. The cat crawled up on my lap and wanted me to pet him. She said, “cats don’t come up to people, especially ones they don’t know.” And then she asked, “what color are his eyes?” I know why she asked . . . John has blue eyes.

After a few minutes, the cat wanted to go back outside, so I let him out. And then Beth said the most beautiful thing to me.  Maybe the cat is a God-Wink and “maybe he knew you needed comfort and sought you out.”  She told me that cats don’t “kiss” people, but this one “kissed” me. She said cats rub against you because they want to be touched and loved, or maybe he knew I needed to touched and loved at that moment.

I haven’t seen the cat since he left the patio last night.  I believe Beth is right . . . the cat was a God-Wink sent to me last night.  I needed to know that my angel, John, is watching over me, he loves me, he misses me . . . as much as I love him and miss him.  Last night, I was blessed with a beautiful gray cat with blue eyes.

Elliott Was Right . . . It Didn’t Rain On Our Wedding Day

On Sunday afternoon, September 8, 1996, John and I visited Nancy’s Secret Garden in Key West.  It had been raining most of the day, but we managed to find a break in the weather early that afternoon. We parked and walked through a small alley and then through the gate.  We walked into a tropical heaven.

There was a lady, her hair in a long braid cast from back to front over her left shoulder.  She was talking to a beautiful white parrot inside a large bird cage.  Nancy introduced herself to us – Nancy of Nancy’s Secret Garden.  She seemed delighted we were there and gave us a personal tour of her garden.

Not far into our tour, the rain started up again, and Nancy invited us into her home.  Me, John, Nancy and Elliott (her companion) sat on their screened porch, and we listened to her story.  Nancy’s grandmother brought her family to Key West with a vision to start the garden and get away from the “concrete jungle”.  She mentioned that some people have weddings in their garden.  “In fact”, she said, “we have a wedding here tomorrow morning!”  John and I smiled; we were the couple getting married.  She and Elliott grinned from ear-to-ear.

I think Elliott could tell by the look on my face that I was distressed by the rain as it continued to fall.  Elliott looked at me and John and said, “Don’t worry about the rain.  It has never rained on a wedding yet.”

We stayed for a little while longer waiting for the rain to subside.  Nancy and Elliott said they couldn’t wait to see us tomorrow.  And again, Elliott reassured us, “it’s not going to rain on your wedding.”

Our beautiful wedding day is best described in John’s lovely poem.  And Elliott was right after all – it didn’t rain on our wedding.  Happy anniversary, my love, my angel.

“I awoke to the sound of rain.  Oh, Lord, please not today,

For I’ve finally found love; this is my wedding day.

I gently eased back a curtain.  The sky was but clouds and rain.

I saw the look on your face as your tears slowly came.

“Perhaps, it’s not meant to be” those words I heard you say.

“It’s very bad luck to have rain on your wedding day.”

“The rain will go away,” I said, “just you wait and see.”

“It’s only Angels crying, happy for you and me.”

We slowly got ready, remorsefully drive in the rain.

We even drank some wine to try and ease the pain.

But as we reached the Garden, the rains began to slow.

We started feeling hope, but, how long, we did not know.

I looked up above to see the clouds part

As if someone had cleared a spot to join these two hearts.

The bouquet in the cottage brought a smile and then a tear.

I knew from that moment that all would be well from here.

We said our wedding vows as the flowers glistened in the rain.

I gave my heart to you as we became one.

We walked among the flowers, you, the most radiant of all.

As the angels held the rain away for not a drop on us did fall.

I never thought about angels, but I know that day for sure

That we have one watching over us because our love is true and pure.

I ask our Angel every day to keep you safe for me.

To help you with all you do and try to be patient with me.

I ask our Angel to let you know how much you mean to me.

To tell you how much love I have to give to my “B”.

Our Rings

Will You Be My Warrior?

It was mid-afternoon, sunny and breezy, a very nice May day. I sat on the metal bench waiting for the valet to fetch my car out of the parking garage. Since I like to people-watch, I sat, eyes behind my sunglasses, and watched. Some people dropped off their cars to be parked. Others, like me, waited for their cars to be retrieved from the garage.

The striped red-black-white dress caught my eye, something that I would wear. The lady in the dress was an attractive tall, model-thin lady, and wore nice black-heeled sandals to match the dress. She held the tell-tale large brown envelope with x-rays. Beside her was her daughter, who looked to be 11-12 years old and was almost as tall as her mother and just as pretty! Another lady, who looked like her sister, also stood beside her as they waited for their car.

While the lady’s dress caught my eye, her lovely English accent caught my ear. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but they stood close enough that I could hear their conversation. She said, “you know, there are angels around us everywhere we go.” Through my sunglasses, I saw the tears rolling down the young girl’s face. This lovely lady, like all patients in this hospital, is here because this is the best chance to beat cancer.

I heard the young girl say “I’m so scared” as she sobbed. Her mother held her close and wiped her tears. She said, “It’s only four months, and it’s going to be alright.” Then she turned to her sister, touched her forearm, and asked, “will you be my warrior?” Her sister nodded yes. She turned back to her daughter and held her face in her hands and asked, “will you be my warrior? I need you to be strong for me.”

My car showed up as my own tears rolled down my face. The question haunted me for quite a while. To me, a warrior is someone who shows great vigor, courage, aggressiveness. There isn’t a cancer patient in this hospital who isn’t a warrior; they are fighting every day with courage and perseverance to endure tests, x-rays, treatment, biopsies, waiting, hoping. So why did this lady ask her daughter and sister to be a warrior? Can a loved one, friend, family member be a warrior, too?

Well, yes, because in any battle, there are “non-combat” warriors – advocates, guardians, supporters. These people provide strength, encouragement and care for the battle-worn . . . As I reflected, I realized our personal warriors . . .

  • Mow the grass, edge the sidewalks every week without being asked
  • Pick up the mail and watch the house
  • Show up on Saturday to clean out the refrigerator and kitchen
  • Bring a delicious chicken potpie and fresh fruit tart, just because you don’t have time to cook
  • Give you an “Angel of Prayer” to sit by your bedside
  • Provide company while I wait during the biopsy procedure
  • Bring “care packages” of fruit, snacks, hand-sanitizer, books, magazines
  • Spend Saturday mornings pulling weeds, trimming hedges, fertilizing the yard
  • Pray, have faith when we are weak

So, how will you respond if asked “will you be my warrior?”

“Will you be my warrior?  I need you to be strong and bea positive…”

An Angel Named “Angel”

Friday afternoon, and we were trying to get our errands completed in order to avoid the back-to-school weekend shoppers. We completed our first errand and decided to grab a late lunch. Back in our old Trailblazer, I started the engine and shifted into Reverse. The gear shifter moved but wouldn’t Reverse. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t connect with any gear.
John tried and same result.  Slightly panic-stricken and frustrated, I started to cry. Stuck in Tampa, car un-driveable, hungry, and I wasn’t going to make my 4:00 appointment. John went back into the building, and asked to use their phone. In addition to the “dead car”, his cell phone died, too. Thankfully, we have AAA, and they sent a tow truck to take the Trailblazer to the “auto hospital”.
I collected my emotions, used my cell phone and called Enterprise rental car.  You know, “Pick Enterprise. We’ll pick you up.”  Within 30 minutes, I was picked up, driven to Enterprise, rented a car and headed back to meet John. As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw the tow truck leaving empty. Then John drove up next to me, and said “let’s go eat!”
We got to Mott & Hester Deli, ordered, and sat at a window-side table. That’s when John told me, “I’ve got a Bea Positive story for you.” Do you know the Bible verse about how God will give you double blessings for your trouble? Well, please read on.

The tow truck pulled up, and the driver asked John what was wrong. John told him about gear shifter sliding back and forth without engaging in a gear. The driver asked if he could take a look. He got in the car, tried the gear shifter, turned it off and crawled under the car. He was under the car for a minute or so, then crawled out from under saying “I’m getting too old for this.” He put the Trailblazer in gear and pulled it up to the tow truck.

John watched, and he assumed he was getting ready to load the car and tow away. The driver pulled the front wheels onto the bed of the tow truck, and used a chain and trailer to lift our car. Once the car was a few feet off the ground, he got back under worked a few more minutes. He got a screw driver out of the cab of his truck and what looked like a tube of super glue.

He looked at John and said, “I might be able to save you a couple hundred dollars” and got back under the car. He worked a few more minutes, crawled out and said, “we need to let it dry”. After a few minutes of chit-chat, the driver said, let me check it out. He crawled back under our car, came out, and said “I think you’re good to go.”
He lowered the Trailblazer off the tow truck, unhooked the chain, and backed it away from the truck. He told John, “there you go. Have a nice day.” There was no paperwork to sign. Very appreciative, John handed him a nice tip and that’s when he saw the driver’s name on his shirt:  A – N – G – E – L.

Talk about being blessed by an angel . . . this time by a tow truck driver named Angel.

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