Tag Archive | saying goodbye

Another Goodbye

Yesterday I blogged about saying goodbye to Betty my surrogate mother. Attending her wake was so important to me because her daughter was one of my best friends ever.

Today I have to say another goodbye, This time I needed to admit my favorite pair of sandals finally needed to be retired.

I bought the red Ecco sandals fifteen years ago in Chicago. I found myself in a high-end store when the little vixens called to me from across the room. When I slipped my right foot into the shoe, my foot sent messages to my brain not to leave the store without these bright red cuties. The only thing holding me back from buying them was the price: $85.

Long story short, I walked out of the store with the new sandals cradling my feet. And yes, I did pay for them, sort of. I put the expense on a charge card.

Every summer I look forward to exposing my toes in these favorite pair of sandals. I’ve received more compliments on them than any other purchase I’ve ever made. Through the years these shoes have accumulated dirty, sweat, and hundreds of walking miles, but I didn’t care. These sandals became old friends, and I accepted them with the flaws I inflicted upon them.

Yesterday I found pieces of black rubber on the new carpet. At first I thought Ken’s wheelchair blew a tire, but no, the rubber came from the soles of my worn pals. Time took its toll. I could no longer wear these shoes because quite literally they were falling apart. I felt like holding a wake for my dear soles, but no, that would be ridiculous. Instead I slipped them off; carried them to the kitchen, and dropped them into the trash with a heavy heart.

Parting with these shoes left my feet bare and alone. I doubt whether I’ll ever find another pair to take their place. None of my six remaining pairs of sandals have been able to provide the comfort of my old Eccos. The remainder of the summer might be tough.



Chapter 4

Lacrosse, Wisconsin – June—Angelo presented Rosie a sweet little bungalow on Main Street as her graduation present.  He reclaimed a run down dwelling and renovated it into a sweet little home for newlyweds. The living room faced south, so during any season the sun would stream into the room giving  the house a sense of coziness. The two small bedrooms sat at the back of the house, and an unfinished bedroom located on the second floor might be completed after children came along.  Angelo and a group of his friends put a new roof on the house and painted the outside white. He made red shutters for each window and Rosalie thought the house mirrored a dollhouse she loved as a little girl.

Angelo wanted the best for his girl, so he equipped the kitchen with the latest gas kitchen range and a small Philco refrigerator. He refinished oak cupboards which lined two of the four walls and installed a white Formica countertop that sat over the lower cupboards. Angelo hoped the modern appliances and bright space might encourage Rosalie to start taking cooking serious.

Angelo left the inside decorating to Rosalie. When she saw the blank canvas of white walls, Rosalie saw the home’s potential. She envisioned how she would wallpaper the master bedroom, paint the living room and dining room shades of warm beige and cover the hardwood floor with a colorful area rug. For now, the white kitchen would be perfect with bright red cafe curtains.

The month after graduation and before their wedding, the couple spent every waking hour putting finishing touches on their love nest. The closer the house came to completion Angelo and Rosalie itched to move in and begin their life together.

At the same time the couple worked on their house, Eduardo spruced up the restaurant for the upcoming wedding reception with a coat of fresh paint. He showed Rosalie how he would arrange the tables around the periphery of the room to provide enough dancing room. Eduardo could let his little girl marry so young because Angelo proved to be a good, hard-working man who loved his daughter more than himself.

Rosalie’s mother Maria and her two sisters spent their time sewing the bridesmaid dresses and baking dozens of special Italian treats for the reception. Mary Ann, Rosalie’s closest sister insisted on making her a three-tiered wedding cake decorated with yellow roses and white icing to match Rosalie’s wedding colors. Angelo only insisted the cake be chocolate.

Most people in town made Rosalie’s acquaintance when she greeted people at the door of her father’s restaurant. Her smile warmed the crustiest of customers. Along with Angelo’s reputation of a good, helpful boy who achieved the Eagle Scout Award in Boy Scouts made him favorable with the townspeople too.  Everyone got caught up in their young love story and wanted to come to the wedding.

Josie, Donna Jean, and two other bridesmaids, hosted a bridal shower for Rosalie at the Schneider farm. The girls thought of everything to make the event delightful. They decorated the Schneider’s living room with white and yellow crepe paper streamers. White balloons hung from the ceiling by invisible fishing line.

They planned silly games to warm up the guests. Before lunch the guests played “Take-away Bingo” and “Pin the ring on Angelo” blindfold game. Winning guests walked away with beautifully embroidered pillowcases and knitted slippers.

The food included tantalizing finger sandwiches, fruit and potato salads, and relishes. The cupcakes decorated like little wedding cakes made a big hit with the guests. Lunch came between the game and the opening of the gifts.

Rosalie radiated beauty in a pale green dress. She tied her long, lush red hair in a thick pony tail with a green ribbon which matched the ribbon tied around her eighteen-inch waist. She used a soft touch of pale pink lipstick to highlight her small lips. Everyone thought she would make a beautiful bride, even though she still appeared too young to be married.

Rosalie fussed over every gift she opened–even the rolls of toilet tissue and Kleenex some of her classmates brought. Her mother gave her the new cookbook, “The Joy of Cooking” by Irma Rombauer as a kind of gag gift because people understood Rosalie couldn’t boil water. Josie’s brother Peter brought in a side table he found in the attic and refinished the furniture to a beautiful new luster. Other gifts for the kitchen and bathroom included sheets, pillow cases, wash cloths, and towels. She also received cast iron skillets, dishes, and glasses to equip her kitchen.

Rosalie saved Josie and Donna Jean’s gift for last. After she untied the yellow ribbon on the shirt box, she never dreamed of what could be inside. She lifted a sexy white silk and lace honeymoon negligee. Rosalie turned bright pink as Donna Jean said, “Admire it now, Rosalie, because once Angelo sees you wearing it, the negligee will be off in a second.”

The married women laughed loudly, while the high school friends blushed.

When the party came to an end, Rosalie gave her friends a big hug. “You two are wonderful! How can I ever thank you?”

Donna Jean teased. “Introduce me to Angelo’s brother Tony and we’ll call it even!”

Rosalie laughed. “Tony is not the boy for you, Donna. He’s a playboy. Not serious.”

“Who wants serious? I want to dance and enjoy a good time. Tony’s perfect! Did you ever look at his eyes? Having a gorgeous Italian hunk on my arm complements any outfit.” Donna giggled.

“I will talk to Angelo.” Rosalie promised.

“What good will that do? All he wants to do is marry you and make babies.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing, sweetie. He’s perfect for you.” Donna smiled and hugged her friend.

Chapter 5

Berlin to Paris 1939—Marta and her cousin Emma woke before dawn to board the train to Paris. Marta’s parents drove the girls to the train station and stood on the platform waving until the train disappeared from sight. Only then Marta relaxed back into her seat and took a deep breath. Free at last she thought. Between the party events and excitement of her trip to France, made getting to sleep impossible for Marta.

Emma looked at the bloodshot eyes of her younger cousin and suggested they go back to their berth and get some sleep. Marta nodded and followed Emma down a down a long, skinny hallway. The train rocked like a ship on small squalls causing the girls to bump into the wall a couple of times. When they arrived at their berth,  Marta hung their coats in the closet, slipped off her shoes, and crawled into the upper slim bed hanging off the wall. Marta lay down, closed her eyes and drew a deep breath. The soothing motion of the train let her reflect on last night’s encounter with Franz.

He cleverly cornered her in the backyard as the sun dipped into the horizon. “Marta-please, I waited all day to get you alone for a few minutes.”

“Franz,” she teased, “Father doesn’t approve of us being alone together.” She wagged her finger at him. “He doesn’t trust you, you bad boy.”

Franz’s patience waned. “Oh yeah? Miss smarty pants. Then why would he permit me to give you this?” The tall blonde boy extended his hand and dropped a small red velvet box in her hand.

“What is this?” She said surprised.

“My graduation gift.” He paused. “But before you open my gift, you must answer one question.” Franz got down on one knee.

Marta gasped when she realized his intention.  “Oh Franz–”

“Marta, I love you now and I will always love you. I will be a good provider for you and our children. Marry me, Marta.”

She searched his pleading blue eyes and wanted to run. She didn’t want to break his heart, but she wanted no part of his proposal. “Franz.” She gulped as she opened the box. Her jaw dropped as she viewed a beautiful emerald cut diamond set in eighteen-carat gold. A large diamond sat in the center of the ring surrounded by blue sapphire stones. “Oh, Franz–it is so beautiful. The ring is too much. I cannot accept this now.”

“Of course you can. I guarantee the ring will be more beautiful on your hand than in the box. Let me slip it on.”  He grinned.

She said, “You are probably right.” And then she closed the box with a snap. “But I cannot accept such a gift or proposal right now. Perhaps when I get back from France, we can talk more about an engagement.” She thought such a comment would smooth things over between them.

Franz couldn’t believe Marta would turn him down. His voice took on a tone of authority. “Put the ring on, Marta.”

“What? You are commanding me?” Her voice ended on a shrill note.” Listen, Franz, I am going to France in the morning for the entire summer. In the fall you will enter the army academy. We should really consider this later.”

His stubbornness showed as he clenched his jaw and his eyes grew icy blue. He promised himself he would get a “yes” out of her one way or another. “Your parents blessed our union when I spoke to your father a month ago. We can be wed in September before I leave for the academy. Your mother will plan the wedding during your time in Paris. We will be the talk of Berlin!”

“You spoke about this with my parents before me?”

He didn’t want an argument and his face took on the hardness of granite. “Yes. I understand your father makes the decision in such matters.”

Marta’s rage rose in her chest. “That is what you think! How dare you! You think you can marry me and then hop off to school with your Nazi pals? Never!”

His anger bubbled up in his throat. “Your father assured me you can live at home while I am gone.”

“Oh, is that so?” Her anger burned, but she needed to be cautious. “I will not say yes, Franz. We both will change a great deal before autumn comes. You probably won’t want me when I return.”

“How do you think we will change in only three months?”

“Being exposed to more of the world can do that to a person. I realize I will be a different person after living in Paris. Surely you understand.”

“How can you be so cruel? You go away for the entire summer, leaving me alone with my comrades and now you will not make a promise of marriage to me?”

“I cannot Franz. No.” She tried to give him the ring back, but he waved her away.

“I will make you a good husband, Marta. You must have some feelings for me.” His voice quavered, but a German man would not cry.

“No, Franz. I do not. Since you joined “the party” you changed. You used to be a good friend. Now you are bossy and all you talk about is politics, soldiering, and the ‘New Germania.’ I find the talk boring.”

“Be careful of what you say, Marta. People have landed in jail for less. Don’t you realize Germany will rule the world?”

Marta mustered all of her resolve to keep her voice soft. “Franz, clearly we do not belong together. We look at life differently. How can you even think of marriage when we never courted? We never even kissed.”

“What?  A kiss? I did my best to respect you all of this time and now you tell me you want a kiss!” He shouted the last word with a hiss.

“Yes. A boy shows his girl affection with a kiss. A boy’s kiss unveils how a girl feels about him. I’ve never had that chance with you.” She spoke in a hushed voice.

“Okay then.” Franz grabbed her shoulders with both hands, thrust his face into hers, and pulled her thin body to him with a punishing grip. He pressed his lips to hers with the force of a bulldozer.

She pushed him away with all of her strength and slapped his face. “You are nothing but a bully, Franz. Take your damn ring and get out of here. I never want to lay eyes on you again.” She heaved the ring box across the yard and ran toward the house with tears streaming down her face. Why would he think I would every marry him? I want tenderness. He possesses none. I want someone to care for me. He won’t. He is just a brute dressed in a uniform. I hate him!           

Franz stood stunned by Marta’s behavior. He didn’t chase after her as she ran away. Instead he stood paralyzed. He hated himself for letting his temper get the best of him. He assured himself no one else could see him crossing the yard to retrieve the small red box. Why would she do this to me? Does she not realize how she drives me crazy? Does she not understand one day I will be a decorated soldier and make her proud? I want to give her the world and she turns me down. Any woman would kill to be with me.


Klaus sat in the parlor of the house when Marta burst through the door crying. He expected her to be ecstatic with Franz’s proposal.

He rose from his chair and met her before she went up to her room. “Things did not go well with Franz?”

She screamed. “He is a brute, Vater!”

“What? What did he do?”

She sobbed. “He kissed me–hard!”

“Well engaged couples usually seal the deal with a kiss. Your Mutter and I did.” Klaus said with a soft voice.

“Did you force yourself on Mutter?”


“Well Franz did. I never want to lay eyes on him again. You keep me away from me!”

“You misinterpreted his actions, Marta. Franz loves you. He comes from a fine family, and he will be an important part of the party. He is accepted for the SS. He will make you proud.”

“No, father. Franz Reinhart is not the man for me.”

“But this is your chance to become someone important, Marta. You cannot pass up this opportunity, Leibster. Be sensible.”

“No! I will not marry such a man!” She ran up stairs to her bedroom.

Klaus Schmidt appeared dumbfounded as he muttered, “As long as I live I will never understand girls.”



Life Goes By When You’re Living It

Blog 3-31 003This week has been a trial and a triumph.

The trial happened on Monday, I said goodbye to a dear friend. Patrick became my friend when we were both working for the same magazine. He was an ad salesman, and I was a writer. That was over twenty years ago.

Eventually, the four of us — Patrick and his wife Linda and me and Ken enjoyed a cup of coffee every Saturday at a quaint coffee house or we splurged on breakfast at a restaurant that was housed in an old building on Main Street downtown. This place had few tables and the best omlets in the world! Besides that, the background music was jazz, and I pretended we were all in Manhattan starting our weekend on a high note.

As the years went by, the four of us became very close. Patrick stood in for my brother who moved to California. Linda became another girlfriend and even proofread a couple of my books. A year ago, they moved into an apartment, which was right up the street from my house.

Unfortunately, Patrick suffered from diabetes,and the past five years had been a trial. And about three months ago, he went into the hospital and never went home. He was so sick, and as I gazed at him as he slept from the infections and drugs, I knew intellectually the end was near.

But my heart didn’t accept the fact that he was gone until we went through the funeral ceremony. Never again would he call every morning just to wish us a good day. Never again would we solve world problems over a cup of coffee, or challenge each other over a hot Scrabble game. He still is close, though. He’s buried him in the cemetery across the street from my house. Monday was a hard day.

A couple of days later, triumph picked up my spirits. My publisher took action on my complaint letter stating my feelings about the haphazard way the reviews on my books were messed up.

They agreed to rewrite the reviews so they represented the appropriate book, and they gave a full page for these reviews for the Frankfurt book show, which is one of the largest ones in the world. When I wrote my complaint letter to the president of the company, I never thought it would be answered. I’m glad to see the company took action. That made a lousy week a little better.

And life goes on. We live it everyday without any thought we are making impressions on everyone we meet. That’s why I smile through the tears and eventually remember all the wonderful people who have crossed my path. Every one of them are special.

Saying Goodbye One Last Time

Today, my family buried my father who died about 10 days ago. We had hoped my brother John could come home from California, but his wife Wendy is suffering the affects of chemotherapy and he chose to stay with his wife. It was the right thing to do, but I’m sure his heart was right here with all of us.

My father lived 89 years in the same town; in fact, in his lifetime, he moved one block from where he was born. He served on the volunteer fire department for over 40 years as an active member and 25 more years as an honorary member. The fire truck he used to drive in the 1940’s led the procession from the church to the cemetery past the park where I played as a child, past the old fire station where he served (and played poker once a month), and finally past the home where he lived for over 65 years. It was a fitting end for a man who served others most of his life. At the cemetery he was honored as a World War II vet, with a 21 gun salute while the stars and stripes covered his casket.

One of my cousins asked if I would post the eulogy I gave at the funeral. So, as one last salute to my Dad, here are my final words.

Today we’ve come together to honor my Dad.

Because he lived such a long, rich life, many of his friends have passed before him, but I see their children sitting here today. His sisters Beverly and Ellie are here, and so are his nieces, nephews, and grandchildren and one of his two great grandchildren. I hope all of you realize you had a special place in Dad’s heart, even though he may not have said it in words. Dad’s long life touched everyone sitting here either directly, or indirectly through the friends of his children who are here to support us. I want you all to know how much our family appreciates your presence as we send our father off with honor and dignity.

My Dad was a good man. He loved his wife and his family more than himself. He served his community as a volunteer rescue and fireman for most of his adult life, and he also served his village on the planning commission to make Sturtevant a better place to live. His life was simple, but rich.

He was lucky to call a special person “friend” since he was three years old. Now most of us have had children that age, so it’s hard to imagine two little boys barely out of diapers becoming friends. But that’s what happened when Roy Stuart wandered down to my Dad’s house on 96th Street one day. It wasn’t long before Dad found Roy’s house, and their friendship has seen them through to this day.

Roy told me a funny story when we sat together at the hospital watching my Dad sleep. When the two of them were around eight years old, they liked to go the Herzog farm to go swimming. You see, there was a pond there, but before they jumped in, they had to chase the cows out. The swimming hole was muddy pond, but Dad said he learned to swim there. Roy said it was a miracle they didn’t die from typhus .

When I was born, my Dad was proud to have a girl. He proved it his entire life. When I was in first grade, I had tonsillitis much of the school year, and Dad would stop on the way home from work to buy me a chocolate milkshake at the new McDonald’s to soothe my sore throat. When he took me to the father/daughter breakfast at church he bought me a corsage to make me feel special. When I was thirteen, I needed a new winter coat. Mom budgeted $20 for the purchase, but we had no luck finding something suitable at that price. When we did find one we both loved, it was $35. One night after work, Dad took me back to Penny’s where we had found the coat, made me model it for him, and he made up the shortfall, so I could have the beautiful red coat. Every time I put it on, it was like getting a hug from my dad.  I never knew where he got the money until I was much older and my mother confessed he used his poker kitty to buy me the coat. Playing poker once a month with the guys at the fire station was one of the few things he did for himself.

As the oldest child, I was pretty much a test model, so Mom and Dad were stricter with me than John, Mark and Chris. But being the oldest did have a few perks. I got to go with Dad to pick out the Christmas trees, and every Thanksgiving I got to carve the turkey with him. Dad taught me how to play baseball as good as any boy, and how to oil my glove and mold a nice pocket. When I taught myself how to roller skate on the cement sidewalk in front of our house, he cried when he saw my black and blue butt. He ran beside me when I learned how to balance a bike and cheered when I took off on my own.

The most important thing my Dad did was teach all of his children how to be good people. He gave us everything we needed to live happily on our own. He taught the boys how to be good husbands and loving father’s by his own example. I learned how to love a husband by watching my own two parents be happy together.

Today, we say goodbye to him, and we’ll share our memories. Tomorrow we’ll go on without my him. But no one should be sad. Dad was ready for his angel wings, and I truly believe he’s having a great time getting reacquainted with old friends, his brothers Marco and Jimmy and sisters Mary, Rosie, and Josephine. And of course, he’ll dance with my Mom again.

He wouldn’t want us to cry; he’d want us to remember the words of his favorite Nat King Cole song entitled “SMILE”.


Smile though your heart is aching

Smile even though it’s breaking

When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by

If you smile through your fear and sorrow

Smile and maybe tomorrow

You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness

Hide every trace of sadness

Although a tear may be ever so near

That’s the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what’s the use of crying?

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just smile.

A Christmas Present for Amy

Mother and daughterI know my daughter in Seattle was probably disappointed by the mere little gift I could give her this year, but I knew she was tired of receiving my handmade jewelry and novels I’ve been passing her way for the past three years.

So, this morning, I’m giving her a gift no one else can give her–a story that is all hers. Merry Christmas, my precious daughter. I love you very much.

Letting Go and Standing By

2012 Copyright  Barbara Celeste McCloskey

When you have a daughter, you nurture and protect her as she grows into a woman. As a baby she’s precious, as a toddler she’s cute, as a child she’s exciting and as a teenager she’s trying. And when she’s an adult, you pray you’ve given her enough, so she can stand on her own. When she finally moves out of your house, you’re excited for her, because you know she’s claimed her own life and feels strong enough to live it. That day came for me about three years ago. My Amy became an independent woman, took an apartment and a short time later, she got married. She’s made me proud. But today, she’s moving very far away.

Amy filed her “flight plan” a few months ago when she told me she was thinking of moving to the desert Southwest. She found herself in a dead end job and needed a change. I listened carefully to hear seriousness, and I found it. Her declaration wasn’t just an idle dream. I knew she had already completed her research and made her plan. She was just easing me into the idea she’d be across the country, instead of across town.

Amy’s adventure will give her an education. Not a college education, as I had hoped for her, but a real-life education where she will need her cunning, intelligence, and strength to make it through. This education will not be sheltered in the warm arms of academia, but in the cold heart of reality.

As I watch her stuff her worldly belongings into a U-Haul truck, I am remembering the baby I held in my arms 20 years ago. That dark-eyed, eight pound bundle taught me I had enough unconditional love to be a good mother. Then the ghost of a two year old, who was unwilling to climb onto the sofa until she knew she could get down alone, appeared. She shouted, “Amy do it!” after accomplishing her feat, and she’s been screaming for her independence since.

I know the time is near because she’s checking the map. I watch her with the same held breath, I did when she pedaled her two-wheeled bicycle without training wheels. I see the five year old climb on the school bus with legs almost too short to climb the high steps of the vehicle. I see her first ballet recital with her tu-tu fluttering, her first piano lesson when her feet didn’t tough the floor as she sat on the bench, her first art award. The memories flood my eyes. I can’t seem to make them s top.  I’m a tornado of emotions. Excitement. Sadness. Happiness. Anxiety. Fear. Loneliness. My heart is breaking, and my eyes are betraying my smile. I tell myself I’m being selfish. I don’t want to let go because she’s brought so much joy to my life.

But this is her turn to dry her wings and fly, not mine to keep her in the cocoon. I command these emotions to take a step back. I will deal with them latter, but right now, I must be strong, supportive and happy for my daughter. She has a right to find her own happiness and prove her adulthood. I admire her. She’s taking a chance I was never brave enough to take. I assure myself, she has the tools of life I’ve bequeathed to her. She will refine them and make them her own. Perhaps some day, she will give them to a daughter of her own. She has my blessing.  I pray her journey will be safe, and I’ll stand by when crushing homesickness, culture shock, and loneliness cross her path.

With a kiss goodbye and a wild wave, I shout “Have a good trip! Call when you get there!” And other “Mom” stuff as I watch her small caravan pull away from the curb. She’s left the station, leaving me in on the platform.

I watch until I can’t see the U-Haul any longer, and suddenly remember once she told me she wanted to make a difference in the world. Little does she know, she’d already accomplished that. Because of her, I became a grown-up. Because of her, I learned to love unconditionally. And because of her, I became a woman.