McKenzie Free

One woman's quest for greater understanding through freedom of self expression.

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

Make Time Stand Still

Oh sweet joy, sweet joy of youth.

You fill me up and bring me pleasure.

So clear and honest in your exploration;

A reminder of my own lost naivety.

Our time limit expired almost before it begins;

I can’t turn back the clock to keep you here.

Use your lust and boldness to reach for your future.

March on as you should but let your memory linger.



DISCLAIMER:  This is not my typical post.  It is X-rated and should not be read by the faint of heart (or by any of my friends and loved ones who might hold it against me).   I am not responsible for where my muse takes me.  I saw a beautiful woman on the street who looked homeless.  My mind drifted to how she might have ended up that way.  The idea came to me fully formed and I wanted to try a new genre.  This is the result.


Mattie sat gazing in the mirror stopped in mid stroke while putting her eye liner on.  In that split second she flashed back to the exact moment when her life had changed.  It was a Monday morning in April and she and Timothy were having yet another fight.  She couldn’t remember what started it but she did remember that was the morning she finally said what she’d been trying to say for months.  “You don’t desire me anymore.  I need you to want me, not just as a social partner, but as a woman.”

Timothy looked at her enraged and yelled, “If I’m not man enough for you, Martha, why don’t you go find someone who is!”  He walked out slamming the door behind him and left her standing in the entry way with her mouth agape.  Moments later she heard his car peel out of the driveway and hoped he’d slow down for the light at Midway.

She drove to the club in a thoughtful mood.  She pulled up front and handed her keys to Jimmy who was deferential as always.  “Good Morning Mrs. Medford.  Have a good workout.”

The Olympic-size pool was always empty this early in the morning and she drove herself to swim faster and faster trying hard to tire herself out physically so her body wouldn’t ask for anything more of her.

Afterward she dressed and waited patiently for Jimmy to bring her car around.  She got in and drove to her volunteer job at the city museum.  It was a small museum, not busy at the best of times, but the city was proud of its history and of housing the bell from its first church built in 1810.  No one worked with her on Mondays, the slowest day of the week at the museum, and today was especially quiet.

With no museum visitors to occupy her mind she sat in the front office contemplating what Timothy had screamed as he left that morning and browsing online for a dress to wear to the country club annual dance.  On the right of the screen an advertisement caught her eye.  “Are you lonely?  Are you wishing you had a man who truly desires you?  Join thousands of other women like yourself whose lives have changed for the better.  Click here to learn more.”  What could it hurt, she told herself, to just take a look?

They wanted her to sign up and she chose the user name JustLookin and put minimal information in her profile.  She was just clicking through looking at the hundreds of different men of varying ages and types when a “chat” request popped up on her screen.

CoulditB_U?:     Want to chat for a bit?

She looked at the box on the screen.  CoulditB_U? hadn’t posted a picture but it said 32, 6’2”, physically fit.  Why would a 32 year old man want to chat with her?  She’d listed her correct birthday which made her 45 next February.  But, what could it hurt to just chat?

JustLookin:         Hi.

CoulditB_U?:     Rod here.   Are you enjoying your day?

JustLookin:         It’s going okay.

CoulditB_U?:     Just okay?  Are you bored?

JustLookin:         Not bored, really, more in a thoughtful mood.

CoulditB_U?:     What are you thinking about?

JustLookin:         I’d rather not say

CoulditB_U?:     Want me to tell you what I’m thinking about today?

JustLookin:         Sure.

CoulditB_U?:     I’m thinking I’d like to meet a woman who’d like to chat a while and see if we have anything at all we could offer each other.  What are you looking for?

JustLookin:         I’m not looking for anything, really, I’m married actually.

CoulditB_U?:     Happily married?

The screen blinked his question at her.  Happily married?  Happily married?  For some reason, maybe the anonymity of the computer chat, she replied honestly:

JustLookin:         Not lately.

CoulditB_U?:     Let me guess.  Your husband doesn’t make love to you like he did when you were first married, right?

JustLookin:         My husband doesn’t make love to me at all.

CoulditB_U?:     And I’ll bet you’re still an attractive woman.

JustLookin:         I try very hard to take care of myself.

CoulditB_U?:     Why don’t you give me your email address and I’ll send you a picture of me so you’ll know who you’re talking to and you can send me one of you?

JustLookin:         I can’t do that.  I’ve got to go now.  Bye.

CoulditB_U?:     Send me your picture if you change your mind.  After all, we’re just talking.  I’d love to hear from you.

That night Tim and she had sat quietly through dinner.  It seemed even the pretense of talking about their day was too much trouble any more.  After dinner Tim went into the library and she could hear the television probably tuned in to the History channel.

She went in her small office off the kitchen to pay some bills online.  At least that’s what she told herself she was there for.  She found herself looking through her laptop for a photo of her alone, without Tim or one of their friends in it with her.  She found a photo of her at their pool party last summer in a short aqua shift that she thought showed off her long legs and her great tan.  Her long blonde hair was piled high on her head and small wisps of curls fell down around her face framing her deep blue eyes.  On a lark she logged in to her email account and sent the picture off to CoulditB_U?.  Then she went upstairs and read until she fell asleep.

The next morning she lay in bed with no reason to get up.  Normally she scheduled activities so that she was always busy but this morning her tennis and lunch date had cancelled saying she was sick.  So she simply lay in bed thinking about how when Timothy and she were first married how he’d rush home after work just to be with her.  She heard the ping of her phone on the bedside table telling her she had mail and she reached across to grab it and check her email.

From:  CoulditB_U?: 

I don’t know how I knew you would be a beautiful woman, but I just knew.  You’re stunning.  My photo’s attached.  Please say you’ll meet me for coffee today?  Starbucks on 5th Street?  11:00am?  I’ll wait for you.  You won’t regret it.

She clicked on the attachment link and his photo was displayed on the screen.  He was handsome, with a quirky smile, dark tussled hair and brown eyes.

She got up and went into the bathroom and started the shower.  The entire time she spent getting ready, choosing her clothing with care, taking extra time on her hair and make-up, she told herself she was not going to meet him.  When she was done she went into the garage, got into her car, and drove to 5th street.

He was sitting at a small table in the rear and when she entered.  He got up smiling and greeted her.  He pulled the chair out for her to sit down and got her the latte she requested.  They sat and talked, smiling and flirting, him gently brushing his hand against hers, briefly touching her arm or her thigh sending ripples of electricity through her.

And then he asked her, straight forward and simple, “Come home with me?”  It was as though she was in a trance, or a dream, as she replied, “Yes.”

She followed him to a small bungalow on the east side of town.  Once there, they didn’t talk.  He closed the door behind her and immediately began kissing her.  She realized she craved his touch and pulled him tightly to her.  He whispered in her ear telling her how beautiful she was and how much he wanted to please her.  Almost before she knew what was happening she found herself leaning against the wall with her skirt hiked up to her waist and a man she barely knew kneeling before her gently removing her panties and using his tongue on her clitoris.   She had never done anything like this in her life. The only time she’d ever had sex was with men she was in a serious relationship with.  It was exhilarating.

After the first time they met once a week.  He would text her every day between meetings telling her in very specific detail what he wanted to do to her the next time they were together.  He begged her to write back and say what she wanted.  The first time, she was embarrassed to write anything so seemingly crude, but she did it and realized as she wrote the words how hot it was making her.  As time passed the texting became as exciting as her time with him.  She seemed to be in a state of heightened sexual awareness and spent hours each day aroused to the point of distraction. She would open her messages and read his words: “I need to see my hard cock disappear into some part of you.  I don’t care where.  Everything is good.”  Immediately she would feel herself getting wet in anticipation of their meeting.

Each time she thought she’d gone beyond anything she could ever bring herself to do with a man; Rod would ask for just a little bit more. Things she had heard about but would never have shared with her husband or any other lover.  Things that previously she had thought strange, had believed only perverts would ever think about, she did for him.  She seemed unable to deny him anything he wanted from her.

She was desperate to have more time with him and began cancelling dates with her friends at the club.    After a couple of months passed she stopped volunteering at the museum.  Timothy asked her why she wasn’t getting out more often and she said something vague about not feeling well.  They had stopped fighting.  As soon as she had stopped asking him for more of his time and attention things quickly went back to the way they had been between them, polite conversation, retiring to separate rooms after dinner.  She’d be asleep each night before he ever came upstairs to bed.

At the end of three months she’d lost ten pounds and they were seeing each other whenever she could get away.  She began to take more chances, staying longer at the bungalow than she should, twice getting back barely in time to take a shower before Timothy arrived home from work.  She’d had to order Chinese and make some lame excuse about having to run a lot of errands that day.

Rod began asking her if he could come to her house.  He told her what a rush it would be for him to make love to her in her own bed.  How much hotter it would be.  How much harder it would make him.  After a few weeks she had succumbed and let him come over.  She was completely addicted to being naked with him and she found she was incapable of saying no to him.  She didn’t think it possible but the increased risk of being caught heightened the pleasure for her.

That afternoon Rod lay on her bed and she was sitting on top of him with his young, hard cock deep inside of her lost in riding the waves of pleasure as they rippled through her.

“OH My God, Martha!  Get off him! Get him out!  Get him the fuck out of my house!”

She stopped; stunned.  Rod had pushed her off of him; jumped up, grabbed his clothes and run out past Timothy without looking back.  It was the last time she had ever seen him.  She’d tried to reach him texting and emailing incessantly the next day but he no longer answered.  When she went to the bungalow there was no sign anyone had ever lived there.

The stipulation of their pre-nuptial agreement was that if she was ever unfaithful she would get nothing, leaving the marriage with exactly what she’d brought in to it.  Timothy had thrown her out that same day.  He had let her keep the BMW and her clothes but he’d only given her 24 hours to get out of the house.

After 19 years of marriage she was no longer Mrs. Timothy Medford.  She wasn’t welcome at the country club.  The women with whom she had played tennis and cards, had volunteered and lunched with no longer took her calls.   She had no friends, no income, and no marketable skills.  She’d given up the life she knew to feel the excitement of a stranger’s touch.

Max stuck his head inside the curtain and spat out, “Pick it up Mattie, there’s a big crowd out there.  And for God’s sake shake some tit tonight.  These guys didn’t come down here to see St Theresa.”

Max’s barking snapped Mattie out of her reverie and she finished applying her eyeliner;  lined and polished her lips.  She stood up tall to her full 5’8” (6 feet with these heels on), pulled back the curtain, held her head high and walked slowly toward the stage entrance.


The Ark

The rain keeps falling.  The rivers are rising.

If you don’t have gills you won’t survive it.

The sun is gone.  No warmth reaches the earth.

Without those rays there can be no rebirth.

You can head for the high ground but that won’t save you.

The world’s gone mad and danger is there too.

Str8 Talk

by McKenzie James

Recently I got a message on an online dating site from an attractive man with the profile name “str8t_rod”.  I thought his meant his hobby was racing street rods.  Not something I’m into, but then I’m not the type of person that thinks couples need to share all the same hobbies, so I emailed him back and we began to chat.  The conversation moved quickly from “How are you doing today?” to “I’d love to caress your sensuous curves and run my hand down …”

I was taken aback but this fast dash to inappropriate sex chat so I went back to review his profile and see if there was something in there that would have clued me in to his real intent.  I’m sure my readers, who are most likely not as dyslexic as I am, and who probably paid more attention in pre-school while being taught phonetics, are already laughing, have easily recognized my mistake.  He wasn’t talking about a “street rod”; he was talking about a “straight rod”!  This is a particularly embarrassing mistake for a woman who’s already written an article about how to read online dating profiles.

Looking back I realize that even if I’d read it correctly I might still have responded thinking he was just a guy name “Rod” who wanted everyone to know he isn’t gay.  Alas, his name is Paul!

Some women may have been shocked by this interchange and put off from online dating altogether but McKenzie is not faint of heart.  I simply laughed and wrote it off as another experience worth blogging about.

The Little Acorn

by McKenzie James

My Goddaughter called yesterday to tell me she just got her beautiful, long hair cut into a short pixie style.  “Short hair is in now”, she told me with the usual authority of a sixteen year old aware of all the latest cultural conventions.

“Of course it is”, I replied, having just grown mine out from the short cut I’ve worn for years.

As certain as she was about the current fashion trend she was a bit reticent about how it looked on her.  “I’m sure it’s lovely”, I told her, “But if you don’t like it don’t worry.  Like I told you the first time you talked me into getting your hair cut when you were three the beauty of hair is that it always grows back.”

At three she was convinced she wanted the hair dresser to cut her hair short “just like Godmom’s”.  She begged to have it cut.  She told the woman over and over again she was absolutely sure it was what she wanted.  We left the hair salon, the one with chairs shaped like animals and special cartoon videos for the kids to watch so they’ll sit still during their haircut, and the first time she caught site of herself in a shop window she began crying uncontrollably and couldn’t stop, blubbering over and over again, “my hair is gone, my beautiful hair!”.

“I remember Godmom”, she tells me now on the phone.  “You know I wrote that story as part of my autobiography for school.”

“Really?” I replied, always happy to know when the girls have a lasting memory of our time together.

“Yeah, we were supposed to interview someone and ask them about a story from our childhood and I didn’t want to interview anyone so I just pretended I interviewed you and wrote it up.”

Now, as a parent, I knew the correct response to this last comment, and I followed through and told her it was unethical to write something and pretend she’d interviewed someone when she hadn’t.  “Don’t worry”, she replied, “I made you sound cool”.

Inwardly, however, I had to admit I was impressed.  It shows an imagination and writing ability that not everyone is capable of.  I did something very similar my sophomore year in college.  I took a Child Psychology class and my term project was to meet with a child between the ages of three and six several times and write up my observations about our interactions and their play.  Well, I didn’t know any children in that age group back then so I simply made up a five year old and observed her in my mind, writing about how she acted and the things she said.  My project came complete with the child’s simple drawings (which I did myself).  I remember feeling guilty (I still feel a bit guilty relaying it to you now) but I received an “A” on the project, and in the class, and couldn’t help also being pleased with myself.

So, while I’m telling my God Daughter it was inappropriate of her to pretend to interview me for her class I’m actually thinking, “The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree”.  Even though we aren’t blood relations, and share no family connections at all, she sometimes looks and acts a great deal like me. I realize regardless of how misguided her actions may have been my heart is swelling with pride that she takes after me at times.

Unfortunately, although I’m sure she is like me in many ways, including both good and bad traits, it’s usually the rather naughty ones that get noticed.  It’s times like this when her Dad looks at me with a quizzical look and I’m fairly certain he’s asking himself, “Were we wrong to allow our girls to spend so much time with her during their formative years?”

The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Fake

by McKenzie James

I woke up this morning out of a sound sleep with what my mind at 6am believed was a brilliant idea.  In order to force myself into much needed weight loss I thought I’d tell myself I was losing weight in order to fit into my beautiful wedding dress!  Great idea, and if you don’t know me you may not think there is even anything out of the ordinary about the plan.  Those who do know me, however, are probably more than aware that I’m not getting married any time soon.  No wedding date set, no plans under way, in fact no groom in sight!

My thought process goes like this:  if I pretend I’m getting married, and I really want to fit into that dress, then I might be able to fake myself out and actually lose the weight, thereby attracting a man, and once attracted, who knows, we might end up getting married.  See, it’s a simple direct line from my craziness to reality.

Strange, I know, but I try to do things like this to fake myself out all the time.  I make deals with myself: no eating in front of the TV; no eating in that particular chair; you can only have popcorn on weekends; if you don’t eat any sweets this week you can have those new shoes you want; etc.

I know that I’m only affecting the symptoms of my disease, but if 30 years of therapy can’t eliminate the root cause of my emotional eating, I’m willing to fake myself out and simply try to eliminate the symptoms one by one.

The only problem is, I’m a pretty smart cookie, and it’s often really hard to fool me.  Unless you’re a 50-something man who’s a total loser and trying to get me to believe you’ve got it together.  In those instances, I’m apparently a pushover!  The rest of the time, however, my rational mind keeps intruding and saying things like:  “You’re not really getting married.  Go ahead and eat the chocolate cake.  Eat in that chair if you want to.  It’s your chair.  You paid for it.  You can do what you want.”

So, in order to make this wedding dress thing work, I’m going to have to get fairly involved in my delusion.  I’ve begun looking for the perfect dress and telling my friends at work about my upcoming nuptials.  I’ve already received a lovely “We think you’ll make a beautiful bride” card and two women have volunteered to be bridesmaids.  (I’m not certain that good taste allows for bridesmaids at third weddings.  I’ll have to check into it.  I think just the thought of a third wedding would make Miss Manners faint!)

Can this plan work?  I have no idea, but stay tuned for further details and feel free to check out McKenzie James’ Bridal Registry at

A Few Good Men

by McKenzie James

The Marines and I have both been looking for a few good men for some time now.  (Well, actually, they need a few while I honestly only need one.)  When I first began online dating I assumed I would meet a lot of good men and that, among all those good men, there would be one who wasn’t perfect but who suited me perfectly.  What I found instead were droves of men who had attained middle-age with little knowledge of themselves.  Among them were those who seemed completely unaware of their needs, their neurosis, their selfishness, their general lack of social skills, and any part they themselves had played in creating their current circumstances.  Then there were those who I’m sure were not necessarily bad men but who were simply, as my sister would say, “odd”.

You can only go on so many failed coffee dates and then most of us, men and women alike, have to take a break from online dating and focus our energy in other ways in order to maintain our optimism about love, life and the pursuit of happiness.  I took just such a break in the last few months.  Then over the holidays, having a lot of time off work and feeling ready to dance again, I updated my profile and threw it out to the universe with a hopeful sigh.

To my great surprise and joy the outcome was emails and subsequent meetings with several good men.  They are each and every one of them, intelligent, respectful, interesting and self-aware and I am completely enjoying my time getting to know them better.  We’ve shared drinks, meals, movies, and conversations about our life’s journey and our hopes for the future and I imagine we will remain friends regardless of the outcome.  It’s been like a breath of fresh air to someone who’s been dating for way too long.

I suspect that part of the reason it’s working out better for me this time is because I’ve been determined to widen my own horizons.  I tend to be attracted to and to fall for the tall, dark and handsome types.  The problem with this is that judging a book by its cover has gotten me into repeatedly bad relationships over the years.  This time I promised myself I would place more credence on what each match had to say, how he presented himself, and how he approached me, than in his looks.  Not that any of these men are unattractive, they are simply not my usual 6’2” tall charmers.  So, just as the Marines have adjusted their definition of what it means to be “one of the few” over the years in order to enhance recruitment I’ve found that adjusting my perspective has worked as well.

Since I’ve written enough pieces about my bad dating experiences that they have their own category in the archives ( I thought it only fair that I report here that I’ve found there are still good, single men out there who are looking for relationships with strong, confident, intelligent women.  It’s way too early to tell if one of these men is the match I’ve been looking for but, whether or not one of these new friends turns out to be perfect for me, they have already renewed my faith in men.  What a wonderful way to begin a new year!

LIfe is What Happens

by McKenzie James

When I was very young I was smart;

the smartest one in the class.

Sometimes folks thought I was a little too smart,

a bit of a smart ass.

In my twenties I was restless; new jobs, new men new towns.

I wanted to experience everything, see the world,

and prove I was no longer a child.

I was young, I was fearless, and some thought a little wild.

In my thirties I got married and settled down with just one man.

He loved my quick wit, my ready smile and he’d explored a lot too.

We built a life, worked on our careers,

and shared a love I thought was true.

Then when I was forty the girls came along.

My whole identity was engulfed by being a nurturing Godmom.

First the girls needed my care, next my dying brother,

and then my aging Mom.

Now I’m in my fifties and everyone is gone.

My brother died, my husband left me,

the girls are grown, and Mom passed on.

It’s not the life I would have chosen,

when I sit to contemplate and take stock.

But it’s the one I’m living

and there’s no turning back the clock.

It’s true what they say:

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans”.

Each decision you make, big or small,

brings you closer to the end.

I hope there’s much more to be lived

but no one really knows.

We simply have to carry on

and continue to enjoy our part in the show.

The Continued Pursuit of Happiness

A couple of weeks ago I spent the weekend shopping with a friend.  Before that, if anyone had asked, I would have said there was zero chance of finding this man in a store unless it was a tackle shop or Home Depot, and I certainly never would have pictured me along for the ride.  However, the man needed one of life’s necessities, at least one of a middle-aged man’s necessities: The Recliner.  Yes we were shopping for a new recliner and flannel sheets. I believe I gave the man sheet-envy talking about my new flannel sheets (see earlier BLOG post “Comfort and Joy”

I have known almost since the first day we met that this is a man with very simple needs.  All this particular man seems to need to be happy is a comfortable chair, a comfortable bed, a big screen TV and enough hot water to provide him with a long, warm shower after work each night.  Just four simple things are all that is needed to make him perfectly content with life.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this since our shopping trip.  My list of what it takes to make me happy and content in life is quite a bit longer.  I keep wondering if the key to my own happiness lies somewhere in this simple tale.

Most middle -aged men I meet seem to be content whether they have a woman in their life or not.   They have their jobs, their hobbies, add a strong cup of coffee in the morning and they’re good to go.  For instance, nothing would change in this particular man’s life if he didn’t know me.  He would sit in his same comfy chair, watch his same television programs, go to his same job, and sleep comfortably and content in his new flannel sheets.

Women, on the other hand, are searching for someone to share life with.  For the women I know, myself included, it’s about who you’re with not so much what you’re doing.  Perhaps it’s because women are raised to be nurturers and spend a great deal of their adult lives taking care of others and making other people’s lives – children, spouses, parents — more comfortable.  Even if we’re not married a large portion of our self-identity is often derived from who we choose to nurture.

Most of us have been used to taking care of the kids and the shopping and the house cleaning and the dry cleaner and the laundry and had little time left for developing hobbies.  When we had free time we spent it catching up with a good friend over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, sharing experiences and learning from each other.  For instance, my friend’s joy was derived from his new chair, while mine came from sharing time with him.

Now that the kids are grown and many of us live alone again perhaps we should take this opportunity to learn from men how to relax and be content alone. Maybe we should learn to put ourselves first, find a hobby that brings us joy, and stop being concerned about how the rest of the world is doing.  We may find it makes us happier, but will it make the world a better place?

Touchstone [tuhch-stohn] – Noun

  1.  A test or criterion for the qualities of a thing.
  2.   A black siliceous stone formerly used to test the purity of gold and silver by the color of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal.

(Source: Unabridged, Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2011.)

My mother died a year and a half ago and this weekend my sister and I thought it was time to go through the personal items that my sister had boxed up from her dresser when she died.  My sister brought the box in from the garage and gave it to me to open. The very first item I pulled out of the box was a simple, tiny, plastic stamp dispenser.  Like myself my mother was an avid writer but her writing took the form of letters.  Living over 2,000 miles away from her most of my adult life I’d gotten hundreds of letters from Mom.  Her letters were always engaging, entertaining and filled with humorous stories and vivid descriptions.

She probably wrote a letter to each person in her address book once a month.  So for years she had bought stamps in rolls of a hundred and used her stamp dispenser daily.  That stamp dispenser was such a tiny thing, yet such an enormous part of who my mother was that simply touching it brought tears to my eyes immediately.

I began crying, my sister began crying, and my sister’s little two year old granddaughter began slapping her grandmother on the leg because she thought Grandma had made Aunt McKenzie cry.  It was quite a scene which ended with us laughing at the baby girl and explaining to her that we were crying about our Mommy and that Grandma hadn’t hurt Aunt McKenzie.  We then put the box away to try again another time.

My mother was my touchstone.  She was my mirror to my place in the world. Being Lois’ youngest daughter — the attractive, successful happily married one who lived on the East Coast — was an enormous part of my identity.  She not only took pride in who I had become but reminded me always of where I came from.  With my mother’s passing I felt not only her loss, but without my tether to the past and my touchstone to reflect the purity of my beliefs, I lost a bit of my identity for a while as well.

Mom was a strong and independent woman who rarely asked anyone for help.  She survived a fractured skull in her twenties when she was hit by a car while on her bike.  Until the day she died she had slight hearing loss in one ear and dizziness when she turned her head to a certain angle from that accident.  She survived the loss of an infant child, WWII, the great depression, poverty, the loss of a spouse, raising six children alone, the death of her youngest child before his fortieth birthday, a dog attack, and at eighty was hit by a truck while out walking.  The doctors and physical therapists told us that no one else her age and in her condition would have walked again.  It was her sheer stubbornness that brought on her recovery and ability to walk again six months later.  She did all of these things, and others too numerous to mention, and carried on with a joy that brought tears to your eyes.

The one strong belief that my mother had that she passed on to me was that every day is a fresh start and a chance for renewed hope.  No matter how bad things get I realize that the very next morning I could wake up to a day that brings me infinite joy.  So it was with this belief that I put one foot in front of the other each day after my Mom’s death until the pain subsided and I was able to tether myself to my place in the world again.

I hope that one day very soon my sister and I can attempt to sort through Mom’s personal belongings once again.  Next time we’ll better prepare ourselves for the bittersweet memories we’re sure to experience and perhaps, without a toddler there, we’ll allow ourselves as many tears as we need to get through it and finish the job.

Reprinted below is the speech that I wrote for my mother’s 80th birthday celebration and gave again at her funeral.

My Mom was born on November 10th and shared her birthday with the United States Marine Corps.  These two events may seem to be unrelated to some, but not to those of us who know both the Marine Corps and Mom well.  Let me enumerate just a few of the characteristics they have in common.

 Courage – Whether attacked by the poverty of her early youth, distance between loved ones, government red tape, or the common hardships of everyday life, Mom always faced her enemies with courage and taught her children to do the same.

 Loyalty – Lord knows, each of us children tested the limits of our Mother’s loyalty and love and found it remained limitless and unwavering.

Honor – Mom’s honesty and integrity were beyond questions.  In fact, I’m sure there are those of us who wished at times that she had been a little less “honest’ since she tended to  “call ‘em as she saw ‘em”.  Her straight forward approach and homegrown advice usually hit the mark.

 Endurance – No matter how many times circumstances conspired to knock her down, she pulled herself up and never lost hope that things would get better.  In fact, it was because of her singular determination that many things in our lives WERE changed for the better.  Even getting hit by a truck couldn’t keep that woman down.  After her recovery, she continued to volunteer at St. Alice Parish and McKenzie Willamette Nursing Home.

 Strength – You can’t tell me that raising the flag at Iwo Jima was more difficult than raising six children to maturity (especially these particular children!).  As far as we’re concerned Mom deserves a monument in her honor as well.

 Through her 88 years she maintained a nobility of character that made us proud to call her Mom.  We’re proud today to celebrate her life.  She was a great mother, a great grandmother (in both senses of the term) and a friend to many.

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