Archive for the ‘Nostalgia’ Category

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I’ll Be Seeing You.

April 6, 2010

Dear Buddo,

I heard the news that you finally went Home the other day. It was Good Friday. I was in a car with my Mom and my two boys…. down in Florida, on our way somewhere. Dad called and gave the report, and I passed the news to Mom.

Surprisingly, I was able to keep my composure. Maybe because the boys were there. Maybe because it was not an unexpected turn of events. Maybe because it was so good to know you weren’t suffering anymore. Certainly, there was no doubt about where you were going… where you are now… pain-free and in the company of Jesus!

[How many tissues will it take to get through this post? We’ll see.]

You celebrated 72 years of marriage just two months ago… and you would have turned 90 years old on Easter Sunday. Ninety years! I have yet to live half as long.

Even though we weren’t blood relations, you always made me feel as though we were. I have known you since I was born… ever since my parents first brought me up to Conneaut Lake on one of their yearly visits. Did you ever hold me and rock me to sleep in my favorite porch swing? I don’t know for sure, but I like to think so.

That old cottage was great, wasn’t it? I remember the spring house, and the little galley kitchen, and the living room with the piano. I remember the table that folded up onto the wall, out on the porch. You had a game of “Don’t Break the Ice” that I loved to play with. I remember a narrow staircase that went up to the bedrooms. I remember spending a night or two on a very squeaky cot on the other side of your room, while you and Graydon laughed and whispered to each other “our guest is a little restless.”

You were a wonderful cook! And yet, as a picky little girl, I was a bit fearful of eating at your house. Especially that time when I learned that a favorite motto of yours was EAT IT OR WEAR IT! Ha ha. I always smile when I think of you uttering those words. Your delivery was unique. I never wanted to find out whether you’d make good on that subtle threat.

When I was younger, we typically came to visit and stay with you about one week a year. Later, our family acquired the little cottage right behind yours, and so my lake visits were longer and more frequent. And even as your own house — rebuilt now, so that you could live there year ’round —  got more and more crowded with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, you still made a point of telling me that summer didn’t truly begin until I showed up at the lake. I’m sure you were just being nice, but I always treasured those words. I pretended that you never said them to anyone else.

So many lake mornings began with me knocking on your door in the early hours, stealing a bite of whatever you had handy to eat, and relieving you of any stale bread so that I could feed the fish off your dock. Then I’d usually come back up to the house (but not through the front door! …always around back where you had a washtub ready for dirty feet!) and spend a little more time chatting. You would try to feed me more breakfast. You were always very concerned with whether I was the slightest bit hungry.

It tickles me to recall listening to you and Graydon gently correct each other as you both would give me a report of the latest news from the lake area…  who was in town and who wasn’t, stories about docks being put in for the summer, tales of how high the creek had gotten with the last storm, and perhaps a wistful recounting of a delicious meal you’d had at some local restaurant. Important news, all! And I loved to hear it.

The last several years were more difficult. You couldn’t do all the things you wanted to do. Eventually you couldn’t live full-time at your beloved lake anymore. You made a point to visit as frequently as possible, especially when all the family and neighbors were around for the 4th. You made valiant efforts to hide it, but you began to be more and more limited by pain.

I am so thankful that I had the privilege of sitting with you one Sunday morning last July, to keep you company while Graydon attended church. I enjoyed a few hours with you in your bright little house while we waited for a man to bring communion. You asked me to help pull out a few photo albums from a closet. We talked about random things. Then Graydon came home and we had a little lunch. I marveled at how deftly he divided one meal between the two of you without speaking a word…knowing exactly which things you would eat and which of your portion of things he could take for himself. The lemon meringue pie was slightly frozen in the middle, but we all agreed it was very tasty.

And then I left, with a final hug and a kiss on the cheek from my Buddo. I think we both knew in the back of our heads that we might not see each other again. I would never have begun to broach the subject, though. The sun was so very bright that day.

Lord willing, we will all gather again in a few months… the whole clan of extended family and close-knit neighbors… for another July 4th at our favorite lake. Bonfires on the beach, fireworks at the park, plenty of good food. There will be lots of noise and lots of kids running around.

And I will steal a moment to sit on your porch swing, and look out over the water and remember you.

Love always,
Laura

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“You rock.”

March 21, 2010

You know how there are those moments in your life… certain times when someone says or does something, or perhaps when some event happens, and it has an impact on you such that you always remember it? Like people who remember exactly what they were doing when they found out Kennedy was shot. Or when they heard about September 11. Or maybe you carry around a memory of a first date or a birth or a death or a big win in overtime. Whatever it is.

As we are in the process of saying goodbye to some very dear friends — our worship minister (Sean Rittenberry) and his family are leaving to take another ministry up in Indiana — in the midst of all the emotion and tears, a certain memory comes to the forefront for me. It’s one of those little moments that I cherish, that I pull out and recall from time to time when I am feeling a little down.

People who see me sing in church nowadays may not realize that I am a complete nervous wreck whenever I pick up a microphone. I’ve always had a self-confidence issue… meaning that I have none. I love to sing and always have, but I still have something like a panic attack every time I am supposed to do a solo or anything like that. I hyperventilate and my hands shake and my voice quivers and the whole bit. It’s always an adventure!

So why do I do it?

That’s a good question.

First of all, there’s the whole love of singing thing that I just mentioned. I have always loved to sing, especially to harmonize. As a little girl I would sing with Franki Valli and the Four Seasons on the record player in the family room. [I thought it was funny that a man could sing so high!] When I got older I would sing in my car, or in my room, or in the shower… basically anyplace that I was pretty sure no one could hear me. I sang all the parts and pretended I was famous. A legend in my own mind.

But the more compelling reason… the thing that got me to take my love of singing and be willing to go out on a limb and pick up a microphone and sing in front of actual people who might hear me… is Sean.

Sean has always been an encourager to me. But one evening about 4 or 5 years ago was the moment in my memory when things really “clicked” for the first time with me and the singing.

We were at praise band practice. Normally I didn’t go to band practice, but for some reason that particular week, I was supposed to be there helping out with a vocal team that Sean had put together. (This was before the use of praise teams at our church became a regular thing). I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember that there were supposed to be other vocalists besides me, but I was the only one who could make it to practice that night.

I hadn’t ever been on a praise team before. I was a bit nervous, because we were going to be practicing the songs for Sunday, but I was the only one there singing along with Sean and the band playing. So any mistakes I made would be right out there in the open for all to hear…

The band tuned up and started playing the first song in the lineup. Sean started singing.

I joined in. I didn’t really know anything else to do except sing harmony. That’s usually what I hear the best.

I remember thinking that it didn’t sound too bad. I thought that my voice blended in pretty well with Sean’s. I thought things sounded fairly smooth. I wondered if I was the only one who thought that. It might have been all in my head.

The band stopped playing after a minute. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong. Turns out they just needed to tweak something with the music… but before he gave them any further instruction, Sean quickly turned to me. First things first. He smiled and said

“You rock!”

And it was one of those moments. A moment of genuine, unsolicited, positive reinforcement about something I was doing.

It made me happy.

It made me grin.

It made me sing a little bit louder the next time.

Since that evening, I’ve gradually done more and more singing at church, especially helping to lead worship. I’ve enjoyed singing with Sean on praise team and I’ve really enjoyed the few times (not nearly enough) when we sang together as special music during the service.

I still have my panic attacks. I still have my doubts and my overly critical assessments of how I sound when I do a solo. I still wonder whether the audience can see me shaking up there.

But in the midst of it all, I also still have this moment in my memory… when I was trying something new, and a good friend turned to me and smiled and gave me all kinds of affirmation in just two words.

Thanks, Sean. Thanks for the years of service at our church, and for the years of friendship we’ve enjoyed with you and your family. Thanks for coming to our lame New Year’s Eve get-togethers. Thanks for playing “Open Arms” on the keyboard and letting me pretend to be Steve Perry (yeah, right!). Thanks for having confidence in me and pushing me to do more than just sit around.

I wish you weren’t going. I really do. Tears are coming as I type this. But I know you are going where God is leading you, and who can argue with that?

So good luck and God bless, and don’t ever forget how much we will all miss you.

And just so you know… the feeling is likewise:

YOU ROCK.

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80s Flashback! A big Merry Christmas from the Bennett Kids.

December 6, 2009

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Twenty Years Ago…

September 11, 2009

Twenty years ago this past May, I graduated from Milligan College.

Twenty years ago this past week, I packed my brand new Celica to the gills with all my belongings and headed for uncharted territory in Kentucky.

Twenty years ago, I had no idea what was ahead for me.

Twenty years ago, I thought I’d NEVER fall out of touch with any of my college friends.

Twenty years ago this past summer, I raised a nest full of blue jays who had been abandoned at our lake cottage.

Twenty years ago today, I had no job… and no idea what job I might ever find. And it didn’t really bother me.

Twenty years ago, I could fill up the gas tank in my car for about $16. And drive forever on it.

Twenty years ago this fall, I remember that it felt wrong not to be driving back to Tennessee for another year of school. My first time coming to grips with the concept of growing up and moving on.

Twenty years ago, I still tended to keep all my possessions in one room. (“Dorm Syndrome” I call it.)

Twenty years ago this month, I met the man I would eventually marry. At church in a small town in Kentucky.

What were YOU doing 20 years ago?

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Being There

June 29, 2009

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I spent the past week as a chaperone with a group of youth from our church while they attended a CIY Conference in Tennessee. I haven’t worked with youth in a lot of years, and I was a little apprehensive of how the trip would go… mainly, I wasn’t sure how well I would relate to the teenagers I’d be chaperoning. I’m pretty insecure, and teenagers scare me a bit.  However, I couldn’t resist the chance to spend a week at my alma mater (Milligan College) where the conference was held. So I agreed to go.

I love Milligan. I spent four wonderful years there as a student, and I remain very connected to the place even now as I prepare for my twentieth reunion this fall. I never miss a homecoming. I try to stay in touch with my classmates, former professors, and other friends who live in the area. But spending a week down there with hundreds of teenagers, living in my old dormitory, eating in the cafeteria, and worshiping each night in Seeger Chapel? I’m not sure I have figured out just the right word to describe it yet…

Unique?   Definitely.

Nostalgic?   Deliciously.

Inspiring?   Surprisingly.

It all started on Monday. We arrived on campus to get checked in late in the afternoon. I walked in to the student union building and had the bizarre experience of being recognized by a complete stranger (Chad Brown, director of the conference) from a facebook photo. And then we got our dorm assignments. I’m sure the kids would have preferred air conditioned quarters, but I for one was delighted to find that we girls would be staying in Sutton Hall. I even had a room just a few doors down from the room where I lived my sophomore year. So far, so good.

One of the first orders of business after checking in was to eat some supper before the evening worship session began. So, just like old times, I walked down Sutton’s echo-y stairwell (people who have lived there know what I’m talking about) and got in line to eat. Only thing is, the cafeteria which I have written of so fondly in a previous blog post has been completely renovated. So, walking through those doors was a bit disconcerting. No more big open space with long white tables and molded plastic chairs. No more brown trays and yellow tumblers. It’s all muted greens and cafe-style tables and flat screen TVs showing the news. Very very nice, and very very wrong at the same time.

Note: I guess the school is all about being “green” these days, so no trays translates to less water and heat used to wash them. However, no trays also translates to more food on the floor when certain people who shall be nameless but who look an awful lot like me cannot juggle a drink, dinner plate and salad plate very well. Clean up on aisle 2! Is all I am saying.

Things really got interesting after supper when it was time for the first worship session to begin. We all walked down to Seeger Chapel and checked a big chart on the wall for our assigned seats. As we found our rows and sat down, I started having flashbacks to my student days… gathering before chapel or convo, chatting with my friends, figuring out where to put my books while I sat in one of those ridiculous seats. All around me were hundreds of high school students, and lots of CIY paraphrenalia on the stage… but in my mind, I could see all my old chums from the late 80s. Just like it was yesterday.

CIY09-7I have trouble describing just how special it is, as a Milligan alum, to sit in Seeger and see it packed to the gills with young people singing their hearts out in a worship service. I am pretty sure that the people who first envisioned and then built the chapel never could have imagined the kind of celebrations that take place in there nowadays. The loud music and the lights and the smoke and the hands raised and the jumping… oh, the jumping! I was quite certain a few times that we were suddenly going to find ourselves in the basement, the floor was shaking so much. To think that the hallowed halls where I sat for many a solemn assembly is host to nightly rock concerts during CIY week is mind boggling. But in a good way.

After worship, our group went out to meet together to discuss the day’s events. We headed down to the gazebo at the front of campus… another hot spot for nostalgia if you are an alum like me. So there we were, gathered by Buffalo Creek, chatting about our evening and the week to come. The girls squealed about spiders. The boys wanted to go down by the waterfall.

And I sat there feeling very much at home.

I spent the rest of the week hanging out with the kids, attending worship sessions, participating in small group discussions, and enjoying a lot of free time in the afternoons. One night in our group’s discussion time, our youth pastor asked everyone to share what their “God moment” had been that day. When it came my turn, I got a little choked up. My day and indeed my week had been full of “God moments,” but I wasn’t sure how to explain them to the kids. My “God moments” were born of the realization that it has been 20 years since I graduated from Milligan, and yet there I was, feeling like it could have been me attending that youth conference as a youth. Because once I set foot on campus, I was transported back to a time when I walked up and down those hills on the way to my next class, or to the cafeteria, or just on a stroll with a good friend to talk about important things… like what we wanted to be when we grew up.

It’s a great thing, to be able to feel that way. To remember so clearly what it was like to be young.

I am blessed.

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Dear Mom, there are hardly any photos of the two of us. Why is that? Also, Happy Mother’s Day… I love you.

May 9, 2009

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Wednesday Wild Card: Wedding Songs

March 11, 2009

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My friend and champion blogger (she loves to be called that), Sarah, is celebrating her 20th wedding anniversary this month and has issued a challenge to her friends to write about the songs that were in their weddings. If we write our stories and link them to her blog she will read them all and then choose a random winner to receive an Amazon gift card. Whoohooooo!

So… now I’m in a quandary. I mean, if she’s going to choose a RANDOM winner, then all I really need to do is write any old half-baked blog post with the songs listed in it, right? But no, that just wouldn’t be right. I must uphold the high writing standards that this blog has strived so hard to maintain. (cough)

Glenn and I got married in December 1992. I did most of the planning, because that is what the girl does. And the wedding day is all about the girl, right? The guy just has to show up.

So. Songs. I am not against tradition, but I remember wanting to try to choose some songs that people didn’t normally hear at weddings. Because heaven forbid the music started playing and someone said “oh, I’ve heard this one, this is boring” and then everyone made a mass exodus out the back door. That would have been embarrassing!

You will laugh, because two of the songs probably fall squarely into the category of “songs people have already heard” although perhaps back then they weren’t completely overplayed just yet. My very dear friends, Rick and Jennifer Dunn, each sang a solo as the service was beginning. Rick sang “I Will Be Here” by Steven Curtis Chapman. I chose that one simply because I liked it. A friend had introduced me to SCC’s music a few years before, and once I had heard that song I knew I would want it played at my wedding.  Jennifer sang “Doubly Good” which I think is an Amy Grant song. I had heard it sung at her wedding (Jen’s… not Amy Grant’s) a couple years prior, and I liked it.

Now, the really sad part about those first two songs is, I never got to hear either one of them. In a sad turn of events which is a mystery to this day, the tape recording that was made of our wedding service was lost immediately after the event, never to be seen or played. Plus, we did not have a wedding video made. Which is a story for another day.

As the bridesmaids came down the aisle, I had Vivaldi’s “Guitar Concerto in D Major,” play to accompany them. And the inspiration for that song? Sesame Street. Yes, the reason I was familiar with that tune was,as a child watching Sesame Street I had seen a video as part of the show… it was a montage of flowers and landscapes and the like… and “Guitar Concerto in D Major,” as the background track. To this day when I hear that melody I first see a close up of colorful flowers with raindrops falling on them. In later years I discovered the song on a record or tape that my Dad had, and I would play it and remember those images from the Sesame Street video.   It’s a lovely, light tune that I thought would work nicely for the bridesmaids. And so it did. At least I think so. I never really got to hear it since I wasn’t in the room at that point!

My processional was Pachelbel’s Canon. A popular tune, yes. But I loved it, and it was better than the wedding march! I first fell in love with the Canon after hearing it at the National Air and Space Museum. Indeed. When the museum first opened, their feature film, “To Fly!,” was the main attraction in their IMAX theater, and I saw it countless times. Pachelbel’s Canon is featured prominently in the soundtrack.

Then in the midst of the service, right after we said our vows, there was a prayer. Immediately following, a men’s quartet from our church sang “Sweet, Sweet Spirit” a cappella. My favorite part! (Well, other than the whole getting married to the love of my life thing.) I chose it because I thought the lyrics and message fit nicely at that point… and also, who doesn’t love to hear four-part harmony?

So there you go! The recessional was just an instrumental piece that my Dad helped me pick out, but it had no particular significance.

Sarah… pick me! pick me!  🙂  And… happy anniversary to you and Randy!