The Familiar

They came in a tube. They were green and smelled like pine trees. The kind of smell that made a person relax and unwind. The kind of smell that made a person forget. The kind of smell that made a person realize life was going to be okay. The stress melted away.

The smell was familiar. As soon as I opened the bottle of “Holiday Peace” essential oil, I felt myself back there. I could see myself back there. Back at the Euclid house. In the bathroom. The water was running in the tub. I put one in the water. One of the oil balls. It was kind of soft and a little squishy. I knew I wasn’t supposed to. They weren’t mine. They smelled so good. Always taking things that weren’t mine.

The heat of the water melted the rubbery sphere and released the oil. The blend of oils was amazing. The scent filled the bathroom with pine and fir and frankincense. I hated baths. I hated taking them. Taking a bath…sounds weird. Anyway, it wasn’t my favorite thing. I preferred showers. I never understood how someone could just sit in the tub forever, but I did it. Those oil-filled bath balls drew me in. I couldn’t help it.

We begged to use them. She always said no. Always. I think they were expensive. Maybe that was why. As I look back now I could see why she was selfish with them. I could see why she hoarded them. I could understand a little bit. I could. 

When I opened the bottle of essential oil, it was as if I could see the memories flooding out of it, like it was a waft of smoke curling up out of the bottle. I could feel the memories as if they were yesterday. The smells, the sounds, the house, the tub, all of it was there. The smell was vintage. The smell was almost a cold smell. It’s hard to explain, but I can smell a chill. It’s strange. It must be the pine smell and cold air smell combined. I love it.

There may have been others scents, but I always remember the green, the pine, the smell, the feeling, the familiar.

A babysitter named Corrine and a Banana Splits lunchbox

It was the Euclid house. It was fall. The mornings were cold. It was a contest. We wanted to see who could make it to the babysitter’s house without wearing a coat. It wouldn’t have been bad, except we rode our bikes, so it always felt like the wind was blowing right in our faces. We rode the whole width of the street. We thought we were cool. Brats riding bikes in the middle of the street. We were every parent’s nightmare. We had to carry our lunchboxes too. We used to have the brown paper bags, but for some reason I begged my mom into getting me a regular lunchbox. Mine was from the TV show The Banana Splits. It was white vinyl. It had a snap fold-over closing. It smelled weird, that strange vinyl smell.  The kind of smell you can’t stand, yet you keep smelling it. 

Every morning we did this. Same time, same place. No coats. Contest. 

I was curious, so I looked up The Banana Splits show. It was around until about 1970. It started in 1968. The puppeteers, Sid and Marty Krofft, made it big after this show ended. Their next cartoon was H.R. Pufnstuff. Remember that one? I also just lost 1 minute and 22 seconds of my life listening to the theme song from The Banana Splits show. It’s called “The Tra La La Song,” and you will never get it out of your head. Seriously. Not even kidding. 

We were going to her house. The babysitter’s house. I always wondered, if we could get ourselves to a babysitter’s house, why did we need a babysitter? Weird. Anyway, it was only about two blocks. I tracked it the other day because I couldn’t remember. We would cut through the alley and out into the street. We rode over to Grand and then two blocks north. Her house was a few houses in from the intersection of Grand and Elizabeth. The house was big. It had a wraparound porch and was painted white. 

She was pretty. She had dark hair and beautiful dark olive skin. She was really tan. Her voice was kind of different. It’s hard to describe. Not high pitched, not deep. Just different. She taught us about life. She taught us about doing our part. She taught us about working. We liked to help her. There was a clothesline in the backyard and a big garden. There were rows and rows of green beans. We picked them for her and ate them the whole time we were picking. We helped with the laundry. We helped with everything. We even helped with cooking and baking.

She let us be kids. She let us play in the dirt. She didn’t get mad if we were dirty or muddy, or if we made a mess. She just let us be. She taught us how to knit and how to put together jigsaw puzzles. The hard ones. The 500 or more pieces ones. I vaguely remember music too. I can’t remember what it was about the music, but something…

She treated us right. She treated us like we were her own. I loved her. 

Thanks Corrine Leidholt. You were a positive influence in my life and I am forever grateful for you. 

Halloween Tradition

Happy Halloween

Do you ever wonder what the history of Halloween is? Me either. 

Okay, I kind of do wonder. I had to go look. Basically, the practices of Halloween mostly come from Celtic paganism in the British Isles, and their feast of Samhain, the new year. They believed it was the time when ghosts and spirits came out to haunt, and the Celts would appease the spirits by giving them treats. Interesting. 

Back to my Halloween. Back to plastic masks with the stinky smell and the eye holes, nose holes and mouth holes that would practically cut your skin if they were moved just right. We could eat a sucker and the stick would stick out the small hole that was the mouth hole. We thought it was cool. Like we were smoking a cigarette. Those things made your whole face sweat and it was hard to breathe. They were also creepy. 

Costumes are creepy. Costumes are uncomfortable. Costumes are weird. But we all did it. We all wore those creepy plastic masks to hide our true identity. Nobody knew who we were unless they were trick or treating with us. Or unless they recognized our parents who took us out trick or treating. Wait a second. That never happened. We went by ourselves. Every year. All the time. Do kids even do that anymore? I mean, it is kind of a scary world out there anymore. 

We used to hit all the “good” houses. The ones that gave “good” Halloween candy. As in none of that rotten crappy candy, such as Necco wafers (GAWD), or candy corn (heaven forbid) or those disgusting peanut butter chews that were wrapped in orange and black paper to make them more appealing looking. It never worked. We could all see right through that little trick. The best houses were remembered every single year. It was tradition. I remember some highlights. 

One in particular was the Mateer House. They lived on Broadway. They gave presents! Can you believe that? Presents. The line was crazy. You had to get there early and you had to wait in line. They greeted kids at the door and then proceeded to take down the kids’ name and write it in a book. I wonder how many kids tried to dupe them and get double presents. I would like to think none, but I bet it happened. They were the cutest little old couple. They obviously loved Halloween. One year I got a sleep mask. It was black. I wonder if I ever used it. 

Another house on Yankton street gave away popcorn balls. Delicious, chewy and sweet popcorn balls. Not too sweet and not full of seeds. Perfect popcorn balls. They lived on the corner of Yankton and Capitol. The Brasel house. The best popcorn ball house. That was definitely a house not to miss. 

If you were lucky enough, some houses gave out full size candy bars. That was definitely a huge score in the trick or treating world. If you found the house, you immediately told all other trick or treaters you came in contact with. Sometimes when it was getting time to head back home and people were turning off porch lights, and you happened to hit their house, they gave you all the candy they had left. That was a huge Halloween score. 

Once it started getting late, and we got home, it was time. My absolute favorite part of Halloween. It was time to sort the candy. Everything had to be perfect. I got rid of my costume. I got rid of my coat, if I needed to wear one that year. I sat down in the living room. The lights had to be on. The bucket or bag, or whatever receptacle was used as the candy collector, was dumped on the floor. I had to shoo away the dog and the Dad. Dad would constantly be in the pile. He would always sneak a Baby Ruth or a Butterfinger. The sorting would begin. The candy sorting ritual. Everything in piles. Baby Ruths in a pile. Kit Kats in a pile. Reese’s in a pile. Every single different kind of candy was in a pile. The only thing I would eat while sorting was gum. Dubble Bubble. Five or six pieces at once. Slupring up that sugary pile of pink putty. Mmmmmmmm. I don’t chew gum anymore. You can probably see why. 

Once everything was sorted into piles, the pieces were counted. It was a tradition. Then the trading could commence with siblings. Sometimes nothing was traded. Sometimes a few things were traded and even sometimes the gross candy was thrown away. Dad wouldn’t even eat it. Every year it was done the exact same way. Every year. It was tradition. 

The pretty people

I’ve known him for a long time so I know the comment was not meant in any way offensive. I never took it that way either. I actually thought it was pretty funny. It was ironic because I get that all the time. When I am with my husband or with Tayler, I get it all the time. Now, I don’t think I’m ugly at all, but I also don’t think I’m one of the pretty people. I’m just me. What you see is what you get. My husband and daughter, on the other hand, are pretty people. They get stared at ALL.THE.TIME. 

When John and I met it was unreal how his looks affected people. I always wondered what people were looking at. I would even comment to him about it. He was oblivious. We would be in line at a checkout counter at any store, just pick one, any store, it doesn’t matter, it was the same whichever store we went to. The checkout person could barely talk. They would stutter and stare and could hardly do their job. It didn’t matter the age either. High school to blue hairs. He got it all. 

From the time Tayler was born, hands down the number one comment was how beautiful her eyes were. Very true. They were. They still are. She is finding that out every day at college. People don’t just glance at her, they downright stare. It gets uncomfortable. It gets kind of weird. She said she just stares back. It’s hard to know what to do. They comment on her eyes all the time. We have standing jokes at our house about her eyes.  

Thank God neither she nor John is conceited. They both have the warmest hearts and would do anything for anyone. I love that about them. This post is not in any way meant to offend anyone or make it look like John and Tayler are egomaniacs. It’s just the way it is. They can’t help how they look. Don’t hate them because they are beautiful (LOL). 

So, back to the beginning of my story. We are meeting with the photographer for Tayler’s senior pics. We are sitting at the table with him discussing the places we want to go and kind of hammering out ideas. He told Tayler that she was absolutely gorgeous and her eyes were amazing. Yep, I’ve heard that before. Next up he told John what a good looking man he was too. Yep, I’ve heard that too. And from a lot of men as well. John doesn’t discriminate. Both men and women love him. I was sitting there, soaking it all in. Waiting…nothing. Okay. We were getting ready to head out the door and I was walking out first. All of a sudden the photographer told me how great my shoes were. Yep. That’s what I got. He said, “Nice shoes.” They were green. Green shoes. Converse shoes. One of my favorite pairs of shoes. I’ll take it. 

In this world of everyone being offended by something. I was perfectly fine with my nice shoes comment. I’ll let the pretty people take all the compliments and get all the attention. I’ll let them feel uncomfortable and not know how to respond to the many, many stares and comments. I’ll let them learn to handle their beauty. Me, well, I have nice fucking shoes and I won’t apologize. 

Butterflies and Freedom

It was summer. The Euclid house. It was hot. I think it was August. My sister and I roamed free. We were young though, so we may have still had a babysitter at home, but that didn’t stop us from roaming. If I had to guess, I would say I was about ten years old. Sherry and I  started hanging out with some kids a few blocks away. I can’t remember who they were, so it must not have been a constant. We rode our bikes a lot and we walked a lot. When it got really, really hot, we would ride our bikes. We went barefoot all the time and when it got that hot, the bottoms of our feet would burn, so we either started riding our bikes barefoot (gasp) or wore shoes, which we hated.

I struggle to remember because it seemed like we were older and it maybe was the Central House. We only lived there for a short time, but still managed to get in a lot of trouble. It really doesn’t matter for the story where we lived, but I want to remember it correctly.

Anyway, we were playing with some kids and were just riding our bikes going somewhere, going anywhere. We ended up on a street that was a big hill. I can remember one of the kids had a skateboard, which freaked me the hell out, because seriously, a skateboard down that steep hill. Even at that age, I knew it was something I wouldn’t do. Apparently fear ran deep.

The hill was steep. Kid steep. It might not be adult steep, but it was close. It was the hill that intersected at Huron and Elizabeth Streets and then down to intersect Central Avenue. If you looked straight ahead you could see the river. You could see the forever. You could see blue, blue sky and white, white clouds. It was incredible. It was an amazing hill.

That was a summer full of butterflies. Monarch butterflies. The orange, white and black butterflies. Pretty ones. Their wings looked like glass, stained glass. They were magical and beautiful…and free. They floated effortlessly through the air. Going somewhere. Going anywhere. They were on a mission. A migration mission.

On that street, on that hot summer day, time stood still. I sat there on my bike looking at the street. At first I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. The street looked strange. It looked like the asphalt was moving. I felt alone. It seemed like it was just me. I started moving. I started pedaling. I felt like I could fly. Suddenly, I was surrounded. It was the most amazing thing ever. I stopped at the bottom of the hill on the next block. There were hundreds of them. Hundreds and hundreds of Monarch butterflies surrounded me. They landed on me. They covered the street. They were on my face and in my hair. It was beautiful. It was calming. I felt free. Is that what freedom felt like? Could they feel it? I wanted to be a butterfly that day. I felt like a butterfly that day. I was free that day.

Zoom Out

It was about a month ago. Now time. Not kid time. I tried on five pairs of pants. All the same size. All fit different. None of them fit. Every single pair were too small. Or I was too big. However you want to spin it. They didn’t fit, plain and simple.

Old me would have been devastated. Now me is slightly concerned, but not throwing a tantrum. Not getting rid of all the food so I can starve myself. Not freaking out. The now me is bucking up and taking responsibility. I know I have been slacking. I have been eating too much and drinking too much wine. I know it’s time to clean it up. For me. I needed to quit eating whatever I wanted and however much I wanted.

It’s interesting how we let things slide. And now here is my point. Why do we have to slide? Why can’t we be okay all the time? Why can’t we just eat to stay healthy? Why do we feel like we have to eat all the things or drink all the things? Life is curious that way. Once we realize that we can stay in check and eat good food and drink once in a while, I think that mindset shifts and it is easier to stay on track. You have to nurture yourself. Take care of yourself. Think about what you are putting in your body. Do you really want to eat crappy and feel crappy all the damn time? I sure don’t. Take ownership of your eating. Understand how food makes you feel. Start with the basics and learn. Learn and then develop your skills. Zoom out. Take a hard look at what you want your life to look like. What you want to look like. Is it matching how you are now? If not. Do something. Take action. Make a change. Be positive and enjoy the journey.

I understand and I get it. Sometimes making changes is hard. We want to change, but actually doing the work and taking the steps and taking responsibility for our actions scares us. It just does. It’s easy, yet we try to overcomplicate it.

Well, I decided to take responsibility. I quit eating like an asshole. I started cleaning up my diet. And by the way, diet is not a dirty word. Diet actually simply means what you eat. Your diet. But, nothing can be simple in society, so it has been complicated beyond belief.

I actually started an online challenge and did the challenge right along with the people in the group. I gave them a nutrition plan and a daily workout. I stayed consistent, I ate well. I didn’t eat crap food. Like I said, I was consistent. I feel stronger, I feel better, I have more energy, I sleep better and I lost weight. Because I wanted to. Not because society told me I had to or because someone made a snarky comment. It was because I wanted to. It is okay if you want to change your body. It is okay if you want to lose weight. It is okay if you want to gain weight. Nobody gets to decide that for you, except you!

Just remember consistency is the key. You can consistently eat well and get results and you can consistently eat crappy and get results. It’s your choice, you get to pick. You get to own your results. Either way.

Angela

Angela Schweigert

My workout buddy

My work buddy

My drinking buddy

My recipe trying buddy

Her laugh

Her sincerity

Her

Her laugh was contagious. Kind of a snort but kind of not. You couldn’t help but laugh right along with her. 

She always named her cars.  At that time she had Cosmo. Her dad knew what the hell was up and he had that car running like a top.

We were in high school. She was at that time the best friend I had. It’s funny how people come and go, out and in, stay and play, and make their mark on your life. They touch your heart and they touch your life. They make your life better. You never forget them or the fun you had. They are special people. Truly. Life rolls on and you see things about them once in a while on Facebook. Or you see a parent passed. Sometimes you see the out of state plate parked at the parents house and you wonder how she is doing and wonder why you didn’t stop. But it’s okay, you just know. Because it goes without saying. It’s not necessary. Those are the best kinds of friends. That’s the kind of friend Angela is. Everyone needs those kinds of friends. They are the best. Always true. Always sincere. Always.

She was tall and lanky. She had long arms and long legs. She had a ton of long, wavy hair and a face full of freckles. She was a great listener and a great friend. 

We liked to work out. We wanted to be in shape. We used to ride our bikes out to Twin Bridges at least three times a week during the summer. It’s a jaunt. We used to laugh about the road kill we would see, unless it was a snake. That was disgusting. Other days we would go for runs or slap on some ankle weights and see how far we could walk, uphill, of course. On one of our runs, we stopped the Schwan’s truck and asked for ice cream. He obliged. We were happy. It was hot out that day. 

At that time the drinking age was 18. Not the hard alcohol drinking age, but the beer drinking age. It was winter and it was cold. It sucked. Angela’s parents were out of town, so we decided to make daiquiris. Yummy flavors. All the fruits. We had strawberry and peach and a couple other flavors. We decided to pretend it was warm out and we wore Hawaiian shirts and leis. Because that’s how we rolled. Why not make the best out of a bad situation. Winters in South Dakota, called for desperate measures. 

I remember another time we tried to make pita bread. The oven had to be extremely hot, like 500 degrees hot. I thought for sure we were going to burn down her house. It seemed like the oven was malfunctioning and the kitchen filled with smoke. I think maybe one of the 12 or so we made turned out. Obviously we weren’t bakers. 

We worked together at Sooper Dooper. We always had the dreaded 3-10 shift and 3-9 shift. It was terrible. It dragged on forever. We laughed though. We did stupid things so the time would pass. One time we put flower pots on our heads and customers thought we were crazy. Angela said we were pot heads. We got a good laugh out of that one.

We had a lot of good times. A lot of good friend times. Thanks for the friendship Angela. I will always, always remember how much fun we had and next time I see your car, I will stop and catch up. 

Timing is everything…

A series of near misses.

Tuesday started off like any other Tuesday. I was up at 4 am. I took a shower and got ready to go to the studio to train my morning clients. I let the dogs out and then put them back in the house. I gathered my many bags and coffee, trying to balance everything and getting down the steps safely. I put the bags on the passenger side of the car and walked around and got in my car, backed out of the garage and headed to the studio. It was about 4:50 a.m. I pulled out of the garage and headed up the driveway to the highway. I had gone about a mile when I heard a loud noise. Suddenly it was really loud inside the car. I turned off the radio and listened. The car was moving a little bit, like it was really windy out. It was pouring rain so I really wasn’t sure about the wind. Then my warning light came on. The warning light that tells me my tires are screwed up. Great. I figured I must have had a flat tire. I slowed way down and turned around when I could. I was about one and a half miles from the house. I didn’t want to go fast and risk ruining the rim, so I limped the car back to the garage. I got out and walked around to the back. Crap. Not only did I have a flat tire, I had a blown tire. It looked like it had just disintegrated. Well, now what? 

I decided to take the pickup. I have never driven it before. It’s giant. It barely fits in the garage. I hopped in. I couldn’t find the garage door opener button or the steering wheel tilter. I had to get back out of the pickup, walk through the garage, squeezing between the pickup and the wall and then up the steps and then to the garage door opener buttons by the door going into the house. The pressure was on now. I had to find the button in the pickup in order to close the garage door, otherwise I risked being soaked by the pouring rain. Yeah, it was pouring and it was also pitch black (what does pitch black even mean?). I backed out of the garage without ripping off the mirrors. I was impressed. I finally found the headlights switch and the windshield wiper switch. I couldn’t find the steering wheel tilter yet. So the steering wheel felt like it was way up on the dash. I felt like I was driving an 18 wheeler. I made it to the studio without further incident. 

I was really impressed with my parking abilities on this day. I managed to not hit any other vehicles while parking and backing out of parking spaces. 

I am sure you have all heard the saying, “Timing is everything.” Today, timing was everything. I was grateful I wasn’t out on the Interstate and having that tire blow. It would have been a way different scenario I am sure. Timing is everything.

Many times today that phrase came into play. I picked up a friend’s daughter from dance and took her home. They live by us, so it was an easy favor. On the way home it was still light and traffic was non-existent. We were about a half mile from home and all of a sudden a deer came flying out of the ditch and ran across the road. It wasn’t really flying, but you know what I mean. If we would have been going the speed limit, which is 65 miles per hour or been there ten seconds earlier, we would have hit the deer. Timing is everything. 

Later that evening, John loaded my car on a trailer and we hauled it into town so it could get some new tires. We were a few miles from town. There was a pickup in front of us. All of sudden that pickup slammed on its brakes. Oh crap. We had to slam on the brakes, which is a little difficult when you are trailering a car and your pickup weighs a ton, literally. It’s a little difficult to stop quickly. We were a few feet away from smashing into the pickup. A very small pickup with three dogs in the back was in front of that pickup. We didn’t know that and we didn’t see that until the pickup took a left turn. I don’t think he used a blinker or had any brake lights. Timing is everything. 

In life, timing is everything. Every single one of these situations could have turned out vastly different if it had been 30 seconds on either end. I definitely had my guardian angel working overtime today. I am grateful I didn’t have to find out how I would have dealt with the flip side of those situations. I am very blessed and I know it. 

…and then there were none

My uncle died this week, September 14th. His name was Bob. He was in the middle. He was the 4th oldest of seven, three above and three below. He was my dad’s brother. My dad was the baby. They were 15 years apart. 

Uncle Bob had that cool calm demeanor. Even if things were stressful or chaotic you would never know it. I can hear his voice, the way he said my name. The way he delivered anything he said. He had kind of drawl to his voice. The words were formed slowly and were delivered with precision and velvet smoothness. 

At the visitation on Tuesday (September 18th) there was a slide show of many, many pictures of  him and family. He had a great family. Brenda and Susan (the city cousins) were his daughters. Every single picture of him with those girls absolutely oozed love. You could see it. You could almost feel it. He and his wife, Sandy (passed away in 2015), absolutely adored those girls. They could not have kids of their own and they opened their hearts and home to these girls. You never would have known they were not born to them. There was one particular picture where he and Susan were sitting at a table and the way they were looking at each other brought tears to my eyes. It’s a dad and daughter love for sure. I see it with John and Tayler all the time. 

There were pictures of him with dad and his other brothers and sisters. There were some pictures of dad I had never seen before. The memory of his funeral came flooding back and I felt so bad for Brenda and Susan because I knew what it felt like. I had lived it. I think the hardest part was watching Brenda’s daughter, and Susan’s two boys. Losing their grandpa was hitting them hard. Grandparents are the best and it is so hard to lose them. It was hard to witness. I wish them strength and peace. 

Uncle Bob beat the genes. He beat the Friman genes. They weren’t good. There was a family history of heart disease and high blood pressure. My grandpa, Roy, died at the age of 62. World War I Veteran. I believe the cause of death was hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Dad was 18 at the time. That would have been hard, losing your dad when you were only 18. Uncle Bob would have been about a month shy of his 33rd birthday. That is still very young to lose a parent. Grandma died about 20 years later. 

There were two girls and five boys. Muriel was the oldest. They called her Sis. I remember her from when I was little. I can only remember a few times though. She lived in Oregon and we didn’t see her that often. Dad died on June 3, 2000. When Muriel found out he died, she said she could go now. She died on June 15, 2000. She was 79 years old. 

Everett was the next oldest. I remember being around him only a handful of times as well. He lived in Iowa. When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, Corie, I received a phone call, telling me that he had died. He was 64 years old. Heart attack. Veteran, United States Navy. 

Next in the lineup was Duane. Duane lived in Sioux Falls. We didn’t see him often either. I can remember being around him when I was young. They all had that wicked sense of humor and a common look about them. Duane died in 1981. He was 58 years old. Heart attack. 

Uncle Bob is up next. Right smack in the middle of them all. Maybe that was his ticket to better health. Just kidding. I know Uncle Bob’s lifestyle contributed to his long life. He ate well and he exercised. He jogged all the time and he was an avid golfer. In fact he golfed in early August of this year with Susan. Very impressive. Uncle Bob was 93 years old at the time of his death. He hit the jackpot. He lived a very good life. He was a good guy and he was a great uncle to us. He was done. His body was tired. He went to be with Aunt Sandy and the rest of his family. Veteran, United States Navy. 

Uncle Don came next. I think next to Uncle Bob, we saw Uncle Don the most. I believe he and Dad were the closest of friends. He was at our house a lot and we visited a few times when he lived in Kansas. Uncle Don always reminded me of the actor, Ed Harris. He looked like him. The wicked sense of humor was strong with this guy. He was so funny and loved life. He lived it. Uncle Don died on July 1, 2000. He was 66 years old. Heart attack. Veteran, United States Navy.

Aunt Shirley was next. She lived in California, Santa Barbara. When I was in high school I thought about moving out and living with her and establishing residency and then going to school out there. I wonder how different my life would have been if I had. Decisions made are so interesting. Life decisions are so interesting. Shirley died January 3, 1992. Cancer of the bronchial tubes. 

Next up, the baby of the bunch. My dad, Gary. The crazy, funny, life loving dad. I miss him every single day. He couldn’t escape the Friman genes. He had quadruple bypass surgery when he was 48 years old. That bought him 12 more years. He died June 3, 2000. He was 60 years old. Heart attack. 

Here we have the birth order and the death order. 2000 was a very sad year. 

Name                    Year of Birth               Name                 Year of Death

Muriel                         1920                     Duane                      1981                                  

Everett                        1921                     Everett                     1986                          

Duane                         1923                     Shirley                     1992

Bob                             1925                     Gary (Dad)               2000

Don                             1933                     Muriel                      2000

Shirley                         1935                     Don                         2000

Gary                            1940                     Bob                         2018

…and then there were none. May they all rest in peace. 

Messages

The voice. I recognized it instantly. “My name is Sandy Austin Asbury, I’m an FBI Agent here in Pierre, South Dakota, and I was a construction guide at the World Trade Center in the summers, 1968, 69 and 70. 

I could hear the struggle in her speech. How hard it was for her to sound out her Ss. At the same time she sounded so good. See, Sandy’s cancer was initially found in her mouth, on the side of her tongue. It was melanoma. I’m sure you’ve heard of melanoma. Part of her tongue had to be removed. A big portion on the side. She had to have lots of speech therapy afterwards in order to get her speech back to any semblance of normal. She worked hard and she did great. 

Yesterday was the 17 year anniversary of 9/11. The terrorist attack on US soil. The taking down of the Twin Towers in New York City. A day that will never be forgotten. 

After the attack, I remember Sandy telling me that she was being interviewed for a special. A special involving the building of the World Trade Center. There were several young girls who worked at the site as it was being built. They were construction guides. They were also called Building Stewardesses. There were a lot of upset people because of the construction project. These girls were hired to be guides to the public. It was a great public relations move so as to get people on board with the project. They had uniforms and explained the project to the interested public. They had to know what was what. They had to be ready for any construction-related questions. They had to be trained well. 

“This taking a guide job was a big step for me because I had been painfully shy when I was very very young. I was viewed as somewhat of a hippie-looking person — bell bottoms, long hair and blowing bubbles wherever I went and wearing sandals. But in my little uniform when I was a girl guide I looked just little miss all American.”

This week has been strange. I needed to write this. Sandy has been on my mind all week. Since Monday, the 10th, I have heard the Eagles’ Peaceful Easy Feeling song at least eight times. That was the song that was played at her funeral. There have been so many connections to her this week. It has been almost laughable. I know she is letting me know she is around. 

I was tagged on Facebook by Kathy, Sandy’s step-daughter. Kathy was there with Nancy, Bill and me around Sandy’s bed when she took her last breath. She’s special to me. She always will be. Kathy tagged me with the link to the interview. As I started listening, I couldn’t help but smile, after the tears, of course. I loved Sandy’s voice. It is so soothing and she always sounded so happy and full of life. 

I think the most important thing Sandy said during that interview is still so extremely relevant. She was definitely a trail blazer and was a very strong woman. She stood up for herself and for other women. She was such an amazing person and I still miss her so much. 

“The possibilities of all the trade and business and commercial things that went on as a young woman just getting ready to go to college, I started to realize all the things that you could do in life and uh, I was the first female agent that was on a squad in the FBI Newark office in 1981. “ 

She was a strong woman and I am so grateful I got to hear her roar. 

 

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1147470