September 4

September 4 was an important day in my life three times. I’ll write about two of them here.

September 4, 2012. My phone rang late that night. I gladly answered it, knowing it would be Lorraine, my sister. We often talked late at night because there were no interruptions! We could talk as long as we wanted to and we often talked for a couple of hours or longer! We talked about our childhood, our parents and brothers and sisters-in-law, our grandchildren, our feelings, our belief in God…and sometimes, non-belief. We both felt better when we hung up, knowing we both had shared our true feelings, knowing we both understood where we each stood on issues, and feeling a little closer to each other and to God.  Lorraine

But this night when I answered with a cheery hello, it wasn’t Lorraine. It was my brother, Richard! Well, that was a surprise, but I enjoy talking with him too. Then he told me why he was calling. Lorraine had died that day! No! No! It can’t be! What? How? When? Why? No! Not Lorraine!

How many times had we laughed about the longevity in our genes! We both hoped we’d keep our good health and clear minds as we aged. Our parents did so we should too! She was a widow and one year she flew from Oregon to Michigan to visit me! I was thrilled as we had a great time together.

We’d been so close as children but had grown apart when we were teenagers and then as young wives and mothers we were so busy and so many miles apart we just didn’t keep up with a close relationship, like we should have. I’m actually ashamed…

But now we were both retired and had time and needed each other so we spent hours on the phone late at night. We sometimes talked about death. I assured her of my relationship with Jesus and my belief in God. She had many questions and I felt her belief begin to blossom again. We even talked about death but it was a long way off and we needed to have a close relationship with God as time was going by so quickly. She told me she had forsaken her faith years ago and I assured her I’d be praying for her because God loved her. Then one night she told me she believed in God again. She felt Him with her. She wanted to be even closer to Him. I continued to pray for her daily. Now, suddenly, she was gone. But our conversations and prayers were not in vain. I believe she’s in heaven and I’ll be with her one day.

September 4, 2013. Mother, who had died on August 25, at 99 1/2 years, was buried beside Dad, in Stanwood, Washington. We struggled, debated, questioned and finally decided to have Mother’s ashes buried on September 4. Lorraine had died one year earlier on September 4. It was a distance from Castle Rock, Colorado where she’d been living and had died. Everyone had a distance to travel to get there and then to get back home, for some many hundreds of miles. Lorraine was also honored in the short burial service for Mother. It was a painful day.                                                                                                            Lorraine & Dog       OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA     6038 (2) (1)

September 4, 2018. The pain is still in my heart. It hasn’t gone away. It’s just as vivid as in 2012 and 2013. I loved Lorraine and I loved Mother. Someday I’ll be with both of them, when my day comes to leave this earth. I love you, Lorraine! I love Mother!



My Friend Barb

I’m thinking about some of my memories with Barb!  Hockaday_Barbara_20151108   I’ve known her since the year before I married Jerry. That would be 1958!

Barb and Dick attended our wedding in Winona Lake, Indiana. In fact, they were among the ‘friends’ who stole my suitcase and tied all my clothes in knots before returning it to our car so Jerry and I could leave on our honeymoon! Dad and me wedding  This picture is proof Barb was at my wedding! No, she’s not in the picture! This is my dad walking me down the aisle, and Barb’s husband, Dick, is in the picture! He’s the man closest to my dad! Barb is next to Dick, and can’t be seen! But she was there!

Dick and Jerry were both in the National Guard and had to go to National Guard Camp every summer. Barb invited me to stay with her since we’d both be alone.

Well, Barb and HoneyBee were alone! HoneyBee was her big, loveable, mixed Boxer dog! She was securely tied in the back yard. Our first night alone, after we were asleep, HoneyBee woke us up with her barking! She didn’t stop! She barked and barked. Barb and I laid in bed trying to convince each other not to worry. It was probably just an animal, maybe a raccoon. But, the longer she barked and the longer we talked, the more worried we became! What if some man heard that two young brides were sleeping in this house, with no husbands…! What if HoneyBee was trying to warn us? What if the man was trying to break in!? Oh, what should we do? We couldn’t just stay there! But how could we get to the car without him grabbing us? Then one of us, I’m not sure which one, got an idea… Let’s call Jim. Jim was our brother-in-law and lived less than two miles away.

(Let me explain the relationship here. Jim was Jerry’s brother. Marion, Jim’s wife, was Dick’s sister. So Jim was the brother-in-law of both Barb and me, but yet, Barb and I weren’t related.)

Then Barb and I had another problem! How could we look up Jim’s phone number without turning the light on? We didn’t want the ‘man’ to know we were up! We called information, in the dark, and asked for Jim’s number, which we wrote down in the dark. Then we dialed, in the dark, and waited and waited, for Jim to wake up and answer the phone. He finally did and I explained to him what our problem was and how scared we were. His reply? “So?” I swallowed hard and asked if he would come and get us and let us sleep at his house! There was a pause…and then he said, “Okay.”

The next night we decided to keep HoneyBee in the house. Ohhhh, every now and then, all night long, I had to push HoneyBee away and wipe her slobbers off my face!

The third night we kept HoneyBee in the house again, but we closed the bedroom door. In the morning, we were hurrying around, getting ready for the day. Barb had to go to work. I just needed to be dropped off at my house. But Barb couldn’t find her keys! We both searched all over the house. No keys. Did HoneyBee hide them? We searched some more. No keys. Finally, Barb said maybe she left them in her car and went out to look. No keys. She searched the ground, in case she had dropped them. No keys. She came back to the house, grabbed the doorknob… Her KEYS! In the lock were her keys on the outside!!! They were just waiting for some man to come in, in the night!

For a weekend, Barb and I drove up to Grayling, Michigan to the National Guard Camp, to be with our husbands for a couple of days. We rented a cottage on a lake to share and had a great time. We watched them march in a parade and go through ceremonial maneuvers.

The next year, when the guys went to National Guard Camp, Barb stayed with me in our new house. I had my new baby, Pamela Gail! Barb loved her! We rented a cottage on a lake again for a weekend and Jerry and Dick joined us again. But this time, I had all kinds of baby paraphernalia!

Years went by, we continued our friendship. We had more babies, five total. Barb and Dick were blessed with two babies, Terri and Brent.

As the years passed, with the business of life, I lost contact with Barb. I’m glad I have these fun memories of her.  Now she’s gone. Today I attended her memorial service. I know she had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, so someday I’ll see her again.

Saturday in Iowa

On our recent trip to Iowa Saturday was a day of driving around, observing the Amish and visiting their stores; touring Gray Transportation; reminiscing about our childhood days; visiting graves of loved ones; going out for supper; watching an hour of Gaither music and just visiting. It was a wonderful day!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Of course, we saw many horses pulling buggies. I didn’t get a picture of one going down the road, but we saw many of them. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  I took this picture of the man plowing for a garden.  LeRoy and Carolyn assured me it was okay to take pictures as long as I didn’t take their faces. This man’s hat was covering his face so this is okay. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  I love windmills and there were many in the Amish community. I also love old barns and got some pictures of a few. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  They have large houses because they have large families! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  We stopped at an old Amish cemetery. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Off in a back corner of the cemetery we saw a stack of these headstones, waiting to be used. There are recent graves here as well as old ones.

There are many Amish stores! We went into several, they are very interesting…and tempting! The only thing I bought was some homemade apple butter to take home to our children!

We left the Amish community and went to Waterloo, where I lived during two different periods of my life. I was born in Waterloo, Iowa, but we moved to Des Moines, when I was about two. Then, after living in Oklahoma and Illinois from 1946-1949 , we moved back to Waterloo in 1950.

Today we toured Gray Transportation. That was so interesting. I was glad daughter and son-in-law, Pam and Gene; son, Tim; cousin, Kay, were all with us too. But then they left us and we went on to do some major reminiscing!

We lived in an apartment house behind my cousins, Roy and Beulah Gray. This is when LeRoy and I became best friends. We were in the same grade’s, 5th through 7th  and the same rooms in the little Elk Run Heights School. We also attended the same Free Methodist Church in Waterloo. We spent many happy hours playing together, making hide-outs in the bales of hay in the big round barn, riding the Shetland pony, playing softball, climbing trees and swimming in the creek down the road and through the pasture!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This is one of the two apartment buildings. One is gone, but this one is still standing and being lived in today! They were built to be chicken houses but before they were used, the man who built them, died and the family sold the farm to Roy and Beulah Gray. They turned the chicken house buildings into apartment houses! We were the first family to move in. Behind our apartment house were woods and beyond the woods was pasture land that Roy had subdivided. My dad bought a lot so he could build us a new house! It was a very small house, but it was ours! It’s still standing and lived in today although some changes have been made in it! We drove by slowly and even stopped to finally figure out which house was our home back in the early 50’s!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  A large round barn stood here when I was a kid. We had so much fun playing in the barn and making hideouts in the bales of hay being stored in the barn! I can’t believe it’s been torn down! The owner of the farm built the round barn and was up on top working on something like a steeple, when he fell to his death! That’s when and why the family sold the farm to Roy and Beulah. Oh, the memories I have of living here!

We drove to the cemetery where LeRoy’s parents, Roy and Beulah and sister, Evelyn, are buried. Evelyn died this year.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  I felt so bad and still do today because I didn’t think ahead of time, to buy some flowers to lay on the gravesite. Next time we go, I will definitely have some with me.

It had been a full day and so Carolyn didn’t have to cook supper we went to a Chinese restaurant for supper. Then home to watch an hour of Gaither music and visiting before going off to bed.  What a wonderful day this was!

Good-bye Lorraine

Two years ago today was the memorial service for my sister, Lorraine. She died on September 4, 2012, so unexpectedly. I was in shock then  Lorraine D & Anita A and am still in shock today, two years later.Lorraine & Dog This is Lorraine and her little dog that she loved. She had written on a sheet of paper the song Just A Closer Walk With Thee so it was sung as a solo by a student of Christine who is a music professor and Lorraine’s oldest daughter. It was a beautiful service. Richard, my brother and I both gave tributes. Two of her daughters, Rhonda and Linda, also gave tributes. A poem was read, by a granddaughter, that was written by Lorraine’s youngest daughter, Sonja. I was privileged to read a poem Lorraine wrote and had published.


I started at age five.

Buttons from my mother’s sewing box, my first students.                                                                                                                                                             In rows, according to size, round,                                                                                                                                                                                                       eager eyes seeking mine; they recited.                                                                                                                                                                                               At recess, in circles, they played games,                                                                                                                                                                                       color and design making each unique.

Our spice cupboard, another classroom.                                                                                                                                                                                        Tall children in back: Sage, Saffron, Cayenne.                                                                                                                                                                   Standing on a chair to reach the shelf,                                                                                                                                                                                                 I told them stories and read them poetry.                                                                                                                                                                                     Ever obedient, they were always there                                                                                                                                                                                          when I opened the classroom door.

When I was eight, the children were alive,                                                                                                                                                                           gathered from neighborhood families.                                                                                                                                                                                      School was year-round.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Our garage, the summer classroom;                                                                                                                                                                                                   In winter, beside the furnace in our basement.                                                                                                                                                                         Desks and chairs made from old crates.                                                                                                                                                                                              I taught them of Columbus and Sacagawea,                                                                                                                                                                                 How to add and subtract;                                                                                                                                                                                                                   We read Dick and Jane,                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Made time for recess.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             We dismissed school only when the last child                                                                                                                                                                             Was called home to dinner.

More difficult my years in real school;                                                                                                                                                                                     Paperwork, test scores, hall watches, parents, principals,                                                                                                                                                           Old math, new math, their math, phonics, no phonics, phonics, sex ed., nuclear ed., no to drugs.

Thank God for the staple, the children.

I’m retired now.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Thought I’d enjoy resting and reading, maybe golf or tennis.                                                                                                                                           Instead, I find some boys next door                                                                                                                                                                                               Who need help with homework.

Sixty years so far, my teaching career.                                                                                                                                                                                            Not planned, not agonized—what shall I do with my life?                                                                                                                                                     Buttons, spices, neighborhood, real school, after school.                                                                                                                                                      Where students are, there I will be.

I am a teacher.

Lorraine Drougas

Her memorial service was held in Augustana Lutheran Church, which had a large bell. It was rung every time there was a funeral or memorial service. Two of her grandsons, Joe and Sean, got to ring the bell. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  I took a picture of the bell too, but wouldn’t you know it…it didn’t turn out! If you stop and listen…you just might hear the bell ringing, dong – dong…

After the service there was a very nice luncheon put on by Lorraine’s four daughter’s, Christine, Rhonda, Linda and Sonja. There I got to meet some of Lorraine’s friends. She had written a book for children. It was published a few months before she died, thank goodness. The woman who did the art work was there and her two children who had inspired at least two of the stories! I was privileged to meet them!  Book 001  So…two years and I’m still grieving. I loved Lorraine so much and God loved her even more. I believe I’ll see her again some day!!!


Saying Good-bye

20130904_105106  It’s never easy to say good-bye. One year ago, today, we said good-bye to my mother. I think it was a beautiful service and I think she would have liked it! We truly honored her.

My brother, Bill, has a son, Chris, who is a minister. We asked him to officiate at the service. He did a fine job! I’m proud of him. Both of my brothers and I each gave a tribute to Mother. Vel, Bill’s wife, also gave a tribute. Richard’s daughter, Susan, sang by means of a tape since she couldn’t be there. Richard’s other daughter, Heidi, played the piano. Three of my children, who were there, Pam, Tim and Christy and Lisa, Bill’s daughter, read scripture.20130904_112050 (2)    Lisa is a State Park Ranger and she ate lunch with Mother every Wednesday. She always had her ranger clothes on so she wore them to the memorial service. You can see her in the picture. Each of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who were there, took a red rose up to lay on the table. The chaplain from the nursing home played his Native American Flute again.

I have copied and pasted my tribute to Mother here.

Mother and Me

I was born in the time when the three words I Love You weren’t  used in everyday conversations. Love was shown but not verbalized. I knew, without a doubt, Mother loved me, even though she never told me. One day this was put to the test.

I was home from school for the summer. The youth group from our church were going on an all day picnic to a state park and invited me to join them. A car came to pick me up early on Saturday morning. They insisted I sit in the front seat! That seemed strange but I got in and off we went for a fun day!

It was getting close to lunch time and I was very hungry. I looked in a box for a snack and saw a small piece of paper with my name on it! Oh, what was this? I read it in shock. It was written to the leaders by one of the girls in the youth group. “I’ll ride in any car but not in the car with Anita Williamson.” What? Why? Oh, that explains why I had to sit in the front seat… The girl who wrote the note was in the back seat! Somehow we had ended up in the same car!

Oh, what to do…I had no idea I wasn’t liked. I couldn’t  stay here. I’d better leave. Where should I go? How could I get home? There was nothing I could do except walk away. Yes, that’s it. I’d simply walk away and not come back. I’d become a run-away.

In my mind I saw someone calling the police. Then calling my parents. Oh no. Mother. I’d hurt Mother. She loved me. Oh, I couldn’t just leave! I would cause terrible pain to Mother. I couldn’t do that. Mother loved me and I loved her…

Years went by. I finished school, got married, raised five beautiful children. Times were changing, it was now near the end of the 1990’s! We talked on the phone occasionally. One day at the end of our conversation Mother said to me, “I love you.”

What??? I’d never heard those three words, come to me, from Mother before! I stood there not knowing what to say… Finally I said, “ Okay, I’ll talk to you later. Bye.” For the next couple of days all I could think of was Mother telling me she loved me! It meant so much to me. I knew I’d have to say it too! Could I? I didn’t know. But finally I made up my mind that I would say it the next time we talked on the phone and I did.

I’ve  been saying it to her ever since. I love you, Mother.


After the service everyone was invited to Bill’s house for a luncheon. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  We brought flowers, pictures, and all from the church and arranged it all on the Baby Grand piano. Then, as folks visited and ate music could be heard as Chaplain played his Native American Flute again, at our request. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  It was a long day, but a good day, in loving memory of Mother.