Meet My Family, Uncategorized

A Traditional Carlos

By, Louisa Cambridge

We have a tradition in our family that when someone we love leaves our home after an extended visit, we say our last farewell, with a Traditional Carlos. A Carlos is nothing more than a wave that is maintained until the car carrying our guest(s) has driven out of our sight. This tradition was established back in the 1970’s by Jeff’s brother, David.

At the time, David was an aspiring actor, living in New York City. Often, he visited a friend named Carlos. When it was time for David to leave Carlos’ apartment, Carlos walked with him outside and waved. He waved as David walked down the sidewalk, maintaining the wave until the top of David’s head disappeared down a stairway leading to the underground Subways. This was how Carlos honored his guests. His way of expressing how important they were to him. David passed this tradition onto our family; in turn, Jeff and I passed it onto ours.

I have come to learn, that the joy and anticipation of waiting for loved ones to arrive, far surpasses that moment when you kiss them goodbye. This knowledge first tenderized my heart when my son Chris left the safe embrace of our home to join the Air Force. I learned the lesson a new when my son Andy left to join the Navy. Today, that same ache fills my heart whenever Aldon leaves… the aftermath of sending him back to Mississippi, to his parent’s loving arms.

This morning as I watched Aldon leave, I waved a Carlos. As our car rounded a corner, disappearing from my sight, tears filled my eyes. Retreating into my house, I sought solitude in my bedroom, where I could be alone with my thoughts and the pain throbbing in my heart.  Too fresh is the memory of my grandson’s embrace. I still smell traces of his Captain America cologne, which I bought for his birthday. My house is full of reminders of him, toys, little gifts he has given me throughout his visit; notes he has written. Now it’s time to be grateful for his sweet mom and dad, who so freely entrust him into our care. He must be released, like his dad and uncle before him.

Strange are the mysteries of life as they unfold… In my youth, I learned to mold myself into a parent, changing my focus from me, to my children. Then one day my children transitioned into adults and I sought after the Grace to release them into the world. All the time, hoping that I had performed my job well enough for them to fly on their own.

Fly they have!

I’m carried back to a holiday when Chris was home, taking leave from the Air Force. This was before 911 struck and we were able to join our loved ones at the airline gates. Jeff, Grandpa Kissell and I went to see Chris off. Once Chris boarded the plane and was out of sight, I saw tears come to Grandpa Kissell’s eyes. His outward display of emotion embarrassed him, but his words echoed my own, “He’s the first!”

When Aldon left our house this morning, he was unaware that his Uncle Chris was waiting for him at the airport, to surprise him. Nor did he know that, Chris was flying back to Mississippi with him to surprise his mom and daddy (Andy).

They’re on the plane right now…

At the beginning of this summer, Jeff and I waited for Aldon’s arrival with eager anticipation. As a family, we have gorged ourselves on laughter, good food and outings. Aldon and I rode Dude, saw Broadway’s, “The Lion King” and went to Six Flags twice. I took him swimming and he rode bikes almost every night with Baboo (Jeff). We celebrated the 4th of July, his birthday and Grandma and Grandpa Kissell moving in with us.

Always, when we gather together as a family, we reminisce over the past, reliving fond memories while discarding the bumpy roads that came our way. We hold each other close, clinging just a little bit tighter How painful that moment is when you kiss a loved one goodbye. The pain is strong, because the love is strong. It is in that moment of departure when your love is the most exposed.

This morning, as I waved a Carlos to Aldon, I felt a swirl of these emotions. After retreating to my room, I let my tears flow freely. Oh, how the well of emotion tugged at my heart! Yet, there was stillness in the moment. Comforting stillness…

In that stillness I saw a gift… It hovered over me, as well as within. The moment I acknowledged the gift, it seemed to swell and radiate a soothing light. I grasped it with hands of faith, holding it close to my heart so the light could fill my soul, ease the pain of separation.

Another memory!

I’ll hang on to this one for a while and let it continue to tenderize my heart, before placing it with all my others… the fragments of time I carefully store in my treasure chest. Marveling, how one little boy can completely melt my heart…

My Life Today!

Celebrating America’s Independence!

By, Louisa Cambridge

July 4, 1776, in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a young Continental Congress officiated the United States of America, as a free and independent nation. Free from Great Britain and its king, George III. When the news reached George Washington, the commander of the Continental forces, the declaration seemed a mockery. Situated in todays New York City, Washington and his troops were surrounded by hundreds of British naval ships controlling the New York harbors. By all indications, the American’s were losing the battle by a landstorm.

Five days after congress voted for independence, George Washington stood in front of New York’s, City Hall and read the Declaration of Independence to a crowd gathered around him. The message of disassociation sparked a riot, spiking already frienzied military tensions. Inspired by the birth of our nation, the crowd tore apart a statue of King George, melting it down to make musket balls they used to shoot at the British. A gripping account of this moment in American’s first Revolutionary War is told beautifully in Pulitzer Prize winning author, David McCullough’s book entitled, “1776.”

Thankfully, today, we are still a free nation, independent from tyranny. And although there are nations and peoples that strive to destroy our national values and take from us the freedoms we are privilege to have, we Americans, throughout history, have demonstrated that we know how to unite when Liberty calls us to rally. We rallied after 911, when being an American became more important than our political differences. I witnessed flocks of young men and women independently make the choice to serve our nation by enlisting into the armed forces. My son, Chris, was already in the Air Force when 911 happened, along with my son Patt. Later, my son Andy enlisted, serving in the Navy.

As a parent, watching my children make the choice to willingly put their lives on the line for a cause that was bigger then their dreams, was a defining moment in their growth as individuals! Particularly when they chose a cause that was bigger than my need to keep them away from harm’s way. I watched them, along with dozens of other young men and women, enter boot camp as uncertain kids and graduate as confident adults. I cried as they deployed.

Chris was part of the opening arena of Operation Iraqi Freedom… remember the caravans we watched on TV the first day the war broke lose!?! He was in one of the convoys carrying medical supplies to Baghdad. Andy, was a Navy Seabee. He helped build a city in Ramallah. Both boys, along with their fellow soldiers, endured constant, onslaughts of insurgents firing at them day and night. The sound of bullets whizzing past their ears become so familiar, it was easy to forget someone was always trying to kill you. Both of them came home as disabled vets.

Patt, a Farsir linguist was stationed in Qatar. He flew in rickety old airplanes that were made in the 1960s. His job was to listen to enemy conversations and gather information that aided the United States. The flights were extremely dangerous, because of their close proximity to enemy boarders. But Patt told me, he was more concerned about the condition of the planes they flew in.

While my boys were deployed, I came to know first hand the types of prayers, a praying person who has sent a loved one to war… prays. Prayers that have been lifted to God throughout the history of our nation. Prayed from the hearts and lips of soldiers, and the family members supporting them at home. For me, my most earnest prayer was, “Please let me tell them, at least one more time, in person, how much I love them.” I am so grateful that such an opportunity was given to me. I am also keenly aware of the men and women who never made it home. So are my boys, having each witnessed soldiers that were friends, die.

FREEDOM IS NOT FREE, is the message engraved on the Korean War memorial in Washington, DC. Years ago, when our children were young, Jeff and I took them, along with Grandma and Grandpa Kissell, to Williamsburg, Virginia. In Williamsburg, we saw a bit of America’s prerevolutionary war history. Old stomping grounds walked by some of our founding fathers, including one of Washington’s favorite restaurants. Next, we whisked our family off to Washington, DC, where we toured the White House and Capital building. The kids saw the Smithsonian museums and war memorials.

Dad stood, intrigued with the Korean War Veterans memorial. It was so lifelike, true to form. Even the rifles and canteens. The sight flashed him back to the time when he was dressed in the same attire, fighting in the Army his second war. His first being part of General Patton’s forces in WWII.

As a mother I am so proud of my boys for standing up to serve. As a daughter I’m also proud of my own father, Guy L. Ewing, Jr. for serving in the Navy in WWII. Daddy was issued his draft notice on the very day he graduated from high school. He left his childhood home in Lakewood, Ohio, to sail the Pacific Ocean, never to return the same. As a daughter-in-law, I’m thankful to my father-in-law for his service.

No, freedom is not free. The cost is extremely high! Freedom has stolen the innocence of our youth throughout the history of our country! From the brave soldiers in 1776, shaking in their boots, surrounded by the British, to the soldiers today serving, spending time away from their families.

This year, my family will celebrate America’s freedom by coming together for a barbeque meal, cooked by Chris, with Jeff and me supplying the side dishes. We will bask in the joy of being together, missing Andy and his wife Nicole who can’t be with us. We will rejoice in the gift of having Grandma and Grandpa Kissell with us. We will toast the freedoms we enjoy and those who have made them possible.

I would have loved to take Aldon to see fireworks. But his dad and Uncle Chris no longer enjoy them. The sounds and sights triggering memories from their days at war. I suspect Dad feels the same way, i know my Daddy did. Instead, we have sparklers for Aldon to enjoy and glow sticks along with fun hats. And it’s more important for us to be together than separate on this special day.

On behalf of my family, I would like to thank all the people who have served this great nation. Giving an extra loud shout of thanks to those in service now. You are not forgotten! My thoughts and prayers are with you. Be steady in your service. Most importantly, be safe! And if you’re abroad, know that a grateful nation awaits your swift return home! God bless America and the ones who have made her what she is today!

My Life Today!

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That, A Whole Lot of Feeling Very Blessed!

Summer is progressing quickly at our house. At the beginning of the month Jeff and I were in Davie, Florida where we, saw our beautiful niece marry the love of her life. This trip was also a family reunion. One that was a long time coming for me, having not sat down to enjoy and giggle over the past with my husband’s family in too many years. All of us being busy with our lives, raising children ect… We returned home with new memories and a light in our hearts. Immediately following, additional blessings came our way.

The first blessing was bringing Jeff’s Mom and Dad home with us. I wrote about them in my post entitled, “Fort Wayne, Indiana.” Mom and Dad are in their nineties now. Jeff and I are so privileged that they are staying with us for a few weeks. It is a joy to include them in our everyday life, such as driving the golf cart over to let the horses in and out.

The next day the second blessing came our way. Aldon, arrived to spend the summer with us. When Jeff (Baboo) pulled into the drive from the airport, Aldon burst through the door full of soon to be, nine-year-old energy and ran to each person distributing hugs and kisses and hordes of abundant love. He has been our joy and ambition, the fire that keeps us older folk going.

And we have been going…

Despite high temperatures hitting over one hundred degrees, we’ve managed to take care of the horses. Mostly, we brush and hose them down. I ride in the early mornings after Jeff has finished an even, earlier morning bike ride. I braid the horses manes in the summer because of the heat. Last Saturday Aldon and I rode Dude. Afterward we let him graze around us while we sat in the shade, enjoying a Kool Pop. Our barn keeps Kool Pops in the freezer as a treat for overheated riders.

Aldon’s gone on long bike rides with Baboo. Sometimes I take him swimming in the afternoons. I also have a collection of toys and books that we keep here at the house for his visits. They help create that home away from home feel. And this is his home. He knows that. He has three, homes; his home with mom and dad, Pawpaw’s house and his house in Texas.

My garden has been a great sense of joy. Aldon helps me with it. Over his spring break we went to Lowe’s and purchased an assortment of plants and vegetables, which we promptly planted. Our backyard is cloked in shade with filters of sunlight falling on the plants. Providing a soothing shield from the fiery sun. Aldon helps me water the garden in the evenings. Although we both get soaked in the process, which, of course, is part of the fun. I send him to the shower. Around eight, he pretends to go to bed. Then he and Jeff carry out a nighttime routine of sneaking out of the house to hit the bike trails. For such adventures we keep the bikes loaded in the car.

The third blessing has been seeing my children more often now that grandma and grandpa Kissell are with us. Juli lives close. We sometimes visit her after she returns from work in the evening, to share stories of our day and a cool, refreshing drink as Aldon puts it. Sometimes Juli comes to the house for a weekend meal. Our son Pat and his sweet girlfriend Sam met us for dinner the other night. We also met Sam’s parents which was a treat! Chris and Erin visited the house. For the 4th of July we’re gathering together for a barbecue. Grateful for America’s independence., particularly since Dad, Chris, Pat and my son Andy are all veterans!

Both Jeff and I had hoped to create a layback schedule for our family but found that we in turn run full tilt the moment our feet hit the floor. But it’s good to fill our days with activities, good meals, iced drinks and plenty of healthy (and unhealthy) snacks. In the evenings we unwind, sometimes sipping a glass of wine while sitting in our garden room, enjoying the garden’s lush greenery.

The plants has grown tall and beautiful, although I haven’t had the time to work the beds the way I hoped. They aren’t manicured and full of cedar mulch. Instead, my mulch consists of thick layers of leaves that insisted on falling all spring. In truth, the natural compost enriches the soil.

I’ll address neatness in the fall, when the weather has cooled and our schedule has fallen into routine. When Captain America is back in Mississippi attending school, leaving my heart a bit empty. For now, I’ve decided to simply enjoy my family and the gardens beauty. To bask in the pleasure of having my loved ones near, my horses, healthy and strong. Treasuring every day as a gift. Because everyday is a gift!

Horse Stories, Uncategorized

Lone Star Park & The Kentucky Derby

May 5th, Jeff and I joined my good friend, Julie, her husband and our other horsey friend, Tommy at the Lone Star Park, a horse racing track in Grand Prairie, Texas.  It was the day of the Kentucky Derby race and Julie and I, huge derby fans, couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate and watch the race, than at Lone Star.

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Julie & Me
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Tommy & his brother Dennis riding the horse
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Dennis, works at Lone Star

We weren’t disappointed!  Despite an enormous turnout, we found the park surprisingly  manageable.  Upon entering the park, we were greeted by a stand selling derby hats.

Regretfully, I didn’t wear mine, not being sure what to expect.  Thankfully, I love to wear sun hats.  But I’ll never make that mistake again!  Not only will I wear my hat, but my derby dress too.

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These women (a mom & daughter) looked so beautiful, I was thrilled when they said I could take their picture!

It seems there are fewer opportunities for adults to don a costume and embrace pure fun.  Derby day at Lone Star provides such an opportunity.  All around us women wore beautiful dresses, topped with elaborate hats.  Many men wore suits, with ties and pocket handkerchiefs matching the color of the woman’s dress.

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Many of the hats were very creative

There were families and friends with plenty of little ones running around.  Girls in matching sun dresses and hats.  Some of the little boys dressed to.  We saw everything from t-shirts and shorts, to attire suitable for a wedding.  And the creativity!  Some folk’s put a great deal of thought and planning into their attire, like a Halloween costume.

Immediately, after Jeff and I arrived at the park we found Tommy, then I headed straight for the rail along the front of the track.  It was such a surprise when I found the rail almost empty.  If you are a horse person, it is an absolute thrill to stand at the rail, feel the thunder of hooves, smell the horses, dirt and hear their snorts as they bolt by.

The starting gate, with 1 – 10 filled with horses.

It is also a thrill to watch the horses cross the finish line.  They’re, soaked in sweat and high-strung from anaerobic exertion.  Nostrils flared, eyes wild, veins protruding, like roadways on their lean forms.  Jockey’s riding in the back are covered in mud.  Their horses too, from the front runners hooves flicking the mud their way.

I took this video of the first race I watched.

While I ran to the rail, Jeff stood in line and bought our drinks.  He usually looks at the program and places a few bets (I’m talking a dollar or two).  He’s good at this.  On an average, he usually wins back just a little over the amount of money, we put into our visit.  Meaning the entry fee, drinks and food.  However, the lines on derby day were long, so we decided to wait.  Good choice!  Amazingly, a hour or two later the lines were shorter and Jeff was able to place his bets.

About 45 minutes before the Kentucky Derby Race took place, we sought out the paddock area, where they saddle and show the race horses before the jockeys ride them to the track.  Amazingly, the area was almost clear.  We were able to set up chairs in the shade with a clear view of the large outdoor screen that would show the race.

For horse people, the excitement preluding this race is equivalent to the excitement one feels just before a concert, when your favorite performer is about to walk on stage.  I couldn’t help myself… Bounding from my chair I quickly went to the front of the rail, where I could see and hear the screen better.  Several other people were doing the same.  We grinned at each other with a knowing understanding… the short moments of this race are one of a horse lovers favorites.  For me, it’s not just about winning, although that is the icing on the cake, it’s about the majesty of the horse.  It’s power and grace in full motion.  Filling me with continues wonder, over how a small girl can harness that power and ride such a beast.  Moment’s later Julie was by my side and the race was on…

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The Kentucky Derby Live!

The icing on the cake was ours… JUSTIFY won!  As is often the case, Jeff won the exact amount of money, we had put into our visit.

After the race, we collectively left Lone Star and headed back to Fort Worth for dinner.  Next year, I’ll proudly wear my derby dress and hat.  Allow myself some of that fun we adults don’t get very often; at least not in public.  On the other hand, on the top of Julie’s and my bucket lists, is actually going to the Kentucky Derby… Humm….. I already have my hat and dress!

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My derby dress & hat, accompanied by my cat, Allie

If you enjoyed this post, check out my post on the Kentucky Derby party I hosted.

Lone Star Park is a great place to bring the entire family!  If you’re visiting Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington or an adjoining city, consider going to the park.  Wear plenty of sunscreen and sun hats.  Come hungry, because there’s hotdogs, pizza, nachos and other such finger foods.  If you prefer air conditioning and a little more upscale menu, make a reservation for a table upstairs, where you can watch the track.

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The tables upstairs allow you to eat your meal in the comforts of air conditioning, while watching the races.

For more information: (972-237-1197)   www.LoneStarPark.com

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Meet My Family, My Son, Christopher

Breath So Near

From the moment I learned that I was pregnant, my values and ambitions for my life changed. Suddenly, the world wasn’t all about me, but the new little being growing inside of me. I loved this child from the moment I first suspected his existence. The most profound change was the tenderizing of my heart, which hasn’t changed to this day. I know that not all women feel this way. That handling a new baby can be very frightening. It is! But from the moment I laid eyes on my son, motherhood blossomed. I was possessive of his tiny form, protective. The most profound moment in my life was the moment he was born. It was the same for his brother and sister. This poem was written for all mother’s, in honor of those intimate moments we share, alone with our babies. It’s also for my son, Christopher.

 

BREATH SO NEAR
By, Louisa Cambridge
Tenderly the heavenly Father
Looked upon His sleeping daughter.
Safe and restful was her slumber.
Not a sound would dare disrupt her.
In the quiet night unmoving
Angels kept their watchful duty.
As He looked His heart was full of love.

Then a tiny little stirring
Filled the room with urgent mewing.
Capturing the girl’s attention,
Summoning her warm affection.
Eagerly, her arms encased him.
Lovingly, her eyes embraces him,
Cradling, most carefully, her son.

Snuggling to his mother’s bosom.
Drawing warmth from milk that soothed him.
Satisfied, his tiny body calmed.
Reaching for his mother’s finger,
Holding tightly, clinging to her.
While he nursed she softly stroked his hands.

With fingers formed so small, so perfect,
Yet, with strength—they had a purpose,
In the future path this child would walk.
She prayed that God would lead and guide him.
Asked for heath and peace to find him.
As the Father heard He sang a song.

The love that emanated from Him,
Filled the room, encamped around them.
Settled gently on the girl and child.
Her heart was filled with deep emotion,
Full of blissful sweet devotion,
For this precious babe within her arms.

His little mouth sucked slower now.
With milk stained lips he gave a smile.
His eyes were studying her face.
With innocence and trust he gazed,
Until his sleepy head began to nod.

In loves sweet songful harmony,
There came to them, the gift of peace.
It wrapped around their earthly forms.
It soothed her mind, it touched her soul.
And then the pleasant thought of sleep
Again descended sweet and deep.
She hugged her baby close and dear
And whispered in the Father’s ear,
“I’ve never felt Your Breath so near to mine!”

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Christopher, an hour after he was born