Tag Archives: Heidi Thurston

She Made Them Mittens by Heidi Thurston

hand-knitted-mittens

They all loved her – from time to time they still talk about her and the things she did in years past.

There was, for instance, the time when their first child was born and she stayed over, did the cooking, the cleaning, and even took over a couple of 3 am feedings. Yet, she never interfered or tried to take over the care of the baby or the running of the house, and when mother and child were stronger, she quietly went back to her own home.

There was also the time when junior was without a ride to a special game out of town and she volunteered to drive; then remained to cheer him and his team to victory.

Whenever there was a birthday, anniversary or other family celebration, she was on hand with homemade gifts made especially for those she cared about, and she always lent a hand in the kitchen afterwards so the honored guests did not have to wake up to a mess.

For years, the children never had to worry about holes in the knees of their favorite jeans, because she knew how to operate her sewing machine as well as her mixer, with which she made the most delicious cookies. Little hands were also kept warm by homemade mittens and many a toddler went out on a chilly fall afternoon wearing one of her sweaters and matching cap.

She was also on hand whenever someone needed to be taken to the doctor and everyone else was working, and she took a lot of friends who were unable to drive, along for grocery shopping or just for a ride out of town.

Oh, she had her bad days too…we all do. She could be grouchy and not on top of things, but those moods usually did not last long and she is mostly remembered for her smiles and caring ways, and for the love she so generously gave to those around her.

So, where is she now, and who is she?

She is in a nursing home, placed there by a family who knew they could no longer take care of her, realizing that she needed around-the-clock care.

And she is someone’s mother, older sister, maiden aunt, grandmother, or just a former next-door neighbor who would love to have a visit from anyone she used to know.

We all know someone like her with some of the above-mentioned virtues, whose company we enjoyed when she was around and able to participate in events. But the day came when the only realistic thing was to place her where she could be cared for properly. Most of us would like to have taken her into our homes, but of course, that is seldom practical since the majority of us work and do not always have the extra space.

But that is no excuse for not making an effort to visit her now and then. Why must we feel so guilty for having done the only right thing that we let it keep us from stopping and telling her about the things we are doing, showing her pictures of our family and friends, and listen to what she has to say?

It takes only a few minutes once in a while and it is so appreciated by her, who sits day after day and waits for someone to stop in and say, “Hello, how are you?”

This is the time of the year to give thanks and share our abundance with those who need it. Why not end this year with spreading a little cheer to those who once were so much a part of our lives but who now are alone and unable to join us in our day-to-day lives.   Why not make yourself a promise; put away the guilt, and go visit her…she’ll be so glad you did – and so will you.

Heidi Thurston lives in Kannapolis, NC. “She Made Them Mittens” was one of her “Not So Strictly Speaking” columns published weekly in the Sayre Evening Times in Sayre, Pa. It won an award from the Pennsylvania Press Association for human interest columns. Heidi’s adult romance novel, “The Duchess, The Knight And The Leprechaun” is available from Amazon and Indigo Sea Press.

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Woody and Margot by Chuck Thurston

After our early dinner, the interstate rush hour traffic was mostly in the other direction as I pulled onto the interstate, but I-77 is never a picnic and I had to watch what I was doing. I merged into the lane I wanted and relaxed a bit.

Margot was offering some light chat about the dinner and the evening, and I was trying to catch enough syllables in my bad ear to offer coherent responses. Stay in the game, I thought. Then, out of the blue, she said, “This is the fourth time we’ve been out together. Are we in what you might call a relationship?”

“Not sure,” I said. I didn’t know where she was heading with this and figured that deflecting the question was the best stalling tactic. Mistake. She was silent and I sensed her eyes on me, but I had to concentrate on the fast traffic and couldn’t risk a peek at her. Nothing works like silence, though, and I felt that I had to expand on the topic a bit. “I guess I thought that maybe a relationship was defined by maybe some more intimacy or something…” I was botching this badly. Where was Almonrico when I needed him?

“You mean sex,” she said.

“Ah, yes…I guess so.”

“I suppose we could pull into a rest area and consummate it,” she said.

Well, that lowered the level, I thought. I tried to elevate it a bit. “Want to stop at my place for some coffee?”

She did, and we did. We had finished a bottle of wine at the restaurant – three glasses to one in her favor, since I would be driving. I had to catch up, and back at my place I popped the cork on another bottle of Napa’s finest and poured us each a glass.

“I think I am falling in love with you,” I said.

“Well, fall away,” she said. “I won’t stop you.”

“Thanks, but the big question is…will you join me?”

“Ha…nice try, but I’d never make a decision like that while I was half drunk.”

‘Decision’ came out sounding a little bit like ’decishum.’

“I see two strategies for that. I can work to get you all of the way drunk and ask that question again, or…”

“Or what?” she asked.

I got up and headed for the kitchen. “I’m going to put on some coffee,” I said.

Chuck Thurston is the author of two collections of Senior Scribbles available from Amazon or Indigo Sea Press.  “The Coroner takes a Ride” – the first book of a Woody Stanton mystery series will be published later this year. Wife Heidi is tackling the followup to her novel “The Duchess, The Knight and the Leprechaun.”  She won’t commit to a finish date.

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Sounds of Music by Heidi Thurston

upright piano

It all started with a ukulele and a used piano, bought at a bargain price from friends moving to California who did not want the expense of moving their old family upright from the east coast across country. They threw in a used ukulele as a thank you for helping them pack and we gave the instruments to our two young, and rather musically inclined, sons so they could fill their time on rainy days. We figured the boys would pretend to have a small rock group and be happy playing in the company of each other. That’s what we thought. Ha!

 

garage band

 

A couple of years later, during their freshman and sophomore years, we found ourselves on Sunday afternoons setting out for the home of friends with a casserole dinner and a bottle of wine packed and stashed in the back seat of our car – and wondering if long ago we had “done the right thing” with the purchase of piano and ukulele.

It wasn’t that we did not want to visit our friends, although we did feel funny about asking them if we could come over for dinner “if we bring our own meal?” Nor did we not appreciate the sort of music played by our sons and their growing group; yes, by then they had added friends to their own small duet and they now rehearsed in our basement family room on most Sunday afternoons.

It was, instead, the inability to carry out conversations other than by sign language, watching television and only seeing lips moving, talking on the phone and explaining to whoever was on the other end (we never could tell who the callers were) that no one was in pain, or having a party. We wondered; what in the world we had been thinking when we acquired the piano and ukulele?

But most of all, it was the inability to sit still, while the whole house shook with the sounds of rock and roll, that made us pack up our dinner, swallow our pride, call on various friends, and head for other homes with our picnic basket packed with a hot dish and a cold drink.

One nice thing did come about as a result of our visits. We got to know a lot of nice people who, when they casually had said, ”Stop in sometime,” had had absolutely no idea that we actually would – and so soon – and with dinner.

Some of these people, of course, never spoke to us again. They were the ones whose children we invited over to hear our boys play, and who with money saved for college went out and bought electric instruments and turned on the music in their own homes.

All in all though, it turned out to be an interesting season. The boys moved up to electric keyboards and guitars and progressed to the stage where they were actually hired to play for school and community dances and small social events.

A few years later they all graduated and headed for college. The group disbanded, and at that time I could only say “thank goodness!” I did, however, begin to miss the boys and the band – you do grow accustomed to the strangest events.

But the real upside of the end of band era included two things: 1. Every nail in our house that had previously worked itself loose from all the shaking of the floors and walls, was now settling back, and 2. We no longer had to rummage around for recipes for new and interesting meals for friends to whom we previously had brought unexpected Sunday dinners.

 

Heidi Thurston is a former newspaper journalist, and the author of the adult romance “The Duchess, The Knight and the Leprechaun,” available on Amazon and from Second Wind Publishing.

 

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Plot Holes and Other Show Stoppers by Heidi Thurston

They kissed – end of scene; Next scene they are sharing breakfast the following morning. Sounds familiar? Of course it does – at least to many of us at a certain age. Older movies and books left a lot to our imaginations.

That was okay then; we were used to it and easily filled in the rest. We never worried about the missing parts. Now, however, things are more explicit in both films and books. There are more details and we look for explanations and accuracy. We no longer find “plot holes” acceptable.

I recently found this opening sentence at the beginning of a chapter in a book I was reading: “After his trip he stopped to pick her up for dinner.” What trip? On prior pages, the author never bothered to let the reader know this man had taken a trip somewhere. A minor flaw, perhaps; none-the-less, it stopped the flow of my reading.

gator in pot hole

Similarly, there are often problems with numbers – especially, the right numbers! I am no mathematician, but I’m fanatic about matching ages and dates when I read a book. Ages can be tricky, and keeping a family tree in a novel that includes various generations is handy. In a book – written by a fairly well known author – I was informed early on that the main character was born in the year of the Pearl Harbor attack – 1941. This was fine until he celebrated his 40th birthday during one of the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations. Couldn’t have – he was only 35 years old at that time!

While I may dismiss a few grammatical errors, and even read past them, it is hard to overlook inconsistent dates and events. That is where a good editor comes in. At a conference, sponsored by the North Carolina Writers Network, I had the pleasure of listening to a lecture by two experienced editors. They pointed out many common mistakes made by writers – especially new writers – and gave us a list with most of the common pitfalls. Prior to this event, and before writing my own novel, I considered the price of hiring of an editor quite high. After listening to the presenters and looking over my own work, I decided they were worth every penny.

If you cannot afford an editor, or are lucky enough to be married to one, at least have several friends or good acquaintances (preferably English teachers) look over your work; and ask them to be very honest and critical. In return, they might just settle for a lunch out and an autographed copy of your finished book.

Heidi Thurston’s novel “The Duchess, the Knight and the Leprechaun” is available on Amazon and Second Wind Publishing.

 

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“Take Them – They’re Yours!” by Heidi Thurston

It’s that wonderful time again, and everyone in the area has been busy preparing for this marvelous event, which happens – with regularity – once a year.

Times have changed since my children were school age, but the signs are still the same each year: All the store windows are decorated with winter apparel although it may be 90 degrees outside. Yellow stripes in the center of many roads are getting a fresh layer of yellow paint – the better to be seen – and car loads of paper, pencils, backpacks and lunchboxes are being bought. All mothers – and sometimes fathers – are walking around in a daze with a wild expression in their eyes.

THE KIDS ARE GOING BACK TO SCHOOL AGAIN!

By the time this past June had rolled around, I’d had it with lunch money that 1) could not be found; 2) was taken by mistake by the kid who was already bringing his or her lunch from home, or 3) was spent the day before on pencils or notebooks (can’t have too many of those). I was also tired of making sure school clothes were clean, gym stuff washed, books returned on the right day, and projects gotten to school in one piece. I was simply tired of coordinating three kids, one bathroom, breakfast – and myself – in the hour before the school bus arrived.

So, when the doors to the school closed at the beginning of summer, I was usually ready for the extra hour of sleep, the quiet time with my coffee before I went to work, and not having to worry about who got what, and when, to school.

But after about two weeks of this, the implication of school vacation hit – and hard. Suddenly there were no clean clothes around, bath towels were still draped all over the house when I returned from work, the milk was often sitting on the kitchen table, the refrigerator generally empty. I could usually hang meat in the house, because no one was there to let the kids know that keeping a house at 65 degrees was not really necessary just because doors to the outside were regularly left open.

Since it was summer, and the children all slept late, there never seemed to be a good reason for getting them to bed before I did. None of the usual arguments – “You’ll flunk your test tomorrow if you don’t get enough sleep;” “The teacher will make you wear toothpicks to help keep your eyes open;” or “You’ll miss the bus and will have to walk to school,” – had any utility in the summer, so quiet late evenings were also gone.

But – by the end of August I knew that a lovely time was coming around again. When I came home from work, I knew the house would look like I had left it, I could sip my coffee in the morning, the refrigerator was usually still full, and my milk bill would return to normal since I no longer had to replace what had turned sour.

In my heart I knew, of course, that it would only be a short while before I would return to the lunch money, school projects, and book problems. But for a few weeks, I joined other mothers who with the wild look removed from their eyes – and with barely concealed pleasure – said goodbye as their children stepped onto the school bus.

We waved to our offspring as they left, and silently whispered to their teachers:

“Take them – they’re yours!”back to school

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