My Antique Friends

My latest column from the Albert Lea Tribune. Feel free to share or reblog.

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

Mary, Karen and I

Best Friends Forever Mary, Karen and I – I miss you Karen but I know you are with us in spirit still today.

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr once said, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

I find that to be true in different venues in life, especially with old friends.

We make friends in our childhood, in our teenage years, in our adult years, throughout middle age and even during our sunset years. Our interaction with even our best friends from early in our life changes as we go through life. We grow up, move, are busy raising children or go on to jobs that take us in different directions. We stay friends and settle for those moments of Christmas cards and chance meetings to connect. Perhaps our personalities changed because of experiences which impacted our friendships.

There are those friends whom we don’t see for years, but we take up where we left off immediately upon meeting them again — the years falling away. And then there are new friends who are really old acquaintances, with which we connect with in our later years, who become good friends.

At this time in my life I feel I am coming back to some of my beginnings. I have reconnected with best friends from grade school and high school. It is easier to stay in each other’s lives because of technology.

My husband and I play trivia on Tuesday night. I have mentioned that before, but what I didn’t mention was our reconnecting with old friends who were an important part of our early lives. I call it karma that life has taken us around in this circle.

Enter my friend from Wisconsin who called and suggested dinner. We met for the first time in years. She pushed me many years ago into my first date with the man that became my husband. At dinner that night she persuaded me to join her playing trivia at our local Legion. I must admit I was scared. I am not the person who remembers history, etc. I was surprised when I felt right at home with the team we joined.

One man was the usher in our wedding. Well … let’s put it this way, he was supposed to be the usher in our wedding. It’s a long story. Another player was my neighbor from my childhood. We spent many nights playing kick the can and spying on our neighbors to see what was going on in their garage. Should I mention bank robber? We had wild imaginations.

One of our quick trivia minds is a friend from our bartending years. We were bartenders together. I loved that job and the people I worked with, especially this person. Further down the table is a woman I shared my high school years with. We weren’t good friends in high school but now we are coming together in a new, fun adult friendship.

The nice thing about a new friendship with an old friend is we do share memories of a time in our life that was special to us.

There are other friends in our trivia group. Some we have had contact with during the latter years and others are brand new friends. But I feel we have come full circle and have come home to a time where we enjoyed life and enjoyed those friendships with people from our past.

One of the things I marvel at the most is that I can be stupid with these friends when it comes to trivia, and I am not made to feel that stupidity. Wouldn’t it be great if we offered that freedom every day to those we spend our lives with?

Our group is a mishmash of intellect. We have farmers, a nurse, a counselor, a couple of office managers, an author, a service manager, a dental tech, plus others and also those who drop in to join us from time to time. It is always a surprise to see what former members come back and offer us their wisdom.

We have all changed over the years. Our lives took us in opposite directions. We all experienced good times and bad times that shaped who we are over the years. The more things changed (us), the more they stayed the same (friendship).

Our bodies may change, our circumstances may spin out of control, but the caring you feel for someone who was important in your life stays there forever, waiting to be rekindled at the right time in your life.

Here is a little trivia for you today. Who said, “Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends?”

I can identify with being an antique, because a ruler that had my dad’s shoe store logo on it that I used in third grade — autographed with my name — was found in an antique store in Iowa.

I am officially an antique and I am enjoying my time with other antiques.

Happy Memories Grade School Class from St. Casimir’s

Definition of an antique: “A collectible having a high value because of considerable age.”

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.

Missing Those Saints

This column ran in the Courier Sentinel this week but the last few paragraphs were left off. This is the entire column.

I have written the column Something About Nothing since 2005. It appears every Monday in the
Albert Lea Tribune and every other week in the Courier Sentinel. Usually it is the same column
in both papers.  

I have decided I want to branch out with another column called Sprinkled Notes. It matches my
blog of the same name. On my blog the blurb says it is about a little bit of “this n’ that.” It makes  sense to link the two together. So please bear with me. My new column is going to make its  debut in this paper and will be a different topic than published on Something About Nothing.  

Sprinkled Notes

Missing Those Saints

We have a term in our church called Senior Saints. I suppose I could call myself a member of
the Senior Saints now that I have reached that age. By that age I mean the age at which one  considers someone a Senior Citizen which seems to vary from person to person and store to store. However, I am far from being a Saint.  

The reason the Senior Saints are on my mind is a member of our church died this weekend. Her
name was Grace, and in my mind she was a Saint long before she became a Senior.

Others from our congregation have gone before her and some of their names will live in my heart and mind forever too. Names such as Gerald, Lorraine, Emily, Wilbert and Donny, to name a few. These people made a difference in my life. None of them would have called  themselves saints. They went through their life touching people. None of them achieved what  the world would call greatness. They weren’t lauded across the nation or broadcast on Social  Media, but they made a steady difference in the life of the people they met every day, and the  life of their church and especially their families. The one thing they had in common was their love of God and they showed it in the way they lived. It wasn’t loud but quiet and gentle. Well,  occasionally it was loud when a couple of them were telling one of their famous jokes.  

I remember when I was new to the Lutheran Congregation and I attended Bible Studies led by
Lorraine, Emily and Grace. I learned more about God and the Bible, but most of all I learned  about kindness and love for others. I saw their dedication to their church in all they did quietly  such as Altar Guild, Women’s groups, Choir, Ushering, Church Council and of course teaching  others about the word.  

I met Gerald when I became the head of our Sunday School and he was one of our teachers.
He taught I think for over twenty years or more. He, with his wit and humor made a difference in the lives of young members in his teaching, and in his leadership of youth groups, taking them  out into nature in the Boundary Waters to teach them about the beauty of creation.  

I met Wilburt when he ushered every Sunday without fail. It wasn’t unusual for him to grab one of
my kids and hold them on his lap while we went up for communion in the days before kids could
go along to be blessed. And he always had a twinkle in his eye and made us feel welcome.  

Donny was a family member. He married my cousin and then after she died, a best friend. I got
to know him in another way. He too was always in church, ushered every Sunday and charmed  people with his wit knowing when you saw him to expect a friendly razzing. 

Each one of these Senior Saints also had jobs outside of their church life and they lived their
faith in the way they treated people in their workplace and on the street. They weren’t different
people when they walked out of that church. You could count on the fact they were who theyrepresented themselves in and out of church.

And each of these people at one time or another served on the church council.

One of the things I liked best was that even if they didn’t always agree with what you did, or how
you viewed something, they would state their point without belittling and making you feel less
than.

These people, who are no longer with us, made a difference quietly in my life as a young adult
and as I aged. As I look around today I don’t know if my generation can live up to those Senior
Saints of the past. We tend to think of making a difference as making a big splash, but not as
one quietly living our lives, making a difference by just being themselves in someones life and
quietly spreading their faith.  

I look at our choir and see the spots some of those Saints used to occupy. I still see them
singing with joy along with the rest of the choir. They occupied those spots with other Senior Saints still alive. The choir is peppered here and there with younger ones, but not many. And I
wonder…in our churches… if anyone will be remembered as these that have gone before us are
remembered, for their kindness, their knowledge, and their dedication to their faith.  

I know I am failing. Am I the only one? Thank you special ones, who shared your lives and your
faith. You are indeed Saints. Grace you will be missed. Thank you for influencing my faith. 

Words Can Break A Heart

Something About Nothing published the Week of April 3, 2016 in the Albert Lea Tribune.

I had to visit the dentist last week and have a tooth pulled. I actually needed two teeth pulled — one on each side of my mouth — but I opted for the right side of my mouth to be tampered with first. It was the tooth that was in the most pieces.
I have a fear of the dentist that goes back to my childhood. An ungraceful badminton racket swing by a friend took out my two front teeth. I moved forward to get the birdie, while my friend moved backward. Amazingly enough it was a perfect swing, catching just my teeth but not my mouth.
The summer beginning my eighth-grade year in school was spent in the dentist office. There was no soft music, gentle touch or pain-free dental equipment, nor was there a dentist with steady hands. The fear fueled by those memories lasts a lifetime.
New technology and gentle hands by both the technicians and the dentist now make a visit to their offices as pain free as possible. My tooth is out, and I am making plans to go back for the next removal. My fear is subsiding, and I found my fear was worse than the visit. But it is hard to remove those memories of long ago from my mind.
Recently, I asked my readers for devastating words said to them at some time in their lives that stuck in their thoughts and hearts forever. I was doing research for a Lenten service I wanted to write. My readers responded, and my heart broke as I read some of the unkind and thoughtless words that were left glued inside their mind.
Here are a few examples:
• I will never forgive you.
• “You’re fat, dumb and ugly.”
• “How stupid are you to adopt disabled children? You’d return any other defective merchandise.”
• “You can’t carry a tune. Your voice is terrible.”
• “I’m going to send you home in a body bag.”
These were just a few of the responses I received. Words hurt just as much, if not more than the dentist drill of my childhood. My fear of the dentist didn’t shape my life, only the care of my teeth. Words said in the heat of anger or to wound can twist someone’s life. Kind words in the future do not seem to wipe out the memories of the past cruelties.
Of these five examples, one person did not sing in public or in a choir again. One, because they felt they were too ugly and dumb, didn’t have the confidence to go on to nursing school. And I can’t even respond to how not being forgiven or your life being threatened would change the way one lives. Luckily the person who was taunted for adopting disabled children did not listen but hurt for the children in their care who were ridiculed.
The words I remember the most from my teen years were when a boy told me I was the ugliest girl he had ever seen. I remember that boy, but luckily I had enough support that I could move on in my life. To this day, I remember that boy because of his cruel words. I always wonder what words I might have said that are remembered by someone, and I hope they have forgiven me for them. But I know they aren’t forgotten. Forgiveness and forgetting are two different things.
There is an old saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt.” I’d like to change that saying to “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can break my heart.”