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Even More Heart Tugs

            I promised myself to be mindful of Heart Tugs, the times when heartstrings tighten. To appreciate the moments and imprint them in my head and heart.   To make notes because by writing about these experiences, however brief and jumbled in the busyness of life, they are relived and cherished.

I’ve shared Heart Tugs previously and my files are filled with more. My twelve-year-old Grand’s birthday request was to spend the night in Nashville with her mother and me and shop at bookstores. My heart sang. Time with Daughter and Elsie and book shopping. This overnight trip got better when my college roommate invited us to spend the night with her. When Roomie, Daughter, and Grand posed for a picture, I could hardly focus to snap it because my eyes were filled with happy tears. I never imagined that my dear friend of fifty years would also be loved by Daughter and my Grand.

Mindi sent a text message. A picture of a Valentine paper bookmark with the words, “Look what Mason found and uses in his books!” Mason is Mindi’s son who is about the same age she was when she was my fourth grade student. On the bookmark I’d written, “Keep reading, Mindi!” Mason declared it his favorite bookmark.

A friend texted six words, “Doctor said all clear! No cancer!” Those few words were the happiest of the day.

When I visited a friend’s home, she said, “Come downstairs, I wanta’ show you what I’ve done.” The concrete basement floor and wall blocks had been painted a warm gray and a colorful area rug covered a small area of the floor. A bunk bed set along one wall and a queen size bed and a twin bed on the adjacent wall. A kid-size table and toys and children’s books were the only other things in the huge room. “Look at my new room! All 5 of my grandchildren can sleep here!” I smiled and laughed. I understood my friend’s jubilance.

On a windy 39° morning, four-year-old Jesse said, “I need to play outside!” We bundled up in coats and hats and he happily created roads in our mulch around shrubs. A cup of hot chocolate and cookies warmed us when we went inside.

A bed of bright pink and lavender-pink phlox tugs my heart. It’s just a small flowerbed around my mailbox. Nothing spectacular except these are exactly the same plants that bloomed every spring beside our driveway when I was a kid. Mom shared a few plants with me more than thirty years ago and although an over-zealous yard boy sheared them to the ground (because he thought the late summer green plants were weeds), I salvaged a few plants and this spring they are beautiful.

“This is a momma hug,” Daughter said. As she and I hugged each other, my ten-year-old Grand wrapped her arms around Daughter’s back. A three-person hug. A three-generation hug.

Heart Tugs. I’m catching all I can.

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More Heart Tugs

Valentine’s Day. A time to show love. I promised myself to be mindful of Heart Tugs, to remember and appreciate loving moments.

I sat in my reading chair with paper and pen and read a short devotion early one morning while the house was quiet. Soon three young Grands and Son and Daughter 2 (aka Daughter-in-Law,) who were visiting for a few days, would awaken and be ready for juice, coffee, and breakfast. I closed my eyes and then heard a patter of footsteps. Five-year-old Neil stuck his head around the living room corner wall. I motioned for him to come to me.

My Grand, wearing only his ‘unders’ as he calls his underwear, ran across the room and snuggled onto my lap. He laid his head against my chest and wrapped his arms around himself. I covered him with a knitted afghan and in hushed voices we talked and agreed that we’d slept well and we weren’t hungry and we liked being the first ones awake. “Gran, tell me last night’s Purple Cow story,” Neil said.  I repeated, with Neil’s help, the one I’d made-up as I sat beside him on his bed the night before.

“I have a story,” said Neil and he spun a tale. A big black bear wandered away from home. He fell into a creek. He climbed out of the water and walked up a bank. “How do you like my made-up story?” he asked. I loved it, but most I loved those few minutes with my Grand, just the two of us together.

All our Grands and their parents gathered around Husband’s and my dining room table for brunch. Eight children, ages 3-13, and six adults. Last to fill my plate from the buffet served meal, I thought ‘this is as good as life gets.’ A cliché, but my thought. Jesse, who was seated, said, “Gran, come sit by me.” My four-year old Grand reached his hand toward mine. While holding his wiggling fingers as we all recited our family prayer, life got a little better.

Sometimes Heart Tugs happen when not holding hands or hugging or even touching the person who makes the heartstrings tighten. I posted a picture of an empty plastic popcorn bottle on Facebook and asked if anyone knew where I could buy it. “I bought it locally, but I don’t remember where. After looking at several stores (I listed five), I can’t find it,” I wrote. Friends’ comments gave suggestions of other brands and online links to order my favorite popcorn. Daughter 2 sent a text that read, “Tomorrow a box will be delivered on your porch. Enjoy. Love you!” From miles and miles across country, Daughter 2 sent a hug, masked as popcorn.

After Husband returned home from running errands, a box of chocolate covered cherries appeared on our kitchen counter. For no reason, except he knows what I like: surprises, chocolate, and cherries.

Heart Tugs. I’m catching all I can.

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Heart Tugs

 “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” played as I sipped hot tea and wrote notes on Christmas cards. White lights sparkled on our Christmas tree. This moment. All is right and heart warming.

I promised myself to be mindful of when my heartstrings tighten and to appreciate memories. To imprint them in my head and heart. To make notes because by writing just a few words I can relive experiences, most brief and jumbled among the busyness of life. Especially during the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations and celebrations heart tugs are rays of sunshine.

I almost missed Dean’s wave. My 7-year-old Grand picked up his backpack, got in line to board the morning school bus, glanced my way, moved his hand from side to side, but didn’t raise his arm, his palm faced toward the ground. I smiled, winked, and waved toward the ground too. Dean grinned, ducked his head, and stepped onto the bus.

Ann, age 3, held my hand as we watched her big brother’s bus leave their neighborhood. “Let’s take a little walk before we go back to your house,” I said. Sunshine warmed the chilly 24º temperature. My Grand and I were bundled in coats, gloves, and hats, and she led the way as we walked on the sidewalk. She stopped, crouched low, bent her head so that her nose almost touched a basketball size landscaping rock. She patted the rock and asked, “Gran, did you ever see a rock go to sleep?”

I shook my head and Ann ran toward the neighborhood park. She stopped for me to catch up, grabbed my hand, and said, “This is a really good day for us to take a little walk together, Gran! Come on!”

Three Grands, Lou, Ruth, and Elaine, hung ornaments on my Christmas tree. For three minutes. “You probably should hang the rest, Gran. We might break them,” 11-year old Lou said and smirked. Her two younger sisters agreed and asked, “Is the hot chocolate ready? What kind of cookies do you have?” We drank from Christmas mugs and ate vanilla wafers.

The dining room table centerpiece of red roses and holly was beautiful. China, silver, and crystal set eleven place settings. Our traditional Christmas meal was served: beef, potatoes, green beans. A group of six couples began a Gourmet Group (gourmet is a misnomer) in 1978, and we’ve cooked and eaten together monthly. I looked at each of these friends and Husband sitting around the table – thankful they were in my life. And I remembered Carolyn, whose absence hangs heavy since her death in the spring.

“Here, Gran! I made this for you!” Jesse’s card is red construction paper decorated with a green pipe cleaner wreath and small red pompoms glued on the front. “Look inside. I did it myself!” My four-year-old Grand had carefully arranged yellow smiley stickers and Christmas stickers. “Look, the stickers are upside down. Do you like it?” I love it.

Heart Tugs. Rays of Sunshine. I’m catching all I can.

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