It’s Not Just a Ham Sandwich

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It’s Not Just a Ham Sandwich
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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It’s not just a ham sandwich, it is a memory, a memory that I share with my father. My father loved a good deli sandwich with freshly cut meats and cheeses. He has been gone from this world for more than a handful of years now. He left the home I lived in when I was just a child in the sixth grade when my parents divorced. As a teenager I visited him often.

He taught me how to make and eat the best ham sandwich and all these years later that ham sandwich brings me memories of him. It was a sandwich made on the freshest white bread with deli cut ham and white American cheese and sliced tomatoes with lettuce and mayonnaise and of course salt and pepper on the tomatoes. I remember summer tomatoes on this sandwich and I remember sitting side by side with him while we chatted and ate our sandwiches together.

Like all people my dad had a good side and a not so good side, he had a dark side but he could also be the most charming man. I could remember his temper or his darkest moments but I always chose to see the best in him. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t see the bad stuff; it doesn’t mean that I liked it but he was my father and the only father that I ever knew and loved. Much of his darkness was tied to his alcoholism, a disease that he managed to stay dry from for the last 30 or 40 years of his life.

I could focus on the negative, he did a lot of crappy things when he was married to my mother but just like that ham sandwich that I so enjoyed I would rather remember the good in him. He was a small town guy from a tiny town in Pennsylvania, he was Irish and Catholic. He was one of five children one brother died as a child at the age of 7 and another sister as a young woman from alcoholism. He entered the United States Army as a teenager and served two terms in Korea. He was injured in the service and honorably discharged with a purple heart. This injury caused him to have epileptic seizures.

Women loved him and boy did he love women! He married twice first my mother with whom he had five daughters and later his second wife that he had two more girls and finally a son. He was a carpenter by trade, built a few houses and worked in the engineering department of the same hospital where my daughter was born. Dad worked there for about 25 years before he retired.

His soul was that of an artist, he could draw and paint and build things, he worked with his hands, and dad taught me to love country music. He loved music by Johnny Cash and the Highwaymen.

So today for lunch I had the best ham sandwich…but it really was so much more than that … it was about my father and me, it was about loving and respecting him as my father. It was about knowing that he wasn’t a perfect man, he had challenges and he had struggles but he cared about the people in his life and he lived by a code. No one had to tell him when he screwed up because he already knew.

When you really love someone you love them imperfections and all, if I wanted to, I could make a case as to why he didn’t deserve my love, but that isn’t how I was built or who I am. Maybe I learned it from dad; if you want to be forgiven you must also be forgiving.

Thinking of you dad! May you be resting in eternal peace, I pray.

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

All books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

The Cupcake Kids

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The Cupcake Kids
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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How did we ever survive our youth and young adult years without “safe zones” and all the support of so many mental health care providers and college professors encouraging us to be weak and even weaker? Wow!

Youth and young adults that are rewarded by being upset and sad at the outcome of our Presidential election and to ease the blow how about a cup of cocoa or some playdough and a “cry in” and “hug out?”

What part about babying these young people prepares them for real life experiences? Real losses like when your dad dies or you lose your job or an innocent accident or any other outcome that you find to go against how you believe it should be?

The reason I take offense to “safe zones” is because it is artificial and not real life. Life can be a pretty unsafe place. Wouldn’t a better lesson be how to survive and even thrive in the world as the world is and work toward the changes that you want to see?

If the election results didn’t go the way that you think they should have gone, wouldn’t a better use of your time be to rally and to involve yourself more in the political process and work harder for the cause?

When I was young we were encouraged to write to our government officials and to communicate our case and our concerns in a succinct and polite manner. I remember writing to several political leaders throughout the years beginning when I was in middle school. And every single time I received a response.

Where I believe in everyone’s right to protest, what is the end game? What do they expect the outcome to be? How does blocking the streets from foot traffic and shoppers on Black Friday on the Magnificent Mile do anything to save lives on the south side of Chicago streets or any other inner city streets for that matter?

I think back where was my “safe space” when I was in the sixth grade and my parents divorced? Or when I was 23 and widowed with a 2-year old daughter?

There are no safe spaces for life altering events. How about teaching our young people that out of the struggle we so often find a deeper sense of enlightenment? My own personal loses taught me much, they taught me about life and about value and about being a strong woman and a survivor.

We are all trying to survive with what we have and what we know, creating artificial safe spaces inhibits growth and development. I think back about my grandparents who survived the great depressions and being immigrants from Italy, they were far too busy working and raising their seven children to fawn over “safe spaces” they had an old-fashioned work ethic that cured most things that ailed them. Keeping busy and being productive was their way of living life.

I can’t imagine either one of my grandparents ever supporting the new “cupcake kids” and encouraging weakness. They would have told them that life isn’t always going to go your way but accepting defeat with your heads held high builds character. And when you do get your way, you truly appreciate it all the more because you know first-hand what it feels like to be defeated.

Winning may feel good but in losing we are afforded an opportunity to go deeper to reflect and to think and to learn. We shouldn’t be getting in the way of the “cupcake kids” experiencing all that life offers with the good and the bad and the happy and the sad. In the end avoiding the lessons that real life affords us only does us a greater disservice.

Sure we all want the “happy ever after” and to feel “safe” but the reality is that we create our own happiness or lack of it and “safety” isn’t measured by any artificial means that someone else creates but rather how we handle and how we manage our life and living in it as it unfolds in front of us …

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
Books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

24 Things I Learned in 24 Years

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24 Things I Learned in 24 Years
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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It was 24 years ago today that my husband and I bought our house where we raised three children. I can’t believe that either one of us ever thought we would still be here today and embracing our start to our 25th year together, here in the house we purchased together in 1992.

All I can think about is what did I learn? What did it take 24 years for me to learn? Where I was then and where am I today? Most of us can’t/won’t think ahead to the next 24 years but we can look back and see where we are and where we have come to. We write our own story not in just how we live it but also by how we choose to remember it.

“Joy comes to us in the ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we’re too busy chasing down the extraordinary.” – Brene’ Brown

So what did I learn in 24 years?

1) Most things in life are not life and death, what you are feeling today probably won’t even matter to you next week or next year or perhaps even the next day.

2) Everything changes. Everything. Be open and willing to embrace all that comes to you for nothing is all good or all bad. Enjoy the process.

3) My stable home of 24 years would allow me to take risks. By having a strong foundation I could try this and try that and have the experience without the full throttle commitment.

4) Stability is cool it is not boring. I used to think that EVERYTHING had to change for life to be exciting. I learned I could grow and change and do so from the same house.

5) A house is not a home. In our home are all the love and the joy and all the variety of experiences. It is the family and it is the memories. It is the sharing of space.

6) In 24 years I learned that I could love and raise twin children, a son and a daughter, who I loved as any mother would and yet they were not my biological children.

7) I learned that deep down inside I have an inner strength and peace that withstands all outside noise.

8) I learned I don’t need to be out there or the center of attention, I can shine right here, right now and all on my own. Shine.

9) I learned to be a good neighbor and say “hi” and chat but keep a respectable distance. This is where I live we don’t have to be best friends but we do need to have mutual respect.

10) That an older house and one lived in for 24 years will require repair and updates just like I do and so do my relationships. Everything needs care and to be taken care of or it falters and dies.

11) I learned that I could fight with my husband a real knock down drag out fight but at the end of the day we have each other’s backs. Period. We are in this together.

12) “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” That was something my grandmother used to say meaning there is value in staying put and growing roots.

13) Stability shows strength and it also shows character.

14) That there truly is a time and a season for everything under the heavens.

15) Focus and priorities change. Kids enter our lives and kids leave our lives.

16) That my career choices were all meaningful but I am so much more than any one job or career choice.

17) To build on what we have and to appreciate all that we already have in our home and in our hearts.

18) There is nothing material that is worth my integrity and my peace of mind. I don’t have to have the “latest and greatest.”

19) Be careful who you trust. Today’s friend could very well be tomorrow’s enemy. Trust yourself!

20) If you don’t love it, get rid of it. Don’t weigh yourself down with things, objects, people, relationships that don’t enhance your life. Take the garbage out.

21) No one knows for sure. None of us knows what tomorrow brings and even if there will be a tomorrow, so do your best. Always do your best.

22) If you can’t fix it, it is probably not yours to fix.

23) Be happy! Choose happiness and joy because it is a choice.

24) If the direction you are headed toward is no longer working be brave and turn yourself around. There is no prize for continuing down the wrong path.  Always be willing to learn.

Today I celebrate the many things I learned while living in my same home with my same husband for all these 24 years. The overriding feeling I have is joy and gratitude … what more could I ask …

(And as I clicked that last letter in writing this the sun shines in through my office windows … blessed)

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

All books by Bernadette A Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Our Shared Journey

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Our Shared Journey
By Bernadette A. Sahm

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We are all more alike than not and all of us are on a shared journey. Most of us are looking for love to give love and to receive love. Some of us express our love through the work that we do and some of us in our friends and family circle. Our stories are important as are sharing them. This is how we connect with others.

Today we celebrated with our son on his 24th birthday, his father shared stories of what it was like and what transpired up until his birth and the weeks that followed. Along with his twin sister he stayed in the hospital for weeks after his birth and was unable to leave the hospital until late February after a January birthday, his twin was not released until March. I wasn’t there as I met the twins when they were already 87 days old.

The stories that my husband is able to share are both heart- warming and deeply saddening. His wife and the twin’s birth mother went into comma just days after having the twins and she never regained consciousness again. She died.

They were a young couple with a new mortgage, two career jobs and twins on the way. It was the American dream that soon turned into a living nightmare. The soul and character of my husband as he treaded these unknown waters was both concerning for his family and others and inspiring for the people that lived through it with him. His spirit and deep belief in God carried him through it all.

We delight in Brandon’s birthday and are mindful of the many challenges that he has faced since his pre-mature birth. Every single person has a story; some of us have shared experiences. The stories that my husband has to share during that time frame are so close to the heart. Now 24 years later it is still impossible to understand how a 29 year old married woman could go to the hospital to deliver her babies and how she would literally never walk out of that place again.

“When the pursuit of natural harmony is a shared journey, great heights can be attained. – Lynn Hill”

We also can’t imagine our lives being any other way as I have been their “mother” since their infancy. How and why things happen like they do may never be fully understood except that we have a deep faith in God and know that we are all here together and on a shared journey.

Who knows what each day may bring? Will it bring us happiness or heartache? Everyone is looking for something? Something that will help with the meaning of life and we want to know what will come next and what will happen. We are seeking to understand. We are looking to uncover all that we think and feel that we need to feel full.

I didn’t find genuine love and I didn’t find genuine peace until I stopped looking for it? Funny as it may seem that is what happened. When I just loved my life and was doing what I knew that I should be doing all the other things I was searching for and seeking just naturally made their way to me.

Our history and our family stories are so important as they help us to understand who we are and how we came about and just where we come from when our lives began.

So many people think that they need this thing or that job or that relationship or something else before they can be fulfilled and happy. Yet wisdom is born of age and we learn that much of what happens in life literally is beyond our control. We take what we get and hopefully we make the most of it. Take the lessons and leave the rest behind as we proceed on our shared journey called life …

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

All books on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble under author Bernadette A. Moyer

Original artwork attached by Brandon R. Sahm (my son)