Memory Lane

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Memory Lane
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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We all have them, our memories; we have memories of our childhood, our teenage years, our young adult years and more. We can think about them and sometimes we can visit the people and the places from another time.

Going home will always be Allentown, Pennsylvania for me. It is where I spent a large portion of my childhood and my teenage years as well as my young adult years. As a kid, I walked to school and to church, to many friends’ homes, to the library, the YMCA, to my guitar lessons downtown. I learned to drive there went to first concerts there and even married and had my only birthed child there.

The memories are powerful and numerous. My friend of over 40 years from our days as camp counselors still lives there. My father lived and died there. Again, the memories are many and they run the entire spectrum of happiness, joy, pain and losses. They run the entire spectrum of life.

When I go home to visit, I visit many significant landmarks, the place where I married, the church where my daughter was baptized, my first apartment, my favorite market, and favorite eateries and more.

It is always a fun trip down “memory lane” and yet there is also something so profound about where we started in life and where we end up. There is that distance between our beginnings and where we are today. And of course all the people, the places and the experiences we had along the way. Some remain and many do not stay.

I remember fun times of laughter with my sisters. Fun times with childhood friends. I remember my Confirmation in our neighborhood church. I remember the hospital where I was a volunteer candy striper and several years later, that same hospital where my daughter would come into this world. I remember so many things.

My parents were together there, and then they were not as a divorce would end their union. Just like life when people are so profound and significant in our lives and then they just are not at all present in our lives. We learn to adjust and to adapt; we learn to take our memories with us as we move away and as we move along.

I look back and I see so clearly the riches of the many experiences I have had, truly it has been like a buffet of choices of options of likes and dislikes. Overall, though, I know that it has all contributed to who I became and who I am today. I love my life, I love myself, and I love my journey, warts and all. It truly has been rich and long and wide. I am happy and I am grateful.

A trip down memory lane is always well worth the trip … I highly recommend the trip!

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

Along The Way and Another Way Books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

My Name is Brandon

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My Name is Brandon
This is me ….

by Bernadette Moyer and Brandon Sahm

The words below are from our son Brandon not a single word was edited. As a point of reference, just before the holidays this year, I told his father, my husband that I wish I could write about this but out of respect for Brandon it wasn’t my story to share. Oddly, two days later, he called me from yet another hospital crisis admission stay and asked me if I would help him write his story. There is so much more I could say here but I am choosing to keep it in my heart, at least for now.

He was always different but I chose to see the best of him and often chalked it up to him being an artist and an actor. Looking back with hindsight and 20/20 vision he was extremely well supported and loved or he most probably would not have had the successes that he did achieve. His birth mother died when he was born, I got him when he was 87 days old along with his twin sister. His natural father and I raised them together.

After what we lived through these past two years I no longer have that luxury of seeing him how I viewed him before this all began two years ago. I have loved him dearly and deeply. Today I know that I must let go… as difficult as that is for me. I am no longer the answer …it is so much more than what I am built to manage. I just want him happy and to be his best, however he decides to define it.

(You might want to grab a tissue…)

His words, his story, from his own handwritten journal and by his request …

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My Name is Brandon Sahm. I’m an Eagle Scout, a high school graduate, and a young adult who has recently been diagnosed with Autism and mental illness. But before you say anything I want you to know it wasn’t always like this. It’s just the last two years was like going through hell which it was. At 24 I lost my job at Yo Lavie, a frozen yogurt store one that I worked at for 3 ½ years. It was hard because it was a job I worked hard at and one I got on my own. Three-hundred job applications later I started working again at Texas Roadhouse. It was also around that time that I got my driver’s license. However, the job would be very short lived, after seeing the struggle of keeping up in a fast-paced environment my boss decided to let me go. I was devastated, and instead of going straight home to tell my parents I decided (and this was out of anger) to get drunk.

By the summer of 2016 my jump from hospital to hospital began. It started at Franklin Square in Essex. I wasn’t really fond with the care looking back because the groups didn’t talk much about their problems and did nothing but arts and crafts. Also it felt more like a place for people on drugs.

In August of 2016 after fighting with my parents out of impulse and anger, I attempted to end my life and commit suicide. It was raining when it happened. What stopped me was contemplation, I was halfway over the bridge on 695 when I stopped and got down. Soon after that the police came and took me to Saint Joseph Medical Center. There the groups were more active and the staff did care about the patients. After my lengthy stay and release I was an outpatient for 30 days. It was my mother who took me to all those daily appointments. I had many hospitals stays all kinds of diagnosis and according to my mom “more pills than any human body should ever consume” time and time again I called a crisis team and was picked up and readmitted. It wouldn’t take long before I would return for the holidays. On January 13, 2017 I was discharged again with a diagnosis of mental illness and Autism.

I was surprised to hear the word Autism but at the same time I had a sense of clarity and everything I did socially made sense. Because growing up I didn’t have many friends yet I excelled academically. As I said I became an Eagle Scout, made National Honor Society, graduated from high school all before the diagnosis. But of all the people that would tease me, my sister was the biggest bully yet. I remember every year she would make me lie about our report cards, and make me buy food for her at the mall. So at 18 when she left and changed schools I felt free for the first time. It was also our fights that made me think about suicide for the first time. And at that time when I told my mom, she said, “I had no idea.”

Sometimes when I think of suicide I think of how easy it must be to end the pain because to me I’ve always felt like a burden to my family. But now I see I have much to live for and now every time I pass by that bridge I think to myself, “wow I could have end it all but I didn’t.”

Back to the hospitals the next stay would be in Sheppard Pratt. I was there because I had a fight with my dad physically and realized I needed more help especially with my anger. I was there for almost two months and then sent to Harbor House.

I would be coming back to the house a few times including the holiday season. When I left back in December of 2017 I ran away because of the Christmas season, missing my parents, struggling mentally to accept what I can’t change. I hated myself even more for letting it happen, so much my desire for death was intensified. So I ended up spending Christmas in the hospital again and a Christmas day visit from my parents.

I still count myself lucky and grateful to have parents like them. I’m not much for writing but it is helping me express how I feel and it’s therapeutic, just like my art or any form of art for that matter. There are so many things that can influence us and make us into who we are, we just have to embrace it. My mom is like my best friend, we’re thick as thieves and she’s also my cheerleader. She’s known for her writing many of which I enjoy reading. What makes my mom special is that she has always been there for me, even when my sister and I were babies. The same goes for my dad, he could have easily left me and my sister up for adoption but he didn’t. My dad is a hard worker, a quality I picked up from him. He also introduced me to classic rock which I still enjoy today. My dad and I may argue sometimes but he is still my dad and I love him for raising us.

One of my fondest memories is being in boy scouts. One of those memories includes summer camps and getting to spend time with my dad.

(PLEASE keep Brandon and our entire family in your prayers as we continue to stumble through all of this)

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

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

What Mom and Dad Really Want

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What Mom and Dad Really Want
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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We are half way between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and I have been thinking a lot about what moms and dads really want from their children. And it is pretty simple too. At every age and at every turn they want their children to be happy and to be healthy. They want them to be the best that they can be, however that is defined.

Most adult children will buy mom and dad gifts and although that is really nice and appreciated, most parents just want to know that their children are okay and doing well. They want to see them. They want to hear from them. They want to know that they haven’t forgotten the people that gave them life and raised them. They want to be respected for having tried and having done the work even if it wasn’t always perfect.

Mom and dad want peace with their children. They want to hear their stories and hear about their struggles and their achievements. They want to share space and time. They want to have the opportunity to create new memories.

When I was a young adult I often went to visit my dad who had re-married. I liked just stopping by and he always seemed to enjoy my company. We drank coffee together. I would tell him about my boyfriend or about school or about the issues I was facing in my life. Often he shared his stories too. He would talk about his parents and his siblings and his time in the service. These were some of my best memories of my dad.

Sometimes we would go to the Farmer’s Market or make a cigarette run for him. However menial it was what we did, we did it together and just being in his company was healthy and good for me. It allowed me to see him not as a child and a parent but as two adults sharing time together, two adults that shared a history.

I wouldn’t give those memories up for anything in this world. Now that he is gone and I am older, I appreciate them all the more.

My dad came to visit me when I was in the hospital giving birth to my daughter. Later she would spend a week in the summer with him. She had a chance to get to know her grandfather.

Gifts are nice but spending time talking with mom and dad and enjoying their company is truly what most parents want from their children. Above all else parents want to know that their children are okay and safe and doing well. They want to be remembered.

So when Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and birthdays and holidays roll around no need to stress over the perfect gift. A simple phone call or visit is sure to make mom and dad feel special and truly is the gift that they want most in life.

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

Christmas Memories

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Christmas Memories
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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Christmas memories, we all have them? We remember being children and the anticipation of waking up on Christmas morning and opening up all our gifts. We remember those special years when we received exactly what we asked for and other years when we were so happily surprised with others gifts that we never even thought about but turned out to be perfect.

What was your earliest Christmas morning memory? What present stands out the most? What gift did you receive that you remember so fondly and what gift did you give that was so much appreciated? Where did you go and who did you spend your time with?

What were your family traditions and what traditions have you carried on with? What are your favorite places to go and be on Christmas? And who are you spending time with that is part of not just today but the memories that you will hold onto in the future?

One of my earliest memories as a child was when I received Barbie’s pink convertible car for Christmas and another year our Uncle Michael, my father’s brother gave me and my four sisters matching quilted bath robes. Five little girls with matching quilted bathrobes. Then there was the year my mother gave us all new bicycles. I received a new 10-speed bicycle. It was All-American looking in red, white and blue and I was just a teenager and loved it.

Then came the years when I was married and my husband spoiled me and later the years with children when we spoiled them. There were the many years when we packed up the gifts and the twins and off we went to Nashville Tennessee and another holiday season when we spent Christmas in Key West, Florida.

It only takes one bad holiday with loss and grief and when after you get through it you pledge that will never happen to me again! And you do your best to plan ahead and make sure that Christmas is as special as it can be. Of course the off years make you appreciate the glowing years all the more.

Often as we age it becomes about “it is in giving that we receive” and it is about that food, clothing or gifts for kids that we donate to those less fortunate. Or that check and cash donation made out to our favorite charity to help them continue the mission of helping those that don’t have.

Christmas may be about our church or a new place of worship or that special drink and food that we enjoy to help us celebrate. It may also include that big game and sports event or a newly released movie or theater show. We celebrate. We love. We share. We enjoy. We remember. We make memories.

Merry Christmas and may you be filled with all the love and goodness this life offers and be surrounded by the people that you love most and together create fond memories for the many years to come.

God Bless Us All!

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

A Moment A Memory

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A Moment A Memory
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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Everything in our lives is just a moment and then a moment that makes a memory. On a recent beach trip I pulled out an old journal to start writing and out popped three different photographs. One photo was of my wedding day and a truly happy occasion, and another was in Hershey, Pennsylvania known as “the sweetest place on earth.” It was on their tour ride and I was in a car with our twins who appear to be just toddlers.

The last photo was of my daughter and her high school graduation. I was so proud of her but also pained that her father who died 15 years earlier was not there for such a momentous occasion.

The take away for me upon reflection was that everything we experience is just a moment in time and that moment later becomes a memory. Then I remembered a poem I wrote many years ago titled; Seasons of Life.

Seasons of Life (Bare Breasted Heart book)

In the season of life
Where will we be
In the seasons of life
Will it be you and me

In the seasons of life
What will we learn
In the seasons of life
What have we lost and earned

In the seasons of life
What years will be marked by goodness
And what years by strife
In the seasons of life

Will we love and be kind
Will we put the past behind
In the seasons of life
Will we be happy and whole

In the seasons of life
Will we be content and proud
In the seasons of life
Will we live without regret

In the seasons of life
Will we push on and forward
In the seasons of life
Will we be justified and rewarded

In the seasons of life
Will we give from our hearts
In the seasons of life
Will we plan ahead

In the seasons of life
Will we live fully until we are dead

Our lives are so fluid where everything changes, we change our circumstances change. People come and people go, people live and people die. I think about how important every moment of our lives is and just how quickly they pass us by and become nothing more than a memory.

Everything is important in those moments in time … let us hope and pray for lives that are filled with joyous and happy memories and start with wonderful moments that we can appreciate long after they are gone …

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

Along The Way and Another Way available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble