Sifting Through the Sands of Time

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You just never know what you will find when you start “sifting through the sands of time”……………….I have always known that there was another explanation for my “quasi-activism”………………………..apparently becoming a “nut” was my destiny as the above letter so clearly illustrates.  At the “wise” old age of nine, I had decided to write a letter to President Eisenhower to inform him of my concerns about the cars “speeding” up and down Chatham Road, the street where I lived until the fourth grade.  Apparently…………………………. the President had other important matters before him, and so my reply  came from Sherman Adams who was Eisenhower’s chief of staff (kind of like getting a letter today from William Daly (former JP Morgan banker) or Jacob Lew (former COO of Citigroup Alternative Investments) the last two Obama chiefs of staff……………just sayin’………………..can’t seem to help the thoughts that take over my writing!!!  LOL).  Anyway, if only it had ended there, but evidence of my “nuttiness” continued to present itself as I further uncovered a scathing (LOL…………and trust me……….I really did laugh out loud!!) letter I had written to Paul Hornung,the sports editor of the Columbus Dispatch, in 1962 for criticizing Jerry Lucas for choosing to play professional basketball for the ABL Cleveland Pipers instead of the Cincinnati Royals (I am fiercely loyal to my favorite sports teams as well as to my favorite athletes……… don’t dare ruffle my feathers!!!).  Just read the following excerpt from my “blistering” letter (I probably should not tell on myself, but the offense I felt as a thirteen year old truly cracks me up!!! LOL).  The letter is dated May 17, 1962:

Dear Mr. Hornung,
My name is Mary Margaret Clark.  I’m thirteen years old and attend a parochial school here in Columbus.  I have been a faithful admirer of the Ohio state basketball team and especially of Jerry Lucas for the past three years. (note to all……..I gave my five-minute speech in English class that year on Jerry Lucas!)  I am openly resentful and opposed to your write-up about the announcement decision of Lucas.  He will undoubtedly remain the idol of everyone from coast to coast (are you all laughing right along with me??!!!).  Neither you, Cincinnati or any other sports writer should open your mouth until you see what happens come basketball season because the tables will most likely be upset.  It’s none of your darn business what he cares to do with his life, it’s his future not yours.  I’m certain if you were in his shoes…………(here comes the really “scathing” part)………(and you wouldn’t be because you’re not half the man he is) you wouldn’t want any crazy sports writer tearing you down for a decision that was yours alone to make.

Seriously……………………………………………………….how does God keep a straight face when peering down from the heavens, to see what He has wrought upon the earth…………………..I can see Him now, nodding in agreement with Crick, and saying, “you are a NUT Mary Margaret, a nut!!!”  Well, I certainly don’t want to disappoint my Creator, so I will just have to carry on……………………….sorry family :).

Speaking of letters………………………..I meant to give mention (before my last post was interrupted by my “Crick” dream) to two touching letters that I received from two nieces as we passed the six month marker a few weeks ago.  One came in the form of an e-mail from Karen (Schultheis side) in which she shared a very comforting poem that I will forever cherish.  The other came in the mail from Erin (Clark side) which was equally thoughtful and caring.  It seems that Erin had wanted to write a message for the “remember when…….” basket at the funeral home, but at the time could not put her thoughts into words and so she waited until later that week when she penned this letter to me.  She had never sent the letter, but had kept it all of this time and rediscovered it earlier this month.  (I am still amazed at the irony of my receiving such compassionate notes on Crick’s passing from two of my nieces, one from each side of the family, within a day of each other, almost six months to the day of the funeral!).  Anyway, I hope Erin won’t mind my divulging a paragraph from her letter………………… says soooooo much about Crick and his relationship with all of his nieces and nephews on both sides of the family!!!!!!!!!!!!!     This particular incidence occurred probably ten or so years ago as Erin is twenty years old now :), and took place when the entire family had gathered at Christine and Mike’s for a holiday or some other family celebration……it reads:

  “I don’t remember why, but Crick stuffed me in the basement freezer one time.  Huh?  I wonder what I did to deserve that? (selective memory perhaps, Erin???  my note)  Afterward, we (Clark nieces and nephews) took his shoes, tied them together and hung them over the clothes line downstairs.  (I don’t know why this seemed like such a good idea, he could reach better than us kids).  So we hid in that furnace room in the basement, trying to lock him out.  Turns out he more successfully locked us in!   And…………… he turned the lights out on us (seeing as how the switch is outside of the furnace room!).  The only lessons I learned from times like this…………………………………Don’t mess with Crick, he will always win.  Even in the journey of Life, Crick won.”

1968 Korea

You are so right, Erin.  I suppose this is as good a time as any to bring up the subject of Memorial Day which we will be celebrating tomorrow.   It is the perfect time to pause and reflect on the sacrifices of all of the men and women in the military who have courageously served or are now serving our country to preserve the rights and freedoms that we enjoy today.   Before Crick retired from the National Guard in 2008, he participated in one last Memorial Parade which Worthington, Ohio holds every year.  He was a soldier’s soldier……….dedicated, fiercely loyal to his unit and always, always, always proud to defend his country for future generations, especially his children and grandchildren.  For all of our military family members (and there are many!!!!) both living and deceased we salute you and I offer you one of Crick’s all time favorite patriotic songs (naturally it is from a country artist!)

2004 NATO ID Kosovo

Sophia,Sydney,Josh remembering Papa


P.S. Notice the NATO ID picture pose…………….very similar to his Driver’s License ID which the Bureau of Motor Vehicles saw fit one time to actually retake three times. Have you ever heard of the BMV taking the time to retake an ID picture……consider how awful Crick must have looked and all because he HATED having his picture taken and it showed through every single time :)!!!!!!!!!!!

Dreams From My Husband

I don’t often dream dreams that cause me to actually feel as though I am taking part in it in the present time, but last night was an exception.  It was so full of emotion and feeling that I feel compelled to put those vivid emotions in writing, if only to sort it all out for myself while the details are still crystal clear.

It was, oh, such a brief encounter with the past, but I could almost hear myself shouting out in my dream the words which were buried inside my head…………”Where is God????????????”

The scene began with just the two of us……………….Crick and myself…………standing in a room, speaking to a counselor  (& no……….it wasn’t a “marriage counselor!!  LOL) who was helping us out with the decisions facing us as we confronted the fallout of the newly delivered news of the spread of his cancer.  The social worker left the room and as I turned to look at Crick, I saw him with a cigarette dangling from his lips.  Instantly, as his eyes and mine locked on each other, the cigarette curled up and he drew it inside his mouth and he appeared to have swallowed it.  Immediately, I felt an overwhelming sense of despair, such a degree of frustration and disappointment and helplessness wash over me.  I could simultaneously feel the tears begin to spill out and it was then that I could hear myself, inside my dream, cry out, “Where is God?”  Had I not prayed every day since 1987 when his Mom passed away from esophageal cancer that he would somehow find the strength to finally, once and for all, give up smoking???  It was in that moment, I believe, that I began to wake up and I lay there thinking over various moments in time as emotions from the past year came flooding back into my consciousness.  So pronounced were these feelings that I grabbed the comfort cross (given to Crick during the last days of his illness & which I have kept close to me each night since his death) and I could feel the force of my hand squeezing the Jerusalem wood and seeking the help of the Sacred Heart whose prayer I have recently begun to include in my devotions. In the immediacy of my waking to the reality of the daylight now streaming through the windows, I began to try to sort through the reasons as to why all of these emotions were being resurrected now, so many months later.

As the events of the past day began to play back in my memory, it became more evident as to……… why this dream, and ………why now.  It just so happens that I had decided earlier that day to download some of my favorite songs from my MP3 player in order create a new CD.  As I was searching through the various functions, I saw that there were a few voice recordings showing up, and so I opened up the files and discovered several hospital and doctor visits which I had recorded so that Crick and I could reference the specifics of the doctor’s information later on.  Hearing Crick’s voice after so many months as he alternately answered and asked questions in his always teasing & carefree way could most certainly have been the catalyst for the vivid imagery of the dream.  Those stupid cigarettes were at the source of many vigorous and contentious “discussions” between the two of us  over many years and so it does not surprise me that they should make an appearance in my dream.  Always, always, always when I think of how they played such a role in shortening the life of such a wonderful, kind, caring, loving, selfless, giving person sadness fills my heart…… (hey, if the media can bestow a halo on our President, I can confer one on Crick :)! )  Another incident that took place yesterday was the all-school Mass at I.C. when the First Communicants were honored and processed in & out of the church as they had done over the weekend.  As I watched Natalie and Luke looking so excited, happy and innocent, it ran through my mind that while I knew that Crick really, in truth, had a better vision of it all than I did, my heart wanted him standing right there beside me waiting for him to reach out from the pew to teasingly harass them as they processed by.

Reflecting on the very profound sense of reality that my dream produced and particularly my question, “where is God?” gave pause for quite an early morning moment of introspection.  I have recounted the following little “Aunt Evie story” many, many times to many different people over the past few years and today I could hear her admonition to me ever so clearly.  Several years ago, I had gone over to her apartment for a visit & as we were sitting at her dining room table, I began to complain rather resentfully about Crick’s smoking addiction.  She took hold of my arm, looked me directly in my eye and said in her no-nonsense way, “Mary Margaret…………..some people are just stronger (Aunt Evie emphasis) than other people.”  What she said to me that day has resonated with me in so many scenarios ever since.  She was absolutely right……we are all imperfect imitations of our Creator, we find ourselves continually falling short of our aspirations to become the best versions of ourselves and that is why we so need each other………… support one another, to forgive one another, to understand one another and to love one another.

Now, here is the really interesting ending to all of this which goes directly back to the last sentence.  Later this afternoon when I retrieved my mail I saw two personal envelopes amidst the usual array of junk mail.  I opened the first and found a most heartwarming letter from a very dear Army buddy of Crick’s from his two-year tour of duty in Korea back in 1967-69.  In part, he wrote that for two months he had tried unsuccessfully to write me a condolence note, but that he could not find the words until that evening when he had been watching re-runs of the final “good-bye” episode of M-A-S-H (one of Crick’s all time favorite TV series) and decided he could no longer put off the letter.  Allan wrote, “Jim (of course, Crick would not want his Army pals to know that he had a nickname of “Crick”) befriended me when I first arrived in Korea.  We were fast friends as we went through Army trials together, laughed together, froze together in the winter and sweated together in the summer…………………………Many parts of my life are now just a blur, but I remember just about every moment of my time in Korea with Jim.  I will always owe Jim for being my Army mentor…………………………please, when you have the opportunity, tell your children that this is one old soldier and one old soldier’s wife who knew Jim, loved Jim and are truly sorry about his death.”  That one letter would have been quite enough to confirm the belief  I have, that God’s abundant love continues to shower me with His un-endless blessings, but there was to be more.  As I put Allan’s comforting letter down, I reached for the second envelope…………………… was a brief, but touching and compassionate note from a very dear childhood friend who had already shared so much of her time and effort over the past year in sending (over many miles) packages of soups and cookies and had also given quite a generous donation to I.C. in Crick’s name……………….and now……….  was sending yet another selfless and magnanimous financial gift.  As I have stated before, tears do not come easily to me, but this past month has been a bit of an emotional one and mostly in a good way as I have given witness to the genuine kindness and nobleness of friends and family.

One last thought about the significance of this dream, these blessings, this day…………………………………………………………….

“As you sit quietly in My Presence, remember that I am a God of abundance.  I will never run out of resources.  My capacity to bless you is unlimited.  You live in a world of supply and demand, where necessary things are often scarce.  Even if you personally have enough, you see poverty in the world around you.  It is impossible for you to comprehend the lavishness of My provisions: the fullness of My glorious riches. Through spending time in My Presence you gain glimpses of My overflowing vastness.  These glimpses are tiny foretastes of  what you will experience eternally in heaven.  Even now you have access to as much of Me as you have faith to receive.  Rejoice in My abundance—-living by faith, not by sight.”                                                             from Jesus Calling

Tonight I will give thanks to a God who has blessed me with a faith that allows me to experience His love in the goodness of all those whom He has placed on my journey :).



P.S. Did you all catch the “significance” of the title of the blog??!! Kinda’ catchy, don’t you think??…………………now where have I heard that before??!!

P.P.S. This song’s for you Crick:)

Angels of the NTFD, Dynamic Duo, 1st Communion

I hereby officially designate the country song, “Angels Among Us”, as the Schultheis family’s theme song.  The lyrics to that song have resonated over and over and over throughout Crick’s journey, and as the above picture indicates, those same words are echoing once again!!   Coming to the rescue of a deteriorating, over thirty year old retaining wall were the five gentlemen in the above picture.  Four of Christopher’s Norwich Township firefighter friends heard about our crumbling, decrepit railroad ties and unselfishly offered their considerable knowledge, talent, time, energy, sweat and labor to construct the fabulous stone remake!!!  From left to right in the picture are Tony, Chris, Kris, Brett and Harrison……………….they have definitely earned their names on the “Angels Among Us Hall of Fame”!!  While they were toiling outside, I was getting quite a good workout inside keeping an eye on the “Dynamic Duo”……..that would be these two infamous cohorts in crime……………………………………  who took time out from their escapades long enough to sit safely on the floor for a quick snack while I attempted to regroup LOL!!!  If I were only quick enough with my camera (as in accessing the correct “menu selection”……….did you know there is a setting for “vivid” color……………….uh, would I want “dull” color??, a setting for “poster “effect…………..I would want extra large pics of me or my family??, a setting for a “fish eye” effect……………..wwhhaatt ??, a “miniature” effect……………as if I don’t have enough trouble seeing!!, and believe it or not, a “toy” camera effect…………….wouldn’t I have purchased a toy camera if I had wanted one??)……………oops, distracted myself once again!!!  Anyway, as I was saying, if only I could just “point and shoot”, I would be able to capture the charming pair as they were doing battle over who was entitled to possession of whatever it was that Josh wanted!  You see, Josh has it in his mind that whenever he and Mayce are together………… whatever she has is his and whatever he has is his (LOL),  and he has discovered that pulling on her cute little pigtails makes for a pretty convenient argument that she should just hand it over to him!!  Mind you, Mayce doesn’t always acquiesce (she has two older brothers and an attitude, after all!) and she knows how to push back as well as how to be an instigator herself.  Just the other day after Josh had ended a 20 second time-out  (he is only 20 months old) for some little transgression against Mayce, Christopher had instructed him to tell her he was sorry and to give her a hug.  The scene of Josh laying his head on Mayce’s shoulder and Mayce’s tiny forgiving hand patting him gently on his back would have made a great Kodak moment…………………………….if, like I said…………………..I could have simply figured out which “effect” that Kodak moment called for!!!

There really and truly is rarely a dull moment around here.  Each and every morning that I wake up and “put my two feet on the floor” I have to be ready for just about anything.  A phone ringing can mean an invitation to breakfast or dinner, a reminder of a baseball or soccer game, an Irish step-dancing competition or a school event, or it can mean I am being called into action for some impromptu babysitting when there is an unexpected snag in parents’ working assignments or when a sick grandchild needs to be taken to the emergency room as happened just recently.  Tommy, who had been down with a fever virus over a week ago and then contracted strep along with some gastrointestinal issues finally ended up in Children’s Hospital needing some intravenous fluid.  It is surprising how kids can look like they are at death’s door one day, and the next day they are back to bouncing off the walls driving their parents crazy!!  While Tommy was so sick and feverish, and as he was laying in his bed just before drifting off to sleep, he told Stephanie that his hand was talking to him, whispering to him and saying “inappropriate” things.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, exhausted as he was, he fell asleep before he could explain what he meant by “inappropriate”!!!!!  I’m thinking that “what goes on inside Tommy’s head, stays inside Tommy’s head”  LOL!!!

We celebrated not one, not two, but three First Communions this weekend…………Luke, Natalie & Grace (Billy’s daughter/my great-niece)…………Mom and Dad began the legacy at Immaculate Conception back in 1953 when Jimmy entered first grade and there has been an unbroken line of Clark’s  attending I.C. ever since……we certainly have come a long way from no tuition and the likes of Sister Archangela and Sister Marcia and 100 students in each grade to $$$$$ tuition and Mrs. Hiss and Mrs. Buseck and less than 60 in each grade, but we all know how proud Mom and Dad would be of the tradition being carried on in the great-grandchildren.  Prior to their very special day, Luke and Natalie had a homework assignment which the Riunite Lambrusco (you know, the favorite wine of the informed, highly refined and discriminately tasteful “folks”………………………..[threw that word in there just for you, Christine]!) played an important role.  It seems that the second graders were supposed to taste some red wine and it just so happens that I had some Riunite on hand :).  I poured a teeny, tiny amount in a small glass and Luke and Natalie each sampled it, with great reluctance I should add, and in the end decided that it was palatable.  Apparently, there had also been some sort of discussion in school regarding the drinking of the wine and this information was relayed from Luke to Tommy.  As I was having dinner at Stephanie and Joe’s the night of the First Communion practice, Luke was trying to explain to Joe what the practice would entail, when Tommy excitedly interrupted saying that Luke was going to receive “the Body of the Christ” and “the legal”………………… seems that the teachers informed the class that the wine is “legal” for them to drink in the context of the Mass, therefore wine and legal are now synonymous in Tommy’s mind.  (Oh perish the thought!!!)

Now, you may be wondering just what this picture is doing in this post…………..let me explain.  You see, I was invited by our President (via his campaign e-mail) to come see him when he was in Columbus last weekend and so I decided to head down to the Schott (“my left foot” and all).  I parked across the street from the Arena and the Romney campaign bus was in the parking lot and so I snapped this picture.  I got there about three hours ahead of the President’s arrival and having a few more pressing things to do that day, I decided to forgo the speech and hang out for a short while supporting a group from Americans for Prosperity.  All I have to say (well, for now anyway!!) is that, in my continued quest for whatever is truth in this political climate, I am learning that this is going to be a looonnnggg six months :).

Which seems to fit right in with this quote which I should probably read more frequently so as to keep true peace in my heart……..LOL:

“Do not search for security in the world you inhabit.  You tend to make mental checklists of things you need to do in order to gain control of your life.  If only you could check everything off your list you could relax and be at peace.  But the more you work to accomplish that goal, the more things crop up on your list.  The harder you try, the more frustrated you become.  There is a better way to find security in this life.  Instead of scrutinizing your checklist, focus your attention on My Presence with you.  This continual contact with Me will keep you in My Peace.  Moreover, I will help you sort out what is important and what is not, what needs to be done now and what does not.  Fix your eyes not on what is seen (your circumstances), but on what is unseen (My Presence).”                                                                      from Jesus Calling

“Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.”                                            2 Corinthians 4:16-18



P.S.  My left foot is now free from the cast, but has acquired a Big Black Boot!!!!!!!

Six Months

I had debated on a suitable picture for today’s posting and had contemplated one which contained some rather tongue-in-cheek political innuendo, thereby hoping to add some “spark” to the blog :).  But then, as memories of  Crick seem to be more and more in the forefront of my thoughts as we approach the six month anniversary of his death, it seemed much more fitting to shine the light on him this time.   Therefore, I decided that the above picture would be, oh so apropos, since he is apparently sending down personal reminders to his extended family as the above picture indicates :).   A few weeks ago. Judy & Bill were driving near their home in Cincinnati when they drove past the above billboard.   Judy made Bill stop the car so she could take a picture of it & then sent it on to me, Jennifer, Megan, Stephanie and Christopher…………..I have since downloaded it & am now using it as my wallpaper on my cell phone.  Now every time I turn on my phone (about a gazillion times a day!!!!), I see his name & am reminded of how he could truly, at times, be that “pain” in the neck who so famously produced the “nut” that I morphed into…….. LOL!!!!!    The billboard is an advertisement for a chiropractic practice, but I honestly think that it is Crick’s very own “Mission Accomplished” sign, if you know what I mean!!! :).

Yesterday, May 2nd, was exactly six months since Crick’s death, and in some ways I still feel his absence as though it occurred just the other day.  Recently I have begun to notice that everyday outings, to mundane places such as the dreaded grocery store, will often produce unexpected pangs of sadness when I return home.  I remember commenting to Crick on more than one occasion, that on any given grocery trip, I would run into certain couples we knew who did their shopping together and suggested to him that perhaps we should try that…………………….I know………………………..can you believe that I even proposed such a preposterous idea???  Of course, he would then always point out that we could find enough things to argue about without resorting to creating a “grocery store incident” (a.k.a.  the “King’s Island, Main Street incident”) by debating in Aisle #1 his preference for the grocery store brand over my preference for the name brand or in Aisle #2 his preference for steak over my preference for pasta or in Aisle #3  his  preference for a gallon container of milk over my preference for two half-gallon containers or in Aisle #4  his preference for one ply tissue over my preference for two ply tissue or in Aisle #5  his preference for choosing any paper towel displaying any decorative design over my preference for just plain white…………………………..OMG…………………………what was I thinking?????………………………………  A-n-y-way, after I would return home (alone!) from the grocery,  I would always purposely create a bit of commotion when I lugged the first bag or two from the trunk of the car into the house so as to make certain Crick knew that the “martyr” had come home.  He would then come out to give assistance with the remaining bags & then help me to put all of the groceries away.   The point of my rambling is, that it is in the ordinarily common-place tasks such as this, that I have reluctantly come to a better understanding of the precise meaning of the words “heartache” and “heartbreak”.   On the most unsuspecting of occasions I can turn and still see his infectious grin and hear his booming voice, and at times, I can, in the silence of a moment, place myself back to that December day, in that instant when the defective Christmas lights miraculously brightened, and I can truly feel his presence.

How I wish that I could not be so impatient with myself as I search for words to give voice to all that lies deep within my heart and soul.  Fortunately, there are others whose words can fill the void, so as to convey the blessing of  God’s merciful comfort and peace which I constantly find through prayer and through the many angels He sends to me.  The relevance of the devotional reading for May 2nd seems to be that voice that I am at this moment seeking:

“Living in dependence on Me is the way to enjoy abundant life.  You are learning to appreciate tough times, because they amplify your awareness of My Presence.  Tasks that you used to dread are becoming rich opportunities to enjoy My closeness.  When you feel tired, you remember that I am your Strength; you take pleasure in leaning on Me.  I am pleased by your tendency to turn to Me more and more frequently, especially when you are alone……………………………..whisper My Name; this tiny act of trust brings Me to the forefront of your consciousness, where I belong.  As you bask in the blessing of My nearness, My life can flow through you to others.  This is abundant life.”                                        (from “Jesus Calling”)

The past couple of weeks have seen many twists and turns in the “life and times of the Schultheis, Wallace, and Baird families” which I will reserve for another post as I did promise to give Crick his time:).  I do however have to mention how Christopher & Jessica’s girls continue to keep me humble!!!!  Today I was driving Sydney to pre-school and as I was stopped at a traffic light, I decided to quickly refresh my make-up (oh vanity of vanities!!).  Sydney asked what I was doing and I explained that I was putting some “blusher” on my cheeks, and she, ever so sweetly, says,………………………………………………. “Oh, is that to cover up your wrinkles????????????!!!!!!!!”………………………………  Somewhere, Crick is howling with laughter!!!!