When we were cowboys

November 1, 2006 at 3:02 pm | Posted in country living, crochet, faith, family, free knitting patterns, Halloween, Knit Alongs, knit-a-long, knitting, love | 21 Comments

Jack06 and SquashBabe1Looks like things worked out well for Jack06 last night … he and SquashBabe1 spent a candlelit evening together on our porch. There were no signs of Trick or Treaters last evening, but this morning I found evidence of pumpkin love when I happened upon this happy family nestled amidst a warm blanket of leaves on our front lawn. Jack06 … you devil you.

While I was out in the yard taking the trash to the road for pickup and moving the pumpkin family back to our porch, I had some fun scuffing my feet along in my husbands big yard boots, kicking thick layers of damp leaves up into the air … quite fun, you should try it if you have leaves outside today. Someone went driving by as I was scuffing along enjoying myself and slowed noticeably as they went by our house. I hope I inspired them to be childlike rather than to laugh at the crazy California woman in long johns, husband boots, and a rather fetching handknit Lavender Hat running around like a loon on her lawn.

Jack06 You Devil YouI asked my husband the other night if he could recall the last time he skipped … you know, skipping, the physical activity of childhood days. Childern skip, but adults generally speaking do not. Do you ever see an adult skipping around the yard or at the park? Have you yourself skipped any time recently? What I have noticed is that you cannot skip without feeling happy. There is a carefree abandon that goes along with skipping that cannot help but make you smile. My husband asked me why I thought adults don’t skip, and I told him I think it is because they become too serious about life. Try skipping again sometime, and see if it doesn’t lift your spirits and bring back a little feeling of childhood and magic.

I have updated information for the knit along I am hosting; if you are participating or following along as an observer, be sure to check out that page. The nap blanket (subject of the knit along) I am knitting for my mother-in-law for Christmas is very cute and pretty. The size (roughly 36″ x 52″) is what makes it cute in my opinion; the colors are very warm and cozy and the feel of the blanket is scrumptious. It is a quick knit, so a good choice for an elegant handmade gift this holiday season for someone you love. While I am making it for an adult, the same blanket could be made in more youthful colors and given to a child.

Jinnys Vine Knitted Blanket ProgressNow … to continue with the story of How I Met My Husband.

In all good stories there is heartbreak, struggle, sometimes overwhelming odds, good guys, bad guys, sadness, etc. The negative elements make the postive outcomes that much more rewarding and fulfilling. That having been said, you might want to refill your coffee cup and grab a couple of tissues.

For years I have secretly dreamed of living in the country again, or living on a farm. Sometimes my dreams were passive, sometimes they were very proactive and alive. Often, very often, over the years when I was raising my children alone, I examined my life thoughtfully and came to the conclusion that I was destined to be alone. I was dedicated to my children, my daughter needed extra help and care because of her physical problems, and I was also devoted to various volunteer efforts (and still am) in life. I never was into dating particularly and I had never met a man in the normal course of the river of my life who I could share my life with. You might think in a city as large as Los Angeles it would be fairly easy for people to find each other. I found it to be just the opposite. But, I was attatched to the area for family and business reasons, so I believed I was destined to be alone.

Jinnys Vines Knitted Blanket Progress ShotAnd I was okay with that. I am very strong, very independent, always able to take care of myself. I honestly did not need a boyfriend or a husband to make my life complete. If anything, I had more than enough life going on and didn’t have room to add a man into the mix. I was certain I could be a single woman for the rest of my life and make that a beautiful thing. I stand by that belief even today: if I had remained alone, I would have made it a beautiful thing come hell or high water … I just happen to be that stubborn and willful.

And yet … inspite of my best intentions, I continued to have a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that my “husband” was out there somewhere in the world. I could feel his presence even though I had no idea where he was. I could not shake the feeling completely, no matter the logic I applied to my situation. My intuition told me he was somewhere far removed from Los Angeles, but that somehow one day our paths would cross and we would know and all would be well.

Between the summer of 2003 and the winter of 2005 I suffered many losses in life. It was puzzling, because I was truly being grateful for everything good and positive and right in my life. That isn’t to say I stayed perky and happy, because I didn’t. A business I had been certain of had pretty much gone nowhere (a toy company I tried to start and invested a lot of time and money in) and my main consulting client who had provided my bread and butter income for two years went south, cutting my income in half unless I could bring in new business. During that time, however, my family needed me more than ever and I had no time to devote to bringing in new business.

There was the incident with pneumonia which slowed things down even further, and I could not get my consulting business to expand at all. My heart was not in it any longer and I was very distracted with family responsibilities. Even our cherished dog, a magnificent Boxer named Luce, became very ill and perished. It was a sad and difficult time. I was challenged constantly to find what I could be grateful for in what seemed to be the demise of everything I had worked to create and build. None of it made sense to me at the time, but I did maintain unshakable faith that it would make sense to me sometime further up the road. I was certain that, painful though my circumstances were, there was something ahead that would bring it all into focus and take away the feelings of loss.

In September of 2004 my parents moved to Denver to be closer to my two older brothers and their families. It was a good move for them but it was sad nonetheless. My children and I had been very close with my parents over the years, spending much time together with them. Our lives were very intertwined and it was sad to know we would no longer be able to run over to their house to visit, pick them up to go on a drive, eat soup and play cards on a Friday night, or have them over for a movie and a good chat.

In January of 2005 my children and I moved our separate ways, out of the house on the hill and I temporarily moved in with my sister and her husband in their downstairs apartment. The day I got settled in at their house we received a phone call from Denver … it was my oldest brother on the speaker phone and his wife and daughters and my parents were with him. He was calling to tell us he had been diagnosed with lung cancer which had spread to several parts of his body.

My family is large and we have always been very close. Five siblings, three of them married, each of us with two children. And my parents. The seven of us, the original family, had been like a band of cowboys the way we bonded with each other and looked out for one another over the years. My younger brother was my little buddy, my best friend when we were children. My sister and I had normal sisterly ups and downs but became dearest friends as life went on. My second oldest brother and I did quite a bit of Internet business together for a few years prior to 2005 and were quite close because of that. My oldest brother was a certain kind of glue, I think now that I look back on it, that held us all together. Perhaps we each were, I don’t know.

I have written of my oldest brother in an earlier blog. He died that April in 2005. His illness and death set off a chain reaction in our family that tore us apart and we have never knit ourselves back together. I would never have thought that could happen to a family such as ours, because our genuine affection for one another and the bond between us seemed to be magic, even stellar in some ways.

In a way, I lost all three of my brothers that April and the sadness of that loss is piercing. Some time I am going to make a large oil painting from a photograph my father shot of my three brothers back when we were all teenagers; maybe the oldest was in his early twenties by then. They were all target shooting up in the mountains in Southern California and the photograph is perfect to my artist’s eye. I’m going to title the painting, “When We Were Cowboys” as a tribute to a simpler, more innocent time when all we knew of each other was the love that bound us together so tightly.

Knowing about the loss my family suffered when Dan died, and the estrangement that followed within our ranks is important to the story of How I Met My Husband. It is unpleasant to write about and a harsh reality to live with. The details of what led to the estrangement would be inappropriate to share in the open forum of a blog, so forgive me as I pause here in my story to take it up again on Friday.

Fireflys River in Mid FallBut I will share this one last thing today: in the midst of Dan’s illness, one night in late February the entire family held a vigil as Dan underwent emergency surgery. The doctors warned us he might not survive the night. Some of us were in Denver with him, some of us were in Los Angeles. We were all held together tightly, willing with every ounce of anything we had that he would make it so we could have him a bit longer … please. He did make it through that surgery and before I went to sleep that night, I wrote in my paper journal a note to God expressing deep gratitude for my brother, for knowing him, for his love, for his life. At the end of that entry there is this:

“P.S. God, somewhere in this world my husband is. If you see him, please point him in this direction. It would be helpful.”

Less than one year later, I met him by chance online. And that, is a story for another day.
I think I should go out in the yard and skip for a while. How about you?

[Note: The story continues here.]

Copyright © 2006 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



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  1. I can’t wait to “hear” more of the story… nice to already know it has a happy ending!

    I do skip, but it’s always hand-in-hand with a 4-year-old.

  2. Wow………I am waiting for the next installment. Am confident it has a happy ending, but know it must be painful for you to write. You take your time. I feel priviledged to be able to read your story.

    but I will insert a little whisper here……friday, friday, friday…………..
    just to bring you a smile

    Happy November!

  3. I also can’t wait for Friday!

    As for skipping, well, the last time I tried (a few months ago) to skip I ended up face down on the pavement.

    Yes, I am a bit of a klutz!

  4. We probably don’t beacause “people will think”…
    But I do, I dance around the house too. My kids think I’m crazy, my husband knows I’m happy. I very much look forward to Friday and think of you with happy thoughts. x

  5. If anyone can make you skip, it’s children. They unexpectedly make me revisit so many things that I think we as adults lost.

    I, too, look forward to Friday. It is very sad to hear of your family, but in some ways, I don’t find it surprising. My own divorce made it incredibly hard for me to connect with family members I had been close with prior and during; I think the landscape changes so much that we ignore the new terrain. But I also am a great believer in the healing powers of time, and I hope that- as cliched and simple as it sounds – becomes true for you and your family too.

  6. I enjoy reading your blog. It offers more encouragement than you can imagine. Thank you for sharing your life. 🙂

  7. Your story gives me hope! Perhaps I won’t have to run off to the nunnery after all…

  8. I skip with my kids, who think I’m too old for such nonsense. I also make a point of singing in bad, operatic tones when we’re in the grocery store!

    I’m sad to read of your brother’s passing. I hope your family finds some healing.

    And I’m so happy for you and your husband, I can’t wait to read the rest! (Not because I’m nosey, just becuase it lightens my heart to read of other people’s joy!)

    (And ok, maybe I’m nosey!)

  9. I skip with Freia! And I tried to get her as excited as I was about a pile of leaves the other day, but I think she just thought I was nuts…

  10. Thanks for your sweet comment on my blog… Do I spell the words right?

    Oh oh….

    Love knittie

  11. I too felt that I would spend my life alone and was cool with that. I know that I would have been fine, but I am oh so glad that I am not.

    I’m glad Jack06 got some love and a family of his own.

    Just a thought. Death is very hard on a family. It will either split you all or bring you closer. Perhaps it is time to see if some gentle tugging on the threads that once bound can bring the seams back together. Maybe they too are secretly wishing the ties that bind were still tied.

    Our family was never close. Sometimes I miss what we never had and wish things had been different. Maybe someday they will be though. I am trying to gently and subtly tug on our family strings. Maybe someday there will be a seam there.

  12. Wow, this is the first I have read of your blog and I am already hooked. You certainly have a talent for telling stories and I love your attitude. I will definitely be back tomorrow to read more of this story, but for now I think I’ll go outside and see if I can remember how to skip!!

  13. I skip often. Sometimes on my own. Sometimes with the Sister. Maybe even with the Husband if he’s game. One should never grow too old for skipping.

  14. What a powerful story. I’m amazed at how open and honest you are. I’m sorry for you huge loss…

  15. […] Thank you for joining me this morning. I will have more for you on Wednesday, I promise. [Note: The story continues here.] […]

  16. Wow!! I can’t wait for the rest!!

  17. Hee-hee…I was skipping just a few weeks ago. My son just laughed and said, “what are you doing, Mommy?” You’re absolutely right, you can’t skip without being happy. I remember skipping a lot when I was little, so I must have been happy.

    I met my husband shortly after I decided that I wasn’t meant to be married. It was like, once I gave up control and quit trying so hard, it allowed what was supposed to happen to happen. I was quite young (17?) when I “gave up”, but keep in mind my goal had been to get married since I was about 12. (Not that I expected to get married that young, but I expected to meet someone and just be “together” until we were old enough/ready to get married. Sounds foolish now, doesn’t it? 🙂

    How very sad about your brother. I’m even sorrier about the impact that it had on your family. 😦

  18. Jack06 and SquashBabe1 sure got busy very quickly! 🙂 Skipping? I think the last time was when I was teaching. I was seen doing lunges (switching from right to left mind you!) @ a Whole Foods one day throughout the store and managed to get funny looks everywhere..so I can imagine being seen skipping. Adults aren’t supposed to do that kind of stuff. We must’ve missed that memo. I was devastated to read about the loss of your brother. I couldn’t even imagine. I hope that one day your family is able to find its way back. As for you thinking you were destined to be alone and making peace with that, it must be something that many women go through. I have only lived in Los Angeles for the last 3 years and I have to say that I think it is more difficult here than possibly any other big city (other than NYC) to meet someone. People aren’t looking for that here. In fact, I thought this was going to be the last place where I’d meet my future husband but guess what? He wasfound here after all.

  19. Skipping? SKIPPING? I thought for sure I was the only grownup skipping anymore. Not that I’m really a grownup – but I’m over 40. I can instantly change my mood if I skip into work – it’s one of my best tricks! I even saw in a magazine that there’s a skipping society or club out there somewhere! Made my day to hear that you skip too. First time here – I’ll be back.

  20. yes I skip … and you’re right, it makes a difference to my attitude to the day 🙂

  21. […] When We Were Cowboys Q2: I Live on a Farm Website Q3: Moments online show at […]

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