This Is My Last Five Dollars


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The best card I ever received was on my birthday in 1995. It was from Dave’s Grandma Gray, and she enclosed a five dollar bill. It was signed, “This is my last five dollars.”

She wasn’t being funny. Someone made her give me five dollars against her will, I think.

She didn’t know me, but she already disliked me. She lived with Dave’s family. Dave was the baby of the family. He had been traveling with a touring group when he met me- apparently a poor substitute for his last girlfriend. In fact, Grandma actually called Dave’s ex as soon as she discovered we were together.

A few months earlier Dave had received his own special birthday gift when Grandma, as a combined Christmas/birthday gift, decided to write her grandson a letter about all the reasons he should never have broken up with his last girlfriend. I guess she was pretty amazing.

I could have been offended, but it was clear that this wasn’t really about me. I am just glad I have the card. And I wish I could say this all turned out with a happy ending about how she finally accepted me, but unfortunately Grandma Gray passed away later that same year. By then we were engaged, and Dave was living in Michigan. She still wasn’t happy about it. She said I was just after his money. At the time, Dave was making doughnuts for a living.  Continue reading

The Art of Pretending

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For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Michigan chain of stores called Meijer (which may be most of you), it is the store that inspired Wal-Mart. And, in every store there is a mechanical horse named Sandy. Kids love Sandy. I rode Sandy as a child, and for only one penny, Teghan also has the opportunity for a one minute ride. It’s nice, really.

So today as we were purchasing our groceries, the cashier offered Teghan a penny to “ride the horsey.” Teghan just stared at her. Of course she did, she doesn’t talk. Sometimes I explain that, but often I just take over the conversation and pretend she is shy. It’s less awkward somehow. I get a lot of responses like, “Awww….she must be tired.”   Continue reading

In My Life

Small movie theater where I saw all the great movies of my childhood for the very first time. Closed in 1996, but still there.

Small movie theater where I saw all the great movies of my childhood for the very first time. Closed in 1996, but still there.


There are places I’ll remember all my life, though some have changed.                                                  -Lennon/McCartney

In My Life has always been one of my favorite songs. John had me at the next line, “some forever, not for better.” I suppose when I was young it didn’t mean much to me other than an example of great lyric writing– simple and perfect. It takes a few years to gain an appreciation for how people and places change in our lifetime. When we are very young, we know that things are going to be different someday, but someday also might as well be an eternity away. We live our childhood lives as though everyone and every place will always be there.

Well, that wasn’t true at all. There is almost nowhere left I can go back to from my childhood. My parents no longer live in the house I grew up in. Other people and their things exist in almost every place I ever found familiar. All the buildings I once frequented have new things in them, or have been torn down. My school looks different, the place where I went for my first date has been demolished, and the theater where I saw almost all of my first movies has been closed for years. I can’t go back, even for a few moments of nostalgia.  Continue reading

What Are You Staring At?


Teghan in Bed

As I was waiting in line at the bank this morning, a mother and her daughter came in behind me. The daughter was about three years old and ridiculously adorable. While her mother was filling out a deposit slip, the little girl asked if she could fill one out, too. The mother said “not this time” and they stepped into line.

They ended up with the teller next to mine. The little girl wandered around the chairs in the waiting area, and her mom told her to stay close by. When she wandered back to the deposit slips, her mother spoke more sternly with her. She told her that if she did not stay where she had asked her to stay, they would immediately go home (instead of wherever they had originally planned on going). This made the little girl upset. She started to cry and yell, “No, no mommy. I am staying close by!” The more she attempted to reason with her mother the louder she became, and the mother turned her full attention toward her daughter to calm her down.   Continue reading

Religion, Politics, and Empathy


Today I want to discuss the forbidden topics. I want to discuss religion and politics. That’s right- both of them. I usually try to avoid them on this page, in an effort to keep things running smoothly. And overall, I have found little reason to bring my opinions on these subjects to this platform.

So, what changed my mind? Well, I can tell you it is not the desire to let you all know how I feel about controversial topics. Rather, it is a recent discussion I had on Facebook that made me think deeper about religion, politics, and empathy for others in general. These ideas have bothered me for some time, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it until now. And the resulting feelings I have seem to translate to this part of my world, too.

I want to talk about empathy, and the hardest challenge of all- to empathize with those who we do not relate to. I don’t know about you, but my Facebook feed is filled with failure when it comes to political and religious empathy. And while I usually make a successful effort at discussing my views with respect and patience; I often fail, too. I am passionate about many things, and I am sarcastic in nature. I abandon empathy on a regular basis.  Continue reading