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The other day, while reading this blog post, I was reminded of a similarly creepy instance with my daughter some years ago.

I was taking my three kids on a tour of my alma mater. They were enjoying the tour and seeing the places they had heard about. As we approached Memorial Church, I told them about the mosaics both outside and inside of the church and about the beautiful organ inside. My son and youngest daughter entered the building but my middle child, Tina, held back. Her face grew pale and she started to hyperventilate. I asked what was wrong and she said, “I can’t go in there. I have a feeling something really bad happened in there. I can’t go in.” She paused then added, “I think someone was killed in there. Was someone killed in there, mom? I’m right. I can tell by your face.” I guess my face had gone equally pale to hers. I answered her, “You’re right. I’ll tell you about it later.” I stayed out with her while Tony and Susie went inside.

I had not told my kids about it. I had not spoken of the events of 1974 since they had happened, certainly not in my daughter’s lifetime. But yes, she was right. It is still difficult to talk about and I will only give you the outline here as it still haunts me, and at times through the past forty plus years I have been visited by nightmares of that night and what could have been.

It was my freshman year, the second Saturday night of the school year, with lots of parties going on as people got to know each other in the dorms. I had left the party at my dorm to walk around campus with one of the boys from a neighboring dorm who had been showing some interest in me. We walked all over and about midnight, we found ourselves in the Inner Quad. He had been a little too aggressive for my likes so I distracted him by saying we should go into the church. We walked to the church and tried the door but it was locked. We tried the other doors. No luck, but we did hear some noises  from inside and expected to have someone come open the door from the inside but no one did so we left. Behind the church, he  got very pushy and we got in a fight and I walked back to the dorm alone. The next day I went home to do laundry (my parents lived a half hour away from campus) and heard on the news about a brutal murder inside of Memorial Church; a murder of a young woman who was the new bride of a sophomore student. They had gotten in an argument and she had left to cool off, ending up in Memorial Church where she was murdered then her body violated and left near the altar. When security went to unlock the church the next morning, they found one of the doors to be unlocked then found the body.

When I got back to the dorm on Sunday evening, the police had been there and had left instructions for me to call them back. Their extensive questioning had come across my name and that of the boy I had been with the previous night as people that had been unaccounted for during the probably time of the murder. I spoke to them by phone and they basically wanted me to verify my companion’s statement. I was able to do that as well as give them some more information that he had left out, including the noises from inside the church and the time and a person sleeping on a bench in the quad near the church. I guess I had been a little more observant than he had. The police said that the noises we had heard inside the church the previous night were “the right noises” and that the killer(s) was (were) probably still in there when we were trying to get in.

And to think I had also walked back to the dorm alone after getting in a fight with the guy I was out walking with. I found it ironic that the Arlis Perry  fought with her husband and walked to the church and never left alive. I got in an argument with my companion and left the church alone and lived to tell. Arlis was 19 and just a few months older than I.

So yes, something horrible did happen inside of the most beautiful church I have ever been inside of. And I had been on the other side of the door. But I had never told my kids, or anyone else since it happened in 1974, yet she picked up on the negative vibes of the place and the still unsolved murder of Arlis Perry. It really freaked me out that my daughter, had picked up on that twenty years later.

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If we were having coffee, we would be indoors. It’s raining here in Seattle. It’s not cold, just wet. You would have to help yourself to a drink before settling in as I have a baby in my arms! I drove up here on Tuesday morning and was handed a baby as soon as I got in the door. The rest of the time has been filled with holding him, feeding him, and lots of burping! Mati is four weeks old. He’s quite alert for four weeks. I think I’m spoiling him. He’s been attached to me almost all day, every day. I got to be his first babysitter, too. His mommy and daddy had tickets to two soccer games this week so they got a couple of nights out and I got this precious little boy to myself.

This past week has been filled with shock and sadness in the world. Being here with this tiny, innocent little boy has helped me both empathize with that grief and sadness and also get through it without totally falling apart.

As Mati sleeps in my arms, I’m reminded of holding his daddy in my arms when he was this age. I’m reminded of how much simpler the world was; how much less hate, fear, and danger we faced. I am also filled with hope and dreams that Mati’s world will be a better place; that he won’t have to know the hate and intolerance; that he will be in less danger when he grows; that he will live in a world that embraces all mankind.

I’ll be driving home to Portland tomorrow. I’m already missing this little one and wondering when I’ll be back to see him. I’m lucky that he’s only a three hour drive away from me. Hopefully that will translate into frequent visits.

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 #WeekendCoffeeShare is a weekly blog linkup hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster Blog. Come join us!

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Today, May 3, is Teacher Appreciation Day in the United States.

Do you remember a special teacher in your life? I was lucky enough to have many excellent teachers. I’ve written about some of them, mostly high school teachers. I think they helped me to realize that I wanted to be a teacher.

In middle school I had Mr. Clark for Math in 7th grade. He was a weathered teacher who retired when I was in 8th grade. He had seen everything in the way of teaching and students. He wasn’t one to insist that we be silent in class but he had a military background so he commanded respect without having to threaten or admonish. He appreciated a good joke, even when others told the joke. He had a hearty, infectious laugh. And best of all, he made sure that everyone “got it” whether they were boys or girls. That used to be rare. Most math teachers taught to the boys, not the girls, in my day. Mr. Clark treated us all equally.

He was one of many special teachers; one that I had all but forgotten until I tried to think of a good, memorable teacher in middle school and his name jumped up. I was ony going to mention him but I ended up telling you more about him than I thought I remembered.

I’ll probably highlight a couple more of my special teachers throughout the week. Tell me about YOUR special and favorite teachers.

To all the teachers and former teachers out there, thank you for teaching. It’s one of the most important jobs.

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Note: This was originally posted in 2008. It is one of my favorite Christmas stories because it brings back the magic of Christmas that most of us had long, long ago.

I grew up in a large family.  There were seven kids plus my mom and dad.  My dad was the only one who worked, as was the norm in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  My dad drove a fork lift at one of the local canneries.  The only way there would ever be any money for Christmas gifts was for my mother to save money in a Christmas Club account at the local Bank of America where she made a weekly deposit.

One year my brother David, who was about eight years old that year, fell in love with a toy he saw on a TV commercial.  It was a cannon that shot hard plastic balls.  It was called the Mighty Mo.  The commercials showed the Mighty Mo crawling over and through rough terrain all on a miniature scale, of course, but it looked really neat.  The clincher was the footage of the cannon balls launching out of the Mighty Mo!

David had to have one but we were taught to not ask for anything, not even for our birthdays or Christmas so he couldn’t ask for one.  We lived a block away from Safeway and my mom used to send us on daily trips for the odd supply she needed before the next week’s big grocery trip.  Safeway carried a few toys then.  They placed them on the shelves high above the produce department as those shelves were normally empty.  On one of the trips to get something for my mom, David was thrilled to discover that Safeway had about two dozen Mighty Mos on their shelves!  After that day, David volunteered to go to Safeway every single time my mom needed something.

Every day David returned from his Safeway run to report exactly how many Mighty Mos were left on the shelf and every day, as the number dwindled, he gave my mom his report in a sadder and sadder tone.  First there had been two dozen then only eighteen.  Soon there were less than a dozen and when there were only four left, David was really sad. About three days before Christmas, David reported, with tears in his eyes, that there were no Mighty Mos left at Safeway.  When Christmas arrived, David was the only one of us that was not excited about it.  We all wanted him to be happy like we were but nothing got him excited.

On Christmas morning, we got up and my big brothers helped us girls get dressed and ready to go upstairs to open presents.  That’s what we did each year because it gave my parents a little extra time to get up.  When we got upstairs, David was the last one to go into the living room where the tree was with our Santa gifts unwrapped.  When he came in he found us all with huge smiles on our faces and our eyes intent on his face.  He didn’t know what was up until he looked under the tree and found his Mighty Mo with a big red ribbon on it!

We all enjoyed that Mighty Mo for several years.  David especially liked to shoot the cannon balls out of the Mighty Mo from the top of the stairs in the back yard.  It was a fun toy.  I only wish my brother David was still around to tell the story himself.

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She had not gone with them one that Sunday. She was sick in bed. They were off to get pizza and play at that mouse pizza place. A couple of hours later, she knew they would be home soon so she got up and got dressed so she wouldn’t be in bed still sick. She knew she should make an effort to look well and get out of bed and join the family. As she washed her face, she caught sight of herself in the mirror and she paused and smiled at her reflection. She thought how lucky she was to be in this marriage and have her three beautiful children and a husband that loved her and that she loved in return. Then the moment was over and she finished getting ready just as they walked in the door.

Her husband went into the kitchen to put the leftovers in the fridge, pausing in the den to turn the TV on for the kids. Then, when he came into the room, he went into his closet and got out his duffle bag and started packing clothes. Confused and thinking maybe he had a business trip she had forgotten about she asked him where he was going.

“Away.”

“Where? Did I forget a trip?”

“No. I’m just leaving.”

She felt a chill down her spine and a thought flashed through her mind: nothing would ever be the same in her life ever again.

“What do you mean? Where are you leaving to?”

“I don’t know. I just have to get out of here.”

“Why?” The rest of the words were stuck inside her head.

“Just because. I’m tired of being here. I’m tired of being married to you.” He kept packing, putting his shaving things in the bag.

“Did I do something wrong? What did I do?” She didn’t want to cry so she said as few words as possible.

“No. I’m just tired of it. I need time and space.” He headed for the door as quickly as he could. She followed as she asked if he was going to say something to the kids. He said he was not. So she did.

“Kids, come here quickly. Come say good bye to your dad. He’s leaving now.” They came running and asked where Daddy was going.

“Away. He isn’t going to live here anymore. He wants to live alone.”

“I’m don’t want to be away from you guys. I just have to leave. I can’t stay here.”

“Give Daddy a hug and a kiss.”

They did. They were confused, more so than she was but they still said good bye and kissed their father.

Then he was gone.

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Note: This is probably the most difficult post I have ever written. It’s hard for me to go back and reread it so please excuse any typos or grammar errors.

It was November of 1982. I was the happiest I had been in a long time. My son was the source of that happiness. He was nine months old and was the light of my life.

Then the phone rang. It was Friday night, about 10. I didn’t think much of it being late as family often called at the end of the day. I picked it up and won’t ever forget the words. “It’s me, Carlos. I can’t talk but you need to sit down.”  I laughed at the sitting down part then he said it again, “Sit down Little Sister.” I did. I still had no clue but when he asked if I was sitting, I answered that I was, still clueless to what was coming. “David just killed himself. I have to go over there right now. The police and coroner are waiting for me. I have to go. I love you.”

That’s when the bottom fell out of my life.

I fell into depression for the first time in my life. I took care of the baby, kept in touch with family on the phone and I spoke to my brother’s widow on the phone every day. She would call me each day at the time my brother used to call her on his morning break from work. That was the time they got to talk about the kids and their lives without the kids being present. To get through that time,she would call me and we would spend the twenty minutes talking. It was good for me, too. We got each other through those first months.

One afternoon, as my son and I waited for his dad to get home from work, the phone rang. The phone was in my husband’s office, just on the other side of the living room where my son and I were. I ran to get the phone, leaving Tony crawling on the rug in the middle of the room. Not thirty seconds after I picked up the phone, I heard a loud bang. I dropped the phone and ran around the corner. Tony was on the floor. Hid dad had just walked in the door and was standing in the doorway, his face ashen, his mouth open. We checked the baby. He was fine. He didn’t even cry. My husband said that just as he opened the door, he saw the baby pull himself up on the coffee table, lose his balance and fall. As he fell, his forehead hit the corner of the coffee table. He said he was expecting to see blood all over. There was nothing. Not even a scratch or a red mark on him.

We couldn’t explain it. My husband summed it up. He’s not one to believe in this sort of thing so it surprised me to hear him say, “Someone was watching out for him.”

It made me smile. I knew it was David. Several times in the previous weeks, I had heard the baby cry during the middle of the night and before I even pulled myself out of bed, the music box would start playing music and he would stop crying. There was no one to turn on the music box yet it played. Twice I had gone into the baby’s bedroom to find the rocking chair next to the crib rocking by itself.

A month or so had gone by since the baby had fallen and hit his head on the coffee table. My next door neighbor volunteered to drive Tony and me to the store. We got in her car and she asked me if my guest wanted to go to the mall with us. I said we didn’t have a guest. She asked if he had already left and I said we had not had any guests in months and no male guests in about a year. She shook her head and said, “But I saw him. He was in the window in the baby’s room. I saw him last night. I couldn’t sleep so I got up and wandered around the house. When I looked over there, I saw a man walking back and forth carrying the baby against his shoulder. He walked back and forth, back and forth.” I asked her to describe the man she saw and she described my brother, David. My husband was the only man in the house and he was a full foot taller than my brother and very thin. My brother was near 200 pounds.

Indeed someone was watching over him. And it brought a smile to my heart.

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High heeled shoes.  They can be such a pain to wear, both literally and figuratively. They can be sexy. They can be clunky. They can be cutesy.

I’m very short (I have to stretch a bit to reach the 5 foot mark) so as soon as my parents allowed me to, I started wearing high heeled shoes and when they came into style, platform shoes which were far easier to wear than heels and more appropriate for certain occasions.  They made me look taller and in the days of hot pants, they made my legs look a lot longer than they are and those seemingly good legs brought some (not unwanted) attention.  In fact, I remember one boy in our senior year that once, when I got back to my desk from the table at the front of the room, asked me to go back to the table and then back to the desk just so he could look at my legs again! That was the first time anyone said anything like that to me.  It was flattering.  It was embarrassing (he said it loud enough so everyone heard). It was confusing (I wasn’t in to the physical appearance factor but this comment actually made me feel kinda good).

Fast forward seven years and my high heel wearing days were over.  When I was 25 I was in a head-on collision.  I was pregnant at the time and luckily, my knee took the blow and not my belly.  I’ve had six operations to repair the damage to my knee but it has never been fixed and to this day I can no longer wear any kind of heel or wedge or plaform. It is “flat city” for me.  Sometimes I really miss the high heeled shoes.

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