Category Archives: history

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 75

A couple Saturdays ago, my family was actually in the same vehicle. Together. At the same time.car radio

That doesn’t happen very often anymore, because our different schedules and activities taking us in different direction.

But on Saturday, we actually had time together in my Jeep.

As we buckled up and took off, the radio came on.

And no, for those who know, me the radio was not tuned to NPR, where my husband works.

Instead, it was tuned to a rock station out of Washington D.C.

Initially, no one complained, but then a song that my son doesn’t like came on.

“I wish,” he said, “there was a station that only played songs I like.”

“There’s Pandora,” I offered.

“That still plays songs I don’t like.” he responded.

I didn’t say anything else but simply smiled to myself thinking of how many more choices my children have than I did.

They have cable instead of a television that might pick up the major networks. They have computers and the internet and can listen to radio stations from all over the world instead of a transistor radio that primarily picks up AM radio stations. And they have phones that provide instant access to all their friends instead of on house phone with no answering machine.

My son’s complaint was ridiculous, but it was also a reminder of how dissatisfaction with the status quo continues to motivate people to be innovative and inventive.

And that always makes me smile.

Day 75:  Improvements   Day 74:  Family Traditions

Day 73: Learning From Our Mistakes  Day 72: Live Music  Day 71:  Sleeping In  Day 70:  Grover  Day 69:  A Good Hair Day   Day 68:  A Sense of Community   Day 67: Kindness    Day 66: Living in a Place You Love   Day 65: Gifts from the Heart  Day 64: The Arrival of Fall  Day 63: To Kill a Mockingbird   Day 62: Green Lights Day 61:  My Canine Friends  Day 60:  Differences   Day 59:  A New Box of Crayons   Day 58: Bookworms  Day 57: Being Oblivious   Day 56: Three-day Weekends  Day 55:  A Cat Purring  Day 54: Being a Unique Individual   Day 53: Children’s Artwork  Day 52: Lefties  Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer   Day 50: Campfires  Day 49: Childhood Crushes  Day  48: The Words “Miss You”  Day 47:  Birthday Stories   Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us  Day 45:  Play-Doh   Day 44: First Day of School Pictures  Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes  Day 42: Appreciative Readers  Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote   Day 40:  Being Silly  Day 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You Are  Day 38: Proud Grandparents  Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies   Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories  Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want  Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon  Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap  Day 31: Perspective  Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans  Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows  Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads  Day 25: When Harry Met Sally  Day 24: Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck  Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love  Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds  Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth    Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles   Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 67

september 11 flagToday is September 11.

Like most American adults, I clearly remember what I was doing exactly 12 years ago.

I was home on maternity leave with my two-week old daughter. I had just dropped my three-year old son off at preschool and was upstairs making beds listening to the radio.

When I first heard reports of planes hitting the twin towers, I wondered what was wrong with air traffic control.

The thought of terrorism never crossed my mind, and I didn’t wrap my brain around the enormity of the event.

Being home alone wasn’t normal for me. I was used to being at work and being surrounded by people.

As the day wore on, I received more and more phone calls from friends and family members. Some were calling to check on me and others were calling to let me know they were o.k.

And, despite all the horror of September 11, 2001, that is what I remember most about the day.

As a nation, we not only reached out to those we loved, but we also reached out to complete strangers with love and support.

I don’t ever want to experience another day like 9/11, but I do want our nation to once again experience that type of compassion.

Kindness always makes me smile.

Day 67: Kindness  Day 66: Living in a Place You Love   Day 65: Gifts from the Heart     Day 64: The Arrival of Fall  Day 63: To Kill a Mockingbird   Day 62: Green Lights Day 61:  My Canine Friends  Day 60:  Differences   Day 59:  A New Box of Crayons   Day 58: Bookworms  Day 57: Being Oblivious   Day 56: Three-day Weekends  Day 55:  A Cat Purring  Day 54: Being a Unique Individual   Day 53: Children’s Artwork  Day 52: Lefties  Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer   Day 50: Campfires  Day 49: Childhood Crushes  Day  48: The Words “Miss You”  Day 47:  Birthday Stories   Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us  Day 45:  Play-Doh   Day 44: First Day of School Pictures  Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes  Day 42: Appreciative Readers  Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote   Day 40:  Being Silly  Day 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You Are  Day 38: Proud Grandparents  Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies   Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories  Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want  Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon  Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap  Day 31: Perspective  Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans  Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows  Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads  Day 25: When Harry Met Sally  Day 24: Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck  Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love  Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds  Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth    Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles   Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 66

harpes ferryI absolutely love living in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

We are close enough to Baltimore and Washington to take advantage of what those cities have to offer but far enough of way to have a real sense of community.

The Appalachian Trail and the C&O Canal Towpath are practically in our back yard, and history is everywhere we look.

The church we attend was used as a hospital during the Civil War, and Thomas Jefferson proclaimed the view from Harpers Ferry “well worth a voyage across the Atlantic.”

John Denver got it right when he sang “Almost Heaven West Virginia. Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River.” I never take the beauty of my home for granted, and I am comforted by having such a sense of place.

That  always makes me smile.

 Day 66: Living in a Place You Love   Day 65: Gifts from the Heart     Day 64: The Arrival of Fall

Day 63: To Kill a Mockingbird   Day 62: Green Lights Day 61:  My Canine Friends  Day 60:  Differences   Day 59:  A New Box of Crayons   Day 58: Bookworms  Day 57: Being Oblivious   Day 56: Three-day Weekends  Day 55:  A Cat Purring  Day 54: Being a Unique Individual   Day 53: Children’s Artwork  Day 52: Lefties  Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer   Day 50: Campfires  Day 49: Childhood Crushes  Day  48: The Words “Miss You”  Day 47:  Birthday Stories   Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us  Day 45:  Play-Doh   Day 44: First Day of School Pictures  Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes  Day 42: Appreciative Readers  Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote   Day 40:  Being Silly  Day 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You Are  Day 38: Proud Grandparents  Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies   Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories  Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want  Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon  Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap  Day 31: Perspective  Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans  Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows  Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads  Day 25: When Harry Met Sally  Day 24: Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck  Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love  Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds  Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth    Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles   Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 65

I never had much opportunity to visit or get to know my extended family until I was a teenager. Because ofmuppet music that, I appreciated every moment I spent with them.

I particularly loved visiting my Great Aunt Sylvia’s house in Beaverton, Michigan. I think that was primarily because it was so different from my own house and from that of my grandmother, her sister.

In other words, her house wasn’t in perfect order, and she had stuff. A lot of stuff.

I always wondered if that was a result of her dismissal of my grandmother’s need to abide by society’s expectations or if it was from having been married to my Uncle Joe, a World War I veteran and former mayor of the small town where she lived.

Although he passed away before I ever visited his house, Uncle Joe’s presence was everywhere.

His collector’s whisky decanters lined the entire parameter of the living room, and photos of his time as a grand master in the Masons were everywhere.

While I found those fascinating, what I absolutely loved about Aunt Sylvia’s house was the music. She had an organ that took center stage and lots and lots of sheet music.

Whenever I visited, I always asked if I could play the organ, and she always waved her hand in dismissal indicating that I didn’t even need to ask. And when I found music I liked, she simply told me to take it with me.

I still have that music, and recently my daughter and I sat at the piano playing and singing to songs in a magazine she gave me.

My daughter will never understand what that moment meant to me, but I’m sure Aunt Sylvia would understand.

And that will always make me smile.

Day 65: Gifts from the Heart

Day 64: The Arrival of Fall  Day 63: To Kill a Mockingbird   Day 62: Green Lights Day 61:  My Canine Friends  Day 60:  Differences   Day 59:  A New Box of Crayons   Day 58: Bookworms  Day 57: Being Oblivious   Day 56: Three-day Weekends  Day 55:  A Cat Purring  Day 54: Being a Unique Individual   Day 53: Children’s Artwork  Day 52: Lefties  Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer   Day 50: Campfires  Day 49: Childhood Crushes  Day  48: The Words “Miss You”  Day 47:  Birthday Stories   Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us  Day 45:  Play-Doh   Day 44: First Day of School Pictures  Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes  Day 42: Appreciative Readers  Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote   Day 40:  Being Silly  Day 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You Are  Day 38: Proud Grandparents  Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies   Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories  Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want  Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon  Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap  Day 31: Perspective  Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans  Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows  Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads  Day 25: When Harry Met Sally  Day 24: Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck  Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love  Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds  Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth    Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles   Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 63

I was once told that members of Generation X don’t have any heroes.

The explanation as to why makes sense.To_Kill_a_Mockingbird

We are the first generation that experienced the real-time exposure and humiliation of preachers (Jim Baker) and politicians (Gary Hart).

We are the first generation that experienced around the clock media scrutiny, the paparazzi and the loss of privacy.

But I disagree that we don’t have heroes. Our heroes are just different.

My heroes are the women who fought for equal rights. My heroes are the women who shared their own struggles and believed in me. And my heroes are the women who cared more about the needs of others more than their own needs.

I am incredibly fortunate that I personally knew many of these women.

I am also fortunate that others wrote books.

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those books.

Harper Lee never wrote another because she never had to.

She said everything that needed to be said in To Kill a Mockingbird, and each time you read it, you discover a new truth.

Her one masterpiece always makes me smile.

Day 63: To Kill a Mockingbird   Day 62: Green Lights Day 61:  My Canine Friends  Day 60:  Differences   Day 59:  A New Box of Crayons   Day 58: Bookworms  Day 57: Being Oblivious   Day 56: Three-day Weekends  Day 55:  A Cat Purring  Day 54: Being a Unique Individual   Day 53: Children’s Artwork  Day 52: Lefties  Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer   Day 50: Campfires  Day 49: Childhood Crushes  Day  48: The Words “Miss You”  Day 47:  Birthday Stories   Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us  Day 45:  Play-Doh   Day 44: First Day of School Pictures  Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes  Day 42: Appreciative Readers  Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote   Day 40:  Being Silly  Day 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You Are  Day 38: Proud Grandparents  Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies   Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories  Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want  Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon  Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap  Day 31: Perspective  Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans  Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows  Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads  Day 25: When Harry Met Sally  Day 24: Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck  Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love  Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds  Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth    Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles   Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

The Starfish in the Greenhouse

My dad is a man of nature.

He has a degree in forestry, and even now, on the verge of  80-years-old, he still nurtures gardens full of flowers and vegetables.

starfishIf I had only one word to describe him, that word would be green.

He had a green thumb and, when I was still a child, he even built his own green house. That ensured that when conditions didn’t cooperate with his plans, he could still grow the plants he wanted.

Because he was a man of dirt and seeds, I’ll never be able to think of my dad as a person of sea and surf.

But my mother is.

She’s loves to sit on cliffs over the ocean and watch waves crash into the rocks.

To this day, the only times I remember seeing my mom not being productive were the moments she spent watching the ocean.

Maybe that’s why my dad made sure she had that opportunity at least once a year.

On one of those trips to the Oregon Coast during my childhood, I found a starfish on the beach.

My dad, who was walking with me along the shore when I picked up the starfish, seemed less than delighted that I wanted to keep the starfish. But he let me take it home anyway. He even suggested I put it in the greenhouse so it would dry out.

I took him up on his suggestion, but I grew to regret it.

The starfish may have dried out, but it also stunk up the greenhouse.

For years it stunk up that greenhouse. And every time I entered it, I was reminded of that stinking starfish.

But my dad never mentioned it.

I doubt I’ll ever know why he didn’t, but I’m pretty sure the answer has something to do with love.

Love isn’t about having people in our life who find peace in the same place we do.

Love is about having people in our life who show us how to find joy in places we wouldn’t otherwise look.

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 17

The summer I was 15 was one of the best periods of my life. its a boy

That summer, I was away from my parents for an extended period and made life-long friends and life-long memories.

That’s also the summer that Prince William was born. I remember the speculation about his name. I also remember thinking that Princess Diana was only six years older than me and she was already a mother.

This summer, my son is 15 years old, and I don’t think he’s particularly interested that Prince William is now a father.

But I can’t help but appreciate the synchronicity.

I also can’t help but note how quickly time flies.

But the arrival of a new baby is always the best reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

And that always make me smile.

Day 17:  A Royal Birth        Day 16:  Creative Kids

Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity

Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay

Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial

Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember

Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons

Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles  

Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs

Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

Universal Questions

If popular culture is to be believed, all of our questions will ultimately be answered when we die.

I may be a bit impatient, but I’m not ready to find out if that’s true. I’m not even all that eager to have all my questions answered.

For the moment, I’m quite content to muddle along and think that wondering is the essence of living.

And wonder I do.

I know there are people who believe there is a master plan or that we just have to trust fate. But, in reality, there are more seven billion people on earth. If even one percent of those people are similar to me, they are constantly doing something random and unplanned that could change everything.

There are just no easy answers about how the universe works.

I first learned that during a summer in the late 1970’s.

My family was spending our summer vacation exploring Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding area.

Knowing my parents, the trip was well-planned. But even the best planning doesn’t take into account when little girls have to go to the bathroom.

My dad grumbled as he pulled our Oldsmobile 98 sedan into a parking spot at a visitors’ information center. As my mother and I headed to the women’s room, we paid little attention to the car with Michigan license place that nosed in next to us.

But my dad was paying attention.

Which is why he chose to watch a slide presentation about some geological event that had occurred at some point in history at our current location. I have no recollection of what the event was or when it occurred. All I know is that when my mom and I sought out my dad and brother, they were watching the presentation.

Or they were at least pretending to watch.

My dad was sitting in a metal folding chair wearing a foolish grin and pointing to the people in front of him.

Those people were my great-uncle Vilas and his new girlfriend, Betty.

Uncle Vilas, who was from the Detroit Michigan area, had visited us once in Oregon, but I really didn’t remember him. My parents didn’t even know he had a girlfriend, even though his wife had passed away years before.

All we knew was that, by some unbelievable coincidence, we had pulled into a visitors’ center in Montana at the exact same time.Uncle Vilas Bates

After the slide show ended, my mom tapped him on the shoulder. When he recognized her, he was initially shocked then broke into a wide grin. We spent time in that visitors’ center catching up. Then we went our separate ways.

That was the last time we saw my Uncle Vilas. He died a few years later in 1986, but my family always talked about the coincidence.

Then, just a few weeks ago, I was asked to judge a Boys and Girls Club state scholarship competition, and the national coordinator was from Adrian Michigan, where my mother was born. As we talked about the coincidence, I discovered that her parents had graduated from high school where and when my Uncle Vilas was principal.

My immediate reaction was “it’s a small world.” But sometimes, that’s just hard to believe,

michigan state bandI began to a do a little more family research and discovered that Uncle Vilas, like my son, played a brass instrument in a band. I also discovered that he, like I have, spent his career in service to others rather than in the business world.

I’m still not sure if that means anything more than he seems to pop into my life at the most unexpected moments.

But I’m willing to wait for the answer.

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 2

HoustonBatesfamilyI’ve always been interested in history, and my own family history is no exception. Because of that, I’m grateful to have been trusted with old family photos.

From the tintypes to stiff cardboard photos to fragile albums that are falling apart, I treasure those photos and the secrets they hold.Andrew and Hannah Bates

If nothing else, they remind me how lucky I am to be a woman who can choose to wear shorts, or pants or a skirt. They remind me of modern conveniences. And they remind me that I owe my life to all the people who have come before me.

I’m carrying their DNA and carrying on their legacy.

And that’s why old photographs always give me a reason to smile.

batesfamilyDay 2:  Old Photographs

Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

The Bridge that Mrs. Henderson Built

Life speeds by as a changing tide of both small and big events that leaves in its wake only memories and eventual acceptance that nothing ever stays the same.

It also allows us to witness what others will someday study as history.

Mrs. Henderson and Trina 1979

Mrs. Henderson and Trina 1979

When I was young, I truly believed that the distance between me and any historical events was immense. Even though I loved studying history and was a voracious reader of biographies, I still thought that events simply happened, were over and everyone moved on.

And then I met Mrs. Henderson.

Born on February 5, 1885, Blanche Henderson was literally a pioneer. In 1904, at the age of 19, she graduated from the Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University) with a degree in pharmacy.

A few years later and on her own, she became a homesteader near Madras, Oregon. After she married fellow homesteader, Perry Henderson, she surprised herself by becoming a teacher.

As far as I know, she never had any of her own children, but she obviously loved kids. And she showed that love to me.

By the time I met her, she was a widow living alone in a small, two-bedroom house with minimal furniture. She was also well over 90 years old.

I have absolutely no recollection how our friendship began, although I’m guessing my mother, a journalist, introduced us.

Once those introductions were made, the unlikely relationship began. My mother would take me to visit Mrs. Henderson, and she would always serve me half-melted ice cream from a freezer that wasn’t keeping her food cold enough.

Neither of us cared.

What I did care about was listening to her stories, and what she cared about was sharing them.

As I thumbed through her coffee table book of Norman Rockwell prints, she told me about attending the 1905 World’s Fair in Portland. She even gave me a fan from it, a souvenir she’d kept all those years and that I still treasure.

She told me about witnessing a stagecoach robbery when she was a little girl. “I thought the men had dunce caps on their heads,” she said. “My father had to tell me they were holding their arms about their heads because they were being robbed.”

As Mrs. Henderson talked about her experiences and about how the world had changed, I began to recognize that, what was history to me, was simply life to her. And wanted me to be able to touch it too.

Mrs. Henderson died shortly after my family left Oregon, but the lesson she taught me has stayed with me: each person can be a bridge between the past and Mrs. Hendersonthe future.  But that only happens when we reach out to future generations and develop relationships with those whom we may think we have little in common.

Thanks to Mrs. Henderson, I’ve actually touched the historical 1800’s. If I stretch myself far enough, I might be able to reach the 2100’s too.