Tag Archive | Marilyn Huebel

Abbey’s Dream

Abbey Profile 2Abbey came running to see me this morning. “Hey Mom, I’ve gotta tell ya about the dream I had last night. You won’t believe everyone who was in it!”

“Really, Abbey. Who was there? Tell me all about it,” I replied.

“The dogs who used to live with you – Megabyte and Maia were in the dream. Aunt Marilyn’s cats were in it, too! I can hardly believe it, Mom. Grandma and Grandpa were also there. The dream was so vivid. Now I know what everyone looks like, even though I haven’t seen anyone face to face – yet. The whole dream took place in heaven…”

Megabyte (left) and Maia

Megabyte (left) and Maia exploring CamRock Park about 12 years ago.

The dream began with Megabyte trotting home to her dog mansion on the banks of the little creek in Dogwood Estates. (Yes, Mom. There are lots of smaller settlements throughout the “Holy City.”) Maia was lying on the front step, just waking up from a nap. She looked up at Meg and asked, “Where have you been, Meggie?”

“I’ve been visiting with Grandma and Grandpa over at their house in Peaceful Prairie. Did I ever have an interesting afternoon! Too bad you didn’t come with me. I decided to go over there to ask Grandpa to throw some tennis balls for me to catch. I didn’t ask you to come along with me because I know you’d rather play herding games than catch a tennis ball.”

“That’s right. But if you had an interesting afternoon, you must have done more than catch tennis balls. What happened?”

“Yup. Grandma had some visitors. Cats! You remember Spiffy and Kimberly Katt, don’t you? They were Aunt Marilyn’s cats when she lived in Wheaton and Chicago.”

“Of course, I remember Spiff and Kimberly. We get together to play stalking games sometimes, but we haven’t seen them in several months. What were they doing at Grandma and Grandpa’s house?” Maia asked.

cat talking“They were bringing a new cat, Millie, to meet Grandma. Millie lived with Aunt Marilyn for the last 17 years, and she just arrived in heaven a couple weeks ago. Spiff and Kimberly were taking her around to meet some of their favorite people. Grandma made them all some catnip tea. They were having a good time! When Grandma saw me coming, she dished up some ice cream for me. We all sat around and visited for a long time.”

“What did you talk about?”

“That’s what was so interesting. The cats took turns telling us what they each had taught Aunt Marilyn. They were actually bragging about the wisdom they each had shared with her. To hear them talk, you’d think cats were the smartest creatures God ever created. But I’ll admit, they did teach Aunt Marilyn a lot.”

“We taught our moms a lot, too. But what did the cats teach Aunt Marilyn?

“Well Spiff talked first, as the eldest. He had only five years to teach Aunt Marilyn because he died young of feline leukemia. He taught her how important it is to go on adventures, to stalk for prey, even if it’s imaginary.”

Maia smiled. “I like Spiff. He’s always ready to go on an adventure. We need to hike over to Cattail Land more often to play together.”

“I agree, Maia. I especially like to play with Kimberly Katt. In our conversation at Grandma’s, Kimberly said she taught Aunt Marilyn to play catch, to take time to play, to not be too busy to enjoy life.”

“Yeah. Kimberly is right about that. I’ll never understand why it’s so hard for people to learn that. They always think they have to be so busy.”

cat talking and smiling“From this afternoon’s conversation, I think Millie taught Aunt Marilyn more than the other two cats put together. Maybe it’s because she lived with her the longest. Or, maybe it was just that Grandma encouraged Millie to talk the most because she was new to heaven, and Grandma wanted to make her feel at home.”

“Yup. Grandma would do that – want to make her feel really welcome,” Maia interjected.

“Millie described herself as an engineer. Her favorite game was to watch Aunt Marilyn pull a string under or through something. Millie would calculate where it would end up, and that’s where she would pounce. However, on the rare occasion that she miscalculated a jump, the lesson she taught Aunt Marilyn was that it’s okay to make a mistake, but then it’s important to get right back up and try again. Millie talked about other lessons she taught Aunt Marilyn, too, but I finished my ice cream and wanted to go play catch with Grandpa, so we went outside to play ball while the cats kept on talking inside with Grandma.”

Meg w tennis balls

Megabyte resting after retrieving two of her favorite tennis balls.

“Well it sounds like you had a good afternoon. I had a good nap. I think I’ll go down to the front gate for a while to see if St. Peter needs any help keeping the new arrivals in line. See you later, Meggie.”

“Bye, Maia.”

Abbey was quiet for a minute when she finished telling me her dream. Then she looked up at me and said, “You know what, Mom. I think when we get to heaven, we’ll get new healthier bodies, but we’ll still be the same inside. Megabyte is still a golden retriever at heart. You can tell by how much she loves to catch tennis balls. And Maia is still a border collie who lives to herd anything. She loves her job helping St. Peter at heaven’s entrance gate.”

“I’m sure you’re right, Abbey. Hey, thanks for sharing your dream with me. You’re teaching me a lot of things, too. God had a really good idea about placing cats and dogs in human households to teach people about what’s important in life. I’m not sure we would have ever figured it out on our own.”

“You’re welcome, Mom. I’m glad God brought us together, too. And just think, some day we’ll all get together in heaven, just like the song says.”

Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
Sing His mercy and His grace;
In the mansions bright and blessed
He’ll prepare for us a place.

When we all get to heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

[When We All Get to Heaven by Eliza E. Hewitt, published 1898]




Sharing Some Thoughts

1984:  Marian, Mim, and Marilyn

1984: Marian, Mim, and Marilyn in the back yard of our two-flat in Chicago.
Marilyn lived on the first floor. Mim and I had the second floor.

Marilyn Huebel, a very good friend of mine in Chicago, writes a weekly blog, much like I do. A couple Mondays ago she posted “Vinegar on Spinach.” I really liked the post, and asked her if I could share it on my blog sometime. She agreed, and today’s the day you get to read it. If you want to read more from her blog, follow this link: http://monday-muser.blogspot.com/.

Vinegar on Spinach

Butter and VinegarGoing to a friend’s for supper on a school night was rare, but there I was with Bonnie at her family’s dinner table.  This was an era when families sat down together as soon as dad got home from work to eat meat-and-potatoes meals prepared by stay-at-home moms.  That evening, as the dishes were passed, I saw there was spinach.  I put some on my plate and remember commenting that lots of second graders didn’t like spinach, but I did.  Then I looked around for the vinegar.  In my house we put a few drops of vinegar on cooked spinach, poured carefully from the small cut glass carafe kept just for that purpose. There was no vial of vinegar on the table, so I watched to see what this family did.  As the butter dish was passed, everyone took some and put a pat of butter on their spinach.  I did too.  Thus came one of my first experiences of ‘people do it differently’ and discovering I could enjoy those differences.

Do you remember a similar circumstance that awoke the idea of options and seeing that there is more than one way?

Part of me wants to end this musing right here, offering a nostalgic reflection that might make you smile and think of your own awakening to the concept of preferences.  But part of me pushes on to wonder about paring down today’s world problems screaming in the headlines to vinegar vs. butter.  From fashion to football to foreign policy there are differing opinions and options.  Those options can make or break reputations or fortunes.  The consequences of those differences can result in life or death.

When the prevailing opinion informs us to buy blue or orange, wear wide or skinny ties, short or long skirts, we may go along, wanting to fit in.  One team studies the opposing team’s strategies and go-to plays.  Local and global issues become so complicated that I wonder if anyone truly understands them for often there are deep historical complexities and discord is the norm.  Yet people, individually and collectively, can cross the line from option to judgment to right vs. wrong. We stop seeing a person, a culture, a nation, a whole, and see only the issue that divides us.

Certainly there are rights and wrongs in the world and things worth fighting for.  Let’s not confuse those things with tribal preferences of vinegar vs. butter.


“To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.”  Robert Louis Stevenson

Thanks, Marilyn. Glad we're still sharing good times and good thoughts.

Thanks, Marilyn. Glad we’re still sharing good times and good thoughts.

A Special Cloud – Part 2

And now for the rest of the story…

Last week I wrote about Ruth, the latest addition to our assisted living family. Ruth moved into our condo (Country Comforts Assisted Living) less than two weeks ago. She was already receiving hospice services, and as soon as she settled into our home, she relaxed into the process of dying. Early yesterday morning she was born into her new life. Ruth’s son, her two daughters and their spouses, and some of her grandchildren gathered together at our place in the morning to share some time together, savoring being part of the cloud of love that has been hovering over our home that I blogged about last week.

Over the past ten days, members of Ruth’s family have become close friends of Mim and me. Sharing the experience of caring for a loved one as she passes on to her next life brings us together with a truly special bond. I’m thankful for all the new friends we’ve gained through Country Comforts Assisted Living. Both Mim and I really value the continuing friendships that have been formed.

“Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” Marilyn Huebel, a friend of mine who dates back to college days, also writes a blog every Monday. This morning, she started her blog by reciting the line above from an old camp song. In her blog she reflects on the different kinds of friends we have in our lives. Marilyn uses the image of an onion with all its layers to describe the types of friends we have – different circles of friends at different layers of closeness. (Here’s a link to her blog: http://monday-muser.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-colors-of-onions.html.)  I think an onion serves as a very good analogy for friendship. But since I’m not much of an onion eater personally, I’ll stick with the image of a cloud of love that surrounds me, a big, white, fluffy cloud filled with the positive energy formed by God and all my friends.

Between Country Comforts Assisted Living and Whispering Winds Retreat Haven, Mim and I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet many people, some of whom have become very close friends, and others who have become good acquaintances. I’m thankful for all the friends, old and new, gold and silver, that have come into my life – school friends, church friends, work friends, neighborhood friends, and, of course, family members. All of these friends contribute to the “cloud of love” that surrounds each of us.