Kittie Howard

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Two Fluffy Pillows and a Firm Ending

One of my quirks is fluffy, just-right pillows.  Whoever's watching from those hidden cameras in stores probably gets a good laugh when I go through my ritual of finding the right pillow.  Most of the time, though, I'd get the pillow home and would be disappointed the next morning.  You see, another quirk is two pillows beneath my head.  I'd never found the right pillow to cause me to return to the store to buy a second pillow.

Now, in a previous post, I blogged about the trip hub and I took (from Virginia) to New England. We ventured off the main arteries and spent a night in a simple but very pleasant bed and breakfast in Upstate New York.  When my head hit the pillow, the fluffy whoosh brought a smile.  In the morning, I inquired as to whether I could order this pillow.  I could.  Upon our return, I went on line.  Several days later, the pillow arrived (with free shipping and a discounted price).

I'd thought this pillow would stack beautifully with another pillow I had.  It didn't.  Since the free shipping and discounted price offers had expired, I decided to wait for another sale and another order.

But the Christmas holidays approached, I got busy, and forgot about the second pillow.  Upon our return from Louisiana, hub and I spent the night at a chain motel near a small town in northern Alabama.  It was a long-haul driving day, so we grabbed a bite to eat, and hit the rack.  In the morning, I inquired about the pillows.  Love had struck again.

I smiled from ear to ear when the clerk said there had been so many inquiries, they sold the pillows on site. At a very reasonable price.  I bought two.  The already packed car looked a bit fluffy when we drove away, but never mind, no one knew us.

We spent another night on the road, in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and drove home the next day.  That night, hub smiled when I stacked the new pillow on top of the pillow from the trip to New England. Since hub likes a firm pillow Home Goods usually carries, he understands.

To my delight, the combination worked.

The other night, though, the day didn't slip into a contented sigh when my head hit the pillows, like it usually did.  I worried a bit.

You see, I'd read a post where the blogger had poured her heart and soul out: about the time and energy she'd put into each post, but received few comments; about how she'd left comments on other blogs but few had commented back; about how her optimism had faded and she'd found another venue that satisfied more than blogging.

She'd also turned off the comment box.

Quite honestly, I was floored. The gal has a super blog with a large following.

I've felt a bit unsettled since - probably 'guilty' is a better word.  I haven't left comments as I should.  True, I've caught every bug that's come my way since January and didn't always have the energy to zip around like I usually did.  And, to be very honest, when I did have the energy, life appeared (meals to cook, house to clean, errands to run, my WIP), but the point is, I could have done a better job of visiting around.  I know that.

Like my two fluffy pillows, blogging requires the two of us.  We have to fluff together to feel the oneness.  I can't fluff all the time, but I'm going to fluff more.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Different Kind of Love

My husband and I married in Hawaii, where he was stationed with the Marine Corps at the time.

We had a simple wedding with nine people in the church, including the Catholic priest who officiated. Father Collins was a Navy chaplain, a captain (colonel) in the U.S. Navy who had served in World War II as a young enlisted sailor.  When he survived a harrowing wartime encounter, he kept his promise to God and became a priest.

Now, at the time, in the Seventies, it was general Church policy for a Protestant like me to convert before marrying a Catholic.  Since I was from Catholic South Louisiana, I knew the rules, but also knew the rules were flexible, depending upon the priest.  My hub-to-be and I had settled the question of religion very easily: I wouldn't convert; he thought my religion was my business.  Thus, we met Father Collins at the appointed time with bright smiles and fluttering hearts.

Father Collins was a congenial, immediately likable person, with a Boston accent and an 'Irish gift of gab', what he called an open personality to match his thinning red hair and fading freckles.  However, I'm from a state where blarney has a French accent, so I knew the light-hearted conversation was separate from the issue of marriage.

It was.

Father Collins coughed lightly, placed his elbows on his desk, and positioned his hands as if in prayer.  Since I'd taught in a Catholic school for a year, I immediately recognized Father Lorio's stance before he lowered the boom on a student.  I knew, just knew, what was coming.

"I can't marry you until you convert to Catholicism," Father Collins said to me.

"I'm not converting," I replied.

He ignored my response and opened the large scheduling calendar on his desk. "A class will begin in two weeks."

"I won't attend."

He penciled my name on a list in the margin and resumed the prayerful position. "Once you convert, I'll be happy to marry you." He leaned forward and said to both of us, "You will, of course, be fruitful and multiply, won't you?"

Hub-to-be and I exchanged you've-got-to-be-kidding-me looks.  So, I said to Father Collins, "I don't want to be contentious about this, but if you can't schedule a wedding date, we'll ask a Protestant chaplain to marry us."

As if the previous conversation hadn't existed, he shrugged and said, "Okay, I'll marry you."

And he did.

A few weeks after the wedding, we learned that Father Collins had been secretly married when he married us. Ours was his last wedding before he retired from the Navy. My first reaction was, what a hypocrite.  My second reaction was to call my attorney father.  "Are we married?" I asked.

"Yep, you sure are," he replied and started laughing.  My father had been ex-communicated from the Catholic Church when he became a Mason.

So, flash forward five years.  My husband and I are now in Virginia Beach.  It's our anniversary.  We go out for dinner and are walking on the rather congested boardwalk afterwards when my husband says, "Here comes Father Collins."

Mr. and Mrs. Collins were laughing and talking and very much enjoying each other's company as they walked toward us, but not seeing us.

For a split second, shoulders brushed as we walked past each other, us into our future and them into theirs.  It was nice, actually, very nice.

I can still hear Mrs. Collins' light laugh and see the twinkle in my husband's eye when he squeezed my hand.

We never saw Mr. and Mrs. Collins again.  I hope their robust health remains, and they're still taking evening strolls.  Every June 3rd, my husband and I remember that evening when love was in the air.  Yes, indeed, it really was.

(And still is.)

Happy Valentine's Day!