Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘relationships

Years

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

April 8, 2018 at 9:37 am

Photo Memories

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Legacy …  7/18/1996-1/14/2018

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Written by johnwhays

January 16, 2018 at 7:00 am

Feeling Love

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In my lifetime, the art of feeling love has been a struggle to fully achieve. Luckily, I have had plenty of opportunity to practice. Most precious of all has been having Cynthia Ann Friswold around to repeatedly offer her guidance.

Quite frankly, some of that guidance comes across in a disguise that deftly pushes buttons that I’d rather not have pushed, but that’s part of the secret. Love isn’t always rainbows, flowers, and chocolate. True love is much more complex than that.

As a depressed person, I was distracted from being able to fully love. A combination of treatment for depression and couples therapy for our relationship was key to opening my eyes and my heart to love’s true potential.

Adding animals to our family has expanded my understanding of love to even greater depths.

Last evening, as I was holding our Buff Orpington hen while Cyndie worked diligently to remove globs of dried poop from the chicken’s tail feathers, I silently conveyed our love to the bird imprisoned by my grasp. Between a few isolated moments of flinching in discomfort, she generally rested her head against me and waited out the task.

We can hope she was able to tell our motives were pure.

Cyndie wanted me to offer the hen a red raspberry treat in reward for her patience of enduring the awkward procedure, but the Buff showed no interest. She just gave it the eye, with total detachment.

I had no idea that owning chickens might involve needing to bring them in out of the cold in the winter to wash and dry their butts. It’s a good thing they have gotten us to fall in love with them.

Owning horses is a whole ‘nother level of love.

Before our four Arabians had even arrived, back when we were having paddock fencing installed, a water line being buried, and a hay shed being built, the excavator arrived in his giant dump truck and chatted out his window with me at our first meeting. He asked what this project was about, and I told him my wife wants to get horses.

In a high-pitched voice of alarm, he exclaimed, “HORSES!?! It would be cheaper to get a new wife!”

Yes, there are costs to owning horses, but the rewards are pretty much immeasurable.

How do you measure love?

All I know for sure is, I’m feeling an awful lot of it in this latest phase of my life.

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Written by johnwhays

January 11, 2018 at 7:00 am

Going Tropical

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From the series of previous posts reviewing my history with Cyndie and her family, I hoped to provide a more complete background for what led to this year’s adventure to the Dominican Republic over Christmas.

After years of growing families, the Friswold Christmas spectacle of the classic gift exchange had expanded almost to the point we couldn’t fit all the gifts in one room. This was despite an effort long ago to rein things in by drawing individual names for the adults giving gifts.

I witnessed Cyndie and her brothers making an effort to encourage moderation, but it’s hard to restrain the love of giving. It was difficult to detect much evidence of change.

They were also putting energy and imagination toward devising ways to reduce the (mostly self-imposed) burden on Marie of hosting to the nines for hours on end, three or four days in a row. That effort was also producing mixed results.

Then, along came the year 2017, which just happened to include several significant milestones for Fred and Marie. They both celebrated 80th birthdays, certainly a benchmark for which they deserve the reasonable courtesy of reduced stress and aggravation in their days.

Equally noteworthy is this year’s marking of their 60th wedding anniversary. With these special events dealt to their hands, the two cunning card players set about making the big play.

Obviously, they had been counting cards all along, because they knew what was going to be dealt in advance. We found out a full year ago that Fred and Marie wanted to bring the whole clan to the Dominican Republic for Christmas this year.

No names will be drawn, no food needs to be planned or prepared, no setting up of tables and chairs, no world-class flower arrangements will need to be flown from Boston by Carlos, no dishes will need to be done for hours on end.

We will have the gift of a full week of each other’s company in the warmth of sun, sand, palm trees, and ocean breezes.

The whole clan, together again like a decade ago on Hilton Head Island.

I have no concept of what they could possibly dream up that could top this ten years from now, in celebration of their 70th anniversary.

What a family.

To Fred and Marie:

You have done the world a great service, raising these four amazing individuals with so much love.

You’ve given me an amazing opportunity to be included as family. You have blessed all your grandchildren with bountiful and limitless love.

Here’s hoping your dreams for this tropical Christmas were fulfilled, and that you enjoy many more days as stress-free as this week hopefully was for you both.

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Getting Married

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After six years of off-again, on-again navigating our growing relationship, Cyndie and I committed to cementing our connection in marriage. During a summer break when she was home from a graduate program at San Diego State University, we decided to begin the process.

I remember pausing on a bench in the 50th & France shops area where we asked each other, once and for all, if we were prepared to make this commitment. Then, we walked into a store to talk to a jeweler about making a ring that we designed ourselves.

We didn’t specifically speak about it again until I made a formal proposal in the form of a Christmas present I gave her at a Hays family gift exchange in December, 1980.

During the intervening months, I worked on a wax model of the ring, delivered it to the jeweler for casting, and asked for the blessings of our parents.

I’m pretty sure I surprised my parents by even asking. My father’s reaction was to say that I didn’t need his approval. Happily, Mom and Dad both offered their support.

Asking Cyndie’s parents, Fred and Marie, was a lot more nerve-wracking. All these years later, the thing we laugh about is that Marie was in the middle of untangling Christmas lights when I finally summoned the courage to utter the request for their daughter’s hand in marriage.

“You’re asking me now? In the middle of this tangle of lights!?”

Caught them by surprise, too.

I was incredibly relieved to find they were able to maintain their composure and avoided grilling me too hard about what the future might hold. Despite my worries, they accepted me as I am and gave me permission to marry their oldest child.

To this day, I have difficulty comprehending how they were able to process the reality of the events I had set in motion that day.

Marie was sworn to secrecy from that moment until I “officially” popped the question, but she didn’t know exactly when that would be. It was a wonderfully joyful night when we finally were able to share the news with Cyndie’s whole family.

I’m the fifth of six siblings, and my getting married was not incredibly dramatic in the grand scheme of other Hays family significant events. Cyndie is a first-born, their oldest daughter, and the first child to be married. I knew this was a big deal.

Beyond the amazing bond being put in place for Cyndie and me, the next biggest impact was that I was becoming a member of the Friswold family. That brought benefits and responsibilities that stretched the limits of my ability to grasp.

It is inextricably linked with the soul-connection Cyndie and I share. It is an honor of epic proportions that I am humbled to be able to claim.

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Written by johnwhays

December 23, 2017 at 7:00 am

A Beginning

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If memory serves me correctly, it would have been sometime in the summer of 1974 that a friend of mine, who had taken interest in a girl from the class ahead of us in high school, was looking for someone to join him in a long bicycle ride. We weren’t old enough to drive yet, and Cyndie was working at a home in Minneapolis, caring for a family while the mother convalesced from surgery. He wanted to go see her. I agreed to go along for the ride.

This would be probably the longest bike ride we had endeavored to complete at that point in our lives, and I think the adventure of that was the big draw for me. I didn’t even know who this girl was that we were going to see.

Struggling now to excavate details of that day, I come up with two specific tidbits, and neither of them have anything to do with the cycling. I think that is funny, but I guess it makes sense. I expect we must have needed to do some degree of planning a route, and then labored over the effort of so many miles, but I have no recollection of doing either.

I remember feeling a very specific spark the moment I laid eyes on that girl. Is that love at first sight?

I’m pretty sure it was that instant which probably obliterated memories of anything to do with the bike ride. There is an image in my mind of this alluring girl in a red halter top, up on a step stool, reaching for something in the glass-faced cupboard overhead.

Oh, hello!

That is the first specific memory. The second one is a moment of connection that felt very rewarding. We walked down to Lake Harriet with young John Magnuson, the youngest of the boys in the family Cyndie was working for, so he could go swimming.

We sat on the sand to chat while John played in the water. In getting to know each other better, Cyndie and I discovered we had both worn braces on our teeth and shared a wealth of experience in the related hassles.

It obviously wasn’t anything earth-shattering, but it allowed for a happy, silly conversation that just plain felt nice.

That feeling, and the memories of that first sight of her, provided endorphins that made everything else that happened that day inconsequential.

It probably wasn’t a beginning, but it certainly was a seed of potential.

Looking back from today, given everything that has happened since, it absolutely was the beginning.

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Written by johnwhays

December 21, 2017 at 7:00 am

Old Photos

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When the project is to write stories and the time to do so is very limited, getting sidetracked down a rabbit hole of long-lost images for hours on end can be an exasperating diversion, despite the value of memories it rekindles. It’s both good and bad, all at the same time.

I can’t help myself from sharing a few random gems discovered in the archives. To be honest, it feels a little like preparing for my own funeral slide show. Maybe if I share them now, these won’t be so shocking when they eventually appear in a memorial service someday.

Who am I kidding? I’m not going to show any of the shocking ones while I’m still alive.

Before I even get to photos of me, here is a wonderful, candid capture of my father, Ralph, at Christmastime in our old Intervale Ranch farmhouse on the edge of Edina and Eden Prairie, MN.

I’m not sure what he is saying, but I would rate his expression as leaning more toward amiable than not, which was a precious thing due to the preponderance for his attitude to be otherwise. When I miss my father, it is his good moods I like to remember. This shot does a good job of causing me to miss him.

I found this gem of me sitting on Cyndie’s bed in her bedroom in their house in Edina.

I would tease her today about all the myriad clutter adorning her walls and on her bed, except it happened to be strikingly similar to the way my teenage bedroom looked. Maybe that is one of the reasons we felt that early soul connection. For all our outward differences, the most intimate parts of ourselves were a good match. Our bedrooms were a manifestation of who we were becoming as we careened toward adulthood.

Here is one of my early visits to the northern Wisconsin vacation lodge club, Wildwood, which the Friswolds and a group of like-minded other Twin Cities families shared as an Association.

With my trusty old Alvarez guitar.

Finally, a shot of me modeling a birthday gift of new waders, while sporting one of my father’s old bowling shirts.

This was during my brief period of dabbling in the art of fly fishing. I think I was feeling pretty chuffed about my birthday haul.

For the record, that is the pre-remodeled kitchen of the Friswold’s home on Comanche Court as a backdrop.

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Hmm. Composing all that wasn’t too hard. Maybe I will succumb to the ease of narrating photos for my vacation-week posts. It’ll be like the old (dreaded) vacation slide shows people would foist upon unsuspecting family and friends.

“Here we are, standing in front of Niagara Falls…”

Time –or lack of it– will tell, …whether text or images will dominate.

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Written by johnwhays

December 15, 2017 at 7:00 am