Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘relationships

All About

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Cyndie. This Weekend, it’s all about Cyndie as we celebrate the milestone of her 60th birthday. With Jackie tending to animal chores at Wintervale, Cyndie and I are submersed in the loving energy –and I do mean energy– of the Friswold family. We are staying at her parent’s house in Edina, MN, but have twice in a row found our way to downtown Minneapolis.

Last night, it was dinner and music at the Dakota, where we ate like royalty and swooned over Shawn Colvin‘s very personal solo guitar song performance.

This morning, Cyndie is sleeping in. My brain is busy trying to process the onslaught of activity, memories, and emotions –not to mention distractions of mental and physical preparations for my biking and camping trip that starts on Friday– conspiring to confuse me over whether it’s all about Cyndie, or all about me right now.

I had the great pleasure of starting the day yesterday riding bikes with Cyndie’s brother, Ben. He rode over from about a mile away just as a rumble of thunder rolled over us.

We took pause inside to watch the radar long enough to see we would have a perfect window of opportunity after a very short wait. The tiny disturbance sliding south of us was just a precursor to the precipitation that would arrive in the middle of the day and hang around for the afternoon.

While the sky was watering the earth, more of the Friswold clan gathered for lunch at Jimmy’s restaurant near our old Eden Prairie stomping grounds.

After a little nap before heading out for the night, attention turned to a gift brother Barry presented to Cyndie. Her jaw dropped when she saw her younger face on the cover of a memory book of pictures he had spent many loving hours to produce.

Just as she finished a first pass through the overwhelming collection of memories the images trigger, we stood to witness Justify run for the triple crown. Then eleven of us headed out for dinner and the concert.

With noted local musician and song-a-day YouTuber, Zachary Scot Johnson opening the show for Shawn Colvin, we were treated to a range of guitar-accompanied stories, providing me with a second recent prompt to wonder whether I am still a guitar player, or not.

A variety of reasons have combined to allow months to pass without my spending time with fingers on frets. I am inclined to blame my yet-to-be surgically treated arthritic left thumb as the primary culprit for the hiatus, but deep down, I have a sense I may be giving that more credit than is due.

Somehow, while distracted with too many of my own concerns rarely focused on accomplishments, I have been granted the chance to flutter around the bright light that is Cyndie for 44-some years.

It makes for a tangled web that isn’t so much all about her or me in the end. It really has become all about us.

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Written by johnwhays

June 10, 2018 at 8:35 am

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