Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cause for Celebration

“A day merely survived is no cause for celebration. You are not here to fritter away your precious hours when you have the ability to accomplish so much by making a slight change in your routine. No more busy work. No more hiding from success. Leave time, leave space, to grow. Now. Now! Not tomorrow!”

~ Og Mandino, American Essayist and Psychologist (1923-1996)

My first “cause for celebration” involves a long-awaited progress report on my book. On May 31st, I made the decision to have my book published by a company called Xulon Press. Although I had to pay them, instead of them paying me, at least it will be published and available online for anyone who wants to purchase it. (I will receive a small royalty fee for every book sold.) But the important thing for me is that I accomplished my goal and completed the task I’ve been working on for so many years.

This past weekend, Keen and I had two more reasons to celebrate: our granddaughter Katelyn’s 1st birthday and our 29th anniversary.

The celebration got off to an early start on Friday morning when I received a surprise delivery from Rags to Riches Flowers and Gifts in Alma. The gorgeous bouquet of flowers came with a note from Keen which read: “You are the love of my life.”

“A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year.”

~ Paul Sweeney

The note and flowers brought tears to my eyes. You see, Keen has never been one to send flowers for special occasions – at least not on a consistent basis. And there was a time when this caused me a great deal of (needless) frustration. I recall one rather heated argument when I expressed my dismay over this fact by angrily telling Keen: “There are THREE dates you need to remember! I was born on July 3rd; we were married on June 10th, and I’M A MOTHER!!!!!”

One Valentine’s Day while Keen was in law school he stopped by the flower shop on his way home, only to learn (to his horror) that they were completely sold out of flowers. Not wishing to incur my spousal wrath, Keen asked the clerk if she would sign a note stating that he had attempted to buy flowers. But I am happy to report that I’ve matured since then, and have come to realize that it is so much more important to have a husband who treats me well 365 days a year, than to have one who sends me flowers a couple times a year – and then treats me poorly the rest of the time. (For those of you who have both – count your blessings!)

"But love . . . is more than three words mumbled before bedtime. Love is sustained by action, a pattern of devotion in the things we do for each other every day."

~ Nicholas Sparks

I’d like to share the following email my sister Mary sent me after I forwarded a picture of the bouquet and note I received from Keen:

“You are so blessed to be reaffirmed every day! Doesn't it make you feel brave? And now you get to enjoy those beautiful flowers as a reminder of the time, effort and emotion that he put into that gesture. He is a great guy! You both deserve each other. Could you have ever imagined all of this on a warm night in Singapore? I am so happy for you!”

Here is my reply:

“You are such a poet and a gifted writer. Yes, it does make me feel brave, although I’ve never put it in so many words. But I have often said that when Keen and I are in perfect harmony, I can move mountains; but when we’re not, I’m completely stymied and can't accomplish anything. Maybe that's a good thing, huh? And no, I never imagined this on that warm Singapore night in March of '74. But I guess you did, because your first question to me when I returned from our first date was: ‘Do you think he’s someone you could marry?’”

And Mary’s response:

“It makes me happy to know that you feel brave, because it means that you truly feel and appreciate the strength you get from being completely loved, supported and celebrated.”


Since Keen arrived home early on Friday, we decided to drive to Council Grove and take our chances that the Cottage House would have an opening. Sure enough, they had two rooms available, one of which was the Bridal Suite. We were so pleased! As always, we enjoyed our stay, along with a wonderful meal at the Hays House and a peaceful stroll around the historic town. Before we left on Saturday, I also enjoyed a brief visit with my dear friend, Rebecca Miller.

Along the way to Wichita we stopped at several small towns such as Peabody, Marion, Pilsen, and Burdick (population 60).

When we arrived at Josh and Lisa’s lovely new home, we were greeted by the birthday girl, her parents, and maternal grandparents, Gary and Linda Kaus.

It was such a treat to watch Katelyn open her presents and demolish her lady bug birthday cake (homemade by Mommy).

Not surprisingly, Katelyn seemed to enjoy the wrapping paper, ribbons and boxes more than the actual gifts!

Katelyn with Grandma and Grandpa Kaus and....

...Grandma and Grandpa Umbehr

After the party, we all went for a leisurely walk and enjoyed seeing the beautiful homes in the nearby College Hill neighborhood.

That evening, Keen and I took our chances once again, and were blessed to find another beautiful suite open at the famous hotel in the Old Town district of Wichita. The 100-year-old landmark was originally the home of the Morton-Simmons Warehouse, distributor of Keen Kutter tools, whose company slogan was, “The Recollection of Quality Remains Long after the Price is Forgotten.” The historic building was given new life in 1998 when entrepreneur Jack DeBoer began what would become an 11-million-dollar renovation project. The result is a luxurious 115-room hotel simply named: The Hotel at Old Town. I highly recommend it for anyone wishing to commemorate a special event. (

During our drive home, my husband of 29 years topped off our weekend by taking my hand, and with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, saying: “I love you so much. I’m just crazy about you.”

I ask: What more could a white-haired, breast-less, soon-to-be 49-year old woman possibly want?

“Love is like a mustard seed; planted by God and watered by men.”

~ Muda Saint Michael