What a joy it was to drive to Oklahoma City and visit our son Todd and his wife Somer. They moved to a different home which I call, “ This Old House.” It was built around 1920. If walls could talk, I wonder what stories it would tell. What would it think of the young family that it now embraces?
Todd went to work, so Somer, Norm and I explored the attic. We sorted piles for Somer to keep, another pile to take to Salvation Army, and then there was Norm’s pile. Treasures that need fixing and cleaning that he will take back to Arizona.
In all this sorting we found clues about those that use to call “This Old House,” their home. Norm found a toy train, about 40 years old that needed a little work. They must have had a little boy in the family. Then there was a box marked “ugly glasses.” I think the lady of the house was particular about her china, and not too impressed with these glasses. Norm thought would make good beer mugs so he added them to his pile. Then there was an invisible plastic lady puzzle. You had to put all her anatomy together. He took that home too, not sure why, but he though there were a few missing parts.
I found a rosary, and decided to use it for my quiet prayer time. As I touch each bead I pray for my children, grandchildren, all my brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews plus other friends and importantly — the mess our country seems to be in. I found as I touch each bead and remember each person, it helps me stay focused and has increased my prayer time. It lessons the number of detractions that creep in my thoughts. I don’t know what all those peoples needs are that I pray for, but God does.
We found assorted Christmas décor. She must have loved decorating for the holidays. I brought some ceramic reindeer home because it reminded me of our childhood home. Mom always had reindeer on the television set. Not sure these could be mounted on our flat screens, but I will use them somewhere.
There was a small pile of books that caught my attention. Random Acts of Kindness, Conversations with God, a Course in Miracles. I thought, “what a special person she must have been, with a big heart, and open to trying new things..”
I came across another small book, “ The Christmas Box” she must have loved because she saved it. I sat down and read it as soon as I got home. The story behind it touched my heart. It questioned, what was the first Christmas gift? I knew the answer, gold, frankincense and myrrh. As I continued to read, I realized I was wrong. The first gift was “love.” God loving His son so much, and loving us so much He sent baby Jesus to us on Christmas day.
The book talked about the need for hard working men, to spend time with their children. Bestowing on them the gift of love – not material things. It made me think of my son Todd. He made the choice to be self employed so he could choose to go to school activities and spend time with his family, the ones he loves dearly. That book needs to go back to Somer.
We continued our exploration of the attic and hit the jackpot! We came across a huge suitcase that looked like it traveled the world. The name Claudine Long was engraved on it. I wished that suit case could talk, like the walls of this home, and tell me stories of her life and travels.
I thought about the people in my writing circles that I encourage to “Save Their Life, One Story at a Time.” When they leave this world, their story lives on. I wanted to know Claudine’s story. I googled Claudine Long, wanting to learn more about the lady that prepared this home for my children and grandchildren. There is bound to be a similarity of the two mother’s, Claudine and Somer, that loved this home and chose to raise their family here.
She died January 9, 2016. A little over a month before Todd, Somer and the kids moved in to This Old House. I wish they could have met her. I learned Claudine was a grand lady. She had a long career in finance, she became Senior Vice President of Liberty National Bank and Trust Company, and eventually went into private practice as a Certified Financial Planner. She would have been a good mentor for Somer, as she works at paying bills, budgeting, shopping and the financial planning for their family of six.
Claudine was on various Boards and Associations and named one of the Outstanding women in the News, and Outstanding Volunteer by Fund Raiser Executives, and appointed Oklahoma Ambassador. If she could see their office now, full of about 40 boxes of girl- scout cookies. Maybe she would be pleased with all the sales, planning and fund raising Somer was doing. She even coordinated a walk for juvenile diabetes. I wish Claudine could come back for a short visit and help us organize that desk and office.
I discovered, Claudine was a YMCA Board Member. What a coincidence that Todd spent several years working for the YMCA, developing programs and fund raising.
As I continued my search, I found pictures of the estate sale when she moved to a Nursing Home. Their front room was formal and full of white furniture. “This Old house” just got a new inauguration, and poor Claudine probably turned over in her grave! No more white furniture. It was home for four kids and three dogs. It has a quaint mixture of furniture, and antiques handed down by family. It is very sparce decorated. The beautiful wood floors covered with a few stay children sox, shoes and dog toys.
I continued to read about Claudine’s accomplishments including Adjunct Professor, Financial Planning at OCU; BBB Arbitrator; Downtown Now Board Member; Oklahoma Arts Institute Board Member. The formal dining room now has three children sitting at the table, under their fancy chandelier, doing homework. The adjunct professors are Somer and Papa Norm. I can’t help as I have no idea how to do this modern math.
Because of her involvement in Art, Claudine would like Todd. She would be pleased how Todd can restore historic homes to their natural beauty. Somer and Todd are adding a modern touch to “This Old House.” There were layers of fancy wallpaper on the bedroom walls. Somer has now removed the wallpaper and together she and Todd are fixing cracks, retexturing the wall and plan to use paint which allows you to easily wash off finger prints.
I found a couple quotes as I was looking through Claudine’s treasures. One was, “The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live.” by Joan Borysenko. Sounds like Claudine lived well, and I pray my children will too.
Another quote was: Keep on sowing your seed, for you never know which will grow-perhaps it all will. – Ecclesiastes. Claudine planted many seeds, like the rosary I found in her home. I decided to add Claudine’s daughters and family to the many I pray for daily. Namaste Claudine!
Somer shared that Claudine’s daughter’s stopped by to welcome the kids into their childhood home. They were happy it was going to be full of children, love and laughter again. “We spent hours playing in the attic.” There is even a shuffle board design painted on the hard wood. That is the area where Todd and Somer want their children to spend a lot of time too.
Todd and his family were welcomed into Heritage Hills neighborhood by many neighbors – that will soon become friends. I loved that they live in a safe neighborhood where the kids could walk to school, feel safe playing in the yard and make new friends.
Norm and I are back in Arizona now. The phone rang and I eased dropped in as Norm was talking to Todd. They discussed the plumbing issues and all the things that need fixing in a 100 year old home. Then my ears perked up when he said, “I forgot to tell you, we found an attic above the garage we have to sort through!”
Norm, I think it is time to make another trip to Oklahoma!