"If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever." ~ Winnie the Pooh
DEBBIE'S CLAYGROUND FOR VALENTINE'S DAY! Give your sweetie, friends, kids and grandkids a handmade gift from Debbie's Claygound this Valentine's Day. Her work is adorable and is a gift to cherish! www.DebbiesClayground.com
We all remember our first kiss... Mine was in the seventh grade with a boy named LeRoy, whose memory can still make me smile. He carried my books AND my purse and was the first boy to carry my heart. Kathe's story of her first kiss belongs in a Louis L'Amour book, and as she calls it, was a real barn-burner! :) Thanks Kathe, for the perfect Valentine story!
THE SWEET SECRET
by Kathe Campbell
We were big city high school girls, the cheerleaders, the actresses, the track and swim team, teacher's aides, and the top students. Well, not quite. I always suffered a C or two, and of course, we all had Betty Grable legs and figures, or at the very least, that's how we perceived ourselves.
Summer was well upon us, and at 15 I was old enough to go to Aunt Mary's ranch. Aunt Mary was a friend's aunt and very fussy about the kind of girls she accepted each year, stating her Tacoma girls had never let her down. She was widowed, had lost her two sons in WWII, and enjoyed having young people as her working guests. For me, the two weeks would culminate in ranch dreams come true, a dream so foreign to my very urban family, but nonetheless, appreciated.
I wasn't in the least disappointed to find Aunt Mary the spittin' image of the lady on the Betty Crocker flour sack, until she brusquely hollered orders at the foreman. The boss had spoken and we respected her every rule. The big old white four-story house, hidden high in the mountains aboveYakima, fit mammoth cattle ranch grandeur perfectly. In-between chores, the eight of us would be mounting quarter horses to observe real live professional cowboys working cattle over the 20,000 acre WBarB. I could hardly wait.
We younger girls knew what to expect from those who had gone before and were eager to show our stuff. At first light we packed saddle bags with lunches and thermos bottles for a dozen or so trail hands. The rest of our mornings were spent picking and preparing fresh veggies, beheading chickens, cleaning bunkhouses, plucking geese and bathing the cow dogs and pups, plus any number of multifarious tasks. The simplicity of city life laid in sharp contrast to our duties on this enormous operation. We were constantly amazed, reverent, and learning much. Not one of us balked. We were having a ball.
After the first day, we organized our schedules to allow time for swimming in the big pond, just out of sight from the main house. When we heard the ti yi yipping of cowpokes returning, we quickly ran combs through our hair, smeared on a bit of lipstick, and shifted into casual bathing beauty modes on the dock. The seemingly indifferent cowhands sprang from behind bushes on a dead run, showing off on the diving board, splashin' and hootin' and hollerin', seeing how much water it would take to drown us. Seems to me times have not changed one bit, for the daily ritual was just made for teasing and laughing at the mile long supper table on the screened porch.
After dessert, the spiffied up men appeared in Aunt Mary's parlor to play the piano and guitar and sing the hits of the day. We all joined in harmony and learned to strum ukuleles. Occasionally the foreman invited us to ride fresh horses 'til dark, always with a few outriders to talk with down the twilight trail. Scents of hay, pine trees, and leather, combined with fancy yodeling under a full moon, conjured up a few romantic visions in our young minds. Other than crickets, a howling coyote, or a whinny, nights were deathly still until punctuated by distant laughter toward the swimming hole. We speculated what the older girls could possibly be finding to do in those wee hours, wishing we too had been invited to go skinny dipping.
Even after 50 years, I can still recall it being my turn to rub down and curry a few broncs just as darkness fell without notice. One of the ancient 20 year old cowpokes entered the barn, and without a word, whirled me around and kissed me very hard. It was a "Gone With The Wind" moment that let me know I needed to be kissed, and kissed often, and by someone who knew how. And mercy me, did he know how, musky aftershave and all! Almost nothing in my 15 years had sent shivers up and down my spine like that very first grown up kiss. It was so incredible it scared the bejabbers right outa' me. A dozen feelings overwhelmed me, including the fear someone would find out, and yet I almost didn't care. My high school sophomore year had been changed before it even began.
Sending a bunch of moonstruck girls home with sweet thoughts of a lifelong memory was undoubtedly a cowboy ranch tradition. Meanwhile, I remain transformed while Montana has reinvented me. This big city girl never quite got over ranch life and was eventually able to do my own thing, on a smaller scale, of course.
I've been blowing kisses, pecking cheeks, smooching, and grown-up kissing ever since. I do hope you have too, for without kisses, I figure life would hardly be worthwhile. What a magnificent invention. As far as I know my best friends never knew of the cowpoke and my first romantic encounter, even after I arrived in my room just a wee bit late. They never will, and neither will you, for it was a sweet secret told to my mouth instead of my ear.
Kathe Campbell copyright 2004
A kiss . . . . when all is said . . . . what is it? A rosy dot placed on the "I" in loving.
Kathe and her husband, Ken, live on a 7000 foot mountain near Butte, Montana where they have raised national champion spotted asses. The Campbells have three grown children and 11 grandchildren. Kathe has contributed to newspapers, as well as national magazines on the subject of Alzheimer's disease. She has been a prolific left-handed writer of the month at 2theheart and various other e-zines. She is currently featured in Chicken Soup for the Grandparent's Soul, Chicken Soup to Inspire the Body and Soul, and 2theheart's new book, People Who Make a Difference. Her Montana artwork serves as stationery at http://outlookstationery.com, and http://thundercloud.net/stationery/
The Letter Box:
Dear Amy Toohill,
OOOOOOH WOW - I am in tears as I write this - the story of Laura touched my soul - what a compelling memory of a 16 year old girl who still lives through many ... including Amy.
Thank You sooo much for this great story! Julie Dyer
I wanted to write you and tell you what a wonderful story you sent us. "What an Awesome Gift" was such an inspirational story. I, too, lived through the same type of situation. I am involved with the Chemo Angels organization. I had a "Laura". His name was Brian. He was only 12 when he went "home". It broke my heart. It was as if I had lost a son. He struggled the monster cancer and lost. He was so loved by so many people. I unfortunately was not able to attend his wake. But I was given much detail from his grandma. She said the place was FULL. He had touched so many lives. His school, the day after he passed away, all went outside and made a formation of "B-r-i-a-n" The local news channel sent a helicopter to take video of it and a picture for his family. His mom sent me a copy. What a tribute to him. He has a web page that has about 4 pages of friends telling how much he touched their lives. He left me with so much love and thankfulness that I was given a gift of being in his life. Thank you for letting me share.
Connie De Witt, MO.
The message from Meg sent 3 Feb. brought tears to my eyes. I didn't know that I have 'encouraged others' and I feel the strength of her prayers and support. If you would like to publish my email address perhaps you wouldn't have to take up your valuable space with any messages I might get. I know that I have friends on 2The Heart although we haven't met, but you never know...one of these days....
John is a sweetheart and supports me without being fussy. Knowing I was getting tired of waiting for the hospital appointment, he offered to get the jump leads from the car for me. A laugh gets us through many trying times, doesn't it? I am so blessed and happy and would like to say thank you to all my friends out there for their strength and kind thoughts,
Margaret - email@example.com
Making a difference, one story at a time!