Tag Archives: Linda Claire Groshans short stories

Falling in Love- a short story by Linda Claire Groshans

My sister Mary Ann came to me with an idea just before my 18th birthday. My birthday gift from her would be a completely arranged blind date. All I had to do was be willing. My sister and her boyfriend would arrange for this blind date to be a double date to the circus that was playing in the Metro area. According to their plan, I would not meet my date until he arrived at my home on my eighteenth birthday.  

I am now embarrassed to admit that my questions about my blind date were about as shallow as a could be. You see these questions were purely based on his physical appearance and had little to do with his intellect or nature. 

“What does he look like?” I wanted to know. 

“He is tall and very good looking.” my sister explained. 

Now this sounded promising to me. I had just purchased a pair of 3 suede high heels with a metal stud décor, and I was relived to find out he was a tall guy so I could easily wear my new shoes without towering over my date’s head. Looking back at this philosophy and qualifying a date by his height or my shoes seems ridiculous to me now, but at that time it was paramount. 

“How tall?” I asked her. 

She surprised me when she said that he was 6’5” tall. Yep, this could be good because I could easily wear those new high heels. And this was important because I also had a new wool vest and hot pants combination outfit. The hotpants were wool plaid and they matched to my new high heeled shoes.  I am so sorry that no photograph seems to exist of me in this smoking hot outfit.  

Funny the things we choose to remember through the decades, but those hot pants and those shoes were one of my finest “drop the mic” looks. My polished look had also been achieved by wearing curlers to bed the night before so that my long blond hair would wave with body and shine.  

My parents were there to get the door when the doorbell rang on the evening of our date. My sister and her date greeted him into our home. All I had to do was walk down the stairs and meet him in the foyer. Now, as I imagined myself to be somewhat of a super model in the ultimate outfit, I tried to make my descent down the stairs a picture-perfect moment. I wanted to put all my theater and drama training into good use. Everyone was waiting for me at the bottom of the staircase. That also means that everyone was there to see me trip on the last step and make a small falling motion. I did not fall down completely because my blind date caught me as he broke my fall with his arms outstretched. 

When I looked at him, he was smiling down at me. He looked like a Greek god. He was handsome beyond my wildest dreams. He had perfect dark hair and the brownest of eyes. His physique was athletic and trim. And he was certainly tall. Even in my suede heels I only came to his shoulder height. He released me from his arms and warmly joked, “Wow, I guess you really fell for me.”  

The date was perfect. We enjoyed the circus and all the fun things that could accompany such a date including vendor snack foods. I don’t even remember if we did much talking. I had literally fallen in love with him at first sight. I was giddy with joy. Could this possibly be real? 

There were more dates in our future and getting to know him only secured my belief that I was truly in love with the perfect person. 

We were young. I still had college ahead of me and he would join the Air Force. We made it through those years writing long love letters and saving money for long distance calls. Our love flourished. He professed his love for me, and I was absolutely gone on him. I traveled to Andrews Air Force Base and he traveled to my college for visits as often as we could arrange it.  

About 5 years after we met, we planned our wedding. Jack became my husband. We had a magical honeymoon to Stratford, Ontario. We ate in fancy restaurants and attended the Shakespeare theater there. We held hands, kissed, and walked through parks and the city. I was charmed. For years after that honeymoon, we would recall moments of joyfulness that we shared.  

The years progressed and our first child arrived nearly nine years after we had first met.  Our daughter arrived and we became a family of our own. We were such good friends and parents.  

As our daughter grew, I also found a dream job working in management for a large Ann Arbor hotel. My career was going strong and so it seemed a good time for Jack to go to school on the GI bill and complete college too. 

We started to argue. We argued a lot. I don’t even know exactly what those fights were about anymore. We were not perfect, he was not perfect, and I was not perfect.  

19 years after we first met, we had a second child, our son. All of what I wanted was in my happy orbit. My beautiful children, my handsome husband, and a lovely house. I would make sure that the arguing stopped. I made it my career to try and be pleasing and lighthearted when we were together. I tried not to engage when he criticized me. I was sure it would all be fine.   

But it came undone. I just had not noticed that he had become increasingly unhappy. When he told me that the marriage was over it was a complete shock. I was sucker punched, the rug was pulled out from me, I hit a brick wall and the idea of divorce was a surprise to me. How could this have happened to us?  

Later, I would learn that love is not always enough to keep a marriage together. My love was not enough.  

I was terrified about becoming a single mother to a toddler and a teenager. I begged him. I cried and pleaded. And he left me. He left the family home with our children. We divorced.  Before long at all I heard that he had married his co-worker.  

I still loved him. He was married to someone else.  

Years have gone by. There were some new love affairs after my marriage, but I never remarried. When I think of him, I still recall that deep love we once shared so easily and my heart is sad that we did not make it.  I wish him well. I am ok. This February of 2021, I will turn 67 years old. It was 49 years ago that I fell for him. I do not regret that love story. I also no longer regret that he left because I have had a full vibrant life. I just wish that I could still wear those smokin’ hotpants and I do regret having no photo of that youthful woman I once was as my eyes looked up with adoration to that man who stole my heart.  

And that is when she heard a noise…a short story by Linda Claire Groshans

Linda was 40 years old and had 2 children. The recent divorce meant that Linda was the only adult living in the household. This was a new situation for her to find herself in. Up until this time, she had lived with her parents or her husband. The adjustment to single parenting was going fairly well for Linda. But the evenings loomed with loneliness and her fears.

Every evening, as Linda climbed into her bed, she would hear sounds. Until she lived as the sole adult, she had simply given no thought to the simple noises a house could make. Her parents and then her husband had been charged with the responsibility to keep everyone safe. Now, as Linda lay in her bed alone, the radiators banged in such a way that one could easily interpret the noise as a person trying to pry open a door!  Creak, tap, tap. The tree that needed trimming sometimes banged against the windowpanes sounded like a villain pounding against the door demanding entry. Pound, thump, pound.

Linda supposed that her fears were normal for an adult who needed to secure the safety of herself and her 2 children. She was just not used to being at such a level of responsibility. She loved her children and prayed for their safety and she felt that she needed to stay vigilant here in these dark hours before slumber set in.

Her neighbor friend Bill was a Federal Marshall. Bill had given her a defense plan after her divorce. He advised her to keep a pair of large men’s boots near the front door. This would supposedly fake out a burglar who upon seeing the boots would believe that she was not single and vulnerable. The work boots would suggest a rugged, tough guy lived in this house. Linda had purchased the perfect boots at the local thrift store and placed them on the front doormat.  Bill also suggested that a can of wasp spray would be a good defense tool. In the event of an intruder, Linda could kneel beside her bed and spray a good distance and with great accuracy towards the eyes of the intruder.

So, Linda went to sleep with her cell phone handy and a can of wasp spray always nearby.

Over a period of months, Linda began to calm herself. The radiator and the tree taps were simply background noises. Linda also began to have confidence in her handling of life as a single Mom and even laughed at her early fears and trepidations of nighttime dangers.

It was a frosty February evening when she heard a noise that caused her adrenaline to spike. Linda reached for her wasp spray and her phone. The noise had definitely been the sound of breaking glass. Linda analyzed where the noise had originated. It had clearly been the room just below her bedroom. It had come from the family room. This was also the only room in the house with a large glass door wall.

It was odd that at this serious threat she never thought of calling 9-1-1. It was probably because every other noise had always been a false alert. This was different. Someone had broken the glass downstairs. As Linda crept down the upstairs hallway, she could see that the children were snug in their beds and sound asleep. Linda knew her floor well, she knew where to avoid the creaking boards. Her bare feet traveled noiselessly along the hallway to the staircase.

There, at the top of the stairs, she paused waiting to see if she could hear anyone walking around downstairs. Instead, she heard again the noise of breaking glass. She could hear it and could envision the tiny pieces of glass that surely now covered her family room floor.  Still, she heard no footsteps. Linda creeped with great stealth down the stairs with the wasp spray at the ready.

Ever so carefully Linda came closer to the scene of the crime. If only she had left some boots by that back entry to her home.

In one dramatic gesture Linda reached the light wall switch. She flipped it on with fearless determination. She would face down her aggressor. The wasp spray was uncapped, and her finger was ready to press down the aerosol spray button.

That is when she heard the noise again and saw the source. Pumpkin, the new orange kitten, was walking the treble cleft part of the piano keyboard.  Ping, ping, ting, ting, ping. The same sound as Linda had heard before. A piano song that sounded just like breaking glass.

Linda nearly collapsed with relief. She lowered her wasp spray weapon.

A sunset date a short story by Linda Claire Groshans

photo by Linda Claire

Randy was on his 4th date with Carey. He really liked her, and he hoped she would like his choices for the evening he had planned for them. After all, he had listened carefully to Carey on their previous date and he had made mental notes about her preferences for dining choices and types of activities.

And so, it was, that on a Friday night Randy arrived at Carey’s apartment to pick her up and drive her to begin the date at a deli with vegan options. When they finished dining, he drove straight over to the County Park and the hiking trails there.

Randy was clever enough to make the date romantic by announcing that he would leave his cell phone in the car. He told her that he wanted to give her his full attention. Randy had never been at this park and was not generally known for his sense of direction. Still, he figured how hard could it be to hike around a park.

Randy enjoyed Carey’s brilliant conversations and found it easy to be relaxed and be himself with her. His normal shyness was simply gone, and he felt an easy joy and comfort in her presence. Carey pointed out mushrooms, birds, and warned him of low branches. Randy had never had much outdoor nature experience, but it was quickly becoming his favorite activity and he wanted to learn everything from this attractive date.

And so, the time passed. And so more time passed. Randy simply paid no attention to the dimming light until Carey brought it to mind when she said, “Randy, this should be fun, we should be able to see the sunset together.”

Good grief, Randy was startled. He had no idea where they would see the sunset as he had no idea as to where they were and no idea which direction was west. In fact, he started to realize that he was lost. He was hopelessly lost in the County Park, but he did not want to alarm Carey.

Randy realized that this lost persons emergency might cause them to have to end up in the park in the complete dark of night. He began to worry about how a person spent a night in the outdoors. If only he had gone to Boy Scouts. Was there wildlife in this wooded park? He wondered. Perhaps there were coyotes. And Randy then began to think about any knowledge he might have on coyotes and how to fend them off. “Bears!” he thought to himself. “Oh my God, there could be bears!”

If only he knew where his Jeep was!

“Randy?” Carey asked, “Are you o.k.? You look worried.”

Randy had to punt. He quickly replied with a false bravado, “I’m fine, just wondering if you know the best place to watch the sunset.”

Carey pointed to the ridge ahead and then spoke, “Yes, I know this area. There is a good spot just up this path. We can sit right there and enjoy the whole view.” And as she said this the sky began to change to a beautiful shade of pink. Carey looked so happy. Was it his imagination or was she glowing?

Randy was grateful that they had spent some quality time together but, he was also aware that this would surely be the very last date invitation she would accept from a loser like him. If only he had just taken her out bowling.

The ridge appeared and it was complete with a fallen tree limb to lean against. Randy sat next to Carey hoping to make the next of the few precious moments that were left before he had to admit their plight. He promised himself not to cause her fear by telling her about lurking wild creatures that might stalk them soon.

Randy finally lifted his eyes off his hands clenched in his lap to the sky unfolding just over the ridge. Then, the miracle appeared. For Randy, the sky was parting, the angels were singing, the world was explosive with joy because just at the bottom of the ridge was the parking lot and Randy’s Jeep was parked right there! “Hallelujah,” Randy thought and held up a quite prayer of joy. By agreeing to watch a sunset, he had redeemed himself. Now, there was a possibility of getting that 5th date with Carey and next time he would take her bowling.

Randy put his arm around Carey and settled into watching his first sunset. Well, he had seen hundreds of sunsets, but he had never really seen one. This sunset was absurdly beautiful. He had no camera, but he took to memory the quickly changing shades of illumination being drawn across the sky. It was glorious. He glanced back at Carey and much to his amazement, she was looking right at him and then she planted a kiss on his lips.

“Wow,” Randy said. “I really like you Carey, and that amazing kiss!”

Carey smiled at him and said, “I have never been with any man so excited about a sunset. When you looked over the ridge, your expression was so joyous. Your magnificent reaction was contagious.”  

Randy decided right then that some secrets are worth keeping. He never would reveal that his glory moment was at discovering the parking lot and seeing his Jeep. Randy also decided right then and there to always bring his phone and to make sure it was loaded with a compass app and an app for hiking trails. It was all going to be o.k. After all, bowling should be a safe bet for that next date with his splendid new friend Carey.

The Argument a short story by Linda Claire Groshans

Their small argument started on a Tuesday morning. Mary Lou and Hank had been married for 38 years and they loved each other dearly. They rarely had a cross word. But during their seclusion in the midst of the Corona virus pandemic, they recently had found themselves snapping at each other over the slightest provocation. Annoyance was mounting.

Mary Lou asked him, “Do you want more coffee?”  It was her way to make up.

“Nope.” He said gruffly and then crossed his arms over this chest to indicate he was not ready for the argument to be over quite yet. He had a right to feel upset. After all, this was at least the 10th time that Mary Lou had made a rude comment about his habit of watching old game show reruns.

Hank got up to grab the coffee pot himself in a rather dramatic way aiming to show her that he was the martyred one who had to make all the sacrifices.

He started to talk. “There is nothing else to do now. NOTHING! Besides, I’m not the one who opened the front door!” he said in a voice that was loud enough to surprise even him.

“Oh, here we go again.” Mary Lou retorted and then went back to sipping her coffee in a way designed to look peaceful and unruffled. Her composure made Hank even more upset. He knew this was a ridiculous argument, but he could not help himself. The truth was it just felt better for him to be arguing than their routine of nothingness.

“I can’t golf, I can’t go to the swim club, there are no sports games to attend, I am done with this!” He was of course referring to the fact that they were very much sheltered in their home during the corona virus.

“Uh-huh,” Mary Lou said without looking up from her cell phone screen.

“What do you want to do today…nothing?” He demanded.

“I’m just going to enjoy my coffee. It looks like it will be nice outside today.” Mary Lou said while she purposefully tried to stay even keeled and calm. You might think this made her an angel, but her motives were not so pure. She knew that Hank could not stand her staying calm during a tiff. She knew that she was getting the best of this argument.

“Well, what about the door?” He snapped.

Mary Lou knew exactly what he was talking about. Hank was a good man. Hank was a loving husband, but Hank was also very obsessed with the front door that Mary Lou had rushed to open on New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight. She said she was inviting the new year in. She could not wait for 2020 to launch she had said. Good riddance to 2019 and another year of political divides and an impeachment of the President. On that New Year’s evening as they celebrated together, they had toasted with their glasses and laughed as Hank then proceeded to open the back door to give the boot to 2019. The old year out the back door and the new year in the front door.

But the gloom of 2020 was unbearable. The world felt like it was falling apart and here they were in July 2020 spending a lovely summer day inside having a ridiculous argument over New Year’s Eve and old TV game shows. 129 days of isolation and it was wearing on him.

Hank pouted for nearly 2 hours. He paced, he looked miserable and when he finally made his way over to the reclining chair, he sat and put his face in his hands and sighed loudly.

Mary Lou felt herself softening. After all, this was just a man who always knew what to do and how to take care of everything and now he was lost in the despair that was surrounding them and filling the world stage.

“Do you want to watch an old game show?” Mary Lou asked as she refilled his coffee cup and brought him a muffin. Mary Lou normally would not concede to watching TV game shows, but she knew that is how the fight started and she could easily end it by putting up with one silly old show.

“OK” he said and then he said, “Thanks for the muffin.”

They had been together long enough to know the fight was over.

“What show did you find?” Mary Lou asked him.

“Oh, it is called Let’s Make a Deal.” He was smiling.

When the TV emcee came on the screen, he looked at the contestant and confirmed that they would open door #2 to see if the grand prize was waiting.

Mary Lou was going to give Hank a bit of her mind about picking a show about doors. But when she saw Hank’s face light up with that crooked little half smile, she just felt happy. He was delighted with this inane form of entertainment.

“Hank, I’m sorry I opened the door to 2020.” She said softly. “I should have kept the dead bolt locked that night.”

“I’m sorry for how I just behaved. This is hard for me.” When he said this, he did not even look at her. It was a struggle when he asked, “Are we going to be o.k.?” He turned and waited for her answer.

She just smiled and gave a little nod of her head because he had already turned back to the game show and was laughing loudly at the bad choice the contestant had made.  “I feel your pain buddy.” Hank shouted to the TV guest.

Later that night, Mary Lou and Hank got a text message that their niece had just given birth to a healthy baby girl. 2020 might be a year of a world pandemic, but it was also the year of birth and love. Covid was not going to get the last word on everything. And because hope springs eternal, Hank went to bed dreaming about watching more game shows soon.

Talented art critics…a short story by Linda Claire Groshans

Linda Claire by original art work…artist not known

Mary Lou was the first to admit she was eccentric. Some of the things she routinely experienced were considered impossible, unbelievable, and as some would say they were downright strange thoughts with no basis in reality. She was an odd ball. She was not an artist even though that was the general assumption that people had made of her. But she was extremely well regarded in prestigious art circles. When she was published, she laid claim to the title ‘world renowned premier art critic.’

Society accepted Mary Lou’s mysterious ways because her insights and opinions
on valuable art creations were legendary. Her memory for various artists and
their paintings astounded even world-class leading art authorities. If asked
about a painting, she could describe it in a way that was almost intimate. The
various colors, styles, subjects, and themes were masterfully described. There
was something beyond that too. There was some way in which you could say she just
knew the painting. She saw a painting and she experienced the painting. She knew
them in such an intimate way that her reflections were more heightened than the
artist’s own perceptions about their paintings.

Mary Lou knew why she had this talent and why she had been able to establish
this level of authority. She knew, but she dared not tell a soul why she had
this talent.

Mary Lou did, however, end up telling me about her hidden insight because
she could recognize that I was in possession of the same ability.

This is where I should introduce myself. My name is Claire. I am a single senior citizen
who has loved the visual arts since childhood. I am not famous like Mary Lou
and I have never publicly critiqued any painting or artist. Instead, I have a
habit of going to flea markets and secondhand stores where I rummage through
various paintings and prints. I also surf the net and explore paintings with
various themes.

Are you wondering if Mary Lou and I are women with extra sensory perception?
ESP is thought of as receiving information from what is sensed rather than felt
through our physical senses. I do not know if that definition exactly fits the
talent that Mary Lou and I have. Maybe thousands of people have our skill but they
have all remained quiet about it for fear of being shamed or given a label
of strange, odd, and a little touched in the head.

Now that I am an old woman, I have decided to explain the gift that I have
and that Mary Lou has mastered because it might open a door for others like us
to come forward and have discussions and work in concert to give a more
bountiful vibrancy to the art pieces they encounter.

And because I think this will open a door for others to immerse themselves
more fully into the visual arts, I will speak now and ask that as I tell you this secret you remain quiet and perhaps close your eyes and open your minds. Prepare. I will now reveal to you the secret of being a great art critic. This should open a door for you, or
perhaps you are already gifted with this talent.

First, imagine any painting that comes to your recall. Next, walk into it.
Yes, that is the pure secret to the gift. If you walk into a painting you check
it’s textures, see if the shadows are in the right place, picture the subject
as a first hand observer, and walk through the painted landscapes or open an
old wooden door. Stay in the painting. Touch the garments and the grass. See if
the artist has captured the light playing on the water. Then continue to
concentrate and see yourself there inside the painting. Do not judge, just
observe. Turn your head, look up and down, look for secrets, look for meanings,
examine your feelings and emotions. Stay inside the painting until you are
gradually ready to leave. The memory of that painting and all of it’s
particulars will remain with you forever.

You see, the gift that I possess is the ability to be there. To be in the painting.
Maybe, I have opened a door so that you can walk into a painting too. Just be
there.

The Moon. A short story by Linda Claire Groshans

The summer night sky was sparkled with stars and a bright full moon. The little girl was seated in the backseat of her grandfather’s Chevy station wagon as they traveled the dirt roads towards his home. It was special for her to be out this late and it made her feel almost like an 8-year-old instead of the mere 7-year-old she was.

“Grandpa, I think the moon is following our car.” She made the declaration with great and serious consideration.

“Hmm,” he replied and then continued, “What makes you think that the moon is following us?”

She became more animated. “So, every time you make a turn in the road, I can still see the moon right there. It has to be following us otherwise we wouldn’t be able to see it when we turned those corners.” And when she explained this to her grandfather, she felt even a wee bit older still.

The old man adjusted the rear-view mirror a bit to glimpse his lovely granddaughter. He felt again the joy of grand parenting. He loved being let into her innocent childish thoughts, so he replied to her comment with a challenge. “Should we take the long way home and make a lot of turns and really check out your theory?”

“Oh yes Grandpa” she was thrilled.

The old man veered about and made many turns so his beloved granddaughter could continue to test her moon theory.

“Grandpa, it’s working. It is still following our car.” She exclaimed and then asked, “Do you think there is a man in the moon, Grandpa?”

“Well, I don’t know about that. What I can tell you is that the moon has always been a good friend to me. I call this friend Luna. And, I think Luna can be your friend too.”

“Luna” she said the word with some reverence, and she was delighted to know that the moon could be her friend. “Grandpa, does Luna ever talk to you?”

He gave a serious reply, “Oh, not in the usual way. But Luna does listen, and she sends a light out for our path. In fact, when I was in the great war, I talked to Luna right above the decks of our Navy cruiser right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.”

“Oh Wow!” she exclaimed and again thought to herself what a super grandfather she had. She had seen the pictures of him in his sailor’s uniform and remembered the impressive photos with the big machine gun ports. She would have to remember to ask him to show her the photos again.

The Chevy station wagon neared the old man’s home.

“Grandpa look your house is right here and Luna followed us the whole way. She even got here a little ahead of us.”

Once they were in the driveway, he waited for her to get out of the car and then he took her small hand in his. The moon was indeed bright this evening. The breezes were warm.

“Grandpa, can we just look at Luna for a while?” she implored.

“Pumpkin let us do something else. OK?” he replied.

“What, what else should we do Grandpa? Should we talk to Luna?” she wanted to know.

“Nope, turn around and let Luna be at your back.” He answered.

“Grandpa, that is funny. You are the one who told me we don’t have eyes in the back of our heads.” And again, she felt quite mature.

“Look.” he said. “Look at the tops of the pines. Do you see it? The moon beams fall right along the tops of each pine. Look all around you and carefully. Can you see Luna shining on any other objects that we usually do not pay much attention to in the light of day? This is what it means to see things in a different light. It really is one of the best lessons Luna taught me.”

“I do see it, I do!” she replied. And then she told her grandfather the words he loved the most. “I love you so big.” When she said it, she held out her little arms wide to each side.

“I love you to the Moon and back” he told her.

“Grandpa, did you mean you love me to the Luna and back?” Then she smiled broadly, and the old man could barely hold all the love he had in his heart.

A train ride and a life lesson. A short story by Linda Claire Groshans

View from the Wolverine Line- Linda Claire

I wiggled around in my seat and got ready for the train ride that would take me on a visit to my grandchild. I certainly did not need a mirror to know that I was smiling and filled with an abundance of joy and anticipation. As the train departed the Ann Arbor station, I grabbed my camera so I could photo document the trip and the views. Life was good. The train raced past meadows, along Main Streets, through wooded acres, past homes, and through factory yards. I kept busy with my camera. After taking several photos, I pushed the camera buttons that were necessary to review my photographs. “Drat,” I thought to myself as I looked at this recent series of photos they were all blurred by the motion and speed of the train. “It’s all a smear.” I disparaged. “Yep,” I thought, “my own life is going by so quickly that my memories are like these streaked photos.” A train in motion and my life in motion too. Then the lull of the train sounds caused me to think, “I am a grandmother, I am a grandmother,” and I kept repeating this to myself in perfect rhythm to the wheels. I tried to think where all that time had gone since I was holding my own babies. Where?

The gentleman across the aisle took me away from my thoughts when he started to address me, “Good Day, are you on vacation?” he asked.

“Something much better.” I replied and then I explained, “I am going to see my grandchild. I am really happy.”

“I could tell you looked pretty excited.” He said. I decided right then that I liked him. His company and conversation would be fun. “My name is Dave.” He stood up and reached over to shake my hand.

“My name is Claire.” I shook his hand and looked at his kind eyes.

The next half hour was filled with him showing me a train app on his phone. He showed me exactly where we were on the tracks and our current rate of speed.

Eventually, our conversation became more personal. “I am 59 years old and I am so happy to be a grandmother.” I told him. “I guess I am an old woman now.”

Dave said, “Well, I am 79. I am so old that you could ask me anything and I would know the answer.” He finished that zinger by giving me a genuine smile.

In life, you do not always come up with a quick retort, but this time I certainly did. “Ok Dave. So, I can ask you anything, but how much do you remember about everything?”

His belly laugh startled some of the other passengers. I started laughing too.

Then,I got a bit more serious. “Ok, if I can ask you anything, then how about this one? What is the meaning of life?” I said it with a smile, but his answer was profound.

“Oh, I’m honored to be the one to tell you that the entire meaning of life is to love. I suggest loving as many people as you can. I suggest that you spend time with your grandson and love him. I suggest you spend time with your elderly widowed father and let him know your feelings. Keep falling in love with life.” He looked over at me. “Just love.” He concluded.

I was filled with emotions. I understood. I met a stranger on a train and I finally understood. It was not my job, not my house, not my appearance, not my intellect or humor. None of those was what we refer to as the meaning of life. It was so obvious and simple now. Just love.” I smiled and smiled.

And then, just like that, Dave stood up and told me that we had reached Battle Creek and it was his stop. He wished me a pleasant visit with my grandson, and he was gone.

“It’s like that with the people in our lives who we like, cherish or love. They have different journeys. But we had shared a moment.

I learned a lesson about life on a train and I wanted to share it with you. I wanted to tell you to Just love. Oh, and “Go ahead, ask me anything!”

I can travel in time… a short story by Linda Claire Groshans

My superpower is time travel. For several hours every day, I travel back in time. I might spend an hour in the 1990’and then go back to the 1890’s an hour later!  While I am traveling in the past, I stay busy collecting information there and insight to bring back to the present and to share with others. I might spend my time travel in Europe, Colonial America, an Amish farm in PA, Salem, MA during the witch trials in the 1600’s, or even on the Mayflower. 

I build pathways for others to travel back in time too. 

There is a name for the superpower that is used for the many people like me who travel backwards in time. We form a group called genealogists. Ta da…Super Granny Genealogist! That’s me! 

It is a bit odd to come up with a superhero name for myself. I did come up with a name for my website and I was a bit surprised that it was an available choice. It is called Telling Life Stories. Org. The website becomes a door for others to hear the stories of their ancestors. Like a river, we flow from the experiences and stories of our ancestors. It is a gift to know their stories.  

Some people have a hard time finding their ancestors and I try to help those people. My story is humanity’s story and so it is important for me to use my superpower to help others connect to their direct roots.  I am pretty good at my superpower. I have a lot of tools and memberships in ancestral websites that help me. But, my superpower is far from perfect. I often try to find information from the past, but it is elusive. I could not find the birth parents of my friend Beth. I could not find out who Jennie’s grandparents were. I did find records of Jennie’s Japanese mother who had arrived in America as a wartime bride from Japan, but was unable to trace the family further back.

Because there are many people who have my same superpower, there are others who have helped me find my direct ancestors and even photographs of them. Just think how it feels to see a photo for the first time of your 2nd great grandparents. Or, imagine seeing the photo of the farm in France where my children’s great grandparents had lived. 

In January of this year, I traveled to France with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson. We went to the village of Sundhousen to meet a gentleman there who is also a genealogist. We had found out about each other through my website. He found my website while researching his grandparent’s story and it turns out that his great grandmother and my children’s great great grandmother were sisters. Think how it felt to arrive at Gerard and Josette’s French home to spend a weekend delving through the past together. Imagine how it felt to see photos of my children’s ancestors on the wall of the guest room provided to me during my stay. Imagine coming home from that trip with copies of dozens of photos of the Groshans family from France. And best, we met and dined with family we did not even know we had. My 7-year-old grandson was delighted to find out that his family now included this extended family in France. 

I love my superpower. I love sharing my power and helping others gain the power of time travel too. Finding ancestors, hearing their stories, knowing the history and events that faced them are all part of something that we call a tree. A family tree.  

Bunny Paw Prints – a short story by Linda Claire Groshans

photo by Linda Claire

Years ago, on a summer morning, I was sitting at the kitchen table with my mother. She loved doughnuts and I had brought along a box of Tim Horton’s pastries for the visit.  I also had brought cups of black coffee that were aromatic and steaming hot. I felt so grateful for this fine morning and the company of my sweet mother. Afterall, I was sitting in the company of my mother who was also my best friend. 

Mom and I sat together. We didn’t talk much. We spent quite a bit of our time just looking out the large front kitchen window.  She didn’t get outside as much now, but she loved the nature views out her windows.  

“What kind of doughnut do you want?” I asked her as I opened the box to display our choices. 

She gave me her sweet cute coy smile and said, “Oh, you pick one out for me. I like them all. In fact, I might fancy a taste of each one!” 

I was happy. I got up to go over to the cupboards to collect plates, silverware and napkins. I looked over my shoulder and saw her peeking at the doughnuts just like a little girl excited for a special treat. This simple moment, a cup of coffee and a collection of doughnuts to share with my mother. This was a good day.  I clattered the plates a bit on purpose so that she would look over at me. No matter what I did, no matter how old I got, her gazes towards me were always admiring. I knew that I was very loved. 

“I just hope you don’t want a piece of the long john because that is the one, I picked out for myself” I kidded her. Oh, how we both loved to tease. 

“No, I don’t like that type,” she said while looking a dramatically disappointed. 

“Liar!” I said and then I cut her a big bite of the long john along with some other samples. We are both smiling because our little joke had amused us. 

As we began to eat our treat, we looked out her window. 

“Mom, look…look now.” I urged. 

Right there in the middle of the driveway was a bunny. The morning light was misty, the grass beside the drive was full of dew and a bunny had arrived for our entertainment. The bunny who was obliviously content to sit on the cement driveway of all places! 

“Mom, do you see that bunny?” 

“Yes,” she replied. “It comes here quite often about this time of day.” 

We both sipped our coffees and continued to watch the bunny who now appeared to be frozen in place at one spot in the very center of the driveway. Then, just like that, it hopped away. Gone. 

“Mom, look! It left little wet pawprints on the driveway. He must have been on the wet grass before hopping here.” I was so taken by the visual image of those little dew prints that the bunny had left behind. 

And then in just seconds, I said: “Mom, the pawprints are disappearing!” I felt disappointment for the end of that fleeting scene. 

“The doughnuts are disappearing too.” she coyly stated and smiled at our plates. 

“No Mom, not the doughnuts, the pawprints. They are almost gone they are disappearing so quickly!” I wanted to express how things can disappear, how special moments shared can end too quickly.

The sun was getting brighter and filtering light across the grass and the drive. The sun was erasing the little bunny pawprints. It had also started to dry the dew drops on the grass.  

“The sun erased the prints.” My mother said gently. She reached out to touch my arm and continued talking, “Prints don’t last long, the sun erases them.”  

I continued sipping my coffee as her words played in my mind. My mother was a wise woman. “The prints don’t last long; they are erased by the sun.” 

She is right. Prints don’t last long.

Even the prints in our lives that are our sad mishaps don’t last long. In fact, in the scheme of life, all the prints or moments are fleeting.  

I got up and squinted out the window looking again at the concrete which was now dry and full of dappled sun patterns. The day was turning out to be fine. The birds were starting a morning concert. Our coffee was gone.  

“I love you.” I said as I hugged her before leaving. “Want to have a picnic soon, we could ask everyone over?” I asked her, but I already knew that she would be thrilled.

I got into my Jeep to leave, and as I drove past her front door, I could see her standing there and waving at me. She always tried to make each moment together last.

On my drive home, I thought about how the sun had illuminated the day. I thought about how delicate those little paw prints looked and mostly I thought about how precious my aging mother was to me. 

Years have gone by since she passed away. Every day, she is in my heart and mind. Her gentle nature and joy for the little things and her unwavering love for family. She was and will always be my hero. 

Take A Hike…a short story by Linda Claire Groshans

Take a Hike

photo by Linda Claire

It was 1995 and an anti-depressant called Prozac was becoming a commonly used drug. I wanted some. My friends had it, and I needed it too. Afterall, the stress of my on-going divorce while also facing single parenting, handling my spiraling financial concerns, and knowing that I would need to return to the workplace, it was all too much. I was depressed and I wanted to take the pill that would make it go away. No problem, I just needed to go to my primary care doctor. Certainly, he would understand pain and give me some Prozac and maybe some Valium too. I needed my pain to go away. I wanted to stop thinking about losing my marriage, I wanted to stop thinking about my husband every minute. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to go on with life and clearly all those scientists in pharma laboratories had come up with a solution that I needed.

I arrived at Dr. T’s office on a Monday morning. I was guided to the exam room where a nurse took my blood pressure, weight and temperature and recorded the results. There was clearly no test for a broken heart, a failed marriage.

After a brief wait, there was a knock on the exam room door and Dr. T entered with a pleasant smile on his face.  Since I wanted to be convincing about needing the pills, I certainly could not smile back.  It all hurt, so I used a little bit of my drama training and my real pain and twisted my facial expression to one of horrible agony.

“So, what’s going on?” Dr T asked.

I guess my answer spanned several minutes. Afterall, I had been rehearsing this moment for a few days. My voice ended by saying, “So, I must have the pill that makes this all stop.”

“There”, I thought. And I waited for him to type up the pharmacy order. This would be the day that the pain would start to ease.

“Why is he still sitting there?” I asked myself. Dr. T. was reaching for my hand and patting it gently while he leaned forward on his stool.

The moments ticked away. “Come on, get on with it” I thought as I tried to will him to give me the cure.

Yes, “Dr., Dr., give me a cure, I have a bad case of lovin’ him”

Still nothing. The room was silent. I hurt, I really hurt and without using any drama I started to cry softly. The tears dripped down my face and I looked for something to wipe my nose. None of this was funny. My life was a wreck and I could not cope.

That is when he started talking again. “Claire, you need to get out in nature.” He said and he looked compassionate.

“Buddy,” I thought to myself. My unspoken voice continued my response to him silently “I don’t need nature, I told you that I need pills.”

“Take a hike, cut the grass, garden and just be outside in nature.” He said.

My mouth dropped open, it was beginning to appear that the pain was going to continue and would probably last forever.

“I’m paying you”, I thought to myself. “Give me the darn pills. I hurt” I wanted to scream, but I kept quiet.  Did he tell me to take a hike? That was about the same verbiage my husband had used.

I left the appointment with nothing more than some half-baked idea that going out into nature would release me from my agony.

I guess it was a couple days later that I decided to weed a flower bed. I kneeled on the ground and I cried. I cried so loudly that my neighbor came running over. “Dear, what is the matter?” she asked.

“I don’t know which ones are the weeds. I don’t even know how to garden.”

“Oh, that is simple” she replied. “The weeds are any of those plants that you don’t like.”

Then softly, she continued talking to me and then asked me a question,  “Hey, I am going for a little hike around the block, want to come with me?”

I wiped my tears and pulled myself up. “Yeah, I would like that.” I said.

The healing had started…