Journey With Gwen

Overview

At twenty-six, a young, married Barbara had been living several states away from her mother, Gwen, and was darned glad about it. When friends down the street want to sell their house, a confused Barbara is drawn to suggest to her mother that she buy it and move there.

Within the first year after Mom moves to her new home, a record blizzard, followed shortly by a flood and a tornado, leave Barbara guilt-ridden. While the next year holds the joy of the birth of Barbara’s daughter,...

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Journey with Gwen: 328 Steps

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Overview

At twenty-six, a young, married Barbara had been living several states away from her mother, Gwen, and was darned glad about it. When friends down the street want to sell their house, a confused Barbara is drawn to suggest to her mother that she buy it and move there.

Within the first year after Mom moves to her new home, a record blizzard, followed shortly by a flood and a tornado, leave Barbara guilt-ridden. While the next year holds the joy of the birth of Barbara’s daughter, soon job place restructures feed Barbara’s depression. Mainstream therapy doesn’t work.

Then Barbara is led to New Age thinking, and suddenly everything starts to make sense. Her new thinking processes are tested by the tragic death of a friend, but too much has changed, and Barbara cannot go back to her old perspective of life—or death. Gwen can’t help but notice.

Barbara meets a powerful teacher in another country while online. Because of the energetic exchanges, she shifts even further away from who she was, and psychic abilities emerge. Barbara knows she can’t tell Gwen everything, and Gwen is confounded by the shift.

As they age, Barbara moves into a caretaker role for Gwen. Barbara’s strength and ingenuity allow her to keep Gwen independent as Gwen suffers a series of strokes. With friend Jacky’s assistance, Gwen stays at home until Barbara is led to put Gwen in a convalescent center. When Gwen is diagnosed with cancer, Barbara moves her to the Southwest to live with Barbara’s sister. Barbara has set her mother up for a conscious crossing, and it pays off. Gwen helps her children from the Other Side, contacting Barbara through a medium.

Barbara and Gwen have a transformational experience without traveling to India, staying in Indiana. That’s only two letters different.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781452538693
  • Publisher: Balboa Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2011
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Journey with Gwen

328 Steps
By Barbara A. Puffin

Balboa Press

Copyright © 2011 Barbara A. Puffin
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4525-3869-3


Chapter One

Changing Walls

* * *

I had thought I was ready, but I wasn't. The reality of her moving nearby meant an intrusion and I was glad there were five houses between hers and ours. Well, it was an emotional invasion, but it wasn't without invitation. I'll get to that in a moment. Suddenly, her moving from the East Coast to right down the street was making me feel like I was shrinking, physically, from almost 5'6" down to the 4'9" I was in the fourth grade. Yes, I felt nine years old in spite of the fact that I was supposed to be a mature twenty-six.

I had received the moving company's phone call the night before confirming that the van with the stuff was going to arrive between ten and noon. I felt like it was a waste of time off. On the other hand, I really wanted to take more time off. Actually, I didn't want to be working, period.

And there would be no easy fix if I missed the deadline. Mom was relying on me to receive her belongings without a hitch. Okay, yes, I was shrinking more, down to my 4' 3" second grade size now. Still wasn't sucking my fingers, though. Didn't mean I didn't want to.

Roaming around the empty house, my hard-soled-shoe footsteps were magnified by the hardwood floors. The echoes of a stage being set. As I waited, I paced, taking a tour of the house visiting the first floor rooms over and over. A review of the details in an insecure mental check wouldn't stop. What if I had the date wrong? I thought a moment; did I really get that phone call yesterday? Or did I dream I got the phone call? Yes, no, wait, yes, I got the phone call. Okay. Maybe I got the phone call. Wait, no. Wait. Yes, yes, yes, I really got that phone call.

I went up the creaky steps to the second level. They were steep with risers slightly higher than standard—high enough to catch my toe on as I climbed if I didn't watch it. The stairs reminded me of New England cottages, uncovered finished dark mahogany-colored wood on the tread. The landing two thirds up sent you to the left. I hadn't been up here much for as often as I had been in the house. As I climbed the last few steps, I could peer over the half wall that overlooked the stairwell. There was an enticing call to climb on it and sit with my legs dangling on each side. I restrained my 3' 6" high self. This would be Mom's guest room. And while the flimsy, white, peace-and-love era paneling—pressed to resemble wood— was thoroughly out of tune with the main floor of the house, the wide finished slats of the hardwood floor meshed better and gave the room its character, complete with appropriate old-house noises as I walked across it. I opened the attic door, catty corner from the top of the stairs. Peering through the darkness into the un finished space I made a mental note to tell Mom about the burned out light bulb. Minimal daylight from the one window in there. There was insulation on the walls in between exposed studs and along the edges of the space, where there was no flooring near the pitch of the roof. I pulled the door shut easily, it was late autumn and cold outside so that the door wasn't affected by humidity. Why did I feel like I was sneaking around and being nosy?

For some reason, when I descended the stairs to the first floor, I was self-conscious, avoiding making an undue amount of noise, even though I was the only one in the house. At the base of the stairs, I turned right and walked through the kitchen, passing where the refrigerator would be, and to the basement door. The stairs to the cellar were directly under the ones to the second floor. I ducked as I went down the basement steps. Anyone taller than 5' would have to do so. Was I an adult again? Very soon after moving in Mom would make a hand written sign on an 8&fra12;" X 11" piece of white paper in large Mom-font with a green magic marker. "Low Head Clearance." Evidence of her sense of humor, but to the point.

Had I done enough? Was this house really good enough? I wanted her approval. Why was I doing this? Why was I bringing her here? It was way too late to back out now. No way to call Mom who was now on the road and say, "Hey, forget it. I didn't really mean it." Oh yeah, I had signed the papers for the purchase. Nope, can't go back on this one.

* * *

A thousand miles east and a week earlier this woman who was about to invade my space, known to others as Gwen, walked through her house of more than thirty years hearing her footsteps echo on the hardwood floors. Her steps didn't make as much noise as mine because her orthopedic shoes were rubber soled. The movers had just picked up everything she was sending west. The aura around her walk, though, had been more wistful than mine when I toured her new house.

I had moved away years before, the last of her children to leave. Within the time she had lived there the walls had seen four children grow. For the past five years she had lived alone. The house had been built onto since she, with Dad and their infant daughter—the first of us four—had moved in back in 1948. Dad had added the dining room onto the back, had the dormer built, finishing both with knotty pine paneling. He laid hardwood floors for the two upstairs bedrooms and the tiny den that would house his desk. They had debated at the time making it a bathroom for the, then, family of five. But, finally as a family of six, we learned to work, most of the time, with the rhythm necessary to make the one first floor bathroom work. It wasn't perfect, but we did it. People have more than one bathroom?

Gwen alone, Gwen, the widow and my mother, walked around the dining room running her hand along the backs of the chairs. They surrounded the table consistently occupied by all six of her family until one by one we grew up and left. Mom's hand paused on one chair. She stood there remembering the turmoil of reprimanding her own mother. Her mother, Elsa, had scrubbed the back of the chair with a scouring pad thinking to do something good and it removed some of the finish. The conflict stuck another catch in Gwen's throat now. Elsa had lived with us for a brief year and a half until she passed away. The table and chairs were staying with the house. That painful memory would stay behind with the dining room set.

Popcorn-kissed laughter and skinned-knee tears that had filled the house were the memories she chose to pack and bring with her. She looked at the terra-cotta walls of the living room void of furniture, dabbed a tissue to her eyes which wouldn't allow full tears, blew her nose once and pulled the yellow front door shut and latched it for the final time. She would be handing the keys over the day after tomorrow at the closing. This night and the next few she would stay with a friend. With finality, Gwen went down the front steps and walked to her car on the journey to the next set of chapters in her life.

* * *

The furniture van arrived at about ten-thirty on that grey morning in November. "Phew, okay, yes, I got the date right," I said aloud as I watched the truck park in front of Mom's house.

The contents were carted by the two coveralled men into Mom's new house. "Wow," I said when I saw Mom's labels, "she's so organized. Okay, that one goes to the room to the left behind that arch, and that one goes up the stairs." And so it continued until everything appeared to be in the house.

Why hadn't any of that rubbed off on me? I was so messy, so disorganized. I couldn't keep a clean house. What would she say? How would she judge me? Was I a good enough grown-up?

The driver stood next to me with the manifest. "The antique glass-front cupboard and the baby bed go to your house up the road, right?" he confirmed, pointing to his list with the pencil in his hand, scrolling down the yellow lined copy.

"The antique cupboard—yes, and the what?" Mom and I had talked about the first; how'd that baby bed jump in there? I snapped up to my twenty-six year old height and smiled broadly. I knew he didn't get the joke.

"Yeah, the baby bed goes up to your place. You didn't know about that?" It wasn't his fault. Just reading the instructions, ma'am.

"Well, yeah, if that's what she instructed. Kind of a surprise, though." My eyes gleamed with my amusement. The not-so-subtle hint was certainly not missed. I'd been married for three years and there was no baby on the way. He, my husband, Clark, wasn't ready yet.

On the day she arrived my emotions were mixed. I was pleased she had made it safely. I loved my mother. Yet, I was nervous, as if I had to pass some sort of test. The rules hadn't been established. How was it that my height kept changing?

The house we'd all grown up in now belonged to someone else; there was no going back home. I had broken the house. I had broken our home. Had I made her move? None of my siblings had asked her to move away from the house in which we all grew up. I had.

Her new house was around a curve in the street. Still, she was going to be close. I was behaving the way I thought a good daughter should. I would have to behave differently. I wasn't going to be able to hide anymore.

On the afternoon when Mom arrived we were seated in Clark's and my living room having coffee—Mom's favorite beverage. The four foot square coffee table divided the seating of the couch and two chairs in front of the white stone replace. I paced back and forth, in and out of the room. I was making sure that Mom, sitting on one of the chairs, had what she needed. Clark sat on the couch. I spent time fretting over whether she was pleased. Mom was always polite. I couldn't tell if it was just her politeness. Clark didn't have a clue how to fret. Yeah, probably I shouldn't have been drinking coffee. The coffee wasn't helping me to be calm.

No smoking in the house was a rule and Mom was a smoker.

The smell of my mother was always coffee and cigarettes. I had no olfactory memory of any applied fragrance, although I remembered seeing her spray some on her neck and wrists sometimes. Mostly on Sundays before church.

Mom chatted about her trip, grateful that Susie-Q had gotten her here safely. Susie-Q was her car. As she sat in the red leather wing- backed chair and sipped her coffee, I looked at her from my vantage point of the sofa and felt her hurt. The sadness in her eyes was there in spite of her little quips of humor. Her hair was now completely white and short with a little curl in it. I had never known her with brown hair other than the old photographs that had been in the house. By the time World War II was over and she and Dad had started their family Mom was twenty-six and Dad was thirty-three. By the time Mom had me, she was thirty-four. My memories as a child only saw her with completely grey hair; she had seemed so much older than all the other moms of my friends. I had had the start of a white streak in my long, brown hair well established by the time we were seated in that living room. Mom had told me when I had shown her my white hairs appearing in my late teen years that I had inherited that trait from both her and Dad.

Why was I thinking that it was up to me to make her happy? But I thought I could. I thought this would make it all better and x her loneliness.

It had been half an hour since her arrival, if that long, when our front door bell rang.

First cousins once removed or is that second? How did that work again? They had travelled from a town 25 miles away. Cousins I had met a couple of times as a girl and only remembered marginally hearing about. And they came in, happy to see Mom, happy that last remnants of family had moved closer. They sat and chatted. And stayed. It had been a long time since they had all seen each other face to face. Twelve years, at least, though while I didn't remember it, they had been at my grandmother Elsa's funeral and we had travelled for that from Massachusetts to Indiana.

And they stayed. Even after it had been stated in conversation that Mom had literally just arrived, they still stayed. I didn't know who they were talking about—distant relatives that I may have met as an infant. I was disinterested. Clark smiled graciously, drinking his coffee, nodding in appropriate places. I continued pacing in and out of the room, although attempting to conceal my impatience. Impatience was something I had in abundance.

Mom appeared to nod off. Every once in a while she would open her eyes and react to comments made from the cousins and then a few minutes later her eyes would shut again. I was astounded that the cousins didn't seem to take notice. How much more obvious could it be? She had driven almost a thousand miles by herself and had only just arrived. After two hours the cousins finally commented that Mom must be tired and that they had best be leaving.

Shutting the front door with a shove of my butt, I turned and waved politely as they drove off. I turned back to the living room through the wide arch from the foyer.

"I thought they would never leave!" she said from her chair. Well, Mom was perky now! I'd never known this side of her, I had never seen a deliberate, or rather, had never noticed a deliberate ruse on her part, although, thinking back, I'm sure they had been there. Wow, Mom sees you as an adult and she let you in on her joke!

With the cousins departed and the evening approaching, I asked Mom if she wanted to stay the night at our house; her first night in her new neighborhood.

"No, I'm going to go on home," she heaved a sigh of exhaustion. "I can smoke there."

"Oh, yeah, that's true," I was surprised at my lack of guilt. I was relieved she wasn't staying overnight with us. In a moment of unusual tact for me, I didn't tell her that.

I handed her the house keys and as she took them she asked, "Did you make a set for you and Clark?"

"Yes, Mom, I did."

"Good."

I hugged and kissed her, "Welcome to the neighborhood, Mom." It took a great deal of mustering to sound enthused.

I watched her walk out to her '78, well kept, rust-colored Chevy Malibu, climb in, start it up and back out of our driveway. Moving to a window in the living room, I could see her turn left at our street corner, and drive down the road, losing sight of her at the bend that hid her house from our view. The same bend hid her view of our house. That was good.

While living in Indiana I was out from under the family radar, particularly Mom's radar. I was enjoying the new persona that the separation from family had afforded me. I had different views of life, though I wasn't completely convinced of them. I had left home to go to college more than a thousand miles away, where I met the guy I was going to marry. His lifestyle and upbringing was completely different from mine; more sophisticated, more cultured. Rebelling against that which was too familiar, too limiting, too sheltered, too blasé. I had been raised in the same house all of my life in a Methodist, Republican family in Massachusetts. An environment that would later feed what I knew to be a pattern of feeling like I didn't t into the crowd. The man I married was worldly, had lived in Europe for four years, and had introduced me to something more than cube steak and canned corn.

Well done cube steak, I might add. Great chew food. Served at many a meal in the dining room Mom had just left.

It had seemed a logical decision to ask Mom to move here; my father had crossed over three years earlier. She was alone in her house with all the associated memories. My three siblings, of whom I am the youngest, were scattered in different states across the country. Clark and I had moved into our house the year before and were intent on staying.

* * *

Dad was a Pisces, very quiet, yet quick to laugh. Still, that quietness bred a fear of him in me, encouraged me to move away. He wasn't abusive. I was just a scaredy-cat. In the rare moments when somebody did displease him the verbal explosion was jarring. A huge contrast.

In his early fifties he had manifested a disease that started in his feet, a virus "they" said, it would, through many years, work its way up Dad's legs. The virus lay dormant for months at a time, but each time it would take more and more control away from his legs. The doctors said there was nothing they could do. With that in mind and his retirement not so far away, he designed the log cabin that he and Mom would someday build in Maine on a lovely lake. The design had handicap access. He knew he would be in a wheelchair eventually.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Journey with Gwen by Barbara A. Puffin Copyright © 2011 by Barbara A. Puffin. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Changing Walls....................1
Destructive Forces....................13
Questionable Color....................20
Introduction to Joy....................23
Change Foisted....................35
Opening....................38
Beth....................43
Protection....................47
Ilsa's Lessons....................53
Who'd Want to Log on?....................58
The Knowledge....................63
Outings....................67
Injury....................69
A Different View....................70
Planting Pearls....................74
Standing in the Corner....................79
Departure....................83
An Old Wish Granted....................86
A Good Yarn....................88
Emergence....................90
Emergency Why....................95
Shy Shawl....................101
Dad Congratulates....................103
Sufficiently Stable....................105
Speechless....................109
Go Back Once....................123
Coffee....................125
Mother's Helper....................129
A Flare for Attention....................136
Understanding a Nightmare....................140
Laundering....................147
The Table Turns....................152
Choosing Sides....................160
A Call from Dad....................163
Floored....................167
Vigil....................179
Emergence of Manna....................186
X-Factor....................191
Holding....................195
The Door....................212
No Back Roll....................217
Cure for Living....................224
Golden Adventure....................229
Caught....................238
The Supreme Out-of-Body Experience....................242
A Gift of Closure....................245
The First Visit....................246
The Beauty of Timing....................247
Strength....................248
Visit Two....................251
A Different Insurance....................253
The Musical Shawl....................254
Gold Discovered....................255
Endnotes....................257
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