Friday, December 30, 2011

Lend a Hand and Giv'er Hell !!

Speaking of small towns, I was a little disappointed in mine today.  It doesn't happen often, but it did today. We had been to Winn Dixie, doing our New Years Day food shopping. The hog jowl, fresh turnips, dried black eyed peas, pork chops and cornmeal shopping. Well, actually we had already checked out once, and as the last item went across the scanner, I realized, I had forgotten to get the hog jowl. I finished up my first order, paid, and looked at Mims and told him I would just run to the back to get it and be right out. He could go ahead and roll the groceries to the truck and start unloading.

As I walked outside the store, I could still see him unloading the groceries. It was taking a little longer as he didn't have my help. I made my way to the truck with my bag of hog howls and finished helping him unload. Finally, we're done, climbing back into the truck for the ride home.

I'm driving, because we're in my truck. The back seat is broader and it holds more of anything than his truck does. So mine is always the grocery store truck. Anyway, I'm backing up and pulling out and as I round the corner to the exit I see her.

There is a little, white headed old lady, in a white Ford Sable car and she has driven herself and the car off of the curb and into a deep hole. Her right front tire was lodged down into the hole and spinning on the concrete as she was trying to back-up. I looked at Mims and told him I was pulling over, we couldn't leave her there.

I pulled into a parking space, we got out of the truck, walked over to her car, and bless her soul, she looked like she was in a pure state of panic. She got of the car and we told her we were going to try and see what we could do to help.

We were at the corner of the Plaza where the Cafe Internet was located, and a very nice black gentlemen walked over to us about the same time and asked could he help. Now, I make note of the color of his skin because in just a few minutes it will matter. He walked with a slight limp so I wasn't sure how much help he would be but we told him we sure would appreciate it.

Within about 10 minutes it was obvious it was going to take more than two men to get the car out of that hole. The tire itself was lodged into thick, slick, red mud and was just spinning. We would have to have a few more men to pick up on the front end while someone sat in the car and tried to back it out.

I walked to Cafe Internet, stepped inside and asked could I get a couple of guys to come help us out. Plenty of people in there, playing those games, all nationalities. Three black gentlemen stopped what they were doing, stood up and came out. One of the guys, Barron Thompson, a friend and fellow employee, was one of the gentlemen.

Now they are all looking at the situation, accessing what needs to be done. And I'm standing on the sidelines talking to the little old lady. We introduce ourselves, talk about where we live, and she is fretting. She's really not supposed to be driving she says. I see the handicap tag on her visor. She says her children don't like her driving very far anymore and that she hopes we can get her out and they won't have to know what has happened because they will surely blame it on her lack of driving abilities. I promised her whatever happened, we wouldn't leave her there, and that I was pretty sure, somehow they would figure something out.

Her cell phone began to ring, she answered it, and it was her son in law. I listened as she told him she was fine, just moving a little slower than usual, but she would be on to the house in a few minutes. She hung up the phone and looked at me and said, 'I'm going to have to pray a little harder in church this Sunday for telling that lie". I said no ma'm, you didn't lie, you didn't tell him anything wrong either way. She hugged my neck and told me the good Lord must have been looking after her when we stopped. 

Someone finally remembered they had a rope in the trunk of their car. We hooked it to her car in the back, and my truck in the back, someone got in each vehicle, and started the revving motion. Both vehicles put the gas to it, and slowly but surely, out she came.

She was so thankful, asking everybody who had helped what she owed them. Not one single man would take anything from her, hugged her neck and told her Happy New Year.

Now I have to tell you, when the whole deal first started, and there was only me, Mims and the one black gentlemen, I watched as car after car of grown white men rode right past us. Looking hard for sure, but not asking could they help and not stopping. Just rolled right on out of that Winn Dixie parking lot, away from us and that little old lady. And when I walked into that Cafe Internet, plenty of all colors were sitting in there, but only three black gentlemen stood up and answered my request for help.

Riding home with Mims after I had mouthed off for a few minutes about people and how disappointed I was, I said, "Man, we sure could have used Kornbread Jr and Tater today". This summer, during their trip/vacation to St George Island, those boys pulled quite a few stranded people out of the sand. When they got home, and Zach was telling the stories of their rescues, he said they would strap down to each vehicle, he would get in his truck and every time before he would start pulling he would holler out "How's it looking back there Tater?" and Tater would holler back "Giv'er Hell Zach" with a country twang you can only imagine if you've ever heard it before. I was thinking of Tater and that line today as Mims started to roll my truck forward. It took all I could do not to put on my best Tater voice and holler out "Giv'er Hell Mims!"

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Shootin', Swimming, and Sleeping Under The Stars

I'm not quite sure whether this year and the next couple after, are going to be the best years of Zach's life or the best years of mine. I still haven't decided who is having more fun right now. Zach and all his comings and goings, or me watching.

I went to high school in the late 1970's early 1980's. Weed was rampant and alcohol parties were frequent. Smart kids were not cool and pot heads were trouble. So where did a normal, alright looking  girl like me fit in? I wasn't the girl the Quarterback dated. And I didn't feel comfortable with the smart boys. I inevitably ended up dating what we called the bad boy 'pot heads' back then. I was the 'different/good girl" if that makes any sense. I didn't drink, I didn't do drugs, and I wasn't promiscuous. Because that group of guys seemed to be able to find that kind of girl anywhere. Girls like me, good girls that liked them, were hard to find. They looked up to me. Because I didn't look down on them. Maybe that was the attraction.

All that being said, I stayed at home a lot of my high school life. My parents would have never let me date the boys I liked, so I stayed at home and watched a LOT of television. If there were kids hunting deer, camping out, and fishing, I didn't know any of them. I went to a school where the graduating class was a population of almost 400 children. And we all lived in the city. All of the ones I knew anyway. In houses or apartments on concrete and little plots of grass. There were no backyard bonfires or marsh-mellow toasting over open flames. No burning in the city limits.  The only bonfires I ever heard about involved keg parties and I wasn't cool enough to be invited. And if I had been, I couldn't have gone or really wanted to.

I was thirty five years old before I saw a cow at close up range, multiple deer in my yard, raccoons, or wild-eyed possums. Trash piles in your yard you let get high as the sky before you threw a party to burn it down. Roast hot dogs and sit around in lawn chairs on warm summer nights or cold winter days, laughing and talking about anything, everything, and everybody. 

Zach learned how to ride a bike on grass and dirt, no concrete where we lived. Josh had a go kart and plenty of property to ride it on. Sitting on the front porch swinging way into the night talking, laughing and sometimes singing. The smell of Mims cigar wafting through the country night air and Zach's little feet nowhere near touching the ground.

And now, he's driving. And doing. Everything. Going everywhere, doing everything. Swimming in mine holes, swinging from ropes and hollering like Tarzan. Fishing and swimming with the alligators. Tires thick with red mud from struggles getting in the hole. Burning through 500 bullets a day shooting squirrels. Playing drums and electric guitars on hot summer nights and me sitting on the back porch steps listening. Standing up for his rights in Police Stations refusing to be intimidated or mistreated.

And a key. His first grade teacher owns land at the mine hole. Zach is granted one of the holy keys to the gate that stays locked. The gate that lets him into heaven here on earth. They begin to clear some of the land. Making way for a camp site. Digging a log pit. For days and days they work to get it ready. A group of really good boys. They don't drink or do drugs, but can still have the time of their lives.

I hope they always believe in clean, good times. For now, Zach is insistent nothing but clean will enter his body. Clean, good foods and liquids. Milk and water. I don't remember the last time I saw him drink a soda. He's up by 7am every single day, working, school or not. And most nights in bed by 9pm. He never stops going, stops doing, or stops working.

Maybe it's the country living. Maybe once you leave the concrete and city behind, you can only see good clean living. All I know is they are all having the time of their lives. I love listening to their funny stories and watching them get the most out of what life has to offer.

I wish I had known this group of kids when I was in school. But then, I know, you are where you are, by the steps it took to get from where you were. And I'd rather be right here, right now, more than anything else in this world. So I'll take what I get to see now. From the sidelines. From the back porch steps. From afar. For as long as I get to see it. Good times. Wonderful memories. For us all.

Monday, December 26, 2011

And That's a Wrap Folks

I wonder when one finally makes it to ninety years old, if you know everything. Ninety years of living should be all the time you need. As long as we are here on this earth, I think we should be learning something. No matter our age, circumstance or fortune.

So as I was reminiscing on the year we are about to leave behind, I began to think about all the things I learned in 2011. And although I don't consider myself a person hard of learning, I have to admit, I came to some pretty eye opening realizations about myself.

I've learned:

1.  I cannot stop my children's hearts from being broken, no matter how hard I try.

2.  The success you have with the struggles you face in life, all depend on your attitude and heart being in the right place. I learned that from Patti Duffy and Penny Riley. Two of the most positive and strong women I know.

3.  Tragedy doesn't always happen to other people. Sometimes it destroys each and every side of the apartment your son lives in, five hours away, and never touches a hair on his body.

4.  My parents hit 70 and 71 years old this year. More and more I know I need to cherish every moment I am blessed to experience.

5.  My sixteen year old son reasons and thinks things through like a wise old man. And all jokes aside, he really has been here before.

6.  Family is the most important part of your life, but even family can become a disease that you must learn you cannot fix, treat, or cure. Just love.

7.  You only have one body. Turn a blind eye to your health if you want to, it will catch up with you, and sometimes, take you over.

8.  If you work really hard, and fight the big, bad monster as long as you can, you will survive and be able to enjoy the last half of the career that you love.

9.  The older you get, the more people there are who will need your prayers.

10. Everybody has dysfunction. A drunk uncle, a mean aunt, a crazy mother in law, and a low life brother. You are never alone in your troubles, yours may just be the only ones you know about.

11. People may never change their personal views about gay/heterosexuals, but step by step , slowly but surely, I have shown you they should not be prejudged by your beliefs, but by your personal knowledge.

12. I will base my own judgement and choices for a Hero, much more carefully and reservedly in the future. Joe Paterno and his team of non-fit associates taught me that lesson. No man is too big to fall.

13. All good things do not come to those who wait. But good people will always be better for the effort.

14. Never turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to what your children will or will not do. I have personally watched family's crumble from the realization that their children, really are, like most children. They are curious, they are growing, and they can succumb to pressure. All we can do is continue to pay attention and praise their strength and individuality and pray, they believe in themselves enough to listen. And be prepared to be there for them if they are not.

15. As my youngest child has hit his prime teenage years, I have watched and relived the angst of being a teenage girl or boy who is not part of the status quot. They are not a size 6 cheerleader, or a muscled football quarterback, but they are none less worthy and I try and tell one and all that I come in contact with, that they DO matter, and they ARE beautiful, and they ARE just as important.

16. I've had to call on God and our relationship a lot more than I ever have before. Thank goodness he understands me better than anyone else in the world so even my shorthand prayers are never hard to hear. 

17. And finally, that if I shut my mouth and close my eyes, I can listen with unbiased thoughts. And I will cherish the day, when I have learned to completely stop judging by what I see so that I make better decisions based on facts, not prejudice. With my eyes wide open. 

I'm sure I've learned a lot more than all of that, but those are the high points. And quite frankly,  more than I should still have to be learning at 48 years old. But I would rather my mind and my heart be open to change for the good, rather than stuck in the ways of my past. I'm looking forward to year 2012, to meeting new people who can teach me new things. With every new person I am fortunate enough to meet, there is opportunity within myself for improvement. All for the greater good.

Happy New Year to one and all. May you be happy with what you have, find whatever it is you're still looking for, and be satisfied either way it turns out. Love everybody you can as much as you know how, in as many ways as you can demonstrate. Apologize when the words out of your mouth are colder and harder than you meant, and back it up with a hug. Instead of writing a list of ten things you want to change, pick one, and make it happen. Work on number two next year. The goal is accomplished completion, not predestined disappointment. Good luck to you all. See you on the other side..the new side....the fresh side...of 2012.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mama's...The Big Mystery

It's really hard to explain why we act the way we do. I don't know that we even understand it ourselves. As much as we fight it. As much as we dislike it even of ourselves, we can't seem to stop. It builds and builds until it boils over into a stream of tears. Tears brought on by hurt feelings, left behind feelings, and ignored feelings.

Part of us wants to say, wants you to know, that one day, you will be us. You will be the one left standing. Alone. Watching the fun and laughter from afar. Because someone else will be too busy for you. Life will move on and you will be left to watch the film clips and look at leftover memory pictures. But we won't say that to you, because we know how bad it hurts. And we want to believe you're not doing it on purpose or intentionally. We want to believe you're having so much fun, you don't even realize what you're doing when you hurt us. So we would never intentionally hurt you back.

Empty nest is hard. It's horrible. It is relentlessly sorrowful. Half of an empty nest really doesn't feel much different. All children are different. Rarely are any two the same. It is no different in my house. My hugger, my confidant, my homebody, my friend, and my oldest son is gone. He's grown, living on his own and he's gone. My fist pump for goodnight, my rarely likes to talk seriously, my "it's implied" youngest son is still here, but not so you would notice some days. He stays in the road and with friends.

I talk to other mothers who are feeling the same things. I talk to them about it, because I can see it in them. They're having a hard time adjusting to the change. I've had a few years to adjust to my Joshua being gone. So I recognize it very quickly when I see it in others. The first year was horrendous. I don't mind telling you I can't count high enough to tell you how many tears I may have cried. How many days my family would sit here and look at me like I had three heads on my shoulders instead of just one. How many times their short, and dismissive words would cut me to the bone. Was I the only one hurting and lonely? Surely not.

I know now, looking back, that I drove Zach crazy that first year. Drove him further away. I was grasping and latching onto him so hard, trying to survive the struggle, I think maybe I was smothering him. He already was not up for all that closeness, and he has always lacked in the condolence department. Well, I will say with everyone but me, he seems able to see the pain. And I guess I can say good graces for that. And Mims, he's not much different. That, and I just don't think most men react the same way to the empty nest. Some, maybe. But not most. Not by a long shot. Or maybe, they just carry it differently. I'm just not sure.

But I'm alright now. I've adjusted to it pretty well most days. I still have my moments. When my needs for what I had are not filled and I sink back into that well of darkness. But most days, I can find something to pull myself back out. I found something I can use. It works most every time.

My parents are a very young seventy and seventy one years old. But in the last couple of years their mind sets have changed. They are often exceptionally emotional. Worried and fretting about the things they won't get to see, won't be able to experience instead of enjoying what is happening right here, right now. So whenever I feel myself sinking into that pit of darkness, I insist that that mind go there, to them, and I try and snap out if it.

If any of you teenagers are reading this, please think about your parents. What you say, how you say it. Give them a little more of your time. Take the time to act like you're listening. Take the time to notice when someone besides yourself is having a bad day. Needs a pick up. Needs a hug. Take the time to notice the Mama who is ALWAYS there for you. Making sure your every want and need is taken care of, many times, before you even realize you have a want or need. Pay attention to her expression, and notice the change on her face when your words are too sharp or impatiently said.

Invite her to the movies. You're so busy looking at her as a Mom, try looking at her as a teenager. Go back and look at some of her pictures from high school. Surprise. She was YOU! She laughed and giggled uncontrollably, she cried tears over boys, she had a first love in the sixth grade, and she had best friends. Some of whom she is still friends with and some, she has no idea where they are today. She would love to go to the movies with you. Or you and your pals. You'd be surprised what she still finds funny.

Invite her into your bedroom. Ask her opinion about an outfit. Tell her about your day. About something funny that happened in class. About someone that made you mad. About ANYTHING. Make her feel included. It matters.

Ask her about HER day. How was work? And if she drones on and on about something that happened, and you have no idea what she's talking about, just listen. Patiently. Heck, here's a novel idea, ASK HER! Ask questions. Why should she be the only one interested in you? After all, the job she does every single day has paid for your whole life. Has made your whole life and everything in it, so much easier than it could have been. So much more fun and enjoyable. Ask her. Take an interest in what and who makes your life as great as it is. She knows what your favorite meal is and somehow, always knows when you'd like to eat it. Do you know what hers is? What in the world would happen if you thought about that, and cooked for her?

She has given you everything on this earth that you ever wanted or needed, can't you give her a little of yourself back? That's all she wants. Just some of you. Share some of you. Boyfriends and girlfriends will come and go. And unfortunately, so will many of the girls/boys who you think will be there no matter what. Your Mama and Daddy will always be there no matter what, THAT I can guarantee.

These are the years that will transform your relationship again. And, believe it or not, it won't be the last time. But these are important times. Important years. You can still be her daughter/son, but you can also work towards being her friend. Because I promise you, you're going to need her as your friend. For many more days to come. You're going to wish you had tried harder, listened closer, and loved harder.

A few weeks ago, I had a spend the night party with my own Mother. First time I had shared a bed with her since I was in my teens. As we laid there in the dark, and talked about whatever came to pass, I couldn't tell whose voice sounded younger. Hers or mine. In the dark, for that brief period between awake and asleep, we were the same. I woke up the next day loving my Mama even more than I thought I had more room for...and wishing times like that had happened more often.

I probably repeated myself a little today. I tried not to do that. But when I see in others, what I knew happened within myself,  I just have to say something. I'm a fixer from way back. And while I can't fix everything and everybody, I can help. I can talk. And I can listen.  And, I only wrote this from a Mother's point of view, because that's all I know. So, love your Mama, she's the only one you have and you can't bring back time. No matter how hard you try. We know, we've already been in your shoes, did all that you're doing, and we couldn't get it back. Be smarter than us, and try now.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Son, The Writer

"Two of my students just shook my hand and thanked me for a great semester. Almost cried".  A text from my son Joshua, earlier this afternoon. Final day of classes for this semester at the University of Alabama.

It has been a grueling start to his 3rd year.  He's tired and worn out. He's in year two of being a teacher and a student and some days, it's more than he bargained for. He spends half of his day hoping to ignite interest and ideas in young people that are just beginning their college career, and most of them not really sure of anything. And the other half, he spends trying to ignite himself. Keep his own mind fires burning.

He's not a student of Math where the answers are already known, and all he has to do is put pencil to paper and figure it out. He's not a student of History where you simply memorize the dates and the names that have already been created. He's a student of English. A student of Creative Writing. English of course teaches him the words and their uses. But writing, no one can really teach you how to write. They can teach you how to write a business letter. They can teach you punctuation. But no one can teach you the art of words. You either have that gift or you don't. You can either capture people's attention or you cannot.

Writing is a gift. And every day, he has to call upon himself to recreate his gift. To make it new and fresh and readable. Profitable. His ultimate goal is to sell himself. His words. His heart. And his soul. His goal has been to learn how to put his inner most thoughts and creative achievements on paper, and make someone want to read them. Entice someone to listen to what he has to say. And to stay with him, until his story has been told. You can't teach that. You can't spend eight hours a day, five days a week, for three years and teach that. No more than you can teach a painter brushstrokes that will create the Mona Lisa.

This morning when I was driving to work I was just two streets over from my final destination when I saw the school bus coming down the road. With it's red stop flags already out, picking up students. I groaned, knowing that this was surely going to slow me down, because I could already see children lined up, all down the street at their own "bus stops".

As the bus got closer I knew it was my turn to stop and wait for the load up. As I sat there, I watched two little boys, neither more than five or six years old, climbing up on the bus. But what caught my eye, was the mother who was still standing and a little bitty fella, maybe three years old, waving goodbye for all he was worth. He waved at his brother/cousin from the time he stepped on that bus, and kept on waving as the bus was already rolling forward, headed to his next stop.

I was frozen in place, just watching that little guy waving his arms off. My mind went back to earlier days of my own, and watching my little Zach waving goodbye for one reason or another to his big brother Josh. My eyes teared up, and the only thing that made me remember to move, was the guy behind me beeping for me to step it up.

All I've ever wanted for either of my boys was for them to be happy. I want them to become who they think they should become. Be happy and satisfied doing it, and hopefully financially profitable so that their lives are comfortable. Zach, Mims and I are still waving goodbye. Three of four times a year, we line up, watch as Joshua drives off, and wave goodbye until our arms fall off.

Whether Josh decides to teach, make a living selling his words and thoughts, or both, he will be successful. Because he strives for and accepts no less of himself.  Right now he's just tired, and he's ready for his Christmas break. To refuel. To replenish his mind and body with plenty of rest and new thoughts. New, creative ways to capture the attention of his students for semester number two.

Later this afternoon, I received another text which captured every word I've said much better than I could have said it :
Joshua..."My second class wasn't so appreciative, but mostly because they jacked around in my class".
Ma: "One day, they will realize who they had for a teacher once upon a time, and hopefully regret they wasted the opportunity".
Joshua's reply:
"Indeed, their loss. Oh well. Thank little baby Jesus it's over."

Good to know, no matter what, his humor and wit, is always intact. Cause that's how we roll. That's what we're made of...strength, heart and humor.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

When Dreams and Real Life Collide

If you have read any of my earlier blogs, you already know, I'm a dreamer. Some of them come true. Some of them have later meanings. Some of them, I still remember, and still wonder, if the hidden meanings I deduced are relevant. And some of them, thank God, mean nothing at all.

I'm going to tell you a few of them today. Give you the time sequence, which indicates nothing, except how very long and how very well I can still remember some of  my dreams. And off we go.

Back in late 1997, early 1998, Josh and I went to see the movie Titanic. The newer version with Leo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet.  From a cinema point of view, it was beautifully done. From the real story point of view it was awful. It was depressing. It was all too human. And I will never get past the scene of grown people, grown men, pushing women and children aside to save themselves. Or just as haunting, the last scene where dead bodies are floating aimlessly in the ocean.

To this day, I can remember coming out of that movie theater with Joshua and never in my life, being so glad to see the sun shining and the real world still in motion.  For days, that movie haunted my thoughts and consumed my mind and my heart.

July of 98', now divorced since early 97', I moved to Quincy with my children. Not too many weeks later, I would dream my own Titanic story that would stick with me, even today.  My dream had one main scene. Unforgettably a soul searching experience.

I am overboard. As I struggle to stay above water, I am staring back at the huge ship that has just released itself from the bottom up, and toppled every one on it, out into the black, dark sea. My daddy is with me. Somehow we managed to wind up together. I'm dog paddling as hard as I can to keep my head above water. And my Daddy is doing the same. Suddenly, he says he just can't do it anymore. And he begins to go under.

When I was growing up, both of my parents were walking fashion statements. They always wore the "in" styles and wore them with flair and pizazz. He has on the Kelly Green sweater that he wore at Christmas one year when I was pregnant with Joshua. It is a beautiful sweater and it flattered his green eyes and black hair. So handsome he was when he wore that sweater. So handsome he is now,  as I begin to holler at him to try, try harder. And I begin to take it upon myself to make sure his head stays above water.

Every time he dips down, I'm pulling and tugging on that green sweater with all my might. And oh my God, it is making him so much heavier. It's wet, and the weight of the sweater has doubled. I'm begging my daddy, to please, please try. I need your help. We can do this. And he just looks at me and says, please, just let me go, I'm tired. It's alright Chell Bell, just let me go.

I begin to look around, for someone, anyone who can help me. And as I turn my head to the left, I see my ex husband holding my two year old Zachary, Joshua, and my mother. They were all standing. Not struggling. Not fighting to stay above water, much less alive. Just standing there, watching me and my Daddy as we struggled.

Now, in my mind in the dream, and in my mind today when I am awake, I say to you the reader, that they were only standing in water that came to their knees. All of them. And I knew the reason why, when my eyes were shut tight, as well as I know it now, when they are wide open. They were the "good people". They weren't struggling to live and keep the black nasty water out of their lungs, because they were all that is good. And me and my daddy, well, we have always been the against the grain people in our family. Not always following the rules, but in the end, always paying for our sins. As it should be. As it was, in  my mind, in this dream.

Now to this day, I cannot tell you why in the heck my ex was standing there. While he is not an awful human being, he did his share of wrong doing while we were married. But Zachary, Joshua, and my Mama..yes sir, for me, they represented the ultimate goodness in this world.

Dreams. Strange things these dreams that won't go away. How they play on your mind. Three months ago we were watching some show about alligators and crocodiles. Not Swamp People, more like a documentary. Anyway, one of these people has their arm bitten off by a gator. OFF. I have no idea why I was watching it. I knew better.

That night, I'm lying down to sleep, and of course, that show comes back into my mind. I'm trying to think of anything BUT that. I finally rid my head of those crazy images and I drift into sleep. It was not to be a peaceful sleep however. But instead of dreaming about gators, I dream about bears.

The only people in the dream that I can remember are me, Zach and Mims. Zach is a little boy. About two or three years old maybe. We're running, like running for our lives. And I turn back because I can no longer feel his hand in mine. He has let go. I can see him sitting on the ground. I run back to get him, and before I can get to him this huge bear scoops him up. And right before my eyes, begins to flip and flop and shake my precious baby like a rag doll. He won't stop. He won't let go. He's ripping off his arms and I am screaming beyond the decimal sounds imaginable. Then suddenly the bear stops. He lays Zach down on the ground. Blood is everywhere and I run to him. But the arm I saw being ripped off is still there. He's looking at me. He's alive. And I wake up.

I have a lot of crazy dreams. But I am hear to tell you, that dream shook me up pretty bad. It was one of those reoccurring dreams too. Like for several nights after. I was scared to close my eyes. I told my oldest son Joshua and Mims about the dream. Sometimes, I think I feel like if I say it out loud, it won't be real anymore, and it will go away.

Zach and his buds had been talking and planning this camping trip for two months. Clearing land, chopping fire wood, you name it, they've been doing it, to get prepped. Two or three nights ago, Mims is telling Zach this that or another about what to do if this, or what to do if that, and he starts talking about the food. That if they have any food left over, they need to make sure it's in their vehicles locked up where animals can't smell it. He makes a joke about raccoons all up in their tents. Then he makes a joke about bears.

Now, I don't have to tell you where this is going. For days after, this camping trip made me sick at my stomach. Worrying. About dreams ~vs~ reality. So scared, so paranoid, I wanted to make him cancel the trip. Or tell him he couldn't go. Crazy, irrational thoughts continued to crowd out my common sense. I confided my fears to Joshua, and he assured me everything was going to be alright. I did not say a word to Zachary.

Last night, as I was trying to sleep, I whispered to Mims, "Do you remember my dream about the bear and Zach?" He just patted my arm and tightened his grip on my hand in the dark and said, "I knew you were going to think about that. I regretted it the minute I said it the other night, but it was out before I could stop it. Everything is going to be alright, I promise. There are no bears in those woods over there. I was just joking around". I woke up a LOT last night. And each time, tried to steer my mind away from the ravings of a lunatic that were begging to break loose in my thoughts.

The camping trip was a success, No one got hurt, no one did anything stupid. They're all just tired and worn out from no sleep and freezing to death. No grizzly bears. No dangers. No reality from horrible dreams.

I'm not sure what makes the dreaming process such a mysterious deal. Or why, some dreams really do become reality. Because they have. You know, I guess the same way your mind, when you're awake, does that de ja vu thing it can do. Well, at least mine can. And sometimes, my stomach warns me about something before it really happens. I just try and respect the signs I receive, and separate the drama from the situation.

I have a couple of more dreams, that turned into real situations. But that's enough for one reading. I don't want to give out too much information at once. I don't want anybody planning an intervention. Especially one that involves a lobotomy or a straight jacket (wink wink).

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Is....So Many Things....In Disguise

Christmas is Jesus. Jesus is Christmas. Jesus Christ is "the reason for the season". This I know. But I also know, Jesus presents himself in many, many forms. He is present in everything we see and everything we do. So to say Christmas is Jesus is absolutely right. As I applied this theory in my mind, I begin to think of all things CHRISTmas is to me. I mentally began to make my list and this is how it went.

Christmas is:

  • The first time your child or grandchild takes off on their new bicycle. The one with the training wheels hugging the ground. But from the wide eyed, open mouthed expression on your child's face, it's as if they are flying to the moon. 
  • Your oldest son's life dream is coming true. His work is published again and again. He has also found the love of his life. And you know, he is on his way to his happily ever after. 
  • Santa will visit and your son will PROBABLY receive the 22 rifle he has been hoping and wishing for....WITH the provision that he takes a gun safety class...FIRST.  Because Santa believes in safety first too. 
  • You visit your grandfather in the nursing home. He usually has a hard time remembering his absolutely favorite grandchild, but today, he remembers your name the whole hour long visit.
  • Two young men who run a lawn care business take care of your lawn every week. This week, the week before Christmas, their services are free of charge. 
  • It's 4 weeks before Christmas and you are laid off from your job. Your family pitches in and pays your bills and buys your groceries. Because that's what family's do. 
  • The baby you are carrying will not make it to this world. But the good Lord reminds you, that you have another baby, already here, who will heal your heart and ease your pain, until He decides it's time to try again.
  • You are lucky enough to be surrounded by family, although not the ones given to by blood, but by fate and by heart. 
  • After six months of  testing, and re-testing, all of your tests come back negative. You do not have cancer. A second chance to get healthy and make changes in your body and diet. 
  • Your husband celebrates the five year mark of his Prostate being cancer free.
  • Your son makes many trips in the dark from class to car across a big college campus. And he makes it every single time, unharmed. 
  • The dog you love so much needs you to help him get to heaven. You are heartbroken, but know he will be pain free and with all the other doggies of your life.
  • Your child has joined chorus, mostly (you are convinced) to avoid a much more complicated class. You're not sure if the rest of the world can hear it, but as he walks through the house singing his choral tunes, all your ears absorb is the most angelic voice you have ever heard.
  • You're 48 years old, and it really is, finally alright, that your husband bought you new cookware for a gift instead of diamonds.
  • Your friend who spent almost a whole year sick, throwing up, and in unimaginable pain while fighting breast cancer...through chemo and radiation, has won her battle and she has rejoined the world and all it's glory.
  • Your friend who lost her oldest son to war July 2010, has survived grief, breast cancer, and life for another year. 
  • Your friend who was floundering and needed a purpose and a new meaning for her life, is having the best, most successful year of her life selling real estate and regaining her confidence and sense of being.
  • You've attended two baby showers in six months, and were able to  personally witness miracles in motion.
  • Your friend whose husband had been jobless for months and months, was able to find a job, and save their home and make life comfortable once again. 
  • Your children have been taught to respect and mind their manners enough to smile without missing a beat, as they open the third package of undershirts and tube socks from their Grandparents who don't know boys wear flip flops year round'. 
  • The husband who drives you crazy, recognizes your pain, and surprises you with a visit from your son who's living away at college..for your birthday AND Thanksgiving!
  • Your Grandfather who has not seen you play all year, for pain and circumstance, was finally able to see one of the finest games of your life. Smiling from ear to ear and pain free. From the skybox.
  • Your teenage child experiences love and heartbreak for the first time. And you are able to gently walk down the road of recovery with him and months later, watch him love again. 
  • And maybe if not the best, most fun sign of Christmas? They are showing Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer at least six times in the month of December!
Merry Christmas to one and all. I hope everything you need to see in the spirit of Jesus, you see. I hope the miracles that happen every single day, don't go unnoticed.  Happy Birthday Jesus. Thank you for making my life complete.

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    I'm Gonna Need Some Assistance

    So yeah, I did it again. I went to all that trouble. Last year. Only I was early. It wasn't time. I am currently checking into the medications for early Alzheimer's. Pay close attention. I refuse to believe I am alone. Although, this may be my thoughts simply because I need comfort.

    Saturday, Mims was reading the local paper, the Gadsden County Times. He was reading out loud, as he often does. Most times, when he's finished reading the paper, there is no need for me to look at it at all. Except maybe to look at the pictures. Because he has read absolutely everything that is worthy of knowing, to me. As this process continues, he says something that catches my attention immediately. Like, as soon as I hear what he says, I'm flinging my hands to my face, shouting, "good gosh almighty".  He jumps out of his skin...and here we go.

    Turns out, they are closing the local license renewal offices at our Gadsden County Patrol Station. This Wednesday, November 30th, is the last day of local operation. All other renewals will be done in Tallahassee. After Wednesday. Now as earth shattering as this news may be, that news has nothing on the fact of what the real problem is here. The quandary I have now re-created for myself.

    Yeah, that's pretty much it. My birthday WAS November the 4th. Today is November 28th. You can do that math. My license, that I thought was late last January, and it was not even due yet, IS expired NOW. Sweet sugar. Yeah.

    So the panic is on again. To get there before they shut it down and pray I don't have to pay a late fee. I do at least have all my items now. The birth certificate, marriage certificate, social security card, two recent bills which represent my present address, ♫ and a partridge in a pear tree♫ .

    I arrive at 8:20am. There are three people there. I am ready. I have my handy dandy Fed Ex package with all my information in it. They call number seven. I am number eight. This is moving fast. Number seven is not ready, he's waiting on someone, he changes tickets with me! Alright!! Looka here. Lady luck is shining on me! I thank him profusely, get up and go to the counter. I start digging out all of my stuff. I'm pulling it out, unfolding it, flattening out the long folded up sheets flat with my hands. I'm at the bottom of the packet. And I don't see it. I look again. Still no. I'm starting to sweat. I look through all the papers already drug out and on the counter, again. As if this is going to produce what I'm missing. My birth certificate. It's missing. My lip is now glistening. It is not there. Why oh why, is the same thing that gave me such a fit before, causing this problem again now?! The lady sighs and tells me that I have to have it in order to complete the process. She gives me an extension letter for 60 days. Tells me good luck.

    Now the only problem with this extension paper is they won't be here IN SIXTY DAYS. I will have to go to Tallahassee to take care of this problem. So I load up my stuff and decided immediately I would go back to the house and look for my missing item.

    I walk straight into the house to the cabinet where all of that was stored and I begin to RIP through it. And I spot it, almost immediately, in another packet. A UPS packet. The one it came next day air in. A YEAR AGO. Why did I not combine it with the other packet? See what it got me? Moving on, thank goodness. Now, to get back in the truck, drive back across town, which is all of a ten minute drive, and get this thing done. 

    I pull back in the parking lot to see not the three vehicles that were there when I left, but now there are eight vehicles. I park, lower my head, say a small prayer, and get out of the truck.

    In Gadsden County, for eight vehicles, you have approximately four people per vehicle. Guess what I walked into once back inside? So yeah, you can do THAT math too. I pull my ticket, which is now number 30 and I sit down. They are bellowing number 25 as my behind touches the seat. Great grand, five more people ahead of me. There are only two women behind the counter. I lower my head again and close my eyes to keep them from dripping water.

    Now because it's the last 3 days of operation, everybody in kingdom come is there to get their problems straightened out. License's that have not been renewed for child support purposes, non-paid tickets, and fresh out of jail, ready to re-enter society and need their licenses renewed....people.

    "Dey don't owe no money. Dey chil'ren is grown now. Dey don't owe dat woman no money. Dey paid dat ticket. Dey wutin' speedin' no how. Dat waz all bullsheet. Dey served dey time, dey sho did, dey jus' needs to get dey papers skrait. Dey don' knowed nothin' bout no outstanding warrents. Dey pait dey debt."

    I listened to that crap for another hour and 15 minutes. I thought I was gonna blow up and go postal in the patrol station. I was bleeding from my words going down my throat and through my body, cutting up my insides all the way down. Sharp ugly words. Ready to EXPLODE words. Ready to do bodily harm words.

    Finally it's my turn. She smiles, when she sees me again. I am trying to smile back. It is hard. She takes all my information. Smiles again, because now I have it all. I am gritting my teeth so hard, my jaws are hurting. But everything goes smoothly. I have no outstanding warrants. I don't owe any child support. And I have no unserved sentences, that I'm aware of anyway.Which is a dang wonder. I was praying the whole time she was typing in my information. Because everyone that had come up prior to me, had no luck at all with those computers of death and their awful information.

    I don't have to have my license renewed again until 2019! By then, my early stages of Alzheimer's
    will definitely be in full swing. I expect, I won't even know my name by then. So somebody is gonna have to elect themselves to be my caretaker. Not that I will necessarily need to know when to get my license renewed. Hell, I won't even know where the hell I'm going by then. But I will need help getting fed and dressed. Volunteers?

    copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

    Friday, November 25, 2011

    Diary of A "Real" Family Thanksgiving....Breaking it Down

    Old Crow Medicine Show...Rock me Mama like a wagon wheel, rock me Mama anyway you feel, hey, hey, Mama rock me.  Kitchen full of fixings. The music shouting the songs on the Thanksgiving CD mix.

    Josh arrives in Albany Wednesday to spend the night with his Mema and Granddaddy before coming home.  Their house is a furnace. It always is...a furnace. We like it cold. They need it to be warm. My Mama sits with blankets covering her body while my hot flashes make me feel close to self combustion. And Daddy's heart surgery has seriously reversed his need for cool. They will soon travel to my home, one following the other.

    The cows are laying down, the fish ain't bitin'. Random words by Kornbread Jr when he comes back from a drive. Words spoken by KB Sr hundreds of times, as he passed hundreds of fields.

    Everybody arrives. The house smells of every food imaginable. Everybody's eyes are big and stomachs are growling. The secret to eating all you want for dinner, is no breakfast. Hence, the eyes ravaging over my counter tops.

    Stomachs are full. Eyes are sleepy. Football is roaring from the screen, the Lions are losing. Aaron Rogers is the bomb. Paterno is shameful. Sandusky has a disease. And a player is ejected for stomping on another player. The announcer "looks like he'll take a drink". Another KB Sr quote rolling out of KB Jr's mouth.

    A 6'8" man works in our Wal-Mart. Scary to look at. Too big for his body. Not normal growth development. Yao Ming. For example. It's real.

    Thoughts from a child in a house where the thermostat is set on 78 1am..."I can get ice cubes and line my bed ...lay down...and survive."  Hot natured, hot flashes, it's all the same. He relates these thoughts to me, his mother...who is laughing so hard she is holding her sides.

    Talks of unloading luggage and startling bumper stickers. "Republicans for Voldemort". A reference that has to be explained to me. And to his G-Daddy. Voldemort the Hitler of Harry Potter. Hilarious to his Ma. Not so much to his Republican G-Daddy. 

    To his grandson's, "When I dated your Mema, it was a battle from the get go. It started with Wednesday Prayer meeting, and turned into Church three times a week. Before that, she wouldn't even talk to me. Wouldn't give me a bag of popcorn even if I paid her back tomorrow."  His daughter, "So, how in the heck did you two ever even start dating and end up together?" Stone cold serious Daddy replies, "Your Mama was just damned lucky". The room erupts with obnoxious, nose snorting laughter, and some serious doubt in the legitimacy of his statement. Somebody was very lucky, we're thinking it was him. But from the glow of her eyes across the room, maybe he's right. Real love.

    Conversations around the table. Much later into the evening. Hippie son. Member of Fine Arts Master program. Seated next to him. Duplicate son of turnips greens and kornbread. Southern Alabama Mema and G-Daddy. And me, always the middle man. Segregation ~vs~ integration. Backs of school buses. Failing tests grades in most counties state wide. Perry Florida, White Only Section and Black Only Section in 2010. Mixed races, soon to be a one colored nation. Not in their time, but it's coming. Coloreds and Whites only, in 1950 we didn't use those ugly words. My boys don't see color. Just people. Years and generations apart.

    Sullen faces, argumentative words. Gangs. All over the place. Ship those fighting, gun and knife toten' SOB's over to those countries that fight black on black. China has a two child limit law. That's what we need. I say, to Hippie son, you can't think like a gay man in order to understand fear of the black man. Hippie son says, I can't think like anyone else BUT a gay man. That's who I am. I'm more afraid of walking the dark streets as a gay man, anywhere, than walking the streets in a black neighborhood. Touche'.

    Young KB Jr. injects, Praise the Lord, every five minutes or so. To keep the peace, or stir the pot. It's hard to tell. Sly winks and air head lifts tell me it may be the latter. Oldest liberal son, still not pleased with end result conversation. Grandparents, clearly, from another time, another place. Oldest Hippie son, bathes too much to be a true hippie. A high tech Bohemian at best.  So say the staunch Republicans to my very liberal Democrat son.

    It runs late, they decide they will stay. A sleepover is happening. I have a king size bed. Plenty of room. Mother and daughter will sleep together. PJ's are donned and it is dark. Talks of dark houses, old fishing stories, cholesterol checks, low iron, high blood pressure and medications, PaPa Josh and Sara MaMa, and how wonderful my kids, her grand kids truly are. I haven't slept with my mother since junior high school and bad dreams. Talking in the dark, voices low and soft. She sounds like a teenager. Laughter erupts from down the hall. KB Jr has cracked up Hippie son. True, loud, raucous laughter that vibrates the walls. We smile in the dark. I can't remember loving my mother more. She is my best friend.

    Music is playing again. "My oh my you're so good looking, put together like a pair of bookends, but I've not tasted all your cooking, who are you when I'm not looking?"....Blake Shelton, a pair of lungs pure as gold.

    Another year comes and goes. My family is learning. Open is revealing, honest, mind boggling, and tension filled. Open love forgives all, no matter what. Open hearts, accept the differences and embrace the likenesses. One holiday down. Memories stored. Respect honored. Love intact. Success.

    copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    And The Holidays Are Here....Again

    I have had quite the melancholy day. The holidays tend to do that to me. And as much as I looked forward to having the time off from work, today has left me so listless. And with definitely, too much time to think.

    I didn't sleep late. I got up to see both Zach off to school and Mims off to South Carolina. I skulked around on Face Book for an hour or so. My eyes were feeling droopy, so I went and laid back down. I got back up about an hour later. Made some coffee, opened my lap top, and picked back up where I left off.

    I had been skulking around on Face Book again for about ten minutes, when my friend Kim came by the house. She stayed for about an hour, we talked, fussed and laughed and then she left. She was headed to the grocery store.

    I settled back down. It was now after noon and I had still had no shower and was sitting around in my bed clothes. With no make up on. Which, by the way, is how Kim found me. I told her if word got out about how horrible I looked, I would know.  I piddled around, took out the trash and cleaned my kitchen counter tops. They tend to become the dumping spot for everything no one wants to walk the distance required to put it in it's place.

    I kept walking by one of the mirrors on my dining room wall during all of this scuttling around. Each time, catching a glimpse of myself. Not too flattering to say the least. After a few minutes of that, I firmly made a decision to take a shower and get cleaned up. Fix that ratty mess of hair on my head and put some make up on this face of mine. The one that requires make up.

    So now I am dressed and ready to go. Somewhere, anywhere, but where oh where would that be? I wasn't in the mood to go alone. Everyone else was at work, or school. So I sat back down, picked up the lap top, and fell into the bowels of the Internet one more time.

    Finally Zach comes home. But not for long. He's off to the mine hole with his buddies. To go fishing. I get ten minutes of company and then he's off. Truck is pulling out of the drive way, and I am alone again.

    I gotta tell you all, I'm not gonna be good at this alone stuff when or if it really happens for good. I mean a day or so here and there, I can rumble around and wallow in my own boredom and self pity. But much more than that, and someone will have to come pull me out. I'm not rich, so roaming for hours on end and spending money to blow time is not an option.

    But today, in particular, with my husband headed home to spend time with his family, me, sitting here staring at a Christmas tree filled with memories all day long, and no one here to talk to but myself...not good. My mind flopped around back and forth between all of my grandparents who are no longer in this world. My eyes lit on the crystal angel ornament on my Christmas tree about fifty times. I saw an old empty cigar box in our washroom and memory smells from my PaPa came flooding back. My eyes filled with tears several different times.

    I'm ready to see Joshua. I'm ready to see Joshua and Zach together. Ready for a hold tight hug from my oldest son. Ready to hear them laughing at me, cracking on me, telling old, unflattering stories about me, stories that have been told so many times, it's like a script we all can follow and recite. And finally, telling me they love me, and telling me peace out and good night.

    I'm ready for some good food and family love. I'm ready to feel that old familiar comfort that comes from being surrounded by those you love the most. Like a freshly washed and out of the dryer blanket, wrapped around your body. I'm ready to ask, can I get you something else, some more tea and who would like some dessert? I'm ready to stand in the kitchen and listen to arguing about who has to clean what, and who gets stuck with the nasty dressing pan. Who's going to take out the garbage, because Josh thinks he's company now, and Zach assures him, he will NEVER be company and to take out the garbage.

    Then I'm ready to sit around with full tummies and watch them all, one by one, find a place to land, nod off in their respective seats and swear they're just resting their eyes. I'm ready for everything that comes with my family. The jabs, the laughter, the unconditional love and acceptance.

    Hopefully tomorrow, I'll be too busy getting ready to have the mullygrubs. And too busy to write. So I am wishing everybody a Happy Thanksgiving.  If you are traveling, please be safe, get to where you are going, and take no chances.  And most of all, love your family, they are how you got here. They will see you through until the end. Because that's what family's do.

    And to my Bonus Family in South Carolina, take good care of Kornbread Sr for me....I sure do love that man we all share. Love you all too.

    copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    This Crazy Ride Is My Life

    I always hope, that when I have something to say, that it's relevant. That it can mean something to someone besides me. That it may help someone. That someone may be able to identify with my words. My thoughts. My problems. My life.

    I always try my best to keep the information told to me in confidence, to myself. I would like to know, that I am treated the same. At the same time, I know that I take life experiences, that are not necessarily mine alone to bear, and I share them. I try my best to share them only from my perspective. I never want to try and second guess anyone's feelings. I never want to try and describe anyone's personal heartache. Mainly, because I don't think that can be done.

    I have a recovering alcoholic Father, twenty three years sober. I have a recovering alcoholic husband, five years married, and sixteen years sober.  I lived my first marriage with an alcoholic and he is not sober yet. I probably did not leave him soon enough. Finances and children tend to prolong some things that are better stopped. I hope my children will not suffer from my decisions. My decision to stay longer than I should. And my decision to leave when I did.

    I am a very strong woman, raised by very strong parents. Very caring, and passionate parents. They did not always express themselves the way I thought they should have, but I learned the lessons I needed. I understood what they wanted me to know. Their methods, while not mine, and albeit too strong, were heartfelt. I left behind, what I chose not to carry with me, and took, what was necessary for me to survive.

    And I have survived. I survived with my two sons for almost thirteen years. Alone. We have raised each other. When what I brought to the table was too much, they showed me a softness that would allow me to feel shame. When I was more than I needed to be, they showed me humor, and taught me the ability to laugh at my own idiocy.

    And my boys taught me never ending love is real. It is the most concrete love I have ever known. It is indestructible. Undeniable. And most times, indescribable. It runs as deep as my veins will allow. Sinking into the marrow of my bones. I will never in my life love anyone more. I know, I could never love them any less.

    My second husband, and my last, has taught me patience I never knew existed, and that slow, quiet love is just as wonderful as the wild, wild ride I heard so much about, so many years ago. He is steady, he is real, and he is the plain hard facts. He does not quibble about his thoughts, and is slow to relieve himself of guilt. But he will, because I taught him that. I taught him that all children need to hear I love you. That all children need hugs. And that when you're sorry, say so. It matters.

    He taught me, that all men from the back woods of South Carolina are not to be judged by their speech. That he was smart enough, and man enough, to leave his racist feelings behind, and love our gay son as if he were still, just our son. Because he is, just our son. He taught me that you can change, when you find someone you love enough, to change for. And he has taught me quiet strength is the most powerful of all. Both of my children possess it as well. I am still learning.

    I wouldn't change anything about my life. Not one, single, solitary thing. Not the choices. Good or bad. Not the decisions. Right or wrong. We will all have to answer for our lives one day. I hope my good outweighs the bad. I hope my heart has worked harder than my thoughts. I hope He thinks that I tried hard enough with everything that I should have. And I hope He forgives me for the times I fell short.

    Love yourself. Love your choices. Live for everyone you love and live for yourself. And never, ever, regret. Because without what we have, and what we've been through, we would never be right here. Right now. And I wouldn't miss the rest of this ride for anything.

    copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    Every Time In Life Has a Place, And Every Place a Time

    Me and Kim, at Sara MaMa's house, with her Silver tree and the electric colored machine.
    "I love my house, I love my nest, in all the world, my nest is best". It truly is...the best. We don't live in the grandest neighborhood. And we sure don't live in a big fancy house. But it's our house. And it's paid for, free and clear. In this day and time, the economy up and down every day, that's a great comfort when I lay my head down every night.

    Each year that rolls around we always decorate. I have decorative flags for every occasion. Every season. Every holiday. For every moment life has to bring, my house represents. And Christmas is certainly no exception. Christmas brings double duty, inside and out.

    My family grumbles and mumbles, gripes and moans. And I have to admit, we have tapered down somewhat over the years. The yard is not as lit as it used to be. We used to light the house, and streamline the Dogwood trees all the way down the front of the house. But somewhere, about the time Joshua moved off to go to college, things slowly seemed to change.

    Zach's interest has waned quite a bit. They act like I'm crazy and as if every minute is killing them. But maybe it's not as fun, making fun of crazy, maniacal Mama without Joshua to chime in and help. I even noticed the difference yesterday when most of the light stringing was going on. Matt was here to help, and between he, Zach and Mims, it all got done efficiently and with ease. No fussing. Well, a tad, when I piped up and said I wanted more lights here or there. Or told them something was crooked or needed to be moved over an inch. Or a half inch. I was able to do most of the inside alone. The 'round the edges' decorating I call it. I left the tree ornament decorating for today. I was just too tired. And honestly, I can never remember going to bed, and haven gotten that far, and not finished. But I sat right here in my recliner last night, perfectly satisfied with looking at a naked lit tree.

    This morning, refreshed and rejuvenated, and ready to be done, I dragged the big box of ornaments forth and began what I call the art of Christmas.  And it is an art. You don't just throw ornaments on a tree any old kind of way. They are strategically placed, based on size, color, and memory. This morning was our only 'drama'. I needed help in the high and out of reach places, and Zach was not interested. A few ugly words left my lips, which left Zach an opening for an irony lecture. You know the one. Decorating for the season of Jesus, and talking ugly don't mix.

    Ah, the memory ornaments, the hardest to stop putting on the tree. Hand made by little hands and big hearts, at school and at home. Ornaments that were purchased and dated and tagged with a name for each year my children have been born. Or ornaments that represent who they are (Alabama) and who they are a fan of (Longhorns). Each son 'owns' a side of the tree. And if you follow the puzzle, each side is a slideshow of who they are, and where they were in time, at certain points of their lives. At some point, it will be a nice thing for me to do, to give up those decorations, and relinquish them to my sons. I'm not ready yet.

    But I do know the day is coming. The one I have seen in my parents. The one I saw in my own grandmother so many years ago. I used to fuss at my MaMa Eloise because they stopped putting up a tree. She said they always came to our house, and no one saw it. I told her, they did. They saw it. And didn't it make her feel better? She pacified me a year or two. Then stopped again. And even now, my parents are mumbling about only putting it up for themselves, because the holiday gatherings and meals have moved to my house.

    I used to not understand that at all. My children were still young enough to transfer their infusion of excitement to me. Anything that made them happy, made me doubly so. But this year, I saw a sliver of how that feels. Like you're decorating for the memory of it, more than the want to of it. How the memory makes you feel. I guess we're all at that age some time. The age where you're constantly reaching backward, looking for something that makes you feel good today.

    Hopefully, one day, some grandchildren will come along, and give me that old familiar push again. When you see their eyes filled with awe and twinkles as the lights and colors overwhelm their sense of sight. When they remind you, every night, to hurry and let's turn the lights on, it's dark now! In the meantime, I still have stockings hung and lights strung. I still have my tree up in all it's years of beauty combined. And I still have lights outside, strung across bushes , on swings, bells, and car sheds. It's enough to keep me going. Until the spirit is revived and the reason to 'over' decorate' presents itself again.

    I can still close my eyes and smell both of my grandmother's houses. I can't wait until little ones can close their eyes, and smell mine.

    copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Willie Is On The Web

    "Baby, did you hear about the robbery at the Dollar General?" I look at Mims and say..."Yes I did, but not by you...I had to get the 411 from somebody at work..where did you hear about it at?" Mims says "I saw it on the web."  I busted out laughing..Zach follows..laughing harder. He saw it on the web. Yeah.

    Three weeks and two days ago, Mims got his first computer. At work. There has been a computer in my house since 1993. As of four weeks ago, Mims was still standing behind my chair to look at pictures, as I clicked, from one page to another. Because he didn't even know how to turn a computer on. Now, he's looking at the news, on the web. 

    He's at WORK. Looking at the news. On the web. I began making cracks about the shakedown that is surely coming. Human Resources, sighting all the different sites he is and is not allowed to go on. Zach begins to tell him how easy it is to wind up on the "wrong kind" of sites. Both Mims and I snap our heads around in his direction, as Mims says "Get yourself in some trouble boy, keep talking."

    Which of course leads to me telling them about the site for "fat old ladies" I found while looking for a picture for one of my stories. I always go to Google...then put of rainbows, pictures of flowers etc. Well this particular night, I put in the google space... pictures of fat old ladies. Every XXX SITE you can think of came up! I was freaking out. Hitting the escape button. And as I'm telling this story..Zach takes it on in....finishing my story...laughing, and slapping his leg.

    Zach begins to give his own account of me pulling up fat old ladies. Begins the show of a lifetime mimicking what I would look like trying to get my computer to switch screens. And he says, what if...laughing hysterically as he tries to talk, what if, your screen froze up and you couldn't get it off. You had to take it back to the Geek Squad at Best Buy and get them to clean it up and fix it. They would be looking at you and your screen that still had a picture of a fat old lady spanking her own behind, flickering over and over again. He's so loud, and laughing so hard, he can't breathe.

    Now many of you may remember the two separate, but very close in time, related incidents concerning my two men..and Best Buy. Last year right after Christmas. One involved a GPS and the other a truck stereo. These two purchases and their customer related malfunctions, took over nine trips back and forth from Quincy to Best Buy in Tallahassee. Many cross words were passed between my men and the customer service representatives at Best Buy. I believe even a few mild mannered threats were insinuated. At one point, I was on line with Envision Credit Union checking out my savings account status. For possible bail money availability.

    So I let Zach and Mims have their fun with me. Because by now, Mims is in on it too. Laughing his head off as Zach continues to create a story to remember. Still laughing about the old fat lady, spanking her own behind, and the Best Buy personnel looking at me like I'm a freak. Zach says, choking on his own question from laughter, "Really, what would you say, what would you do?"

    I just sat here and laughed with them. Smiling. Right along. And when Zach asked me that, I just looked at him and said, 'Well son, I would probably begin by explaining that my perverted husband who has just learned how to use a computer, has been "using" my computer for awful, and degrading acts of behavior. And that while I, myself, was ashamed to have to bring the computer in to be repaired, I knew it would have to be me, or else it would never happen. Then I would pause, and smile, and say, see the two pictures hanging on your wall over there in Electronics? Those two pictures of those two men, who are NEVER allowed to come into your store anymore? One of those is my perverted husband who tore up my computer trying to search for fat old ladies "on the web". "  At that point, I would fully expect that sales representative to look back at me, with a look of absolute pity, pat me on the back, and say "Yes, ma'am, we'll be glad to take care of this for you" and walk off shaking his head, wondering, how such a sweet, sweet woman, could have wound up with such a pervert for a husband. A WANTED perverted husband at that. With his picture, hung up on the Wall of Shame.

    Mims came to have a computer at work, because I, as Purchasing Manager, was trying to bring the Quality Assurance Departments, in both of our Florida and Arizona plant locations, technically up to speed.  Now that he's heard funny, yet scary stories about what web surfing can do from Kornbread Jr., Willie Delbert Mims might just want to stick to surfing the Weather Channel. He needs his job, and I would like to keep him as my husband. And him, looking at fat old ladies spanking their own behinds on the XXX sites, might prevent both of those things from happening.

    copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Second Time Is A Charm

    As I watched the events unfold, I knew this would be forever. Sometimes when you look at people, you just know. I don't know why, for some of us, it takes a second time before it's right. It just does. But man, when it's right, anybody and everybody around you knows it. The culmination of what it takes to bring about that magic...who really knows. It's like a secret recipe. A little of this, a lot of that, and a pinch of one or more ingredients makes the whole thing come out just right.

    I knew I would cry. I always do. There's something about looking at real, true love that does that to me. Heck, my eyes were watering once the music started. Which by the way, was the perfect music for these two people, all the way through the ceremony. There's a lot of thought process that goes into that part of a wedding. Individual tastes and personalities dictate what we, as the witnesses, will hear. And every note and every word, was true to form, for these two people and who they are to each other.

    She was as beautiful as I knew she would be. And he was just as handsome as every other time I have ever seen him. He beamed with love and pride as she made her journey down the aisle towards forever. Her sweet Daddy, holding onto her, one last time. It sounds exaggerated, but her face was actually glowing. I wish you could bottle the expression on her face. What a fortune you would make with the scent of love and happiness that was so openly expressed.

    The vows were spoken with smiles and almost laughter all the way through. I think she was nervous, and she laughs, as she always has, when she's nervous. Or maybe, she and only she, knew the secrets his eyes were telling her in their silence. It's obvious there are a lot of unspoken words passed between them. Words that bring small smiles, sweet expressions and private laughter.

    The sand ceremony was familiar, yet always fresh and new to me. The blending of souls and love into one place. The presence of your love shown in a form of a forever keepsake. Grayson, Tracy and Madison, all poured into one place, one heart, one life in its new beginning. 

    The second set of vows were spoken with their little girl, Madison. Tracy will share, as she has for so many months now, in the raising and guiding through life of Madison. I had never before seen this type of insertion into a wedding ceremony and it was absolutely beautiful. I think it should be a part of every wedding ceremony where children are involved in the joining of lives. It was beautiful that Tracy and Grayson both acknowledged Madison's part in this journey.  Such respect, such love, they were willing to announce to the world and promise to Madison. She too, received a small ring on her tiny hand, as a token of forever.

    While I have not known Tracy since birth, I feel as if I have known her a lifetime. She has one of the most beautiful souls on this earth. I constantly tell her, she is truly an angel here on earth. And I mean it. With all of my heart.  She, Grayson and Madison are about to begin a new life, and in a few short months, Waylon will join them. He was there today, and I'd like to think, he knew it. I believe even unborn babies feel happiness and contentment. And as his Mama, danced with his Daddy, he was able to participate in the time old ceremony, the first dance. Tucked between Tracy and Grayson, he moved and swayed with the music of love, and couldn't have been any closer to the two of them, had he been here already.

    I wish much love to this new little family. I wish many days of cupcakes and birthday candles, Mommy and Daughter day pedicures, camouflage jeeps, and BB guns.  I wish for many more dances in the moonlight with bonfires glowing in the background, and sweet country music playing on a radio in the distance.

    Happy Wedding Day to Grayson, Tracy, Madison and Waylon. What a wonderful life lies ahead of you. True love is a gift from God. I'm so glad He has blessed all of you.

    copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Oh, What A Show You Can See From Up There

    I've heard of it. A lot. I've just never seen it with my own two eyes. In person. In real life. With people I know. Personally. When it's happening, it's as if, nothing is really solid. It's so light, and weightless. Almost surreal. It just starts. You never really know that's what's happened. Until it's almost over.

    That's the way it was tonight. Every single player was so light on his feet. They almost appeared to be flying low to the ground. The rally was on from the minute they stepped onto the field. The camaraderie was solidified. In unspoken unison, they all had the same goal. They all had the same dream. The same wish. The same desire.  Cohesive in every way.

    Play after play, they all excelled. So many beautiful plays. So many beautiful passes and catches. So many seamless runs. Everyone played tonight, injured and all. Hurt shoulders that will need surgery, slamming into fences and rising to line up again. Maintaining and obtaining a season of yards surpassing what seemed possible two weeks ago. Touchdowns that appeared to be effortless in their ebb and flow.

    They all had already decided. It was never in question how this game would go. It was never doubted that this win would be for someone very special. His beautiful wife, son and daughters, watched, as his grandson would put on the show of his life. Most certainly the game of his year. His Senior year. His final year of high school. His name was called tonight over and over again. Touch downs, tackles, and runs. Over and over. Make no mistake. He knew. He heard. And he was so very proud.

    It has always given me great comfort to believe that you're never really gone from this world. That once you have been called Home, you still see. You still know. And you're still proud. I believe Mr. Frank watched Fletcher tonight as he has not been able watch him in a long time. No longer with pain or discomfort, but with joy and smiles. I believe he has already found old friends at his new Home. And I believe they were ALL up there cheering and rooting the Mighty Bobcats and his grandson to victory.

    I'm very proud to belong to such a tight knit family as the Munroe Family. It's a great comfort to know, when you hurt, they hurt. It's a great comfort to know, that we're all there for one another in the good times and the bad. Those Bobcats decided tonight would be more than just Senior would be Mr. Frank's night.

    Mr. Frank, I hope you enjoyed the show. They did it just for you, no doubt. As Kim Brown said so eloquently earlier today..."You had the best seat in the house tonight...the view from the Sky Box". Yes sir. I'm pretty sure. You didn't miss a thing.

    Rest in Peace Mr. Frank, you will be missed.

    copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Smoke Burning, Eye Glazing, Good Times

    Kornbread Jr. crazily eying my beautiful Sycamore Tree with his saw.
    As I pick up the clothes that are in the dirty pile, I catch a whiff. I began to feel a little lightheaded. My eyes roll towards the back of my head, and I am sixteen again. Back yard bonfires. Teenagers. Laughter. Sometimes tears. There's always going to be a break up and a match up on any given night. And smoke. Glorious, hickory smoke.

    I didn't need alcohol when I was a teenager. Put me around a campfire and you'd better put a leash on me. What a natural aphrodisiac! Whew! If I went to party without a boyfriend or a date, and there was a bonfire rolling smoke, I had one before I left. The minute the smell would hit my nose, my eyes would begin to glaze over, my legs would get weak, and any boy in camouflage, without a date, was destined to meet me.

    I can't say I'm much different now. The weakness is still there. If I stop at a curb store during hunting season, and a pile of those men climb out of big trucks, dressed in camo, I have to sit in my vehicle with the doors locked...until they are I can't get out or else I may embarrass myself! And low and behold if there are smoke piles burning in the adjoining neighborhoods. I'd just as well not even leave my house.  That loaf of bread can wait.

    A few minutes ago I heard the saw crank up. I don't have a thing for saws, but I do have a thing for the trees they cut down, the burn piles they create, and the smell that comes after. My heart began to race a bit. I walked outside to see what was going on. A couple of trees had already taken the hit and Zach was dragging what was left to the road. I was mostly making sure none of MY trees were taking a hit, and Zach of course, smiled and said, of course not Mama, in his sweet little boy voice. I asked him why we weren't going to burn them, he reminded me we live in the city now.

    Darn this city living for so many things. Non-burning laws is one of them. When the boys and I lived out on Hwy 65 we had a HUGE burn pile that we kept going year round'. And first sign of it being cool enough, we'd drag lawn chairs around it and sit half the night. Toast marshmallows on sticks, hot dogs, and watch Zach continue to throw stuff in it to watch it flame and spark up. Mims was always on stand by with the water hose. Just in case we let it get out of control. Which we did. A few times.

    I have passed this love of smell onto my children. We ALL have very strong smell sensor's.  Zach walked though the house with his white undershirt from last night, rammed up his nostrils, sucking up the smell as hard as he could. And I'm pretty sure I saw a little eye rolling going on.  No doubt, he loves that smell as much as I do. I wonder how he feels about girls in camouflage?

    copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Going Forward Or Backing Up, It All Feels The Same

    There are a lot of days that when I wake up, before my feet even hit the floor, I know, are not going to be good days. Today was not one of those days. Even knowing that my preliminary lab work had to be done, I woke up in a positive mood.  Even though I had to drive all the way to Tallahassee to be stuck with a needle the size of a crocheting needle, anywhere from 3-5 times before a successful blood draw would happen, did not deter my good mood.

    Off I go, driving the speed limit. Don't need any tickets. I thought about stopping at the Flying J to fill up with gas. But I had a half of a tank. The procrastinator that lies deep inside of me won. Well, not like deep, deep. It sort of lies right on top. And comes out a lot. Just the same. I didn't stop. It could wait.

    I arrive at the Southern Medical Group building. I enter the closed in parking lot and find a parking spot relatively easy. A nice, big, wide open one. The kind that me and my truck can turn into without leaving half of my truck in one space, and the other half of my truck in another.  I gather my things and prepare to get out of the truck. I'm standing outside, start to walk off and remember, I have not locked my truck. I use the "clicker" on the key ring and lock it. Now everyone who knows me well will tell you, I rarely lock my vehicle. I have no real reason, I just don't. But you will never know of me NOT locking it if I have parked in any kind of parking deck. I watch a lot of CSI and I know, people get killed more in parking decks than any other type scenario on those shows.

    My truck is locked and I am going inside. The lab is to the right, I walk in, and I am the only one standing to be waited on. I look inside the waiting room to the left, and there are only six people sitting in there. Oh mercy me, this is going to be my day. I sign in, give the pertinent information that is required to prove I am who I say I am and they tell me to have a seat.  Which I have to say while I'm here talking about this, who in their right mind would give false information to have lab work done? Truly? I mean, you don't get drugs or pain killers, you get PAIN. No one fakes being ANYONE to receive free PAIN.

    Now the doctor I go to for my blood pressure and low iron is in the Internal Medicine building. I am ALWAYS the youngest person in the room. I am USUALLY one of the few still walking on their on accord. I walk in the waiting room and everyone is looking behind me to see who I might have brought to their appointment that day. Because I have neither a walker, a cane or a wheelchair...and I am under the age of seventy years old. 

    I sit there maybe ten minutes, long enough to send my first text message because I am bored, when they call my name. WOW....ten minutes. Cool. I get up, walk to the back and get ready for the worst part of my day. I get a little panicked when I walk in, there are two women taking blood, and I only recognize one of them. "My girl" is not working that area today. I know because I ask where "my girl" is, and they tell me she is giving flu shots down the hall. I'm starting to worry now, because the "new girl" is taking my purse and asking  me to take a seat.

    She begins to poke and prod trying to find a good vein. I tell her straight up, I am a hard stick. She asks, is there any particular place you would like me to start? And without missing a beat, I say, wherever you know you REALLY see a vein and can draw blood the first time. And the search begins. Both arms twice, both hands twice. The nurse beside us has seen and drawn four other patients and we're still "feeling our way".

    Finally she thinks she has found a good vein in my right hand. I ask her not to 'announce' here comes the stick, I turn my head, and she goes to work. I grimace a bit, the needle is in and she hit jackpot!!! WOO HOO!!! Crazy unheard of for me! She has three vials to take, so it rocks on for 10 minutes or so. She removes the needle, bandages me up, I look at her name tag, thank her profusely by her name, and commit it to memory. For next time.

    I'm back in the parking deck, practically skipping to my truck. I pull my keys out of my purse and begin to push the unlock button on my clicker. It doesn't sound quite right, I reach out to open my door, and it's still locked. I do it again. Still locked. Front and back door on the drivers side is locked. I walk around to the other side. I click again, and the back door on the passengers side unlocks, but not the front. I open the door, my mind thinking, "Crap, I'm gonna have to climb over the middle console to get to my drivers seat". My senses catch up with my panic, and I realize, "Silly girl, you can just reach in and unlock the front passenger door manually and scooch across the front seat and unlock your door."

    Front passenger door is now open, I climb up into the truck, on my knees, with all of my backside and it's glory, scooching across the front seat. I unlock my door. I begin to now, take my glorious backside and begin scooching backwards to get out.  I climb back onto the step first, then back down on the concrete. I turn around. And two vehicles down, is a ninety plus year old man, watching me. Window rolled down, hand propped on his chin and the door frame...watching. Probably had not seen a sight such as that in years..if ever.

    Now I'm a little frazzled. But nonetheless, I'm in my truck and all is good. I drive to the gate lift, the one that you have to put your dollar in to get out of the parking deck, and I can't reach. I can't reach because I have short arms. I try to open the door, and of course, since my truck was engaged, the doors had locked again. I manually unlock it and begin to put my dollar in. I put that perfectly straight, non-crumpled dollar in sixteen times before it would take it. I had half of the senior citizens of Leon County behind me, waiting to get through the gate.

    The trip back to Gadsden County and work is uneventful. I get to work and am telling a co-worker about my truck problem, telling her I'll have to find time to get it to the Chevrolet place to be checked. I am not even half way through my story when she looks at me and says ..."Why didn't you use your key?" I said what? Again she said  "Why didn't you use your key to unlock your door, the key itself would still work...right?"

    I had nothing left. Not a word. My face had gone blank. My mind, even more so. She walked over, hugged my neck, patted my back, and said 'Nothing personal, but please don't make any major financial decisions today."

    So the questions here today are, have we become that dependent on new technology , or am I just an idiot? Is this a part of that whole menopausal 'you'll lose your mind for a few years' thing or am I just an idiot? I swear to sugar, I questioned my ability to qualify for an adult the rest of the afternoon.

    But more than any of that, I was really wishing, that if I were indeed, very possibly, entering the beginning stages of Alzheimer's, that I had at least, had the forethought to get the phone number, of that ninety plus year old man in the parking deck. Because by next week, I might not even remember I had an admirer, two cars down!

    copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims