Sunday, June 26, 2011

Eyes Closed and Breathing Deep

Today is the perfect day. It's cloudy. It's already rained once. It's threatening to rain again. I'm sitting on my front porch. In the glider. My head tilted back. Eyes closed. Barely moving my feet. Just enough to make the seat slowly move back and forth. The temperature has dropped with the speed of a bullet leaving the barrel of a gun. From 93 degrees to 71 degrees in a matter of minutes.

Suddenly, it was as if I was on an episode of The Voice. I somehow managed to block everything but what I could hear. Every thought process. Every little worry. Gone. It was just me, and the sounds.

Thundering rumbling. To my right and to my left, birds of every kind singing, chirping, and almost squawking their joy at the sudden break in heat. Several of them so loud, I can feel the strongest urge to open my eyes. To see, if they are perched on the rocking chair next to me. Eyes squished tight, like a child playing hide and seek, I keep listening. To my right, a woodpecker is pounding his history into the tree bark of the tall Pine. The breeze moving across my bare arms and legs feels heavenly. I wonder, if I open my eyes, will I see chill bumps. The texture of the breeze is just that sudden and just that cool.

All of it, almost kin to an early Fall day. The smell of the air of course is different. Summer and Fall smells are so vastly different. Summer smells like hot weedy flowers, wet dirt, lukewarm lake water, and rolling charcoal grills from neighborhood cookouts. Fall smells like burning leaves, fresh pine straw, and the occasional chimney smoke brought about by an early cool morning.

We're never satisfied with the weather. And our ages are a direct reflection of how our particular needs translate. When you're young, you never want rain. You could care less how hot it is, whether the grass and flowers are dying, or if the electric bill is going to be doubled from enjoying the comforts of non-stop air conditioning. As you get older, you of course, worry about NOTHING but all of the above.

Today was the perfect day for me. I had already said several times this weekend, "Oh, how I wish for cooler weather. Oh, how ready I am to see Fall and the relief it brings." It is far too early for any of that, but sitting on my porch, I got a brief, beautiful experience with nature. All the elements for that thirty minutes worked together like a well oiled machine. The perfect storm. And I got it all, simply by listening and smelling. Not talking. Not looking. Just listening. Eyes closed, sensory overload in action.

And at the end of my spectacular, one with nature, hour, my reward. I can smell it long before I can hear it. Rain. Beautiful, sleeting, coming down in sheets, rain. Nature's refreshments for my flowers. Nourishment for my grass. And my eyes still closed, the sweet, wet smell explodes into my brain. Without looking. I know. The drops are dancing in my bird bath, dripping from my Dogwood leaves, and weighing down the net on Zach's basketball goal.

What a beautiful way to bring another Sunday to an end. We are in constant search of affirmation for our happiness. For guarantees of joy. For authenticity of our existance. When all we have to do, is what Mims tells me to do, on those crazy nights when I mumble and grumble that I cannot sleep.  Shut your eyes and close your mouth. Works most every time.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Angels Here On Earth

Today is one of those days. One of those days when you realize, just how old you are. I mean, I don't walk around every day saying, wow, I'm 47 years old. But today, I know I am. It has crossed my mind several times.

I don't have any particular aches and pains. None that I don't have most everyday anyway. I know every day when I get out of bed, that I have a back. I know I have nerves gone bad in my feet, the very first step I take. Sign of the times. All of it.

Several of my girlfriends are struggling. Struggling with health issues of gigantic proportions. I "talk" to them most everyday. Making funnies and conversation for distraction. Hoping that it helps. Rolling out Prayer Trains for those who need one. Asking any and all to get on board.

Last I heard, these years were supposed to be our years of reckoning. Our kids are just about grown and independent. We're not tied down to anything but a work schedule. Some of us, not even that. Yet here we are, struggling to feel good. Some of us, struggling to simply stay alive. Sound dramatic? Over the top? It's not. It's real, for several girls that I have the honor of knowing personally.  It's far too real.

But nothing keeps them down. Their attitudes are so positive it makes one plain ashamed to whine about something as simple as sore feet and an aching back.

I have one friend struggling to get past the Chemo that has strapped her to a hospital bed for the better part of six months now. Only to get home, and somehow, fracture a rib, from the constant vomiting that comes with the treatments, as well as a cough from the bronchial infection she got along the way. And she still has 12 weeks of radiation to endure that will begin in the next month or so. And through all of that, for the past six months, it did not stop her from attending her daughter's college graduation, or from worrying about all of her other friends and their lives.

One friend just survived a double mastectomy.  Who will still have another surgery or two to go before it's done. And whose only goal, is to be able to function enough, to leave the house, and be in Andersonville on July 9th, to celebrate the life of her oldest son who was killed last summer in Afghanistan.

One friend who has suffered from Lupus most of her life. Yet, she struggles to maintain the day to day life everyone else enjoys without thought.  She goes into hiding when she needs to let her body "heal" and comes back out when she can.

One friend whose body has fought against her need for wellness on and off for the past few years. She's in the hospital now, trying to find out, what is causing her pain. Yet she is still worrying and thinking of everyone else in her life, as she always does.

One friend who suffered a horrendous childhood, only to suffer re-occurances of the damage into adulthood. But who is so strong, and willing to do, whatever it takes, to overcome the need and desire to come undone within herself. She will overcome and she will survive and she WILL break the chain of weakness.  Because hers is a story of success, not failure. A story of unquestionable love, not emotions of love in disguise.

One friend whose child has a taken a road of destruction. But she will remain strong, and help him the only way she knows how. Sometimes the most unpopular way of helping...with tough love and private tears. It's what he needs most. Not sympathy...but strength. He must see clear, bright and loving eyes in the daylight. We can hide our tears alone in the dark. And she will.

Age can make you susceptible to injury, pain and sickness. You never seem to think about it any of that, until it darkens your door, or the door of someone you care about. 

There is a plan for each of us. Someone else holds the blueprints to those plans. I don't sit in a pew every week. And I have to admit, until the last year or so, I didn't pray much at all. Now, I have a hard time remembering when my knees didn't hit the floor every day.

Was the plan for me, to see through all of you, what I have been missing? Was the plan for me, to see through all of you, what's important in life? Was the plan for me, to see through all of you, how empty my life has truly been? Or was the plan for me, to finally understand, through all of you, that we are all one. That the people we meet through our lives should stay in our lives. There's a reason why they come into our pathway. There was a reason thirty years ago and a reason now.

Throughout the day today, as the course of events have taken place, I have been overwhelmed with worry and love. Forced by association, to realize how precious life is, and remember to never take it for granted.

The strength with which each of my friends has pushed forward is astounding. The positiveness they maintain is shaming to the mere mortal. But are they just people, or are they those special ones we make reference to as Angels here on Earth. I have heard that saying all of my life. Maybe these special people were put here on this earth to show us. To lead us.  I am so proud to know all of these people. What a humbleness they have unconsciously bred among us all.

May God be with them through the rest of their struggles and victory's. Amen.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

♫ Will It Go Round' In Circles ♫

I've always wondered if my family was the only one. If we were the only family whose pre-gatherings were spent anxiously anticipating what stories would be added to our volumes of other stories in our book of sometimes funny, sometimes not so funny, gatherings.  And the thing is, each family plots their own idea of what will happen each year. It's discussed in every 'full of people' vehicle traveling to the event. And I have no doubt, every family, in every vehicle, thinks the other family's are the crazy ones. The troublemakers. And for lack of  better words that suit me, the Shit Stirrers.

I have been watching these events for years now. Sometimes as a participant and others as an observer.  When you mix all the different people, from the same core family, with different personalities, you are bound to have some "commotion".  And in my particular immediate family, we are all comedians. Or shall I say, we think we are comedians. We even laugh at ourselves, slap the side of our legs and tell ourselves just how dang witty we are. I am sure other members of our 'extended' clan have other words for us and how we behave. And I'm pretty sure, funny isn't part of the description. Which only makes it more fun.

Now I've sort of made a silent promise to my people, to not discuss, tell on, or spill the beans on any of their psychotic selves. But I can talk about myself. Because I could care less what people think about me. Matter of fact, though my children deny it, I think I'm pretty much like most everybody else. The only difference is, I admit it.

So to get down to the nitty gritty of what makes this such a "show" when theses events happen at my home...to be quite frank...it's me. I'm the show.  I know this will come as shock to some of you. But I have a rather "frantic" personality. Every small task becomes hugely gigantic. I never remember everything I am supposed to have in order to perform my tasks. I always forget something. And as the law of Murphy will have it, what I have forgotten is ALWAYS one of the main things I am going to need. That I will NOT realize I do not have, until I am SMACK in the middle of needing it. We, my children and I,  like to call 'smack in the middle of needing it', The Crux. It's the very moment it all begins to come together, everything is happening at once. And it takes more hands than any one person has alone. The Crux. It can be magnificently successful. It can also be stunningly horrific.

Years ago, during one of the events scheduled to happen in my home, we had a crisis. I had undoubtedly forgotten something. And so it began. The reference to ...The Crux. I am sending my oldest child, who had just began driving, uptown for what I had forgotten. So of course, when he returned, I have lost time. I am running late, and to describe myself as frantically anxious is being kind. I was CRAZY.  And as all ebb and flows shall go, I drag everyone in my immediate hand grasp, into my crazy. When this begins, I want everybody on stand by. I may not need you, but I want you standing in front of me in the case that I do. I want your FULL attention to the grave and serious situation at hand.

To be able to perform these duties for me with success you must also have magical abilities. You must be able to read my mind. You must know, before I holler, "hand me that pot holder", that my roast is flaming up 2 feet high in my stove. You must know before I grab the full pitcher of tea, that someone has loosened the lid.  And be standing in front of me, before I scream out, GET THE MOP, as I'm spilling the whole gallon of tea on the floor. And I want to you to know before I fall and bust my behind, that I have previously dropped ice cubes on the floor, and now they have melted, and have a towel handy to dry it up. Because if you don't know all of these things in advance, it is as sure to be your fault, as it was mine. I know that is hard to understand, but trust me, it's true. It will be your fault.

And you MUST be able to calm me with humor. By batting back the insanity onto me, by ridiculously imitating me and my crazy. Sometimes simultaneously. You must be able to imitate me while I am doing it live and in person. Somehow, once I see myself, in you, I can begin to find the funny. Somehow, to watch you imitate my maniacal behavior, it calms me. And I too, begin to laugh. Because you are already laughing at me.

I wish I had a video of one of those events. Hell, I wish I had a video of our lives. I know that it would be a successful sitcom. Because we have no shame in our family. We all know we are the way we are. I dare to say, some of us revel in it. And although I have already stated that I have a silent promise not to reveal the crazy in our family, I can tell you behavior is learned. And I can also tell you my mother is the calm one. I think you will agree, I've revealed nothing.

This last thing I am going to share, is a real exchange between my oldest son and myself  today. He was not able to attend our Father's Day gathering. And in an effort, for him to not feel left out, I sent him a message that went like this:

Ma to Joshua---Missing you today. When the Crux moment arrives..I will have no one to calm or contribute to ....my frantic.


Later that same day:
Ma to Joshua----They've all gone home. 
P.S. Another successful holiday. No one died.

Joshua to Ma----I love how our definition of "successful holiday" gets less and less ambitious every year. 

This is us. This is our lives. And I love every single minute of it. As I said, family's are learned behavior. Good and bad. Rational and irrational. Funny and hysterically funny. My Daddy taught me all of those things. And I love him for contributing to all of my quirky, crazy attributes. I wouldn't be me, without him. And my children, wouldn't be themselves without me. The cycle of crazy is wonderful. I hope it just keeps going round' and round, and round'.

Happy Father's Day Daddy. For it is you, from which all of our creative juices flow. I would not have it any other way. Hell, any ole' body can make everything go right. It is the truly gifted, that can take a near catastrophe and make it a funny story to tell for years and years and years.

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Laughter IS The Best Medicine

That was then. This is now. That was never ending failure. This is glorious success. That one was my experience of losing face. This one is my absolute saving grace. I once was lost. But now I'm found.

I suppose this is how everyone feels when they've come from a failed relationship into a relationship that has flourished beyond their wildest imagination. Sometimes you just can't see the forest for the trees. Sometimes the grass IS greener on the other side. Because it has the proper nourishment. The right mixture of ingredients. To make it grow.

Today at work, I was talking to one of the engineering techs. A youngster. Everybody under thirty years old is a youngster to me now. I can remember when everybody over thirty was ancient.  I am sure I sounded ancient today. He thought I sounded like my husband. Which was a little scary. For both of us.

He took a three day road trip last week with my husband. To some job sites. As a learning/training experience. I am sure he got a three day earful of South Carolina, old man, Kornbread euphemisms. He probably heard use of several words he has never heard used that way in all of his twenty something years of life.

Today, I was trying to extend a little training myself. I was trying to explain how to talk to the customer in such a way, that he thought the idea was his, and he agreed with it when you were done. He wasn't quite getting it. So I started over. Took another tact. Almost instantly, I saw his eyes begin to glaze over, he lifted his hand in front of his face as if to ward off something coming his way. Something that was scaring him. Mentally. I was about to ask him what was wrong when he began to beg me to stop. Stop talking. And wanted to know, did I know, I had begun to sound just like my husband?! I began to laugh hysterically.

I laughed. Mostly because that was THE most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. And I laughed, because he was so dang serious. He just kept staring at me. Like I had somehow sat there and morphed myself into Mims.

No, I never would have thought that I would begin to speak like Mims. I have spent half of our 13 years of knowing each other, trying to get my children to STOP talking like him. I still prefer to think that it was me using common sense in my conversation, opposed to the actual use of words that startled that young man. Either way, it was an awakening for me as well.

They say, after so many years, you will BE your mate. You will think for each other. You will think before they think, what you know they will think. And all of that is alright. I've been reading his mind for a long time now.  However, I don't care anything about succumbing to his South Carolina dialect.

I was deemed to be Kornmuffin long before Kornbread Jr had a girlfriend who was tagged with that name. And I don't mind it so much. I don't care anything about having it plastered across the back window of my truck, but I don't mind being called that in passing. And I'm pretty sure, there will not be a time, anytime soon, that you will see me with a wad a chaw in my jaw.

But if in my later years, I began to slide into his slow, sure way of talking, that will be alright. For he is the missing piece to this jagged, jumbled up puzzle I call my life. My glorious, full of laughter, no shortage of raw humor, he takes such good care of me, life. I should have found his funny, beautiful face years ago. They say laughter adds years to your life. Just think how much longer I could have lived, had I found him first.

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Forever and Ever....Amen

I'm having a day. As weird as it seems. As much as I was ready to see my Mims come home, now, I wonder, where my sanity was in wishing that. Geez. Most days, he is the most easy going man you could ever lay eyes on. But there are those days, that he wakes up, and he is the most unreasonable man in the world. He talks like a gypsy non-stop. Every day. But on the bad days, you spend your time walking around, needing plugs for your ears. For the endless, useless, negative diatribe spewing from him lips. Today is that day.

He woke up. Wheeling sideways out of his side of the bed. And that mouth, has not stopped yet. Why did you do this? Why did you do that? Why did you do it that way? Why didn't you think about it like he did? Why, why why??!!!!

Today, is also, my parents 51st wedding anniversary. It is with great wonderment and awe that I think about those two people. And wonder how, how in the world, they ever made it to see year number fifty-one. For eighteen years of my life. While I lived there. I wondered that. For the first thirteen years of  my first marriage, I wondered that. And now, eight years of a relationship/dating, and five years this July of being into my second marriage, I am still wondering. How in the heck, do any two people make it fifty one years together. How do people make it til the end of time, with the one they chose at the beginning of time?

Day in and day out. Three hundred and sixty five days of the year. Twenty four/seven. How? How do people do it? How do you get past the moods. The unreasonable. The crying. The insanity.  The uncalled for words. The sniping. And the rest of "this is how my day has been"?  I guess, you hope and pray, that what you had in the beginning will get you through. That the love you felt when you first met, will stretch and strengthen enough to hold until forever. To see you through no matter what comes your way. No matter how many bad days it takes before you see a good day.

No matter that money is tight. That they just laid off half of your work place. And you were one of them. No matter, that you have two children already, and surprise, you're now having three. No matter that you've done all you can do, and your eleven year old son will not behave in school. No matter that your parents continue to stick their noses into your lives and personal business. And you don't know how to tell them to stop. Because, after all, they are your parents. No matter that the A/C has gone out. It is 90 degrees in your house. And you have no money for a new one. And now between the heat and financial tension, you are at each others throats more than you think you can bear. No matter that he has cancer, and the medical bills are climbing out of control. No matter that the child you sent to college, is dropping out, and all that money was wasted. 

We're supposed to know in the beginning. We are supposed to know, this person is the one. We're supposed to know, we can live through anything and everything with this person. No matter how hard or trying our lives may become. I believe we all think that we know. I believe most of us truly want our relationships to succeed. Sometimes we get it right the first time. Sometimes, we just don't.

So for the people who do get it right. For the people who did pick the one person in this world they can withstand anything and everything with, together...I commend you. I applaud you. I congratulate you. And I envy you. For only you will know what true endurance means. Only you will know the true meaning of  "til death do us part".

But I will know love. I will know that I too, have finally found my one and only. I will know that I would go to the ends of this earth for this man I call Mims. I will know that I will need him all the rest of my days, and the rest of his. I will know, that through good times and bad, sickness and in health, nothing will part us but death. No matter that he drives me crazy some days. Like today. Because I am well aware, that he has my own crazy days to endure. I will know that there are some days, only he can make me smile. And I will know, that he will always be, the last face I want to see, when I close my eyes at night. The last hand I want to hold, before sleep takes me over.

So Happy Anniversary to my parents, David and Jean Mount. Today, June 4th, 2011, they celebrate fifty one years together. From the very beginning of only happiness. Through everything in between. Until now, the "golden years".  They have had a remarkable marriage. Full of everything a marriage is supposed to consist of...good times and bad. Arguments and solutions. Babies, children, teenagers, adults, then grandchildren. And finally, just themselves. Again. Like it was in the beginning. Just themselves, discovering each other, all over again. Much smarter, much wiser, more patient, and more forgiving. And they will see each other, through the rest, of their thick and thin days. Into what everyone calls, Forever.

 

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims