Monday, December 31, 2012

Don't Let The Wheels Fall Off

As I sat down to write today I knew in my mind, some of the words would not come easy.  I knew I would struggle with my thoughts and that there would very possibly have to be some deep soul searching. Owning up to your own faults and disappointments can be difficult. The truth can be painful and unpleasant. Self evaluation is the hardest thing to do. Because we can all make excuses for ourselves, our behavior, and our shortcomings. But to stand up and say, "I just didn't get it done", to look in the mirror without blinders on, now that is the brave and honorable thing to do.

Resolutions. They're hard. It's hard to decide what is important enough to set your mind to accomplishing, important enough that no matter what, you think you will do it, and important enough that in the end, it will make a difference in your life. Sometimes, not only in your life, but in the lives of the ones you love, and even more importantly, in the lives of people you have yet to know or love.

I have fell off the wagon more times that I can possibly remember. Last January, my mind was filled with such resolve and determination. I was finally, once and for all, going to get all this excess weight off and keep it off. I found me a couple of wonderful walking partners and off we went. Making long strides and walking literal circles around the doubt that it could be done. We walked most every day. Hot, cold, tired, frustrated, or worn out. We walked.

Then, at the end of June, I fell of the wagon. My walking partner had a problem with her ankle. I tried to go alone. To stick to it. I bought an IPOD. Downloaded all my favorite music, and I walked. Alone. For about two weeks. Then stopped.

A couple of months later I started walking with another friend. But by then it was August and 100 degrees at 7pm.

I found all kinds of reasons to not walk. Many legitimate, some not. Too hot, too late, working late. And course school began for Zach which brought extra activities and another host of excuses and reasons. 

In those seven months that I walked I didn't lose a major amount of weight, but I lost a lot of inches and gained back a lot of self esteem. My blood pressure went down, my sugar was in control and I just felt better. Better than I had in a long, long time.

I'm not going to make a resolution to do anything this year. It feels pointless and it's humiliating when I don't carry it through. I feel as if I set myself up for failure before I even get past the first week of the new year. I am simply going to do my best, to do my best, at everything I do. Whether it's losing weight, being more kind and compassionate, more understanding and reasonable, less judgmental and conclusive in my thoughts, less apt to butt in even though I know I could help, and have more patience on the days when I feel I have none left.

I'm pretty dang sure I can do all of those things. I know without a doubt I can certainly try. And that's all we should ever ask of anyone or ourselves is that we just try. To hold on tighter to the reins and stay in the wagon.

Happy New Year everybody. If 2012 was not your best year, I pray 2013 is better. If 2012 was the best year you have ever seen, I pray in 2013 you can maintain the excellence. And I wish and hope for you all the exact same thing, which is more peace in your heart, love in your life, and never-ending hope that your dreams come true.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

And The Beat Goes On ...

I don't know a Mama alive who doesn't hear everything. Even in the dead of the night, having been asleep for hours, we hear it. Everything. A sick child crying out. A teenager two hours over curfew, creaking through the house on tiptoes and their best behavior. The neighbor's dog, two houses down and his barks, echoing endlessly into the night. We hear everything.

Three nights ago, or should I say, three mornings ago, I awoke to the strangest noise. Like soft, muffled music. I sat straight up. Listened for a minute, and thought to myself, are you kidding me?! WD has left his alarm clock setting to ON and he KNOWS we don't have to get up for work today! I began shaking his arm, telling him to cut off his alarm. He's trying to wake up, but not fast enough to suit me. I jump up out of bed, flip on the closet light which illuminates but does not blind, stumble around to his side, only to realize, it's not his alarm clock. Because I am looking at the clock, and it is OFF, and the time is exactly 5am. He's almost awake now, his C-Pack mask still roaring, the window A/C until blowing, and him mumbling through the mouthpiece of the mask that he hears nothing. I can still hear it. I'm snatching open drawers to the nightstand. Nothing. Snatching open drawers to the high mirrored dresser. Nothing. And then, the music stops. Just stops. I hear nothing else. I'm standing there wide awake, shaking from the cold, looking back at a crazy looking C-Packed face staring back at me, and I hear nothing.

I climb back in the bed, only to listen to C-Pack face fuss at me for waking him up. For nothing. For no good reason. There was no music, I am crazy, he rants. He rolls over and goes back to sleep. While I lay there face up, eyes adjusting back to the darkness and wait. Wait for the music to start again. It never does. And I drift back off to sleep.

Night number two. It is time to go to bed. The memories from the night before flood back in. Mainly because all day that day, Mims has been telling and re-telling that story to everyone who will listen and the weirdness of it all is still in the forefront of my mind. I'm not crazy I tell myself, I heard it. I know I did. But what was it? And where was it coming from?

I know I read too many scary novels. And I know I watch too many scary television shows. Criminal Minds, CSI, and anything else that makes the mind do crazy tricks on itself. But I heard that music. That creepy muffled music. I know I did.

As I was saying, it's time to go to bed. Now because my mind has had all day to think and wonder, it's stretched my imagination far and wide and I am considering that maybe something was IN my room and then left. Like the movie Gaslight. Trying to make me feel crazy. Well, I'll fix that by golly, I'll lock the bedroom door. And I did. I also left a light on in the living room. To make people think we were still up of course. All night long. People don't break into houses at night while people are still up and awake. Do they?

All night passes, no music. None.

Night number three. Last night. I'm alright now. I have forbidden anymore talk of "the music" all day long. And now it's time to go to bed. I'm still a little weird. But I'm alright. I leave the bedroom door unlocked this time. But I still leave a light on in the living room. Sometime about 2:30am, I wake up thirsty, I take a sip of water out of the bottle next to my bed on the nightstand. Evidently, I don't have the top on well, I fumble trying to put the bottle back on the stand in the dark, and I drop it. Water splashed out, on the side of the bed, and I began to whimper. Because I am cold, the water is cold, and now my sheets are wet and cold. Mims is awake now after all this commotion, wants to know what's wrong, I tell him, still whimpering, and he pats his side and tells me to come over there, where it's warm and dry. I fall back asleep.

I hear it again. Every sensory fiber in my entire body is on alert. That same creepy muffled music. I am slinging covers off, moving/running to the other side of the bed again, because it is clear that is where it's coming from. Mims is trying to adjust to my manic behavior, but I don't give him time to adjust before I am switching on the bed light on his night stand, the light searing into his eyes. He's carrying on about the light, his C-Pack is roaring, the A/C unit is blowing and suddenly we are in the reenactment scene from two night ago. Except the music does not stop as quickly, or maybe I got around to his side of the bed faster this time. Same motions, slinging open drawers, looking at his clock, which again, reads dead on 5am. And again, it's not his clock.

Now, some of you may remember me telling you a few weeks ago that my parents brought a lot of my grandmother's things to me. Love letters, her wedding dress, birth certificate, all kinds of personal belonging from many, many years ago. They brought them to me in an old fashioned hat box that has been sitting in the corner of my bedroom on the floor since Thanksgiving. My plan is to buy a trunk to put all these things in, but it just hasn't happened yet. So there, in that dark corner, sits that hat box with all those items that belong to my Grandmother who is in heaven now.

All of a sudden, my body got as still as the night. I leaned over and eased back the top of that hat box. And the music stopped. Just stopped. I stood there. Frozen. Mims had finally shut his mouth. And he was sitting up in bed. Frozen. I looked at him and he looked at me. I backed away from the box, walked back to my side of the still damp bed, climbed in, and said "I don't want to talk about it" and closed my eyes.

This morning after we were all up, had our coffee and were alert and awake again, I was the first to bring it up. Zach is staring at me like I have four heads as I recited the story back, for the first time out loud. Mims is carrying on to Zach about being blinded in the middle of the night by the beside lamp and that his eyes are still on fire from the brightness of the light. And I am still just baffled.But I tell them both, tonight, I am setting the clock for 4:45am and we are going to wake up and sit there, and wait for it. Wait for the music to start at 5am. And catch it! Whatever it is...catch it!

All of sudden Mims says, where is my old cell phone? I said I have no idea where is it? He says I think I put it in my dresser drawer a few days ago, go get it please. I walk back to the bedroom, look in the drawer, take out the phone that is no longer in use, and bring it back to him. He hands it to Zach. Zach begins to push buttons and make faces and then begins to laugh. Now they are both laughing.

Apparently, even though you have another phone now, and your old phone is no longer in use, some of it's functions still work. Like the alarm. Like the alarm that had been set to MELODIC TUNES for your wake up call. AT 5AM.

For sometime now, I have not been "allowed" to read my scary novels at night anymore. It may be that come the New Year, my nighttime TV watching privileges will also be reduced. It seems my over active imagination has gone to places that no normal mind should go and my family may be planning an intervention.

Personally, I'm a little disappointed. I kind of liked the idea that my Grandmother was trying to talk to me through music in a hat box. However, I would have much rather it happened in the daylight, while i was completely awake, and with a little warning. Like a fly by from a beautiful butterfly, or at the very least, the sound of her beautiful laughter somewhere in the background of my mind.

But by golly, I am NOT crazy. I AM NOT CRAZY.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bright Lights and Daydreams

Sitting here this morning, in my recliner, drinking my coffee and staring into the lights of the Christmas tree, my mind began to wander into all different directions. Initially my thought process was about what all I had to get done today and tomorrow. Some grocery shopping, Christmas shopping, washing clothes, and of course, cooking for these men in my house. Then my mind drifted into the coming week, the Fall Sports Banquet for Zach, our annual Girls Christmas Party for work, both of which I am cooking for, and of course, my crazy job and what chaos that is sure to bring.

Somehow my mind went to all the "lasts" the next six to eight months may bring as well. What lasts it has already brought.

Zach's football career is over. The Banquet this week will wrap up all those memories with an introduction, a few words, and a slide show. The week after, he will perform in his last Christmas Program with the high school Choir. It will be the last time I see all those oh so familiar faces, and their beautiful voices reaching to the sky for all to hear.

This may be one of the last Christmas's we are all together. Joshua will graduate with his Master's degree this Spring, and his plans are to leave Tuscaloosa, which is already five hours away, and move further up North for awhile. It's time for him to spread his wings even further, broaden his view of the world, and burst into the world of being a writer with all ten fingers creating words that will go off like flares and rock the world of readers everywhere.

Zach will turn eighteen years old this March. The next step into adulthood, his journey will take another fork in the road. He graduates high school in the Spring, college will begin in the Fall, and how long he decides to continue to live at home will depend on him and his immediate need for independence.

I'm just not sure I'm ready for all of that. I've gotten quite used to all the summer fun we are allowed to watch from the sidelines. Coolers full of fish and stories of rope swinging. Tales of girl watching from the front seat of a baby blue Chevrolet truck, Kornbread and Tater ruling St George Island. Frog gigging and dead frogs in freezers, stories for weeks AND weeks. And laughter, the endless laughter Zach and all his buddies provide every single time they grace my back door with their flip flop and boot filled feet.

I have sat here and thought too much, so much, that I had begun to get melancholy, so it was actually a relief when Mims came back inside from piddling in the yard and turned one of those dang Westerns on the television. Back to reality, the television being too loud (because he CANNOT HEAR), the dryer buzzer is going off, and I need to get up, shower and get dressed and ready for the what the rest of this day will bring.

Changes are bound to come. Some good, some not what we want or are ready for, and some needed for life to continue on in the cycle that was meant to be. I've been told all of my life, that there is a path made for us before we are ever able to walk it. Sometimes the pebbles and rocks along the way may cause us to stumble and fall, and sometimes, we may stray from the beaten walk that was meant to be, but somehow, most of us, always manage to find our way back again.

I'm sure all these changes a'coming are going to throw me for a loop. I'm also convinced I will not like them at all when they do. But with change comes new life. Renewed life and love of things we may have set to the side while we took charge of the life at hand. Maybe I'll find some of what I left behind, and learn how to do it all over again, even better than before. Maybe that's how it's all supposed to work anyway, to give us that second chance, to do it all again, so that we appreciate all that we left behind much more than when we had it the first time. Looking at everything with a more clear, and wiser vision, leaving those rose-colored glasses from our younger years behind. Knowing that the grass is still plenty green on this side of the fence and how lucky we are for another shot at enjoying what we were moving too fast to see clearly before. 

We only get this one life. Enjoy every single bit of it while you can. Whether it comes in two parts, three parts or one. Never take any of it for granted. And never make too big of a deal about the things you could have done without. Including Westerns playing too loud, ALL DAY LONG, on Saturday afternoons.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks, My Way

Although I've been following the every day "thankful" posts on Face Book, I just haven't been into the daily grind of stopping to think about just what all I am thankful for...which is a shame. Because I really am very thankful every day, for so many things that I take for granted. If I were to seriously just stop, put everything else on hold, there is no telling what all I could think of that I should be grateful/thankful for on a daily basis.

So this morning, as I sat in the nice, warm, cozy kitchen of my friend that I had not seen in too long, watching her as she made her Jellies and Jams, and we chattered and shared about one thing or another, I thought about just how lucky of a girl I really am. My friend and I both have blogs, and we both spoke about our lack of dedication in keeping them up. She's been too busy between her regular job teaching 4K and her Jam business, which has taken over the other part of her life, as well as raising two of the most exceptionally intelligent and multi-faceted children that I have ever known. And I, while I believe I have those same two identical children, I haven't written with any semblance of continuity for the simple lack of heart, rhyme or reason.

When giving thanks, everybody names off the obvious, your family, your parents, your children, so my list of thanks today begins with the not so obvious..and it goes a little like this:
I am Thankful :

For all my friends, with so many varied personalities and traits, that accept me for who I am, and enjoy hearing what I have to say, and how I feel, including all the good, bad, and ugly, the bluntness, the over-protectiveness and the ever mainstay of loyalty that comes with having me for a friend.

For the dreariest of days that come along, for without them, who would really know how wonderful the sunshine is? How amazing it's warmth can breathe new life into tired and battered bodies? And it's brilliance shining on a body of water can make the soul feel loved and youthful again with memories of summers past.

For my vehicle which not only takes me to and from work, but very quickly to hospitals when its' emergency rooms are needed, to vacation spots that will revitalize our energy level and give us some must needed rest, and to Grandma's house, the house that brings back childhood memories the minute you smell vanilla and spices coming from the special oven that only Grandma's own. 

That I can hear, even if it is a bunch of loud, thumping, rapping music playing so loud I can't hear myself think as the vehicles circle my block. And though I can't understand much of what they are "singing" and the rest I don't want to know, I can hear it.

For cameras that freeze moments and life in time. That I can look backward anytime I want to, and still see the happiness, the sadness, and the love that make my life everything that it can be.

For Radiation and Chemotherapy, both of which have saved the lives of so many of my girlfriends, and both of which, are saving the life of my childhood friend right now.

For my legs and the ability to walk. However, I know a certain young woman who is wheelchair bound who can out-energize me, out-talk me, and out-dance me and anyone else I she's sitting down. She can do more sitting down in that chair than I ever think about doing on my feet. Not to mention the everlasting positive attitude, huge heart, and all but beaming smile she flashes at anyone and everyone spreading her own beautiful specialness wherever she goes.

For Caladiums and wind chimes both of which with sight and sound can bring memories of my MaMa to the forefront of my mind for hours, with nothing more than a swift breeze.

For books that can provide never ending knowledge and power. You can find any answer in some book, somewhere. For books that provide an escape from the real world that tires your mind, and books that provide endless hours of silly, giggly sounds coming from children who have discovered just how funny Mommy can be when she is empowered with the magnificent rhymes of Dr. Suess and Shel Silverstein. 

For gliders on front porches that provide distance when needed, an absolver of tension, late night conversations being held in the dark, when no one can see anyone and all subjects are fair and open game. Where parents receive relief as they rock in the quiet of the night, and their child rolls in from his first "official" date, one month after obtaining his drivers license, is two minutes earlier than the deadline, and is whistling and smiling as he exits the truck.

For recliners that provide rest and relief after a long hard day at work and hopefully will host many hours of Grandbaby rocking one day.

For dual electric blankets so that my menopausal behind can stay cool and my cold-natured husband can stay warm and toasty.

And for cell phones that provide comfort and safety for miles away, to a son who is walking through a dark campus alone at night, while he talks to his mom, who could/would save him in the blink of an eye if she needed to. 

I'm going to stop here, but do you see what I mean? In just one day, we could go on and on about the things for which we are so very thankful. I can't imagine life without the parents God blessed me with, or the children He graced me with, or the husband He helped me to find during my second chance of searching for happiness. Or the additional bonus family that my husband also brings to me in multitudes and most of whom have accepted me with open arms and love.

For all of these things and so many more than I can say, I am thankful. And for each day that I am allowed to wake again on this wonderful place we call Earth, that I am most thankful of all. I've been told the view from above is more magnificent than any view we will ever know, but for right now, for a little while longer, I am thankful for the time I have here, front and center, right in the middle of all the action, whether it's love, like, fussing, joking, or disagreeing. It's all a part of the life I love, the people I love and the place I love.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. May your blessings be rich, your stomachs full of delicious food that loving hearts and hands made, and may your hearts be full of all the love it can hold. Amen.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Don't Blink, You're Next

I can remember as far back as being a teenager, staying the summer with my MaMa, and being in a grocery store and the bag boy (that's what they were called then, I have NO idea what they are called now) being less polite and respectful than what I thought he should be when speaking to my MaMa. She was already showing small signs of feebleness, not quite as alert, and I remember thinking the kid was rude and could have been more patient with her.

A few years later, the setting is once again in a grocery store, this time I was just out of high school and working in one myself, as a cashier, and one of the bag boys (they were still called that) was less than what I thought he should be to an elderly lady.

My grandmother died at the very young age of seventy two and I was just twenty four myself. I carry memories both good and bad, around with me for a very long time. And as the episode with my own grandmother had only been about six years prior, it was the first flash of memory I had when the bag boy standing behind me acted like it was a bother for him to carry out the one bag the elderly lady whom I had just rang up her groceries, to her vehicle for her.

I remember not saying a word. It was a slow morning, so I signed off/locked down my register, took the bag and walked the lady to her car myself. The little old lady chitter chattered all the way through the parking lot and continued even after I loaded her one little bag of groceries into her car. She was obviously starved for conversation and a kind face and I tried to give her both.

Today as I sat in my doctor's office, waiting for the second time in less than three weeks to have my eyes checked, I began to take in my surroundings. The only people/patients in the building when I first arrived was me and a lady who looked to be close to eighty years old. She walked slow, but fairly sure, just a tiny small limp.

My eyes had already been examined and I was sitting in another room waiting on the doctor when I heard the doctor's assistant begin to perform the little old lady's examine. There were no doors shut to any of these rooms so I could hear every single word that was said to the other patient.

Now, while the assistant was not mean, rude or disrespectful in her examination, she did seem just a might bit more stern than necessary. Whatever it was she was trying to do required the old lady to remain very still and to not blink. Now personally, I think blinking works just like scratching. The only time you have to itch is when you can't scratch.

So the assistant is loudly (for hearing purposes I am assuming) and firmly telling the old woman she can not blink, to stop, stop, stop, stop blinking. Seriously? And the sweet elderly lady in her high pitch scratchy voice, that by now sounded like it had a slight tremble said, "This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, I promise I am trying as hard as I can not to blink". The doctor's assistant said "I know, but you're going to have to try harder or we can't do this test, now think hard, and don't blink".

As I sat there, this all came full circle for me. I'll be forty nine years old in a few days. And while I am always very sensitive about elderly people, their feelings, and how they are treated, I do admit, that in the last few years, my sensitivity level has risen just a smidge. I wanted to go into the next room, take that elderly lady's hand, hold it and make conversation about something far, far away, so that she could quit trying to think about NOT blinking, and then she probably wouldn't blink so much.

There by the grace of God and all of those things that people say, go I. I'm not eighty years old, but I hope I see it one day. I don't have severe cataracts now, but I might one day, and it might be hard for me to not blink when they're trying to test my eyes. I can carry one bag of groceries to my car now, one day it might be heavier than I ever dreamed it could be.

I want to say to everyone young and old, the people who are always in such a hurry to be somewhere else, doing something else, to care about what is happening right now. Slow down. Stop for a minute and just breathe. Look around you and see who needs a kind word. A helping hand. Or just a smile. You know I tell all of you all the time, you should never stop learning. You should never stop growing. Well, I grew up a little more today. I want to be a better person, better friend for the rest of the time I have in my forty eight years of this life. And even more importantly, I want to live my forty ninth year of  life on this earth, learning and growing enough to make myself even more prepared to live my 50th. If I can do these things with success, then indeed, it will be a Happy Day of Birth for me.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Battle Scars And War Stories

I had originally thought last night was going to be another cry fest. I mean, I had already cried all week long for one reason or another, at the drop of a hat it seemed. Earlier in the week I attended a Volley Ball game and cried like an absolute baby. Now granted, it was a special night, it was the Volley For A Cure fundraiser night, combined with Senior Night for the Senior volley ball girls. But to sit there and bawl when I didn't even have a "dog in the fight" so to speak, was just crazy. Wasn't it? I mean from the time they called the first girls name out loud, I was done. Digging for the tissue I prayed I had the foresight to put in my purse. Heck even after the last introduction and the National Anthem began, I couldn't even sing. I had tears just absolutely streaming down my face like a waterfall. So to say I was a might bit worried about my behavior for my own child's Senior Night is an understatement to say the least.

But sometimes, fate has a way of stepping in, right when you need it. Last night we arrived at the game, everybody in tow, including my son Josh and his partner Josh, and my parents. The gang's all here. We're checking in at the gate, and all of a sudden people are calling my name, telling me don't look, hovering behind as if to block my view, and I'm thinking, what in the world is going on?! Susie Morris is telling me it will be alright, but again, don't look. Now MY people are craning their necks to see what all the ruckus is about and I'm watching their faces as one by one the expressions begin to change. I slowly turn around and am trying to focus my eyes, find #55, and all I can see is a sea of red.

But then I see one. I see one of his partners. And I know, at that very second, what to prepare myself I try to keep my breathing patterns regulated, I turn my head from one side to the other and as my eyes land and rest, like an Eagle to it's nest, my heart beats a little bit faster, and I just smile.

Earlier in the week he told me he needed a haircut. Then he re-phrased it and said he needed a hair CUT with a little more emphasis. Now I usually pride myself on being being pretty sharp intuitively, but I have to admit, this one got past me. Never saw it coming. I of course thought he meant the second time, that he wanted it cut really close, which I cannot stand, but said I would allow it AFTER Senior Night pictures were taken. Now that I look back, I should have realized there was a reason I got no arguing, balking, or use of his magical persistent persuasion powers. He seemed to take my answer at face value and just quit talking about it.

Well, you all know, just because someone doesn't say anything, doesn't mean they are acknowledging or listening. As I looked up and made face to face contact with my son last night, I saw the meanest, baddest, and most fierce Mohawk I had ever laid my eyes on. And the new "do" was complete with black war paint to boot. It's not like he hasn't done this before. And it's not like he hasn't done it without permission. But somehow tonight's timing seem to be just right. Sometime between the minute I got out of our vehicle and the emotion seemed to already be swallowing me whole, until that second I saw his head, something inside me changed. The range of emotions did a complete 360 degree turn around and all that raw blood running through my veins gained a little strength. I knew I was going to be alright.

Just that quick, Zach and those four boys showed me what that night was all about. It wasn't about crying, or feeling sad, or silently wishing the years to run backwards. It was about manhood, the last time, battle of the strengths and minds, it was about THEIR time. And making it as memorable for themselves as they possibly knew how.

When they walked out of that cold steam and into the lights of Friday Night, arm in arm, linked as brothers and teammates,  forever united they would stand, and fight to the bitter end for themselves, for each other and for their teammates. Thirteen years of brotherhood walked out onto that field, and thirteen years of brotherhood saw it through until the last crash of the helmet would leave a resounding echo through the night.

In the end, he would stand before his men and give the speech that has been groomed in his mind for the last thirteen years. A rendition of long ago, speeches past, from men just like him, almost at the end of their journey. He would stand tall, speak clearly, and address the battle scars of the night, the loss they must carry with them, and the pride that should remain in a battle well fought. Fought with heart, determination and courage. Courage to continue going when nothing is working right. The courage to keep going when you're tired and beat down. And the courage to know, you gave it everything you had, and left nothing to spare. Left no cleat unturned and the field soaked with the sweat and soul of the determination that was performed there.

That is what true manhood is all about. Nothing left to spare. That's what these young men showed all of us last night. That win or lose they will never lie down. They will never quit. They will never stop.
They will never ever give in. Because they are Warriors. They are the Winners in this thing we call life that started with eleven men and a football. This game of football holds the secrets of real life in the palm of it's hands. It teaches solidarity, trust, teamwork, pride, and united we stand, divided we fall. These are lessons they will all carry with them forever along with a brotherhood of secrets that only a player can ever understand. The keys are theirs to hold, to be coveted, to be protected, until the end of time. Without fail. Because THEY ARE...MUNROE.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

♫ Wheels On The Bike Go Round And Round ♫

There are some people who just have no business operating machinery. Whether it's the sense of balance that is missing, the naturalness that should come with sitting on a seat that was never intended to cover your undercarriage, or that ones particular foot and brain motion are not in-sync and never will be. There are just some people who were never meant to ride a bicycle. I am one of those people.

Now the first thing you must not do, please do not confuse my self-proclaimed admission that I should not ride a bicycle with the fact that I never owned one. I have in fact, owned several bicycles in my life time. Some of those bicycles I rode successfully, some not. I had regular bicycles, 3 speed bicycles, and the last one being a 10 speed bicycle. Crazily enough, I did just fine riding all the bicycles I owned. It was when I would venture out, experiment, or just borrow someone elses bicycle that the troubles would start.

To set the scene, the year is 1970.  I am seven years old and I am bored out of my mind. My parents are having a business party at our apartment. Complete with wide lapel jackets, bell bottom jeans, big flowing blouses, beehive bouffant hairdo's plied with plenty of hairspray, thick mustaches and widespread sideburns.  Cigarette smoke clouds the air and red Solo cups are in most every hand you pass.

We were new to town and my parents had the party to get to know all the new people that would be working for my Dad. We were living in those apartments until our home all the way across town was built upon completion. We had not lived there very long, but I too, had already met new friends. However on this particular Saturday night, all my friends were out of town. I had no one to play with. As I said, I was bored, so I set about finding me something to do.

One of the best things about these apartments is that part of them sat way high up on a hill. Ours did anyway. And one of the major past times was when new neighbors would move in, the kids would pull their moving boxes back out of the dumpsters, cut them up, make "sleds" out of them and slide like a bullet down our hill. We lived on the top of the hill, and way down on the other side of the "valley" was another set of apartments.

Anyway, no one was moving in, there were no boxes to be had. But...I did have a friend who said I could ride her bike while she was out of town. Now MY bike was just a regular two wheel bike with brakes at the feet on the pedals. Matter of fact, I had not even been riding a bike for any major length of time. But I had mastered mine pretty well. However, my bike was boring. Her's was bigger and cooler. So after it I went.

I drag it out of the cubby under the stairwell and roll it out back. I get at the top of the hill, ready for the speedy, fun ride down. I climb on, get my feet settled, or I try to, I'm not quite tall enough but I think once I get on, I can stretch my legs and it will work. I sling my leg over the bar, teetering as I try and balance on my tip toes, then jump up on the seat and push off.

Now I don't really know just how deep that hill was, because when you're young, everything is larger than life. It could have really been as big a drop as Niagara Falls, or it could have been a small sand hill. But in MY memory, it was a cliff, and I had just jumped off of it on a bike. That bike took off like it had an engine attached to it, down I went, all but free-falling on two wheels. I was trying to stretch my legs to get my feet to the pedals to brake, and I was mashing as hard as I could, but it wasn't stopping. Then I remembered. Those "extra" things on the handles, my friend did something with those when she would stop. I think.

Meanwhile it's summer time, and people are outside everywhere. Grilling, playing with their kids, sitting in lawn chairs, visiting and talking. And I'm still flying at super sonic speed. Down that hill. Headed straight for all those people. The ones grilling and sitting chairs. I can't mash the metal clamps on the handles hard enough to get them to do anything. I'm still flying. My long hair flying, my skinny legs flailing around because finding the pedals that don't work has been forgotten. The scene before me is startling. And to clarify, for those of you who are reading that one sentence, over and over again, yes, I had skinny legs. I was seven for gosh sakes...

Lawn chairs are flying, people are running, grills are being snatched up and rolled out of the way, strollers are being pushed fast and hard and I can hear a lady in the background, screaming, "She's not going to stop, oh my gosh, I don't think she's going to stop!".

Oh I stopped alright. Me and the bike. The bricks on the side of that apartment building took care of all that. I slammed face first straight into the side of that building. I'm lying on the ground, people are standing all around me, looking down at me. I hear talk of a bloody nose and lip, who does she belong to, where does she live? I must not have been unconscious. I must have been able to tell them. Because I find myself being escorted back up the hill to our apartment. The nice strangers knock on our sliding glass door, my Daddy answers, and it's on. All he sees is the blood, the mangled bike, strange people all talking at once about his little girl who crashed into the wall, and our living room full of people whose party has come to a complete standstill.

I didn't ride a bike for a long time after that. Matter of fact, I was about 11 years old. I was staying with my babysitter at her house. I wrecked it too. Again, it wasn't my bike.  And now I have  a very large kidney shaped scar on my left knee to prove it. I just have no business on a bicycle. Never have. Never will. I just imagine I'm the type of gal who will always require four wheels instead of just two. For my safety, for your safety, and for the sake of anyone else who is around, safety.Why they waited until I was grown to create those great little helmets I will never know. Granted one of those helmets wouldn't have helped my nose, lip or knee, but a full frontal face mask would have been too scary.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

You Can't Beat Me....Yet (wink wink)

I must be one of the most predictable people in the world. Surely, everyone that knows me does not already have me figured out. There is just no way, that I am an open book and you don't even have to turn the page to know the rest of my story. Is my plot really that wide open? Have I finally reached that time in my life when I have no surprises left? It surely seems that way sometimes. Just when I think I have the upper hand lately, somebody goes and pulls the rug out from under me. And there I stand, with the joke, all on me.

As I am on my way to the restroom at work yesterday, I round the corner and see this very hot, very sleek, woman. Just standing there, staring at me. Almost daring me to rebuke her sexiness. Her right to stand there. I stopped dead in my tracks and just stood there and stared at her. I quietly let my thoughts process what I was looking at, but I knew, who was at the root of this grand design of humor.  She cannot ruffle me. She can not intimidate me. Hot Mama or not.  She has to go.

I stepped firmly into the doorway, reached over, and snatched her up and carried her straight into the Engineering Dept. The very department whom I know is responsible for having her stand right where they knew I would see her. Right where they knew I couldn't miss her if I tried. No matter how quiet she was, I would know, she was there.

Once I reached my destination, where I knew everyone could see me and hear me, I put her back down. I placed my hands on top of her shoulders, peered around her head, and asked them all, as they stared back at me, just whose bright idea was it to put this half naked, skinny behind woman right in my line of sight before I entered the restroom. I told them all no fat behind woman likes to see the sight of anything as the likes of her right before they go in to take care of their business.

The entire room HOWLED with laughter.  Including myself. They were all talking at once, saying they wondered just how long it would be before I found her. Before I saw her. Before I exploded over the sight of her so obvious prettiness. They said they wondered how long she would have to stand there before I knew. Before I would make the very same grand entrance with her practically thrown over my shoulder, as I had just done.  For two hours, several of the females were pacing, waiting for me to make my entrance, knowing I would eat those guys alive!

So this is the day that I knew. This is the day that I realize I am no longer a secret to be held. I am no longer a closed box whose contents are a mystery. I am simply an old lady who still isn't comfortable enough with herself, or her age, to want to look at such obvious beauty before I enter a closed up room with a mirror that is far too honest. But I am also the old lady that has been around the block a lot more than most of those young whipper snappers I work with every day...and I would get them back..all of them.

But I just want you to know, Princess Leia, that you cannot intimidate me. I'll admit, you almost had me. You and all your "friends" almost took me down. But I'm strong. I will not accept defeat. I will not stop until I have figured out how to win the battle. That is exactly why, for the rest of the afternoon, I plopped your sexy behind right where you belong. In the mens' bathroom, right next to the urinal. And I laughed and laughed for the rest of the day, wondering just how many of those men were too shy to pull their pants down and take care of their OWN business. Cardboard cut out or not...I know they thought twice every time they went to touch their zippers as you stared them down.  GOTCHA!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Things You Get....BESIDES....A Win

The game was over and our team walked away with the win. A long overdue, hard fought win. After weeks and weeks of playing, practicing, watching game film, and receiving their fair share of constructive criticism and true blue plays that were sure to bring a victory, they have a win on the board.  Each team has met on their respective sides of the field, said their team prayers and have disbursed to mix and mingle, or get back on the bus.

It was a hard fought game, played fair and square. No bad calls, no unsportsmanlike conduct.....just hard, tough, physical playing from both sides of the formation line.Which is how all games should be played.

We're all standing around glowing in the light of the moon, the brightness of the reflection that shining, happy faces bring, and the smell of victory is in the air. We've taken lots of pictures already, in every possible way you can imagine.  Everybody wanting to be in everybody elses pictures.

All of a sudden we hear people in all directions calling his name. Zach's name. Hollering..."Zach Helms..Hey, has anyone seen Zach?" Now there are multiple voices calling out his name and we're all turning around to see what all the commotion is about.  As we turn around, we see a team member from the other team, the team who just took their first loss of this season, walking towards us through the opening of the crowd that surrounded him. He's coming towards Zach, and I'm thinking, what in the world is going on? I'm looking around and the rest of his team is already off the field. We would later find out that he was walking around asking who Number 55 was....and as he was being told, Zach's name was echoing into the night.

He walked firmly and boldly towards my son, stopped in front of him, extended his hand, and said " Hey Man, I just wanted to tell you what a great game you played tonight, I just wanted to meet you and tell you, you held me down all night long, you played a good game, congratulations".  Zach shook his hand and returned the kind words. We all stood there in silence and watched as he walked off the almost empty field, towards his own team bus, as the rest of his teammates were already off the field and boarding the bus. A couple of minutes had passed and I looked at my son and said, "you should probably consider that to be one of the best highlights of your high school football career."

The humbleness and respect with which that young man carried himself and spoke was something every mother wants to know she has taught her child.  He got his behind handed back to him all night long, and that he was man enough to say that, after such a gut wrenching loss was pretty amazing to this mother.

I don't know you're name Number 56, but I want you to know, you've got some proud parents out there somewhere, and they dang well should be.  Last night was just another fine example, of what winning is really all about. The highest number on the scoreboard  sure does feel good, but the feeling from an experience like Zach had last night is next to none. I told my son..this is your opportunity to remember this night, and do what I always hope that he it forward.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

From Shoestrings to Helmet Straps

Kyle Skipper & Zach
It was just another typical work day. The kind where some things go right, and a lot of others don't. I had worked through part of my lunch, and would still be late getting off at the end of the day. A five o'clock departure wasn't going to happen, and I would once again drive in, tires screaming into the after school care to pick up my eight year old. He would probably give me that "why am I always here last" look, and I would feel guilty. Again.

But instead, this day, I would arrive to find my eight year old sitting in the middle of the floor, tying the shoe strings on the shoes of a little boy who appeared to be about three years old. My eight year old would also be surrounded by about three other little boys, all in the same age range, all patiently waiting their turn to have their shoes re-tied as well. I knew this because as I walked up, my son's back was to me, and I stood there and watched the scene before me, as each one of those little boys scooted in closer, vying for his attention, for each of them to be next, by saying, "I'm next Zach, do mine next".

I stood there while he continued the regime, and as the last shoe was being tied, the little owner of the shoe looked up and said, "Hey Zach, your Mommy is here". Zach turned around, looked at me, turned back around, patted all four little boys on the tops of their heads, tousling their hair as he did, and said to each and every one, "See you later Buddy". He stood up, picked up his book bag, slung it over his shoulder and said "Hey Mama, when did you get here?" and as I looked at my little boy, sounding like a grown boy, I said, "Just now Bud, how was your day?"

As I look at this brand new, very young, Robert F Munroe Football team, these are the memories that flood my mind. The boys have new RFM coaches, albeit veterans in their field, and then they have their own veteran coaches that have remained loyal to our team and teams of past, and a lot of new players. Young or old, when you have a lot of players that are new to one another, it is going to take time to meld and form into a well oiled machine of a team.

Jackson Boone & Zach

Zach understands all of that, as well as the reasoning behind the miles of hard work that is yet to be done. Yes, it would be great to have a Senior year of football where all the players knew one another, knew all the plays and could read each others minds and moves and have all wins on the scoreboard. But the reality is a different story and to be able adjust to that is going to be the secret to their success this year.

So I watch Zach and the other "bigger" boys and how they are handling themselves with the younger, smaller boys. I watch them as they roar as loud as mountain lions when they are trying to get their attention, and I watch as they pat a shoulder or the top of a helmet when they know that some encouragement is needed as well.

Nobody really wants to hear about all the events in your life that can be viewed as character builders or lessons in humility.  Both of those things always seem to imply that your own lessons will have to be learned in order to achieve either one.  But that's exactly what is happening. It's Zach's job if you will, all over again, to sit down on the ground and tie some shoestrings. To watch the younger faces looking back up at him, and show them support, proper leadership and kindness. To pat them on the head and shoulders, and at the end of the season, hand the football over to them and say "See you later Buddy".

Because it will soon be their time. It will be their job to strap on their own helmets and find their own way. But until then, this is Zach's time. John Dayton's time. Jordan's time. And Vince's time. Enjoy what you have, and teach all that you know. And make the best memories you know how, with the time that you have. This year you will need to concentrate on not what you can take with you from this experience, but what you can leave behind. And patiently tie those shoe strings every chance you get, they will never forget you, and you will all be the better for it.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

And Men Say We're Moody!

I know I have my days. Days where I'm not fit for sociable company, communication interaction, or days when I don't even like myself. I know what to do for these days as well. I've trained myself. I know myself well enough to know, when I just need to do what is necessary, whatever it takes, to have my mouth remain shut

I won't say I always succeed, but I do make the effort. Is it my fault when people cannot see the obvious signs of danger ahead, screaming from my facial expressions?! I'm pretty transparent. Anger, happiness, crazy mad, and joy. None of these expressions look the same, but I wear them all on my face with an obviousness that cannot be missed. My face all but flashes like a neon sign, with the colors anyone would need to be forewarned.

But as life will have it, all of those days don't necessarily fall on the weekends. When it's easier to control myself. Some of those more horrible than life itself days, fall on work days. Days where interaction is not only necessary, it's going to happen. And even though I do my very best to stay to myself, in my own office space, the occasional interlude with people will still take place. I have a lot of scar tissue on my tongue. Because I BITE IT A LOT.

So the question I put before you today, is WHY? Why do men not understand that they are also these people? They also have bad days. Moody days. Grumpy, not happy about anything that comes their way days. Couldn't please them if you tried, days. How can they deny that they can be these people as well. Women are NOT the only ones whose emotions spiral out of control. Man-o-pause exists. Testify ladies, testify.

I just spent over an hour in the grocery house with my husband. And from the time we got in my truck, nothing went right. Why didn't I drive down the other street? He wanted to look at a house that was for sale. Well, I guess I was supposed to already know that, since he had not said a word previously. Why are your brakes making that noise, you must be "braking wrong". What the hell is that? I ask you ladies, how do you "brake wrong?" However, I am a pro at slamming them, I do know how to do that, which I did at the next light, with an "Oops..sorry, did it wrong. Again." ;)

As if the drive wasn't enough, I then spent over an hour in the grocery house with this man, and from the time we walked in the door, and I picked out the wrong buggy, it was on. The wheels are weird he says. Since he's pushing it, I should let him pick one out he says. I smile and say, I'm sorry, see if there's a better one you would rather push. But in my mind I am saying, or a better one that I can shove up your a$$.

The shopping continues. I am making a roast today. I am picking out a package of pre-chopped onions in the produce section. I don't eat them, I don't like that they make my hands stink, so that's what I was buying. And he starts. Why are you wasting money on those when you can just buy one and slice it. I said I can, and I will, if you'll slice it. No return comment from the cheap seats. I roll on to the next aisle.

We don't need anymore lunch meat he says. It gets wasted. I said how do you figure, Zach has been taking his lunch. Well, I haven't see him eat any of it, he said, I said, you're not at school, how would you know. That, and the whole package is gone that I bought last week. Silence again.

I pick up a box of Lucky Charms. I don't know why you keep buying those big boxes of cereal, Zach never finishes it, he says. Again, I say, he eats a bowl every single morning. He repeats, like an broken record, well, I never see it get eaten. And I rewind and say, how would you know, you're already gone to work when he's eating breakfast. My mind says, I can video tape it for you if this is going to court or something.

Now we're on the vegetable aisle, I'm gathering up two HUGE industrial size cans of green beans. It's my turn to help cook for the football team this week. He "advises", I don't know why you're getting all those beans, those boys won't eat all of that. Folks, he liked to have got two cans of green beans upside his head like a pair of symbols. If I could have picked up both and slammed at the same time...well...

The entire rest of the grocery house visit went exactly the same way. EXACTLY. So to report how many other times he came close to being poisoned (on the insect repellent aisle) or rapped in the head (on the mop and broom aisle) would really just be redundant information.

We have paid our bill, which is "astronomical" as he says, we've loaded the truck, and we are on the way home. The conversation is the same all the way back, except he is having to talk to himself, because I no longer trust myself to speak to his behind. We get to the house, and the first words out of his mouth were, I guess we'll be unloading these ourselves, I'll guarantee that boy ain't even up yet (we left Zach in bed asleep). Well, low and behold, before I could get to the back door, "the boy" was opening it up and coming out to help. Another opportunity to gripe, grump and be a jackass blown! Dang it! How did something go right?!
My girlfriends and I went to see Hope Springs yesterday. To keep it brief I will just say that the basic jest was that an older couple had lost their spark and were trying to find it again. I thought to myself several times that the movie was a good refresher course for young and old couples alike. To remember that the small things matter, the light touches as you walk by, the simple and small comments that may seem mundane, but are still necessary.

But today, I have spent the better part of my morning thinking I should have taken Mims with me to see that movie instead of going with my Movie Club group. Today, he not only needs a refresher course, he needs to be dipped in a vat of sugar, and re-dipped for good measure. How the rest of our day will go is questionable to be sure. But I have hidden all sharp objects from myself, and locked up the shed where all the shovels and hatchets are stored. This should keep him safe, and me out of jail. For another day.

Friday, August 10, 2012

If It Were Only That Easy

I guess it never goes away. It never stops. It may very well, never change. The absolute agonizing, crippling fear. The anxiousness and anxiety that fills your veins with a potion of adrenaline so strong and so high, that you are always hyper-aware. Overly sensitive to your surroundings. Every noise. Every leaf that crackles as you walk. Was that your footsteps or the footsteps of possible danger.

I can't imagine living my life in constant constriction. Taking spewed insults as you walk down a public sidewalk, from a moving vehicle full of Frat boys. Or girls. Constant looks of revulsion. Of hatred. Pure vicious hatred.

He suffers from Anxiety Disorder. He's been medically diagnosed. From the time he entered Junior High and on through High School, it never seemed to stop. He's so strong, and he made it through all of that, but not without damage. Hidden damage that most never see, and only he can feel.

So that now, in his third year of an MFA program, he is still scared to walk across a dark campus at night, from classroom to his vehicle, is so wrong, on so many levels. That I still talk to him on the phone, as he walks, because I am scared, that he is scared makes me sad. That parents worry about their children when they leave home for college and then they grow up, and the basic worrying is over, seems somehow, unfair. For I will never stop worrying, I will always be fearful, because he will always be in potential danger.

Hatred is such a strong emotion. Hatred for another human being whom you don't even know is unreasonable and there is nothing about that I will ever understand. That I don't walk in his shoes does not make me feel better, it makes me wish his shoes fit my feet.

As he talked to me tonight, of the fears he still has, the things that still happen that he never talks about anymore, I hung up the phone and cried. He is twenty six years old and this is his life. He was thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen, and that was his life. When can he hold hands with the love of his life and not be in fear of ugliness, hatred, and possible harm?

He doesn't whine, he doesn't complain, these are facts for him. As I said, it's his life. He has good days, where everyone he passes smiles and occasionally says good morning, or hello. And he has bad days, where a perfect stranger walks by and calls him a Faggot. What? Because he's by himself, and he looks like one? Because he is comfortable enough in his skin to be himself in real life, instead of hiding?

This is not a story about acceptance or non-acceptance. This is a story about my beautiful son, who simply wants to live like everyone else. Without fear and horror simply for who he is and who he loves. And his mother who would like for him to always, be as happy as he can possibly be, without the fear and horror because of who he is and who he loves.

It's story about sad phone calls, tense filled phone calls, and the distance in between where he is and my safety net for him which no longer reaches as far. It's not about who eats where, who thinks what, and who believes in what. Or how many people can cram cars into a drive thru food establishment to represent the idea and make a public statement of who they think should be married or not. The First Amendment is vitally important. And it applies to everyone. It's not about me pointing a finger at anyone. Or accusing anyone. If my story makes you uncomfortable, then maybe you have some unresolved issues within yourself. Within your heart. This story is about a Mama's love for her child. No matter what. Ever.

My God loves everybody. Every sinner. Every saint. I know a lot of sinners, can't really say I know many saints. So I figure, we're pretty much all even. We all have the same line to stand in, to get in that gate. We all have our trespasses to admit and explain. No one sin is greater than another. There is no point system. There is no 1-10 scale of good and bad. He will judge all the same. And my beautiful, compassionate and loving son, will probably pass through that gate, long before I do, even though I will have already been far ahead of him in the line.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Buckle Up And Enjoy The Ride

There are times in everybody's lives they should stop and take accountability. Take responsibility for themselves and anyone they may have influenced along the way. We all make choices. Some have good results and some lack the initial integrity in which we made the decision. I believe the ratio for intentional wrong doing is marginally low. However, I also believe the ratio for first decisions being the wrong one, is incredibly high.

With that in mind, when I began dating again some fifteen odd years ago, I made up my mind to never settle for less than what I believed to be right, good, and lasting. I had several hit and misses along my journey. But with age, comes a swifter understanding of what is acceptable and what is not.

I stumbled across my most lasting partner by accident and quite frankly, by surprise. He was not what I would have been looking for, even if I stretched my imagination of where I was willing to go, as far as it would reach. In many ways we were made alike, and in so many others, we were absolutely nothing even close.

We spent seven and a half years trying to figure out between us, if this were it. If we were the ones for each other, forever and ever amen. If you ask me do I believe in love at first sight, I would tell you no. I believe in delight at first sight. But that deep, dark, gut wrenching pain and glorious love that comes only with do not find that at first sight.

We still have our days. The days of no one saying the right words at the right time with the right tone. Or reactions to circumstance being slower than expected and less than what we desire. When the constant reminders of lights being left on, his tools left out, and his gas can still sitting under the carport after he asked three times for it to be put up, are more than you want to hear after your awful day at work.

As I said earlier, you have to take accountability. Take note of the positive and negatives. Keeping in mind, your partner may have a list of their own, and you should only be willing to list as much as your willing to fix.

Does he help clean the kitchen as much as I would like?
No, but I don't work in the heat or cold of a joist shop for nine hours a day, every day of my life.

Does he apologize as quickly as he should?
No, but he does apologize now. When I met him, he never did.

Does he know how to cook or offer to learn?
No, but he never lets a meal go by that he doesn't kiss me on the cheek and tell me he enjoyed it, whether he really did or not. And he never hesitates paying for take out, when I say I'm just too tired to cook.

Is he tighter with money than makes me happy some days?
Yes, but he has helped pay for the education and well being of two children that are not even his blood.

We have been together since December of 1998. Our first date was December 12th of that year. We married with family and a few friends bearing witness on July 2, 2006. I count all of those 13+ years as our anniversary every year. All of those years, good and bad, make us what we are to each other today.

Was he the right choice? There are those who would say no. Was he the best choice? There are those who would argue that. But he was my choice then and he is my choice now. Whether it's his corny sayings that I never get tired of hearing, his humor that is like none I have ever known before, his slow and steady temperament that calms most situations, or simply that he still makes my insides feel gushy when he takes his shirt off some days...all of those things matter. They all create what he is to me. Why I am here. And why I have dedicated the rest of my life to making this thing we call

Happy Anniversary 13th/6th Anniversary Mims....we've still got a long way to go. So buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

He Led And I Followed

Who knows why you have to get older to realize some things. Who knows why you can't recognize the genius of it when it's happening. And who knows no matter how much we say we won't end up just like them, somehow, we seem to anyway.

My Daddy taught me so many things. So many useful and positive things. But you don't only learn from the positive. If you're honest with yourself, you also learn from the negative.

I was lying in bed, trying to sleep, but my mind just kept whirling around and around and around. Nothing to do but get back up, and get it out. Put it all down. So my mind could rest.

This is for you Daddy, and I hope it makes you proud, those are my intentions. For I am a mixture of you. The good, the bad and the parts that still need some work.

1.  You taught me that self entitlement does not exist. Employ thyself does. 
2.  You taught me that simply saying you're sorry is sometimes just not enough.
3.  You taught me temper and how to use it. You also taught me that one rarely fairs well when it happens.
4.  You taught me that a heavy hand creates a heavy heart. Always.
5.  You taught me love and compassion. And empathy to a fault.
6.  You taught me how to worry which led to learning how to pray.
7.  You taught me to be truthful and to understand I cannot pick and choose when.
8.  You taught me I could do anything. And that if I couldn't, be wise enough to ask someone to help me.
9.  You taught me intelligence + financial security = Independence.
10.You taught me family always comes first, second and third.
11. You taught me that you too, were human, and that you would make mistakes.
12. You taught me reason with chaos.
13. You taught me openness with a closed mouth.
14. You taught me to fight for what I believe in, even if I am the only one who does.
15. You taught me to never put on paper, what I was not willing to sign with a signature.
16. You taught me there are two sides to every story and that just because it was my side, did not make it the right one.
17.You taught me that there is no such thing as "what is fair" in this world. If you work hard, and do right, good things will come and that's about all that "what is fair" is really about.
18.You taught me there are no silver spoons in our family. That I will always have to work for what I receive and that I will most likely be better off for it. That being rich, never seems to make all that many people happy anyway.
19. You taught me that just because I love someone with all of my heart, does not mean they will always love me the same.
20. And, you taught me that I am never too old to learn something new, almost every single day of my life.

Growing up with you for a Daddy was pretty tough some days. I will never say that it wasn't. But you also taught me something else that was one of the most important things I learned from you. You taught me to recognize when no matter what has happened or will happen, that someone's heart is in the right place. That their intentions were honorable and good, and that they only want the best for you. I won't say I knew all of that growing up. But I've known it for a pretty good while now. And I wouldn't trade you for any other man in the world.

I love you Daddy. Happy Father's Day.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Junk Yard Fishermen

This morning as I watched them pull off, I was reminded of a similar day not so very long ago. Same truck, same boat, same team of fishermen. Daybreak caught Big Black, loaded to the gills, (pun intended) riding out, for a day of fishing.

Except this time, there was one minor difference. This time, the teacher, the Daddy, the mentor, was the guest. The passenger. The "buddy" who was asked to go fishing. Mims  has never been very good about being the follower. The one who walks a step behind. The one not in charge. But that day, as today, he was all of those things.

That day after their return, well into the latter part of the day, a conversation about his day transpired. As we moved back and forth on the glider, the words of emotion came tumbling out of Mims and I just sat, rocked, and listened.

Mims began to recite memories from long ago. Standing on bank side with fishing poles at old Mr. Marcus's pond on Hwy 65. Zach was maybe six years old or so. Mims didn't have anything but a little old tug boat with a trolling motor back then. We had all been out in it a few times, but Zach had gotten bigger and was no longer small enough to sit on a cooler between the two of us, so that little boat had been retired. So, as I said, they had taken to bank side fishing at ponds. Never catching very much, but always spending good quality time with one another.

As time moved on, we did buy another boat. A bass boat we could all go out in, but still really just comfortable for two. Zach lost interest in fishing for a few years, so it was mostly Mims and I who took that boat out on any regular basis.

But then, Zach attains his driver's license. And suddenly there is not a pond, a lake, a mine hole, or swimming hole that he doesn't hit a lick at. The little tug boat comes back out of retirement, and man alive, the places that little boat has been in the past year. Zach and his buds's go everywhere and anywhere with that boat. Load it up in the back of somebody's truck and they are off, for their next adventure.

Never thinking his Daddy would be very interested in going out in that little tug boat, not when he had a nice fancy bass boat here at the house, Zach never asked his Daddy to go with him. And then he did. As they pulled out that Easter Sunday morning, it was the first time with son driving and Daddy as passenger.

Now obviously, there were some Easter Sunrise services going on, and as part of the story, this of course was relayed back to me. As they road down Attapulgus HWY, in Big Black, with that tug boat hanging out the back, they happened upon one of those services. Big Black itself is not all that loud, but the huge tires are, and it sure was quiet until they rode by all those people on that church lawn in their Sunday best, looking like the second coming of Fred Sanford in that pick up truck with the boat cocked sideways in the back.

But the sentiment is what got me during that conversation. Mims relayed all the memories of taking Zach here and there, but said he never thought about how strange it was going to be to sit on the other side of a vehicle and have his son, take him fishing. That as they drove, he would glance over at Zach every now and again and wonder where had all the time gone and how in the world did we get to this place so fast. Where was that three year old little boy, who jumped off porches in cowboy boots, that he met when we first moved here, or the five year old who pumped his skinny little legs as hard as they would go when he played tee-ball, and the seven year old who jumped to the sky on his bike ramps.

Mims is not much for mush and gush. But I could tell those feelings had been weighing on him for the better part of that day. So this morning when I saw them pulling out, I wondered, would today feel the same for Mims, or would this, too, be old school by now, and just the way it is supposed to be.

As I walked back inside, and went about my chores for the morning, my mind drifted back to his Sanford and Son reference from a couple of months ago. And it wasn't long before I caught myself humming the theme song, and smiling to myself thinking about those big old tires bouncing up and down, all the way down Attapulgus Hwy, one more time.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

And In One Fell Swoop

As he talked and talked and talked...I felt further and further away. Sometimes that happens. Often, the differences and distances are alarming. There have been times that I have drifted off into my own thoughts, even as I could still hear his voice crackling over the airwaves in my ear, wondering, when did it happen? When did we become so unalike. When did I become so simple. So ordinary. And he, so not.

Even when he is here, sometimes it is days before I see what I believe, what I remember to be, the boy I used to know. If I look quickly, I see flashes of him. Maybe those are not really flashes. Maybe they are just remnants of what used to be. Someone I used to know.

The speech is different. The words are levels above my head. The sound is grown and sure. There is no longer a little boy standing in front of me, fists clenching in and out, speaking with motion instead of words. Gone is the child climbing onto my bed with as many books as his little hands could carry, some of them coming loose from his grip in the journey, crashing to the ground, as he asks to be read to, in that little voice that could never be denied.

No longer resembling the teenager, unsure of himself or others, he stands before me a man. Somewhere he left me behind. I'm really not sure when it happened. I try and think back to a specific time or event, something that would jar my memory, and make me recall the day, I lost a part of my soul.

For nine months I carried him within the walls of my own confinement. A netting of safety. Protecting him from all that was bad and evil. Blood of my blood, two hearts beating as if one. For eighteen years or better, I was his Super Hero complete with cape and all. I wiped his tears and covered the scrapes and scratches with band aids. And the bruises only a Mama could see, I covered with my gentle words and my strong heart.

He lost his innocence many times between the ages of eighteen and twenty six. Love innocence, family innocence and the most difficult of all, life innocence.  But this past week, he lost his heart and his mind to something bigger than I think even he could have ever imagined. And now, he wants to become a permanent part of that new life. That new land. And all of those new stories and experiences all of the above will surely bring.

Maybe he was really made for fairy tale lands and a Harry Potter life. Maybe he never really was  of this world at all. Maybe I brought a true character into this world, instead of a child, or an adult. Maybe his glasses are not rose colored, but multi-spectrum like a kaleidoscope. Maybe he can only see in fragments and segue ways. Maybe the only life his mind wants to experience is far away lands and beautiful history. Maybe that is what he was made to do, how he was meant to live.

I can't compete with buildings that are as beautiful as they are thousands of years old. Or history that comes to life before your very eyes. Or beautiful lilting voices that release vowels as if they are musical notes from the tongue. Or mummies and palaces, monstrous museums, and birth places of artists past, too talented to simply be called, artists. Parks that are used for scenery in too many movies to count, and bakery's so delicious, it would seem they invented the wheel. The pastry wheel.

But I can cook like my Southern Alabama Mama taught me. Whether it's smothered in fancy sauces or the healthiest food you could eat, it sure is some good home cooking. I still know when your skin breaks out, one of the first things one does in an allergy ridden family is to change washing detergents and personal body soaps. I can barter with sales people better than any man I know, including the worst of all, car salesmen. I will go to battle for you and fight harder for you than anyone else you will ever know. And I will always be the best person to talk to when your heart is hurting or life deals you a crappy hand.

All good mothers know our roles will wither away. The need for us and our over-bearing, over-caring ways will slowly fade. But it's still hard. It still hurts. And London England is a long, long way from home. I brought you into this world to do great things. To be the greatest person on earth. To see everything you could see and do everything you every dreamed of doing. So if I get left behind, that's what's supposed to happen. It's the evolution of  a prosperous life. And it's what every Mother dreams of for her child, no matter that it sure is hard to see you across the ocean, standing from the front porch steps of our lives.

Tallyho...and all of that you know. Onward my son. To wherever you think the path of life is leading you. Romp those brick laden paths with those Georgia Boots we on this side of the world, affectionately call, shit-kickers. And cry with joy and excitement every time you think of how close you were to Harry Potter and his wonderful fantasy world.  Maybe one day soon, the two worlds will collide again, and you will be Harry Potter, if only when you close your eyes.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

And Suddenly, Here We Are

Everyday for the past few weeks, I have come home and there is another one in the mailbox. All of these envelopes with names of children on them. Little boys who played Tiny Mites football and little girls who took ballet lessons at Miss Lucretia's in Bainbridge Georgia. Children who were dressing like tough Ninja's and sweet Fairies this past Halloween. Children who made casts and cut outs of their hand prints for Christmas decorations and Turkey's for the Thanksgiving table centerpiece. All of these things just happened. Right?

Then today, I open up my laptop and sign on to the internet. I type in my password for Face Book. I haven't been on all day. Time to see what's going on with everybody. Well, I'll tell you what's going on. My own child, my own little boy, became a Senior in high school today when I wasn't looking. I turn my back for one minute, and's just about over.

Zach is my last child in the high school grade system. Next year I will have one child in his last year of High School and another son in his last year of Graduate School. One will have a high school diploma and the other will have a Master's degree. One will be eighteen years old, the other will be twenty-seven.

I want to go back. I want them to go back to ages sixteen and seven. When they were already becoming best friends. And sixteen loaned seven his clothes for a rockin' out performance in a school lip sync contest with his best friend Dustin Watson. Back to eleven and two, when one could make the other giggle endlessly without saying a word. Back to eighteen and nine, as one watched the other give the speech of his life as Valedictorian of his high school, and he beamed with pride as his brother stood tall and grown at the podium and received a standing ovation. And back to fourteen and five as one watched the other play tee-ball and run with the mightiest might and determination he had ever seen, all in the name of winning and being the best for his big brother.

All of those envelopes represent everything we have all been working toward. Raising these Ninja's and Fairies to be good, smart, and responsible adults. For them to be able to stand on their own two feet and make good, solid, considered decisions. For them to stand together, all as one, in their cap and gowns and be able to say, this is me, and I did it.

So, guess what? We will cry. We will beam with pride. We will hold on tight to each others hands. And we will stand and applaud as they walk into the future we have tried to introduce them to. And then, as the days pass, and the excitement is over, we will have the pictures developed.  We will look through them, and we will cry some more. Because that's just what parents do.

Happy Graduation to all the Senior's. Congratulations on all your accomplishments.  We know you're excited. You've worked for this all of your life. But if you could just cut us old folks a little slack, we sure would appreciate it. And in return, we'll try and not clutch you too tight. Or cut off your circulation when hugging you in front of all your fellow graduates. We'll try to remember to wear water proof mascara so our faces are not streaming black liquid. And if we feel ourselves hyperventilating, we'll try and have the presence of mind to take our overwhelmed selves outside before we place the paper bag over our face.  I said, we'll try, but I'm not making any promises.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mama Gets A Helping Hand

From the minute I became pregnant at twenty-two years old, I knew, I was meant to be somebody's Mama. Every day, every minute, and all the seconds that I carried each child in my womb, I knew that we would be forever joined in mind, body and soul. 

What I did not know, is that at the age of thirty-three years old, for all intent and purposes, I would become Mama and Daddy to both of my children. I would make all the major decisions, sit all alone in many emergency rooms on weekends when doctors are not in their offices, tend to all the homework assignments, and hug away most of the tears. I had no idea just how much my life was about to change. 

It would be me who packed every book bag and every lunch box.  Worried about the jacket I let them leave at home that morning, because it was warm at 7am but by 2pm when school was letting out, a cold front had come through and the temperature had dropped fifteen degrees, causing me to fret about how cold would they be walking from the bus stop to the house. Or the toy I forgot was supposed to be taken for show and tell. And how I would worry they would be the only one without something to show. And worst of all, all the school programs where my boys would be the only one with one parent in attendance. 

Somewhere along the way, I was no longer alone. I met a man, who even though he was not the father of my children, nor my husband for many years to come, never missed a tee-ball game, a band performance, school function, tiny mites football, birthday party, or graduation.

Finally I had someone who would truly share his love and attention with my boys.  He gave advice, built fences, taught them to cut grass, create man sheds, listened to their stories, how their days went, and love them unconditionally no matter what. My boys were calling him their Daddy long before I ever even knew it. 

The point of this story today is to say this....I think I'm a better Mama today because of the man who would become their Bonus Daddy. I was taught patience I did not have, reasoning I never considered, and that it was alright to share. It was alright to let someone else take the lead, to walk ahead of me and me behind for a change, and that the world would not stop if I didn't have the last say, or the loudest opinion. 

I appreciate that my job was made easier. I am grateful that someone loved my two boys with so much love, that no one knows the difference between what's blood or water. And I am forever proud that I now have an extra ear to listen, shoulder to cry on, and humor when I tend to take myself or situations too seriously. 

Thank you Mims...for asking me to marry you. And for helping me to be a better Mama for my boys.  I take my job as a Mother very seriously and because of you, I have learned to take it lightly and more loosely when I need to as well.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mother's I know. It's a hard job, it's a full time job, and the pay is for crap....don't ever let anybody tell you any different. But the benefits we all reap far outweigh the problems or the heartaches. And everybody knows, there ain't no one in this world who will ever love you like your Mama loves you. And that's a fact.