Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013....And That's A Wrap Folks

I wonder when one finally makes it to ninety years old, if you finally know everything. Ninety years of living should be all the time you need. I think as long as we are here on this earth, we should be learning something.  

As I was reminiscing on the year we are leaving behind, I began to think about all the things I learned in 2013; and instead of making a list of resolutions, I decided to make a list of learned realizations.

1.  The successes you have with the struggles you face depend on your mind, attitude and heart being in the right place.

2.  Tragedy doesn't always happen to other people or strangers.

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

4.  You only have one body; take care of it.

5.   Losing a job of 20 plus years can be devastating and change is hard. You have to get over it and move on.

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

7.  You are never alone in your troubles; yours may just be the only ones you know about.

8.  No man is too big to fall. Choose your Hero’s closer to home.

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

10. My worst decisions or choices do not define me.  I am a good person.

11. Never turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to what your children will or will not do. I have personally watched family's crumble from the realization that their children, really are, like most children. Be there to catch them when they stumble and fall.

12. I've had to call on God and our relationship a lot more than I ever have before. He knows me like no one else; even my shorthand prayers are understood.  

 13. And finally, if I shut my mouth and close my eyes, I can listen with unbiased thoughts. I can learn to completely stop judging by what I see so that I make better decisions based on facts, not prejudice; with my eyes wide open.  

May you be happy with what you have, find whatever it is you're still looking for, and be satisfied either way it turns out. Love everybody you can as much as you know how, in as many ways as you can demonstrate. Apologize when the words out of your mouth are colder and harder than you intended, and back it up with a hug. 

Instead of writing a list of ten things you want to change, pick one, and make it happen. Work on number two next year. The goal is accomplished completion, not predestined disappointment.

Happy New Year to you all and I’ll see you on the other side..the new side....the fresh side...of 2014.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas Beautiful Angel

She was my best friend, confidant, pen pal, book buddy, and one of the funniest women I have ever known. The insight she provided and the lessons she taught were invaluable. Through actions she showed me that it’s important to see the humor in everything that you can, and that you never get too old for silly giggling and out of control, out of breath, laughter.  We exchanged hand written letters all of my teenage life.  I could tell her anything with no fear of reprisals or break of trust. There was a connection between the two of us that has never been duplicated or matched.

Now I share emails with her daughter, my Aunt. We have a connection of our own; the greatest being, the immeasurable love we share for her mother, my grandmother. A week ago I emailed how much my grandmother had been on my mind; and this was her reply: “My Christmas wish, if I could have anything in the world, would be for you and I to have one more day to spend with Mama and tell her all the things that have happened and get a chance to let her know the impact she has had on our lives.  I'm glad to know she lives in your heart as she does in mine.”

Those words have ricocheted around in my head for a couple of days now. What any of us would do to just have that one more chance, one more conversation with a loved one who is gone. If I could have that one wish granted, she would hear all about her great-grandsons; the oldest who is a college graduate, and an accomplished, published writer; and the youngest who has just begun his college career, is full of fun and crazy antics; hunts deer, wild hogs and gigs for bull frogs. 

She would hear about the love of my life, how happy he has made me, and how well he has pulled us all together as one complete family with mine and his own combined. And she would know all the things that I have tried to hand down to my own. Her love of books and the written word, her kind and compassionate heart, her gentle hands and deep understanding; and her infinite love for us all.

From the second I lifted her from the red topped box; the memories flowed. My beautiful Crystal Angel is 29 years old this year, a gift from my Grandmother all those years ago; and she shines so brightly on my Christmas tree every single year.

Realistically, I hope that the most beautiful Angel of all has had a front row cloud and has already seen all of those things herself, and knows how much she is missed. To my MaMa Eloise; my mind is constantly rewinding memories and my heart is always full of love for you; still.  And to all who have their own special Angels, I wish you a very Merry Christmas.  

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Love and Compassion..It's Free Of Charge

He needed help, he had no food. His food stamps had been cancelled. He had been two days without anything to eat, was there someone who could help him, he was home bound. 

She was crying, nowhere to sleep, nothing to eat, no job, no money. That conversation lasted longer, but didn't end as well. More help will be needed, as she tells him she no longer wants to live.

Thursday’s are his days to answer the phone lines. The greetings are always apprehensive; the results almost always prove why.  From one call to the next, he never knows what the conversation will be, but the hope of always being able to help is there.

My oldest son works for AmeriCorps in Birmingham Alabama. More specifically he works for One Roof; which is just one of many divisions that come under the AmeriCorps umbrella. For those who are not familiar, AmeriCorps is our United States version of the Peace Corp. 

The One Roof division is not a shelter or a food bank; but they are responsible for helping to provide/organize funding for all the shelters in their area which would include monies for housing and food. They help organize programs, fill the needs of each shelter, and most importantly to create/build shelters where there are none. The primary goal of the One Roof program is to make sure all who need food and shelter get it. The calls that come in with needs are directed to the closest facility that can help.

However, there are times, when one on one help is needed and that was the case last Thursday. Food was bought for the man who was home bound, and it was taken to him. And the woman, whose life was in desperate need of the right care, was helped as well by medical professionals. 

As I sat in my chair, phone in hand, listening to his end of the conversation, I knew that when he called and asked did I have a minute, because he needed to talk out his day, that it was a vast understatement to say the least.  His words were emotionally crumbling and sad, but more importantly, it was just beginning.

The holiday months are hard for so many people; and that stretches much further and wider than anyone could ever imagine. I myself tend to fall into “funks” as I call them at this time of the year. But last night after receiving that phone call, I knew although my own feelings of temporary sadness were valid, they were not life threatening and certainly not deserving of the hold I let them have over me.

Realizing this is not the happiest column I've ever written, I believe it’s one of the most important. All that are able are obligated to reach out and give someone a reason to smile;  to leave their homes and be among other people; instead of barricading themselves off. Actions speak louder than words or money. Spend some love. It’s free.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Coupons and Combat Boots

Why do people do it? Risk life and limb; sitting in the freezing cold, sometimes pouring rain; waiting. I guess I understand the basic need for it. But I am too old and too slow to survive it anymore. The likes of it can be compared to a stampede of bulls being set loose. Or being in the wrong place at the wrong time when the guy at a Nascar race bellows out “Drivers, START YOUR ENGINES”.

It’s called BLACK FRIDAY for a reason folks. The very thought of leaving my nice, warm home at 2am to stand in some line, somewhere, waiting to charge inside a building that’s having the biggest sales of the century, and shop til I drop, into the next day, absolutely wreaks of danger, and mass destruction.

First of all, I NEED MY SLEEP.  I need at LEAST nine hours to function as a human being. So to think it would be a good idea to let me loose into a frenzy of people with little to not near enough sleep, is like signing someone’s death warrant up front. There are two optimal experiences that will cause me to put my hands around a common stranger’s neck; when I am hungry, or I have not had enough sleep. I lose all sense of reason and ability to think straight. And if you push me or step on my heels I am likely to lose all ability to behave with any manners whatsoever; whether you’re a little old lady with blue hair or not.

My husband and I did most of our Christmas shopping this past Friday; after the weekend of Black Friday. He didn’t want to go; at all. But I explained to him that his suffering would be minor compared to the amount of bail money that might have be required should I be left to survive the day on my own. My husband’s job was to tote all the bags, say yes and no at all the appropriate times, and to not disagree; about anything.

Surprisingly enough, the stores were not very crowded and not once did I even come close to having to “throat chop” anybody. I will say the customer service lacked a little to be desired at some places, but I figured after the weekend all those folks just had; God Bless them all if they were still able to possess walking around sense. Can you imagine working in retail on the morning of Black Friday when they open those doors? Standing on the other side of those windows; us shoppers must resemble packs of rabid animals, snarling, grunting, and growling; ready to devour anyone that gets in our way of saving a dollar. I’ll bet those poor employees have nightmares for days. 

When it’s over and we’re complaining about our aching feet and wore out legs; the story I’d like to hear is the one the employees who make it through it all, tell when THEY get home.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Come As You Are, No Jacket Required

I was already there, thinking about it, planning it, deciding when we would start and what we might do different. Will we do the trees, the bushes, the swing or the fences? Trying to get "the help’s" input, because I obviously can't do it alone. And as much as I despise the reality, I have to have some help; I'm neither strong enough, nor tall enough to do it all alone. 

Much to the chagrin of my family, they are The Help. Their assignment for about two full days, is to do exactly as I ask/tell them to do. They must become Supermen. Fit their bodies into the tightest of places, climb onto lofts; full of items that pertain to a lot more than what they are looking for. Pull on heavy boxes, over the tops of their heads, without, damaging/breaking ANYTHING. And they already know, before we ever begin, they are going to do everything at least twice, before it is done right.

I began to outline the plan about a week ago. I begin all of these types of discussions with..."OK, this is the deal". EVERYONE in my family knows what those words mean, and have come to dread them. They may not necessarily know WHAT the particular deal at hand is going to be, but they know there's a big chance, it's not going to be to their liking. As I began to lay out the plan for how all this should go, I was met with frowns, scowls, and quite frankly, a lot of eye rolling. To which I exclaimed, "What is wrong with you people, this is supposed to be FUN?!" Hence, more scowls and now, not even trying to hide it, eye rolling.

So the decorating ideas are in motion and none of us may be speaking to each other when it’s over.  There will be many times in those two days, one of us will feel the need to break into songs like  'Jesus Loves The Little Children', mostly me, as I try to remember why I HAD children.  Over the years, I have developed an internal intuition of knowing the exact minute I have pushed one of them too far. I can actually time the seconds it takes to lift a heavy object behind my head, and pose to strike.

But it will be done. It will brighten my mood for weeks, and every evening when I come home. It will allow me to smile, cry, and laugh as memories are pulled from boxes and paraded around me, and years of love are brought out and displayed once again. As my eyes see and my hands hold, the beautiful pieces of memories, made by my children’s beautiful little hands.

The holiday season is upon us and the time for giving comes first and the time for remembering how we all got here should be throughout. I love this time of the year and all the memories that come with it.