Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Lights of Christmas!

Strangely enough, or maybe sadly enough is more appropriate, this is the year that I have no out of control Christmas-decorating stories to tell, no near deaths, no head-lock wrestling over what goes where, and no arguing about just how much is too much lighting before it becomes tacky. As I’ve already said, I’ve been sick since the week of Thanksgiving, and I swear I’m not trying to play it for all its worth, but it is STILL going on! I really do feel much better, but I’m still coughing and my voice is still pretty sketchy; it comes and goes as each day wears on. 

We always put up our decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving, I was dead in the middle of near death at that point and can honestly tell you, I could have cared less. But my husband, being the sweet man he can be, decided he and my youngest son would put up the inside decorations for me, instead of me, and I would just watch. Well, believe it or not, that’s exactly how it went; I sat in my recliner and grunted the instructions when asked, and it all got put up just as pretty as always, without me lifting a finger.

We didn’t however put up the outside lights and I honestly didn’t think we even would. My husband worked out of town the two weeks after Thanksgiving weekend and there just wasn’t enough time. At first it bothered me, we have always put up some form of outside lights, every single year that I have had children at home. But you know, things change, kids grow up, the only child left at home now is grown and rarely here enough to count, and we’re older ourselves; so when does it no longer seem important enough to do it anymore?

I’ve heard people for years talking about down-sizing their trees and decorations. Putting up those table-top trees, or in some cases none at all. I could foresee maybe a smaller tree in our future, but no tree at all? The weekend that my guys took over the decorating, even as bad as I felt, it seemed to make me feel better to see it all lit up and done. Having nothing to look at for the whole month of December, well I don’t even know how that could ever feel like Christmas. The trees, lights and decorations are not just for children, they’re for all of us. Trees loaded down with decorations that have either been made by your children or bought in special places at special times, all with meaning and love.

Yesterday I spent the day with one of my best girlfriends from home and we finished up the last of our Christmas shopping together. I had a wonderful time, but when I got home, I had another wonderful surprise. My husband and son had strung lights-up on the outside of our home; my Christmas will be complete after all and I wish the same Merry Christmas joy to each of you. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Sanity of Cyber-Shopping

So have you all done all your Christmas shopping yet? Have you been pushed, trampled and pinched-up in corners? Have your toes been crushed, rib cages elbowed, and your heels permanently dented from over-aggressive cart-pushers? Did you tussle at the undergarment table for the last reindeer antlers thong?  Or tie-up with a mom who looks like she’s ready to duke it out over the last Warriors from Hell XBOX game left on the shelf?

Let me tell you folks something, you don’t know just how close you can come to personal injury of another human being until you have a child and you’re Christmas shopping. Every single solitary year there is a new “end all to be all” doll, toy, or game that everybody in the ENTIRE universe is trying to purchase for their child. He/she has seen it advertised, everybody is talking about, everybody else is going to get one, “they just know it”; and by golly, it is your job to find it! Well, actually its Santa’s job, but we all know Mama’s and Daddy’s are assigned Santa’s dirty detail work. If we want him to deliver all those goodies on time, WE have to find them for him. He has the easy job; he simply waltzes in, delivers the goods and he’s the hero of the night!

But it is US, the parents, who have to risk life and limb, stand in line for 3 hours, only to have just one game left by the time it’s almost your turn. It’s down to you and the lady in front of you who looks sleep deprived and angry, and you’re trying to size her up as to whether or not you can take her down in a moment of weakness, put her in a head lock, and grab that game and RUN!

But you don’t because we are a civilized people aren’t we? Well, let me be honest and say, I thought I was until one of those years, and one of those had to have items, and there were not but two left IN THE WORLD. I was standing in Toys R Us, the place where all evil is born on such shopping days, and it was down to me and one other lady. The employee said there was two left, he went to the back to get them for us. By the time he got back there were three of us (crazy Mama’s) standing there, and he only had two games. Needless to say it got a little cray-cray, my husband looked like he was considering running himself and leaving me there, but I didn’t back down. The third woman said she had called and they were supposed to have one on hold for her. I politely told her, since the terrified clerk couldn’t speak, that there is no such thing as “on hold” at Christmas; its retail war baby and you’re running a little late.

I cyber-shop now, but I’ll reserve some bail money in case the rest of you don’t make it out alive! 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Lost Week

It’s been a tough past couple of weeks for me. I don’t get sick very often, but man oh man, when I do, I do it up right. It started a few days before Thanksgiving, but my kids were both home, my folks were coming down for Thanksgiving dinner, so I guess I just willed the worst of it away for as long as I could.

The following Saturday it all started to fall apart and here I am a week and a day later, still not out of the woods. I’m still weak, can’t talk, and just feel generally not quite together. This past week was especially hard on me, as my husband was working out of town for the biggest part of it, which meant I was basically alone.

I was single/divorced for about thirteen years, so it’s not like I didn’t experience being sick and alone at some point and time. But when you’re young, you don’t tend to think about just how sick you are in conjunction with how alone you are, how unsupervised you are, or the lack of the presence of a necessary adult should you need help. You’re invincible, and no matter how weak, unsteady, or unstable you feel, every recovery is just around the corner.

Let me tell you, age and those same circumstances make a world of difference. There were several days this week I basically have no memory of, whether it was from all the combined medications or just the sickness itself taking hold. I wasn’t eating, (so you all know I was near death) which was doing nothing but making me weaker, and I can faintly remember on one of the worst days, wondering how long it had been since I showered and washed my hair.

I finally decided it had been too long, and as bad as I felt, and probably looked, there was no way if I needed one, that I would have called an ambulance to myself.  You should see this nappy, curly hair after three days of wallowing it in a pillow; it’s a sight to behold let me tell you. So I showered, and about half-way through I started to feel weird and lightheaded. I was mid-shampoo so I knew I had to finish and I still had to condition my hair or I would look like Ronald McDonald. All I could do in that last five (or fifty it seemed) minutes or so was to pray that I wouldn’t faint or fall, so that the first person to find me would be my nearly twenty year old son. Sweet heavens above, that would scar him for life, and I do want him to get married someday. If he were to think that’s how it all turns out, well, I’m just not sure there’s enough therapy in the world.

A special thanks to God for my wonderful parents who checked on me daily with offers to come and help as well. Their words were like a warm blanket around my heart, and a comfort that’s undeniable; I am blessed. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Amazing Grace

As we enter the holiday season, I think we all have secret romantic visions of how we’d like it to be. Most have watched those Hallmark holiday movies that end in happily ever after; all the families are large, they all come to one central place to celebrate in a time of joy, snow-filled dreams, sugar plums and never ending mistletoe.

Well the reality for most of us is, some of us can get off of work for those weeks and some cannot. Either way, the rush is on to begin preparing the food, keeping our house clean for company, trying to plan your menu so that every person with their particular food needs is satisfied and will have plenty to eat. Coordinate with people out of town, who is coming in what day, will there be “room at the inn” and will all of these “grown” personalities be able to get along for the time it takes to be social, eat, and disperse.

This year I was one of the lucky ones that was able to be off work most of the week. I had several days in advance to begin the prep work that a big meal like that requires. Both of my sons were home with me and we all actually work very well together. We are all good at different things in the kitchen, so as we began the busy-work, all in opposite directions, the ebb and flow went remarkably smooth.

My parents came down the actual day of Thanksgiving as they have for the past few years now and we were ready. My youngest son had fried the turkey earlier that morning, and my oldest son and I prepared all the “inside” food. Most everything went off without a hitch; however, I swear to sugar, if I ever get the right concoction to the making of the dressing down right, I think it will be a miracle. I call myself following the written directions to the letter every single time, but somehow, some way, it just never lives up to my mother’s dressing and I don’t really have much confidence that it ever will.

But let me just back-up for a minute and take you all back to the beginning of our meal. Everyone had lined-up, and holding their plates, they walked around the bar and the stove where all the food was spread out ready to be dipped and served. Plates were filled to the rim and now sitting on mats at the dining room table, and everyone took a seat; everyone but my youngest son.

As he stood behind his chair, he asked us to lower our heads as he was about to bless our food. I wish I could repeat it back for you today or at least explain how amazing he is at delivering such a resounding grace full of reverence and reality, with every day words. It’s those times in life that bring the real thanks and blessings for our journey and those we brought with us. Grateful, yes I am. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tender Mercies

This morning I awoke to the news of a shooting; with every button-push of the remote I could see it, hear about it, and imagine it as it might have been. The day rocked on and the information never stopped. Updates continued to pour in from resources all around. We all had heard about the who, some speculations of the whys, but it may be days or weeks before we all really know the truth.

We would hear about the assailant, and we would hear about the victims. We would hear personal testimony’s, video re-plays, and see a book that took the hit of a bullet and possibly saved a life. We would hear expression-filled voices declaring their disbelief and their fright. And wait, we would wait; for names to be released, worried and wondering would it be someone we knew.

My mind wandered back to the countless hours my oldest son spent in that same library during his under graduate years of college there; how many late nights he would be on campus, coming to and from that place that should always feel safe. For the parents of students who were originally from out of town, what a horrific feeling of dread must take over until you hear the sound of your child over the phone, and you know that for now, all is right in the world again.

But more than all of that, this is what else I witnessed today: People/students of all fan bases, different school colors, football rivals, and well-known mascots; standing as one, united and strong, praying for everyone involved. Candlelight vigils on the campus green, students holding hands and the quiet chant of the school fight song, ringing clear and strong for all to hear.

For this one day, everyone put aside their petty differences, stopped arguing over standings and who ranks the highest this week, who has the toughest schedule or best academic programs. They all, fans, parents, and students alike, became one and the same; just people who were stunned and in disbelief that this could happen to them and so close to home. This happening is what you saw on television, in other places, happening to strangers; not people you know and love. Not your friends, sisters and brothers, or children.

We are left praying for the recovery of three victims and their families, the family of the assailant, and the police who reacted with amazing swiftness and speed, bringing resolution and safety with them as they acted in the line of duty. We must hope that everyone’s minds and hearts will recover and they will once again feel safe in the place that has become their second home.

Every year I give thanks for all the people in my life and the things that sometimes I take for granted. But this year, I will say a special thanks be to God, for his tender mercies and love shown through the actions of others today. May this Thanksgiving Day be one of the most meaningful for us all.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Shotgun Rider

You find each other, you date, you like, then fall in love, he proposes and the world falls into place. For about a minute, it falls into place. He still has to get past your father, your mother, and any brothers you may have. What a stressful time it is for the young man who believes he has found his bride to be, the love of his life, and the possible mother to the children he will help create. For it seems, he must essentially make the whole family fall in love with him in order for the plan to really work properly.

That’s how it all works the first time around, now consider this: You’re fifty some odd years old and you once again, for real this time, meet the love of your life; these things really do happen, I know this personally. Now at this point, it’s pretty conceivable to say that maybe he already has some grown children of his own, and she already has some grown children of her own. Heck, at this stage of life, they may both already have grandchildren.

But believe it or not, young or less young, the ritual is the same, you meet each other (man it feels more awkward than either of you remember), you date (and doesn’t THAT seem weird after all these years), he proposes (sweating and more nervous than he surely thinks he should be), she accepts, and the world that has been so lonely, jumbled and chaotic seems to once again, fall into place.

Oh but now, now things are so very different. He’ll have a whole new host of people that he must
win-over and make fall in love with him. At this time in life, her father has passed, but nary mind about that; for her mother, some brother’s, a son and two daughters will be the toughest opponents he may ever face again in this lifetime.  My gracious, you haven’t faced a tribal committee complete with headbands and war paint, until you’ve had to pass the inspection of grown offspring.  I mean, truly, who IS ever good enough for THEIR mother? The woman who was there for everything, their whole lives? This man, is absolutely going to have to prove that he’s the meant-to-be-man to get through the gauntlet of apprehension her children will have in the beginning.

Finally, the big day is here. Two will become one, bonus families will unite and join them, and the lucky ones will sit in pews and bear witness to this beautiful event. Her very own son will present them to Jesus as he leads the reciting of vows, and her family will flank each side, watching intently as it all unfolds; her last call for riding shotgun.

The bride walked down the aisle to begin her new forever, with my grandmother’s borrowed handkerchief gently tucked into her bouquet. I feel sure my grandmother and her father, now newly-made friends, sat together in heaven, and joyfully watched minutes fold into happily ever after memories. Amen. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Journey Continues...

It was said by those who should have known, that she was a sweet little girl when she was but a young thing, full of laughter, life and all that was good.  She certainly can’t remember back that far, but she knows that laughter has always been a big part of her life.

From the time her developmental age would begin, she somehow knew she didn’t have a personality that could be pin-pointed, no type of friend-circle that she would call home; although she seemed to fit-in most anywhere.  She would carry a determination and confidence that was seemingly strong and sure; but on the inside she would remain an enigma, even to herself. Her body and its shape of little girl chubby would follow her through grade school; causing personal inhibitions she would struggle to overcome.

Time would move on and she would still remain the funny girl but with a fast developing, salty mouth. She would sprinkle her stories with salt and vinegar to re-direct sadness or any other attention that felt negative or false. She was smarter than she achieved, and academics and the results of, were mediocre at best. Her body would begin to change, to have shape, and she would visually begin to like herself along with the boys who had begun to notice her.

High school would be a combination of coming into herself, and into life. Her confidence would continue to build and she learned to express herself with not only the spoken word, but with the written word. She would become the editor of the school newspaper, writing/righting the wrongs with words for everyone. She would join a school club, Future Business Leaders of America, get a job and a paycheck, and quickly learn, that money makes the world go ‘round.

Secondary education did not interest her, she would go to work, and continue to figure life out. She would get married three short years later; not to the right man, but to a necessary man, the man who would give her life’s best gifts of all: her children.

She would be married, divorced and single again for the sum of twenty-three years; the exact age she was when she would have her first child. The amount of life she would experience and learn all those years would be tremendous. Some of those years kind, some not, but all exactly as they should have been.

The circle of life would repeat itself, she would marry the real love of her life, gain some beautiful people as her bonus family, her own children would become amazing adults, and life was better than she’d dreamed. Her voice would find paper again; sharing her stories and her life, in hopes that she would touch someone along the way. She’s taken the roads with the most resistance; regrets few, do-over’s none.  

By the time you’re reading this, she will be fifty-one years and two days old. She will be so proud to have made it this far, and ready for the rest. Happy day of birth to her.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Give Me That Old Time Tradition

1974 and it was Josey and the Pussycats, The Jetsons, The Flintstones, Scooby Doo, or the old stand-bys:  Cinderella, Rapunzel,  Sleeping Beauty, Superman, Batman and Robin, or Frankenstein. Plastic, suffocating masks with holes for the eyes and mouth which would be attached to your face with a rubber string that pulled your hair from the roots, all night long. The masks themselves would be lifted up and down on the face most of the night, and then finally pushed onto to the top of the head or discarded all-together.

Kids of all ages from the neighborhood would walk in droves, many times unescorted, every porch light was on for miles, it was pitch black dark, and no one ever seemed to be scared. The loud rants of “Trick or Treat!” could be heard from pretty much wherever you stood. All the neighbors knew the children by name, and no one seemed worried or anxious about who would be knocking on their door or ringing the doorbell. We would all go home, dive into our bags/buckets full of candy without another thought about it.

1998 and my boys and I have moved to a new town and we live out in the country. All the houses are miles apart, and Hwy 65 is not made for door to door trick or treating. A friend tells me about King Street in Quincy, and all the avenues that branch off from it. It’s the perfect place to take your kids; it’s safe, well lit, and neighborhood friendly.

When we arrive, the streets are already swarming with The Powderpuff Girls, Pound Puppies, Smurfs, Barney,  little Madonna’s and Michael Jackson wanna-be’s.  The roads are blocked off by the city police to prevent driving and accidents, but now, parents line the streets as far as the eye can see as well. Sadly, the days of children trick or treating alone or with older children for guides was out of the question.  It’s even discussed quietly amongst the adults as to whether the candy needs to be taken somewhere to be X-Rayed for foreign, deadly objects. Scarily enough, this has become a common practice at all hospitals and emergency rooms every year, free of charge.

As each year passes, there are more Fall Festivals and recreational park events offering games, bobbing for apples, and face painting; home parties with adult supervision by people you know and trust which are safer ways for children to have fun and still celebrate the Halloween costume traditions.

It makes me sad when real life interferes with anything that has to do with innocence, fun, and what makes children happy. That you have to explain to a child why his/her candy must be checked before he can eat it; well, I don’t even know what those words should be. I expect by the time I have any grandchildren, trick or treating will be extinct. Instead, I’ll be trying to explain to them the pictures of their Daddy’s in albums, with the costumes, painted-on faces of Halloween’s gone by. How sad indeed. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

If Mama Ain't Happy......

I know I’ve talked about walking, my weight, and health issues; none of that has changed.  I’m still over-weight, my blood pressure still runs high, and I’m still walking on a fairly regular schedule. The weather has cooled down, the sun drops sooner, and the whole deal is more tolerable in these early months of fall.

But what I’m going to talk to you about today has nothing to do with any of that. How is your mental and emotional state of health? That’s what I’d like to know.  Are you happy where you work? Do you like the people that you work with? Because you know, you spend more of your waking hours with those people than you do your own family. And depending on how well you like all of the above, including your own family, is exactly what will propel your mind to be in the state it is at any given time.

Now I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have to talk about my feelings in order to feel better. The stresses of my job, my family, and just life in general; well, they just have to come out. To keep all that bottled up inside would cause a self-implosion for sure. I try and “share” my day with my family, and they “act” as if they are paying rapt attention to my every word; but ask them to repeat any of it back, and they would choke and turn blue trying to remember enough to recite it.

That’s what a good walking partner is for by golly, no headsets or ear-phones for me, no sir!  I want a live human being walking next to me, listening to my stream of struggles, my berating voice describing my horrendous day that started with me over-processing my curly, ratty hair, to hitting the huge pot-hole in my work parking lot and simultaneously splashing muddy water all over the side of my freshly washed truck. To dropping my too hot-to-touch lunch all over the break-room floor at work,  and finally, arriving home only to find out I had washed and dried my sons brand new pants with an ink pen in the pocket, which was now ALL over those pants, as he stood in the living room, holding them up for me to see.

Those are the things that walking partners share. Along with talk about husbands whose sensitivity gene is on the blink, children who never seem to have received a sensitivity gene at all, and both of who are only concerned with:  what’s for supper, when is it going to be ready, along with scrunched up faces to imply that’s not what either of them had in mind, as you come dragging in from work.

Walking is for my physical health first and foremost, but also for my mental health, because I’m sure jail-time wouldn’t allow me the hair products necessary for my “delicate” mane, or the Revlon Orange-Flip lipstick that would PERFECTLY accessorize with that outfit. Rational thinking? I’d say so. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Hunter's Heaven Begins

I hear his truck as the pipes growl onto the drive-way, his feet are making fast action across the concrete carport, and as the storm door bursts open, his long, slender legs strike steps past me and through the house like he’s been set afire. I tried to ask the basic questions: How was your day? What’s the hurry? Where are you headed now? I got muffled replies smothered in shirt-changing, along with the weird sound of clinking coming from his bedroom, a swift breeze as he flew past me again, hollering “I’ll see you later”; and I was alone again.

Several hours later I would exit the back of the house from where I had been showering for bed, hearing faint noises coming from my kitchen. Now everyone in my house knows I am a self-declared scaredy cat, and if they come home and I am not where I can see them, they are to announce their presence so as not to scare the begeezus out of me.  That had not happened, but I always lock down the house when I’m alone, so I could only wonder as I crept softly towards the noise who or what it would be.

A scene right out of Criminal Minds is the first thing my eyes set sight on as I rounded the corner
from the dining room to the kitchen. Lined up on my kitchen counter next to the sink are round hunks, of what appeared to be, red raw-looking meat;  standing next to that sight, is my youngest son still dressed in the camo gear he left in, standing over the sink with running water, placing one hunk next to another as he washed them off.

My face is scrunched in that crazy-looking face that weak-stomached people have when looking at raw body parts as I ask, “What IS that, and why are you doing that here in my kitchen sink?”  Now I asked “what” it was he was cleaning while my over-imaginative mind was hoping it wasn’t a “who”.  Because those red, round pieces of raw meat looked like they could belong to a human just as much as they could have belonged to an animal.

I don’t know what you think you eat from a Dove, but it seems  all that most people eat is the breast; which is what I had been looking at: 13 teeny tiny dove breasts that looked about the size of chicken livers you see in the grocery store; packaged up, not on your kitchen bar.

Hunting season is upon the Mims home again. Break out the bullets and the bleach by the gallon to clean off my counter tops, sinks, and utensils. Until the big hunt of deer begins in November for Florida, everything else under the sun and in-season doesn’t stand a chance. One day it’s dove, the next it’s squirrel; my son’s bedroom looks like a hunting camp full of gear and guns. Fair Game = Fair Rule in our home: you kill it, you eat it.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

And The Fight Continues.....

I sat on my front porch glider this morning, holding my hot/cold plastic coffee mug, full of energizing and hot to the tongue liquid; I was soaking up the much anticipated and waited on, coolness in the air along with the smell of early burning chimneys and remnants of night-time bonfires. 

The mug was a high school graduation gift for my youngest son from one of his customer’s aka biggest fans; but it, with its antler rack on the front, has become a favorite of mine.  It usually reminds me of my son and his joy of any reason to hunt; but today, it makes me think of my girlfriend who loves to hunt as much as any man I know, and whose season this year has been lost to one of the biggest signs of Satan that exists.

The instant message comes across the screen, wanting to know am I busy and can I talk? I sent an answer right back that I am free and ask what is going on your way? The reply is a simple, “can I call?” And somehow, I already know this call is not going to be a normal, everyday, what’s going on, call. I wait in silent anticipation for my phone to ring; and then it does.

We go through the same ordinary greetings but I have become an expert in that tone, the one that carries a tremble with it, and a multi-layered range of fear. We have known each other so well, for so long, she takes the dive and plunges in, the words all but gurgling for air as she tries to speak them. My ears immediately began to reject what they were being asked to receive as she began with: “I haven’t told anyone yet, but I am calling to tell you, because I need your help getting the word out to everyone; I had my first chemotherapy treatment today.”

My brain is screaming so loud the roots of my hair are hurting, “How many more times will I pick up the phone and hear these words? How many more women that I love will have to live this horror story?

There will likely be no tree stands, no freezing mornings blowing smoke as she breathes, or struggles to remain silent and still this year. She will spend her time in a room, her body now owning an installed port that will pour poison in, trying to kill/run deadly poison off. 

Statistical odds say one in three women will be affected by breast cancer. Ladies, make your annual appointments, get your Mammograms. I hear women say they have no insurance; the Gadsden County Health Department can give you free referrals for mammograms at the Women’s Imaging Center.  The same type of program is offered in Leon County. There are no excuses, and never be ashamed to receive the treatment you need in order to live, that you cannot otherwise afford. Take control. Choose to be a survivor, not a victim of this horrible disease. Choose to live. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

♫ Kansas City, Kansas City Here I Come ♫

For years my husband continued to say he was going to retire when he turned sixty-two years old.  In spring of 2013, the company where he was employed for better than 32 years closed down. As it turned out, he would continue to work until January of 2014 as an overseer while the building was torn down and nothing but dirt and memories would remain.

February and March would pass and come to prove that staying at home was not his thing. Being “almost” retired was boring and he was about to go crazy sitting at home every day. He would all but take over the washing and drying, the yard work, and errand running; but that would not be enough to keep him busy. He began to scheme in his mind something he had randomly spoke of doing from time to time; until one day I came home and he was putting his idea into motion.

His last job in life has become for him to be a pilot car / escort service; and if there was a man in this world made to do that job it was him. He has always loved to ride, drive and talk, and not necessarily in that order. He would get his truck licensed, his signs made up, his truck decaled and business cards printed with his business name; Kornbread Pilot Car and Escort Service at your service.

Word got around and he began to get job offers here and there. Some runs would take most of a day, and a few would turn into an overnight stay. Now it’s not that he hadn’t done this kind of traveling before, because even with his prior job he used to travel pretty regularly. He’d be gone three days here or four days there, sometimes even a week and occasionally two weeks at the time; depending on the problem at hand.

Last week he landed a job that would take him to Garden City, Kansas; the other side of the world as far as I’m concerned.  Before when he traveled I would miss him, but I still had kids at home who kept me running and of course my own job as well. I didn’t have time to sit and think about much other than trying to run the circus by myself while he was gone. Life is different now, we still have one child who lives at home, but he’s here to sleep and eat, and some nights, not even that.

This experience was very different. My routine was the same; work, walking at the track, then home and a sandwich, because who wants to cook for one? And how many loads of clothes does one person really wash? I have some girlfriends who live alone, some by choice, some, sadly not. This week I learned that although I am a very independent person, I’m certainly not ready to be alone, nor do I think I ever will be; and he doesn’t need another Kansas run for a long, long time. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Put Your Hands In The Air Like We Don't Care...AND FIGHT!

She works so much, for such long periods of time, and all of it away from home, always traveling; so much so, that I nick-named her 24/7. We haven’t laid eyes on each other in what seems like forever. We went all through school together, I was a bridesmaid in one of her weddings, and we had our first born children one day apart, in the same hospital, right down the hall from each other; but we had somehow drifted apart and wouldn’t know it until years later.

The instant message comes across the screen, wanting to know am I busy and can I talk? I sent an answer right back that I am free and ask what is going on your way? The reply is a simple, “can I call?” And somehow, I already know this call is not going to be a normal, everyday, what’s going on, call. I wait in silent anticipation for my phone to ring; and then it does.

We began to go through the same ordinary greetings but I have become an expert in that tone, the one that carries a tremble with it, and a multi-layered range of fear. She tries to sound as if everything is as it always is, that she is so busy she can’t remember her name, she doesn’t get to see her husband near enough, and she is looking forward to the holidays and the resting of her weary bones that comes with them every year.

Somehow, we never did get to that part of our conversation. We have known each other so well, for so long, she takes the dive and plunges in, the words all but gurgling for air as she tries to speak them. My ears immediately began to reject what they were being asked to receive as she began with; “I haven’t told anyone yet, but I am calling to tell you, because I need your help getting the word out to everyone; I had my first chemotherapy treatment today.”

My brain is screaming so loud the roots of my hair are hurting, “How many more times will I pick up the phone and hear these words? How many more women that I love will have to live this horror story?

What she wants people to know is the rarity of her particular cancer; it is called Inflammatory Breast Cancer; one day it’s not there, the next day it is. It comes in the appearance of a bite on the breast, a bite that no antibiotic will touch or heal, and it almost always arrives in a Stage Three existence.  All of these discoveries happened within a three week period of time; and without the help of family members in the medical professional, she could very well still not know what was going on. She wants you to know that you need to do visual checks in a mirror every day, just the same as you do your own physical checks in the shower. But she mostly wants you to know, that it can happen to anybody, any time, with no warning; just like it happened to her.

Although only one breast is affected at this point, she will have a double mastectomy to ensure all of the disease is gone. Reconstructive surgery is not suggested for this type of radical cancer, so she already is dreaming of tops that close tighter, bras without under-wire, and the comfort of all of the above.  She is preparing in every way possible, because she will control this outcome; it will not control her. She has already cut her hair into a cutie patootie age-shaving cut; it may come out, but it will not be in depressing handfuls in a shower.

Get your regular mammograms, educate yourselves, and make every single little thing seem as if it could be EVERYTHING, because it just might be.  We will pray in silence, out loud, and on our knees, until someone crushes this horrible disease. Amen.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Baby Blankets and Bahama Mama's!

Diapers, strollers, midnight feedings and burping pads. Bottles, pacifiers, walkers and safety gates. Pre-school, first day tears (mama and baby), learning all about jealousy and practicing to share; then 13 years of school if you count kindergarten, and all the lessons in between. Lost loves, lost house keys, (everybody in town should now have a key) lost tennis shoes and homework. Rushed lunch hours delivering forgotten lunches, gym clothes and football mouth pieces. School programs at 7pm, and a dirty shirt found in the corner that has 40 minutes to be washed and dried so it can be worn to match the rest of the class.

Women know from the minute they become pregnant that their lives are about to change for a long,
long time. We know that we will no longer have a real name at home; we will be answering to the moniker of Mama 24/7, or listening to the man who used to call us: Baby, Sweetie, or aghast, even our name, now saying repeatedly, “Go ask your Mama”. 

We know we will no longer experience a restful night, a sit down meal that doesn’t include eating a bite here and a bite there and probably never really cleaning our plate. We accept that the washer will never be empty again and that because of all the distractions of motherhood, the dryer will be used to re-heat just as much as it will be used to dry. We signed on for all of those things, so not only do we accept it, we welcome it, and many of us do it more than once; so that we have several staggered instances of 18 years and running, and we love every single solitary loss of sleep, minute of it.

But let me tell you why we really do all that; why we spend years wiping snotty noses, bandaging up boo-boo’s, and breaking up fusses and wrestling head locks: we do all of those things so we can grow up, find ourselves and become women again, wives again, and meaningful, thought-processing, “we can do more than cook and clean” females again.

We get everyone grown, (husbands and children alike) we teach
them how to cook (or at least make a sandwich) and survive on their own for more than an hour and we leave! We actually get dressed in nice clothes and we go somewhere besides a school drop off or work! We go out to eat, to the movies, and guess who we go with? Our girlfriends who have done all the same things, for all the same years, and now they are escaping for that precious few hours with us!

I had one of these magical lunches last weekend. Some girls from home came into town and we had a delicious lunch, full of laughter and conversation. But you know what’s funny about all of that freedom we had? We didn’t talk about much of anything but our kids and our husbands the whole time. Mama’s will always be Mama’s; go figure. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Blood Strangers

She didn’t create the situation, nor did she coerce it, or suggest it. The owner of this relationship appendage did all of that and now she wonders if any good can come from it. She’s known for years that nothing about the failure or damage was good. She has struggled to help mend the fences and nail them back together, albeit hearts and minds are not robust like standing-tall wooden fences; but often fragile and barren of strength.

His social inadequacies can be blamed for a lot of the distance; bad decisions for the rest. He tried in spits and sputters, but real life requires more effort.  His children seemed to eventually accept that of him, but how does a father not need to see his children, talk to his children, or not need to KNOW about his children; their lives, their heartaches, their failures and successes?  She is sure the love has always been there, but it’s a time of show and tell and he must find a way to make it be felt.

He suggests a peace offering; a place to live. He is sharing all that he has in this world trying to make amends and resurrect a life he let slide away. He’s nervous, uncomfortable, and he’s worried.  Worried it will not work, that it will not last, and that it will not be enough.

The time warp memories of a stagnant, full of stale-smelling cigarettes home, is the adult-child’s version of the first vision of this olive branch. He too is nervous, scared and worried it will not work. He has spent half of his life without this man, this man who now so desperately needs to achieve what he struggled to be so long ago. Their words are sparse as they strain to command memories into quantitative meaning; because clearly, the quality is absent.

The man is not there much, so the house, his home, his offering, is just as desolate as their relationship and bleak conversations. It is his home and yet he appears to be just as lost in the surroundings as his guest. He stumbles with words of explanation as he gives the ten cent tour, when clearly even as a guide and the master of his domain, he is still not the confident owner of his thoughts and emotions.

He has put his hand forth as an offering to grab ahold and pull his adult-child upward. It’s unknown how much trust is required to take that hand and be led to safety. It’s unknown how much healing must be processed before either feels like they really belong to the other, or if and when all that has been done, if the word Dad will ever feel as natural as it should when being spoken.  They are both lost souls trying to find their way through present life and back to each other.

I’m sure this story is far too familiar for so many; never give up hope for new beginnings or positive reconnections.  Just move forward, and believe. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Echo's Of The Past

Do you ever just sit, maybe while you're drinking your morning coffee, or when the house is empty and you're the only one there, and for once, the television is not blaring and no one is calling your name; do you ever just drift back in time to memories that have been locked away so long, you forgot they were there? 

2004 I’m sitting in a high school gym listening to my oldest son give the speech of his life; his Valedictorian speech. The mountains he climbed to get there, the battles he silently fought; many will never know. To be different, one must be strong; he is Hercules.

2000 My youngest son smacks his first hit off of a tee-stand. His skinny little legs are going as fast as they can go. His helmet is so heavy on his little head, I am wondering as he runs, how he holds his head up. Still today, he is one of the most determined men I know.

1972 My PaPa has passed away. The Barbie Head I got for Christmas just that morning, is on my dresser. In the dark it looks like a person and I cannot sleep, because it scares me. I put it in my closet so I wouldn’t be scared anymore; of ghosts.

1982 The group Alabama is performing in Albany. The biggest country music group of my time and the tickets went on sale that morning. While I was at work, my mother stood outside in a mile-long line, in the wind, sleeting rain and cold, to buy my tickets. She could not even feel her feet when it was over. I tell my boys all the time, what mothers do for their children; they still really have no idea.  

1978 Me and my grandmother are in a used/trade bookstore. I am teaching her all about the Archie comics and she is teaching me about Mark Twain and Huckleberry Finn.

1980 Its February and our family vacation was in Gatlinburg Tn. We rode in a glass tram taking us across the mountain to a beautiful restaurant, with live entertainment. Between the snow and the Swiss dancers, it was the most magical vacation of my life.  

1990 Santa brought my oldest son a guitar, he discovered CMT, and he would stand in front of our television and play that guitar for hours. For three months, at four years old, he WAS country music.

2006 We’re exchanging vows; me, for the last time in my life. Both of my boys are giving me away to the man they have been calling their Daddy for years.  

2002 My youngest is playing Tiny Mites football and I’m watching Coach Joey Edwards hold their attention like no other adult could; and I wonder, where he gets that magic from?

Then it's over; my family comes rolling back in the house and the noise begins. The memory door closes until another time, when peace and quiet take hold, and my mind finds comfort in what used to be.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Man Down! Man Down!

Slamming doors, stomping feet, brow-furrowed faces and angry retreats. Harsh words, condemning voices, and flailing arms full of arguing dialect. These are just a few of the things that have been going on in my house of late; my nerves are shot and my left eye has a permanent twitch.

My oldest son has a MFA degree, more specifically, Creative Writing.  He has a book about to be published, and his tour is coming up soon as well. He’s a kind soul, with deeply penetrating thought processes, passionate about helping others, sees no color, and believes in safe places for all.

My youngest son is attending his second year of college and his degree will be in Business. He owns a Lawn Care service with a partner and they have been in business since he himself was 15 years old; he is now 19 years old. His thought processes are unbelievably keen and sharp for a young man his age; he’s incredibly informed and he too believes in helping others, but insists they must also be willing to help themselves.

By now you have probably deduced that I’ve had a Crazy Conservative and a Raging Liberal in my home for the past few weeks; those titles are self-pro-claimed, and I’m not saying who calls who, what name. My oldest son has been home trying to figure out his next direction in life and the differences between my two sons has never been more glaringly obvious. This is what happens when you raise young people to be independent, strong-minded, and resilient in their beliefs. My home has become a battlefield; it’s worse than any campaign candidacy where mud-slinging exists, that you could ever imagine.

On prior visits I have made the simple rule that discussions about politics, religion, or any other adversarial subjects must remain closed. Well, that works for a short period of time; the food is plentiful and mouth’s stay stuffed, and with a house full of visiting family, they are both easily distracted enough not stray from my requests.

Unfortunately, when you pack four weeks into one visit, it is inevitably going to happen; somehow, some way, somebody says something and it jumps off from there.  It begins fairly calm, and then slowly but surely, the passion crawls onto their faces, the hand gesturing begins, and before you know it, there’s a high-alert range of voices busting the roof off of my house, they are practically standing toe to toe and in each other’s faces, and war is now imminent.

Last week I took control of my domain, I stood up in the middle of my living room and told them I would no longer be their referee, or putting a switch on their grown-man legs, they could take that mess outside and duke it out.  They looked at me like I had grown another head; and silence was born.  They were both raised in the same house, so my main question is; how the heck did this happen and who are these people? 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

And This Too Shall Pass

As parents, I think we always want our children to be happy. For their lives to be like fairy-tales with white picket fences and perfection that we were somehow never really able to achieve.  I mean we’re all okay and we made it; we’ve had some bumps along the way, but we also had some beautiful, intelligent children and we want their roads to be slick as glass for smooth sailing.

Well the fact is, their lives will be just like ours. Sometimes good, sometimes awful and heart-breaking, and many times, unexpected. They will have losses, disappointments, failures, and complicated circumstances; because we created human beings, not robots. They have blood running through their veins, not wires and electricity. They cry crocodile tears, lose red-hot tempers, and scream with raucous joy.

I raised my children to be fearless, to understand the strength and importance of a good education, and to never settle for less than what they believe in. To believe that the truth was the only way to live, and nothing less should be given or accepted. To never be afraid to stand-up when everyone else is sitting down, and to speak your mind and your heart with respect, giving the words the reverence they deserve when you deliver them.

I also taught them that life is not always fair, we don’t always win, and we don’t always get what we think we deserve. That there are three sides to every story, one-side / the other side / and the whole side; and that when it’s their turn to recite the side that belongs to them, they should be able to honor and uphold the words that they speak.

Sadly, though they do their best to live the way they were raised, they cannot control outside circumstances that intertwine within their constructed walls / boundaries. This can result in blind-sided pain and hurt that no words I could have ever said would have prepared them for in the end. We as people who love and trust, always depend on the system of honor whether it is reciprocated or not.

But that’s the thing here, we’re ALL human’s; we’ll make mistakes in judgment, have thoughts in retrospect, and have many visions of hind-sight that we can never regain. So in those situations, I urge them to stand strong, hold their head up, and take the high road; I recite every single solitary cliché that I can, to make them understand that to lower their standards to feel better is never the answer.

I have heard that saying “You can’t go home again” more times than I can count; well you can come home again. Home is family and love, and it’s where you go when you need to know that the people who loved you the most, always will.  It’s a place to heal and feel safe and no matter what, both of my boys / men should always know, that my home is right where their heart belongs, because it’s right where their hearts were born. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Breaking Bread, Break The Silence

As we sat around the breakfast bar this morning, and I listened to the Sunday morning ramblings, my mind drifted back to the Sunday mornings of long ago. When I was growing up, both of my parents worked, but during the week, no matter how tired my mama was, we almost always had a sit-down supper, having take-out for supper was so rare, I barely even remember it.

Breakfast on school days was cereal of some kind and a nasty chewable vitamin. For years, I ate the cereal but tossed that vitamin to the base of an old pecan tree in our back yard; that tree should live to be a million years old. Saturday mornings were pretty causal for breakfast too, as that was yard and house cleaning day. 

But Sunday morning breakfast, now that was a big deal. Whether we all sat down together any other time or not, we sat down together on Sunday mornings. Both my parents were great cooks, so it alternated who would be the chef each week, and we would have different variations of breakfast. My Daddy liked to cook fried eggs, bacon and real cut-up French fried potatoes. I believe my Mama's favorite was oatmeal, the real kind, not that one-minute mess; with condensed milk and sugar added in and pattied sausage.

It is the same in my own house now; Sunday morning breakfast is the best meal of all. I cook a big meal and we all sit down together. This morning I cooked oatmeal for me and my son, and as I watched him eat his oatmeal, taking his spoon and running it around the edge of the oatmeal on his plate; I remembered teaching him how to do that when he was a little boy, as my Mama had taught me, because the middle is always too hot.

Times change, or maybe people change and/or are different, but my eating tables have always been the place to unite. And for the nights I am just too tired or my mouth has run out of words, I let my family take over and bring me back to life with their stories and laughter.

Last Fall I bought a new dining table that would hold all of our family, my parents and partners of my children. So now during holidays or special occasions, when everyone is here and we’re all sitting together, good gracious at the laughter and conversation that goes on.

Cherish these times folks, don't lose yourselves in silence and call it comfortable. Taking the time to make conversation is taking the time to show your interest and love. And we all want to know, that what we have to say and how we feel, is something someone is waiting to hear. Enjoy your children and their conversations about their days at school, work, boyfriends and girlfriends; the test they could have done better on, or their nervousness about cheerleader or football tryouts. Believe me, it’s too late to wish those conversations back when they’re grown and gone.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Moms Of Fall

It’s that time of year again ladies, and there is something a little different about being a football mom. I've been a baseball mom and a basketball mom, and while I loved all of those sports, and I loved to watch my son play all of those sports, none of them made me feel quite like I did during football season. Maybe it's a mixture of the smell in the air, the smell of the boys, and the crashing of the pads. 

Or maybe it's just the free license, the free pass, to holler like a maniac. To stand up in a crowd and holler as loud as I wanted and not really be noticed. To let a few saucy words slip when the referees are OBVIOUSLY calling for the OTHER side. Because in a crowded football stand, loaded down with people, it's not near as noticeable when you holler out things at your kid like "Boy, if that #45 hits you again like that, you'd better get you some!"

Try that in a gymnasium during basketball season; they carry sound and echo incredibly loud. It is unbelievable how loud you can sound when you're hollering at your kid, that's the third time he's been caught traveling; all eyes turn to the crazy woman/mama in the crowd.  Yes sir, it took me a few weeks to get the feel of basketball. Football season always ran smack into basketball season and I guess I just couldn’t downshift that fast. There's some hollering that goes on, but its dignified hollering and not much carrying on at the referees. They're right there, on the floor, where they can identify the rude parent who is calling them names. They come to the edge of the court, make eye contact with you, and you feel ashamed; for calling them "blind as bats, don't you know a foul when you see one? What's he gotta do, knock my kid unconscious for you to see it?!"

And because baseball is the gentleman's sport, it tends to be pretty quiet on baseball fields. Parents are "talking" to their kids through the mesh fence, but not too loud, they don't want to break their concentration. You don't holler at your kid when he's up at bat, he's in a zone, and you don't want to holler at him coming off the field, because he dropped the ball, you could mess up his mojo. Even though, since he's dropped three balls by now, you doubt you could really hurt his "mojo". 

Fall and football season are upon us. And as with every new season, there are new moms who are welcomed to the fold, and “retired” moms who will still attend to cheer the fellas on. I’ve already seen a few pictures of my son’s high school alma mater, training young men and getting ready for the season; and that’s a mighty fine-looking 2014 team. I can’t wait to see them in action! So come on out to Corry Field and join us! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

When The Bough Breaks

Admittedly, when my first child was born and riding around in vehicles, the air bag had not been created yet, and there were no rulings or laws about children being in car seats in only the back seat. Everywhere we went, he was sitting beside me, facing away from the window, I could see his little face, and we talked.

Once my second child was born, although air bags were now in the newer model vehicles, I still had my same old vehicle that had none. By then the laws had changed and my second born would ride in the back as instructed but could face forward because I had no airbags; and we would talk. I could see him clearly in my rear-view mirror and he learned how to see me as well.

There was never a ride, to or from work, or anywhere else that I was not carrying on a conversation with my children. I don’t care if they were one year old or four, I would sing and I would talk and if they were old enough, they were talking back. That was our special alone time with each other; either before our day began or when it was winding down.

So forgive me if I find it so unbelievable how anyone could not know that their child is still in the vehicle; the same child that they strapped down in a car seat and rode whatever amount of time to their destination. How in the world can that possibly happen? What was the parent doing all that time? What could have possibly been so important that they completely forgot the human being that was still sitting in the vehicle, the same one they just locked up and walked off from?

Are we so preoccupied with our favorite song on the radio, talking on our cell phones, listening with our ear buds, reading text messages at red lights, or the presentation we have to give at work today, that we have forgotten about what should be the most precious to us of all?

And now someone has created an application for your cell phone to REMIND you to get your child out of the car? Really? Those cell phones are what is wrong with us now if you ask me. We use them for every single life event there is, no wonder our minds can’t remember anything, we have a noise-maker strapped to our hip that goes off to alert us of every little thing in life we should be able to remember on our own; doctor’s appointments, to take our medicine, our tee-time, and now, when to get your child out of the car-seat you strapped them into.

If it helps one mother or father remember, then something good will have come out of it and God bless who invented it. But my question is this: what have we come to that we have such a hard time remembering there is another human being in our presence? Does anyone have an answer?     

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Strolling Down Butterfly Lane

I always thought I was from the South. I was born in the South, raised in the South and I still live in the most Southern located state that there is; Florida. But living at the furthest point does not make you Southern. It doesn’t make you speak with a stronger southern dialect, it doesn’t make you swoon with larger vapors, nor does it mean that you will ever drink mint julep tea in your entire life. 

I went “home” with my husband this weekend to Turbeville, South Carolina. The southern tongue spoken here has a swagger that I can barely imitate. The slickness of the drawl and roll of the tongue is such that it’s unimaginable that there is ever a harsh word spoken here.

Even the land that is swallowed by corn fields, tobacco fields, cotton fields, and soybean fields have a grace about them that cannot be denied. The rows, one by one times a million, are straight as an arrow, lining every field, on every paved and dirt road. Some are plotted with family homes off to the side or the far back, and some are simply empty fields except for the product they bear.

Road after rough asphalt road have been tagged with names that ironically drip with southern softness; Butterfly Lane and Puddin’ Swamp Road. The stories that these old back-roads could tell if they could talk; well there is just no end to the wondering.

I’m not sure what the state tree for South Carolina is but it needs to be the Crepe Myrtle. I did not pass one yard, one business, one median, or one field that did not have multi-colored Crepe Myrtles lining driveways, property lines or growing wild in the fields. I mean huge, full-grown trees with wide-legged trunks and 30ft wide girths of blooms cross-wise. Just amazingly beautiful landscaping as we drove back and forth across two counties for the last three days.

Their historical districts are just glorious. Old homes with wrap around porches and rockers galore. American flags perched on the corner of each porch stoop and gardenia’s blooming and smelling-up lawns all the way to the sidewalks like freshly spilled perfume. Multi-colored Lantana lining the flower beds and sprinkled around like bursts of sunshine in some of the more obscure areas of each lawn.

I came to South Carolina to see family. Family that wasn’t originally mine by blood, but is now mine by marriage and by love. I spent the last three days eating meals, attending a baby shower, sharing fellowship, stories and laughter. My grand at the laughter; that loud, guffawing laughter that can only come with people who love one another and their shared faults and shortcomings. 

But what I also found here thru the eyes of my husband was his childhood, his memories and his life before me.  Learning his life through his stories only makes me wish I could turn back the hands of time, and found him sooner, so I could have loved him longer. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Follow Your Heart

Last weekend, my husband and I went shopping for our great-grandbaby. The saleswoman who was tallying up my items commented on my purchases. I’m guessing that since not only am I not pregnant, I also don’t look like anyone who is going to be anytime soon; which lead to the question of who was I buying for today. I told her the items were for our soon to be great-grandson.  I noticed she was looking at me rather oddly, and now I am guessing/hoping that she was wondering how in the world I could be a great-grandmother.

I took the time to explain my bonus family and as I did so, I could see the cloud of questions in her eyes disappear; as if it all began to make more sense now. She began to tell me how much our lives were going to change, and that it was amazing how much joy grandchildren can bring; that for a short time, they can seemingly make you forget all your troubles. She then said she herself was going to have some lab work done in the next week or so; a stress test, to make sure all was working right. She laughed, and said her husband asked her what in the world she had to be stressed about and she said she just looked at him, and left that question unanswered.

To me she then said, “They never know what burdens we carry or how much we worry and fret. I called my cousin the other day and asked her to pray for me.  I told her I wasn’t even sure what she needed to pray for, but to please just pray.”

I looked into her eyes and saw myself. I saw the pain she has no idea from where it comes, and the hurt that she cannot explain because although both feel physical, they are not. I responded that life is hard and that I was just saying the other day; that I always thought it was supposed to get easier the older we got, not harder. And as I said those words, I had the strongest urge to give this stranger, this woman who I had never met before, a hug that might possibly bring her peace. I felt like maybe both she and I at that moment, needed human contact and caring from someone who owed us nothing, with no obligations, just because we simply felt like doing it.

I’ve had a lot of those experiences lately. The kind that leave me wondering were these happenings, these people, placed in my path for a reason? And also wondering, why so much now, and not in years past? Or was I given these same experiences/gifts before and ignored them.

I didn’t hug that woman that day, and I still really felt like I should have. Hindsight is so rarely any help; mostly just wishes of different results. The world needs more positive actions, not delayed reactions; and I need to work on that myself. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Small Town USA

You know those Fourth of July celebrations that you see in the movies or portrayed on television? The ones that start early in the morning with moon-pie eating contests, three-legged / potato sack races, children’s bike-running races, water-balloon / tossing-egg races, and food; all kinds of food cooking on outside grills and smokers for miles around. Everybody happy and laughing, enjoying one another’s company and knowing every third person you run across. Well, all of my life, THAT’S what I’ve been looking for; what I wanted to believe existed.

My children and I moved to the Sawdust community the week before the 4th of July in 1998. The only people I knew were fellow employees; and they were all kind enough to invite us to come to the fireworks show at the local Greensboro High School. Well I’ll tell you, judging from my own past experiences, I really wasn’t expecting much. 

We drove to the school in my 1987 red Chevrolet Blazer. All I could see was rows and rows of cars and trucks, lined up facing the football field. The trucks all had their tailgates down, and lawn chairs standing up in the beds of the trucks or down below surrounding them.  Children of all ages were everywhere, their clothes screaming red, white and blue; running with lit sparklers, and waving miniature flags on sticks, carefree and happy. Which brings the question: where else in the world can you really let your kids run and roam at will with no worries anymore?

The aroma of hot dogs and boiled peanuts waffled through the air. People were visiting from one vehicle to the next, hugging and greeting old friends. Music was playing in the background, and then, the singing began; Stu Parsons and the Small Change Band. My goodness what a show they put on; that old timey singing that I only ever remembered hearing on TV shows like Hee Haw back in the day.

The darkness continued to close in and the skydivers flew in and dropped to their knees on the infield with the American Flag flowing in the air behind them. People rose to their feet, hands over their hearts, singing the National Anthem loud and clear; followed by cheering, clapping and loud whistles.  At the first shimmering burst of colored bling in the sky; there was no other sound but the ooh’s and aah’s whispered from the darkness.  We sat cloaked in the feeling of a hometown that we never imagined existed, and yet still, like we had been here all of our lives.

Sounds a lot like Mayberry doesn’t it? Well it’s not, but it’s pretty darn close. Everybody should experience that kind of 4th of July at least once in their lives; we’ve now experienced it for many.  The appreciation for your freedom, family, and independence will never feel stronger; I can promise you that. 

God bless the servicemen and servicewomen who protect us and our privilege of all freedoms. God Bless the United States of America.

Friday, June 27, 2014


Your skin begins to dry out like leather; ashy even.  It takes a bottle of lotion a week to keep it from looking like alligator hide. And I don't mean that sweet-smelling girly lotion either. I'm talking about the thick, greasy kind that you keep in the medicine cabinet that smells like your Grandma. Well, now it kinda smells like me.

I cannot see two feet in front of me. And read? FORGET IT. I left out for the grocery store, got half-way up the road, was squinting at the road signs and realized; no glasses. I thought to myself, I can do this, the grocery store is nothing. I buy the same things every week; well yeah, I do, like milk and bread, which I have to read the expiration dates on. I left the buggy right where it stood, on the bread aisle; that was as far as I got.

I used to work with a lady that had a pair of those “store boughts” for every outfit. I remember thinking how cool they were; strapped on a decorative string around her neck. Now I know why they were on a string. Ladies just keep them on your face, admit it, you need them; you’re wearing everybody out creating a search party to help look for them every five minutes. 

I cannot remember much from one minute to the next. I make everybody write everything down. I have a purse full of sticky notes. I have no idea who some of them came from now, but I have them. So if you give me a note, you’d better write your wishes and your name on it, or else you might get a bottle of Maalox instead of the chocolate covered cherries you requested.

I leave myself “reminder” messages on my work phone and house phone. You should see my face at 9am Monday morning when I am listening to the messages I left on my work phone for myself the prior Friday night. As it begins to play I am wondering, whose bossy but familiar voice is that, telling me what to do? Because not only do I not realize I am listening to myself, I no longer remember what the heck I was originally talking about.

I’m headed there and was given another sign of my impending doom the other day; a friend was relaying a story to me about her mother and how seemingly senile she had become. The gist of it was, they were in public and her mother did the most awful, unimaginable thing.  My friend was declaring her embarrassment and shame when I reminded her that we had seen that plenty of times when we worked at a local grocery store a million years ago. The other end of the phone line got quiet and in-between snickers on my end I said; “Don’t worry, as long as we can keep our hands out of our bosoms, digging for money and change, we’re not there; yet.