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.