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Sunday’s Coming, But It’s Different for Everyone

Saturday.

It’s been on my mind all day today, what with today being, well, you know, Saturday.  And tomorrow being Easter.  And I’m wondering what that first Saturday was like, the one after the horrors and sadness of the day before.  I usually do that every year about this time.   I think about the day and wonder about different things.

I wonder, I mean I was just thinking, did anyone walk up to those who were grieving the loss of the one they loved, the one who had been brutally and suddenly taken from them, and say, “Well, it will all be okay.”   “Don’t worry, he’s in a better place.”  “It’s all a part of the Master plan.”  I just wonder…..

It was Saturday afternoon.  I’d spent the better part of the day at my alma mater with my oldest for scholarship day, a day filled with interviews and forums and walking all over campus.  I’d been anxious and worried, as Mama had been in the hospital for three weeks and moved into a different room on a different floor just the afternoon before.  I wanted to be with my oldest, but I also wanted to be with my Mama. 

Upon arriving at the hospital, a nurse was adjusting some of Mama’s IV’s and medications, and it was apparent that things were not going well.  The nurse was trying to bring up some numbers and down some others.  She saw my face and looked at my seventeen year old, and said she was too young to be in the room.  What she didn’t say was I’d be asked to leave if I let the panic in my face be unleashed.  Mess Cat, who had been with Mama all day and the night before, took my girl and went to get a bite to eat.  I was sitting by myself, willing Mama to fight this unknown evil and soaking in the first quiet moments of the day. 

And then she walked in. 

She introduced herself as a hospital chaplain. 

Ah yes, right.  I had asked one of the patient representatives about having a chaplain come in and spend some time with Mama.  She had been so comforted by her own pastors and friends who had come in and visited.  We had been told by at least one nurse that Mama didn’t seem to be resting well at night.  I had wanted to ask the chaplain on call to check in with her during those long night hours when we hadn’t been allowed to be with her, prior to her moving to the MICU the day before. 

She sat right down next to me on the couch that would later fold out into a bed for me and Mess Cat to sleep fitfully upon.  She asked me how I was doing. 

“Okay, I guess.  I mean, well–” I gestured toward Mama in the bed a few feet away.  I started to explain what we were hoping for.  “I am glad you are here though–”

She interrupted me.  She was not there because she’d gotten the message that Mama needed visits.  I’m not sure if we were on her room list and needed to be checked off or if the nurses had asked for us to have a visit to get through this difficult time.  Whichever it was, she was not going to sit and listen to me explain about Mama.  She had her spiel, and she went into it.  About how I needed to turn to my faith and not let the darkness overcome me.  That I needed to turn to God. 

It was overwhelming to tell you the truth.  In the past forty-five minutes, I had driven across town while listening to my oldest compare the two colleges she’d visited over the past week, parked on the roof of the parking garage, where I’d changed out of my dress pants and into the jeans I’d brought, switched from dress shoes to my comfortable ones, entered the hospital, walked down to Mama’s floor, been admitted to the unit (imagine having to have permission to see your Mama!), and been hit full force by the apparent problems that were needing to be addressed for Mama.  I was having to think about changing her code status; and if that weren’t enough, this woman who didn’t know me or my Mama or what we were going through, and apparently wasn’t going to take the time to hear any of our story, tells me I need to turn to God. 

Excuse me, lady, if it’s all the same to you, you don’t know me like that. 

Before I could pick my chin up off the floor, she patted my hand.  “I tell you what, I want you to sit here,” she patted the couch, “just sit right here and think about God your Father.  Just think about Him and how much He cares for you and take all of that in, and I’ll be back in 30 minutes and we’ll talk about how you’re feeling then.” 

My chin slammed back down and hit the tile floor again.  The only thing I could think, as I held back the tears was, “My Father is gone, and I’m scared I’m losing my Mama too, and you want me to sit still?  There are things I.  Have.  To.  Take. Care.  Of.  That I Must Do.  Thank you, but NO.” 

Instead I sat and didn’t dare speak for what might come out of my mouth.  The one who had raised me better, to act like I am somebody, lay only a few feet away, and for all I knew, she could hear every word.  So I just stared blankly at this woman who called herself a chaplain, as she gathered her clipboard, handed me her card, and made her way out of the room. 

Soon after that Mess Cat and Aub came back in the room.  I shared with them what had happened.  I was livid–appalled, and they were too.  When the chaplain came back, my sister excused her and told her it wasn’t the time.  And it wasn’t.  I was signing paperwork about insurance coverage, as Mama had been in the hospital enough days that they needed additional information.  Right after that, I talked with Dr. G, who was such a great ally for us and good advocate for Mama, and I signed paperwork, changing Mama to a DNR. 

Horror.  Sadness.  Nothing like what those who loved Jesus and watched the crucifixion went through, but painful still.  As I sat there on that Saturday, waiting and wondering and talking to God, and shaking my head, hoping it was all a very, very bad dream,  someone sat next to me and said, “It will all be okay. God’s got this.” 

And all I could think of was, “Really? Because I’m not so sure. Couldn’t He have stopped this at any moment?”

I wonder if any of them–any of the disciples, Mary, Mary Magdalene, I wonder if any of them thought these same thoughts–if any of them wanted to scream and punch a wall.  I wonder if anyone, well-intentioned as they might be–said to any of them, Just sit here and think about your faith.  Trust.

I wonder what it was like fearing you had lost the One who gave you new life.  The One who made a way for you to live out your life.  The One whose example you sought to emulate.

Or maybe I don’t have to wonder about that part so much.  Because in just over twenty-four hours after the chaplain visited, my Mama was given new life of her own, healed, no more pains and heartaches–she joined my Daddy and the little ones whom she never got to hold.  The woman who gave me life, who called me out about my poor choices, set a beautiful example of how to live, and loved me through everything–she was gone.

The brokenness of Friday, the waiting and wondering and heartbreak of Saturday, and then there’s Sunday.

Tonight my heart is heavy for those for whom tomorrow does not bring joy.  Easter is more than a day, it’s a lifting of the spirit.  And not everyone is able to have that on this day.  There are friends in the hospital, friends who have just said goodbye to someone they loved most in this world, friends who are waiting on tests to come back, friends who will wake up in the cold air of morning and their day will be no different from any other, except that those who pass them by, seemingly without seeing them, are dressed a little brighter, a little fancier.

For them, Sunday comes, but Easter may not.

May our words be a comfort and not leave the ears upon which they fall filled with sadness and hurt, may we understand that not everyone is able to rejoice on this Day of days, and may we seek to listen and to love first and foremost, putting others before ourselves.  And may the quiet moments of this day sound louder than the festive ones, filling our hearts with more to ponder upon as the sun sets and a new season begins.

Love and understanding to all.

 

 

 

In the Waiting and Uncertainty

Yesterday I was at the Getting Place getting some “stuff,” and this gave me pause.

Black jelly beans.  They were Daddy's favorites.

Black jelly beans. They were Daddy’s favorites.

And made me a little sad.

The Easter Bunny brought us jelly beans every year, tucked in our green plastic grass that was put away in a bread bag every year for safekeeping until the next Easter.  And every year, I would dig through and pull out the black ones first thing.  And pass them to my right.  Where my Daddy sat at the end of the table.  They were his favorites, and little on Easter morning brought me as much joy as giving him these favorites of his.

This was in the day before they bagged the black ones separately all by themselves. Once they started doing that, I usually picked a bag up for him–sometimes for Easter, sometimes just because.

He’d keep the bag with a twist tie on it, and it would be stored in the little wooden box that sat by his recliner in the living room.  Daddy would pull out the bag, untwist it, pour a few in his palm, and eat the licorice flavored sweets.  Then he’d twist the bag back up, and tuck it away until his sweet tooth called out for them again.

I read something years ago about Holy Saturday, which is upon us now.  That first Saturday–the day after Good Friday.  It was described as a day of waiting, of uncertainty, of in-between.  A day of not knowing.

I think back to the time after Daddy was diagnosed with Lymphoma, his Giant to fight, in 2009.  So much of that time felt just like that–waiting, being uncertain, weeping for what we were most afraid of, feeling in-between, longing for resurrection in the form of good news–remission, a cure, a misdiagnosis, a miracle, something, anything.

What I didn’t know or see at the time is that in those moments of waiting, there were many small moments of redemption and life-affirming joy.  In the midst of the fear, there was faith.  In the grasping for answers, there was hope.  In the moments of worry and sadness, there was laughter and light in his eyes, his voice, his stories, and his words.  In those moments of being in-between, the who we were with conquered where we were.

And that’s as it should be, isn’t it?  Even in the hardest of situations, because of who I was with, I was able to get through the where and the what, and move beyond with a tad bit of hope and a whole lot of love.

Daddy’s jelly beans.  A precious memory.  But what makes it so special is the memory of his hand held out to accept what I offered from mine.  The smile on his face, acting like he was surprised that I didn’t want them myself.  The way his eyes lit up when he bit into the first one every year.  Daddy loved black jelly beans–he loved us even more.  And in the waiting, in the uncertainty, it was that love that conquered all.

May your waiting find you surrounded by those who love you, and may you find the joy and peace of Easter waiting for you on the other side.

Love to all.

 

For the Seniors, and those who will be

Sunday night when I sat and listened to conversations among those about to graduate from my Alma Mater, I heard the stress and excitement and anxiety in their voices, in their days, in their plans.  As I listen to so many who are about to graduate, so many who are wrapping up their school year, I hear the frenzy and the panic and the trying to figure out how to get it all done before the year is over.  As they talked, the memory came back to me of one particular evening and a sandwich I made and took with me.  And what followed. 

 

The day was in spring

many moons ago

and the cherry blossoms covered the trees in rich abundance

creating a sanctuary for one who might seek it

like me

The sun was setting

dusk

the dark was settling upon the earth

but it was already in my heart

Fear, worry, concern, anxiety

trepidation

and maybe excitement and anticipation

Only a month left of classes

and finals

and graduation

That spring night felt like the beginning of the end

saying goodbye to my home for four years

the place that had birthed in me

a new person

stronger, wiser, smaller, with eyes more open

and more questions than answers

and a heart that was breaking for the things

I’d learned

and seen

and heard

and wanted to change

Wesleyan

As I sat on the cold concrete bench, tucked away

from the world

hidden by my tent of blossoms

it felt as though about the time

I’d learned the way of the syllabus

there would be no more

Life

doesn’t come with directions or syllabi

or a professor to advise

If you’re lucky

you have family and friends

to listen and share wisdom

but in the end

It’s all You

and Only You

I sat and slowly ate my pb and j

on wheat

that I’d prepared for my trek across campus

looking for answers

and peace

When I had spied the bench peeking

I sat and thought and was filled with the angst of the moment

I was about halfway through with my sandwich

when I looked down and realized

the bread

was

moldy

Tears

In that moment

I felt more lost than ever before

Moldy bread

I was hidden in the blossoms

in the world

I didn’t know what path to take

back to peace

back to the place I was meant to go

away from the tears and angst and moldy bread

The thing is–

the moldy bread didn’t kill me

It wasn’t pleasant, more in the mind than in the stomach

but it didn’t give me more than a moment’s pause

really

In life, those moments when it’s all bearing down on you

When the tears are at the surface

and the bread is moldy

and there are no directions

Time will pass

Friends will come alongside you

and it will

be

okay

again

and

moldy bread

it won’t kill you

 

 

ISO: Patience and Discipline

I believe I might have mentioned that we are in the middle of this painting project?

First of all, the Autumn Moon color, as it turns out, is the perfect color.  PERFECT.  Despite my Fella’s initial reaction of “It’s just like the orange,” and our Princess insisting it looks like macaroni and cheese.  It isn’t and it doesn’t.  Not at all.  (They both have since embraced the warmth of the color, and we are all loving it.)  I’ve been told this new color makes the house look like an old country house, and that it looks like one of those old antebellum homes with the colorful walls and high ceilings.

Seriously?  You had me at “old.”

My dream house is an old farmhouse with screen doors you are constantly reminding folks not to slam.  Yeah.  The memories.  Good times.

But I digress.  I’ve been watching the progress.  I’m not doing the painting myself for a number of reasons, the top one being that a twenty-foot ladder is needed to get all of the walls done in one room.  I’m good.  I don’t keep my balance well enough on the ground, let alone up in the air like that.  My Mama’s sweet neighbor who looked after her and helped Daddy when needed for all those years has a gift. He paints.

This is a gift I am growing to respect more and more.

His knowledge about paint and painting is amazing.  What kind of paint to use, how best to clean a painted wall, which direction to paint, what tool to use when applying said paint, and how to prepare the area for painting.

That last bit?

That one’s a doozie.

I’m not kidding.  With each area he has painted, the prep work takes through to lunchtime.  The painting happens after lunch.  He washes the walls and baseboards, tapes off certain areas, removes switchplates and outlet covers (and keeps up with where he puts them…..how does that even happen?), and primes where needed.  He pulls out nails and picture hangers and covers up the holes.

He has patience y’all.  In surplus.

It is then, and only then, that he steps back, takes a moment to think through all of the steps again, and then he commences to painting.

The one time I remember painting a room in a house, it was a tiny, tiny bathroom.  It was tiled up to the sink level, so that made it easy.  Instead of doing all the steps above, including checking on what kind of paint to get, I bought me a quart of the brightest teal green, very possibly high gloss (I don’t know, it was shiny though) and commenced to painting.  There was no washing or taping off or anything like that.  It was me and Mess Cat getting it done.  And I didn’t worry about painting too close to the tile or ceiling because I had a P-L-A-N.  I had bought some of that contact paper type border.  I was going to cover up my edges with that.  And it would look like I’d painted it just like I should have.

Sigh.

Good-ness that was one bright room.  When the light hit that shiny paint it was almost blinding, from the reflection and from that green sending all kinds of brain circuits to spinning.  Needless to say, I had not researched that color as much as I did to finally choose Autumn Moon.

But I loved it anyway.  Most of the time.

In watching this skilled artisan with the sponge rollers and tiny brushes and blue painter’s tape, I am being reminded of the beauty of knowing how to do something properly.  How to make a plan and follow it.  How much of a difference preparing can make in an outcome.  That is huge.

Too often I think of a project, an idea, a plan, and I want to dive in and Make. It. Happen.

Sometimes that’s okay, but more times than not, it could go so much better if I had the patience and the discipline to take a few minutes and wash some walls and tape around the edges.  First.

When I was growing up I used to watch M*A*S*H with Mama and Daddy.  I can still remember crying watching the last episode ever–the very first time it aired.  Mama liked to quote Charles Emerson Winchester The Third many, many times over the years.

“I do one thing at a time, I do it very well, and then move on.”

As I watch our talented neighbor friend take it step by step, and then “step back” and make sure he’s done it correctly before moving to the next step, I think of Mama.  I know why she appreciated all the help he was to her.  She could appreciate someone who was a good soul and did a job well.

And if patience and discipline don’t get a job done well, I don’t know what will.

I think I might buy myself a roll of that blue painter’s tape and hang it where I can see it just to remind me.  Plan. Prepare.  And if that doesn’t work, I can always use it to hang this sign up:

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Love to all, with a healthy dose of patience and disclipine along for the ride…..

 

Women of a Certain Age…..

On Saturday at our family egg hunt, wienie roast, and hootenanny, my Cousin, my oldest, and I were talking about jeans and pants and how we prefer to wear them.  It occurs to me now that there is almost as much age difference between me and my Cousin as there is between her and my big girl.  And guess which way won in our conversation?

Yeah.  I’m the old lady.

We were talking about waistlines on pants.  I like mine at my waistline–just above the belly button or at least right at it.  Those two sweet young things prefer theirs to be what I guess is deemed low-rise.  Below said belly button.

And they look good wearing them.  But if I try to wear them two things happen.

First, I spend my day making every effort NOT to bend over.  Forget whatever I drop until I’m wearing my old dependable jeans again.  Because when I bend over in pants that are low-rise, they ride low, and there’s just nobody who has time for that.

Second, I spend the entire day feeling like I’m hanging out and over my pants.  If they don’t come up to the aforementioned point, I am miserable and I feel like I have a “muffin top.”  It’s funny that the two young “girls” I was talking about this with both said that low-rise jeans make them feel more slender.  It’s just the opposite for me.  Give me a pair of jeans I can shove everything into and hold it all in, and I’m happy happy happy.

The timing of this conversation was funny, because last week two women from Macon were on a show called “Shark Tank.”  What’s even more coincidental is that I heard one of them talking on her cell phone, planning a “viewing party” for last Thursday night’s episode two weeks ago, when I was popping into the health food store in Macon.  I wasn’t eavesdropping deliberately.  As I walked by, she mentioned the viewing party for her partner and herself who had been on “Shark Tank.”  I mentioned it to my oldest, as I’ve never seen the show.  We recorded it, watched it, saw what they were selling, and how they did (no spoiler from me here people–go and watch in peace, my friends).  And wasn’t the product ironic, considering Saturday’s conversation?

They own a company called “Hold Your Haunches.”  They have a pair of boot cut black pants, a pair of black leggings, and a pair of black legging capris that they sell in various sizes.  The idea is that these pants hold in areas that need holding in and lift up areas that need lifting up.  All while looking quite stylish. Huh.

There were three men and two women “sharks” on the show.  It was interesting to hear each one’s impression of the product.  The one shark who lost his mind over it cracked me up.  He didn’t like that it seemed dishonest. According to him, women who wore these pants weren’t going for truth in advertising, so to speak.  Like the women sharks, I laughed at his rationale and found him a bit ridiculous.  Seriously.  I’ve been in the dating world.  What one is wearing and how his or her body is really built is the least of the falsehoods going on out there.  Puh-lease.  I think he was just jealous they didn’t make some he could wear.

At one point, one of the sharks mentioned that this could be a great product because women like to feel like they can hold things in.  When they get to a certain age.

Oh good gravy.

I’m there, aren’t I?

At a “certain” age.

Oh boy.

Breathe Tara.  In your pants that are holding you in.  Breathe in as much as you are able to and still stand upright.

Yeah.  Now I get it.  Maybe ten or twelve (how many are between me and my Cousin again–thirteen I think?) years ago, maybe the low-rise would have suited me fine.  (Well as long as my old dependables didn’t peek out from underneath–seriously, if I wear those low-rise now, there’s a whole lot more than peeking that goes on.)  But not today.  Today I give thanks for that brand that makes the comfort band inside the jeans–they’re not your Mama’s elastic waist jeans, but they’re just as comfortable.  I think control top is a gift and don’t get me started on those “spanx” that allow girls like me to wear skirts and dresses comfortably.  Oh yes, thank you for the creation of spandex.

Yes, I’m starting to identify with Dolly Parton’s Truvy in “Steel Magnolias” when she said, “Well, these thighs haven’t gone out of the house without lycra on them since I was 14.” (To which the reply was, “Well you were raised right.”  Ahem.)

I don’t wear that stuff everyday, but I sure am thankful it’s there when I need it.

Tonight has been for the fun of it, thinking about my sweet Cousin and being thankful for her–that she’s my friend and my daughter’s as well.  That she and I can bond over people and books and our feelings about both.  That she and my girl can talk about nutrition and health and clothes and all but roll their eyes in disbelief over my belly button waisted jean wearing self.  I love it.

So what say you–above, at, or below?  Lycra or no?  What makes you the most comfortable?

Love and comfort to all.

 

 

From Tranquil Bay to Autumn Moon–and ALL the Colors in Between

So today, this brought me to tears.

20140414-215144.jpg

And so did this.

20140414-215135.jpg

No you are not looking at the handiwork of one of my littles.

I did that.  All by myself.

After seven years, it is time to paint these walls.  These walls that are that special shade of perfectly neutral beige have been this way for the almost seven years we have lived here.  Stick with me here as I do the math–seven years.  Same number of years that Cooter has been alive.  And only two less than our Princess.

Yep, these walls have seen their share of handprints and pencil marks and knicks from the wooden hammer in the little tool set.  They have spots where tape was stuck and peeled the paint off (lesson learned) and places where I scrubbed too hard to get something off.

Suffice to say, it is time.  Plus this paint is flat, which makes me feel flat.  It’s time to jazz up the color and the finish–time to go with some satin.

I come from a line of women who like their color.  My Granny had some color of peach walls at one point in her house on the farm.  I don’t think I’m misremembering.  Her stool was painted a coordinating color before Daddy stripped the paint and refinished it.  (He left some flecks of that paint, which makes it all the more precious to me.)  My Great Aunt went with seafoam and mauve in her home when that came in style, and that black and white tiled bathroom?  She did all kinds of things with color coordinating in there.  My Mama loved her some avocado and then a light green and a pretty blue.  I’m following a path of bold color choices, and the pressure is on.

I have been picking up samples and trying them out for two weeks at least.  I dreamt of a lovely coral with our white trim and wood ceiling.  I just knew it would pop.  The problem is when I put it on the wall, my Fella said, “Wow, that’s really orange.”  And I realized how dark it would make my kitchen and den.  We don’t get a lot of natural light and I feared that instead of lighting up the room it would make it dim and dark.  So no.

In the meantime I was also choosing colors for the “garage bathroom.”  It’s not actually IN the garage–just near the door to the garage.  It’s where we send folks we like to go.  And it too was suffering from flat paint syndrome.  You just cannot erase water marks from that kind of paint.  I found some blue and green samples, and this is what we went with.  It has turned out beautifully, I’m really so pleased.  This is how I know I haven’t totally lost my mind or my sense of color, but just barely.

The "garage bathroom," freshly painted and beautiful.

The “garage bathroom,” freshly painted and beautiful.

20140414-215121.jpg

It’s hard to tell the exact color, I know, but trust me–it is lovely.  Soothing.  I want to put a chair in the corner and work from there.  Really.

Now that the bathroom’s done, I have to choose the color for the kitchen and den.  I want this room to be as perfect as that bathroom.  I want it to be inviting and soothing and for the color to reflect what little light comes in and make it seem brighter.

Is all that too much to ask of a paint color?

Apparently it is.

Tonight was the last straw.  The littles, my Fella, and I went to the getting place and looked at paint colors again.  I went, intent on getting two samples.  The plan was run home, try them on the wall, pick one, and he would run back and get a gallon while I fixed supper.

Problem number one–I have a headache.  I can never think straight when I have one of these.  So there was that.

Problem number two–I’ve lost my mind.  The two colors I brought home to try?  See those two blobs in the second picture that look peachy?  Yeah.  They are the same color as the crayon that had all its papers peeled off  in the book “The Day the Crayons Quit.”  Ahem.  Yeah, growing up I used that crayon for one thing and one thing only.  Coloring skin color sometimes.  How could I possibly have thought it would be a good wall color?  Why didn’t a siren go off when I asked for those samples?

Sigh.

At that point, I was in tears.  Maybe I should just go with the beige.  Maybe it wasn’t so bad.  Maybe I’d feel better about it when it wasn’t a flat paint and it was all clean-looking.  Maybe that blue wouldn’t be bad.  Let’s smear a little more and see if we could stand it.  Because that’s how you want to feel about your wall color–”Oh well, it’s okay, I can stand it.”  I didn’t want beige because when we lived in Japan on the base EVERYTHING was that color–inside and out it seemed, and that blue kept reminding me of my brother’s room growing up.  Tears, people, I was beyond frustrated with myself.

And then there was the whole thing that this is such a first world problem.  And I use the word “problem” very loosely. I’m whining about not being able to find a perfect color, and it made me not even like myself very much in that moment.

My Fella took over supper plans and sent me back to the getting place.  He liked the greens, and the blue–but nothing made him say, “That’s the one!”  At least he didn’t say it out loud.

I looked at him before I left and said, “If I come home with a bright yellow gold, we gonna be okay here?”

He nodded.  “Just find what you like.”

Poor man. I know he loves that blue.

And I’m telling y’all when the time comes to paint our bathroom, by golly, he will have his blue.  Just please, not in my kitchen and den.  Okay?

I called Mess Cat and asked her to talk me off the ledge.  She knew just what to say.  As usual.  And I give thanks for that.

I walked through, fingers crossed that the numerous paint people who have prepared a whole rainbow of samples for me would not be there on my second trip today.

I walked through, willing my headache to go away, and breathed slowly.  I tried looking at totally different paint chips and choosing colors that weren’t so bold.  All the ones I’d chosen before seemed to be too bold for the space.

And then there it was.

Autumn Moon.

Yes, the romantic in me fell in love with the name first.  (And as a sidenote–I would love to be hired as one of the people who names these colors, if anyone hears of an opening–I mean how fun could that be?  Wonder if I’d get free samples–that could be quite helpful. So please, if you hear of anything…..)  Awesome name.  My favorite season.  Yes.

And the color.  It is a lovely golden-yellow that is subtle not bold.  It is my hope that it is the perfect color for the sun to reflect upon and magnify as we enjoy another seven years here in these rooms making memories and hopefully not as many marks on the walls.

So I got a gallon.  It will go down the hall to the bathroom.  If we hate it, we can change the color in the den and kitchen, but I’ve got to tell you.

I sure hope we love it.

Because I found out a few things in this experience.

*What looks great on Pinterest does not always look great in one’s own home.

*Grief has greatly affected my decision-making skills.  Now I understand why Mama had such a hard time deciding on some things after Daddy got sick, and especially after he passed.  Somehow I just felt that if I could ask Mama, it would have all worked out.  Which is funny because we had different tastes in color for the most part, and I probably would have chosen what I wanted anyway, but the point is that grief has taken away much of my ability to figure out what I want.

*Finally I realize that I have very, very varying and eclectic tastes.  Do you see that rainbow on my wall?  I would take any one of those colors in some room or another–well with the exception of the naked crayon color and the funky yellow-green that is not pictured.  Again, why don’t they have an alarm that goes off when you choose something like that?  “THIS IS NOT THE PAINT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR!”

Tonight I give thanks for a skilled painter in my midst who has the patience and the ability to take color and make it look beautiful on my wall.  I appreciate my family who has put up with my dreaming about bold and beautiful colors, and when I was about to have a meltdown *over paint color* (shaking my head ashamedly), they hugged me and took care of things so I could do what I needed to do.  And for the kind paint mixing man who wished me luck and was probably worried I was going to burst into tears at the getting place this evening, bless him.  I appreciate the many good people who have mixed my samples and talked colors with me.  Especially Mess Cat.  And my Fella who has been very patient and my Aub who has dreamed big with me.  I love all of y’all.  And if Autumn Moon doesn’t cut it, y’all will know where to find me.  In my “Tranquil Bay” bathroom, working at my new job of naming colors.  (Seriously y’all, I could be good at that.)

Love and soothing colors to all.

 

 

 

 

 

A Dented Door and An Empty Journal–On Gratitude and Grace

Tonight I had the privilege of going home–to my alma mater Wesleyan College–again and sharing in their chapel service.  It gave me such joy to be with those young women.  Tonight’s post is what I shared with them.  Thank you for the honor, my sisters. 

My Daddy used to say I would go around my elbow to get to my thumb when I told a story or tried to make a point. One of my favorite bosses told me my writing was too flowery. So if you’re up for a little bit of elbow floral-scented travelling, let’s go.

About a year ago, my oldest, Aub, went to grab a bite to eat with two of her friends from school after class. As they were leaving the parking lot, one motioned for her to back out. With a quick glance back she did—and backed into the other friend’s car. The first I knew of it was when she came in the front door in tears. I was upset—frightened that she’d driven home upset, worried that they hadn’t called the police to get a report, and concerned at how bad the damage was on her friend’s car. She had been driving my Mama’s car, left to my brother in Mama’s will. He later gave it to her for graduation, but this was before that happened. So that was another concern. She called her Uncle who was very gracious and kind. I tried to call her friend’s parents but was only able to leave a message. I was sick with anxiety over how to make this right.

The next day I was on campus, and I saw Aub’s friend’s Dad. Ollie Horne. I took a deep breath, told my littles to sit still, and I opened the door and walked toward where he was heading.

“Mr. Horne. Mr. Horne!” I called, trying to get his attention.

He turned, and had a welcoming smile that extended from his eyebrows to his chin. This was a man who enjoyed meeting new people and soon put everyone who crossed his path at ease.

“I’m Tara. Auburn’s Mama,” I started rambling. “I am so sorry about the car.” I looked back toward it. I had parked next to it and saw his dented back door. It was bad. BAD.

He walked toward the car with his hand extended. “Yes. Have you seen his car, Tara?”

Gulp. I was mortified. He was right.

“Yes, yes I did. I am soooo sorry. We will make this right. If you will get an estimate—“

“No,” he said, shaking his head. “I mean, Tara, have you really looked at this car?” He laughed as he pointed and waved his hand at the whole length of the car. “It’s a dent magnet, isn’t it? This is certainly not the first dent he’s gotten in it.”

He turned to face me. “Now I won’t have you or Auburn worrying another second about this car. It’s a CAR, for goodness’ sake. Promise me you’ll let this go.”

Y’all. I was practically in tears. Bless him. This was a man who gets what and WHO is important in life.

In that moment, Ollie Horne preached a sermon on grace to me. And I held on to every word and smiled for dear life. And I give thanks for being the recipient of that gift.

Last Tuesday Ollie Horne left this world for a better one after fighting brain cancer for over two years. He was in remission when this happened last year I think. After he was diagnosed, he did not mope, he did not worry—that any of us knew. He had a motto: “Watch me live.” This is a man who decided to become a flight attendant so he could continue traveling, touching lives as he did when he was a missionary.

One of his friends quoted him:

“just love…it’s my answer to depression, bitterness, suicide…I sincerely believe there is a such thing as “following Christ” that isn’t built on religion, judgment and finger-pointing but on living life and changing the world.” -Ollie Horne, January 25, 2011

Watch me live.

My Mama lived that way too. She had every excuse in the book to let her life go down a different path than the one she chose. She was from a broken family, a broken home, full of addictions and hurt and few good examples. But she sought those examples out and lived and loved as they did. She married her best friend—oh I know some people say that’s who they are marrying, but she really did. She and Daddy were not just alike—actually they were quite different, and yet they admired and appreciated those things about each other. They were in sync. And it worked. When Daddy got sick, Mama didn’t give up. Each day he lived to fight the Giant that was Lymphoma, she fought right alongside him. And when he didn’t overcome it and could only be healed by heading on up to the Big House, she didn’t become angry or bitter. Like I did. She wanted me to find peace and love and have faith in things as they were.

Two weeks before Daddy died, Mama gave me this journal for my birthday. I didn’t say anything to her then, she raised me better than that, but all I could think of was, WHAT? Are you kidding me? A gratitude journal? My Daddy, one of my best friends in this world, is not getting better, no matter how many people are praying that he will, and you want me to be thankful? For What?

No, I never said that to her. But after Daddy died, and I was still hurting, she saw it and knew. And she pleaded with me to find something to be thankful for. To let some light in.

Mama spent the fifteen months after Daddy died, a time when she could have crawled in her bed and never gotten up—we all would have understood that—LIVING. She loved and she shared and she embraced what she had left in her life, and she reckoned, even without Daddy, she still had a whole lot. She gave thanks for her new grandson and then her grandson who was real close to arriving. She thought all of her grandchildren were the grandest gifts God ever gave her.

It wasn’t until she got sick and went in the hospital January of last year, that I found a little of what she was talking about. Each night I started posting little updates for friends and family who wanted to be kept apprised of how she was doing. She spent most of the 25 days in the hospital unconscious. I could still hear her voice though. I talked to her and could almost hear what she would reply. And each night, almost without thought, I found myself typing “Tonight I am thankful for—“ Some days it was a nurse. Others it was the good veggie burger in the cafeteria. My Fella taking care of home. My sister Mess Cat working from the hospital (sitting on a closed toilet) to stay there with us. My siblings. My children.  My Aunt. Mama smiling with her eyes as she did.

I finally got it. Just in time for Mama to leave and finally be with Daddy again.

It was almost two months after Mama died that I started writing. I sort of challenged myself to write something every day. To see something through. Everyday I was looking for a story, for something from my journey to share. Whether it was a silly thing my baby boy said or observing an earthworm crawling along the sidewalk and finding a lesson in it. Each day. The journal remains empty–I type faster than I can write by hand, but my heart is full, and I continue to find something to share everyday.

Last May I visited a church home of some dear friends. When it came time for the children’s sermon, the pastor asked someone to bring “the” box up. They did. Apparently each week someone took the box home, put something in it, and brought it back. When the time came he opened the box, and shared an impromptu lesson on whatever was in there.

Oh. My. Land.

That made such an impression on me. So much so that I can’t remember what his sermon was about that day, but I sure remember the tie-dyed paper napkins and his lesson he shared about them still to this day.

Y’all. Think about that for a minute. Isn’t that what we are called to do? Each day? Every day?

Take what comes along on this journey and make our life an example of love and light in the midst of it?

Today in the Christian tradition it is Palm Sunday. Which is in part, among other things, about a journey. A journey that leads to life and redemption and resurrection.

That’s what I want my journey to be about too. It’s about taking time to look in the rearview mirror at the stories from before—remembering and revisiting and loving and learning from our people in the past. It’s about looking ahead with hope in our hearts and kindness in our plans. And it’s about the now. The road we are on this very minute—and making time to appreciate, to share, to listen, and to help.

To give grace to strangers and kin alike.

And have gratitude in all of our days.

My Mama used to say to us quite often—“The Lord loves a cheerful giver, and so do I.”

I want to give grace and gratitude with a cheerful heart—just as Ollie and my Mama did. I think that’s what we are all here for. To love. Others.

Always.

 

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