What Do I Do Now? Part II

pic of words

So tonight I was on the phone with my sister when my cell phone rang.  It was a number I didn’t recognize, but since it was a Macon number I asked my sister to hold on and I answered.

It was Mac.

My friend who just three weeks ago told me he was done with his recovery and that he’d rather drink.  And that I could forget him and he’d do the same.

My brother.  The man whom my family loved as one of us.  The man who shut the door, and I didn’t know where he was or how he was.

He is in a rehabilitation/detox program.  Again.  He’s been there since Monday.  Before that he was staying by the river.  They tell him they’re going to put him in a halfway house in town soon.  He didn’t want to talk too much or answer any questions as he was in a public room and wasn’t being allowed to talk very long.

Okay.  I just sat back and listened.

Visiting hours are Saturday.  From three to four.  He wanted to see if I wanted to come.

The same time that is already spoken for.  Something else entirely but it’s something that I have to do; others are involved, and I can’t change the time.  I don’t know if I would have been able to go see Mac had I not already had this obligation, but I like to think I would have.  Could have.

I just don’t know.

He said he understood.  That he’d call me when he knew more about the wheres and whens of them moving him.  And he gave me his ID number so I can get information about his case.

I am thankful he’s getting help.  I am extremely grateful he is off the streets and not drinking.  The thing is I didn’t roll my eyes as he said, “I just can’t live out there anymore.  I can’t make it.  It’s not for me.”  But I did listen unemotionally.  There was no joy or “yay, way to go” in my mind or my heart.  I’ve already heard these EXACT. SAME. WORDS.  Last November to be exact.  I’m just not sure I’m ready to get back on this roller coaster.

I’ve told my children, especially my teenager, that there’s no story you can’t bring home with you.  No matter what, you can tell me.  I will always love you.  ALWAYS.  There may be consequences and repercussions, but I will love you.

And Mac?  He’s family too now.  So does that apply to him?  Can I listen to his stories and support him?  I told him I would always love him, and I will.  But can I do it at close range again?  Can I watch him walk this path again?  Can I support him as he does?  Cheer him on?  Can I put my heart out there?  Again?

I wish I could say without question, Yes!  I wish I could say I will.  As many times as it takes.  Yes.  But I’ve seen the damage and destruction that comes from addiction–on more than one occasion–and I just don’t know.  I’m tired and I’m scared for him, and I just do not know.

But I do love him and I always will, and for tonight, that will have to be enough.

You’re Welcome, Future Self

Today has been all about doing things for my Future Self.

Way too often I put off things, thinking that “later” will be better.  Or, at the very least, okay.  Like waiting to fill my vehicle up with gas.  Or to put away the clothes.  Or hooking devices up to charge.  Moving laundry from the washer to the dryer.  Or  even starting supper.  Usually this is followed by my Granny’s voice in my head, saying, “Lazy folks always did have the most to do.”  Yes ma’am.  We sure do.

So today I set out not to procrastinate, to “get ‘er done” as Mater the Tow Truck might say.

Mater the Tow Truck is all about getting it done.

Mater the Tow Truck is all about getting it done.

We’ve got company coming in later this week, so there are lots of things to be done in preparation.  For one thing, it’s time to clear the couch of the clean, folded clothes.  Completely clear.  That’s a sure sign someone’s coming over at our house.  *sigh*  Bed linens washed and freshened up, done!  (What, Procrastinator Tara, but you still have at least two days?  You’re welcome, Future Self.)  Kitchen straightened up and things put away, check.

And then the monumental task that had been running through my “needs to be done” list in my mind all day long–grocery store.

It’s not that I don’t like going.  It’s just I fail at finding the right time to go.  It always seems like it’s packed at our grocery store.  Or at least busy enough that I see the same person on each and every aisle and have that awkward moment on each one–do I speak?  AGAIN?  Do I avoid eye contact and keep on trucking?  Or do I skip an aisle in the hopes of throwing the whole thing off kilter?  And I fail at finding the right cart.  Too big, too small, or usually–the squeaky wheel.   If you hear a squeaky cart next time you’re grocery shopping, just come on over and say hello.  It’s me.  Then I almost always fail at lane selection.  I think I have a winner, and then the person in front of me decides to have the bagger rebag something or wants to pay with three different methods or has a zillion coupons.  Nothing wrong with any of that.  Unless you have coconut real fruit popsicles that you are trying to get home before they become mush.  Then, you might desire a quicker checking out process.  (Though they are not too shabby as mush.  Just sayin’.)

So yeah, I dread the whole process.  But as I thought through the next couple of days there just didn’t seem to be a better time.  So the littles and I headed out this evening after supper.  What an odd time to go to the grocery store, right?  You’d think so, but there were many, many folks who had the same idea.  And we were all there.  Together.  Loads of togetherness going on tonight.

But the thing is, it’s done.  Things in the Frigidaire, freezer, and pantry, all waiting to be prepared over the next few days.  It wasn’t fun, but I am so glad it is done.  And I know that at some point in the next couple of days, Future Self is going to look back at me and say, “Hey thanks, that was really awesome that you pushed yourself to get it done when you did.  I appreciate you for that. You are the bomb dot com.”  (At least she’d better! Did I mention there were about four folks I seemed to be stalking through the store?  Awkwardness abounding!)

This morning when I woke up, I thought I might get a nap in today. Chances were good I’d need one, what with getting over the cold and–well, do I really need good justification for taking a nap?  If the opportunity presents itself, I’m at least gonna try.  But as the day wore on, I decided getting things off my to do list was going to be more beneficial to my spirits and attitude than a nap would.  And that’s saying something.

But you know what?  Ask me in a couple of days, but I think Future Self would agree.  Doing these things today will make me a nicer person later on.

Last night I told my littles who were not wanting to settle down, “Go to sleep. This is why y’all can’t get up in the mornings.” To which our Princess responded, “No, it’s not.  We’re just lazy.”  Ahem. Oh-kay, so maybe I was just talking to myself.

And on that note, I think I’ll call it a night.  Future Tara will likely thank me in the morning.

It Won’t Always Be This Way

This morning after I finished up with what I had to do at my desk, I turned around to attack the job of tidying up around the house–something that has severely suffered with our pitiful sneezing and worn out from colds selves.

And I saw this.

Why am I the only one who can fold  blanket?

Why am I the only one who can fold blanket?

Sigh.  Why am I the only one who can fold a blanket?  I rescued that one from the GW Boutique a while back.  Someone handmade that quilt and didn’t quite make it full size, but it’s a great size for throwing over your lap while watching the Saturday night Britcoms or reading in this “spinny chair,” as my littles call it.  I do try to keep it folded neatly though and in a different room entirely.  So that was my first task for the day–to fold the blanket and neaten up the chair.

When I got over to the chair and started to pick up the blanket, this is what I saw.

The Princess' "pet" kitties taking a nap, tucked in snugly under the blanket--Chica and Sugar Ray Jr.

The Princess’ “pet” kitties taking a nap, tucked in snugly under the blanket–Chica and Sugar Ray Jr.

Apparently our Princess had tucked in her two “babies,” as she calls them, for the night last night, and they hadn’t quite gotten up while she sat and had her breakfast at the table in the other room.

This right here–it warms my heart.  She is at the age (almost 9) where many girls her age are transitioning away from things like dolls and stuffed animals and catching baby frogs or “hopping Joe’s” as they call the spittle bugs.  I know this for a fact.  Oh maybe not all of them, but I’ve seen enough who are more interested in older things that I know my girl is atypical for her age.

And I’m thankful for that.  And for her sweet spirit that has her doting on these stuffed “babies.”  So today instead of folding up blankets and picking up Lego creations and putting away dressup clothes, I let ’em be.  They won’t always fill our house in this way, so today I decided to be thankful for messed up blankets and “modified” (his word) Lego Star Wars vehicles next to the grits on the kitchen counter.  As Mama said, “There’s a time and a place for everything.”  And today was the time to enjoy the “clutter” and just be.  There will be time enough for cleaning it up tomorrow.

I’ll let you know how it goes.  In the meantime, I am thankful for two kitties who reminded me to slow down, relax, and let some things go.  Even if just for the day.

Staring Disappointment in the Face

The past few weeks our Princess has been working toward a goal.  A goal she set for herself.  She wanted to make the swim team.  She’s worked hard and practiced, but I just didn’t know if it would be enough this time around.  She can try again throughout the year or wait until next summer and really go for it again.  I called myself preparing her for all outcomes, but especially the one where she didn’t quite reach her goal.

Our Princess in the water, giving it her all

Our Princess in the water, giving it her all

It was Thursday morning when she realized it wasn’t going to happen.  It took her a moment.  As I was gathering the littles and their things and getting ready to leave, she sat down.

“Mama, wait.”

I asked her why, saying that the class was over.

She looked around and asked, “Aren’t they going to give out the papers this time?” The paper.  The one that said you’d finished the lessons and if a particular box was checked you were eligible to try out for the team.

“No baby, not this time.”

She looked around again, and realization dawned on her face.  I pulled her close to me and walked quickly to our vehicle, not wanting the sobs to start out in the open.

See, just a week or so before she’d been in that position.  Only it was because they had moved her up to the top group in the classes.  She had a breakdown over her PROMOTION.  She loved her instructor and change does not come easy for that one.  Wonder where she got that from.  Ahem.  Moving along…..

The day of her promotion she started crying as soon as she came to me.  I thought she might have been corrected about something, as she’s really a sensitive child and that would have torn her up.  But no, she was devastated over changing teachers–she really, really loved Ms. G.

We worked through that one, and she did quite well.  So last Thursday as we buckled up and pulled forward to leave, I kept glancing back in the rearview mirror, waiting for the sobs that were sure to come over the heartbreak of not making it.

Only they didn’t.

When I came to the stop sign a couple of minutes later, I looked back again.  She was staring stoically out her window.  She didn’t want to talk about it, I had asked.  So she sat.  No tears, just sadness exuding from every pore.  Disappointment.  My heart broke.

It was one of those life transition moments.

Because in that moment I knew she knew.  That life wasn’t always going to turn out like she’d hoped.  In all honesty I guess she already knew that as she’s lost two of the people she loved most in the world over the past twenty months.  She cried her eyes out over both of them.  This was different.  Not a tear was shed.  To watch my baby be sad, and to see her hold it in, and not be able to do anything to fix it.

Yeah, that.  I don’t really know what to do with that.

I mean, adversity, I get it.  When one of my children complains about life not being fair, I’m the one who says (trying not to roll my eyes), “Fair is where we look at RV’s, see the cows and horses and pigs, and ride the Agri-Lift; life is most definitely NOT fair.”  It’s good that they not get a trophy for every little thing, or a reward for every time they help someone, or recognized every time they make a wise choice.  But that day I stared disappointment in her face, and I knew something had broken in her.  And that broke me.

Oh, she will try again.  For her sensitive spirit and sunshiny soul, she is also very strong-willed at times.  So I know that one day, if she continues to want it, she will make the team.  Because she will have worked hard and earned it.  And one day this will be but a blip in her memory.  But for me, it will always be the day that, as my sweet friend put it, “sunshine was sad.”  And that’s just hard.

Saturday Night Britcoms–Good For What Ails You

John Inman

John Inman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s official.  This is a cold.

There’s something counterintuitive about a summer cold, yes?  I can’t figure out if I want to curl up in a blanket, sit out on the porch in the heat, or turn the air on full blast.  All within a half hour time span.

Nevertheless, our Princess and I have succumbed to the grasp of The Cold, leaving us pretty puny and leaving my oldest and our little guy, whose symptoms earlier in the week were brushed over as “allergies,” feeling deprived of proper sympathy.  Yep, bad Mama.

I share all of this not to get sympathy–this too shall pass, as Mama would say, but to explain why I wound up where I did tonight.

We celebrated the graduation of the ABAN women today with cake and friends and family, fighting the exhaustion and constantly turning our heads and using hand sanitizer.  This afternoon I was able to get a nap, which was much needed I guess, because I was there for a while.

Then this evening after feeding the crew a simple supper, I found myself sitting in front of the tv in the comfy chair with the remote in MY hand.  (That almost never happens–it’s like the lining up of the earth, moon, and sun.)  I considered zoning out in front of the newest tween movie that our Princess absolutely LOVES.  Then it hit me.

Saturday night.

PBS.

Britcoms!  Whoo hoo!

For as long as I can remember our local PBS station has shown the Britcoms on Saturday nights.  The shows have changed over the years, but they have always been British comedies.  I am something of an Anglophile, so I loved watching these with my family when I was growing up.

Over the years I think my parents’ favorite was “No, Honestly!” because they thought the young wife was adorable and funny without trying to be.  Then Mrs. Bucket (pronounced Boo-kay) of “Keeping Up Appearances” took over in our house.  We would tease each other as we sat down to supper at the table, “Don’t brush against Mama’s walls,” a pet peeve of Mrs. Bucket’s and Mama’s too, as it turned out.  We would imitate Onslow, in his exclamation of “Oh NICE!”  How many Saturday nights I spent sitting in the living room, with my legs over one arm of the chair in the corner and my head propped on the other.  We laughed together so much through “Keeping Up Appearances,” “Are You Being Served?” (John Inman is a brilliant comic actor!), “No Honestly!,” “The Vicar of Dibley” (such a fun ensemble–possibly my favorite group), “As Time Goes By” (I adore Dame Judi Dench!), and so many others.

Mama and Daddy even watched Doctor Who before it was cool.  I never could get into the show very much, but it tickles my oldest, who is a Dr. Who fanatic, to know that her grandparents loved it way back when.  There were so many others I can’t remember the names of–one was about a woman married to a bumbling superhero, but of course, no one else could know.  Funny stuff.

Tonight sitting there laughing over reruns of these Britcoms brought back happy memories of times long ago, back when I took the company of my family for granted in a good way.  It did for my soul what comfort food does for me when I’m under the weather.  It was healing and I could hear the echoes of laughter from long ago in the air, lifting my spirits.  They say “starve a fever and feed a cold,” and I’ve never really understood exactly what that meant.  But I can say, if you aren’t feeling good, grab something comforting to sip on, a box of tissues, a blanket if need be, and turn on the Britcoms.  It’s good for what ails you.  And if it doesn’t actually make you feel better, I promise it can make you forget about it for a little while, a funny half hour at the time.

Feeling Sanctimonious Around Here

So after waking up in the wee hours of the morning to hear the cats frolicking outside as they do, I fell back asleep.  I knew things were headed south with the condition of my nose and the passages therein.  I woke up enough to tell my oldest goodbye as she headed off to work.  Then I dozed.  And finally woke up to the stirrings and requests for breakfast of my littles.  I looked the clock.

9:30

Say what?

I could not believe my eyes, but yes, that was the correct time, even after rubbing them and putting on my glasses (after working to find them–that whole “I need my glasses to see where I put my glasses”–ahem).

I felt pretty awful.

At least a tad bad.

But the laundry was piling up and the sink was too, so I unloaded and loaded and washed and folded and then pretty much crashed around lunchtime.  The symptoms I had figured were allergies for others in my house?  Pretty much thinking I misdiagnosed, and this bad boy is a COLD.

How did that even happen?  I’ve been eating fresh vegetable soup all week.

Sigh.

Anyway, I did lay down to rest this afternoon, hoping to give the old immune system a boost.  It didn’t last long.  My mind was on my freezer.  And peaches.

My favorite variety of peaches are ready.  Now.  For a limited time.  I’ve been known to go down to the farm and get five boxes of peaches and put them up in the freezer over the next few days.  We canNOT be without peaches during the winter.  It made me laugh one day last winter when I served the canned peaches I got on sale (I know, *gasp*) and my little guy who is a peach fanatic, asked, with a sour look on his face, “WHAT are these?”  Yeah, I don’t do that anymore.  Lesson learned.  And I have to say that I am proud that he’s a little peach connoisseur, my little Georgia boy.

So it’s time to go and get my peaches and put them up.  But my freezer.  It’s not so good.  It has needed defrosting for oh, let’s say, about a YEAR.  The ice takes up more space than the food, and the food in there was starting to be frozen together.  This does not work so well.

So today, I felt awful, but I couldn’t rest knowing time is of the essence, so I got my act together, enlisted the help of my Zoo Crew, and we moved food into the small freezer and cooler and went to town trying to get it to defrost as quickly as possible.  So yeah, this happened today.

Feeling pretty good over this much needed job finally being done!

Feeling pretty good over this much needed job finally being done!

And then this.

Only thing left is to move the other things back from the little freezer tomorrow.  Whoo hoo!

Only thing left is to move the other things back from the little freezer tomorrow. Whoo hoo!

Despite feeling yucky, I got it done with the help of my crew.  The wet towels are already headed toward the dryer, and it all only took one phone call to my Aunt to check that I was following the proper procedure.  I’m calling it a win.

Mama had a saying when she got the dusting done (which she despised) or did something she’d been putting off for a while–she’d say she was feeling “sanctimonious.”  I think it got started when Mama called to tell my Great Aunt about her accomplishment one time,  my Aunt W replied, “Aren’t you feeling sanctimonious?”  The first thing I used to do after I mopped my floors or finished all the laundry AND put it away or finished putting up the five boxes of peaches I’d inflicted on my kitchen was to call Mama and tell her.  She was more than Mama, she was my best friend and I wanted to share.  And I knew the first thing she’d say would be just that: “Well aren’t you feeling sanctimonious?”  Yes ma’am.  For sure.

Tonight I was blessed to have my Aunt listen, answer my “technical” question about what I was doing, and say, when I suggested (ahem) I might be feeling sanctimonious, “Well I guess you should be.”  She and Mama shared that too.

Because there’s some things in life you should feel that way about…..like defrosting freezers when you just want to crawl back in bed (or just defrosting them at all–seriously), putting streusel in a pound cake (Imma need that recipe please ma’am), or dusting an entire house when it’s your least favorite task of all.  When we set our minds to something and get it done, isn’t it nice to have someone to share it with,  to pat us on the back, and to cheer us on?

Tonight I’m thankful for a clean freezer with food in it, and the anticipation of putting more in it (whoo hoo, Elberta peaches).  I am grateful for my children to pitch in, the many hands that make a task a little easier.  And I’m thankful for Mama who cheered me on, and for those, who like my Aunt, continue to do so.  Lifting each other up–that’s the good stuff in life.  Just like fresh Georgia peaches, there’s nothing else like it.

Christmas a Hundred Years Before

Folk tale depiction of Father Christmas riding...

Folk tale depiction of Father Christmas riding on a goat. Perhaps an evolved version of the Swedish Tomte. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s been a lot of talk today about Christmas in July, so it brought back one of my favorite Christmas memories.

In December 1989 a friend came home with me from college well before Christmas.  One morning we were awakened by the sound of jingle bells jingling.  Mama and Daddy had looks of surprise on their faces.  “It looks like the Christmas Spirit of 1889 came last night.”

We all gathered in the living room where, in a few weeks, we would celebrate Christmas around our yet to be chosen and decorated tree.  There was a sock laid out for each of us.  Inside the socks were a huge Bob’s peppermint stick, an orange, some nuts, and a penny, and the other matching sock.  I think that’s about right.

The cool thing is that my friend thought it was cool.  She talked about how neat it was that my parents would do something like that.  Looking back, yeah, I get it.  They were trying to help us GET the meaning of Christmas.  They had given us our own version of a “Little House” Christmas.  (I loved the Christmas episodes so much!) And I love that about my parents.  They were never much for letting us crawl back in our comfort zones and just hang out.  Both through their actions and their conversations, they challenged us in our thinking and beliefs, while at the same time being a safe place to land.  I want to be just like them when I grow up.

The other day my children were talking about underwear.  Stick with me here for a moment.  My little guy asked, “Mama, does it really mean that Santa loves you if he brings you underwear?”  Yes, I told them that.  And yes, Santa puts new underwear in your stocking around here–but only if you’ve been really, really good.  It means he REALLY loves you.  And that was going pretty well until Santa put “Olivia” underwear in our Princess’ stocking and she decided that maybe she was a little too grown, that she really didn’t want Olivia underoos. She was sweet about it though.  She appreciated them, but would ponder aloud every now and then, “I wonder why Santa thought I would love Olivia underwear.”   The oldest–she’s used to it.  Santa’s been upgrading her underwear drawer every Christmas for years.  And she never questioned it.  It’s these two littles and their questions that have made me wonder why Santa chose to make that a tradition.

And as I thought about it, I remembered that visit back to Christmas of 1889 and how Santa brought treats and things that were useful.  I guess maybe the underwear is a tip of the hat to that spirit of Christmas–where it doesn’t all have to be battery operated or come with instructions that take half the night to understand and the other half to follow.  Just good stuff, usually much needed, and a little fun.  (Well unless you’re me–they just don’t make fun underoos for us big girls.  And NO, the stuff from that place does not count.  We also want fun, whimsy, pictures of our favorite characters, and comfort.)  Anyway, it occurred to me that Santa remembers that year and what my parents were trying to instill in me back then, and he hopes to pass it along to this next generation.

Today when someone on the radio announced it was Christmas in July, I saw my littles’ eyes light up.  They asked what it meant and I told them.  I halfway expected them to ask how we were going to celebrate.  They were smart, and they didn’t; but if they had, we might have had to take a trip for new underwear.  Or socks.  (I think those things are bailing on me by the boatload.  Where do they go?!)  But that’s a story for another time.  May the true spirit of giving and Christmas be yours today and everyday!

Running Lines

This evening as I was doing the “finishing up the day” tasks, I was running back over lines from today.  And giggling.  And that’s a good thing.  Laughter over misread words and losing track of time and general silliness–I’ll take it.

This morning the littles and I were out together.  Cooter, my little guy, was taking the few minutes we were waiting on his sister to play with a new friend of his.  As they climbed in and out and under, Cooter’s friend’s Dad called out to his son, “Hey, be careful, know where your head is.”

That. Right. There.

I think that’s good advice for all of us.  Know where your head is before you take your next step.  You really don’t want to get bonked in the head.  That hurts.  Bad.  And sometimes worse than others.

Later in the day, after taking care of business with the crew Plus Three, I completely lost track of time.  I am usually so time conscious, so that was a very strange sensation.  I decided I could stress over it or laugh over it.  Taking my friend’s lead, I decided to laugh it off.  Stress wouldn’t have turned back time, but it could take minutes off my clock.  Laughter it is.

The discount movie theater was showing “Epic” this afternoon.  Throwing our fun meter into high gear, we Plus Three decided it was just the thing to do after an afternoon of taking care of business.  We crept into the dark theater (the results of losing track of time) and found some seats.  The movie had a really interesting premise.  The fact that the daughter and her father found a way to communicate despite being in different “worlds”–well I liked that just fine.  It warmed my heart and made me smile.  If only.  One of the most beautiful and poignant lines in the movie was, “Many leaves, one tree.”  The idea that no one is ever alone.  I like that too.  I couldn’t help but think of our friends who have no roof over their head, no way of knowing for sure where their next meal will come from.  I especially thought about my friend Mac, who often panhandles with his buddies to get enough to eat.  What would happen if the next person they asked went and bought four burgers and sat and ate with them?  Just pondering on that this evening too.

Another version of the "Many leaves, one tree" line that's been running through my mind.  So true--we're all in this together, aren't we?

Another version of the “Many leaves, one tree” line that’s been running through my mind. So true–we’re all in this together, aren’t we?

Another line from the day came from Cooter Himself.  He told me this evening, as I was stirring the homemade vegetable soup (thank you summer), “Mama, you know what the only good thing about Darth Maul getting cut in half is?”  Wait. What?  “No, what Buddy?”  (It’s been nothing but Star Wars around here for days, my friends.)  “That he was a bad guy.  And that’s the only good thing.”  I breathed a sigh of relief.  There for a while I thought we were going to be in big trouble because his favorites in any story were the “bad” guys.  Now I’m seeing a turn.  Thank you Star Wars.  And our friends who loaned us Episodes 4 and 5.  Apparently you’ll get no sympathy for being cut in half from my guy if you have been up to no good.  I’m just sayin’.

Today was a good one.  A busy one.  And in true typical Tara fashion I closed out our adventures by thinking I had misplaced my keys.  Perception is everything, so I headed back into the empty theater with my cell phone lit up to search the floor for them.  (Oh people, please don’t throw that stuff on the floor–act like you are somebody!) I kept hitting the “wake up” button on my phone for light and searching under the four or five rows I figured were probably ours.  (I had already lost my bearings on where we sat.)  When it was painfully obvious that they weren’t there, I went back out to my friend whom I’d left holding my bag.  And then it hit me, the outside pockets.  About the same time my friend pointed and asked, “Outside pockets maybe?”  She’s a genius and she was right.  And she laughed with me over my forgetfulness, and for that–that grace–I am thankful.

Laughter and lines echoing in my head tonight.  I’m thinking I shall sleep quite well.

Take Out and Help Yourself…..

Today as I was cooking a big noon-time dinner, I thought about my great Granddaddy Holder.  He was my Mama’s granddaddy, and we all loved him dearly.  He lived in a house on a slight incline, so when we drove down their road we were looking up at the steps up to their screened-in front porch.  The pond he loved to fish in was just down the road a piece, also on his property.

I can remember visiting him and Granny Inez from when I was very young.  She was his second wife, as my great-grandmother who had the beautiful red hair and taught my Mama to cook died when Mama was 14.  That was one of the worst heartbreaks of her life I think.  Granny Inez never treated us any differently though.  I can recall times when her grandchildren were there too, and we had so much fun.  I loved playing on the porch.  I think they were the only folks I knew with a screened porch at the time.

I stayed the night with them one time when I was spending a few days with my Great Aunt.  They got an early start in that house–Granddaddy and I were up and headed out to his truck to check around the farm by a little after 5.  We were back home and ready for breakfast around 6:30 or so.  I remember the ham, red-eye gravy, biscuits and well, just all the fixin’s.  I LOVED that gravy.  The way it soaked into those biscuits.  Some kind of goo-ood, I am telling you.

pic of table full of food

Granddaddy was a gentle man but he was strong too.  He had lost his hand in a mill accident many years before.  I don’t remember being frightened by his arm.  It seemed to make his hugs even better actually.  When we were all over there to eat with him and Granny Inez, that table was creaking from all the food spread out on it.  All kinds of vegetables and a ham or roast, cornbread or biscuits, and desserts.  I remember Granny Inez’s specialty was a lemon cheese cake (not cheesecake, this was layers of cake with something like lemon curd as a filling–divine!).   The best part was I don’t care how high you piled your plate or if it was your first go ’round or not, Granddaddy was known for saying, “Take out and he’p yourself, you ain’t et hardly nothin’.”

To me that was the epitome of Granddaddy’s hospitality.  If there was food on the table, he wanted to share it.  Maybe that’s where Mama got it from–feeding folks was one of the ways she said “I love you.”

It’s a sweet saying that has been heard around the table at home all my life.  It’s a way to remember Granddaddy, a generous man who was intelligent and hard-working; he served as a judge in his county as well.  But it’s also become our way of showing love, just as Granddaddy did–a way of saying, “If I got it, it’s yours.  He’p yourself.”  And I particularly like to hear it at big meals like Thanksgiving–that part about having et hardly nothin’…..yeah, in that case, I will have another go at it., thankyouverymuch.  There’s such generosity and grace in that.  Just like in my great Granddaddy.

The One Thing I Don’t Want to Be…..Especially on Sundays

pic of Sunday calendar

Another Sunday.

Today is the third Sunday since we have stopped serving meals on Sunday nights at Daybreak, the day shelter for folks in need up in Macon.  I hear that our friends are doing well at the other places that serve, and for that I am thankful.

My Sundays look very different now.  Actually they are still morphing, in transition.  No longer do I make sure my sink is totally cleared on Saturday nights so I can fill pots in the sink on Sunday.  No more inventory count no later than Friday to check my stock of coffee, tea bags, sugar, marshmallows, Swiss Miss, and so on.  No more getting up early to get things started–washing and sanitizing four coolers and then preparing ten gallons of sweet tea, over three of coffee, and then, season dependent–five gallons of hot chocolate or hot water.  It took me a while, but I finally had the process down to a near science.  It’s the little things in life, people.

I do miss our friends, but soon I will see them there at a different time and in a different capacity, so I am thankful for that.  What has surprised me is that I miss my Sunday ritual.  I do not mean to offend, but it had become a bit of a holy time, this preparation of the vessels and preparing the drinks.  I used the same pot and bowls and measuring cups and spoon each week.  And the cleanup was a special ritual as well.  This routine that took up much of my Sundays for over two and half years was familiar and it brought me comfort.  Each step I did, I knew what task was next.  There is something very comforting in that.  All the way through the day, knowing what came next.

Late last night I was thinking through our options of things to do today.  The past two Sundays have been good, filled with being with family and life-affirming goodness.  Things I love.  Today promised to be no different.  I have done things I would not have planned before, as my day was already full.  And in a good way.  Last night as I thought over the coming day, I wondered how long it would be before it no longer felt strange to have Sunday as a day to plan whatever or not plan at all.  I remember years ago, before any of my children were born, Sundays were very relaxed.  Up and off to church, dinner out with friends or family, then home to peruse the big thick Sunday paper and all those salespapers, and then usually a nap weaseled its way in.  Really, really laid back.  I was so complacent.  Maybe I was not completely unaware of my brothers and sisters who are living such hard lives without all their basic needs met, but I certainly was not mindful of it on a daily basis.

So I figured out last night that one of my fears in all of this is that I go back to that complacency.  Just because my Sundays have changed drastically doesn’t mean that theirs have.  I worry that the time will come when I don’t miss the ritual anymore, that a Sunday will pass that I don’t think about our friends and the fact that it’s raining or cold or hot and wonder how they are doing.  I don’t want that at all.  I want always to pause at some point in my day, particularly my Sundays, and appreciate whatever I am in the midst of; but I also want to have a quiet moment to recall and give thanks for all of these Sundays in the past and the people whom I have gotten to know–and what they have meant in my life–the people and the days.  I do not ever want to be complacent again.

Especially not on my Sundays.