Parades, Tears, and Songs at the Sink

This morning the crew and I watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  As I finished prepping the food to take to Blackberry Flats where we would join Mess Cat, Leroy, Shaker, and some of Leroy’s family for dinner, I was able to watch the parade off and on, listening always.  Favorite performances found me pausing in my prep, with a dishtowel in my hands and a little flour on my “Gobble ’til you wobble” shirt.

Those Rockettes though.

Those are some seriously strong women.  I never cease to be amazed by their skill and synchronization.

And the musical performances–we really enjoy hearing the artists we know.  The bands, the floats, those balloons (I’m looking at you Snoopy), they all set the stage for fun and excitement and anticipation.

And so I wept.

Since we read Melissa Sweet’s book Balloons Over Broadway about Tony Sarg, the puppeteer who was tapped by Macy’s to put together the first parade in 1924 to lift the spirits of the folks who were missing the traditions of their homeland, the whole story has been on my heart.  I watched with new eyes today.  The joie de vivre, the spirit of the crowd–it was infectious.  And in my mind’s eye, I saw the people of the first few parades, mapping out what would become a part of our story.

All of us together.  Watching or walking or celebrating.  Together.

The book about Sarah Hale writing politicians and Presidents for 38 years in the effort to make Thanksgiving Day a national holiday has been on my mind too.  President Lincoln was the President who finally said yes, we need this, all of us together, and the holiday came into being.

Together.

People from all different backgrounds, celebrating with dancing and costumes–in the words of Shana Corey in Milly and the Macy’s Parade, “And that’s how Milly and Mr. Macy started a new holiday tradition.  It looked a little like the old country, a little like America, and a little like something entirely new.”

Yes.

A sharing of all that is in each of us.  To make something entirely new.

And quite awesomely wonderful.

Doggone that Macy’s parade.  Making me sloppy cry so early in the day.

Tonight I’m thankful for plentiful bounty.  Food, family, love, home.

I’m thankful that for the first time in six years family gathered together for this day in the kitchen of the house where we grew up, and once again, it was filled with laughter and the sounds of folks filling their bodies and souls with nourishment.  And I’m thankful for the sweet voice of one aged and wise, “That was the best meal I’ve ever eaten, and I’m not kidding.”  Bless her.  That made every. single. minute. on my feet and cooking absolutely worthwhile.  For the chance to wash dishes looking out the same kitchen window as I did all those years, I give thanks.  What once was a chore has become a privilege.  As I rinsed the plates, I thought about how Mama would say she loved to wash the dishes because the hot water eased the discomfort from the arthritis in her hands.  From that window, I watched the children playing outside, making memories where we who are supposedly grown once played.

Today was a little like it used to be, a little like it should be, and a little something entirely new.

And it was beautiful.

Just like that parade.

Yeah, I cried again.

In the end, I think the best stories our children will share will be how folks who were different and who carried with them different traditions and beliefs and raisings came together.   They will tell how folks built something from the old ways, something from the new ways, and made something brand new and entirely different and filled with love and respect.

And I think that is truly something to give thanks for.

Today at the sink in that rare quiet moment, this song started playing in my head.  Not a Christmas or Thanksgiving song, but a living life song.  “I Won’t Give Up” written by Jason Mraz and Michael Natter.  The words sing to me a love song about loving each other and not giving up for any reason, even if, especially if, we’re so very different.  And God knowing we’re worth it.

Yes.  I’m not giving up on this world or the people in it.  God knows we’re worth it.

When I look into your eyes
It’s like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
Well, there’s so much they hold
And just like them old stars
I see that you’ve come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?

Well, I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

And when you’re needing your space
To do some navigating
I’ll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find

‘Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We’ve got a lot to learn
God knows we’re worth it
No, I won’t give up
I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got, yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you’re still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I’ve got, and what I’m not, and who I am
I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up, still looking up.Well, I won’t give up on us (no I’m not giving up)
God knows I’m tough enough (I am tough, I am loved)
We’ve got a lot to learn (we’re alive, we are loved)
God knows we’re worth it (and we’re worth it)I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

–Jason Mraz and Michael Natter

We can do this.  Come together as a people, whole again, still honoring our stories and traditions from the past while respecting where we are now.  Together.

I won’t give up on us.  I’m still looking up.  And out a window.  Old.  And New.  Together.

Love to all.

Grief, the Grocery Store, and Grace

I went to the grocery store today.

I know.  Big mistake.  Two days before Thanksgiving.  I knew better.

It was crazy.  The thing I kept telling myself (and the other shoppers I kept running into) was, “Better today than tomorrow.”

Y’all, it was crazier than the grocery store when a half-inch of snow is predicted.

They were almost out of EGGS.

Seeing as the one request I’ve had is for my deviled eggs, this could have been devastating.

I was prepared today.  I took a list.  And not just the one where I jot down things in my brain that I’d prefer not to forget to get.  I wrote it out on a piece of blue paper that I tore off from one of the littles’ papers we were *ahem* letting go of.  One side a grocery list.  The other side a list of what I’m fixing to take to Mess Cat’s house for our Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s a little heavy on the dessert offerings.  But they’re my favorite to make, so…..yeah, pie is good.

I wish I could say I whisked in and out and was done fast as lightning.

Alas, no.

It was packed.  Very crowded.  Like a Saturday morning or the day before a “big” snow.   I picked the wrong day to pick out the very biggest cart…..so hard to maneuver.

But I got it done, with everything on my list checked off.  Except for mini-bagels.  My crew was impressed with pizza bagel bites and I thought–well I can make those on my own.  Only I was wrong when I thought that, because I couldn’t find mini-bagels, so I decided it wasn’t that serious and headed to the checkout.

The fellow directing grocery cart traffic (because that’s a very real thing) sent me to aisle 4.  Unfortunately the guy there had only started unloading his cart, and he had quite a bit to purchase.  Another clerk walking by told me I could move to aisle 5.  I’m sure that it wasn’t because she noticed me stretching my neck to see how long the wait in that one was or because she could tell I was trying to see if I could move and not be violating some grocery cart traffic law.  Positive it wasn’t any of those reasons…..

The clerk in Aisle 5 was efficient as was the young woman bagging up the groceries.  He smiled politely and worked through my pile of purchases quickly.  When he handed me my bag with my egg carton on the bottom and a loaf of bread on the top, I thought I might swoon.  Seriously, I am convinced that’s why the two are shaped so similarly, with just about the exact same lengths–they are both delicate and should be bagged accordingly.  When he did that, I knew he was a dedicated young man.  That and the button he wore declaring him associate of the month said it all.

As we bonded over bagged groceries, I noticed his name tag.  “Sincere.”

Wow.  I’ll be.

I love that name.  I looked at his face and how he was putting forth his best efforts, despite the fact that I was only one of the many, many folks who would cross his path this evening.  Sincere.  Yep.  It suited.

Channeling my Mama, I struck up a conversation beyond the groceries with him.  “Is that your real name?”

He smiled. “Yep.  It sure is.”

“Your Mama give you that name?”

He nodded.  “Yes ma’am, she sure did.”

The tears welled up for no apparent reason and every single possible one all at the same time.  “She must love you very much.”

He smiled again. Even bigger this time. “She does.”

Oh me.  A young man and his Mama.  For the love.

“Well you hang on to her and love her,” I said as I collected my receipt, said goodbye to the bagger, and began to push my cart away.

Huh?  Hang on to her and love her?

Grief can make us do some wacky things, can’t it?  Talk to strangers.  And tell them to hang on to their Mamas?

*sigh*

What I really wanted to do was weep and give him a hug and money to go buy his Mama a big beautiful bouquet and make him promise to spend a day just listening to her stories and what her dreams and wishes have been and how those have changed over the years and then take lots of pictures, silly and serious, of the two of them and anyone else who would join them.  Because there’s no such thing as too much time listening to stories or celebrating relationships or hugging folks you love or pictures.  In fact, there’s rarely enough of times like that.  It’s all too short.

But instead of sounding crazy, I chose to say, “Hang on to her and love her.”

Oh me.

When I got home, once again I was faced with all the pain and brokenness in our world.  And it made me sad.  Again.

Then I stumbled across these words of my sweet friend–my friend who knows about grief and missing Mamas firsthand–and like someone catching you before you fall and hurt yourself, her words caught me and were so full of grace, I felt as though she were telling me what I did today wasn’t goofy.  That it was okay.

Here is how easy it is to love a stranger: I walked to the post office during my lunch break and said hello and tried to engage everyone I met with a kind word or compliment. If I can do it, so can you.  ‪#‎babysteps‬ ‪#‎loveiseasy‬ —Renea Winchester

Tonight I’m thankful for the reminder that in the face of darkness, love.  Just love on some folks.  Even if it’s awkward and sounds like you’re two when you do it.  Love.  Be kind.

An appropriate lesson as we are about to enter the season that’s really all about that, isn’t it?  Sending Love and Light into the darkness?

I think so.

And that’ll do for two days before Thanksgiving.

Love to all.

 

 

The Day My Life Changed Forever

Forty-three years ago today, around 3:30 in the morning, my life changed forever.  I don’t remember what it was like before that day, but on that day, I became a sister.

For Sister, who was the one who made me just that…..for the very first time–

 

When you came into this world,

my life changed

for the better

There are photographs of us, your tiny hand in mine

and it’s as though it’s always been that way

You younger, smaller, and yet

so much stronger than you appeared

You’ve worked harder than most

to take the next step, to keep breathing

to forge your own path

walking to the beat of your own drum

and here we are

Grown.

 

With you I learned to share and play fair,

we learned to do that together,

and I don’t think we’ve really forgotten how,

have we?

All those years it made me smile

when folks realized you were mine

and I would have taken any one of them out

had they hurt you or said anything untoward

It is still that way,

but the lines

are blurred

between good guys and bad guys

and so it’s harder for me to know

how to make it all okay anymore

 

The words over the years,

some kind, some not

the laughter, the whispered secrets

the dreams shared and the sorrows as well

Your voice is a balm to my soul

and your laughter takes me to a place

where no pain can come

And yet we are so far from where we’ve been

The absence of those who held us together

makes it all so hard

Words, Weeping, Worries, Woes,

and yet, in my heart,

you are still the little one whom I threw up on when I was five,

who helped me up when I fell down,

and you are the one who packed my dorm room the

night before graduation

you are the sister I held in my arms

when the baby was coming

and when the baby didn’t

You gave me the gift of watching birth

and I hope always to remember

that precious moment,

all the precious moments

 

Over the years you have given me strength and love

and challenged me to stand up and say something

when it all was on the line

The grief has aged us both, weathered our faces

and our souls

One day, when all the rocky road of this journey is behind us,

I hope we find ourselves sitting together,

once again,

with your tiny hand in mine

 

the window

The view from Daddy's window at Blackberry Flats.  Cardinals love those those hedges.

Looking back on the day

that we stood by Daddy’s bedside

and let him go,

I see in my mind’s eye and realize with some

surprise

that the curtains on the window were open.

Daddy spent many hours

sitting in his chair

by that window

watching the cardinals

living in the arbor vitae,

the flying back and forth and building homes

amongst the branches, their red wings

in beautiful contrast with the somber news to come–

all before the chair was moved

to make way for the

hospital bed

and the story changed

forever.

Before

he would sit there

in his chair next to the window

listening and telling stories and

doling out what wisdoms he had to share.

He watched his favorite shows, old movies, and sports

but his favorite view

was looking out

that window.

So it is only fitting that the curtains

were open and

he left

in the light,

not tucked away in the dark

behind a closed curtain

like a secret

we were afraid to tell.

He left in the light,

surrounded by love,

taking our hearts with him.

And after he left,

at the same time he left work

to head Home all those years,

the sun began to set,

shrouding us in darkness

for the day,

preparing us for the shadowed journey

without him

in the years to come.

 

From Just a Day to a Date–the Transition of Time

Isn’t it funny how we can go all of our lives living each day and month as the calendar pages are torn off or flipped back, and some dates just never really have any significance, and then one day…..

They do.

A child is born.  On the same day you went to assembly in high school or gave a book report in second grade.

A wedding.  On the day that you never had anything planned because it fell just after a birthday.

A new job.  On the day you and your sister got each other’s sandwiches in your lunch boxes and you had to eat pimento cheese.

How for so many years, you just bumped by the day, working your way toward the special one circled in red on your calendar…..

and then, someone leaves this world, your life–the last breath is taken,

and suddenly–BAM– it’s November 13th,  and the date will never be the same again.

Then there are the dates that start off as significant but eventually their importance seems to fade.  Because they are no longer a part of your story or because, oh Heaven forbid, a year goes by and you forget to remember.

And then the tears come anyway.  Just on another day.  And for another reason.

Grieving the loss of the grief.

The flow of the tide back toward the ocean.  Away from you where it’s been for so long, drowning you in the pain and memories.

That is hard.

And when you figure out you’ll be okay and you will survive even though you still miss her so much, that’s even harder.

It’s the stories of the “every days” that make life precious and meaningful, but it’s what we do with the dates in our stories that make us strong.

Strong because we celebrate.

Because we remember and honor.

Because we let go.

Because we continue to move through them, continuing to live right through our own final one, never knowing when that might be.

If there’s anything the calendar has taught me, it’s that it is a paradox.  Despite the fact that it’s all quite predictable and that we know from a very early age January rolls around the same time every year, and “all the rest have thirty-one,”  the fact is the time that fills those calendar squares and pages is anything but predictable.

We just never know what each day will bring.  This year or next year or ten years from now.  There are dates that pass us by now that one day will mean the world to us because our first grandchild will be born that day or we will get news that changes our life in a wonderful way….on. that. very. date.

Tonight I am thankful for the important dates in my life.  The wonderful ones like birthdays and wedding anniversaries, and the hard ones like the dates folks I love went on up to the House.  They are all a part of my story, and the tears and the joy and the sorrow and the quiet moments and the full-blown hootenannies all blend together to make the turning of the calendar pages a little easier to accept.  Time passes.  And sometimes it’s going to hurt.  There’s no stopping it.  But other times it’s going to be fabulous.  Hang on to that.

 

Love to all.

All Hallow’s Eve–on haints and scary stories

While the littles and I were visiting my dear Aunt a couple of days ago, they came across this in her play closet and pulled it out for me to see.

A puzzle from my Granny's I grew up playing with.

A puzzle from my Granny’s I grew up playing with.

Suddenly I was our Princess’ age, and I held out my hands, barely able to say the words, “Hand it to me. Please.”  But I did eke them out, and she handed it over.  My hands, the same ones that held it over thirty years ago, immediately set to work solving the puzzle without my brain really putting any work into it.  I had done it so many times before, so long ago, that the memory of how seemed to be in my fingers.

And then it was done.

Done.  My fingers remembered.

Done. My fingers remembered.

I asked my Aunt how long it had taken me, still dazed and overwhelmed with the memories that came up unexpectedly.

She laughed.  “Let’s go with 87 seconds.”

I’ve still got it.

I did finally let my littles play with it.

A place from the past--my Granny's house.

A place from the past–my Granny’s house.

In those moments of first seeing it and working the puzzle out, I was transformed back to this place, my Granny’s house.  And once again, my heart ached with the longing for that place, that time, when things were simple and my worst fear was losing one of Granny’s matchbox cars in a frog house or…..nope, that’s it.  I loved everything there from waking up to Honeycombs and milk to sleeping on a pallet made of her old quilts in the living room with my cousins.  I miss it, her, those days.

So much so that yesterday I found myself taking a quick detour.  I turned left off the main road and drove up that old dirt road, the same one I first rode my bike solo on.  And there, in the midst of some overgrown grass, was one of the houses that built me.  I got out of my vehicle and stood, not wanting to go any closer and disturb the memories that are tucked away inside.  I just looked and remembered.  I could almost hear the sound of children playing and cows mooing and Granny calling us in for dinner.  I could feel the warmth of the sun through the window and from the old heater at our backs.

Today, being Halloween and all, some folks like to talk about ghosts and “haints,” as some of my favorite writers call them.  Folks like to tell scary stories and sit on the edge of their seats until there’s nothing left to do but scream, run away, or pass out.

Growing up, we used to tell the story of the 13 steps over and over during this time of year.  There were others that were passed around from one to another, but as I grow older, I know that ghosts are real.

The ghosts of the past–the memories of times there at my Granny’s are very real.   If I had opened the door to that house, had it been okay, I might have seen us gathered around a Monopoly board on the floor, my three older cousins and myself.  I would have heard us challenging each other to do the puzzle, and the one with the smile that was so much like his Daddy’s, once again, he’d be here, and not gone.  And I would take more time to memorize his face, his voice, and to tell him how much I always was in awe of him.

I would have seen the cabinet over in the corner, with the Tupperware containers of cereal inside.  The bowls on the shelf in the kitchen, waiting for us to pull one down and fill up each morning–was breakfast ever more fun that at her house?  With the anticipation of what we had planned for the day and the smell of sunshine enticing us to hurry up and eat so we could head outside for hours and hours, with only a little more than our imaginations and each other to play with.

The sounds of laughter and the weekday afternoon Gunsmoke theme song might have echoed off the walls in the living room.  The breeze blowing through the window in the front bedroom was the sweetest I’ve ever felt.  Thinking about it now makes me weep, longing to be there in that exact moment when I looked up from my newfound copy of Witch of Blackbird Pond and saw the white curtain billowing perfectly away from the window as the breeze bowed, danced, and dipped the curtain, as though they were partners at a fancy ball.  It took my breath then over thirty-five years ago, and it still does now.

Ghosts are real, but they don’t scare me.  I am surrounded by them every day.  Memories and sounds and smells and tastes and stories–all lingering from the past. What does scare me more than anything else is the thought of living without so many of those I loved in these memories–for the rest of my life.  That knocks the wind out of me.  I just have no idea how I’m supposed to do that.

Tonight I’m thankful for the ones who are here, who share my love of the past and also love those who have headed on Home.  I give thanks for precious memories, worn paper-thin from my playing them out over and over and over again in my heart.  I appreciate the ghosts of the past, and all of the love and comfort I feel when I sit with them for a bit.

Today is All Hallow’s Eve, and tomorrow is All Saint’s Day.   A good day to remember and give thanks for those who are no longer with us in the way they once were.  Tomorrow I will light a candle and remember.  Much as I do every other day.   Remember.  

Ghosts?  Scary Stories?

Light a candle in the darkness, and never forget.  It comforts the soul like nothing else, and chases away the fears.

If only for a moment…..
Love to all.

 

Rainy Days and Redemption

We awoke this morning, quite early, to the sounds of thunder rolling angrily.  And close.  It was so early, in fact, that most in the house went back to sleep to the sound of the drizzling rain.  The house still seemed quite dark when we stirred, though the day had gotten a good start already.

A rainy day in Georgia.

In the fall.

Ahhhhh.

Grateful for a break from the downpour I took Miss Sophie out for her morning constitutional and was thankful she was moved to be a little quicker this morning.  The littles had breakfast as did their big sister, still home for Fall Break.  The house was eerily quiet, a mood suited by the gray and the rain outside.

I set out the day’s lessons and encouraged the crew to get started.  I too began my work for the day.  Sitting at my desk, my back was to them.  Though they were chatting about some scenario they’d made up to play out, they were getting some work done, so I allowed myself to become immersed in what was in front of me.  Soon I realized the room had become very quiet.  I turned to see what they were up to.  Our Princess seemed to be daydreaming, her gaze aimed out the window.  I remember the days of sitting in our classrooms at the old school in town–windows all down one side of the room–and doing just that.  I think some of my best thoughts came from those moments of mind wandering.

Then I noticed Cooter, across the room, no longer sitting at the table working on his math.  Instead he was curled up with Goatillard the goat, who moved here to live with us after Mama left this world.  My little guy seemed in a trance, staring out from the window seat at the rain as it poured down.

My little guy curled up with Maemae's goat, staring out at the rainy day.

My little guy curled up with Maemae’s goat, staring out at the rainy day.

It took my breath away for a moment.  Beautiful.

I wonder what he was thinking in those moments.  If anything at all.

I looked back over at our Princess, who met my gaze with a sheepish smile on her face.  She shrugged lightly.  “My eyes are lost in the rain.”

Oh my. With all the rain and beautiful thoughts and staring out at creation and poetic words, how I could say that learning wasn’t happening?

I just about called school off right then and there.  No textbook nor I can compete with all of that.

Poetic thoughts.

I found myself thinking about all kinds of things this morning, as I went about my day to dailies.  A rainy fall day…..gray…..suited my emotions.  Bottom line–I miss my parents.  It seems as though each day a little more, if that is possible.  When I think about where we were three years ago, with Daddy doing so poorly and us not ready to admit to what seemed to be inevitable, it becomes almost more than the heart can bear.  Again.

This morning I saw this quote shared by author John Paul Schulz that stuck with me.

IMG_5108

And it is true.  While my heart and mind was steeped in sadness, suitable for a dreary day, my girl’s poetic thoughts and those of Ms. Woolf proved true.

As I let myself become lost in the rain, sitting on the couch that I can enjoy because of the goodness of friends, I found myself thinking of redemption and reparation.

Are there two things more life-giving than those?

I’m sure there might be, but for today, those thoughts and the actions I took refreshed my soul, and life came “breaking in as usual.”

When I finished, my heart was a little lighter and I breathed a little easier.  I’m still a work in progress and the pressure that tomorrow will be sunny, so perhaps my disposition should be too is a little more than I’m ready to take on tonight.  Perhaps after a good night’s rest…..

Tonight I’m thankful for moments that move me to tears.  For little boys hugging goats.  For poetic days and poetic words and little girls who speak them.  I give thanks for the love of those who have gone before, those whom the memories of make me laugh and cry and ache for just one more story, one more hug, one more word of wisdom, one more “I love you.”  And in the midst of that yearning, I’m thankful for the opportunity to share those things with the ones I care about.  Today. In this moment.

Life comes breaking in…..as usual.  

 

Love to all.

 

 

 

The Heart’s Memory

You know what surprises me?

And you will probably be surprised at this–

My heart.  My mind.  My heart’s memory.

That’s what surprises me.  Big time.

Grief and the paths it takes us on surprises me too.

Saturday we took the whole crew and met Gnomee, Leroy, and Shaker at the Fair.  Rides are not my thing unless it’s the Agri-Lift, which is a very time-consuming, slow, and relaxed ski-lift type ride over half of the Fairgrounds.  I enjoyed watching the children ride and worrying over whether or not Cooter was going to lose his lunch, since the first ride he went on was rather rambunctious.

The last of the tickets were used to ride the Ferris wheel.  We had just enough for everyone to ride except two.  I gladly sat it out with Cooter (who was still a little puny), as I like to be the cheerleader on the sidelines when it comes to these kinds of things.  I also like to people watch, and I welcomed a few moments of downtime.  As I waited for them to come around in sight where I could wave to them, I people watched.

"Great Dads Get Promoted To Grandpa"

“Great Dads Get Promoted To Grandpa”

And when I saw this man and his shirt, my first thought was “Oh, that’s perfect for Daddy.”  They didn’t come any greater than him.  And immediately after that…..

it hit me all over again.

It’s been almost three years since my Daddy went on up to the Big House, and I know this.  Not a day goes by that this doesn’t register in my brain.  But somehow on Saturday afternoon, I relaxed so much that for a nano-second, my heart forgot.

And then I had to feel the pain all over again.

I’ve got no idea how that even happened y’all.

I probably would have gotten him a car, but he would have loved the airplanes too.....

I probably would have gotten him a car, but he would have loved the airplanes too…..

Just an hour later, after we rode the Agri-Lift–such memories we make each year on our leisurely ride–we were in the Commercial Exhibits building, and I found myself admiring the woodcrafts of one of the exhibitors.  I’ll be dog if I didn’t have another one of those moments.

For a second in a surreal moment, I thought what an awesome gift one of these would make for Daddy.  For Christmas.

Oh me.

Of course I’m not losing my mind.  Not really, right?  It seems that Fall is a trigger for me.  I’ve thought more about those last few weeks in 2011 with my Daddy in the past couple of weeks than I have in a long time.  And I’ve discovered something important…..

There is pain, yes, but there is so much beauty in those moments.  The memories of our last weeks and days were not just filled with tears.  There was a lot of laughter and a lot of quiet moments of giving thanks.  For our time together, for the man who raised me, for the grace he always gave, for the stories he told, and for the love I still feel from this gentle giant.

Tonight I’m thankful for the reminders of my Daddy.  For the cardinals that play in my backyard and remind me of our quiet days sitting and watching them through the living room window.  For the woodcrafts that remind me of his carpentry skills and how he loved to create with wood.  For the yellow jackets and wasps that make me laugh as I remember Daddy videotaping the ones that lived in his workshop out back, wanting to observe their behaviors.  For the quiet of a fall sunset that lets me sit and be with my aching heart as I remember all the times I sat in comfortable and peaceful silence with my Daddy.

I’ll always be his girl, and if I think of him sometimes and forget that he’s not here, then maybe it’s because he’s so close, just on the other side of the veil, and I can feel him there.

I hope so.  I sure do miss him and need his wisdom right about now.

Wishing you all a beautiful fall sunset to remember and reminisce and to make precious memories.

Love to all.

 

Watching for Wonky Waves

I am my Mama’s daughter.

And yesterday evening, I could have sworn I heard my Daddy laughing over just that, and my Mama in her “pretending to be offended” tone telling him to “stop that right now.”

A moment that made me smile.

Folks told my Mama their stories.  Friends.  Family.  Complete strangers.  Especially complete strangers.  (Actually I’m not sure she ever met one of those.  She could talk to anyone, and she usually did.)  In her they found a great listener with a compassionate heart and a gentle touch.  A safe place to land with what was weighing on their minds.

I got a call back on my query about an item for sale yesterday.  In a few short minutes, I learned why the call had not been made sooner and quite a bit about their family and the sadness in their hearts right now.  Oh me.  Such sweet and kind people, having to deal with the pain of losing someone they love.  In those few short minutes, I heard their story and we became forever connected.  Our stories intertwined.

After I got off the phone and was thinking of these folks, that was when I heard my Daddy laughing.  He used to say, “That’s your Mama.  She’ll talk to anybody.  And they’ll tell her everything.”

Tonight I sat on the top bleacher enjoying the slight breeze as the sun faded away and Cooter tested his swimming skills and learned how to improve them.  The breeze, the hushed sound of water splashing, and children playing.

There were other parents sitting close enough to strike up a conversation.

And many nights I have.  It seems like the thing to do, you know?

But tonight I didn’t.

I hope they didn’t think I was rude.  I chose instead to watch my swimmer boy and listen.  To nothing.  A quick sideglance told me one parent was working Sudoku puzzles and the other was on his phone.  So maybe they never even noticed the lack of conversation.  Or maybe they too were in need of it.

The quiet.  (relatively speaking anyway)

My view this morning.  I didn't want to leave it and start the day.

My view this morning. I didn’t want to leave it and start the day.

This morning when I woke up, I lay there for a while.  I was loath to get up and break the morning open.  My soul needed the peace found only in the quiet and the listening.  When I finally did get up and moving, the day was off with a bang and full of stories.  Hard ones.  With the occasional not so hard. But yeah.  Mostly hard.

People are hurting all over, you know?

And they need someone to listen.

But sometimes it’s all too much.  And every now and then I need not to listen to the stories.  And instead I need to listen to the peace in the quiet.  The calm.  I need balance.

And as I sat there tonight, wonky waving every now and then to the little guy with the toothless grin (oh how sad will I be when he begins to wave like everyone else) to let him know, “I see you.  Way to go.  You are doing just fine–I’m proud of you for trying!  Keep on keeping on,” I was listening.

And you know what I think I was hoping to hear–this just occurred to me right now.

Those exact same words.  From the One who is always near, always wonky waving to me when I’m willing to notice.

“I see you.”

“You are doing just fine–I’m proud of you for trying!”

and then–

“Keep on keeping on.”

Oh the blessing in those words.  The comfort.  The assurance.  That I’m on the right path.  That maybe I haven’t veered off as far as I thought.

It’s not always easy, this journey, is it?

But as I turned to climb down off the bleachers, collect my boy, and head home, this is what I saw, waiting, wonky waving at me, this child who needs to be seen.  Who needs the peace and comfort that comes with the “I see you–you are doing okay.”

 

A little wonky wave can do a lot for the heart and soul.

A little wonky wave can do a lot for the heart and soul.

 

And tonight I’m thankful for this.  And for all the wonky waves I get.  I am loved.  Sometimes I just need to be reminded.

Love and wonky waves to all.

Hard Questions over Spilled Milk

Yesterday I was trying to hurry and give my littles snacks.  We were heading out on our activities du jour, and it was going to be a while before they’d get to eat again.  I served up the last of the brownies and a glass of milk.  As I reached across the sink to the counter to place a glass of milk where Cooter was about to sit with his brownie, I turned the whole thing over.

Oh me.  But no crying, right?

I was actually calmer than usual, especially considering that we were running behind and needed to be out the door pretty quick.  And they still had to have a snack.  AND I had to clean up milk for miles–on the counter, under the counter, on the wall under the counter, on the stool, under the stool, on the rungs of the stool, and alllllllll over the floor.  While trying to keep Miss Sophie from getting into it and attempting to appease Cooter’s hurt feelings based on the assumption that he would now get NO milk.

Sigh.

As I was cleaning it up, our Princess, the peacemaker (well unless she’s having it out with her brother–been one of THOSE weeks around here), who was trying to grab up anything she could find to help clean it up, said in her soothing voice to her upset brother, “Don’t be upset, buddy, Mama didn’t mean to do that.  It’s just sometimes, well, God has other plans.”

Huh.  Well then.  Huh.

So I went with it.  Maybe because I was standing on my head cleaning up milk (did I mention FOR MILES?) or maybe because I was just curious to see where she was going.  Probably both.

“So God planned for me to spill this milk?”

Cooter laughed at that idea.

Princess, who had come around to the messy side of the counter, shook her head.  “Well no, see, I mean, God knows everything that’s going to happen.”

“So God knew I was going to spill the milk, then?”  One swipe, two swipe, almost done.  I stood up.

She looked at me, her eyes wide.  She sighed.  “Why do I think I’m saying it all wrong right now?”

I laughed and hugged her and let her know it was okay.  I don’t know, girl, there are no easy answers.

That’s something we talked about on Sunday night in Evening Prayer.  Hard questions.  And that sometimes, just maybe, we won’t get the answers here.  Or now.  If ever.  And one person pointed out something that my Aunt has suggested to me about Heaven, “Maybe, when we do get there, it won’t matter anymore.”  I shudder to think.  As much as I want to know the things I want to know, it pains me to think I will be able to let it go so easily.  I guess that’s the peace that passes all understanding they talk about though, isn’t it?

Hard questions.  From our children.  What do we do with those?

I found out that a family that my oldest and I both know and love lost their youngest son, not even two years old, in a tragic accident.  I told Aub, unsure if she would see it on social media, and I didn’t want her to find out that way.  She was visibly shaken.

“Mama, it’s already been a rough day and now this.  This sends me over the edge.  My heart breaks for them.”

“I know.  I know.  Mine too.  I’m so sorry.  I just didn’t want you to find out another way.”

We were both quiet for a moment.

“You know,” she said. “They packed up everything, sold most of it, and headed out to do what they felt God was calling them to do.  And now this?  What the heck?  It just doesn’t make sense. Why?  Why did this happen?”

Why indeed.   I had nothing to offer her.  But an ear and heart to listen to her questions.  And echo them in my own.

I’ve found that my children’s questions don’t get any easier as they get older, and neither do mine.  We’ve had some doozies in the past three or four years.  And they still remain unanswered.

I got nothing.

Except that I’d rather they stay unanswered than someone give me an answer that they think should make me be okay with everything that has happened.

There are just some things you might have to accept–yes this happened–but there are things that I can never be okay with.  Doesn’t mean I lose my faith completely, just maybe it hits a bump in the road and needs time.  Lots of time.

Hard questions.  How can I be thankful for those?

I guess tonight I’m thankful that my children ask these of me, with me, and that we can sit in the dark together, asking and wondering.  But together.  Always together.

Love to all.