Growing Pains and Blessings

A couple of weeks back I was trying to plan out what we’d do to celebrate our Princess’ upcoming birthday.  As I planned and brainstormed, I mentioned my ideas to her.  She was far from thrilled.

“Mama, why didn’t you bother to ask ME?  How old do I have to be to plan my own birthday?  Because that is NOT what I want to do.”  It seems she and her friend had been talking about what we could do to celebrate, and my ideas were sorely lacking.

At least she didn’t roll her eyes at me.  Yet.

She’s not quite eleven, y’all.

Bless.

I was left wondering when did she all of a sudden become so sure-of-herself-growny-acting, and to be honest, I wasn’t exactly thrilled.  I’ve given up trying to influence her sense of style.  She marches to her own beat, that one, and nearly always looks adorable doing it, despite the fact that I wasn’t a part of wardrobe planning.  I’ve given up so many things that happen when they are little and still malleable and easily convinced that whatever is going on is the best idea ever.

And now, I guess, I’m giving up planning birthday festivities too.

I was sad until this morning.

Cooter and I have taken the brunt of this bug that came through our family.  Our Princess had two weekends of dealing with this or something similar a few weeks back, but last night I got concerned that this might be something completely different.  When I checked her temperature on a lark, she was just barely above normal, but still I worried.  She’s my one who can go from just a low-grade in the morning, to full-fledged high fever, bronchitis, and all the bad things by night.  I try to watch her closely.  So I told her to get good rest last night, and we’d see where today took us.

She was still sleeping when Cooter and I decided to venture into the kitchen and see about starting our day.  I took Miss Sophie out in the cold, rainy, and dreary morning, and when we returned, our Princess was still sleeping.  Cooter had eaten his breakfast, so I suggested we get a nap.  He had a headache, and my fever was returning (it wants to be my BFF, but I’m sorry, I want it out of here!).  We curled up, and I dozed a bit off and on.

Later when I got up, Princess came in and apologized to me.  “Mama, I am so sorry I slept late.  I am so sorry.  I’ve been trying to make it up to you by cleaning up the kitchen and the table and picking up things and getting Sophie’s toys put back.  I had Cooter help me, and then I let him watch a video when we were done.  I hope that’s okay.”

I was so relieved she was fever free and feeling better, I could have cried.  I just knew we would have another week of this mess to deal with when she slept in so late today.

But no.  She was and is fine.  And she took initiative today.  Something that comes along with the same territory as wanting to plan one’s own birthday celebrations.

Yeah, toddlers–they’ll love whatever kind of theme you choose, but they’re not so much on the whole seeing something that needs doing and then doing it.

I’ll take it.  I’ll take now.

And I’m thankful.  For my Princess’ health.  For Cooter’s improvements today.  And for the fact that I think I can see a light at the end of the tunnel of this horrendous virus that got a hold of us.

Most of all, I’m thankful for the sweet spirit and giving heart of my Princess.  I’m glad she could sleep in–it’s very possible she was busy rejuvenating and healing in that extra hour or two.  She was adorable as a toddler and as she grows, she becomes more beautiful everyday–inside and out.

And while her outer beauty is quite spectacular, it’s that inside stuff I’m especially thankful for tonight.

Love to all.

the eerie light and Irish Spring

after a day of playing tag before the heat of noon
chased us indoors to have a sandwich or a buttered biscuit
leftover from last night’s supper

and marathon sessions of Monopoly
or building frog villages in the sand pile
under the big tree
complete with parking garages for the Matchbox cars
that all too often caved in
the casualties were regrettable
especially when Granny asked us where all the cars
had gotten off to

late afternoons spent in front of “Gunsmoke”
or “Andy Griffith”
cooling ourselves in front of the fan
with a cup of Granny’s homemade peach ice cream
she’d frozen in those individual cups
as the sun slanted through the front porch window
and began its descent

after a supper of fried catfish and homemade french fries
served by the hands that caught ’em, cleaned ’em, and cooked ’em,
we headed back outside for one more round of chase
but mostly we danced with the lightning bugs
enchanted, bowing, and following their lead
the music was silent but not in our hearts

and then it was time for baths
as the darkness surrounded the little house
all by itself out there miles from town

Granny let us fill the tub as full as we wanted,
a luxury to be sure
the feel of the footed tub worn smooth with all the scrubbing she did
the black rubber stopper on the chain keeping the water level up
the smell of Irish Spring a sure sign of summer
and all that was right in the world

the only light in the bathroom, the one up high on the wall,
gave an eerie almost green glow to the room
made all the more curious by the window up next to the ceiling
that faced the back porch
which was always pitch black during bath time
unless Granny had to go out to the washer or freezer

anticipating the ghost stories we were sure to share
as soon as the lights went out
I could almost imagine a face up there
and so I would duck under the water
and lay there for a second
closing my eyes, holding my nose
and listen to the world echo around me

all was quiet
and warm
and safe

there under the eerie green light
the scent of Irish Spring greeting me as I rose to the surface

and all was the best it could ever be
only I had no idea of any of that,
so I dried off and put on my pajamas

and hurried to the pallet Granny had made for us with her quilts
when the 11 o’clock news was over, she turned the TV off,
told us good night, reminded us to keep it down and go to sleep,
and then she turned off the lights

tonight as I reach over to turn off my own lamp
I find myself wanting one more bath under that light
one more sniff of Irish Spring and
and wanting, once more, to feel my Granny’s hand as she patted me on the shoulder
on her way to bed

more than anything though
I want to dance with lightning bugs
and the people I love
and have feet so dirty they leave a ring in the bathtub

just as they once did
beneath the eerie light
in the little house
that built me

Musical Memories

Over the weekend I got an email from the Georgia National Fair sharing what their musical acts this year will be.  One of the bands listed was the Marshall Tucker Band.  I told my children, “Yeah.  Cap enjoyed their music.”

And then I started laughing.

When I was growing up, we always tried to get Daddy the perfect gift.  For his birthday.  Father’s Day.  Christmas.  And it was always a challenge.  One year we knew he had said something about really liking the music of one particular group.  Between us children and Mama, all we could come up with was the name started with M.

We looked and searched and listened to the radio. (This was pre-Google by the way.) And then, after hearing the latest hits, we knew.

Thank goodness.

Men At Work.

Of the “Who Can It Be Now?” and “Land Down Under” fame.

Ahem.

Daddy was very gracious about it.  He even liked the music on that cassette tape.

But no–I’m not sure how it eventually came out, but it was the Marshall Tucker Band he’d originally mentioned.

Now if you’ve heard music from both, you understand just how gracious he was.

Because they are very different.

I love this memory for so many reasons.

Another trip down Memory Lane happened when Aub was playing music for Cooter to help him focus on his lessons yesterday.  They are both trying to convince me he learns better when music is playing.  I don’t know.  I thought so at one point, but when some songs come on, he jumps up and starts singing and dancing and yeah.  I’m thinking not so conducive to the learning in those moments.

When I heard the beginning notes yesterday, I knew.  And I went back in time almost 38 years.

My brother was a baby.  Daddy had just taken him out for his first ride in Daddy’s old pickup truck.  Mama was cooking supper, listening to the radio, when the song came on.

“Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” by Willie Nelson.

She knew what a big moment this was for Daddy and my brother and when the lyrics played, I think she let out something somewhere between a laugh and a cry.

“Don’t let ’em pick guitars and ride in old trucks

Make ’em be doctors and lawyers and such…..”

She knew it was all over then.

And the song always made her smile.

The two big concerts this Fall at the Fair are going to be Alabama and Rascal Flatts.  Aub said she thought she wanted to go to both–that was a proud moment for this Mama with eclectic musical taste–“but I think I should probably go see Alabama.  I mean, who knows how much longer they will be playing…..”

“I thought they’d already done a Farewell Tour,” we both said at the same time.  And then we laughed together.

I love how music is such a part of our memories and our lives.

Tonight I’m thankful for a Daddy who was gracious and never ceased to amaze me with his “outside the box” appreciation of music.  I think I know where I got my eclectic taste from.   Daddy really enjoyed old country, but over the years “You Are” by Lionel Richie, “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler, “Reason to Believe” by Rod Stewart, and even “Karma Chameleon” by Boy George and Culture Club, for goodness’ sake, were added to his list of favorites.  This doesn’t even include the alternative musicians he listened to and enjoyed.

He used to say anytime he heard “You Are” by Lionel Richie, “I don’t know if he did or not, but he should’ve gotten an award for that one.”  And my Daddy was not one to repeat himself unless it was really important.

Tonight I’m also thankful for parents who surrounded us with music of all kinds and recognized the value of listening beyond the sheer pleasure of it.  I am thrilled that my children have inherited a rich musical legacy of listening to all types of music and that they are able to develop their own tastes.

Wishing you all a day filled with music you love, with one or two new ones to try on for size thrown in there as well.

Love to all.

The album cover I remember from growing up.

The album cover I remember from growing up.

A Glimpse of His Growing Up

On the way home from church tonight, Cooter and I were riding along Hamburger Highway where all the billboards and “big city” lights are.  He was chatting about his visit with his much older and cooler guy friend who was giving him advice on how to deal with our Princess and her friends.  He was happy about those words of wisdom, but even more so, he was happy that he’d had time with his older buddy.

At the stop light, he switched gears from talking about which Star Wars movies his friend said should be okay for him to see to ask me, “Hey, Mama, who is that man you always go to see at Christmas Made in the South?  The artist? What’s his name?”

I had to think for a minute, he’d changed the subject so quickly.  When I realized what he was asking, I told him.

He nodded.  “Yes,  him.  Well, he is going to be at the Peach Blossom Festival at Peachy Peach,” he said, using the nickname he’s always used for the local peach packing shed and market.

“He is?  Well thank you for telling me that.  How do you know?”

“Oh, I saw it on a poster last week at the gym.  It’s hanging up on the board. I thought you might want to know.”

Oh bless him.

When he and his Daddy took our Princess to her dance class while his big sister and I were at the vigil for Kelly Gissendaner, he saw the poster and recognized the face.  He read it, and tonight he remembered to share that with me.  It reminded me of the first time he smiled at me as a baby when we’d been apart for a few minutes–I knew he remembered me and thought of me when I wasn’t around.

That moment when you realize your baby boy isn’t a baby anymore.  That he’s growing up on you and working on being a thoughtful young man.

That moment right there.

Oh my heart’s not ready for him to grow up yet.  But since he seems bound and determined to, I’m thankful for his little loving heart.  He can be full of the mischief and is most of the time.  But tonight I saw glimpses into the one who is going to hold my hand when I get old and tell me how much he loves me and tease me about the wrinkles on my face.  It was only a glimpse as he immediately lapsed into a conversation about the two dirtiest men on earth (a video he saw thanks to his oldest sister being home on spring break-seriously one hasn’t bathed in sixty years and one in twenty, and do NOT get them mixed up) and proceeded to tell me all about them.  The little boy who doesn’t always want to shower came back full force then, and I was able to breathe a little sigh of relief.  Yes, he’s growing up, but maybe it won’t be too fast.

Tonight I’m thankful for being known and loved and important enough for my little guy to notice something and think about how his Mama would like to know that.

Wishing you all someone who knows and loves you, and who remembers to share important and not so important things with you, just because you matter.

 

Love to all.

Whom Do I Get That From?

One of my favorite conversations I ever had with my Granny was the one where I would ask her who looked like whom in our family.

We had it several times over the years.

I would ask her about each one of my siblings–my one sister looked like my Papa’s family, the other sister like Granny’s family, my brother looked a lot like my Mama’s family with a little of Daddy’s mixed in.  I would always save myself for last.  I loved her words that never changed and savored them, loving the way they fell on my ears.  And my heart.

“You?  You’re a perfect mix of your Mama and your Daddy.  I can see both of them very clearly in you.”

Yes ma’am.  I’ll take it.

I was laughing today thinking about what this conversation would be like today.  It’s been at least eighteen years since we last talked about whom I took after.

“Granny, where do I get these age spots from?” (her and Daddy, bless ’em)

“Granny, what about this proclivity to getting mouth sores right before a cold?” (my Mama)

“Granny, what about this absent-mindedness and brain fog that’s starting to set in lately?” (she’d likely plead the fifth on that one)

and so on…..

I was laughing over what I’d ask her about now, when the thought came to my mind of another trait that I’ve only garnered in the past few years.

And I pondered on whom I got that from.

It turns out, interestingly enough, this one turned the family tree upside down.

This trait did come to me from my one of those who came before me.  It turns the family tree upside down.

I did not get this trait from one of those who came before me. It turns the family tree upside down.

I’ve become stronger.

Wait.  For that -er to work I would have had to be strong to begin with.

There’s no comparison.

I’ve become STRONG.

Like I’ve never been before.

It didn’t take my Granny sitting in her recliner across from me in the new house in town to tell me where I got that from.

My daughter.  My Aub.

I get my strength from the one who first made me Mama.  The one who is now in that fascinating land somewhere between childhood and adulthood, where Disney movies and J-Lo movies (oh me) intertwine.  The Jonas Brothers and Ed Sheeran.  Comfy sweats and jerseys with leggings and boots.  Makeup and ponytails.  Fine dining and Nu-Way.

A wonderful place to be, and I look at her and I’m amazed.  I’m sorry, I’m pretty sure it was just last month that she was sitting on the bed trying to hold her head up at just six weeks–poor little pointy headed baby.

It’s rounded out now.  And so has her world.  She started off strong.  Knowing her own mind.  From the get go we knew she didn’t like turtlenecks but she loved butter.  She didn’t like to sleep, but she loved to sweep.  She loved pigs and she was not keen on sour candy.

She grew up speaking her mind (no, Granny, I got no idea where that came from *sigh*), and I kept telling myself, “One day this will pay off. One day I’ll be glad she’s so strong-spirited and speaks her mind and stands up for who and what she believes in.”

It became my mantra.  One day…..

And I was right.

I became strong because of her.  Because she has been strong through so much hurt and disappointment and loss, I look at her, and I know, I can be too.  Some might say I had to become strong for her, because of her, and that might have been the start, but really, now, it’s like she’s showing me how to be strong.  How to stand up and speak my mind.  How to tell the world, this is not okay.

Because she’s doing all of these things already.

I’m very proud of her.  And a little in awe of her too.

And lest you all think I’m under the impression that she’s perfect, have no fear.  I know she’s not.  And just to prove it, here is a shot of her bedroom.  At Home.  Where she does not “live” 80% of the time.  (I have no idea what her dorm room looks like–there’s some things you just have to let go and are better off not knowing.)

 

My girl's bedroom--proving she is far from perfect.  Hey.....wait, what?

My girl’s bedroom–proving she is far from perfect. Hey…..wait, what?

 

 

Hey.  What happened there?  It seems the Force is really strong with this one.

Just kidding.  I wouldn’t do that to her. (And no, we’re not discussing where she gets that *ahem* “lack of organization” from.)

Tonight I’m thankful for family members who look like one or the other and for those who don’t.  Those who are born to be one of us and those who are chosen.  Each one is beautiful, and each one my heart grows a little because of knowing.  Finally, I give thanks for a daughter who is growing up to be someone I admire and respect, and I don’t take that lightly.  I only know a drop in the bucket of what she has to deal with, and how often she has to regroup and stand strong in her beliefs.  And for me, that’d be enough to have me toppling over, falling to my knees, crying “Uncle”–really hoping one of mine would show up to straighten the situation out.

But not my girl.  She takes care of business.  She’s brave and strong, and even though she’s not always happy about it (I can be a slow learner at times), she is teaching me to be those things too.  She empowers me and challenges me to be my best self.  For her, for her siblings, and for this world.

Strong?

Yeah, well, I get that from my daughter.

Love to all.

 

Selfie with Superman

Tonight was our Princess’ Christmas dance recital.

Precious.

From the little ones dancing to a song about having chicken pox at Christmas to the precision of the older girls as they performed their jazz number, it was a wonderful way to celebrate the season.  I am thankful over and over for my children being able to attend this dance studio and gym.

Our Princess was thrilled that her aunt Mess Cat and cousin Shaker and Aunt and Cousin came to see her perform.  I was tickled pink too.  I got to hug and visit with some of my favorite folks in the world.

My Cousin and I were talking about Julie Andrews and “Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins” and his high standards in viewing live theater.  The conversation then shifted to talking about movies we’ve seen over the years and the fact that they still have their Video Disc Player.

Oh me, the memories of that VDP!  We had some awesome movie nights, all of us crashed out in their living room, watching “The Man from Snowy River” or the original Star Wars movies.  Or so many others.

Turns out they still have those Star Wars movies.

I think it was my Aunt who mentioned “Superman.”

And my eyes glazed over and I left the room for a minute. Or two.

I was at least thirty-five years younger, and there was Christopher Reeve on the screen.

And I was in love.

I spent YEARS in love with the man.  Superman, yes.  Oh, that movie.  The flying scene.  Most.  Romantic. Scene. Ever.

Okay, I’m telling a tale.  There’s also that dancing scene in Sound of Music and every single scene in “Somewhere in Time.”  (Also Christopher Reeve–in case you didn’t know. And Jane Seymour.  #perfection)

My crush was no secret.  Daddy often teased me about my undying affection for, as he called him, Christopher “No Lips” Reeve.  I don’t know, Daddy, who looks at his lips…..I mean, really?

It was so widely known about that even Santa was in on it.  There was the year that Santa put a small figure of Superman in my stocking.  If you pushed his legs together, he did something but I can’t remember what.  No noise, just moved his arms or something.

And he was awesome.

I wonder where he got off to.  Isn’t it odd how some things just drift off over the years?

But I digress.

When I came back to the present this evening, I looked at my Aunt, and I was so thankful she reminded me of my infatuation.

Y’all, I really hope we can take selfies in Heaven.  (You know, those pictures you can take with your phone of yourself and someone else.  Or are they “ussies” when you include another person?)  I mean, because I really want to take a picture with Superman for sure.  I cannot bear the thought that such a photo opportunity can never happen just because he’s left this world.

And I’d love to snap a photo with Michael Landon.  And Whitney Houston, bless her heart.  And Maureen O’Hara.

And of course–if he wouldn’t mind a really quick one–

Elvis.

All of these people who have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  How cool would it be to walk up, hug their necks, say thanks for all the joy over the years, snap a photo, and then get back to partying with my people there?

Ah.  Silliness, I guess, but in the words of someone I hold dear, “I think we’re all going to be surprised.”

So maybe I will be able to take a selfie or two.

Tonight I’m thankful for the really great movies of my growing up years.  The ones that bring back all the feelings and emotions and memories from way back when.  I give thanks for sugarplum fairies and littles ones dancing their hearts out and smiling so big as they do.  I’m thankful for family gathering together to make little ones feel special and for conversations that remind me of what I used to love and really, that I never stopped loving.

Ah, Christopher Reeve.  Tonight I’m especially thankful for a visit to my youth and a dream planted in my heart.

One day–a selfie with Superman.

(And the REAL one please, not all this “remake” junk–and yes I know CR wasn’t the first–just step away if you don’t think he was the best Superman ever–we simply canNOT be friends.)

It could happen, right?

Wishing you a joyful memory from the past to make you smile today.

Love to all.

Photo of my favorite fella growing up via http://justicebulletin.com/articles/suit-me-up-superman-pt-2/

Photo of my favorite fella growing up via http://justicebulletin.com/articles/suit-me-up-superman-pt-2/

 

All Those Role Changes…..Bravo!

Today the littles, my brother-in-law Leroy, my nephew Shaker and I went to the Grand Opera House to see Junie B. Jones the Musical.

I love that place.  I really do.  It put the art in architecture.  Oh wait…..well, it is beautiful and a sight to gaze upon.  Add in a live performance, and it’s one of my favorite places to be.

Today was Shaker’s and Leroy’s first visit to the Grand.  We were in the right place at the right time and got front row balcony seats.

The play was funny and received many LOL’s (laughing out loud) from my crew.  Especially when the two tall male actors came onstage as Lucille’s best friends who rhymed, Camille and Chenille.  Because rhyming names is an important quality to have in a friend.  Hilarious.

That’s when I sat up and took notice. Well we all did actually, but I started paying closer attention to exactly how many actors were in the performance.  I mean, there were a lot of characters–Junie B, her Dad, her Mom, her teacher, the bus driver, two girls on the bus, Lucille, Herbert (I think that was his name–her new BFF), Gladys Gutzman, Camille, Chenille, three other classmates…..

That’s a lot of people.

Leroy said he thought there were maybe fifteen people putting on the performance.

I watched costume changes and was amazed that this one actress changed shoes with every costume and character change–and these were the lace up above the ankle Converse type sneakers.  Nothing quick and easy.  No slide on shoes for her.

Turns out Leroy was way off.  When the play was over and they had the curtain call, there were six talented men and women on the stage.

Six.  That’s it.

I was amazed and very impressed.

Leroy and I were talking about it this evening.  He said, “Yeah, if that had been me, after about my third line or so, I would have said, ‘Okay, I’m outta here.'”

Me too.  Based on costume changes alone.

While the guys who played the two girls were good, I was most intrigued by the young woman who played Lucille and Ricardo and a girl on the bus.  Her costume change each time was from hair to toes.  And she went from playing a girl to another girl to a boy with a distinctive accent.  It was fun and mesmerizing to watch.

Leroy and I were very impressed with their changing roles and playing so many characters well.

After talking with him this evening about it, I headed out with my chauffeur hat on and delivered little people where they were supposed to be.  While sitting and waiting, I went through my checklist on what I needed to do when we got home.  And the rest of the week.

And then it hit me.

We are all like those actors and actresses, aren’t we?

Costume changes, role changes happening regularly, sometimes with only a moment’s notice.

And we do it.

The only difference is–

We’re winging it.

No rehearsals, no nets, no one to answer when we call out “Line!”

No second takes.

This is it.  And we have to be ready for our next scene at all times.

Now that’s what’s impressive.

We don’t give up after a couple of lines or ask for an understudy to take on the role.

We get up, we get out there, and we do it.

Might not be an award-winning performance every single moment, but hey–we show up and we perform and we play more roles than we ever imagined we could.

I think that deserves a standing ovation.

Tonight I am thankful for the opportunity to share live theater with those I love.  I give thanks for the hands that built the building we sat in and for the powers that be who make sure it stays as it has always been, an important and beautiful part of our cultural story.  I am thankful that the play was good, and that Shaker seemed to have a great time.  Most of all, I give thanks for those in my life who play numerous roles and have set the bar way high for the smooth costume and role changes.

So what if we don’t always seem to get our lines right.  The actress who played Ricardo entered the classroom as him and spoke in Spanish.  “He” then explained that since he speaks two languages, it’s hard for him to remember which one he’s speaking at the time.

I feel you, Ricardo.  It’s like that in real life too.  Sometimes there’s so much going on, I don’t know which way to turn, let alone what needs to be said or what I’m trying to say or where I’m supposed to be.  But, as with the other classmates, grace abounds and we move on.

Tonight I salute you all with a standing ovation.  Way to go!  You showed up.  And you haven’t given up.  It’s not easy, this living life thing, and you haven’t quit yet. That is phenomenal!

Who needs to hear the words “You done good” and get a standing ovation from you?  It’s free, and it doesn’t take long, and it just might put a smile on someone’s face.

And that’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Grace.  Encouragement.

Bravo!  Brava!  Well done!

Love to all.