The Question She Always Asked

Tonight I’m sitting with my Mama, as I remember her and struggle to fully grasp how long it has been since I heard her voice aloud.

Three years.

And tonight as I am struggling to let some things go and not put back together pieces from some other things, I can hear her asking the question she always asked us.  Whether it was schoolwork or housework or outside chores or a project or apologizing for a wrongdoing, she would ask,

“Did you do your best?”  

If we were able to honestly answer “Yes ma’am,” grace abounded.  She was okay with almost anything as long as we had no kidding, no holds barred tried our very best.

Mama was all about doing the best we could do in any given situation.  It was something she taught us and expected.

Our best.

Some days that might still look pretty broken, but as long as we had “applied” ourselves (another turn of phrase she liked) and given it our “all,” Mama was pleased.  It might follow that we would still have some work to do towards a resolution, but still.  Our best was all she ever asked.

Not THE best.  Our best.

Tonight I needed that grace.  I’m thankful to Mama for reminding me of it.  I can’t fix all the things I want to.  I don’t have the time to make all the good things happen I’d like to make happen.  I was grumpy a few times today and wish I hadn’t been.  I didn’t get all the clothes folded that are on the couch.  There are a couple of dishes in the sink that will likely stay there until morning.   I cried twice today over things I can’t change.  I forgot to thank my neighbor for driving me this evening.

But I can say, pretty much, that overall, yes ma’am, I tried my best.  And when I came to that realization, I felt a weight lift.  (And I’m pretty sure I felt my Mama patting me on my back, but that’s another story.)  As long as we can end a day by saying we’ve done the best we could do with what we had in front of us–well, then, I’m calling that a win, how about y’all?

Love and grace to all.

 

Keeping an Eye on the Ball

I’ve spent the past few days hanging out with and checking on Miss K.  Her family went out of town and left her here at home, just a few houses down from mine.  I’ve gone over a few times a day to check on her, make sure she’s eating, and let her out to go to the bathroom.

Miss K is a canine friend of mine.

And she is a love.

I have yet to learn her story, but she only has one eye.  She is so well-behaved that she has the run of the house when her family is gone.  She is protective and has to be sure it’s me before I can get inside the house good.  And she is smart.  And fast.

This evening before her people were due home in a couple of hours, I went over to let her out once more and to say goodbye.  She has a tennis ball that she loves and she shyly brought it to me once a few months ago when I was hanging out with her. She’s so good at tossing it from her mouth just so, and it rolls right to me.  Amazing.  Miss Sophie has yet to acquire that skill.  Actually she has yet to figure out that she has to LET GO OF HER TOY for me to be able to throw it when she brings it to me, but that’s another story.

Miss K and I went in the backyard.  She was excited because it was a pretty day, she loves to chase the ball, and I think just maybe she’s starting to like me just a little bit.  This wasn’t the first time we’ve done this, but for some reason I paid more attention to her movements this time.  I watched her watching the ball in my hand.  I couldn’t fake her off for a minute.  She knew when I released the ball and when I didn’t.  With her one good eye, she could track it and chase after it at the same time and she never. missed. a. beat.  She didn’t run into a tree or lose the ball or anything other than keep her eye on the prize and get it.

Yes.  Amazing.

As I watched her, I thought about how whatever her story is hadn’t kept her from doing something great.  She has literally and figuratively kept her eye on the ball and done amazing things.

How often have I let my physical and even emotional wounds define me and keep me from trying to do something?

Far too often, y’all.  There have been times in my life when, if there was a doctor’s excuse to be had, I would’ve taken it.   Hurt shoulder, headaches, tired/wore-out-ness, grief, pain, heartache…..I’ve let any one of those things give me pause at one time or another.

And I’m not saying I shouldn’t have.

What I am saying is that once Miss K started healing after whatever caused her to lose that one eye, she didn’t sit back and let that always affect what she tried in this life.  Instead she wove that “loose end” into the blanket of her story, and she kept on going.  With only one eye at that point, but she kept going nonetheless.

And I think that’s pretty fabulous.

Tonight I’m thankful for a precious dog who reminded me not to leave all these loose ends dangling, ready to trip me up or slow me down.  She reminded me that it is important to stop and take in what is happening, but then it’s just as important, if not more so, to weave it in, keep my eye on the ball, and go for it.

And that’s quite something for a sweet little dog to have mastered in her short life.

I’m happy for her that her family is home now, but I’m going to miss that shy little powerhouse.

May we all have such courage to keep on going, to chase that ball, and never lose sight of what’s ahead.  No matter how hard the past has been.

Love to all.

Husum-Schlosspark-Playing-Dog

This is not Miss K. She didn’t sign a release for me to use her photo. (I mentioned she was shy, right?) But isn’t this a lovely dog in a lovely park? By Frühstückbeistefanie (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Growing Up With Grease

Grease has been on my brain today.  No, not the movie.  Or the song.

In cleaning things out from Blackberry Flats, the homeplace, I wound up with two bars of Lava soap still unopened.  They were my Daddy’s.  When I asked Aub to help me by putting it away in my bathroom, she asked, “What is this stuff anyway?”

Lava soap and memories of my Daddy

Lava soap and memories of my Daddy

Lava soap.  Only the best go to soap EVER for folks who worked around cars and grease.  Well until they put Gojo on the market.  I remember Daddy keeping some of that out in his building and using it after working on one or another of the cars that lived in his yard.  But before that, Lava–the green stuff.  Lava soap reminds me of days working outside around my Daddy.  Of getting grease or pine tar off my hands.  Lava soap reminds me of Daddy.  Period.

So I now have two bars.  I don’t find myself with car grease and the like on my hands much anymore, but I will find a reason to use this soap.  Until then, I’ll keep it tucked away.  For just such an occasion.  And to keep a bit of Daddy close by.

As if I needed soap for that.

This evening I was reading a post by my scarf-maker friend called, “What’s Your Excuse?”  We’ve both been thinking about what we tell ourselves that gets in the way of us working towards our dreams.  Yes.  That.  Things like I say–“I don’t have enough time.”  “I wouldn’t be any good anyway.”  “I don’t have what it takes.”

Bull.

Yes, that’s right.  I said it.

I’m calling myself out.

My parents not only taught me what could wash away the grease but also what the best kind of grease is and what it is capable of.

Elbow grease.

My folks led by example, and they showed us that if you put your mind to it and put some elbow grease behind it, you can get things done.

I remember when it was my turn to wash the dishes after supper.  One of us girls would clear, one would rinse and load, and one would do the dishes that had to be washed by hand.  Or something like that.  I can remember when Mama came back through and handed me a pot that I’d given a half-hearted scrubbing to.  I whined that it was just too hard.

“Grab that sponge and give it some elbow grease.  It will come clean.  You can do this.”

And she was always right.  Always.

If my heart is set on something, and I get my head wrapped around it and make a plan, all I have to do is apply some elbow grease–work on making it happen–then I can do it.  I can.  But head and heart only aren’t going to get the job done.

The magic ingredient.

Elbow grease.

A little stick-to-it-iveness and putting some hard work into it.

And it can happen.

Especially if I use that same elbow grease to heave all the excuses out the window.

Love and wishes for dreams worth using elbow grease to all.

 

The Funny Thing Is, She Didn’t Really Have to Ask

Tonight’s Friday night Fun is brought to you by our college freshman, who knows what she’s doing.  Don’t let her fool you.  She might not have me wrapped around her little finger as she once did, but she knows her Mama and how to play her.

She tagged along on an order I placed and got herself a bag for college.  It came while she was away at school.  She came home while we were away for the afternoon.  She saw the box, saw her bag there wrapped in the plastic, and wanted to open it more than anything.  I don’t even know, y’all.  I mean, I appreciate her asking, but yeah, she paid for it, so…..her bag.  No need to ask me.

So anyway, this happened:

She texted me and asked if she could open up her bag.

 

 

She started her pleas with Zac Efron from the High School Musical movies.  A long time love around here.

She started her pleas with Zac Efron from the High School Musical movies. A long time love around here.

I didn’t get her message right away, so by the time I opened up my messages, this was also in my in-box.

And then Joe Jonas, her first VERY serious love, made his case.

And then Joe Jonas, her first VERY serious love, made his case.

I was with Mess Cat, and I showed her the messages.  We both laughed, and since we were in the middle of something, I didn’t reply right away.  Plus, as I told Mess Cat, it was fun to see what she’d come up with next.

We didn’t have to wait long.

Oh no she didn't.  She pulled out the BG. Big Guns.  Also know as Barry Gibb.  Oh good gracious me.

Oh no she didn’t. She pulled out the BG. Big Guns. Also know as Barry Gibb. Oh good gracious me.

As Mess Cat and I tried to re-focus on the task at hand, this last one came through.

Wrapping up with a father-son duo--Rhett Akins and Thomas Rhett, who sings the song she has taken liberties with.  *sigh* Interesting sidenote: she and I met Rhett Akins at the local county courthouse in 1997, I think it was.  Very cool.

Wrapping up with a father-son duo–Rhett Akins and Thomas Rhett, who sings the song she has taken liberties with. *sigh* Interesting sidenote: she and I met Rhett Akins at the local county courthouse in 1997, I think it was. Very cool.

It was time.  After all, she’d paid for the bag.  It was actually kind of sweet that she wanted my permission to break it out.  So we put her out of her misery.

Yeah, Mess Cat and I agreed.  She had us when she pulled out the big gun.  Go ahead, girl, open up your bag.

Yeah, Mess Cat and I agreed. She had us when she pulled out the big gun. Go ahead, girl, open up your bag.

It was several minutes later when this came through.

20140404-224724.jpg

Quite possibly the best thank you ever.  Mistyping and all.

There’s all kinds of marketing lessons in this.  First of all, know your target audience.  Don’t play a Tom Cruise when your market is obviously more of a Barry Gibb or Christopher Plummer kind of audience.

Second, know what you want and make your message clear.  Crystal.  And be persistent.  And consistent with your message.  Set your goal and go for it.

Third, always ALWAYS say thank you.  That’s of the utmost importance.

But, for me, the most important lesson of all is the Mama lesson in this.

I am known and loved by my oldest, the one who in just a few short weeks will wrap up her first year in college.  (That right there.  Crazy.  But I digress.)  She taught me that she knows me, she loves me, and she is a strong young woman who is also considerate and respectful.   And tonight I give thanks that she is learning to decide what she wants and finding creative ways to make it happen.  Apply that to everything you want in life, baby girl–don’t whine, don’t beg, use your resources, get creative, and bring laughter and joy–and you will go far.  ❤

Love and laughter to all.

 

And just curious, what person/character in all the world would have convinced you?  😉