A Star in the Dark

This past May was a time of celebrating, remembering, and just a few tears–happy tears. My oldest graduated from my alma mater and now hers, Wesleyan College.  The graduating seniors voted for two parents to speak at the Baccalaureate service.  It was a great honor to be one of the two chosen.  As I told the seniors that night, the only thing better than being a Wesleyanne has been being a Wesleyanne’s mama.  

Tomorrow my oldest starts her newest journey–the first day of classes in law school.  My sisters at Wesleyan also begin the new school year, so I thought I’d share my dreams for them that I first shared on May 12th.  I wish them all the best–my daughter, my sisters, and all those beautiful young people starting a new year of learning.  I hope they all will remember the beauty of their light, freely share it, and often remind others of their beautiful light.  

We need each other y’all.  Now more than ever.  Love to all.  

 

Hello to all of our friends and family here tonight, and an especially warm welcome to my sisters in the Class of 2017. Thank you for the honor of being here to share with you this evening.
I’m going to start with a line from a song you’ve maybe heard a few times during your time at Wesleyan—
“…..a star in the dark is thy glorious past…..”

You. All of you. Did you know? From the moment you took your first breath, your light has been shining. This world is better and brighter because you are here. Each and every one of you.

I recently saw something on Facebook that one of your sisters shared. It had a picture of two pink sparkly eggs just like these, and it said,
“me vs. you bc we both cuties who don’t tear other women down.”
Yes. That. Each and every one of you is a pink sparkly egg, and your light is important.

Don’t let anyone let you feel like it isn’t either—whether you are graduating with a 4.0 or 2.7. Whether you’ve garnered many awards during your time at Wesleyan or none, whether you know exactly where you will be on Monday or in August or if you have no idea what is ahead for you—your light is still beautiful. As is yours and yours and yours. And it is so very needed. The most precious thing about light is that it doesn’t diminish when shared with others. And when we stand together, it shines even brighter. That’s what it means to be a Wesleyanne. That’s what the sisterhood is about. And it doesn’t end either, y’all. My sisters from the classes of 1987-1993 have continued to be a strong presence in my life, even more so in the past few years. We had a saying back when I was here, “Sisters in spirit stay sisters forever.” And after all these years, I’m adding another line, “Sisters in spirit stay stronger together.”

As you go forth from tonight and tomorrow, I want you to take three things with you.

Your light. Share it. Use it to shine in the darkest places, and become a safe place for others. And if you find yourself needing a safe place, look to your sisters. Even those you may not have met yet. Find me. Love on each other and lift each other up like the pink sparkly eggs you all are.

I want you to take with you gratitude. My first birthday after my Daddy died in 2011 was the last one I’d have with my Mama. And she gave me this gratitude journal. I didn’t get it. I was still very much grieving and I knew she wasn’t in the best of health. A gratitude journal? Really? It was while she was sick in the hospital that I found myself getting it—grasping a bit of this gratitude thing. I began to notice little things—a cup of coffee at just the right time, the gentle nature of a caring nurse, my phone that I could use to research things—things and people to be grateful for. And it was because of the light of those around me that I could see it. My friend Ashley, the Baddest Mother Ever, and a sister of yours as well, often uses the hashtag #saythankyouhere.  So number two, my sisters, is gratitude. Practice it often. Say thank you as much as you can. Let folks know when you appreciate them.

This past week I found myself out with my Auburn, my daughter who is my sister, just the two of us, and we were laughing our way through the Walmart. At one point, when we were giving each other a hard time, like we do, I said to her, “I don’t know why you do me like that, I’ve always been good to you.” She laughed and said, “Well, there was that one time…..”

Y’all, there will always be that one time. Or two or three. This is not a world of absolutes. Success is not a run of no failures or mistakes. There will always be that one time. Or two or ten. (I did pretty good in college but there was that one time…..we do not talk about Calculus II…..ahem) But neither is anything or anyone all bad. Someone might be grating on your last nerve, but as time passes, I’m betting you will wind up saying, “Well, except for that one time…..” Look for those times, okay? Look for every opportunity to find that one time when their light shines, even just a little.

I wish you all the best. I know most of you are probably ready to go. I was not. I had no clue what I was going to be doing, and life is turning out okay. (Well, there was that one time…..) As you finish packing up and saying goodbyes and heading out on your next adventure, remember to take your light and refuel it with laughter, good friends, and all the things that tan your soul. Offer grace every chance you can and offer the comfort and compassion to others that you learned here from each other. And finally, remind folks all around you that they too are pink sparkly eggs. And y’all—look in the mirror and tell her too. She might really need to hear that.

You are standing on the shoulders of giants. On the shoulders of the ones who stood at that same marker you just gathered around and the ones before who attended school there. You saw many of them Alumnae Weekend—all of us crazy old ladies. You are standing on the shoulders of your professors and the staff who supported, challenged, and encouraged you the past few years. Look around you—you are standing on the shoulders of the ones here—friends and family who love and cherish you—your biggest cheerleaders. And you are standing on the shoulders of the ones who aren’t here—the Caps and Maemaes and Papas and Ollies and Denises and Rev. Hurdles and grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, mothers, and fathers. Their light shines on through you.

My sisters, a star in the dark is your glorious past. But now you are all blazing comets, leaving a brilliant, beautiful trail behind you. Soar on and leave love and laughter and pink sparkles in your wake. Best wishes and happy everyday!

img_3463

The One About the Finger Injury, Birthing Goats, and Green Yarn

My Cousin is one of the most fascinating and beautiful folks I know.

Wait.  Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

So Saturday night, after a lovely afternoon of painting and then a massive trip to the grocery store, I came home to unload and start supper.  I wasn’t doing the best I could do, and I cut my finger.  No blame anywhere except myself.  I was tired, I wasn’t paying attention and slice–right through my left ring finger on the side up near the nail.

Bleeding. For days.

Okay.  I exaggerate.  Slightly.

It bled for an hour.  Which can seem like an eternity when it’s your blood.  I put ice and pressure on it and every single time I checked it, it started right back to flowing forth.

Anxiety Girl came and sat down on the couch with me where I sat trying to stop the bleeding and keep my finger elevated.  She shook her head at me, and then she whispered, “So you think this could finally be IT?  I mean, that’s a lot of blood coming out of there.  You might even need stitches.  You probably are feeling a bit woozy, light-headed, huh?”

And you know what?  She was RIGHT.  I was feeling dizzy.  Just how much blood had I lost? Could you lose too much blood through a finger cut?

I finally did what I’ve done for close to three years now.

Without my Mama to talk me down and tell me what to do, I called my Cousin, because she’s all about the healing.  She knows all the things.  When she didn’t answer, I called my Aunt.  Because she knows just how many “poor babies” I need in any given situation, and she has met Anxiety Girl, and she is all about the healing things too.

We assessed the situation and realized that while I didn’t have the perfect remedies here, I did have a *fingers crossed* suitable substitute.  At least until I could talk to my Cousin.  So I applied the cream I had here and covered it with a bandaid and thought all the positive thoughts.

Okay, mostly positive thoughts.  I was still worried.  A bit.

Okay, a lot.

But that Anxiety Girl–she’s a persistent one.  It’s hard to shake her.

It was then that my Cousin called back.

She said the cream could maybe help, but that applying cayenne pepper to the cut would stop the bleeding very quickly.  “It will sting,” she said. “But it will do the job.”

Well, doing the job was what I was worried about.  Stinging I figured I could handle.  I was raised with that one bottle of Mercurochrome at my Granny’s, so I know stinging.

Aub stood by with the bottle of cayenne pepper, a little too eager for my comfort level, but she insisted she was only trying to help.  I unwrapped the bandage and lo and behold–no blood!

Hallelujah.  That cayenne pepper is so good it worked metaphysically.

My Cousin and I celebrated over the phone, and I thanked her.  She is such a blessing to all of us, and I hope she knows that.  As we talked, she apologized for not getting the call when I first tried to call her.  She had been out checking her very pregnant Mama Goat.  She said it looked like it could be another little bit before Mama gives birth.  She just hopes the birth won’t happen on one of these nights with the lows in the 20’s.

My mouth dropped open.  “You are one of the most fascinating creatures God ever created,” I told her, and I meant every word.  She is.  And she’s funny and clever and kind too.

She and I are each working on a temperature blanket for 2016.  We will crochet a Granny stripe each day with the color based on the high temperature of the day.  We planned out our original colors, but the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t like the true green with the other colors we chose.  I stayed up late into the night worrying over it a couple of nights ago.

My Cousin stays up late worrying over birthing goats.

Ahem.

I owe her this.

img_1265

An epilogue to the story:

Due to all the injuries, both real and imagined, that happen around here and with our neighborfriends, we were nearly out of bandaids here at the house. This sent me into mini-panic mode Saturday night, as I knew I needed a band-aid to hold my wound together–at least until it started healing on its own.

The next morning Aub and I went to the Getting Place, and I went straight to the bandage section.  I found all kinds of neat things to wrap around my wound–er, ahem, I mean–cut.  As Justin Case handed me several different packages including finger “covers,” Aub shook her head and said, “Mama!  You’re going to wind up spending $100 on band-aids and bandages.”  She sounded more than a little exasperated and very near to being fully incensed.

I held my finger up high for any and all around to see, and I announced a little louder than usual, “I have injured my finger.  Do not judge.”  And I added a pack of Star Wars band-aids to my cart for good measure.

Because Star Wars.  And if you have to wear them, why not wear ones that are cool and make you happy?

img_1267

I hurt my lil’ ol’ finger, y’all.  

Tonight I’m thankful for the ones who are here who take my calls.  Or call me back.  Either way.  The ones who put up with my silly woes and worries and help me heal.  Not just my finger, but my heart and soul–the little bits of me that miss the way my Mama would tell me in that way she had that “it will either get better or it will get worse–and then you’ll know.”  She usually followed up that statement with words that let me know she fully expected “it”–whatever it was–would get better.  Just give it time.

Wishing you all folks in your posse who love you and have all the best healing powers.  And I wish you matching yarn and plenty of band-aids–whatever your favorites are.  Because sometimes it’s the little things that ease your spirit.

Love to all.

***oh and I’m thankful I didn’t have to actually use the cayenne pepper this time around***  But NOW I know…..

 

 

 

 

A Legacy of Loving

Thursday evening as we pulled into the middle school parking lot, arriving for the littles’ gymnastic recital, Cooter piped up from the backseat, “I wish Maemae weren’t dead.”

Oh my heart.  Bless him.  Me too, baby boy.  Me too.

I’m not sure what prompted him to feel that, but maybe it’s because she was there for his very first gymnastics recital in 2012.  Maybe he was seeing her walking down that sidewalk with us after it was all over, her face beaming and telling him how wonderful he was–I know that memory kept playing over and over in my heart as we drove in and parked.

His sister agreed with him.  My Mama had a special gift of making the one she was talking to feel extra special.  Valued. Loved.  Wanted.  A treasure indeed.  And she never accepted you putting yourself or anyone else down.  Not ever.

She also told me when I needed to get off my pity pot.  But that’s a story for another night.

So this is for my children–the ones she loved, the ones she said made her life “grand”–

Maemae loved you.  She still loves you.  You never failed to put a smile on her face and a song in her heart.  She wanted you since the moment she found out you were on your way.  And she never stopped wanting you–as her grandchild, in her home, sitting next to her, in her heart.

She never stopped, and she sure shooting hasn’t stopped now.

There are going to be these moments in your life when the pain of her being gone is going to be a little harder than normal, like these past few days–special events, moments that make you think of her, or sometimes, for no reason at all.

And here’s what I want you to remember.

Maemae left you a legacy.  A legacy of love.  She loved you so strongly that when you sit and think about her and all you did together, I hope it puts a smile on your face.  Because you never failed to put one on hers.

But she also left you a legacy of loving.  She spent years and years building relationships with people who loved her back and who now love you.  Because you are hers and because you are pretty amazing people all on your own.  Look around at who is there when you have special events.  Look at who answers the phone when you have something to share.  Look at who blesses your heart when times are hard.  Look at who comes and moves you out of your dorm room or listens to you play piano over the phone or on a video.  Look at who listens to your stories and plays with you.  Look at who comments on your posts or sits and makes you laugh.  Look at Who. Shows. Up.

You were loved.  And you still are.

None of those who are here loving you now could replace her, and none of them want to.  But what they can do and WANT TO DO is love you and celebrate you and bring you comfort when you are sad.  And remind you that you are a treasure.

How lucky we are that Maemae was so good at loving people that she left us with all of these folks who love us too!

Our Princess’ dance teacher retired last year.  She returned this afternoon to watch “her girls” perform in their recital.  It was a loving gesture, and the girls were so excited to see her and for her to see what they have learned in a year’s time.

As she and I stood backstage watching them perform, it struck me how fortunate we are that Miss B did such a wonderful job of loving and teaching our girls.  These girls love her and were sad when she decided to retire, but because she passed the love of dancing along to them, they had what they needed to continue with dance when she wasn’t there.

See, if she had empowered them only to love her, none of them would have returned.  What a selfless gift she gave them when she made it bigger than her…..these girls’ love of dance is her legacy.

Maemae was like that with love.  She loved us fiercely and taught us to do the same, but instead of always wanting all that love for herself, she taught us to send it flowing outward to others and others and more others.  It didn’t stop with her, and because of how she loved, it never will.

That is her legacy.

Tonight I am thankful for women who teach and love in such a way that their absence doesn’t stop all the good things they have taught us.  I give thanks that my children remember and miss their Maemae, but even more I am thankful for those who continue to love them in the here and now.  I know she would be the last one wanting them sad on special days like these, and I love her so much for building relationships that feed our souls and warm our hearts and celebrate alongside us.  I don’t know what I would do without those smiling faces in the audience, those loving voices on the phone, the laughter and the willingness to step in and help.  I don’t know what I would do without those who show up.

And I’m thankful I don’t have to.

May we all love and teach the ones around us such that we don’t have to be around for the words and lessons to still matter and guide their hearts.

Love to all.

IMG_8127

cast of stones

there are times
on this journey
when the path is covered with brambles
and the way is almost indiscernible

this is when I miss your voice the most
and the wisdom
you shared as easily as the
stories from days gone by
and sometimes they were the same

you seemed so assured
of right and wrong
and yet I wonder if it was
always so clear to you

because frankly, the mud confuses me
and I’ve lost sight of the tracks you left
in the midst of it
I cannot read the compass you gave me
in this unchartered territory

and the Light you were as you showed me the way
seems a little dimmer right now
as time passes and the memories fade
and stories wander off on their own
with no one to tell them

and so I sit here
all alone
on the side of the trail
I can hear the people moving along at their busy pace
to and fro

listening to the buzz of their words
none of it really making any sense to me

I shiver in the darkness
hiding in the shadows
unable to go on
perhaps I will just stay here forever
as though I am broken
and have been given a cast of stones

with a heart too heavy to go on

The Best Day Ever

Today.

Another year passes.

And our Princess is ten years old.

And so I ask what every parent asks, “Where does the time go?”

Last year I shared the story of her arrival in this wonderful world she loves so much.  Tonight I’m thinking of another birthday, when she turned seven three years ago.

My Daddy had been fighting his Giant, lymphoma, for almost three years.  On our Princess’ birthday we took some lunch and snacks over to Mama and Daddy’s house to have a party and spend the day with them.  The Fella was not home so we had no reason to rush back.

Daddy had not been doing well the few days before the 16th.  And on the day itself I don’t know that he was awake or alert at all.  Despite that we had a lovely and fairly quiet day with Mama, who staged her traditional “treasure hunt” for finding the birthday gift.  Our girl was thrilled as she went from room to room, sounding out the words in the clues that Mama had so carefully printed in extra large and all capital letters.  And when she made it to the big room and looked inside the side table cabinet, what she saw had her squealing and putting her hands over her mouth in joy.  A Barbie Jeep!  And it was pink.  Perfect.  Maemae had outdone herself in the midst of all that was falling apart in our world.

Against what I wanted to do, which was stay there and never leave, I decided to head home, feed my crew some supper, feed the critters, and then head back to spend the night with Mama and Daddy.  Our precious Hospice nursefriend had told us the day before that it probably wouldn’t be much longer.

As we went in the living room where Daddy’s hospital bed was, he was still resting, seemingly asleep, but I wanted the children to tell him “‘bye” as we usually did.  We walked in, and our Princess was beaming from ear to ear.  “Oh Cap!  Thank you thank you thank you for the Barbie jeep!!!!! I absolutely LOVE it.  It’s so awesome and my dolls fit in it and I love sitting them in it and driving it around.  Oh Cap it’s just awesome!  Thank you so much.  This has been the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!”

As she told her Cap all about the day and how much she loved him and appreciated his thoughtfulness, tears came to my eyes.  I am not worthy of this child, this ray of sunshine in our lives, who finds so much joy in just about everything and almost everywhere.  She’s not perfect, I won’t kid anyone about that–just this evening she was scrapping with her brother *sigh*, but when it comes to giving thanks in all things and loving on folks, somehow I think she might just be a step or two ahead of me.  I know the Creator must be really pleased with this one, and I am flabbergasted that I was chosen to be her Mama.  Again, not worthy.

Little did any of us know as she stood there, with light shining from her so brightly I could all but see the glow, that her Cap, my Daddy, had less than a day left here with us.   And still, through it all, my girl was shining.  Sad and heartbroken but still such a light for us in those dark days.

IMG_5799

A game of chase and hide and seek was also a part of the fun this afternoon.

This spot warms my heart.....and my toes.

This spot warms my heart…..and my toes.  As do the folks who sat around it with us.

 

This birthday weekend has been a busy one and filled with things I hoped would bring her joy.  And each time I was not disappointed.  Whether it was a surprise trip for doll shopping or having tea or her big sister coming home to celebrate, she was so enthusiastic and joyful about it all.  And when we sat around the fire (very possibly my new favorite place, y’all) this evening with folks she loves so much, she couldn’t stop smiling.  After a rousing game of monkey in the middle with Cuz’n, Shaker, and her siblings, with Miss Sophie in the middle, she said, “My face hurts from smiling so much.”

Oh baby.  I hope your face hurts a lot in this life.

I came across these words a couple of days ago, and they make me think of our Princess.  Again, I know she’s not perfect, but what she does have is infectious.  And Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson was speaking to my child’s heart, as she is doing just that.

 

IMG_5816

 “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Because tonight, just before heading to bed, she hugged me again, and said, “Oh Mama, this has been the best birthday ever!”  And I have no doubt in my mind that she meant every word of that.

She picked out the candles and decorated her own cake just like she wanted it.  With way more than ten candles.....and that's absolutely okay.

She picked out the candles and decorated her own cake just like she wanted it. With way more than ten candles…..and that’s absolutely okay.

Tonight I’m thankful for folks who make their lives interruptible to make sure our girl had a happy day.  I’m thankful for fire pits and hot dogs and roasting sticks and family traditions.  For ten-year old girls, especially this one, who still love dolls, I’m very grateful.  For big sisters and little brothers who are too excited to wait to give their gifts and for girls not quite so little anymore who want to decorate their own cakes, my heart beats in a thankful tune.  Most of all, for the gift of this precious child whose name aptly means “happy or joyful,” I give a heartfelt and humble thanks.  Thank you for this gift, this precious child, who opens my eyes to what gratitude really looks like.  She reminds me so much of her Maemae when it comes to that.

Wishing you all a day of wonderful surprises and joy-filled moments.  Still celebrating…..

Love to all.

 

First Day of School

Do you remember them as fondly as I do?

The first day of school each year?

Oh, the smells of new notebooks and pencils and books.  The untouched notebook, still brand-spanking new.  The quiet hush of the early morning, rising before the sun.  We never got up that early during the summer.  Well rarely anyway.  Breakfast on the table, Mama standing in the kitchen.  Daddy sitting at the end of the table, reading a bit of the paper and finishing his morning bowl of cereal or slab of pound cake with peanut butter or big ol’ bowl of grits.   Waiting to drive us to our respective schools.  Hugs from Mama, wishes for a most excellent day, instructions to be our very best selves, packed bookbags and lunchboxes and out the door.

New schedules.  Homeroom teachers.  Fingers crossed we’d be in the same classes with our best friends.  My least favorite year was the one where we stayed in the same room all day and the teachers changed rooms.  I found out then how important it was for me to be able to visualize the classroom to remember assignments.  It didn’t work so well that year, with everything in the same room.  I don’t know what kind of experiment that was, but I’m thinking the teachers probably weren’t too crazy about it either.  It was only that one year we did that. I can understand why.

Four years ago we made the decision to homeschool our Princess.  After lots of talk and thoughts and meditating on it, Aub came to me two days before public school was set to start and said she’d made up her mind.  She wanted to be homeschooled too.  Wow.  Okay.  Monday found us at the school withdrawing her from the school system, and Tuesday found me handing her a stack of books, saying “Read.”  For some reason I had it in my head we needed to follow the public school schedule.  As curriculum was ordered and we waited, she read and read.  And then we began in earnest.  It was a good choice for us.  If for no other reason (though there were many), it gave us freedom.  Just a few weeks after we started our homeschooling, Daddy went into the hospital and didn’t come out for six weeks.  The year he was diagnosed with lymphoma.  We were able to throw books in the car and go.  I’m so thankful for that.

That FIRST first day of homeschooling though?  I had no clue.  I was winging it.  Fortunately Kindergarten and 8th grade are not easy to mess up.  But still, that first morning I was a little nervous.  I pulled out the parachute I’d gotten, and we played games to start our day before we dug into our new texts and reading material.  I think back to those parachute games and see how far we’ve come.

Oh we have a long way to go, but we’re getting there.  Little by little.  Year by year.

Getting all of our books together for tomorrow.

Getting all of our books together for tomorrow.

Tomorrow is our first day of school around here.  Early?  Yes.  Crazy early?  Possibly.  But here’s the thing.  One year I was so overwhelmed with schooling and everything else that I didn’t get to really enjoy December, the festivities, and all that is beautiful in that season.  I didn’t get to ponder Advent and anticipate Christmas.  It was all a blur.  Each year since, I’ve had as my goal to be able to take off most or all of December from our diehard lesson plans.  (We never really put the learning down, but it’s nice when we have the opportunity to relax a bit.)  So once more, I’m attempting it.  We’ll see how it goes.

And so.  Tomorrow.

Making my plans ahead.  Wonder how long that will last.

Making my plans ahead. My attempt to be organized.  Wonder how long that will last.

 

Tonight I’ve been going through my materials, resources, and books once more.  I’m excited.  For the first time, I’m pulling things from different curriculums and putting together my own plans.  It was somewhat inspired by our trip to the Mouse House and travelling around the world, all in one afternoon.  So this will be something of an “Around the World in 180 Days,” I suppose.  For whatever reason we’re starting with Australia.  I have books that describe the lives of children in different countries.  We will have passports and look at maps and prepare foods from different cultures.  Our science studies will revolve around the wildlife of the different countries and continents.  We are starting with some Australian “bush music” and some aboriginal art.  I have stories from Australia for us to read aloud, in addition to our reading “Swiss Family Robinson” together.  Oh, it’s just too much fun.  Especially now that they are both reading.  I think my college sophomore may even enjoy being with us the next few weeks as we travel and learn.

What’s that?  Math?  What are we doing about that?

*sigh* You had to ask, didn’t you?  It’s not a favorite subject for either of my littles, especially not for our Princess.  But this is the year we are going to conquer that disdain and make it another subject we can’t wait to jump into.  I have some interesting books to start us out.  One thing I’ve learned in my years of homeschooling is if one curriculum isn’t working, there’s another one that will.  Ask questions, get samples, try try again.  Sister taught me that.  She believes in test runs and returning curriculum during the grace period if it doesn’t click.

So yes, reading, writing, ‘rithmetic. All covered.  And then the really fun stuff.  Travelling in our minds to places far away.  Nature studies.  Reading Shakespeare for the first time.  Oh I’ve got an ambitious year mapped out. The enthusiasm and excitement are almost palpable.

But then again, it’s just July.  I have a sneaking suspicion that when October rolls around, we might be dragging a bit.  (But wait, that’s Fair time–FIELD TRIP!)

Time for me to call it a night, y’all.  I have another first day of school to put in the books tomorrow.

Here’s to fresh beginnings and the excitement that comes with them.  Love to all.

 

Ecclesiastes and the Season I’m In Right Now

Ecclesiastes.

That’s what Mama would say about now.

And I’d nod my head and say, “Yes ma’am.  I know.  You’re right.”

It was her way of saying, “There’s a time and a place for everything.”

Referring to the verses from Ecclesiastes 3.  Mama loved that passage.  She even wrote it down on one of her recycled Mary Engelbreit calendar pages as a reminder to remember where I am–what season, what place.

Mama wrote this on the back of her Mary Engelbreit Page a Day calendar pages she used for note paper.  She handed it to me to remind me to read it.  I carry it with me in my wallet always.  I am finally starting to get what she was trying to tell me.  Thank you, Mama. <3

Mama wrote this on the back of her Mary Engelbreit Page a Day calendar pages she used for note paper. She handed it to me to remind me to read it. I carry it with me in my wallet always. I am finally starting to get what she was trying to tell me. Thank you, Mama. ❤

The season I have been in this week has been a busy one.  Saying goodbye to another family of neighborfriends.  This is the life in a military community.  Folks move into your neighborhoods, into your hearts, and then they must move on.

It’s been a week of endings.  The end of our year of dance and gymnastics for our Princess and Cooter.  And for me, who has usually been the one making the trek twice a week in my “taxi-mobile” to and from.  And for our family who has suffered through eating takeout on Tuesday nights (ha, who am I kidding–I can name at least four of the five who look forward to that night).  Yes, it’s been a good year.

Rocking the Ninja moves to the theme from Mission Impossible.

Rocking the Ninja moves to the theme from Mission Impossible.

Thursday evening, we attended their gymnastics program.  It was fabulous.  From listening to children singing along with the song that Princess’ class did their routine to–“The Best Day of My Life”–to watching Cooter and his male counterparts do a ninja-like routine to the theme from Mission Impossible–it was AWESOME.  Top it off with folks who know my children and love them anyway showing up to sit on the bleachers and clap and give hugs and high fives after. We giggled watching Princess walk across the gym on her tiptoes (it’s what she does) and nodded together that the song she performed to suits her well.  We watched in awe as Cooter did cartwheel after cartwheel. Well.  Just full to bustin’, y’all.  I can’t even put all that good stuff into words.  Except to say.  It was good.

The costume for my girl's dance recital.  Snazzy, right?  Even more so with the bowtie!

The costume for my girl’s dance recital. Snazzy, right? Even more so with the bowtie!

Last night was dress rehearsal for the dance recital.  As we got our Princess together–hair, makeup (oh my stars–only light stuff for our girl, I just can’t), and costume, we realized she did not have a bowtie.  Her costume was adorable.  All tux with bowtie look on top with red sparkly fabric–sharp and cute all at the same time.  But no bowtie?  Sigh.  Yeah.  Sounds about right.  I was convinced it had fallen into the abyss that is our laundry room–where I’d had it hanging waiting for the big day.  I spent a lot of time searching and digging to no avail.  Finally it was time to leave.  Well, it’s dress rehearsal for a reason.  I’d figure out something by recital time.

Which brings me to the season for today.  Today was the season for travelling across town to the craft store to search for black velvet ribbon so I could figure out how to make a bowtie. (I’m sure there’s an instructional video somewhere, right?) When that was a fail, I went to the party store, where “if we had them, they’d be right here.” *points* Well thanks.  I’ve enjoyed staring at this spot in your store where you have no bowties.  But it’s good to know where they would be, for, you know, the next time we misplace a bowtie.  Yes.

Thankful for my Fella's resourcefulness.  This bowtie looks great I think.

Thankful for my Fella’s resourcefulness. This bowtie looks great I think.

After a major shopping trip to the grocery store (on a Saturday morning, good gravy, why do I do this to myself?), I headed home to do what came next.  Figure out how to “make do.”  My Fella came to the rescue, with a black clip-on bowtie from his mess dress uniform.  Excellent.  It was black and from a distance, it looked no different from the others.  Three safety pins and voila!  Win.  Yes.  Hair.  Makeup.  Check.  And we were off.

I've been up and down the staircase in Porter Auditorium at my alma mater several times the past two days.  For those of you who KNOW, I was glad that this one I was only in once.

I’ve been up and down the staircase in Porter Auditorium at my alma mater several times the past two days. For those of you who KNOW, I was glad that this one I was only in once.

Today was also a season for revisiting my past.   Back home to Wesleyan.  The recital was on the stage that I walked across so many times, and now my oldest has too.   Such a precious thing to me.  I helped downstairs and backstage, something I have enjoyed doing each year.  I love the excitement in the air, the girls’ stomachs full of butterflies and hair full of hairspray.  They giggle and help each other straighten out skirts.  They share things forgotten and whisper encouraging words.  They talk a bit too loud in the stairwell and tap their shoes when they are supposed to be quiet, but I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.  Because I got at least four extra hugs from my Princess today–one from excitement, one just because, one when she heard who was in the audience, and one–“Thank you for being my Mama.”  Ahem.  Nothing to see here folks–keep on moving.  Just a Mama bawling her eyes out.  No big.

Tonight I am thankful for Team Zoo Crew–who pulled it together and got our littles where they were supposed to be this week, dressed and ready. Well mostly.  I am thankful for loving family who step outside their comfort zones and show up, which is one of the most precious things we can ever do for someone.  Ever.  I give thanks for dance teachers who brush off lost costume pieces, and say, “Don’t stress, if need be, get some black ribbon and tie in a bow and pin it on.  No one’s going to notice.”  Love that grace-filled woman.  I am thankful that she loves the hugs from my girl just about as much as I do.  And accepts them every time they are offered, which is often. I love that I have a ninja boy who rocked his performance and, with his one-toothed grin, told me he wants to do gymnastics again next year.  Thankful for his teacher who puts up with all those boys every week and says she enjoys it.  I’ll take it.

Our sweet dance school director encourages her students to let their true colors shine through always.  What a powerful song.

Our sweet dance school director encourages her students to let their true colors shine through always. What a powerful song.

It’s the big moments like these that I miss my Mama and Daddy even more than usual.  I remember with a warm heart the dance recital two years ago.  It was the first time I’d seen my Mama light up since my Daddy had died six months before.  She was beaming and couldn’t stop talking about all of the performances, but especially those of her grands.  And during both the gymnastics program and recital today, our dance studio director incorporated Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” It was played for the last dance today.  I’ve never heard this song before the way I did today.  Daddy really liked it.  I know because he asked me if Cyndi Lauper had gotten an award for it.  He only did that with songs he thought were really good.  So of course I thought of him.  But as I watched the final performance today from backstage, and I noticed the director/teacher guiding her students from off-stage, I saw she was mouthing the words.  Her face was lit up with something that had nothing to do with the stage lights.  I thought of Daddy and realized whatever she was hearing was what he heard too.  And then I heard the words differently myself.

So today was also a season of change.  Which I don’t do well.  But I’m trying.  Goodbyes, scheduled big events, heading up and down the massive staircases in Porter Auditorium several times with excited seven- to nine-year olds two days in a row, and missing my parents more than usual–it’s been a whirlwind.  But mostly a good one.  Yes, this season is a busy one.  But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world.

Love and a wishes for a good season to all.