chasing tomorrow

it seems to me that we are

forever

chasing tomorrow

with our calendars

and phones and day planners

and clocks and timers

and menus

and lists and

plans

so that we will be ready

R-E-A-D-Y

when tomorrow does come

 

and of course the irony is that

it never does

and so we continue to spend

our todays

planning

tomorrow

 

and rarely do we sit down

and have tea

for no reason

in the fine china cup we have

saved

for a special day,

sipping with our pinkies up,

chatting about the weather

and the flowers in bloom

and all that is

now,

in

this

moment

 

we simply cannot,

must not,

lest we be called mad

and unprepared

by those who are

really quite busy

and organized

chasing

tomorrow

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Don’t Miss the Dance or Flip to the End

Yesterday, in the midst of the madness around here, I looked over at the couch and saw Cooter, head on the seat, feet up the back of it, reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  He has seen the first Harry Potter movie.  His older sister has read all of the books.  His middle sister has just finished the sixth book. Both of them refuse to give away any of the details in the storyline, no matter how hard he begs or how persistent his questioning is.  Me, I’ve forgotten so much, he doesn’t bother asking anymore.

When I asked him what he was doing, he said, “I’m reading the second book.  Baba (big sister) said since I’d seen the first movie, I could start with the second book.”  He turned back to his book.  Upside down and everything.

I struggled with the need to tell him to put the book down and come work on handwriting or math, but this is my child who, up until five months ago, was NOT reading.  Ahem.  I let him be.

For a while.

Today I saw him reading again.  And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him flipping pages.  Toward the end.

“What are you doing, buddy?” I asked him.

He looked up, grinned that sheepish one tooth grin, and said, “Well, I was just thinking I might see what happens later.  You know…..”

*sigh*  Yes, I do.

But I am very much against it.  Fight the urge, little man.

“Hey, don’t do that, okay?  If you do, you are going to spoil what happens at the end.  More importantly, you’ll spoil all that happens before that–you will miss the story, bud.  The journey.  And that’s what makes it.  The story of getting there.”

He nodded.  Did he get my meaning?  Will he quit trying to jump ahead to find out what happens, or will he enjoy the ride as he reads page by page?

I have no idea.  As my Daddy often said, “I can want it for him, but I can’t make him do it.”

Years and years ago, at the very beginning of another lifetime, I had gotten a new cassette tape by a new artist–Garth Brooks.  I loved most all of the songs on it, but my favorite at one time was “The Dance.”  I guess that’s why Cooter wanting to flip to the end of the book to see what happens hit me so hard.  The lyrics of that song, written by Tony Arata, are etched on my heart.  So many endings that if I’d known about them…..well, I would have missed out.  Because I don’t know if I would have thought I could handle the pain.

And now, I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain
But I’d of had to miss the dance 

So my dear ones, I know there’s always going to be the curiosity and the desire to know how it turns out.  What happens to Harry?  To Hermione?  Is Dumbledore hiding something?  Who is Tom Riddle?  There are those questions in real life too.  How will this homeschooling thing turn out?  Am I doing the right thing?  Will she graduate and go straight through her post-graduate work?  Will truth and good triumph over evil in this battle for what’s right that we are in the midst of?  How old do I have to be before Mama will let me get a cell phone?  Or go places without texting her I’m there safely? (FYI, never)

All of those questions, the uncertainty, the wondering–it’s all part of the amazing journey and adventure we call life.  It’s not always comfortable, but it will always be a part of our life.  So best to make peace with it and enjoy the dance.

Because life’s too precious not to.

Love to all.

If you’d like to hear the song, here’s a version by Westlife–a recent favorite group of mine.  Because well, you know, there’s nothing of Garth on Youtube or iTunes.  Heard a rumor that could be changing.  Fingers crossed.  Until then, these boys do it justice. 

 

 

A Life Well Laughed and Loved

Twenty-one years ago, the world lost an amazing…..and an amazed man.  He loved life.  He was in love with living I think.  My Great Uncle, married to my Mama’s Mama’s sister, my dear Great Aunt.  I can honestly say he was one of the most joy-filled people I’ve ever met.

Family issues put him and my Aunt in a position to be our grandparent figures on Mama’s side of the family.  Mama and her brother moved in with them when she was in high school, though they’d already been stable and consistent people in their lives before.  Mama loved living with them, and when we came along, we loved them too.

Where my Aunt was,  for the most part, very ladylike and all about doing what was “proper,” my Uncle was full of fun and laughter.  I can remember from a very early age visiting them, and him motioning quietly for me to come over.  I’d lean over his recliner where he sat so I could hear his whisper.  “Shhh, go ask your Aunt when she’s going to get her hair done.”  Like an obedient puppy (is there such a thing?) I’d walk up to my Great Aunt and ask, completely unaware that she had been that morning, “Aunt W, when are you going to have your hair done?”  She’d snap her dishtowel at me and click her tongue.  “Go on with you.  And go tell your Uncle he’s full of trouble, getting you to ask me that.”  He would laugh and it was infectious.  Before I knew it we’d both be rolling in laughter.

That was life with him.  Rollicking and fun.

He was a CB ham radio operator.  He let me call Mama on it one time when I was spending the night with them.  From his radio to her phone.  And sometimes we’d talk to his Ham radio buddies.  They all treated me like I was royalty.  I learned to say “over” when I was done speaking.  I loved it.  He also loved clocks.  He had one whole wall in the wood-paneled den covered in clocks.  My Uncle was one of the first people I ever met with a computer.  He was fascinated by them, and he wanted to know everything.  I would often show my cell phone to my Great Aunt in the last couple of years of her life, and say, “Wouldn’t Uncle R love this?”  And he would have.  A mini-computer?  That takes pictures and fits in your pocket and you can talk on it–shut the front door.  He would have had the very latest, not to impress anyone, just because he loved technology.

He had a dune buggy for a while.  That was fun too.  And he had a metal detector that he found some of the coolest things with and he let us try it.  He and Aunt W loved going to Helen, Georgia to go panning for gold, but their very favorite place on earth?

Disney World.

Oh my.  They went several times.  I know they really loved Epcot too.  But Mickey Mouse was a favorite.  They had matching timepieces with Mickey Mouse on the face.

So full of joy and whimsy and love of life.

But he was no fly by the seat of his pants kind of guy.  He retired from Robins Air Force Base as a civil servant and worked in a doctor’s office in the later years.  He was a great cook and love my Aunt dearly.  He raised Mama and her brother and loved them like they were his own.  Just as he loved us.

When I graduated from high school, he and Aunt W drove up from their small town south of here in time to come to the house first for a visit before the ceremony.  A couple of my friends from school were coming over to help me type my speech.  They arrived and said they’d seen a couple stopped just up the road from our dirt road, putting something on their car.  We all were puzzled, but shrugged and went on.  The mystery was solved a few minutes later when my Great Aunt and Uncle pulled into our yard.  There were cardboard signs stuck all over their Very. Nice. Car.  “Follow us to Graduation.”  “Tara is Tops.”  “Tara is “MY” niece.”  The last two lines he had also had printed on fancy plastic name badges they wore to graduation.  Very swanky.  I was laughing and crying at the same time.  I was so loved.

When I married, they were listed in the announcement as my maternal grandparents.  That’s who they had always been.

It was cold and rainy on a Sunday afternoon in February 1993.  I went by my Granny’s after church to visit for a few minutes.  I was heading to Macon to see my Great Uncle who had been pre-admitted to the Medical Center for surgery on an aneurysm near his heart.  Granny was worried about the weather, but I assured her I would be okay.  I drove up and spent a wonderful afternoon–laughing of course.  My Uncle was full of stories and they always made us laugh.  It was with a reluctant heart that I said goodbye to the party that included him, my Great Aunt, and my Mama.  At the time I remember I wish I could have stayed longer, but I told him I’d see him again in a day or two after the surgery.

The surgery was scheduled for Monday, and as far as I remember it went okay.  But Tuesday morning, very early, brought me the phone call I will never forget.  It was my Daddy’s voice.  “Tara, I need to tell you something.”  That was never good.

My Great Uncle died in the wee hours of that Tuesday morning.  Mama drove my Aunt in the dark hours before dawn back to her home over an hour away.  I drove Daddy up to the hospital to get Mama’s car, and then I followed him down to my Aunt’s house.  We spent the day making coffee for folks who dropped by–in small towns news travels fast.  That was where I got my “making coffee for other folks” phobia.  One lady made a face and nearly spat her coffee out.  “Who made this coffee?” she asked.  “It’s horrible.”  I wanted to tell her I did, and she was welcome to make it herself.  In her own home.  But I didn’t.  That wouldn’t have been proper and neither my Aunt nor my Mama would have been pleased.  Still.

During the ride with Daddy and then the ride down south by myself, my mind kept turning.  It had happened so quickly.  I had had no worries over this surgery.  What had happened?  I was so glad for the gift of that Sunday.  I treasure the memory of that visit still.  But as I thought about it then, my hands gripped the steering wheel tightly, and I asked myself a question that I still wonder about from time to time now.

If I had known it was our last visit, how much longer would I have stayed?  Would I have been able to leave at all?

This is where my mind goes when folks start talking about wanting to know the future.  Not me.  It would just be too hard to LIVE if I did.

My Great-Granddaddy, Aunt W’s Daddy, used to give me a dollar to spend at the TG&Y on occasion.  One time he gave me one and my Uncle took me to the store.  I bought a little Tweety Bird.  My Uncle was delighted.  He spent the rest of my visit “fussing” about that bird and all the mess he was making.  I would find him in the trashcan sometimes.  I can remember hearing a toilet flush, and then my Uncle walked in the den, wiping his hands, and said, “Well we won’t be bothered by that bird anymore!” Once I figured out the game, I was all in.  I made sure I took Tweety Bird every time we went.  Somehow over the seventeen years after Uncle R passed, Tweety Bird became my thing with my Great Aunt.  Our way of continuing the laughter and remembering.  I found everything from Tweety Bird socks and hand towels to sheets and tea seats and shirts.  Well, what else do you give a prim and proper lady from south Georgia?

Tonight I am thankful for a man who loved my Mama through some dark times as though she were his, and then who loved me and all of us like we were the greatest treasures he’d ever found.  He, in fact, was the treasure.  He brought laughter and joy and whimsy into our lives and chased the darkness in the corners away.  He was patient with our questions and curiosity and instead of telling us “don’t touch,” he seemed to love showing us new things on each visit, as though he’d been saving it up just for us.

As for that question I have wondered about all these years, I’m glad I didn’t know what was going to happen when I sat in the hospital room that Sunday afternoon.  If I had, the visit would have been a lot different.  Instead it was nearly as fun as if we’d been sitting in his den back home, listening to another tale from Mama’s childhood or the story of his new favorite attraction at Disney.  It was a visit filled with hope and fun and a love of life and others, just as his whole life was.  And for that, I give thanks.

Wanted: A Grateful Heart and a Satisfied Soul

This afternoon after our Sister Circle was over at Daybreak, I saw my friend Mr. B sitting in one of the comfortable chairs in the gathering area.  He waved me over.  I was glad to see him.  He had heart surgery before Christmas and wasn’t able to get his medicine filled until January 1.  (Oh the things we take for granted.)  He smiled his wonderful smile and asked about my Fella.  They became good friends when the Sunday night suppers were being served each week.

The last time I saw him he was staying at one of the overnight shelters.  I asked him how he was doing, and he said he was still staying there.

“I’m okay, though.  I don’t mind it at all.  You know, I was thinking about this the other day.  You know how when Jesus was here?  Walking around on this earth?”

“Yessir.”  I nodded.

“Well, think about this.  Everything around him was His, belonged to Him.  EveryONE around him belonged to Him really.  But the Son of Man had no—”

“place to lay his head.”  We finished together.

We both nodded.

Mr. B continued.  “So then, who am I to want stuff?  When God’s son Jesus didn’t even have anything to his name, why should I spend my life wanting stuff?  Why shouldn’t I be okay where I am?”

Preach.

It was more than a good sermon.  What he didn’t realize was he was calling me out.  Me, who does love her GW Boutique bargains and who spends way too much energy mooning over pretty scarves and cool handmade jewelry and things I have no real need for.  Who has a hard time letting go of “stuff” that has a story behind it.  I stood there looking him in his precious face and thinking of how I have failed and how much I want to have the heart this man has.  A heart not weighted down by stuff.

It was a surreal afternoon.  When some of my friends who live in their “camp” close by asked what the weather is expected to do the next few days, I looked it up on the Weather Channel App.  My heart sank as they groaned at the lows the next couple of nights.  As we said goodbye, we waved once more, and then headed across town.

But it might as well have been to another world.  So much of my life is filled with this grotesque contrast between the world of the “haves and the have nots.”  I found myself sitting in a lovely office with amazing chairs listening to someone who knows how to handle finances and all of that “stuff.”  As we visited, the word “stuff” came up.  He laughed and asked if we had heard George Carlin talk about “stuff.”  I have.  This comedian described our houses as piles of stuff with tops on them.  That we have to lock so no one will come in and get our “stuff.”  And when we run out of space for our “stuff,” we have to buy a bigger place to hold our “stuff.”  The funniest part to me is when he mentions that there is a whole industry devoted to taking care of our “stuff.”  *sigh*  Funny but sad.  Because it’s true.

Tonight I’m thankful for a friend who knows what it is like to be satisfied where he is.  He is not wanting more stuff.  I want his focus and faith and heart.  And I want to share it with my children.  Christmas is not even a month gone, and I’ve already heard a want or two.   I am ashamed to share that.  It breaks my heart.  Did they learn that from me?

I want to raise children who are thankful and satisfied–to be adults who are thankful and satisfied…..and not always wanting “the next big thing” or “more stuff.”  I could blame it on the commercial and advertising we are exposed to, but in reality, I know it’s not completely their fault. I need to set an example of a grateful heart and a satisfied soul.  Like my parents did before me.  Live simply within my means and be thankful and take care of what I do have.  That’s what I want for my children as well.

Tonight I am thankful for those around me who show me what it’s like to be satisfied, and I’m thankful for the stuff I do have…..but I really want to let go of the wants and focus on the good of where I am right now.  Wherever that might be.

 

Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. Luke 9:58 NIV

what season are you in?

Yesterday in the midst of a lively conversation at our Sister Circle at Daybreak, we were on a roll.  I was at the dry erase board with marker in hand jotting down the things being shared about hitting roadblocks on our journeys and how we can help others.  I just about couldn’t write fast enough, the thoughts were pouring so quickly from my Sisters’ hearts and minds.

A question came to mind in the middle of the discussion.  When there was a break, I asked, “What season are we in?”

Miss G answered, patting her hand on the table in front of her emphatically, “This one.  Right.  Now.”

Wow.

I was looking for Christmas as an answer, but okay.

Yes.

This is just about the most perfect answer I’ve heard in a while.

Shouldn’t we all be in the season we are in now?

Let me rephrase this.

Shouldn’t I be (be present, let it be, be okay) in the season I am in now?  Without looking back and losing myself in the memories of the seasons past?  There’s a difference between remembering and dwelling.  Or without worrying over the seasons to come?  *patting the table for emphasis* Just be.  In this one.  Right. Now.

The season I am in right now is one of always having a little shadow and conversations constantly going and people following me into the bathroom, of running the dishwasher at least twice a day, and of mounds of clean laundry taking over the loveseat.  Pretty much permanently.  It is one of lessonbooks and storybooks flowing across the supper table and into chairs and stacks upon stacks on bookcases.  It is a season of goodbyes, as I’ve had to say more than a couple of those in the past three years.  It is also a season of saying hello to the new little ones who have come into our midst.  The season I am in now is one of transitions–of learning to be Mama to a near adult and finding out what it’s like to go on without the love and wisdom of those who knew me first and best.  In this season I am learning to embrace the color gray and I’m learning that the indignation of my youth has given way to a little more tolerance and a whole lot more perspective on what is really important in this world.  This is a season of celebrating on a whim and making myself more interruptible and realizing that the good guys don’t always win.  It is a season of grace–and I am thankful for the grace offered to me daily by those I love and by complete strangers on the street.  It’s a season of being “with” and realizing that sometimes the only answer is there is no answer.  And that I don’t always deserve what happens or comes at me in this life–both the good and the bad.  I think my favorite thing about this season is the people whom I do still have with me–the folks who love me in spite of my meltdowns and tears, my frustrations and quirks.  Those family and friends are what I love most about where I am right now.

One day the season will come where I will have more space than I want to myself.  I will stop finding cars and Star Wars figures on my kitchen counter or in my purse.  No one will call out asking me where something is or how to spell something.  There will be no more Lalaloopsy versus Mighty World adventures.  I won’t have extra clothes to fold or littles to pick up after.  I will be able to sit with a cup of coffee at my leisure at ten o’clock or two in the afternoon and write to my heart’s content, instead of typing until my eyes are drooping way past midnight.  I won’t have to maneuver around the teenager’s car in the driveway.  It will be a straight shot to the road when I’m headed out–not on a “taxiing someone around” mission.  I am thinking of all of these things not because I’m worrying over the season to come, but so I can put this season in perspective.  This one is not forever.  It is only fleeting, these moments of wiping noses on sleeves, correcting manners, and cuddling as we watch a show together.  Life is too short, though the heartbreak and brokenness can make it seem long. Way too long sometimes.

The best season to be in is the one I am in now.  I want to learn to embrace that.

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This is where I am.  And that’ll do for a Wednesday.