Catching Sight of Him

Cooter is enjoying his drama program.  Each week he heads through that door and doesn’t look back.

Well not much anyway.  When he is on stage delivering his lines (yes, he’s already memorized them! what a relief), he will glance over and smile with this “nailed it, did you see that?” look on his face.  I smile and sometimes offer a thumbs up.  He’s in his element, and that is a joy to see.

They’ve progressed to the point in rehearsals that all of the children wait backstage for their scenes.  Once they begin, I don’t see him except on stage until it’s time to leave.

This week there were a group of parents waiting for their children near the front door close to the end of rehearsals.  Since I stick around the whole time, I had already walked over and signed him out.  I stood off to the side, waiting.  As the crowd of children headed our way from the back, I finally saw Cooter.  He was moving with purpose towards our direction, but his eyes were steadily searching…..for me.  Oh my heart.  And then that moment when I moved into his line of sight and he saw me…..

bless.

His eyes lit up and he smiled that smile, and his stride was a little more relaxed.  It warmed my heart and soul and made my life to see the expression on his face.

And then just like that, I was his age–or maybe a year or two younger–again.  I was on the playground right after school was dismissed, and I was carrying something that Mama had sent treats to school in.  I was looking for my someone to find me and take me home.  I can still remember that exact moment the crowd parted, and there he was, that handsome, smiling fella I called Daddy.  In that moment, I was relieved, safe, and home.

So it was a very precious thing, this moment that Cooter and I had, where I got a small taste of what that day was like from Daddy’s perspective.  He found me just as I found him.

March 23 is my Daddy’s birthday.  The day to make a cake, light it up with candles, sing, and have him blow out the candles.  It’s the day I give him way more than one card because there were always several that made me laugh and think of him.  It’s the day that we all try our best to make him feel loved and bigger than life.  Because he was.

This will be the fifth year we celebrate his day without him here to give me a pickle or two off of his cheeseburger pizza.  The fifth year I don’t spend an inordinate amount of time in the card section and perusing ideas of what to give him on Amazon.  The fifth year we don’t hear his laugh or watch the children trying to help him blow out the candles.

But it will still be special.

Tonight I’m thankful for the man who first looked for me and never gave up finding me, no matter how far away I wandered off.  I give thanks for every single year of his life that I got to spend with him, listening to his wisdom, sharing my ups and downs, and swapping stories.  I am especially thankful for that day that I was feeling so lost and there he was.  And I know that’s how it has always been–when I was the most lost, Daddy has always been there to help me find my way back.  And in a way, he still is.

Most of all, I am thankful for my little guy whom my Daddy named Cooter because he loved cars just like that mechanic on that TV show years ago.  Because I was loved and looked for, I can do that now.  Now I get to see what being found looks like from the other side.

And it is beautiful.

May you all have someone to look for and who looks for you.

Love to all.

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My sweet Daddy, at age 26, and me at 9 months old. The man who has always looked for and after me.  Love you, Daddy.  Thanks for everything.

 

 

why i will miss Christmas

come Friday I will be sad

that Christmas is over

few celebrate it all twelve days

anymore

 

my heart will be heavy

not because of the gifts

which will have all been given and received

and not because of things done

and left undone

cookies can still be baked

and stories can still be shared

 

instead I will be sad

over the loss of vision and hearing

that seems so much better

during Advent

as we watch and wait and listen

 

we watch with anticipation

for the lights

in the homes

and in the yards

that mean Christmas is near

 

we watch for the special gift

and the smiles on friendly faces

as we wander through shops

and markets

 

we watch for the lone light

on the back porch that

tells us someone is there,

that we are welcome,

and we are not alone

 

we watch for the colors

that bring cheer to the season,

the colors on ornaments,

sweaters, socks,

paper, and ribbons

 

we watch for the knowing glance

of a dear one we love,

and the smile that tells us we

will always be known

and loved

 

we listen for the sound of delight

as little ones and old alike

catch their first glimpse

of the lights so deliberately strung and hung

 

we listen closely for the words,

for the longing in the voice,

so we can find the perfect gift

we listen better and intently,

seeking clues about those we love

and what they like

 

we listen to the songs

that warm our hearts

and lift our spirits

through the stories they tell,

songs whose lyrics we know

and have sung for years and years

 

we listen to the quiet

and think about that night

in the barn that started all of this

listening and watching

and waiting

oh so many years ago

 

and then, as December comes

to a close,

we tidily box it all up–

this acute awareness–

and we hurry on our way,

back to the busy days

and the to do lists

and resolutions

and whatnot

and we forget sometimes

to listen and watch

and wait

until the magic

of the holiday comes

’round again

and reminds us

 

that listening and watching

and gathering with

those we love

is the greatest gift of all

 

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Here

Our oldest came home from college for a short visit yesterday afternoon to spend some time celebrating fall and all of its goodness with us.  She wound up spending the night and driving back for class this morning.

There is a feeling I get in the middle of the night when all of my people are here.  Safe and sound and tucked away–all of them.  That’s a powerful good feeling, especially since it’s not a common occurrence so much anymore.

As my girl pulled out in the same little car I asked for angels to watch over my Mama driving, I reminded her to call me when she got back to campus.  Knowing that she’d be in class almost as soon as she got there, I didn’t want to have to worry if she forgot and was in class or if something had actually happened to delay her.

In her true typical “shorthand,” Aub texted me about forty minutes later.

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Again, here.

I love that word.

It’s a word of comfort.  It means that folks are safe.  Where they should be.  And that means so much, especially considering how things are playing out all around us right now.

The other day I got a message from a sweet friend–“Let me know if you need anything.  I’m here if you need me.”

Here.

The gift of presence–of her being here–oh me.  Yes, please.  A priceless gift to be treasured indeed.

Tonight I’m thankful for safe journeys for my Aub and for the one word message that lets me breathe again, giving thanks with a peace-filled heart:  Here.  I’m thankful for the special occasions that find us all here under the same roof.  And I give thanks for the ones in my life who offer me their love, their shoulder, their presence–and make themselves “here,” wherever that may be.

Wishing you all safe journeys and someone whose shoulder never tires of being leaned on a bit.

Love to all.

When All We Really Want Is…..

This evening I was telling my knitting diva friend and others about my parents’ favorite children’s book, “Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm” by the Provensens.  The stories about all of the animals that live on the farm are entertaining, heartwarming, sad, and funny as all get out.

I thought that my friend would especially love the cat stories, and I told her so.  She has cats that have taken up at her home, and some that most likely have been dropped off there.  No matter, she takes good care of them and makes sure they are all fixed–which is no small feat.  As we were talking about the mischievousness of the cats in the Maple Hill Farm book, I told them about my Mama’s favorite part.  At least I think it was.  She quoted it often enough.

In the book, one cat or another would bring a little mouse or squirrel tails or other little “gifts” up to the house.  It’s the way they said “I love you.”  But as the authors write, “It’s not a pretty sight.”  Over the many years of our many cats leaving various and sundry small, formerly alive critters and various and sundry body parts on our back steps, I heard Mama say it often.  As though finding these gifts is just a part of life.

And I suppose it is.

My friend laughed over that line, and said that she knew that feeling only too well.

“The other night I woke up to find a gift right here.”  She motioned toward her upper stomach, right below her heart.  “It was a live bird.”

What?!

“What did you do?” We all wanted to know.

“Oh, I got up and took the poor thing outside.  It was a live bird.  I hope it still is.”

Bless her.  She’s a retired schoolteacher who possibly works harder now than she did when she was teaching.  I so want to be her when I grow up.  That live bird didn’t faze her a bit.  She’s just that awesome.

And me being me, I then asked her what she’d do if she woke up and found they’d brought her a baby snake, and she shrugged and replied, “Take it outside.  Snakes don’t bother me.”

Have I mentioned how awesome she is?  And brave.

Her story made me think of a one from a ways back.

Many years ago, I was working for Hospice as a social worker and bereavement therapist.  One of my co-workers was working with a precious man and his wife.  The man was our patient, and he was a delightful country fellow who wore a sock hat nearly all the time.  I expect it was to keep his head warm, but I don’t know for sure.  One day when my friend was visiting the family, the wife, who was in another room, asked her husband what he was doing.  He hollered out, “Just sitting here loving you.  What else you want me to do?”

Bless him.  Bless. Him.

Over the years that became a great line for us to share.  I love it.

And as I listened to my wonderfully gifted and giving friend tonight, I figured that’s exactly what those cats were thinking too.  Bless those kitties’ hearts.  They just wanted to repay her for all she’s done for them.  It was their way of saying, “I’m just sitting here loving you.  Here’s a gift.  What else you want me to do?”

Life is like that, isn’t it?  We give gifts that we put thought into, but sometimes the gifts fall short of what might have been more suitable ones.  Or we are given something that the giver put so much thought and energy and time “hunting” down, and we are all “ummm, thank you so much,” and we release it back into “the wild” as soon as possible.  It’s just funny like that.

When all we really, really want down deep inside is someone sitting over there loving us.   It just doesn’t get much better than that.