Family Jewels

So this is it.  An ordinary day that has really big things attached to it.

And to be honest, I’m really excited.

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For every single day, three years in a row, I’ve sat down at some point during my day, usually after all have gone to bed and the house is quiet, and I’ve shared a little bit of my day or my story or my heart right here.

And you’ve read these tidbits from my life.

Thank you.

With all my heart, I thank you.  I know what it’s like to have all the things to do and little time to click on a link or pull something up on a screen and commit to reading it, especially when I get a little wordy–yes, I’ve been called out on this, you know who you are, and I love ya.  And still, you’ve done this.  You’ve listened to my stories about growing up, raising children, being married, struggling through food allergies, letting my oldest grow up and leave the nest.  You’ve multiplied my joys and divided my sorrows, and you’ve raised your fist at injustices right alongside me.

Thank you.

You’ve read the goofy and the serious.  The mundane and the meaningful.  The poetry and the prose.  You’ve sat on my front porch and watched the delight and joy of children and heard the beauty in the songs of the birds and the frogs and watched the sun go down as we sipped the perfect cup of coffee.  You’ve laughed with me and wept with me.

You’ve given me the gift of your time and your presence, and as long as I have my memory, I will treasure this gift.

This week, anticipating this day coming, I’ve thought about what I’ve learned in the past three years, and if you will allow me, I’d like to share them with you.

*Sometimes you can put your whole being–heart, mind, soul–into something, and it doesn’t resonate with a single soul.  Speak it anyway.  You need to let that light shine, y’all.  Just because someone doesn’t notice it doesn’t mean it’s not making the world a brighter place.  Shine on.

*People can be beautiful, broken, hard, kind, mean, intense, easy-going, light-hearted, broken-hearted, funny, somber, sarcastic, caring, compassionate, salty, loving, oblivious, and we need to love them all.  It’s basically our most important job and really, it’s what we were created for.

* My family–every last one of them–are incredible people.  They might not set world records in things that will get them in that book that was the most checked out one in our school library, but they set the world record at loving me and supporting and encouraging and taking my phone calls even though they have all the things to do.  My children and the Fella have put up with my glazed stares when they’ve caught me mid-writing or mind-writing, and they’ve supported my writing by giving me space and time to do it.  They’ve read my stories and they’ve proofed my writing and they’ve given me permission to share our life with others.  I’m getting way more love and good stuff than I could ever deserve in this life, y’all.  When I sit and ponder on it all, in the words of my oldest, Aub, “I. Can’t. Even.”

*I set out writing this in 2013 in the midst of the grief of having said goodbye to my Mama suddenly and way too soon less than two months before.  Mama told me a lot of things–two of which were “You might need a nap, go lie down, and you’ll feel better” (she was always right) and “Go write your story, tell all of this in a book somewhere.”  (Turns out she was right about that too.)  Writing has and continues to heal me.  The words that I’m able to pick out and put on paper take a confusing, wonderful journey and make a little bit of sense out of it.  For that I am thankful.  Every single day of it.

*The ones who have already left this world and headed on up to the House left me a few things.  Even some that could be loosely called “family jewels.”  What I have discovered for the past three years is that the most precious things my Granny, my Great Aunts, my Mama, my Daddy, and the others I love, who are gone from my sight, have left me are the stories.  The memories.  The joy, the laughter, the shared tears, the tiny little moments and the big ones–all which led me to this place right here in this place right now.  THOSE are the jewels they left me that I treasure the most.

And I hope that’s what these stories, these three years of writing will be for my own people one day.  The ones in my family now, and those who will be.  Because my family is not complete.  We’ve all kinds of branches and leaves yet to grow…..we’ve got strong roots to grow from, and that’s a precious thing.  I hope that all of them will find something here in the meanderings I’ve shared to lift them in the dark days and something to laugh about on the joyful ones.

*Finally, I’ve learned that there is something worth writing home about in every single day…..if only you are willing to look for it.  (And believe me, some days I was turning over rocks to look, but there was never a day without something, some thoughts or words or stories to share.)  This is a journey made of many footsteps and many stories.  One day, one moment at a time.  The truth is that February 29th comes around once every four years.  It is special.  But if we are looking for it, March 29th can be just as amazing.  As can September 19th or March 3rd or November 16th or February 10th or December 14th or the twelfth of Everyday.  Each and every day can have a bit of light in it, if we stop searching for the big and amazing and star-studded.  The journey of an earthworm can be just as fascinating as the snow that falls from the sky, if we open our eyes to the beauty embedded in all aspects of the journey.

All this leads me to this.  I am taking a break from writing for I Might Need a Nap for a while.  It might be a week (I have folks enforcing this, so yeah, it will be at least a week), a month, or maybe even longer.  I will come back and write here when the story is there.  But I am not going to stop writing.  It would be like no longer breathing to stop writing at this point in my life.

mama blogging meme

One of my people sent me this. She will remain nameless but she can bake her own cookies and I’m pretty much almost done raising her, so there’s that.

I have a project I’m working on which I am very excited about.  It’s coming together nicely, but it requires more attention from me, and since that means letting go of the blog or my family…..well, in a saner moment, I made my choice.  I am looking forward to sharing more details when the time comes.

I’ve also had someone come round who wants me to tell her story.  I tried to explain real kindly that her timing wasn’t ideal.  That made her harrumph.  (That’s a real thing.  If you’ve seen it, you  know it.)  She crossed her arms and stared me down over her glasses and just nodded and kept on rocking.  That worried me more than the harrumph.  I have tried to placate her, but she looks up at the clock and back at me from time to time, and I realize our time to tell her story is dwindling, so that’s on my agenda next as well.  Helping her tell her story.  She’s a character for sure, and I love her.  So I’m going to spend some time with her.  Because that’s what we do for folks we love.

Unlike other times when I’ve contemplated stepping away for a little bit, I’m excited.  That’s how I know the time is right.  I will be back, as there are more stories to come.  But for now, I’m going to go to bed before the chickens are waking up, I’m going to read good books, I’m going to take long walks in the evening, and if anyone asks, I’ll visit and tell my stories in person.  Because that’s something I want to pursue as well.  (So yeah, holler, and I’ll come spin a tale or two–bring the back porch to y’all, so to speak.  Turns out I get a kick out of that too.)

Thank you for sharing the journey.  If you have a moment to click the follow button over there and sign up with your email, you’ll be sure not to miss any future stories.  No worries if that’s not your thing.  Just please come back to visit from time to time.  Like I said, all kinds of good things going on over here at the house.

But first, I might need a nap.

I’ll catch y’all later.  Make ’em be good to you.

Love to all.

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holding my hand

if we are all, as the writer Ram Dass says,
walking each other home
then I am so thankful that you are here
to listen when I laugh and when I cry
to take in my stories
and keep them safe

and when I lose my way,
it is you, always you,
who gently takes my hand,
just as you did when I was little–
I do remember–
and walks me back down the dirt road
to the little house
that holds all those we love
and their stories

all I can offer you in return
are eyes that see all the beauty you are
the sweetness of your soul
and the depth of your heart

and my hand
as we take turns walking each other
back up the path
to find what is sure to surprise all of us
at the end-shaped beginning

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A Sucker for Love

Way back when, when my oldest was quite a small girl, we often found ourselves over at my dear Joyful friend’s house.  She and her girls were our lifeline, our fun, and our safe place to land.  They were my girl’s sisters for that time and for life, and I am always thankful for them.

So it isn’t surprising, I guess, that when it came time for us to leave their house, my girl would balk.  Balk might be understating it a bit for some occasions.  Flat out, she didn’t want to leave.  I remember my Joyful friend bringing Aub a Blow pop and telling her if she’d mind her manners and her Mama, she could have that sucker.

It worked.

Every single time.

Later, when the time came for us to venture out on our own, and we left the nest of Blackberry Flats, Mama liked to ease the transition of leaving each afternoon or evening with a Bob’s soft peppermint or caramel cream.  And then, eventually, a Dum Dum sucker.  I’m not sure if she changed her offering because she was out of the peppermints at one point or because of our food allergies or what, but the Dum Dums became the most desired treat.  We found an old style candy jar to put on Mama’s counter, and that’s what she would let little hands reach in to so as to find a favorite flavor.  And on rare occasions, when one had been quite good, he or she could–in the difficulty of deciding between two favorites–have both.  “One for now, and one for later,” Mama would say.  Now that I think about it, that wasn’t so occasional–it was more the rule.

I fondly remember Daddy pulling out my favorite flavor and handing it to me.  In that gesture, he was telling me he loved me.  I needed no words.  The lot of us had great conversations about the “Mystery” flavored ones and exactly how they came about.  The extra special ones, like the Savannah blueberry I think it was, brought about as much excitement as a Santa sighting in July.  Too much fun.

I miss those goodbyes.  Those sendoffs and waves and “see you soons.”  And all the hugs.

Today I dropped by Aunt’s to pick up a book and some special bookstore coupons she’d offered us (yes, because we do NOT have enough books–anyone that says different is off my “birfday list”).  She’d called and told me where I could find it as she wouldn’t be home.  We swung by in the midst of today’s adventures, and sure enough, the bag she’d tucked the things in was right where she’d said it would be.

I grabbed the bag and started off the porch, and then I was stopped still by what else was in the bag.

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Four Dum Dums.  For my two littles.

“One for now, and one for later.”

It took me a minute to start the car and get going again.  My eyes were flooded and my heart was full.

Tonight I’m thankful for stories that bind us together and for treasured memories.  I give thanks for traditions that get passed along and continue to warm hearts and bring immediate smiles to all of our faces.  I’m a sucker for tradition, and I’m an even bigger one for things that show us how loved we are.  I’m most thankful for my sisterfriend who knew that a spoonful of sugar is sometimes the “best encouragement,” for my Mama whose head I can still see bent conspiratorially over the candy jar with her grands, and for my Aunt.  Who never fails to remember and reminds me of that in so many precious ways.  The ones we love live on because of moments like this today.

Wishing you all a sweet to remind you that you are so very loved.

Love to all.

playing make believe

when I was little
you sat down and played with me
in the midst of all the grownup stuff
you stepped away into my world
and we played
all the things
we were adventurers
royalty
bandits
horses
chefs
store clerks
teachers
and what I imagined
you made into reality
with a nod of your head
and your willingness to join in the story

and now
as you see things
and tell me of them
does the fact I can’t see them
make them any less real?
and so I join in
with you now
as your story is winding down
just as you did at the beginning of mine
and we play together
just as we once did
looking for the keys
to the Penguin
so we can get out of here

Keys

By Dirk Kohlmann (094 Uploaded by Anne-Sophie Ofrim), via Wikimedia Commons

blue

perhaps
that candle he said you should use
countless years ago
showed how unique and precious
he thought you to be

like one blue candle
in a sea of red
amidst the holiday festivities

maybe he was saying
you are a treasure
unlike any other

and I would agree

blue was his favorite
and so were you

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By John Harvey [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

You Know You’re Loved When…..

Yesterday the littles and I were heading over to my Aunt’s for some cousin time and to circle the wagons.  As we traveled the familiar path, our Princess announced from the backseat, hairbrush in hand: “I just want my hair to look nice, and I’m worried that it doesn’t.”

Yes.  We are those people.  We keep a hairbrush in the car.  (Maybe even two) It has made me a better Mama to be honest.  Instead of losing it as we are trying to head out the door and realizing I need to send someone (HER usually) back to brush their hair and wait THAT MUCH LONGER to pull out of the driveway, we just get in the car and she (or you know, whoever) can deal with it there.

I looked in the rearview mirror and saw that she had actually already brushed it and pulled it into a side ponytail style of sorts.  It looked brushed, and really, that’s all I’m aiming for.

I was actually impressed.  This is the child whom my great Aunt W once looked at and commented, “She sure is pretty.  She’d be even prettier if you’d brush her hair.”

What could I say?  I was busted.  She was right.  Our girl has never been a fan of having her hair brushed.

So you can understand why I was VERY confused that my child was suddenly so concerned about the condition of her hair.

She was brushing it and looking quite serious.  “Do you want to know why I’m so worried about my hair?”

Well, ummm, YEAH.  “Sure.  I’d love to know.”

“Well I want Aunt to know how glad I am to see her.  See, I heard that if you show up just thrown together and everything, it will seem like you aren’t glad to be there and you don’t care about that person.  And I don’t want Aunt to think I don’t care.  So I want my hair to look nice.”

Well.

For the love.

I’m not sure where she acquired such information, and I do intend to ask her, only I keep forgetting in the busy-ness of our day to dailies, but I will.  I mean, it’s not a bad thing to do, putting yourself together because you care.  Still, I am curious as to where she might have come across information such as that…..the mind boggles.

Tonight I’m thankful for my Aunt, the one our Princess loves enough to brush her hair for. (And y’all know that’s some for real, no kidding love.) I’m thankful for Cousins and laughter and dancing in the rain.  For cups of coffee around a kitchen table and holding on to love and stories and the need to be together.  I wouldn’t trade anything for my time with my people, and that I can have that, I am eternally grateful.

May you all have someone so happy to be with you they’re willing to do just about anything to show it–even brushing their hair.

Love to all.

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By Mr. Brian (Brushes) [CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Happy Birthday and Being Held Close

A few years back my friend told me about how, in the Celtic culture, the Holy Spirit is symbolized by the wild goose.  Since that time, I’ve found comfort in seeing a flock of them grazing in a field or near a pond and in the sound of them flying overhead in the grey winter skies.

Today was no different.  On a day that was filled with the things that needed to be done and called me here and there, it was a precious day.  My Mama’s birthday.  Since my brother let the cat out of the bag about her age about 35 years ago, I don’t think she’d mind my sharing that this is her 70th birthday.  And our third one without her here.

I held her especially close today as we sat in a class about animal predators and prey and parasitism and other interesting things to know about animals, and as we went from one appointment to another this afternoon.  But it was when I saw the geese today that my spirits lifted just a touch, and I knew that we were also being held close today.

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May you find just what you need to bring you comfort right when you need it most.

Love to all.

The Best Kind of Gifts

This afternoon after going out on a few holiday jaunts, the littles and I came home.  They never made it in the house, as they saw their friends out playing in the neighborhood and took off to join them.

As it was growing darker, I walked down to my neighbor’s house to call the children home.  I saw Cooter and two of his friends working on something inside of the garage.

And Cooter was carrying this.

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Cooter’s buddies know him. His reputation as a stellar Star Wars fan might have gotten out. What a thoughtful and wonderful gift!

Turns out the three boys decided to “build” Christmas gifts for each other.  Two of them would create something for the third, and they all took turns until all three of them had a present.  When I walked up Cooter and J were finishing up a football “helmet” for their buddy A.  To some it might have looked like a box with holes cut out of it, but to those little guys, it looked like a helmet.

To me, it was beautiful.

And so much fun.

No electronics required.

I love imagination powered fun.  And when giving to others is involved…..well, it just about doesn’t get any better than that.

Tonight I’m giving thanks for the blessing of living on this little street where the children come in when the streetlights come on and pack in as much fun and adventures before that happens as they can.  I’m thankful for the blessing of the friendships between the neighbors and their families.  Most of all, I’m thankful for the spirit of giving and cooperation I saw tonight.

Our future, y’all.  I think we’re going to be all right.

Love to all.

 

Christmas Lights and Marital Bliss

Today we finally got the lights on the tree.  We’ve had a time of trying to find time to actually go tree hunting, what with the Fella being gone, and Aub having finals and papers and all the things due this week, and all the things the littles do. And once we got the tree up, we had a time finding our lights we had stored away.  But today.   We got it done.

As I was wrapping the tree in light, listening to the best Christmas music, I found myself smiling.  Growing up, once I was old enough, it was my job to put the lights on the tree.  Every year. I suppose my parents weren’t as OCD about it as I am or maybe they didn’t enjoy being poked and scratched by those cedar trees.  Whatever the reason, it was my job, and I became pretty good at it, if I do say so myself as shouldn’t.

After the Fella and I married, he was the one who put the tree in the stand and got the lights on it, and I supervised the hanging of the ornaments with the littles.

It wasn’t easy, y’all.  I’d find myself going back and tucking a strand here or there, trying to rearrange it without anyone noticing, much like my Mama used to go behind us in loading the dishwasher.  Just a little thing here or there.  Nothing major.

Then came the year of the LED lights. I don’t know if y’all will recall this, but those things are the bane of my existence this time of year.  The blue-white ones hurt my eyes and the yellow-white ones just don’t look quite right to me.  Now if you like ’em, I’m happy for you, really I am, but for me, I just can’t.  Give me the old-fashioned yellow-white twinkle lights and let me load a tree up.  The year of the LED lights, I’d just about had enough.  I can’t recall, ahem, all what happened, but I do remember that the next year the Fella went out and bought me those twinkle lights I love, and I was the one to put them on the tree.  The LED lights we have are put on the bushes and trees outside, and all is well.

In just a couple of days, my Fella and I will celebrate thirteen years since we stood around the fountain at my alma mater and said our “I do’s.” While Christmas lights weren’t in the list, I’m pretty sure they could fall under our promise to love each other in good times and bad, in sickness (ahem) and health.  In fact, I’m fairly certain, that in 37 years, when we are celebrating our Golden Anniversary, when folks ask us, “So what’s the secret?  How’d you manage to make it this long?” my answer will be the same as it is now.

“Christmas lights. He buys the ones I like. I string ’em up.”

I mean, it’s brought us marital bliss this far.

May the lights in your life bring you all the joy today and everyday.

Love to all.

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Hmmmm, now that I look at it, it might could use another strand around that spot on the bottom…..good thing the Fella got an extra.  

 

 

 

Absolutely Worthless, My Foot!

“I’ve been absolutely worthless today,” my oldest commented from her position on the couch, wrapped snugly in one of my rescued afghans.   “Folks are going to say, ‘What did you do all weekend?’ and I’m going to have to reply, ‘Oh I don’t know, slept in, took a nap, watched Netflix, pretty much nothing worth anything at all.'”

Oh my heart.

My oldest and I had plans for Saturday.  Big plans.  Big girl, driving out of town a far piece and spending the day listening to important things and then coming back home changed and awesome people kind of plans.  (Well, that was the plan–if you’re going to dream, dream big, y’all.)

Instead we were grounded.  Both of the littles fell victim to some kind of vicious bug that had Cooter not able to eat anything and our Princess the same, only with a big ol’ fever to go along with it.  No one needed to come in here and be exposed to that, even if I had been able to muster the wherewithal to leave my sick babies.  Which I couldn’t.

So we were home.  A day that we had prepped for by tidying up a bit and trying to get organized somewhat (y’all who know me well can stop laughing now, I said tried).  Our Princess stayed in her bed and slept most of the day, while Cooter slowly came back from an exhausting night of not being able to stomach anything.  He watched movies and played games and rested.

While I alternated between caring for the two, I also took a breather and had some quiet time during the day.  My oldest though?  She sat in her sister’s room at our Princess’ request, so she’d have company and wouldn’t feel quite so lonely.  She sat and watched videos with her brother.  She made a Ginger Ale/Sprite/Noodles/Frozen Waffle run (like you do) as we were out of all of those healing things.  She picked up magical healing serum in the form of Chick-Fil-A Sprites-to-go for her siblings, and she listened to my worrying over what was best to do for our Princess.  She reminds me of my Mama the way she can ease my concerns with compassion and commonsense.

And so her words broke my heart.  Yes, she relaxed and watched a couple of her favorite shows.  She took a nap.  She didn’t work on her paper or clean her room.  But that she didn’t see the value of what she did, the love she shared, the help she was in all the little moments all day long?

I need to take her to the eye doctor.  Or soul doctor or something.  I think she needs a new pair of lenses.  A kinder, gentler pair.  Ones filled with grace, which can see the little details for what they are.   The million ways she blessed all of us all day long.

She might not have changed the world yesterday, but she changed our world.  She made things better just by showing up.  By her willingness to sit and be.  By her willingness to go and do.  By being her.

The one we love.  And sharing that special person with us for the day.

Baby girl, if ever you doubt the value of what you do, I want you to remember your brother’s face as he grabbed you this morning and exclaimed, “You’re the second person I hugged today!”  Or the way each of your siblings told you with their weak little voices very early yesterday morning, “Go.  I’ll be okay.  I don’t want to ruin your day.”  Or me.  As you changed out the lightbulbs in my closet today.  You couldn’t see my face while you were up on the ladder, and that’s probably a good thing.  As I was teasing you and trying to take your picture, I was teary-eyed.  This little one whom I fell in love with from the first moment I saw her twenty years ago, is making a difference in our world.  One hug, one smile, one teasing gesture, one CFA drive thru trip, and one moment at a time.  Never doubt that.  Thanks for lighting up our world, literally and figuratively.

Love and light to all.

My girl helping shine light in our world.....and my closet.

My girl helping shine light in our world…..and my closet.