Bubba, the Lamb, and the Raspberries

A week or so ago I promised a story about my lamb Raspberry.  And so, true to my word, here it is.

Years ago, when I was 12 or so, I was in 4-H.  One of the activities we could participate in was raising a sheep for show.  I was all for it, and my Daddy was willing to help me, so we went to the auction.  The lamb I got had an 8 painted on his back, so I thought about calling him Eight Ball.  (My only friend with a two-story house also had a pool table, so I knew stuff–yessiree.)

After getting him home and in the pen Daddy had fashioned for him, my siblings were introduced.  My little brother Bubba, who was maybe 3 or 4, was fascinated with the gentle creature.  He helped me bathe him and lead him around with the rope.

One day Bubba came in the house with a couple of raspberries in his sweaty little hand.  He had picked them from the bushes out in the side yard–another 4-H project I think.  He offered them to Mama as a gift.  As she plucked them from his hand, she gushed with appreciation.  “Aren’t you kind to pick these and bring them to me?  What a sweet gift from a sweet boy.”  And then she popped them in her mouth and ate them with exaggeration, oohing and mmmmming.

“Oh good,” Bubba said, “’cause the lamb didn’t want them.”

Yep, turned out he’d offered those same berries to my lamb, who sniffed and mouthed at them but decided better of it.

And then my sweet Mama took my little brother in her arms, hid her disgusted face, hugged him and said, “Thank you very much for thinking of me.”

Ahem.

Bless her.

And from that moment on that story became part of our family lore, and the lamb who wanted none of the red jeweled berries earned that as his moniker.

Raspberry.

I miss my Mama.  You could give her a rock (and we often did), and she’d act like it was the greatest treasure on earth.  And no telling how many bookmarks I made her over the years, and she loved–and used–every single one of them.

Because she loved me.

That’s a big legacy to live up to.

May we all have someone who finds delight in whatever we have to offer, no matter how big or small, beautiful or not, previously “nibbled” or whatever–just loves it because they love us.

Love to all.

Raspberry and me--after he became Raspberry.

Raspberry and me–after he became Raspberry.

Looking for Love

This morning pretty much every single one of us got up on the wrong side of the bed.  You name it, it was frustrating us.  Whine was the flavor of the day for everyone, including me.

I walked outside to take Miss Sophie for her morning walk, and I felt the need to stay out in the heat and the sun a few minutes longer.  I didn’t like anyone, including me.  I found myself looking for someone to be angry with, and my parents came to mind.

Because they aren’t here.

Sometimes emotions make no sense, y’all.

I was immediately ashamed of those emotions and chastised myself for being angry with people I love, who had to leave this world through no fault of their own.  My heart was immediately trying to make up for where my mind had gone, and I was overwhelmed with the love I feel for them–the people who taught me better than to walk around angry like this.

And then I saw it.

A heart with wings on the fence that Miss Sophie and I walked by this morning.

A heart with wings on the fence that Miss Sophie and I walked by this morning.

The heart.  The heart with wings.

This. This was no coincidence.  I was taught to love and carry love with me everywhere.  To give it wings.

The thing is that just because someone does something well, it does not mean that doing it is easy.  Quite the contrary sometimes.  Like my oldest, she is very good at school.  Some parts of it ARE easier for her than for others, but the truth is that she applies herself and she works hard when she needs to.  Her grades and success are because of her efforts.  My Uncle is good at gardening.  He winds up with such a bountiful harvest, and for that we are all very thankful, but it is in NO WAY easy.  He’s good at it–I hope he enjoys it.  But he works very hard at it.  Sowing and reaping and everything in between.  My Cousin makes eating right and taking care of herself and her family a priority.  She does it, and she does it well.  This is not something she learned just through reading books and websites or the backs of essential oil bottles.  She learned it the hard way.  Through living it, because she had to–for the sake of her own health.  Her wisdom and knowledge that she shares is hard come by.  And yet, she’s always gracious and generous and encouraging with all that she knows.

My Mama was good at loving folks.  She could find something lovable in pretty much everybody.

But I am realizing as time passes that it must have been hard at times too.  Just because she made it look so easy, doesn’t it mean that it always was.  I wish I could tell her thank you for loving me all the times when I wasn’t very lovable.

There is grace in knowing it wasn’t easy for her.  That gives me hope.  I want to love like she did.  Each day, though, I find myself struggling.  I am trucking along, all loving and kind and trying to be helpful and then {BAM}, I have this emotion of not liking someone.  The realization eventually comes that the dislike is more about me than them.  I usually need to get my heart in order.  The emotions that are counterproductive in my efforts to love can be anything from jealousy to fear to insecurity to misunderstanding.  Love has so many emotions that are out to get rid of it.

And lots of times they are easier to feel.

Love.  It’s something to work at.  Takes effort.  Focus.  Concentration.  Sure, sometimes the warm fuzzies bubble up and LOVE IS IN THE AIR.  But love was never intended to be fickle.  Or one-dimensional.  Or judgmental.  Love was meant to be all-encompassing.  Through thick and thin.  Good and bad.

And that takes some doing.

I have often thought that I would like to be thought of as a noted authority.  On something.  I mean, I’ve been on this journey for a while now.  Surely I have learned enough about at least one thing to where I can speak intelligently about it.

Or not.  And so I read.  And listen.  And watch.  And upon reflection, after watching people who are really, really good at loving folks and make it seem so easy–I’ve noticed something.  They also seem to have a peace that passes understanding.  I decided maybe I want to be a master at love.  Like my Mama. And the others who are good at it.

But first I am an apprentice.

And so I look to those around me.  Those who love.  And love well.  Or love hard.  They work at it.  Like with me, some days are better than others.  But each day these folks I look up to make a conscious effort to love, even when every fiber of their body says otherwise.

They love by reaching out.  They send messages or make phone calls.  Just to “see how you are doing.”  And they listen.  Sometimes for hours.  Or they text back and forth until the anxiety eases.  They are patient.

Grandma has been at it again.  This was a total surprise--this beautiful shawl she created for me.  I will be able to literally wrap myself up in love.

Grandma has been at it again. This was a total surprise–this beautiful shawl she created for me. I will literally be able to wrap myself up in love.

They love with gestures.  Of kindness.  Invitations.  Even when they hear “not today,” they ask again.  Until the time is right.  They love with thought-filled gifts.  With things they created.  Or found.  They love by showing they thought about the person and who he or she is before they picked it up or made it.  They love by showing another he or she is KNOWN.

My oldest, Aub, texted me from her latest GW Boutique trip.  She said I was going to love her so much.  Really what she did in finding these treasures and remembering that I LOVE Raggedy Anns is show me how much she loves me.  These girls are a symbol of love for me just like the hearts on their chests.

My oldest, Aub, texted me from her latest GW Boutique trip. She said I was going to love her so much because she had found me a surprise. Really what she did in finding these treasures and remembering that I LOVE Raggedy Anns is show me how much she loves me. These girls are a symbol of love for me just like the hearts on their chests.

They love by remembering.  By giving thanks.  By writing notes and saying words like “You matter” or “Thank you” or “How can I help?”

A thank you and remembrance for something that I enjoyed doing so much I feel like I should be thanking them for letting me do it.  The note that came with it was the real treasure.

A thank you and remembrance for something that I enjoyed doing so much I feel like I should be thanking them for letting me do it. The note that came with it was the real treasure.

They love generously.  By sharing what they have.  Vegetables.  Clothes.  Toys.  Books.  Thoughts.  Ideas.  Wisdom.  Knowledge.  Time.

The love without judging.  These people are the ones someone can tell her deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings to and they don’t blink.  Or they blink and call her out to be her best self.

And these folks who know how to love, they remember how short life is.  And they know how powerful it is to take someone’s hand, look her in the eyes, and say “I love you.”  They love and remind others that they are loved.

I am an apprentice.  But what I finally remembered this morning is that I need always ALWAYS to look for love.  Especially when I am tired.  Angry.  Hurting.  Sad.  Worried.  Stressed.  Overwhelmed.

I need to look for love.

And it was like the scales were removed from my eyes.  And I saw the heart with wings.  And then I looked at the ground.

The second heart I saw after I opened my soul to look for love this morning.

The second heart I saw after I opened my soul to look for love this morning.

And then this one.  Love is there, if only we look for it.  I saw all three of these hearts within the span of about 3 minutes.  And maybe ten steps.  Is it any wonder that I was weeping?

And then this one. Love is there, if only we look for it. I saw all three of these hearts within the span of about 3 minutes. And maybe ten steps. Is it any wonder that I was weeping?

Hearts.

I began crying.  Realizing that just maybe these were messages from my Mama.  Reminding me that love is a process.  A work in progress.  And to always look.  Even underneath the hot Georgia sun, with a hurting spirit, love can be found.

If only we look for it.

May love surprise you today.  Open your eyes.  You are worthy of being loved.

You ARE loved.

Love.  Love to all.

They Are Watching Us

I’ve been cranky this evening.  With my poor family.  And I only threw Miss Sophie’s “baby” for her to retrieve about ten times.  Just sad.

This happens when night comes and I still don’t know what I’m writing about.

And tonight that’s exactly where I’m at.

I don’t know what to write.

It’s not writer’s block, although thank you Facebook ad for the link to find 101 topics to blog about.  Actually, I have to admit that was a little scary.  It’s like you’re listening to my conversations around here or something.

No writer’s block.

No.  What I have is a loss of words.

Two very different things.

My heart is aching.  My mind is almost numb to the news reports and stories shared about the most recent act of violence reported on nationally.  (Because we can all be sure, sadly the shootings in Charleston are not the almost the most recent acts of violence in our world.)

So much pain.  Brokenness.  Fear.  Anger.  Divisiveness.  Distrust.  Hurt.

I sit here contemplating my plans to write about the heat here in Georgia or about what Cooter said the other day that had us all cracking up and saying, Yes. That.

It just all feels wrong tonight.  Each and every day something happens that proves we are not as far from where we once were in this country and world as we would like to be.  Not very far at all.

But for some reason, this incident is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.  I cannot bear to hear one more story of hatred and violence and separation of communities.  I just can’t.  Like so many others have said, “It’s just too much.”

Many years ago I was the director of a not-for-profit childcare center for low-income, working (or in school) families.  Only three of the thirteen staff members were white.  Most of the time our children were all African-American.  One morning four-year old Whitney was in the office with me for a few minutes.  She was a beautiful girl and very sweet.  She looked up through the plate-glass window to the front door.

“Oh here comes Miss Dee!” she said happily, seeing the sweet elderly Caucasian Assistant Director come in.  “Here she comes.”  She clapped her hands.  She looked again at Miss Dee and then looked back at me.  “Huh.  Miss Dee is a white lady.”  She stared for a second.  “We have a lot of white people who work here, don’t we?”

Y’all.  It was the first time that sweet child ever saw color.  EVER.  I could see it in her face and hear it in her voice.  The very first time.

Our children are not born with the vision to “see” color.  One day they realize the differences, and what they do with that knowledge has a lot to do with us.  And what we teach them from that moment on.

I am uncomfortable.  As a middle-class white woman, I do not feel like I can speak to the pain and brokenness in the racial divide.

And yet, as a human being born and taught to love others–ALL others, I must speak out.

My Mama and Daddy taught me right from wrong.  We were not allowed to say many words–and “hate” was one of them.  We  were never, ever allowed to leave someone out.  That could get us in more trouble than a little bit.  We were taught that all life is precious.  All life.  No matter the shape, size, color, beliefs, dialect, country of origin, sense of humor, nothing–ALL MATTERED.

And I expect if they were here, they’d be just as torn up over all the goings on in our world today as I am.

Only they’d have wisdom to share to help me process it and figure out what I can do to change things.  I have nothing right now.

Except my words.  And they gave those to me, so I guess this is a start.

I know this has been happening for a long, long time.  This division and pain and fear and pointing fingers and killing of innocent people perceived to be “less than.”  I guess it’s just taken me this long to get fed up enough to say something.

And for that, I am sorry.  I should not have been silent in the face of injustice and hatred.  EVER.

Tonight I’m asking all of you to think of four-year old Whitney.  Think of the little ones around me and you and all of us who are looking to us for love and guidance and examples of how to love.  Knowing that, let’s go out and love others and give the children one heck of an example to follow.  Let’s love the mess out of folks–all folks, those who live next door and those whom we see at the grocery store, and those we come across at the ball park or the restaurant or on our walks into the office building. Those who think or look like us and those who don’t.  Seeing that we love all, that we treat all people as if they matter (BECAUSE. THEY. DO.), the children will begin to do the same.

It’s not a perfect system.  It’s as broken as we all are really.  But if we start showing the little ones how to love and loving their little spirits for the sheer joy of loving*, then one day we might have a violence free day.  One day people of all different backgrounds and beliefs might be able to sit and break bread together with no fear of misunderstandings or acts of hatred.  One day, we might just get this living in community thing right.

But it has to start with each and every one of us.  And it has to start now y’all.  Tonight.

Go surprise someone and tell them you love ’em.  And mean it.

Let’s fight hatred with love.  Darkness with light.  Pain with a healing touch.

Love.  To.  ALL.

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*My oldest was blessed to know Rev. William Hurdle, who served as Chaplain at Wesleyan College for over sixteen years until his death in January of this year.  When I think about loving folks, the line that seemed to be his mantra never fails to come to mind.  “Love for the sheer joy of loving.”  That dear man knew how to love all and love well.  I was watching.  So were many others.  Who’s watching you and your loving ways?  

I Wanna Come Back As…..

Growing up I remember Mama being in the middle of her day to dailies, blowing upwards to move the hair out of her eyes, sighing, and saying, “When I come back, I’m coming back as a show horse.  This work horse deal is for the birds.”

Oh Mama.  You’re so funny.

I thought she was.  And yet, now I get it.  Bless her, she worked hard on loving us and proving that she did with good food, a clean house, clean clothes that fit, and all the hugs we could handle.  We never lacked for anything we needed.

Walking Miss Sophie

Walking Miss Sophie

Yesterday morning as I took Miss Sophie out for her morning constitutional, I was wishing she would hurry along and let the spirit “move” her.  Of course all she could think about was sniffing every square inch of grass and sidewalk and keeping tabs on the bricklayers as they worked across the street.  All I could think about was how cold I was.

My hands were frozen.  My toes were like ice.  I could no longer feel my nose.  And I looked down at my little ball of fluff and wondered, How are you not freezing?

I mean, I know she’s covered with a nice winter coat, but those paws–really?  How was she NOT in a hurry to get her business done and let’s go settle by the fire?

And I thought about how amazing a dog’s paws are.

Tough enough to withstand walking on all kinds of surfaces–hard, rough, soft, rocky, slippery–and in all kinds of temperatures–hot, cold, and everything in between.  She wasn’t crying or whining about the temperature or conditions.

And that’s when I decided–

I wanna come back as a dog’s paw.

All this winter, my feet have been frozen.  It’s almost more than I can bear–cold feet.  And it goes all the way up and chills me to the bone all over.  When Miss Sophie decides to lay on my frozen toes, I stop and give thanks, I’m so happy.

So yes, coming back as a dog’s paw might help with the whole being cold problem, but it’s more than that.

A dog’s paw is resilient.  And keeps on moving–even in the worst of conditions.

It holds up no matter the heat or the cold.  And it’s flexible.  Have you ever pushed on your puppy’s paw?  Amazing.

Because I know in this life, things are never predictable.  Our lives can go from hot to cold in a heartbeat, and THEY DO.  Tough times ARE going to happen.  Being flexible is the key to survival in a lot of my days.

To be able to hold up under pressure, no matter the circumstances, and keep on putting one foot in front of the other.

Yes, please.  THAT.

Tonight I’m thankful for my ball of fluffy love.  She’s quirky just like the rest of us, and I love her.  I’m thankful for walks and that we have a safe place to do that.  I do not take that lightly.  Most of all, I’m thankful for the memory of Mama and her laughter that has echoed in my heart and head today.

(I know this was a far-fetched train of thought, but I’ve been thinking a lot about being resilient and strong, especially when life throws you curveballs like rain and cold and really hard things.  Also, cold feet.  And puppy paws are really quite amazing.) 

Love to all.

Sharing Stories Around the Picnic Table

On New Year’s Day, over Maemae’s Swedish Christmas Ginger Cookies in the shapes of Star Wars characters with a side of sparkling cider, I got to share stories with my nephews and my littles.  They sat around the picnic table I bought and brought home and painted on one of the occasions the Fella was out of town years ago.  Bless him, he never knows what he’ll be coming home to.

It was a beautiful day to sit by the fire and share stories.  I suppose I had an ulterior motive, but too many stories left this world with first my Daddy and then my Mama, so when I have the chance, I’m gonna tell ’em and they’re gonna listen.

We talked about superheroes.  This crew knows their stuff.  They named several I had no idea whom they were talking about.  Superheroes are cool, able to do amazing things that we can’t.  I remember thinking about what one superpower I’d want if I were offered such as that–it would be to be able to discern at a glance whether any food allergens were present.  But that’s another story.

Then we talked about real-life heroes and how they were real whereas the superheroes were not.  They named the standard police men and women, fire and rescue teams, ambulance drivers, military members, sheriffs, teachers, doctors, nurses…..and so on.  They had this down too.

I told them I wanted to tell them about two of my heroes.   Our Princess piped up, “Maemae and Cap!”  (Way to mess with my momentum, baby girl.)  I looked down at her, eyes blinking, for a moment.  She smiled and shrugged. “You told me they were your heroes one time.”

Well, she’s right.

They are.

I explained to this bunch of little people who had just had such an awesome week playing and imagining and running around together that the two people they all had in common are my heroes.

“You know why?”

The shook their heads.

“Because they were kind.  They didn’t leave anyone out.  They loved everyone.  What’s the first thing Maemae always did when you walked in her back door?”

My brother’s oldest piped up, “Give you a hug!”

Spot on.  Absolutely right.  That woman loved her hugs.  Giving and receiving them.

Before I could nod and confirm his answer, his younger brother shouted, “Ask you to take off your shoes!”

Ha.  Well yes.  Yes, she did.

And that was another thing that makes my parents my heroes.

They took care of what they had.  We did not grow up in a disposable household.  There was none of this, “oh well it’s okay if it breaks, we’ll just get another one.”  You took care of what you had–clothes, shoes, books, toys, dishes, everything–or you didn’t have it.

My parents were good stewards.  They saved and when they did spend it was well thought out and rarely on something frivolous.  They were good stewards of their money, of their home, of their time, of the land, of their children.

They took care of their things and of others.

And there was one more story I wanted to tell my little people.

“They also told the truth.  They spoke up for what was right, and what came out of their mouth was the truth, no matter how hard it was for them to stand up for ‘right.’  No matter how unpopular it made them.”

And now, as a parent, I can respect that so much more than when I was an embarrassed teenager.

A few weeks ago, my crew and I were watching an episode of “Girl Meets World.”  The daughter was struggling because, as a middle school student, she wanted to be popular with the “in” crowd.  In defense of her changed behavior and dress, she told her mom, “I’m popular with at least five people.”  Her mom (Topanga, for those of you who remember “Boy Meets World”) replied, “Well is one of those five you?”

Well.

That kind of truth is what I was raised with.  Speaking truth and living true to who we are.

It is interesting that to this day, the ones I hold in highest regard and admire as heroes (a word I don’t use lightly) are kind, take care of all that is around them, and speak the truth, no matter how difficult that may be.

After I shared about why Maemae and Cap are my heroes, the littles had their own stories to share.  It was neat to hear the memories all the littles had of my parents, their grandparents, and it was just as important for me to listen to their stories as it was for them to hear mine.  I think that is what family does best, when they sit down together and just “be”–they carry on the stories for those who have yet to come to hear.

Wishing you all someone to share your stories with, and someone to share their stories with you.  Those are really the only things no one can take away from us.

Love to all.

 

 

The Teacher I Never Had

Yesterday, my friend Baddest Mother Ever asked the question, “Who was your favorite teacher and why?”

I started to respond, but then my mind ran around and around in circles.  Whom would I choose?  I mean, really–ONE?  I’m the girl who always made my Daddy laugh by giving him 2 or 3 cards on Father’s Day and birthdays because I could never choose just ONE.

I started thinking through them.  Those who were not in the running were painfully obvious.  Moving on…..

My favorite?  Favorites?  My very first teacher, Mrs. Partain?  The one who gave me a “B” in conduct the second six weeks because I only quit talking when she asked me to–for a few minutes anyway.  The same one who laughed when I finally told her what Daddy had been saying all year–that he wasn’t old enough to have a daughter in the first grade?  Or Mrs. Crouch? She and Mama became such good friends that Mess Cat was the flower girl in her daughter’s wedding.  What about Mrs. Turner in third grade? The one who read aloud “Charlotte’s Web” in the dark during quiet time and knew I was crying with my head folded down on my desk.  She’s also the one who let me sit next to her chair on the playground as she taught me to crochet.  What a gift that was.   There were many other good ones in elementary and junior high.  I dearly loved Mrs. Scott who had gone to school with Aunt and my Uncle.  Such a sweet spirit.  Mrs. Watson was an awesome pre-algebra teacher.  Turned out she’d been teaching us Algebra 1 all along, so ninth grade was a breeze.  And speaking of math, there was Miss Bell.

*moment of silence here please*

She was just that good.  She taught my Daddy and his siblings and my siblings and cousins after me.  I had her for three years, and I loved her.  From the beginning perhaps it was only because of that link to the past.  But she was an awesome teacher who commanded the classroom in her quiet way.  You did your homework or you wiggled through the whole class because she KNEW.  I don’t know how, but she did.  One time a classmate who hadn’t done his assignment was asked what answer he got for an algebra problem.  He tossed something out there.  Standing next to his desk, she looked down at him and raised her glasses as she did and said her signature line, “Do wha-uut?”  Before she could say her next line, “Go to the board” (oh the fear that could put into you–working the problem in front of the whole class and HER), he looked up and said,  pointing at the board in the front of the room, “Well Miss Bell if you go up to the board, I can tell you what I did to get it.”  He was buying time and she knew it.  She called his full name–“I can walk faster than you can think.”  Ha.  That was classic.  She knew how to laugh when things were funny, and she cared that you learned it.  That was it.  She wanted to impart knowledge.  I loved her dearly.

But was she my favorite?  Close.  But no.  I don’t think so.

My favorite teacher is one I never had a class with.  I never sat and called her by the name that she went by then.  I knew her many years later, when I was grown, sitting a few pews over from her in church.  I recognized her name, and she asked me if I was his daughter.  I beamed.  “Yes ma’am.  Yes I am.”

She was my Daddy’s third grade teacher.  Miss Ann.

Daddy didn’t care much for school before that.  He didn’t apply himself.  He told me this.  My Daddy used to say to us children we couldn’t complain about anything, because at least we weren’t hoeing cotton.  I think he did a lot of that.  Shoes weren’t a given year round for him.  He came from hard-working, good people.  But school?  It just wasn’t for him.

Until that year.  Miss Ann saw something in him and brought it out.  She asked him to clean the chalkboard, dust the erasers.  She encouraged him.  He learned to love learning.  He became enraptured with words and knowledge and books and writing.  He once told me she changed his life.

And bless her, she changed so many after that, simply because she took time with one little boy whom she thought could do better.

He passed on his love of reading to his little sister with a trip to the used bookstore, who later took a little girl in the third grade to her very first used book sale.  That little sister loves books to this day, as does that little girl, whose library overfloweth.  (literally) He held us all to high standards in the field of learning.  There might be things we couldn’t do, but we could apply ourselves and try our best, and that’s what he expected of all of us.  From his oldest child to his youngest grandchild.  He knew an education was something that couldn’t be taken away from us by anyone.

When my old life fell apart, he sat me down and encouraged me to get my Master’s, “so you can take care of you and that baby.”  And he was right.  He made that possible because he believed in education.  And the power it has to make lives better.  He was a lifelong learner, constantly reading books that imparted knowledge–about all kinds of things from quantum physics to theology to children’s books that he held in highest regard.

All because of Miss Ann.

We, each one of us, have the power to change lives like that.  It’s a bit scary, isn’t it?  I don’t know if Miss Ann ever realized what she did, but I know.  And the best way I can thank her is by doing what my Daddy did–pass it on–this love of learning, this encouraging someone to be their very best.  Listening, sharing, letting curiosity grow.  And being present.  It all comes back to #bethefeather, it seems, doesn’t it?  Being kind, caring about another, taking care of those around us……doing unto others, as Mama was always preaching.

Do me a favor.  Please.  If you get the chance to encourage someone tomorrow or the next day or next month, will you take a moment and do so?  You don’t have to be in charge of a classroom to do it.  In honor of a great teacher, Miss Ann, and all those teachers who step outside the box and change a child’s life and the lives of future generations all down the line, let’s make a difference by caring. And doing.

Thanks.  That is huge.  Love to all.

 

 

Those Days That Leave Folks Out

Dear Hallmark,

Thanks.

Sincerely,

Girl Who’s Tired of Being Reminded

 

Okay, this one probably isn’t going to make me very popular.  If you are one who has always and will always love the “day” celebrations honoring this one and that one in your life–then okay.  No offense meant.  Personally, I’m over these days.  Valentine’s.  Mother’s Day.  Father’s Day.  Grandparent’s Day.

Why can’t we honor and love and be kind to these folks everyday?  In the words of Miss N from my Sister Circle, “Why’s it gotta be just one day?”

I’m thinking it’s because you won’t buy a card if you’re doing it everyday.  Right?

All right, in all seriousness, here’s my problem with the “day” thing.  It excludes people.  It leaves folks out.  And that was in my Mama’s top three rules.  “Don’t leave anyone out.”  I’m not placing all the blame at the foot of the card companies, but they are the ones whose displays and tear-jerking commercials remind us we must do something for the day.  Them and the sales on things that are not related at all–like grey tissue boxes and size H crochet hooks made from rosewood.  And 20% one item coupons from Bed, Bath, and Beyond in the mailbox in honor of the day.  (They never expire you know, despite what they say.)  And then there’s some pastors and church folks who decide to honor those special people that day.  *sigh*  What a relief it is to be in church on one of those Sundays and get through the whole service without mention or reminder.  So thankful when that happens.

Sure, it’s wonderful to honor your parents.  Or your grandparents.  Or the love of your life.  I’m all for it.  I grew up doing it, making cards, cooking waffles for a special supper, making a cake with so much blue dye in the icing it almost took my Daddy out–yeah, I was full of the love and the spirit.

But now…..

I see it a little differently than I did back then.  I see my friends who have no roof over their heads, remembering children who long ago stopped searching for them.  Or parents who did the same.  I see the Mama who had to do what no Mama should do–go through a day all about Mamas when she, for the first time in years, had no child to hug her or treat her to dinner.  I see a child in adult’s clothing, gripping tight the tissue hidden in her hand, so she can wipe the tears quickly so her own children won’t notice her pain.  I see the young woman bemoaning another Valentine’s without someone special to share it with.  I see a child torn as she tries to honor one while grieving another.  And then there are those who are estranged from the one the day calls us to love and honor.  It’s painful and private and suddenly a spotlight is on the relationship that isn’t.  And all of these precious people put smiles on their faces and try to carry on as though nothing is out of sorts as best they can.  So those who are having a wonderful time celebrating maybe won’t know.

I love my children and Fella.  I appreciate their efforts to honor me and make me feel special on that day.  Hey, I appreciate it any day that happens.  And I want to honor my Fella as a good person and Daddy.  But we tend to keep it low-key.  The Fella says he’s just happy to be home.  I usually have help making his favorite dessert and we hang out and call it a day.  And it’s good.  And I’m thankful he’s okay with low-key because anything else would send me on another spin on the grief wheel pretty quick.  As it is, when I’m by myself I say a quiet thank you to the man who loved and raised me, and I try to move beyond.  That’s hard to do sometimes.  I don’t know how my Mama did it all those years.  She made us feel special that we were honoring her, all the while she was grieving the relationship she never had with her own mother.  And we didn’t know until we were much older.

If you love these days and really get into them, that is great.  I think it’s wonderful the ones who go all out with teas for their Mamas or big barbeques for their Dads (and vice versa), big candlelit dinners and a night out on the town with their Valentine, or a picnic with their grandparents.  Love it.  Keep on loving those precious ones you treasure.  In your own special way.  What I’m asking is for a little patience and understanding when I seem less than enthusiastic.  I’m all about loving on folks, but sometimes that looks a little different than what many might expect, I guess.   I struggle with days and things that make people feel left out or like an “odd man out.”  Fitting in is a good feeling, and that’s hard to do when you’re not a part of the celebration through no fault of your own.

All I’m asking is the next time one of these days rolls around, maybe take a look around and think about how someone else might be feeling.  And be okay with wherever he or she is.  Maybe, if you are so inclined, be a safe place for them to be, away from the hoopla and festivities.  #bethefeather

Happy Everyday and love to all.