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

Blue_candle

By John Harvey [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Boy Who Loved the Stars

A few days ago I was waiting to meet Aub, so I walked over to the GW Boutique for a few minutes.  I was basically window shopping and admiring the way all the blazers were put together and noticing how the styles of coats over the past thirty years were all hanging in one spot on the outerwear rack.

I was walking by the rack with jackets and vests when I spied a grey hoodie. A grey NON-zip up hoodie.  Y’all know how I love me some hoodies, so it won’t surprise you that I was drawn in, and I pulled it out to look at it.  When I saw the horse on there in a rag quilt style (which impresses me all kinds of ways), I figured someone had put a lot of time and love into making such a unique creation.

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And then I thought about that horse.

I was once a little girl who loved horses.  Everything horses.  For my birthday, I had a carousel cake and Mama made me a book bag with an appliqued horse in it and a book about the rodeo was tucked inside.  Every time the Scholastic book order form came home with me I scoured it for horse stories and equine books.  When one was the 95 cent special that month, I was the first to turn in my order form.  I asked for Breyer horses for Christmas and birthdays; they sat on my bookshelf in a particular order when I didn’t have them down naming and appreciating the qualities of each one.  I loved shirts with horses and when I was in the third grade, my dream came true.  My Daddy got me a horse.

Her name was Betsy given by me, because it was close to Bess, and Good Queen Bess had been Daddy’s horse he had loved so much.  I also loved Betsy Ross, so it was a tribute to her too.  I learned to take care of our horse and I rode bareback and I talked to her about all kinds of things.

I was a little girl who loved horses.

The little girl who loved horses had a friend who loved science fiction and books by Tolkien.  He spoke of worlds not yet seen except in the imagination of great people, and he was funny and kind.  He even loaned her one of his science fiction books, and she tried to read it.  She really did.  He was a good friend, and never once did the girl I once was question her love of horses or the friendship she had with the one who talked of hobbits and adventures and a future that was beyond comprehension.

Somewhere along the way that little girl forgot she loved horses so much.  She grew up to real life responsibilities and adventures and hard and beautiful things.  She forgot a lot of things from way back then, but she didn’t forget the boy who was funny and imaginative and smart and kind.

Who grew to be a kind man.

The other day at the GW I took the horse hoodie to the counter and I paid for it and brought it home.  After I tossed it in the washer I drove to the hospital to see my friend whom I haven’t seen in a long, long time.  I didn’t know until I got there that I was really there to say goodbye.

Today the boy who loved the planets and thinking about all the what if’s left us to soar among the stars he loved and to hug folks he loves whom he hasn’t seen in a long, long time.  Today the boy who was so kind and whose story was intertwined in mine for all of our school years left the pain and brokenness and is finally home.

I am sad.  But as I sat here thinking and taking all of this in, I came upon the girl who loved horses, sitting by herself, weeping into her hands, unable to contain the grief she feels at stories that have ended way too soon.  The horses forgotten, the hopes and dreams that used to lull her to sleep at night, and the friend whom she will never see again in this life.  Who I am now is very sad, feeling this in my own “I suppose I have to get used to grief and losing people I love” way.  She, however, is 9 again, and the empty shelf where the horses once sat and the empty place where her friend lived is baffling and breaking her heart.

Tonight I’m thankful for a reminder of who I used to be.  How the joys of good and long friendships and horses’ tails flying in the wind used to give me peace and comfort and make me smile and so happy.  I’m thankful for the reminder, as hard as it is, that life is short so we need to grab hold of who and what matters to us and let them know that.

Tell someone you love them today.  If that’s too much, tell them they matter.  Thank them for being a part of your story.  Sit down and ask them what they dreamed about when they were 9.  Or last night.  Share a book with them, or let them borrow your pencil.  Toss out a thread to intertwine your life to another’s, because in the end, that’s where beauty comes from–the reflection of our hearts in the eyes of someone who cares.

RIP, BBC.  You will be missed.  Thanks for helping me see the stars way back then.  And today.

Love to all.

 

 

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.

Always

The world has lost another beautiful soul.

Tonight I give thanks for this talented actor whose portrayal of Severus Snape as written by JK Rowling in the Harry Potter novels taught some, reminded others, that there is more to people than what meets the eye.  Professor Snape reaffirmed for us the truth in Mary Lou Kownacki’s words:

Engrave this upon your heart: there isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you heard their story.

Many of us spent years until the release of the seventh book in the summer of 2007 disliking this man and his ways, distrusting him.   And then, in that book, the details of his loyalties are revealed, and we learn the story of who he was and how he was treated before and whom he really loved, and what he did for that love. And then…..we realized…..

this is not a world of easy black and white.  There is no all good or all bad.

It’s all grey.  The good with the bad.  The broken with the beautiful.  The light and the dark.

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So can a talented artist like yourself.  Well done, sir.  

Thank you, Alan Rickman, for bringing this to life for us–for your part in teaching us to look beyond the story we see–to listen and hear what is not always easily seen or shared.  You shall be missed.

Always.

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All the Pictures WITH them

Today I had the joy–and it was sheer joy–of seeing the faces of children as they saw Santa Claus up close and personal.

Our favorite little coffee shop hosted Santa in the chair next to the Christmas tree up on the little stage.  Family after family came in and approached Santa with timid footsteps and eager.  With shy smiles, radiant, beaming faces, or with worried frowns.  Some children went straight up to Santa, while others had to warm up to him from afar.  Santa sat with children of ALL ages on his lap or standing next to his chair, and he listened.  He held hands and handed out candy canes and smiled and laughed and coaxed little ones into smiling for the camera.

Most parents pulled their phones out and took pictures of their children with the jolly old elf.  Group shots and individual ones with Santa and their children.

And that’s when I had to step in.  I was that person reaching for their phones, insisting they get in at least one picture too.  For a family shot.

Almost every time, the parent would insist he/she hadn’t really planned on being in the picture, so they looked “a mess.”  Still I insisted.

One day your children will thank you.  They will be glad they have pictures of you and them together.  

I know of what I speak.

Over the years, there aren’t a whole lot of pictures of me and my Mama.  She was either taking the picture or in the kitchen while the rest of us were taking them.  So when I find one of the two of us, it brings me great joy.

I don’t have enough pictures with my Mama and Daddy.

So today, I reached for phones and insisted parents jump in there, and I took two or six shots of each family with Santa, insisting the parents look at the pictures before they left, so we could redo if we needed to.

It was an honor to see their faces.  Because when the whole family was in there with Santa, the parents’ smiles were usually bigger than those of the children.  Every single time.

If you are going to be with folks you love over the holidays, take lots of pictures with them, not just of them–all the people, parents and children.  Use the little square in the corner of your screen to turn the camera around and take selfies with them if you have to.  Whatever you have to do, create some magical pictures with the folks you love for you and others to look back on and remember and feel all the love once again.

My favorite moment today–when the veil was so thin–was when I looked in the eyes of a young Mama who got it.  She saw into my soul and why it mattered so much to me, and I saw into hers and knew that it was important for her too.  She was a tearfully happy Mama in the picture with her very young littles which I took through tears of my own.

Tonight I give thanks for the pictures I do have with my folks, and I give thanks for all the times I look at someone I love and say, “Let’s take a picture together and they say, ‘Okay.'” The photos bring back joyful memories and make me smile and remember and hold my people close.  Once again.  The years between us just melt away.

Merry memory-making, y’all.

Love to all.

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Santa waves in greeting to one of his little visitors.

 

 

 

Rockin’ Around the Tree

Sharing just a few of the precious memories hanging on our tree…..

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A little porcelain doll that has hung on our trees for over fifteen years

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A snowman from my Aunt D I got so many years ago…..I’ve always loved him.  He spins!

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A gift from one of our favorite organizations doing amazing things–Bead for Life

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This little sweetheart was a wedding gift thirteen years ago from a very precious family.

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We have a few from our favorite movies.  Thankful we are.

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Hallelujah–the lights are all on! My decorating can’t hold a candle to Clark Griswold’s.

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There are ornaments reminding us of big moments or favorite things from that year.  (Marilyn and guitar–guess which one of my people these belong to?)

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There are ornaments to remind us of big life events….

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and ever so adorably small.

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We have ones that remind us of places we have lived.  (Yes, we have cute little sumo wrestlers from Japan on our tree.) 

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And we have ones that remind us of happy days with people we love and miss.  We gave this ornament to my Mama many years ago.  She loved Winnie the Pooh.  Now it hangs on our tree, and we find joy in the memories.  

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And we have sweet homemade ornaments that remind us of the Love and Light of the season. 

Tonight as I gaze at the lights and memories on our tree, I give thanks for the quiet and all of the memories that come flooding back in a rush.  So much love on one precious tree.

Love to all.

the memories beckon

there is a hole
where she once was
and one for him too
a hole once filled by their love,
their stories, and their spirits
and oh, those smiles and laughter,
music to my soul

quiet now, empty and hollow
and dark
and I miss them

she misses her Love too
the one who once filled her heart
where the gaping hole is now

most of the time
we go through our days
and we are fine and okay

until we are not

then the tears flow and our hearts
break open,
we cannot speak
so we go to stand in the dark
next to these holes in our hearts

we weep in the darkness,
with our arms wrapped around us tight
trying to hold ourselves together

while others walk by
barely noticing the safety pylons
and rope blocking off this area,
because it’s just not safe
for others
who have never known it
to come close
to this kind of pain

but what if it were only made safe
by the presence of others
the ones who would venture near,
build a fire to keep us warm
and pull up a stump to sit with us
for however long it takes
waiting in the silence for the stories
we need to tell
one.more.time.
and the names we need to say,
to shout,
just so the world won’t forget

because we are so afraid they will,
that they will all forget this precious soul
and that one,
whom we loved and who loved
and made the world a brighter place
before they left, leaving these massive holes
in our lives

sit with me in the dark
please
and with her, the one over there
who misses him
and hold us close
until the stories we share
lift the weight a bit and we can walk again
and please say their names,
etch them on your heart

and tell me your stories
about the ones you loved
I will listen and say their names
and we will call out to the stars
for them to remember the ones
whose lights once shone so brightly

and we’ll walk close as we make our path
back into the light
once again

for a while
until the memories beckon us to them again

By F.A. Mac Donald, Inverness, Nova Scotia, Canada (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By F.A. Mac Donald, Inverness, Nova Scotia, Canada (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Cakes, Cookies, and Circling Close

Today was our family’s Fall Hootenanny, and this beauty was waiting to greet me when I walked through the door.

LOVE.  100% Pure Tee Love right there.

                                                  LOVE. 100% Pure Tee Love right there.

That right there is a genuine Ten Layer Chocolate Cake.  My Aunt made it because she was thinking of my Granny, her Mama.  It took her a whole afternoon to make it.  What a gift of love, and I swanee, it fairly melted in my mouth.

Oh yeah.  It was inhaled very quickly.

                                           Oh yeah. It was inhaled very quickly. Because #THATGOOD

Funny, isn’t it, the journey that food takes us on?  I make a coconut cake for our Spring Easter Egg Hunt/Wienie Roast for the same reason–because it makes me think of Granny.  Yesterday I baked my Mama’s Lucia Pepparkakor cookies and used her jack o’lantern cookie cutter, and I could almost see her hands rolling out the dough.  I also made a pound cake with a praline/caramel glaze and thought of my Daddy and his love of caramel cakes.

Mama's Swedish Ginger Snaps

                                                            Mama’s Swedish Ginger Snaps

Food.  Love.  Interchangeable really.

I sat at the table today with my cousin’s three children.  The oldest took a bite of a Mint Chocolate Chip cookie that another cousin usually makes and brings to our family gatherings.  As he began to chew, he closed his eyes and said, “Mmmmm.  It’s even better than I remember. It’s just so good.” He looked up very seriously. “I could eat more than three.”

Oh bless him.  He was so precious.  His memories of our family as he gets older will include these cookies as much as the coconut cake and Ten Layer Chocolate Cake remind me of Granny.  (He also has a theory about eating Rice Krispie treats and enjoying them because they aren’t too filling and there’s more room for the cookies–another year and he’ll have this whole dessert management thing down to a science. And with this family and all of our talented bakers, we need it.)

We also had our annual Turkey Egg Hunt.  Our Princess was shocked to discover, upon enthusiastically telling others what we were going to be doing today, that not every family has a Turkey Egg Hunt.  All I can say is y’all are seriously missing out.  Hunting eggs twice a year is kind of our thing.  Turkeys get equal billing with this crew.

Our Princess chasing down another turkey egg.

                                         Our Princess chasing down another turkey egg.

Today was a day of standing around and telling stories, sitting with folks younger and older and shooting the breeze.  It was about hearing all the love in the voices of those who have known me longest (and they still love me anyway–I don’t take that lightly).  It was about missing the ones who weren’t with us and giving thanks in all kinds of ways for those who were.  It was about old traditions and new beginnings and swapping recipes and making plans for future visits again real soon.  It was a day of open doors and windows and scooching over to make room for more.

Because that’s the love language of my people, y’all.  We’re not the most extroverted bunch, but when it comes to scooching over so someone else can squeeze in, we’re good.  We’ve got that part down.  And if it means we can share a cookie and a smile while we’re sitting there elbow to elbow, then all the more joy for everyone.

Tonight after we got home, the littles and I watched an episode of “Girl Meets World.”  That we love this show and why is a whole ‘nother post.  The main character, Riley, shared these words with a group of friends and family on the episode we watched tonight:

“We think that we are the center of the universe, but the truth is… we need to circle the ones we love for as long as they’re here. We need to hold them close, because no matter how far we travel, they are the ones who hold us in place. It’s gravity, and without it, we’d just all float away from each other.”

That’s what today was about, circling the ones I love and giving thanks that they are here.

And cakes and cookies, and all the stories and memories they can hold.

Y’all go find somebody to circle.  Hold ’em close.  Maybe even share a cookie.

Love to all.

the rest of October

October comes blazing in
with orange and pumpkins and bales of hay
everywhere

mums adorn porches and storefronts
and the smell of funnel cakes and
barbecue is in the air

and then suddenly the month is two-thirds gone
and the caravan of trucks move down the interstate
taking away the sights and sounds that had folks
talking and riding and laughing and screaming
with delight

ribbons are won and the quilts are folded
and put away
the cows go back to the barn
and the newly hatched chicks find their new homes

and suddenly, I’m tired
and worn out
like the leaves on the peach trees,
spent
and drifting

with the first chill that seeps into my bones
I am reminded of that October
when every moment was so very precious
and I sat by his bed and hoped–
I was still hoping in October

how could I not with the calliope music
and the lights
and the pony rides and rock walls
and the laughter he still shared when we spoke of such things

but then November came
and I knew,
I knew it would not be long
before this world would change forever
leaves would fall
as would the tears
and the days would grow shorter
and the shadows longer
and our hearts would be broken in bits

because he would leave us

and now when October is two-thirds over
and the Fair folk pack up and leave
a part of my heart goes with them
as I turn to face the
October that is left,
pregnant with sad anticipation

of all the remembering
November brings

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a long time gone

the thing about special days now
is that they will never be the same
without hearing your voice
and that phone call at exactly
the same time every single year

the sound of your voice echoes
in the silence
that inevitably comes
and the moment passes, another year
and still
my heart misses yours

as though it were only yesterday
and you were not a long time gone
from this world
released from the pains
and worries from before
that day that took you away

as the day draws to a close
the darkness suits, doesn’t it
to think of this life without you
from here on out

doesn’t seem like something I’m going to be able to do

and yet I will
of course
and most days I can
but when that phone doesn’t ring
and I don’t hear your voice
at all
on the day you never once let pass
by
without showing your love
or teasing me about getting old

it is almost too much to bear

I don’t have you to call and tell
how much this hurts anymore–
that might be the hardest of all

my friend, part of my heart, is apart
from me
and this life will never be the same again

gone is a complete sentence
to which there is no reply