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Saturday, January 29, 2011

SHE is a Big Deal

The fact she is in my life at all sometimes still AMAZES me! She is a person of contrasts to say the least. I can predict a time when we will possibly be like oil and water. We occasionally are NOW. Sometimes she just wears me out because she can be so obstinate, self-centered, and even insulting. For example, just a couple of days ago she informed me that she loves when I come to HER house, and she really loves BEING at MY house, but she just doesn't LIKE my house! How would you respond to that? I said I really like my house and asked if there was something she particularly didn't like; "the den," she answered. "I'm afraid of your den." I was  speechless, but the thought crossed my mind, that at times I'm a little afraid of it too, particularly when cluttered and dusty. I finally said, "Well, I guess it is a little dark."
The evening of the very same day, we were completing our bedtime routine and were about to have prayer together. She requested that we not do the part where we "bless everybody," so I said, "O.K., we will just say the short version. Afterward, she added. "I really don't like to have to say this to you, but I don't do prayers with my Mom any more at night." I tried not to seem too horrified at this announcement, and simply asked ,why? "Prayers are just boring," was her immediate, matter-of-fact answer. That gave me pause, as I thought about how mechanical my own prayer life can sometimes become.  (I think we can revisit that thought at another date.)  "Who is this person?" you may be asking, or perhaps you've figured it out. She is the little girl I love so much I can't even find words to express...This is my daughter's daughter, Addie, the grand daughter I once thought I would never have. Yes, she IS a BIG DEAL. Contrasts? Yes. She can insult my house, and sometimes, like yesterday morning, even my person. I was getting dressed with her watching every move; it's hard to get a moments privacy when we are together, and I was putting on my bra. Addie asked why do I wear a bra? "Well, I need to cover these up before I put on my shirt, so I will look decent." "Well, you have some big ones," she commented. I just laughed; what else could I do?
The rest of the story is, the other side of Addie. The adorable, smart, caring, funny, loving little girl. She is one of the true loves of my life. During the same visit I remember her asking, "Nana, why do I love you so-o-o much?!" and, "I really love you being here. I wish you LIVED here. Even if you lived next door and I saw you every day, I would never get tired of it!" People, she is my almost four-year-old REALLY, REALLY BIG  DEAL! My legacy child, my "Addie-my-baddie."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Ballet Slippers

When  was a little girl during the 1950's, we didn't have a lot of "stuff" like people have today. We and many people in the oil field where I lived, just "made do" without a lot of luxuries. Our idea of "luxuries" would be way less than people today consider "necessities." We were used to using the mail for ordering many of the things we needed, and we didn't make a trip to town but about once a week when, often, the entire family would pile in the car and go to the grocery store. It was our idea of a "family outing." I can remember my parents even ordering shoes from Montgomery Ward catalog. Mama and Daddy would have us stand on some plain brown paper, and they would trace around our feet  to determine the correct size. Doesn't that sound strange today?
As we got into grade school, however, we began driving to Overton, a small East Texas town near our home, to a dry goods store to purchase shoes. I can remember looking in the store window and seeing a display of ballet-type flats. They were beautiful, especially the red ones . . . but I knew red would never work with my mother, so I would be content to have the black ones. I was seven, in second grade, and several  girls I knew wore such shoes to school, and I did so want some. We went inside to the shoe section, sat down, and the salesman measured my feet with some sort of metal measuring contraption. I think it's what is still used. He had me stand up and kind of felt my foot for arch and measured for width as well as length. Mama knew I wanted the ballet flats, and she even let me try them on. Oh, they looked so fancy, even though I could tell they were a bit loose, but I didn't care; I wanted them with my whole being. Mama said, maybe we should try some others as those didn't seem at all practical for school. Practical? Who cared about "practical" when "pretty" was involved. These looked like Snow White's shoes, and I thought I looked like a princess with them on. But then the shoe salesman said the most horrible thing he could possibly have thought up. "Ma'm, with your daughter's feet being so narrow and having a flexible arch, she needs to wear shoes with much more support than these ballet flats. Perhaps we should try a nice oxford." My heart sank as I saw the agreement in my mother's face and then heard it in her voice. I was nearly in tears as the slippers were replaced with brown and white "saddle oxfords," a popular shoe of the time, but definitely not my choice. They were clunky, and they had shoe laces, and they weren't at all pretty! I think I did have a little fit involving tears on the way home, as was my style. (still is, occasionally) And I never, ever forgot the disappointment I felt.
I believe, no, I KNOW that experience affected me even as an adult with my own children. When they were old enough to care, I let them have choices in their clothing and shoes that I never had. As far as myself and my own choices? What do you think. I am sitting here tonight in my leopard print p.j.s, wearing silver ballet flats with pretty filigree decorative cross straps. Oh, and as soon as I'm finished here,  I think I shall log in to my Zappos account and do a little shoe shopping.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This week is hard...

If you read "Seeing Mama Home," you have an idea of what's going on in my life right now, so pass me up today if you're looking for my light-hearted self. She's not here, or maybe in just a little different way, she is. I am finding out for sure and certain what it is like to watch a dear one move on to be with God in a home that's much better, but, DANG! dying is HARD, and watching someone in their last days/hours is hard too. The human spirit is SO STRONG. I remember this from my mom in her last days and from another lovely friend, Ms. G, our school secretary, with whom I was VERY close. She was like my "favorite aunt," though unrelated by blood but in spirit. I remember how she just kept fighting for life, and her heart just kept going strong, much longer than thought humanly possible. Now, Miss Christine is doing this. . . working hard at staying alive while dying. Several aides and others have said,"She's waiting for something or someone." I gather it's a fairly common trait among the dying. They wait till everyone they THINK should come look at their faces one more time in this life, show up. My friend Gina, whose son is like a grandson to Christine, thinks she is "waiting for Ben." Well, if that's the case, I wish Ben would hurry and get here so Christine can rest!
One thing that makes it hard to be with a barely-living person is, they just don't look like themselves any more. Christine has always prided herself on looking pretty and stylish. She always hated wearing hospital gowns, and she would NOT allow anyone to see her without her dentures, for goodness sake! There's nothing we the "watchers" can do about the teeth. I guess they would be dangerous for her and perhaps interfere with her breathing, although I do wish we could test that theory. I would bring on the denture cream and give it a go! We decided we could at least do something to make her more comfortable and "pretty" her up some anyway. We got out one of her favorite soft gowns, and the sweet aides put it on her. That would make her feel more cozy, and it is in her favorite color. . . pink:) She's always had great hair, but when you can't get to the beauty shop for umpteen weeks and your body is shutting down, the hair starts going too. So, I took a pretty silk scarf, printed in her favorite pinks and turquoise, and put it around her hair and tied it in a side-bow. It gave her some color and "sass." It was agreed that she would really like the look. Gina thought she could use some earrings, but I said that would look a bit "gypsy-like," so we held back on that idea. I wasn't finished though; I gave her cheeks some slight color and put pink lip gloss on her lips and made sure her eyebrows were shaped. THERE. Much better. If Christine could smile, I know she would. I think she is smiling inside.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Seeing "Mama" Home

This is a sad time for our church family. One of our dear ones is slowly and steadily making her way Home, in the heavenly sense of home. It's not sad for Christine. She's lived 90 mostly wonderful years, and she has REALLY LIVED. Most of us would want that to be said of us. She's looking forward now, not reminiscing about her past. She's looking forward to Heaven and to being able to look into the face of  her Father-God and looking forward to being reunited with her husband, Lloyd and all her other loved-ones who are waiting to greet her. I just know the word is out that she will soon be there. That welcoming committee is waiting just beyond that thin veil that separates the mortal and the immortal. Don't you know there's some celebrating already taking place! Her favorite songs, Amazing Grace and It Is Well With My Soul, are being sung and Hallelujahs fill the air!

When my own mama died, I was not there. I was packing, getting ready to return to East Texas to be with her, because she was in hospice care, and we knew she was leaving us very soon. The phone rang, and it was my sister. She said, "You don't have to rush, Diana. Mama's already gone." It just broke my heart...not that she was gone; she was ready to go at 89, and I had seen a few days earlier that she had "folded her tent" and was ready. It broke my heart that I wasn't right there. Christine has no children; her church and some darling others make up her family, so, in that sense, she has many children, and I am one of them. I may not be in the room when Christine passes, but I have been there during her last hours. In a way, I'm doing this not only for Christine, but for myself and in honor of my own mama. . . at last, I am "seeing Mama home."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Deer Country and Peppermint Tea

Warning: Some of this could cause that "queasy" feeling.

The first time I saw our Emma-dog was when she was a young mama. She is a  silky-terrier, and her owners had bred her and were selling her precious little fluffy-ball puppies. We already had enough dogs in our home, but I certainly enjoyed seeing those cuties!
Fast-forward about 5 years. My friend, who does my hair and has for many years, wanted to find a home for Emma; I still don't quite know why, and I had forgotten all about Emma. I asked if she was an outside dog, as our old dog, Buster, seemed a little sad lately, and I thought he might enjoy company. I drove out to the country ( I live in a country neighborhood, but this was the REAL thing.) to check her out, and there I found a little ragmuffin-looking dog OUTSIDE and chewing on a deer leg. Thus, the "outside dog" question was answered: Emma  definitely was one. I said we would take her. Owner said they would "clean her up, cut her hair, and bring her out on Sunday."

Sure enough, that Sunday afternoon, the family arrived with Emma in tow, but she looked NOTHING like the wild little thing I had seen with the deer leg. She was PRECIOUS! Coach looked at me as I "o-o-h-d and ah-h-d" with her in my arms and muttered, "So, this is an outside dog?" We-l-l. That was over a year ago, and she's hardly been outside ALONE or without WATCHFUL EYES in all that time. She's a wonderful, playful little family dog, and Coach loves her too, even though he would never say LOVE about a pet! Of course, as the saying goes, "You can take a dog out of the country, but you can't take, blah, blah, blah. "

We are in a country neighborhood. Everyone around us hunts. Deer happen, and when you have dogs, deer parts usually make their decrepid way into the yard. Today, on one of Emma's trips outside, she stayed longer than usual. I heard her little "scratch, scratch" on the door, opened it, and there was a proud little dog with a really GROSS DEER LEG, including hoof, IN HER MOUTH, trying to get it in the door! NO! NO! NO! and she dropped it and came in, smelling pretty gamey indeed. She kept hanging around the door, sniffing and thinking about that yucky deer leg. Soon, a plan formed in this devious brain. If I let her out the back door, I could grab that leg, throw it in a garbage bag, and problem SOLVED. So, I  emptied some cleaning supplies out of a plastic bag, called Emma, who was MORE than EXCITED to be going outside again...she knew EXACTLY where she would go...straight to the LEG! I worried, could I make it to the front door before she did? So, with my hand in the sack, glove-like... oh-my-gosh, it's thin! I let her out, slammed the door, and ran like a crazy woman through the house, opened the front door, aha, she hadn't made it yet, grabbed up that yucky, kind-of too ripe feeling leg with the now MUCH TOO THIN grocery sack, had forgotten a trash bag so had to HOLD the darn thing while I got other bag from kitchen and opened with one hand. (ARGH! the thing has been in my KITCHEN!!!!) threw it in and ran to the screen porch to go to garbage can. NO! They are still out at the ROAD! Gagging, I dumped the bag with-a-leg-inside beside the door, ran in and scalded my hands for about five minutes! Then I heard that familiar little "scratch,scratch" at the door and let Emma back in. She sniffed the air, looking accusingly at me, for several minutes before settling down for her afternoon nap. I felt SICK. Fortunately, I had just brewed some peppermint tea sweetened with honey. I think peppermint tea and crackers are about all I will want for the rest of this deer-Emma day.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Never StopTill You Hear the Whistle Blow!

I didn't know what I would write about tonight until the ending of the national championship football game between Auburn and Oregon. The drama during the last minutes of play was a fan's dream come true! (most of the game was terrific.) A play involving an Auburn freshman from Little Rock was the game-changer. We thought there would be overtime play. The Oregon Ducks had made a touchdown PLUS TWO EXTRA POINTS to tie the game in the last two minutes! Breathtaking! Anyone but totally die-hard Auburn fans would cheer what Oregon did! Then, attempting to get down the field into scoring range, Auburn's Cam Newton completed a pass to Dyer.(I think that's his name) Dyer was tackled, almost stopped, but heard his teammates yelling, "GO! GO!" and he did KEEP GOING! The whistle had not been blown. His knee had gone down on the tackler but never touched the ground, and he used his palm to stand back up, still in control of the ball and he KEPT GOING! Coach looked at me and said, "Never stop till you hear the whistle blow." That play set up the winning points: Auburn emerged as national champions.

What a statement about LIFE and how we should LIVE. There are, sadly, many examples I can think of when people have just plain given up and quit. Life just gets too heavy for some, and they just stop living, not in a literal sense, perhaps, but there is no longer any joy in their lives. Then, there are others who live life to their fullest even under the most difficult circumstances. A friend of ours suffered what could/should have been a debilitating or deadly stroke less than 6 months ago. Praise God, the power of prayer and some special medical personnel, his family, and his own stubborn will brought him back. He is at least 95% Jack again! The whistle didn't blow, and he didn't stop! (a retired coach, by the way) Thank God, he is back with his wonderful family and friends, truly enjoying LIFE.

I have a forever-friend who was told by doctors after she had been diagnosed with ms and lupus and chose alternative treatments over treatments offered by said doctors, that she would be dead within the year. That was probably close to 30 years ago, and she's still going strong. Oh, there have been difficult times in those years; there are days when she doesn't leave her bed; she's no stranger to pain. But she LIVES a joy-filled, blessed LIFE, yielded to God and His will, and guess what! The whistle hasn't blown for Barb, and she hasn't stopped.

I don't make new years resolutions. I'm sure to break them; I know I would absolutely set myself up to break them. I've done that. But I will adopt a mantra for life. I will print it and place it among the pictures of my children and grand children on the fridge, because THEY are the BEST reason for me to NEVER STOP truly LIVING till I hear the WHISTLE BLOW. "...for I know WHOM I have believed, and am persuaded that HE is able to keep what I have committed to HIM until that DAY." (2 Timothy 1:12) until the whistle blows. . .

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Help, I've Fallen, and I Can't Get UP!

You may not recall that commercial by a company who had some sort of "safety" thing for senior citizens in order for them to get quick assistance in case of a home accident: an elderly lady was pictured on the floor, and she was in contact with an emergency person, and that was the line she gave. . . "Help! I've fallen, and I can't get up!" I remember comedians having a hey-day with it, sort of like in the commercial when the elderly woman asks the burger place  person, "Where's the beef?" Everybody was a comedian in both instances. They were funny about one time each. 

Even that may give you a hint as to where I am now. . . just in a royal FUNK!! Sometimes things happen that aren't so great, and I just get down. It usually takes awhile for me to get in this mood. Most people never see ME past my usual smile. I tend to hide my feelings pretty well. I guess that comes from practice. I taught for such a long time, and teachers have a certain "role" to play, and part of that is to remain fairly constant in front of students. I had that down pretty well. Kids expected me to be patient, upbeat, and sometimes funny in a dry-wit sort of way, and I smiled. . . a lot. Now that I think about it, I probably was a "Stepford" teacher! (Don't act like you understand that analogy if you haven't seen the movie or read the book.)

Anyway, about the funk. Some friends of mine lost loved-ones this week. I went to one funeral and helped with the meal, but just couldn't bring myself to go to a 2nd funeral on the same day. I could have at least gone to the visitation and seen my friends, but I didn't realize it was here. I felt pretty guilty about it all. Another sad thing, Miss Christine, as many know her, a sweet lady I've known for Arkansas-ever, is in hospice care and hardly responds to anyone anymore. When I last visited her, just few weeks ago, I mentioned playing some song at church, and she said, "Oh, I didn't realize you played piano." In actuality, I have played at our church for quite some time, and I even bought her piano from her when she moved into an assisted-living apartment last summer. She told me she just wants to "go home," and I think she meant Heaven when she said it.
We're experiencing a sad event in our family. My nephew's little boy just moved several states away with his mom and step-dad, and we are all mourning that situation. Also, one son has moved to Seattle for a great reason, but I miss him very much. He was supposed to be in Arkansas always, and Seattle is about as far from Arkansas as one can be in the continental United States. And there's this thing about sons; they just aren't that great about keeping in touch. (Hey, we might go a couple of weeks without hearing from the one right here in town!) I believe I would be alright with at least a TEXT every day or so, or even a face book message during the week, but it isn't happening, and never mind  a phone call. Does anyone under the age of 45 even talk on the phone anymore?and I don't have much hope that this "contacting Mom" thing will change; he doesn't need money, he's happy in love, and he's a SON after all.

Oh, and did I mention, the Arkansas Razorbacks DID NOT WIN the SUGAR BOWL? Had they won, it would have saved me a from some hurt and frustration, and it would have made me HAPPY!! But, NO, it did not happen. I know... That is so shallow. Some of what i've shared tonight has been shallow and, in the least, self-pitying, but little-i just can't help it. I will get back to my REAL self soon... my cheerful, glass-half-full, joy-filled self. For now, though, I've FALLEN, and I can't get up.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What TIME is it, anyway?!?

That's what we were asking each other last night!! Had a house full of my close relatives of all ages, including a 7 year old great (and he is that!) nephew, and about 8:30, YES, 8:30 p.m. we were all asking, WHAT TIME IS IT?!? Our goal was to see the New Year in and not sleep through the magic moment of midnight. It seemed we had eaten continually since about 2 p.m. after company had all arrived. First came the sandwiches and dips and chips and cookies and chocolate...oh, YOU TOO? Then at about 7:00 , the New Year's Eve fish-fry with assorted sides. We were good about it though; we opted for ROASTED potatoes rather than FRIES!! Hubby's fried crappie ruled, as usual:) and all the other food (oh, yeah those hush puppies were definitely fried; we are not that good!) quickly disappeared  followed by coffee and dessert, and then more salty stuff to get rid of the sweet taste. Is anybody reading this? You've done it too, haven't you. . . Surely after all that and the laughing and visiting and playing with Luke and watching, I don't even remember what on t.v., SURELY it was almost mid-night. No, it was probably about 9:00 by then. I thought time passed FAST when you were having fun, but that must not apply when you are so stuffed you can hardly hold your eyes open and you are just yearning to go to bed. Side note: married niece actually napped about an hour during the evening, so she is not getting credit for totally toughing it out with the rest of us! That's you, Mel, you know. We killed some time readying beds, getting child bathed and in p.j.s, and most of us opted for putting on comfortable clothes (to relax our bulging stomachs, at least in my case that was the plan!).
Again the question, WHAT TIME is IT? when we reconvened in the family room. . .oh, 10:30. . .wasn't the "dropping the ball" Clark/Secrest show on? So, it's almost MID-NIGHT in New York City! YEA!! Get the bubbly, (ginger ale for child)! We are seeing the year 2011 in with the folks in New York City!! I don't KNOW how OLD Dick Clark is. Who said he was DEAD. . .Leanna, he's right there!! E-e-k! Put it on MUTE, quick! Where's Secrest when you need him? Somebody, make Luke quit protesting! It is NOT CHEATING! New York City is part of the United States, and the ball is dropping there NOW! 8 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - HAPPY NEW YEAR, everybody!!!! Who's up for a MOVE?!!?