If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Tribute to My Daddy

Honestly, yesterday was an unbelievable tribute to my Daddy.  After standing with a line of folks facing us for about seven hours on Tuesday evening, we arrived at the chapel yesterday morning braced for the hardest day we had faced in our lives.

Oh, the folks at Williamson Memorial Gardens are probably the very best in their business and support people in ways nobody can even imagine are possible.  But, at a bit before ten o'clock in the morning, we were already facing a fairly full chapel and a long line of folks who were there to pay respect to my Daddy.  Nobody could stand in for us.  Nobody could relate to the things those friends, neighbors, and acquaintences shared except us.  So, braced we were and we faced them with our strongest emotions and backbones - an example was modeled by my mother and we followed suit to the best of our ability.

We cannot express our love, appreciation, and overwhelming gratefulness to folks for all they have said, all they have done, and all they have lifted up for us.  So, today, I'm sharing links...

The Photo Video The 'backbone' of the photos came from a set put together for Mom and Dad's 50th Wedding anniversary.  Then, the entire family began contributing by sending images via text, email or Google+.  Yep.  They did.  I think I got the last stream of images at about 1:40 A.M.  We all loved those smiling images of Daddy and some of the great poses/hairstyles apparantly.

Obit Daddy began compiling this the day after he got home from his last hospital stay.  He asked Mom for a clipboard, paper, and pencil - he was old-school and stood by it till the end...but it worked for him.  After he tired from the effort of all that thinking and writing, he asked Mom to come sit beside him and he talked her through the things that were important to include.  From that clipboard, I compiled that and other information to create a draft.  Then, we revised and edited to suit my teacher needs - at least to deadline draft stage.

Contribute and add a Story After the service, we visted with friends and extended family and shared fellowship and delicious food provided by the community and served up by the ladies of Epworth United Methodist Church.  Then, we gathered at Mom's house and worked through the many plants and flowers to see who sent them and parcel them out to our different households.  After that, we went through the guest register and shared stories we heard and learned from the visitors about Daddy.  So, please, please if you would, contribute your story by clicking on the link at the beginning of this paragraph or add in the response section of my blog below.

Again, we are so grateful for your support through this experience.  Please continue to remember Mama (and us) for a while because we are going to have to find our way in the world without Daddy bouncing along in front of us with his Pepsi expecting us to keep up and (read his mind at times) soldier on in this world.  So, reach out and pop in on us - we will need it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Man of Many Words

As I lay in bed this morning, I watched the sun peek through the window.  I wish I knew how many mornings I've had the sun peek through an east-facing window to greet the mornings with me.  Of course, most of the time those windows were in a milk-barn and my Daddy would already have walked through the morning darkness with a Pepsi and cigarette in hand and grunted, "Morning, bud." I would have grunted something back and we would continue on our way to get cows milked, silage and hay fed to them, and any other needs of the animals responsible for providing our livelihood met so that they could go out into the pasture to lie down and rest before the next milking time.  Then, we would have real conversations that were more than just a grunt.  We are not really morning people.

This morning I was thinking about how the tables have turned and today we will be laying my Daddy to rest on a hillside.  So many thoughts marched through my mind as I watched the sky turn from a glimmering soft pink to a full sunshiney morning.  I recalled how almost every single person who passed by us yesterday told me, "Your daddy was a good man."  They might also share a little tale of an experience they had with him or words of wisdom he had imparted or a tear or two as they let me know he would be missed.  Whew!  I miss him already.

Daddy was a good man.  How I know it.  He would have loved yesterday's tribute to his life.  There was a room full and a long line of folks who wanted to show their respect for Daddy and the life he lived.  Daddy would have done his utmost best to hug, squeeze hands with, pat on the shoulder, or kiss each and every one of them.  He would have told tale after tale and smiled through the experience.  For all the children he would have had a piece of candy or bubble gum.  We stood there at the chapel and greeted folks for about seven hours and it took my whole family - my Mom, sister, brother-in-law, children, nieces, and aunts to greet those folks when Daddy probably could have done so all by himself and left each one feeling as if they were the most important one with whom he had the opportunity to visit.

Daddy taught me so many things and, while I already knew it, I certainly realized last night that he also enlightened so many others as well.  This will be one of the hardest days my family and I have ever had to face in life.  But I know we will handle it with grace because that is what Daddy would expect of us.  Daddy was a man of many words and so many of them are rattling around in my head this morning.  I am heeding those words and counting on him to get me through this hard day.

"You put your britches on just like everybody else - one leg at a time."

"There is always time to share a little kindness because that may be the only kindness the other person gets that day."

"It is fine to disagree with somebody but when you walk away from them, let them know that you still love them just the same and treat them with respect whether they deserve it or not."

"Do the right thing and you will never have any regrets."

"Strive to be the person you want your children to be and they will rise above you."

"Genetics make you a woman, behavior makes you a lady."

"The mark of a good southern woman is the impression she leaves with others.  You should be able to stand hip-deep in cow manure and thirty minutes later look and smell like a rose."

"You can do anything you want to do, just do it with class."

"Talk to people in a way that they leave you feeling like you just shared a piece of chocolate cake and they got the best bite."

"A true leader is right there in the trenches - elbow-to-elbow working with the folks he is leading."

"Folks will follow you anywhere if you treat them like you know they are important."

"Treat other people the way you expect them to treat you."

Today my Daddy's words will be guiding me and giving me the strength I need to do the hardest job I've ever been expected to do for him.  I certainly hope I don't disappoint.

Monday, March 28, 2016

No final copy - only a deadline draft

We met with an old friend today to map out my Daddy's funeral service.  David did a wonderful job of putting us at ease just as his son had done the day before when he came to pick Daddy up and take him away for preparation.  Old friends and good folks are something to cherish.

As we sat there with David asking Mom questions and her providing answers based upon conversations she'd had with Daddy, we also shared stories and fond memories - he of his recently departed dad and us of mine.  At one point, Casey, David's son, told us we needed to pipe down a bit because we were getting rowdy.

Mom and I had talked about it last night and she pulled out the clipboard Daddy had used to map out his ideas about his funeral.  He had listed the associations he wanted published and the pall bearers and honorary folks he wanted to recognize right after he had come home from the hospital.  He had to pause and Mama wound up having to do some of the writing while he talked it out.  Last night I keyed the information onto an online document and shared it online with Mom.  She brought a copy today and we passed it along to David and his niece, Mandi.  

David made the comment that not many people have written an obituary and I sheepishly admitted that every eighth grade student I ever taught had written one - their own!  David and Mandi provided us with a hard copy to proof and we all began to read and check.  In no time, I asked for a pen to begin doing some editing - yes, the writing teacher in me came out.  I started circling and drawing arrows and making marks all over the page while everybody in the room rolled their eyes and nervously snickered.  When David sent me to the office to work with Mandi at sorting out all of the miskeys, it sort of seemed like old times when she would be working on an assignment at school and I would be wandering the room peering over shoulders and offering advice to young writers.

We even edited and made changes using a mobile app while we were out walking along the cemetery where Mom was selecting a final resting place for her and Daddy.  True to my teaching - there was no final draft.  

My daddy kind of lived his life that way - dots and dashes and lots of commas and semi-colons and only a few periods.  The outpouring of love from people has been overwhelming and we do appreciate and cherish each and every one of the folks who say such kind things about Daddy and the kind of man he was.

We are anticipating the day tomorrow to be a long one but how do you sum up a long and storied life with just a simple visitation?  Truly Daddy's legacy lives on in all the lives he touched and each person he encountered.  He served as a mentor, a model, an over-the-shoulder advisor, and editor in his own way who offered many second chances.  I guess he adhered to that concept that there is no final draft as well.  The only thing is that now he has turned in his deadline copy and I'm already wishing I could ask him some more questions. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Daddy left this world today.  We are thankful he is at peace.
I'm sure he is regaling Saint Peter with tales!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Random Ramblings Volume 5

I've been on spring break this week.  It has been wonderful to have a break from the responsibilities of work!

I've been preoccupied and haven't really accomplished much while I've been on break, though.  I sometimes wonder if Daddy's disease isn't taking over my brain.  I am losing my words.  Several times I have been talking and a word just will not come to my tongue.  For example, I was telling my sister about Mike getting shots in his knees and I could not for the life of me pull up the word cortisone.  The scary thing is that isn't the first or only time lately that I cannot recall a simple, ordinary, everyday word.

I have a hard time focusing on things.  I cannot read for very long periods of time and comprehend what I have read - that is if I stay awake long enough to read more than a page.  My thoughts flutter hither and yon.

I think maybe I've been shuffling random thoughts like Daddy did yesterday morning...

He was fixated on dairying.  He asked me how many cows were left in the holding pen.  I just glibly said, "Oh, a full batch." Then, he asked, "What about that cow off to herself?"  I told him I would check on her.  Only a moment later, he asked what I was going to do about that cow off to herself.  Then, before I could respond, he asked me, "Where is your Mama?"  I replied, "She is sitting over there in that chair.  Why what do you want her to do?"  To which he responded, "Oh, you may as well turn her out with those other cows I guess."  See? A bit shuffled and random...Since my brain has been operating on shuffle and randomness has ruled, today's post has a random focus, too.

First up, let me ask you...

Did you know that "the most infamous body in the world" is changing?  Check out just how she is evolving and why that is a good thing.

With this short little article, I learned

  • every single one created since the year before I was born will interlock
  • that I am above average on something
  • the company producing them is ultra-efficient
  • they would be the world's largest population
  • they are the world's largest manufacturer of wheels
I was a little bit alarmed when I saw the headline.  After all, this is Lillie's favorite candy.  But after reading this article, I can rest easy - and even anticipate the wonderfulness of change.

I found out that not only can you visit it but you can also go camping in an enchanting southern town that was built for a movie but never torn down.  How about that?  I love the idea that nobody wears shoes there!

I think maybe I'd like to try taking this kind of vacation sometime.  I wonder what I'd learn about my hometown?

While I did this every day this week during break, I didn't really agree with Ben Franklin.

Ann made this look easy enough that I think I'm going to try it!

I found that once again I agree with Maria.  I think the last statement is truly one that I need to post where I see it more often and really think about it.

There are some of my random thoughts for this week.  Do you have some to share?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Help for the Weary

The people from Guardian Home Care and Hospice have wings beneath their shirts.

I came to realize that with my first introduction to Sharon about a month ago, when Daddy came home from the hospital.  Her compassion, tenderness, consideration, warmth, tenacity, and patience were obvious within a matter of minutes after entering my parents' home.  

Then, there has been Julie.  She comes by a couple of times per week to assess Daddy's health, advise Mom on daily care, and just generally put them at ease as best she can.  Her job is not just as a nurse for my father, she also cares for and scaffolds to help my mother.

Today, Julie probably has no idea how much I wanted to pick her up and enfold her into my arms and just hold her in a giant bear hug.  I knew it wasn't necessary and that is the only thing that kept me from it!  

Her day's work at my parents' house today included arranging for more help and support for my mother.  There will now be somebody to come in and help bathe and shave Daddy and a night-time care-giver to give Mom a break.  You see, care-giving is tough, demanding, rigorous, draining, exhausting work and my mother has reached beyond the point of exhaustion.  

Even though friends, neighbors, and family have offered and at times even bulldozed our way in to help Mom, she has been shouldering the load of providing care for Daddy.  

Mom is the one who is awake with him every hour-and-a-half and sometimes just around-the-clock-wakeful-without-a-break.  Even though thoughtful souls have provided food to keep their fridge well-stocked, Mom is the one who plates it up and encourages Daddy to do more than pick and nibble at it.  Then, she is the one who cleans up the dishes and often the area around Daddy.  Mom is the one who has administered Daddy's medicines and documented the dosage and time.  Mom is the one who cleans the floors, the clothes, the bed linens, and any other surface or textile imaginable.  Mom is the one who answers the phone or returns calls.  She is the one who writes notes to all the visitors and deliverers of the delicious foods.  Mom is the person who bathes, dresses, and provides personal care for Daddy.  Mom is the one who tries to clarify Daddy's muddled thoughts and continues to return the oxygen tubing to his nose.  Mom is the one who helps him sit up and helps him navigate from the bed...to the chair...to the sofa...and back to the bed.  Mom is the one who hands him or holds for him a bottle of water, or Pepsi, or iced tea.  Mom is the one who continually tells him that he is already home when he tells her he is ready to go home (and a multitude of other things he must be convinced of over and over and over).  Mom is on-duty and on-call twenty-four-hours and seven-days-per-week...and she has been for weeks, months, and longer.

Yesterday morning, when my Mom called me before the sun was even over the horizon, I knew that she was tired and could no longer keep going.  Oh, we have taken turns sitting with Daddy or helping Mom with some chores.  We've even spent a few nights to give her time to sleep.  We've asked if there is something more we can do.  We've bulldozed our way over her to do as much as she would give in and let us to help her out at times.  We've nagged at her telling her that she is going to have to have more assistance and support than she is allowing.  

Yet, Mom has soldiered on and independently held the responsibility on her shoulders.

So, yesterday, when Julie, the home health care provider, convinced Mom that she must have more help, we wanted to cheer and turn cartwheels and clap and do a double back flip and waggle our fingers in the air.  The only reason we didn't, I think, is because we feared we might wake Daddy.  (Well, then there is also the fact that my sister and I probably are far past the time in our life when we actually could turn cartwheels and do double back flips - if we ever could...but still...we certainly wanted to do it!)

Many of you have expressed concern and support and we are grateful for your lifting up.  We are so appreciative of all of you who have come by or called or sent cards or just whispered prayers.  Today, I am especially grateful for those angels who are providing help for the weary caregivers.  I appreciate those folks with wings tucked up under their shirts.  Plus, I know that my Mom is not alone.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Patient Listener or Partner in Crime?

When I got to Mom and Daddy's this afternoon, their young friend, Jim, was sitting with Daddy and listening to him ramble.  I'm sure that sometimes his ramblings might have made little sense as Daddy was working through the tangles that sometimes take place with his oxygen deprived thinking.  But, Jim was patiently listening and smiling or chuckling when appropriate.

At one point I overheard Daddy mention something along this line...

"I just thought when Beverly got here today she could lead it."

So, I asked Daddy, what is it you think I"m going to lead for you?

He replied, "A horse."

Me: What horse?

Daddy: "That one out there." (and he pointed out toward the front pasture)

Me: Are you kidding me?  Daddy, you know I'm afraid of a horse!  I'm not gonna lead any horse for you!

Daddy in a hoity-toity way: "Well, we sent you off to 'The University' and I thought you might have learned something about leading a horse."

Me in a hoity-toity way:  I learned a lot at 'The University' about horses.  I learned I didn't need any old horse.  I learned I didn't need to be messing with a horse.  I confirmed that I am scared of horses.

Daddy just rolled his eyes and he and Jim chuckled together.

Then, I noticed that Daddy had taken his oxygen tubing out of his nose.  So, I took the couple of steps over to him and repositioned it into his nose and told him that he had to leave that in his nose like that to help him breathe.  (I was a little surprised that I wasn't accused of being bossy.)

He cut his eyes over toward Jim.  Then, he said, "Did you know this tube grew longer last night?"

I'm sure the look on my face was pure confusion and I asked him where it grew longer.  So, Daddy held up a long length of the tubing between his hands and said, "See?"

Then, his hand went up to remove the tubing from around his left ear and take the tubes out of his nose.  So, I gently put the tubing back like it was supposed to be and told him that I bet if that tubing grew longer it was because SOMEBODY had been pulling and stretching it!

"Well, I don't know anything about that!"  Daddy said and cut his eyes over toward Jim.

I said, I bet it was the one who is pulling at it right now, and again gently took the tubing away from him and repositioned it behind his ear and into his nostrils.

This time, he pointed his finger at me.  "I don't know how many degrees you have gotten but I do know one thing.  You don't know EVERYTHING!"  he said, looked over at Jim, and they chuckled together.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Twists and Turns

Sometimes conversations can take interesting twists and turns and can be quite entertaining.  These days we are finding this fact out in an unusual way.  As I've mentioned before, sometimes due to oxygen deprivation, Daddy's conversations get a little tangled.

We had just one of those conversations last week.

Now, first, let me tell you that everybody who knows my husband, Mike, knows that he is NEVER in a hurry.  He always pokes along no matter what.  So, that being said...this is how the conversation ensued...

Daddy noticed out the window that there was somebody mowing.  I told him that it was Mike mowing along the driveway.  He was surprised and said, "Well, I didn't ask him to do that." Then, after a long pause, "I didn't tell him not to, either," and he shrugged.

Bryan and I were taking Daddy on a tour to provide him with an opportunity to see things he had been missing due to being tethered to his oxygen machine and weather constraints.  As we were touring his farm, we met Mike, who was mowing alongside the driveway.  Mike was poking along more than usual because this was an area he hadn't cut before and was unsure about the location of rocks.  Bryan pointed at Mike and Mike pointed at Daddy and Daddy exclaimed, "He is going W-I-D-E open!"  Bryan's eyes met mine in the rear-view mirror and we both burst out laughing.

Later in the afternoon, Jim, a young friend of Daddy's came by for a visit and mentioned that he thought Mike and Bryan were doing a nice job grooming the place and getting the grass cut and Daddy informed him, "Yeah.  I think they are cutting it a little shorter than I would but it looks pretty good."  Mom and I burst out laughing this time before we explained to Jim that they had raised the deck on the mowers at least two inches!

Then, just before dark, Mom got a phone call and we overheard her saying, "Let me jot down your phone number..."  Daddy looked at me and informed me that the caller, "must be a new customer."  I asked him what kind of customer and he wasn't sure.  Then, he offered, "Maybe she is going to cut the grass next time!"  I chuckled and said, "I guarantee you one thing...she won't do it to suit!"  To which he agreed, "I know it.  I have cut this grass for years and your Mama always fusses about something - too short, too tall, grass in the flower beds...There's just no suiting her!"

See, just a little twist and turn and the entire perspective is different!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Opening the Window

I know that I have already posted twice today but I just wanted to post one more thing...

Yesterday Mom asked me to link up my blog to her Facebook page.  With a bit of hesitation, I did.  I blog here to record what is going on in our daily lives.  I'm used to my family reading it and commenting and sometimes even sharing it with their friends.  However, even though this blog is posted for public access, I rarely think of anybody besides family reading it...because...well, I figure nobody else really cares what we are doing!

I choose to share things here that I would NEVER share on Facebook.  I have rarely posted photos of our children or of our grandchildren there.  I just don't think that is mine to share in such a public forum.  I rarely post anything there at all.  I've asked the children before I began posting pictures of them or of our grandchildren here on this blog because that is truly their decision and not mine.  I even asked if it was OK to post images of my sick father before doing so.

I say all this because I realize that there have been more readers this week after Mom's link up and I want those folks to know that I am sharing as a way to record our family history but also, recently, as a way to share how cruel and heartless and heinous this disease can be.

We have pretty much reached a place where the disease has taken over.

It has taken over my father.  He can no longer think clearly or live independently or function in an adult manner.

He didn't even recognize his eldest granddaughter and great-granddaughter most of the day today.  Daddy asked Bridgette who she was several times today when she was helping him and taking care of him.  At one point he grabbed her ears and asked her if that hurt her as a way of trying to show her how his ears are now tender from the wear and tear of the oxygen tubing.  He called Lillie a couple of different names today and argued when Bridgette tried to clarify that for him.  He said, "No, her hair is not blond enough to be Lillie."

He makes ridiculous decisions - cutting his oxygen tubing with a pocket-knife or nail clippers and even biting the tubing into two pieces last night because it is bugging him and he cannot understand how that is helping to make him comfortable.  He persistently asks Mom to take him home.  Often he thinks he is somewhere besides Gosey Hill Road.  He thinks the house and furniture is just exactly like their furniture at home but it isn't home.  Mom has put him in the car and asked him directions to get home.  He navigated her around in a circle and right back to their house.  Then, he told her that he wanted her to take him home to their house on Gosey Hill Road as they were driving up the driveway to their own home.

He is too weak to even shuffle across a level wood floor with the aide of a walker without staggering or falling.  Last night he choked znd vomited and needed to be cleaned up.  He talked Mom into letting him just get in the shower.  That resulted in him falling several times - even while using a metal walker for support - even while Mom and a neighbor were helping to hold him and provide him support.

His organs are not functioning properly due to a lack of oxygen.  Thus, he is sick and hardly eating.  He barely nibbles a few bites - not even enough to feed a bird.  He didn't even have to use the bathroom all day today.

As much as Daddy likes to talk, his speech is slurred and stilted because he has such difficulty breathing.  Plus, there is the issue with his thinking - the things he tries to discuss are muddled, tangled, and confused in his mind and most of the time make no sense to him or his listeners either.  Things get garbled and mixed up and his conversations have gotten that way as well.

The disease has taken over my mother.  She is a care-giver twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  Her day starts with caring for Daddy and seems to never end.  If she sleeps for a two-hour stretch it is a miracle.  She helps Daddy walk, she helps him sit up, she helps him dress, and bathe, and anything else he wants or needs comes as a result of her effort.  Mom sits at Daddy's bedside or beside him on the couch and comforts him and tries to help him understand and sort through his confusion.  The patience and tenacity she has shown is remarkable.  Her every thought and waking second is consumed with taking care of Daddy and making certain he is safe.

The disease has taken over our family.  My daily talks with my children are focused on Daddy and Mama and how their day has played out.  We map out ways that we can be there to support their needs and help them cope.  One of them spends the day to help out and provide company and give Mom a hand and a couple of days later the other does the same.

Mike goes over to feed the livestock each day.  While he is there, he also checks in with Mom and sometimes visits with Daddy.  He catches me up each afternoon before I stop in over there for my daily visit giving me an idea of what to expect.  We stay at night when Mom will allow it - just so that she can get some rest.  I know she doesn't sleep for long but at least she has the option of turning over and going back to sleep if her racing thoughts will let her.

We cherish the time we have with Daddy.  We enjoy some of the funny things he says and does.  Yet, we absolutely hate what this disease has done and continues to do.

So, please know that as I open this window into our life, I do so out of love for the man my father has always been.  There is no normalcy and we don't know what awaits us but we do know that this is temporary and it too shall pass.

Who's Sitting Who?

Today is Bridgette's day at Mom and Daddy's.  (The children are taking turns spending time over there to give Daddy some company and help Mom get some rest.)

Bridgette messaged me last night to let me know that Lillie, who is on spring break from school, is going along to keep the folks company today.  Last night she packed a bag of things to take for her 'babysitting' adventure.  She included a picture book, a jigsaw puzzle, a card game, and her tablet or iPod.  I guess she knows what works!

I got a message from Bridgette shortly after her arrival letting me know that the folks had a long night.  It seems Daddy got choked and vomited and his oxygen deprivation is causing more addled thinking and thus things are somewhat a circus.

Daddy repeatedly says he is ready to go home or that he is ready to go to Gosey Hill Road...and he is there...and he has been there for over a month since his release from the hospital in late February.

Mom gets frustrated trying to convince him that he is already home and trying to get him to relax.  Hospice has prescribed a new med to help him relax and that seems to help some.

Shortly after Bridgette's concerned message, she sent me this:
Bridgette said Daddy was taking the book in and discussing it with Lillie.  From the looks of things, I'm wondering who is getting more out of the shared time.

Outdoor Adventure

I love that our grandchildren are showing us the world.  They see so many things we have overlooked due to our age.

Last week when we went up the hill late in the afternoon, Levi took the time to show Mike and me some mud puddles and spent a little time passing the basketball.  He also gave Mike a tour of the hilltop - even the areas that his mother didn't really want him exploring but Mike was willing to follow unhindered.  The adventure was so fast paced that I couldn't keep up to even make photos with my phone!

Recently, I got a series of photos and a message from Harris's mother describing an outing with him:

She said, "This morning we grabbed a bag and went to find treasures."
"I saw on a blog post 10 things to do with a toddler...
"One was a scavenger hunt, but I simplified things and just made it a treasure hunt."
"In the bag are the things a 2-year-old thinks are treasures."
"Notice the two sticks in his hands like he is hiking Mt. Everest." ☺️
"...and of course we had to stop for a potty break!"
"Thought you would enjoy this!"
Yep! I did enjoy seeing this boy and his outdoor adventure.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Cards and Creativity

I noticed that Mama had a box of cards and envelopes when I was there this afternoon.

I noticed that she had several addressed and ready to be mailed.

I'm guessing that she is writing thank-yous to the friends and neighbors who have brought meals and snacks and chocolate pie.

(Gosh!  I hope she has thanked folks for the choclate pies and encouraged them to bring more of those!  Chocolate meringue...chocolate fudge...pecan...Oh, be still my heart!)

Mama has always been good at writing thank yous and she instilled in us the importance of writing folks a personal note.  I'm not as good at writing those as I'd like to be but I want to be better at it.

I like to write.  I've always been a writer.  I guess that is something Mama instilled in me, too.

I stumbled across another creative writer's work recently and I am just fascinated by the things she creates.

I tell myself that someday - maybe when I get to retire - I will try some of that kind of creative work and incorporate it into my writing.

What snagged me was the recipe for Blueberry Muffins - one of my favorites!  Well, actually it was the photo of the muffin that snagged me...

Isn't that just beautiful?  I can almost taste the sweet flakey muffin and the tart blueberries!

The real beauty came in the recipe card she created, though.
Plus, she made a video showing HOW she created the recipe card!

Yep!  Someday I'm going to be creative and give that a try!

You may want to hop over there and check out the Jones Design Company blog and printable archive.  She does magnificent work and I am now following her and dreaming of what I can do...someday.

Cards and Letters Coming In...

I go by and visit my parents daily now.  I need to touch base and check in on them to help my sanity.  I think it might be a touchstone for my mother as well.  She knows that if she needs a break from being a full-time, live-in nurse - a 24-hour-a-day job done with love - that she can have a few minutes break and go out to the mailbox, or return some phone calls, uninterrupted, or any number of simple tasks.

Some days I think my visits are a touchstone for Daddy and he is glad to see me and then there are the days when he tells me I'm too bossy! (because I continually chastise him for removing the oxygen tubing or tell him to leave it alone to help his breathing)

One of the things which seem to make Daddy's days are the greeting cards that folks are sending.  They get cards from their neighbors' church friends.  They get cards from folks in the community.  They get cards from family members who live near and far.

Each afternoon Mom will bring in the mail and hand Daddy the cards and advertisements.  He sorts through them and slices open each envelope and reads each card.  Sometimes he recognizes the names of the sender and sometimes, of course, he doesn't even know the sender because it is sent by somebody he's never met.

Mom has been ultra-grateful for the warm thoughts each card brings and the joy it brings to Daddy every afternoon.  Just like the old wine-cooler commercial icons used to say, "Thank you for your support!"

Sunday, March 20, 2016


One of the blessings of living near to family is that we are able to share time together inter-generationally.  (I don't know if that really is a term but to me it means several generations enjoying the company of one another.)

This week Bridgette and her crew spent a little time at my parents contributing to the support that Mom and Daddy are needing right now.  As has become customary, the children came in to check on Papaw and spend a few moments before dashing outside into the warm sunshine to run and play.

Lydia shared that she has lost another tooth - I think this was number eight for her.
Daddy asked her how old she is and she let him know she is six but coming up on seven.  She gave hugs all around and dashed back outside to the sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures.

Lillie shared a bit about her recently completed Australia report project and how her pony is faring and just generally caught us up on life as a nine-year-old.  Luci...well Luci didn't really have much time to stop and chat.  She had too many miles to get in for her little legs to stretch and her discovering to get accomplished.

As Daddy's friend Carey said last week, "Sometimes things get just a little bit tangled up but most of what he says is exactly true."

So, Daddy was trying to sort out how old Luci is right now.  Lillie and Lydia told him that she wasn't quite two, yet, and her birthday was August.  So, he counted up and figured out her exact age.  We asked him how old he is.  He first said he was at least eighteen and the girls giggled.  Then, he told us, "I'm old enough to eat cornbread without getting choked."  They thought this was the perfect answer and laughed with great appreciation!
Sometimes even the tangled web of thought is perfect and just hits the mark for all of us.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Meeting Them Where They Are

Mike and I went over to Mom and Daddy's Sunday.  Mike and Bryan had made plans to service my parents' mower because the grass season is looming.

As soon as Bryan and his family arrived, he and Harris had to check in with Papaw.
They just knelt down and met Daddy on his level so he could continue to rest.
They wound up just camping there for a bit and carrying on an important conversation.
Some things are important enough to take a little time to do.
Catching up and doing a little talking...
...and spending a little time just camped out listening.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Bed Head

One of the things my grandchildren seem to have inherited from me is thick, unruly hair.  We awaken with 'bed head' almost every morning.
Has 'bed head' ever  looked cuter?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Little Farmer

Learning where food comes from is one of the most important things children learn.  Learning to grow their food is even more effective.  I guess one of the grands' school must have realized this.

Every third grader was given a plant to grow.  They are to care for it and at the end of a measured time, the children will measure the plant's growth.

I think this little farmer is off to a good start, don't you?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Reading to Children

During Read Across America week, some of the grands were encouraged to dress like a book character.  The first graders at one of the schools were encouraged to choose a Dr. Seuss book character.  Can you tell who Lydia chose?
Maybe this will help a bit...
I think she was a dead ringer, don't you?

Another of the grands dressed like Old McDonald...

Of course you know I'm a believer in reading.  I promote it in every way I can.  I firmly believe that reading to children - children of all ages helps to make them smarter and eventually more successful in life.  So, when I am sent photos like the one below, my heart sings.
Lillie reading Mr. Brown Can Moo! is a hit with Luci.

Let me urge you to take some time to read to somebody as often as you can!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Running Wide Open

I stopped by my parents' house yesterday.  While I was there, Bridgette, Corey, and their three daughters stopped by.

This little mite was a busy young lady.  We sat outside and watched her just run, run, run.  She simply ran - wide open - round and round in circles.
She was on the go just like in the photo below.
She stumbled and fell on the concrete and looked up at me.  I asked her, "Are you okay?"  She said she was and jumped up and started running all over again.

The next time she stumbled, she hardly hit the ground before she shouted out, "I OK!"

And she was!

Later in the day, I got a message telling me that she finally gave it up...
Could there be anything sweeter than that sleeping face?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Giving of Yourself

We had a family gathering recently and one of my cousins whispered something in my ear that bubbles to the top of my thoughts frequently.  She said, "Thank you for giving of yourself."

Just this week, Faye's message has bubbled to the forefront of my thinking several times during work.  As I sit with a teacher and we are collaborating on a lesson, we often share personal stories or talk philosophically about the education profession or about children we have or are teaching.  I hear about the children they gave birth to and share things about my own.  I hear about the parents of children in their classes and affirm that I encountered similar situations.  I do a lot of listening that has nothing to do with the task we have at hand but those tidbits we share cement relationships with folks who I might never have even introduced myself to otherwise.

I recently subscribed to Maria Shriver's Igniting Architects of Change blog.  I find so many of the contributors and, of course, Maria's own contributions inspirational.  It is one of those things I read that makes me want to be a better person.  I guess it is one way of surrounding myself with people who will lift me up.  I don't even have to know the contributing writers and probably will never encounter a single one face-to-face.  But, they seem to be offering a hand out for a high-five as I travel along this journey called life.

I've noticed that the things which tug at my heart and bolster my spirits are those things which fall into the category of giving of yourself.  A perfect example of that has swirled throughout my days lately.  I get morning text messages from friends who are in a similar hustle and bustle of life as me.  My husband surprises me with a home-cooked meal when I've spent a couple or three hours after work at my parents or he cleans the kitchen to a sparkle and takes out the trash.  Aquaintences share a hug or a pat on the shoulder.  Extended family calls just to check up.  Neighbors stop by and deliver a plate of cookies or a container of spaghetti to my folks.  People just do things that are not expensive or big and showy or even remarkable most of the time but because they are thoughtful and considerate, those little things are pieces of themself that show love and respect.

One post that really resonated with me recently reinforces my cousin's whispered words.  You see, I've bumped into folks who have just learned of my Daddy's IPF.  They ask what they can do and, honestly, right now all that can be done is to visit and chat and listen.  So, that is what I encourage.  Dianne Magnette, a contributor to Shriver's page states beautifully exactly what is needed.  Hop over and read Illness Shows the Real Meaning of Love.  It beautifully describes some simple ways to give of yourself.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Random Saturday Morning

I was talking to a co-worker the other day and we were sharing stories and grousing and - well - honestly bragging about things that only a couple of women who have weathered through:

  • the breakup of a marriage after learning that their husbands were liars and cheaters
  • living as a single woman while raising children and developing a career
  • found a wonderful man and started a new life
  • become a bonus mother to children we didn't raise but still love unmeasurably
  • recognize that we are flawed but try our hardest to be Good Women
  • recognize our spouses are flawed but are really fabulous in spite of it
  • have a passion for teaching and learning but struggle with the ignorance involved in reforming a public education system we know could be second-to-none
  • have parents with health issues
  • working together alongside six other women in one room
  • family
She shared how her bonus daughter is a wonderful young woman but needs to wake up and grow up and face up to some things...and I shared a couple of similar ideas.  I shared how my husband is wonderful but doesn't really realize it and wear it proudly.  She shared how her husband is so organized and focused and thorough with some things and then is oblivious to some things right under his nose.  We talked about our flaws and how we try so hard to keep our less-than-perfect selves under control and far too often fail.  We updated one another on all the news that is news and groused about the silliness and craziness that is going on in our world today.  Then, we parted ways and re-joined the hustle and bustle of the lives we live.

My conversation with Renee made me realize that having strong women-friends like her is what bolsters us up and keeps us going when the going is a bit rocky and the soles of our shoes are thin.  So, that sort of set the stage for today's blog post of a random nature.  The same random nature that our conversation meandered through...

This post made me want to rush out and buy a tube of lipstick for my daughter and daughters-in-law!  Now, I have never noticed any of them wearing lipstick of any color or name.  I think they may smear on a dab of gloss or something every now and again.  So, maybe the tube of lipstick wouldn't be for them to wear exactly.  Maybe it would just be there to be in that little zipper pocket on the side of the inside of their purse with the emory board and a band-aid or two.  It might even wallow around in the bottom with a couple of ink pens, a fast-food receipt, a matchbox car, a half-a-pack of gum, a kid's meal prize, and a petrified French fry only to be discovered when digging for their keys.  Then, it would remind them not to get lost in the demands of the children and the desires of the husband and the needs of the family and the guilt of wanting to be a Good Woman and they will Speak Louder.

I saw this post and realized that I could do something like that and maybe, just maybe I need to have a feather to tickle me a little bit.

I decided that I am just letting that front bedroom with my Granny's quilt simmer.  I'm not indecisive.  I'm not frustrated because I cannot find the perfect fabric for a bed skirt and window treatment and pillow shams.  I'm just letting it simmer.

I saw another addition of buffalo checks into Kim's life and determined that I WILL add buffalo checks SOMEWHERE in my house within the next year!  Plus, I realized that I am also going to watch for a coupon and add the beautiful toile that I love so much featuring the hunter and fisherman and pastoral colors and scenes SOMEWHERE in my house as well!

I read Karianne's post and tears welled up in my eyes and emotion swept over me and I realized that this is more the attitude that we need to wear daily than the one I've been wearing.  I realized that I truly miss sharing literature and particularly Holocaust literature with students and promised myself that I would work with a teacher next year and do just that.

This morning during my coffee slurping, I saw a couple of crafts that I definitely want to tackle and pinned a few ideas for later.  The two which seem simplest and accomplishable for now are creating leather tassels and decorating beautiful eggs.

Several of the blogs I subscribe to read showed spring tablescapes and spring door decor and springing up of their homes and I realized that I never even transitioned from the Let-It-Snow decorations in January to the Valentine's decorations.  However, sometime today I'm going to search for some eggs and bunnies and spring floral sprigs and transition to hopeful spring decor.

That is how my random day has stacked up.  How about yours?

Friday, March 4, 2016

Happy Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday, Corey!

Uplifting and Blessings

My Daddy was discharged from his hospital stay of several days earlier this week.  Mom brought him home and contracted with hospice to support them.  We have moments of merriment and moments when we fight tears.  Mostly, we have time to cherish and count our blessings.

The visits from the hospice nurses have already proven to us that some people have wings tucked up under their shirts.  Those women have been golden thus far.  They reassure and coach my mother and give Daddy care and attention as they document his health.

We are learning how to support and make these days comfortable and cope-able.

I can honestly say that I'm not surprised at how my parents friends and neighbors have supported them with visits and delicious meals to make things easier.

I also am grateful to be surrounded with my own friends and family who call just to check in or who send me text and voice messages to uplift our spirits.

A perfect example of such a moment of lifting happened yesterday morning as I was getting ready to leave home for work.

Out of the blue, I got a text message from a friend of mine with whom I kept company as an undergraduate more than thirty years ago.  This is a friend whose path and mine have crossed several times over the years and we can just pick up where we left off in a conversation even though it has been months or even years since we last were together.  Her father died after an extended illness several years ago.  So, when I got her message, I knew that she was thinking of that time and lifting us up.  Here is our exchange.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Bringing Smiles to our Faces

Since Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is rearing its ugly head in my Daddy's life, we have been holding on to some of the moments and cherishing them.  Sometimes the oxygen deprivation interferes with Daddy's thinking and things are a bit muddled for him.  It isn't all bad, though.  Sometimes it brings a smile to our face.

Earlier this week, on the day before Daddy came home from the hospital, I went to visit Daddy.  As I was pulling into the parking area, I noticed that the HOT light was on in the window of the Krispy Kreme directly across the street.  Yum!  So, I pulled through and got a treat for Daddy. (and me!) 

When I arrived, Mom had gone home to shower and freshen up before spending the night there.  Daddy was napping when I entered his room.  So, I waited quietly for a bit.  Daddy awoke and immediately began wondering where Mom was and when she would return.  I offered him a donut and he almost inhaled one.

We chatted for a bit and again Daddy wondered where Mom could be.  The time passed and I finally offered to order Daddy's dinner.  

Me: Daddy, what do you want to order for dinner?

Daddy: (Eating another donut) Read me that menu.

Me: (I read every...single...option.) What do you think you want?

Daddy: (Popping grapes in his mouth like eating popcorn at a movie theatre)  I'm not sure.  I've about had enough of sweets, though. (and began nibbling some grapes)

Me: Well what did you have for lunch? (I was thinking that we would shoot for variety.  So, if he had chicken, we might get beef or pork.)

Daddy: Chicken... (Then, he opened his flip phone and began dialing.)

Me: Daddy, who are you calling?

Daddy: Your Mama.  To ask her what I had for lunch because I cannot remember.  Hey, honey.  What did I have for lunch?  Chicken...chips...jello, I don't really want any more of that jello...chocolate ice cream...what?  OK.  See you in a little while. (and he eats another grape)

Me: OK.  What do you want for dinner?  

Daddy: Well, I've about had enough sweets.  I think I want some more of those chicken strips.  They were pretty good.  And some potato chips might be good.  No more of that jello, though.  I've about had enough sweets. (down goes another grape)  I think I'd like to have a vegetable.  What sort of vegetables are on that menu?

Me: (I read every...single...vegetable...again.)  What do you think, Daddy?

Daddy: I'm not sure. (in goes another grape)  

Me:  Do you want some bread?  They have cornbread, rolls, Texas toast.

Daddy: I'd like a roll...and some dessert...maybe some more of that chocolate ice cream. (pops another grape in his mouth)

Me: OK.  Is that it?

Daddy: Let me see that menu....OK.  I think I want some of those green beans. (and eats a couple more grapes)

I called the cafeteria to order and was put on hold for a couple of minutes.  Then, I ordered...

Me: I'd like to order my Daddy's dinner.  He would like chicken strips, potato chips, green beans, a dinner roll, and chocolate ice cream.  

I pushed the button to hang up the phone.

Daddy: Aw shoot!  I wish I'd told you to order me some of that jello!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Read Across America!

In celebration of Dr. Seuss's birthday, today is Read Across America Day.  Is there a person who doesn't have a favorite Seussical book reference?

When I was prepping to write this post, I discovered Seussville where there are links to Seuss''s biography, video clips, activities and printables for lessons, and lots, lots more!  Someday I'd love to take my grandchildren to the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden at the Springfield Museum where they truly have made Theodor Seuss Geisel a place for hands-on and feed-the-eyes interaction with the genius and his imagination.  There is so much to learn about this literary genius!  For example, most people don't realize that early in his career he was an illustrator who created "fantastical political cartoons in the early years of World War II," or how he took on Hitler.

As an educator, a reading specialist, and a lover of the written word, I encourage you to honor Read Across America Day today and read aloud to somebody - anybody!

Do a little reading…
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And then things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.

The places you’ll go!
(From The Places You'll Go!)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Rights, Privileges, and Duties

I don't know if I've been ultra-introspective lately because of my stage of life or because of what is going on in my life.

Am I a product of what is going on or am I a product of what has come before?

I'm not really certain and I don't know that it really matters either way.

This is an election year.

We see advertisements and hear them and are bombarded by appeals to support one candidate or another.

I did as I almost always do during an election - I voted early.

When I 'became and adult' and reached the age to take part in our country's most important civil duty, my father impressed upon me how I should exercise this right each and every opportunity that I could.

He stressed that it is a privilege and is one of the most powerful tasks we have in our country.

He reinforced how important it was for so many people - especially women - who came before me and how they sacrificed to provide me that right.

Then, when every election would roll around during my young adult life, he would remind me to go and vote or would ask me if I had already voted in the early polls.

He taught me how to research and read and learn everything I could about each and every candidate and to vote for the candidate and not the party or the platform but to vote for the candidate.

Over the years, I've seen my Daddy's political views evolve and his attitude change.  Yet, his early teachings have remained firm in my marrow and I still take the privilege of voting very seriously.

So, when early voting in my state was announced as open, I dug in and really studied the candidates to determine who deserved my vote.

After my preliminary investigations, my one thought was, "Is this the best that we as a country have to offer as our leader?"

Honestly, my reaction seemed more like, "We really have gone to hell in a handbasket."

I couldn't force myself to vote until that last day of early voting because I just couldn't support any one candidate with fervor.

Finally, with my father's voice ringing in my head, I went to the poll and clicked the button.

Even as I left the local polling place, I still felt concern about the future of our country if this primary represented our best, our brightest and our shiniest.

Then, a day or so later, I saw this post in social media by a former student with whom it makes me proud to know I had a few moments of interaction several years ago:

How many of y'all who vote for people, not parties, have absolutely no clue who to vote for? I didn't early vote because I have absolutely no clue. I do not feel any candidates represent the values of the general population. I do know Mrs. Clinton will not get my vote. As a woman, I feel she is an embarrassing opportunist. Otherwise she would have left her husband years ago for making her look like a weak woman who needs to ride on his coattail in order to be successful. Nah boo, go home. Real life house of cards. I don't share much on national politics but I'm just at a loss right now, and I'm curious if I'm not the only one.

After reading Lindsey's post, I felt such a strong pull to answer.

I realized that I had made a decision and felt comfortable with that decision and with my action.

So, I responded:

I, too, struggled to make a decision, Lindsey. However, I finally did all my 'studying' to determine who would be the better person for the job and clicked the button. I kept asking myself if this is all we as a country had to offer. Then, I began to look back at history and who our early leaders were - think Thomas Jefferson, for example. He helped to advance our country even as a flawed human being. Most of our early leaders were just that - strong advancers of our democracy even though they were flawed human beings. Listen and read and your heart will eventually guide you. You are a wise young woman and will think this through - I feel confident in that. If you listen to others, we will all have an opinion. Form one of your own and follow your heart. Then, even if we wind up choosing someone who disappoints us as a leader, that is nothing new but we do the best we have with what we've got at the time.

I truly feel that deep in my bones each and every person should exercise the right and privilege we each have as an American citizen.  Get out there and vote on this Super Tuesday, friends!