Nineteen years ago today, I put on a pretty white dress, tried my best to ignore all the stupid family drama, and walked down an aisle where this guy was waiting for me. Sometime, if you have a few hours and buy the margaritas, I can tell you all the reasons that day absolutely was NOT the best day of my life. I can tell you all about how, if we had had any sense, the day he said, "What do you think about us getting married?" we should have just gone and done it and told everyone later.
Today is the first day it's actually been cool here. The high today is only 70 and it's possible that we won't hit 90 this week! Besides making my dogs act like they're puppies again, the cold breeze got me thinking about this post and missing my mom. This ran six years ago, almost to the day. It's one of the few blog post she ever read. And I think it made her smile.
Thinking about Thursday
With the exception of one year in Missouri, I have lived my whole life in Texas and Oklahoma. Fall here never looks like the picture above.
For example, my children are still wearing shorts to school and my thermostat is still set to AC. The temperature this week won't get below 65 degrees, even at night. So, it is hard to get into the feeling of the season.
In fact, I don't associate autumn with the turning of the leaves at all. Instead, I associate it with the smell of chili.
My mom isn't big on cooking. She has stated on more than one occasion that she could happily live in a house with no kitchen. But every year when the weather would finally turn cold enough to need a jacket instead of a sweatshirt, our house would be filled with the smell of chili.
The weird part is, I don't even like chili that much but it could definitely be considered one of my comfort foods. One whiff and I see myself in the warm glow of the lamp in parents' living room, sitting on couch with my feet tucked under an afghan, carefully balancing one of mom's special chili bowls on my lap.
And that feels like Fall to me.
What about you? What's the weather like where you are? What brings the images of the season to your mind?
I am not a gamer...at all.
My husband always has been. When we were dating and first married, I thought he was the most considerate man in the world because on lazy weekends he'd look at me and with a gentle smile and say my favorite words, "Baby, do you want go to the bookstore?"
And, I LOVE going to the bookstore. Off we'd go, he'd patiently check out the magazines while I wandered through the aisles then he'd encourage me to buy a few and I'd skip out of the store like a happy kid with a new toy. That's when he'd casually add, "Hey, while we're already out, do you mind if we pop in this game store real quick? I just want to see something."
In my new-book-induced bliss, I nod like a bobble-head doll. Inevitably, he'd "happen" to find a game he'd been thinking about it and purchase it. Then, I'd spend the afternoon (okay, sometimes, the afternoon, evening, night and early morning, ) reading while he played his game.
Took me YEARS to figure out I was being had.
He did attempt to involve me in the gaming. Once, he set me up on this game where I was a diver on an underwater jet-ski and I was supposed to be hunting fish or taking pictures of fish or finding fish, I don't remember. Something with fish.
I was all proud of myself, checking out the underwater scenery, looking for the fish. After a good while of that he said, "Do you know you haven't moved? You're just turning in a circle."
And, I went back to my books.
But, he passed on this love of video games to our youngest daughter, who had a birthday this week and used her birthday money to purchase a new gaming system and some games.
That's where the creepy picture at the top of the post comes in.
Another important point to this adventure is I am proudly a BIG FAT CHICKEN. I don't do horror. I don't read it. I don't watch it. I don't want to hear the campfire stories. Absolutely NOT MY THING.
My girls BEGGED for this game. I knew it was rated Mature. Both my girls are teenagers. They've both watched "play-throughs" of this game on YouTube and both repeatedly assured me that the M rating was about the language and some violence but it wasn't worse than an action movie.
So, I caved (which is something I rarely do.)
The rule in our house is that computers and gaming systems stay in public areas so I knew I would still have veto power if the game got too inappropriate.
We all settled in the living room with all the lights ON and the afternoon sun shining through every window. This game is more like a every bad teenage horror movie than a video game. The animation is startlingly realistic and it's the basic: cabin-in-the-woods-no-help-coming-ever-who-will-survive-the-night? storyline.
I can tell you, the answer to that is never: Dawn!
At some point, for some reason, a boy in the game is looking for a can of deodorant to use in conjunction with a cigarette lighter to melt the ice from a lock because how else would you do that?
He wanders around this empty house, finally locates a bathroom and reaches for the cabinet.
This is when my oldest, who was playing at the time paused the game and said, "Mom, there's going to be a jump-scare here. Be ready."
Jump-scare. Got it. I am an adult. It's bright enough to land an airplane in here. I'm safe in my living room. Not in a cabin on a snow-covered mountain with a possible maniac chasing me (we can put that on the list of place I NEVER intend to be).
Bring it on!
She resumed play. The character reaches for the cabinet. I brace myself. The cabinet opens slowly, revealing the can of spray deodorant. Nothing happens.
Whew. I was worried for nothing.
"Wait for it, " My youngest says.
Oh, not over yet? Okay. I'm ready. I've got this. Nerves of steel, baby.
The character grasps the can of deodorant, removes it from the cabinet. Nothing happens.
*sigh of relief*
The girls must have this wrong. They must be thinking of a different cabinet. Everything is-
A FREAKING WOLVERVINE SPRINGS OUT OF THE CABINET DIRECTLY AT THE SCREEN.
Cue me shrieking like a B-movie actress.
This created a domino-effect.
My fearless, four-legged protectors both jerked from a sound sleep, barking as if the world was ending and my daughters had to stop playing the game.
Not because it was too inappropriate.
Because they were both laughing like drunk hyenas and couldn't mange the controller.
Below is a picture of me taken moments after the incident:
It's the time of year when I go on a hunt for the perfect dress to wear to the Romance Writers of America RITA awards ceremony (kind of like the Oscars for romance writers).
So far, I've stuck to solid colors, kind of a plain-but-dressed-up-with-jewelry style.
*You see that thing in Roni's hand? That's a RITA! Because she's awesome.
**We all have weird smiles in this one because the hotel dude didn't seem to be able to work a phone camera.
This year I wanted something a little flashier. Maybe a little more daring (at least for me.) So, I ordered this dress.
It came in yesterday. It has more gold on the roses than I’d like and I was worried it might be a size too small. But, it fit well, hid my tummy, showed off my legs. Everything I was looking for in a dress except when I pulled it down over my chest, I noticed that it “accentuated my assets" a little better than I'm normally comfortable with. It accomplished this with a thin band that should have been at my waist but was across my rib cage, making each breath an adventure.
I modeled it for my older teen first (who is the resident fashion guru). She gushed about how cute it was and how flattering. She liked it so much, I was debating how much I enjoy breathing and if I could make it through a few hours without doing that. I mean, when a fifteen year-old compliments your style, you got to consider your options.
I had her unzip the back (ahhh, oxygen!) and made my way back to my room.
At this point, I discovered a universal truth about tight dresses and large chests. Pulling something down is much easier than pulling it back up.
I couldn't push the whole dress down because it's fitted and wouldn't stretch over my hips. I couldn't pull it over my head because, well, there were obstacles.
Basically I ended up with the dress half over my head, trying to squish and pull at the same time. All while having panicked thoughts of being trapped in the dress forever or, at least until I lost consciousness from lack of oxygen to my brain, which might have been slightly irrational.
I was already picturing being cut out of my fashion choice by paramedics when I heard my youngest daughter's voice.
"Mom, are you okay? Do you need some help?"
Bless you, child. Bless you.
I held things in place while she pulled it over my head as if I were a two year-old.
So, if you see me at RWA this year, please, please say hi! I love making new friends, will probably talk way longer than I should and will be happy to pose for a picture in my nice, safe, plain dress that won't attack me after the RITA ceremony.
Summer is my non-guilt reading time. Even though I'm not on a teacher schedule anymore and technically work in the summer these days, I can still take a whole day to read a book and not feel the least bit bad about. So, here is what I plan to read this summer and some suggestions for you!
This post is really long! Just keep Scrolling! You can click on any image for the amazon link to that book. No links are affiliated.
Five Books I'm Reading This Summer
A small town hides big secrets in The Dry, an atmospheric, page-turning debut mystery by award-winning author Jane Harper.
After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.
Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.
Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.
Kerra Bailey is a TV journalist hot on the trail of a story guaranteed to skyrocket her career to new heights. Twenty-five years ago, Major Franklin Trapper became a national icon when he was photographed leading a handful of survivors to safety after the bombing of a Dallas hotel. For years, he gave frequent speeches and interviews but then suddenly dropped out of the public eye, shunning all media. Now Kerra is willing to use any means necessary to get an exclusive with the Major--even if she has to wrangle an introduction from his estranged son, former ATF agent John Trapper.
Still seething over his break with both the ATF and his father, Trapper wants no association with the bombing or the Major. Yet Kerra's hints that there's more to the story rouse Trapper's interest despite himself. And when the interview goes catastrophically awry--with unknown assailants targeting not only the Major, but also Kerra--Trapper realizes he needs her under wraps if he's going to track down the gunmen . . . and finally discover who was responsible for the Dallas bombing.
Kerra is wary of a man so charming one moment and dangerous the next, and she knows Trapper is withholding evidence from his ATF investigation into the bombing. But having no one else to trust and enemies lurking closer than they know, Kerra and Trapper join forces to expose a sinuous network of lies and conspiracy--and uncover who would want a national hero dead
I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police tell you, don't you? My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for my crime, and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address, and a chance to rebuild my tattered life. This morning, I received an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I truly believe he's dead? If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?
This Texas cowboy has come home to Copper Ridge to put down roots…but will he risk his heart again?
Asked where he'd be at this point in life, Cain Donnelly would have said anywhere but Copper Ridge, Oregon, living with his estranged brothers. But since his wife abandoned them, both he and his daughter, Violet, are in need of a fresh start, so he's back to claim his share of the family ranch. Local baker Alison Davis is a delicious temptation, but she's also his daughter's mentor and new boss. That makes her off-limits…until she offers a no-strings deal that no red-blooded cowboy could resist.
Alison has worked tirelessly to rebuild her life, and she won't jeopardize her hard-won independence. Especially if it also complicates Cain's relationship with Violet. But with Cain offering a love she never thought was possible, Alison has to find the courage to let her past go…or watch her future ride away for good.
Five Books You Should Read This Summer
That's my list for the summer! What's on yours?
It's the last day of school here. After eighteen years of counting down the seconds until the last dismissal bell of the year (and that was just as a teacher, we won't add up that plus my time as a student), it's weird to not be exhausted beyond all reason today.
The first few days of summer are like a Friday night, full of promise of adventure and excitement (or Netflix marathons and cold pizza. Don't judge.)
I always made lists of what I would accomplish over the six week "break" from work. I say, "break" because if you know anything about teaching, you know that summers really aren't a break. There is curriculum writing to be done, staff development to attend, classroom prep, it really never ends.
But, I'm not a teacher anymore. And, my main goal this summer is to figure out how to work with my kids home and me functioning as their personal Uber.
So, instead of a list of what to accomplish, because let's face it, my grand plans rarely came to fruition but my family has great memories, I came up with five things I'm looking forward to.
1. Being able to let my dogs out any time I want
If you don't happen to live directly across the street from two schools, this might seem like an odd statement. But, I do. If you open my front door, you are staring at the door of an elementary school that shares a parking lot with a middle school. The crossing guard stands in my front yard. Something no one told us about living across the street from a school (other than your yard will constantly be filled with trash and people will come sit on your front porch like they live there while they wait for their kids. #TRUESTORY) is that the twice-a-day parade of humans on the other side of your fence will drive your dogs mad. Between the hours of 7-9am and again from 2:45-4:15pm, they have to stay in the house. Otherwise, they will frantically bark at the same kids, who are now about to be Freshman in High school and have been walking by since Kindergarten. I'm sure if the dogs could speak English, they're really just screaming, "Have a great day! Good luck on that test!" but that's not how it sounds.
The picture above is what will be my office by the end of the summer. In December of 2014 we went through a major foundation repair. We were told to wait at least six weeks before installing new flooring. Then, life jumped up and slapped us around. Since then, we have been walking on cement and carpet that was rolled back out but not truly replaced. By the end of the summer, I WILL HAVE FLOORS! And, some other great renovations that I'll share in my Makeover Monday posts that I plan to revive.
The Romance Writers of America national conference is usually an every-other-year thing for me. I went to San Diego last year and get to go Orlando this year! And, it's at Disney! Really, what else could you ask for?
4. Less laundry
No, we don't randomly start running around in the buff. My oldest will probably still change three times a day and my youngest will probably still keep all of her laundry in a mountain in her room (next to the hamper, of course, because where else would you put it?) but as of today, it's not my problem! My daughters have both been doing their own laundry for several years now but during the school year there was just way too much going on for them to keep up. And, honestly, I'd rather throw in a load for them during the day when I'm home anyway than have an exhausted kid who wants nothing more than to go to bed sitting up listening for the dryer to ding. But, it's SUMMERTIME! Here's the Tide, here's the Bounce and you know where the washer is! Happy Cleansing!
There are so many great books coming out this summer! I've got awesome reviews ready. Next week, I'll be listing Five Books I'll Be Reading This Summer and Five Books You Should Read! Cannot wait to share!
So, that's how summer is going to look around here. I'd love to hear what you are looking forward to or your grand summer plan!
My Prince Charming
What makes a moment romantic?
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you probably already heard this story. I like to telling it again around Valentine's Day to remind everyone that romance isn't all chocolate, lingerie and semi-precious stones. It's about listening and showing your love, even if it involves household tools.
Despite appearances, the picture above is FAR from one of our most romantic moments. Some day, if you have a few hours and enough money for margaritas, I will tell you about that day and the unromanticness (Yes, it is a word. I don't care if the rest of the world doesn't acknowledge it). No, our most romantic moment involves a hardware tool and my soon-to-be husband was nowhere in sight.
I met my husband two weeks after I moved to Texas. We met at a church we were both visiting for the first time. He asked me to lunch after the morning service ( an interesting story in itself, but I'll save it for another time). After the evening service, we ate ice cream at a park. I will add here that one of the top ten most romantic moments was when he turned to me and said, "Do you like to read? Because I just finished this great book. It's called the Notebook. I think the author is Nicholas somebody." (Insertme swooning here).
After our official first date the next Sunday, he made a comment about the bareness of my apartment walls. I responded that I had never noticed I didn't own a hammer and nails until I moved into the apartment alone. We went on to talk about other things and I didn't even think about it again.
The next day was a Monday in every sense of the word. I taught middle school at the time and let's just say all of my students were very much seventh graders that day. I remember wanting to cry when I pulled up to my apartment because my head was throbbing, as were my feet, and I lived on the second floor. When I finally dragged myself up the stairs, something was leaning against my door.
A silver hammer with a shiny red bow.
And that, my friends, is all it took.
So Tell Me Your Story.
What is your most unconventionally romantic moment? Got big plans for Valentine's day? Ever swoon over a tool (no innuendo intended!)?
Tell Me Your Story Tuesday
My Bad Trip
Innocent Dawn~ Age 6
I want to start off today's post by saying, I have never tried drugs of any kind. There's no "wink, wink" after that or even an "I didn't inhale."
I just never tried them. I was terrified of needles so, you know, that's out. I also had terrible allergies which meant I certainly wasn't smoking, sniffing or snorting. I've actually never even tried cigarettes.
Yeah, I know. I'm boring. Anyway...
I think part of the reason I avoided them so staunchly was because of one bad trip.
It all started with the bunnies. As I said, I was pretty much allergic to everything. So, when I came home with a rash after playing with a friend's bunnies all afternoon, my mom really didn't have any reason to be alarmed.
My Dad was out of town so Mom tucked me in her bed and we drifted peacefully into dreamland.
At some point in the middle of the night, I opened my eyes and this was staring back at me.
*Cartoon version of BIG, SCARY, SPIDER used here so I don't have flashbacks!*
In my 5 year-old mind, I convinced myself that it was impossible a spider THAT big was sitting on my chest,
looking at me.
The blankets must have become twisted to look like a spider. Yes, that was it. All I had to do was smooth out the blankets and it would be gone.
I held my breath, counted to three (twice, because I chickened out the first time) then WHACKED the blanket spider...which didn't move.
Terrified, I turned to my sleeping mother and saw hundreds of these:
scurrying around her, no doubt preparing to cart her off into space.
And that would be when I started screaming.
Now, I should interrupt here and explain I had night terrors as a child. The problem with having night terrors is that when you are fully awake, hysterically babbling about giant spiders and little green men, your mom tends to not take you as seriously as you would like.
Mom thought I was asleep.
She wrapped her arms around me to keep me from physically fleeing the bed, which I had every intention of doing.
At some point during my incoherent battle to escape, movement in my mother's dresser mirror caught my attention.
This guy was waving at me.
I instantaneously went from terror-filled to laughing.
"Look, mommy! Cookie Monster is in your mirror! He thinks I am going to give him my cookie, but I'm not going to."
Then... I passed out.
First thing in the morning, we were sitting in a doctor's office. He declared the rash was not an allergic reaction, but the chicken pox.
The experience the night before had not been a night terror, but hallucinations brought on by the fever.
I will admit for years afterward, I would sneak a peak into my parents' room and check the mirror.
Just in case Cookie Monster ever decided to come back.
As I write this, there are about 65 hours left in 2016. I've never longed for a year to be over so desperately in my entire life.
2016 was the worst year I've ever experienced. In all fairness, it started in late 2015 but 2016 took that banner and ran like it was the Olympic torch, dripping flames and obliterating everything in its path.
Everyone I can think of experienced some sort of major life upheaval this past year. Something terrible happened to almost everyone I know on a personal level: loss of loved ones, involuntary job changes, car accidents, health crisis, the list just keeps going.
So, when I say this was my worst year, it has nothing to do with celebrity deaths or the train wreck of the election. It has to do with my battered heart.
I lost five people between March and August, including my mother, my cousin, two fellow teachers and my childhood best friend's little sister.
Five people who weren't images on a screen or stories in the grocery checkout line but part of my life at one point or another. Five people very real people that I had taken care of, laughed with and prayed for. And, that is just a small part of how (as we like to say in Texas) everything went to hell in a hand basket.
Here is something I know: it's not the year. 2016 is an arbitrary number that we use to measure time for our own planning purposes. I know it has no real meaning.
So, why am I so excited for it to be over?
Because we need a place to mark the end.
For those of us emotionally destroyed by the last 364 days (give or take a few), midnight on Saturday is a symbolic finish line. We are limping toward that ribbon, carrying each other, using what little strength we have in reserve to drag those who are barely holding on.
We're going to make it. We can see the end. Just a few more steps and we can be assured the monsters of 2016 didn't win and they can't now because at 12:01 AM on January 1, 2017 when we collapse on the other side of that arbitrary designation, those monsters are bound to the past.
They have to be. Have. To. Be. Because some of us can't bear to keep pushing forward if they aren't. We crave respite from the battle and restoration in our faith.
2017 is a thick, white starting line of hope.
We've made it through.
This is where things start looking up.
Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. I'm a big 'fraidy cat. I've been to one haunted house in my entire life, an experience that ended with a bleeding hand and my date rubbing my back as I sat with my head between my knees, gasping my way through a full-blown anxiety attack.
So, Halloween is not really my thing. But I do have one good memory of Halloween.
When I was thirteen, my friends and I had a Halloween sleepover at my house. Instead of trick or treating, we stuffed ourselves with chocolate and pizza while watching really bad 80s horror movies. Probably something along the lines of Sleepaway Camp 12.
At some point, my dad came downstairs to the kitchen.
He paused at the threshold to the living room where we were all piled together like puppies in a mass of blankets and pillows and motioned to the wild turkey, mounted in mid-flight over the fireplace.
"Y'all know that turkey's going to take flight at midnight."
I rolled my eyes. But, Dad kept going.
"He does it every Halloween at midnight. He'll come off his perch, make one trip around the room then go right back on there like nothing happened. Y'all just got to sit real still and not get in his way."
Yeah, right. We were in Middle School. We weren't falling for some silly story about a zombie turkey flying around the room.
I responded with a typical, annoyed-teenage-girl voice. "Goodnight, Dad."
He just chuckled and headed back upstairs.
Now, we KNEW. Knew that turkey wasn't going to fly at midnight. We were all smart kids. I'd lived with this turkey for most of my life. I hadn't seen it flap its way around a room on any of the many Halloweens we'd spent together.
But, still as my mom's cuckoo clock ticked closer to midnight, we all found ourself eyeing that turkey. The closer it got to twelve o'clock, the more openly we stopped and watched. Just in case something magical was about to happen.
At midnight, all of us were intently focused on that turkey.
The cuckoo came out.
Then, Dad barreled into the room, wailing like a demon, in a horrifying mask with the head of a DEAD FISH hanging around his neck.
You have never seen thirteen-year-old girls move so fast. We scattered like crazed squirrels, squealing loud enough to shatter glass.
I can still hear Dad laugh.
Today is the first Friday of this school year. It's the day teachers release a collective sigh and head home in a near delirium state of exhaustion. We've made it through the first week. The routines will settle in on Monday and we've only got 35 more weeks to go.
For me, the first Friday of last year was my last day of "normal".
I remember the sound of the dismal bell for last period and calling to my students to, "have a great weekend!"
I remember leaving piles of paper on my desk but still shoving some in my bag to take home.
I remember still feeling slightly sticky from the weak AC in my room and the first pep rally of football season as I locked the classroom door behind me and exited the building.
Having no idea I'd never walk back in that room as a teacher again.
I don't remember if I cooked dinner that night or if my husband and I left the kids with my mom and ate out.
I can barely remember driving to Oklahoma the next day for a birthday party and driving home Sunday afternoon.
What I do remember about Sunday is before I sat down to go through those papers or gather my lesson plans for the week, before I cooked dinner for my kids or really even had a conversation with my husband, I went into my mom's room.
I guess not everyone can pinpoint the minute their life changed. For most people, it's probably a gradual shift that sneaks up on you like those extra pounds on your hips or needing reading glasses after 40. I know the exact moment my life changed.
August 30, 2015 4:30pm.
Mom and I were sitting on her bed, talking about the birthday party. That's when her head dropped to her chest as if she'd fallen asleep. That's the moment that triggered 36 hours of her being incoherent, a 13 day hospital stay, a devastating diagnosis delivered by a teary-eyed surgeon, folding his mask over and over in his hand and a decision.
I would leave teaching for 12 weeks.
But 12 weeks wasn't enough. So, I resigned. I packed up the personal things from my classroom, leaving any materials I thought my replacement could use until I could collect them at the end of the year.
I became a full-time caregiver until March 10th when I became Executrix of the estate.
I didn't return to teaching this year. I wasn't ready. I have too much reassembling of my life that needs to happen first.
I thought it would hit me on the first day when my daughters headed out to their new classes and my husband left for work. I thought that's when I'd miss it. I didn't.
Not until today.
I don't miss teaching, yet. I've missed my students and my co-workers but not teaching itself. I'm sure that will come.
What I miss today is the me who walked out of those high school doors on the first Friday last year.
The one who didn't know what was coming. Didn't know to be worried and didn't know everything in her world was about to change.
I love spring! Texas is amazing this time of year because the weather is absolutely gorgeous (until it's not-see below) and every thing feels fresh and new. For me, spring means hope. When I was teaching, spring break was the tiny glimmer of light at the end of the torturous tunnel that is January to March. Spring meant I'd made it. The dreariness of winter and the dredge-like monotony of those school days vanished.
The sun is out. The air is warm. We're going to be okay.
This year, I'm investing in that hope more than ever. Fall and Winter were a blur of endless care-taking and the deep suffering of the soul that comes with watching someone you love in pain.
The pain is over. The sun is out. And, eventually, I'm going to be okay.
And then, there's this:
A reminder that, as my dad would say, "We ain't running nothing around here."
Spring in Texas is always punctuated by the unpredictability of the weather. In the afternoon, it's sunny, warm with just a hint of cold air in the breeze. Just enough to make you wonder if you should throw on a sweatshirt. Within a few short hours, you're standing in your kitchen listening to what might be hail or might be aliens launching an invasion through your skylight. Could really go either way. I could make another life metaphor here but it's way too obvious.
My husband and I have been going to this festival since we were dating. It only runs from Easter to Memorial Day but you want to go early in the season so you don't risk heat stroke. The first year we went, we sat down to watch one show and I was instantly sunburned from my thighs to my knees. Being the chivalrous type, Scott immediately took me to the first aid tent. The lady eyed my red hair and pale skin that borders on translucent then produced the biggest container of sunscreen I've ever seen in my life.
"Use as much as you need and come back whenever you can."
Now, we take our teenagers (and our own sunscreen). I always look forward to a day of hanging with my family as well as the people watching. It is an endless well of inspiration.
So, that's what spring means to me!
To find out more about the #ListifyLife Challenge, check out Roni Loren's Blog.
As most of you have heard, my mom passed away March 10, 2016. She'd been on dialysis for two years. In September, she was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. She died from a heart attack at the dialysis center. There's no doubt in my mind she closed her eyes here and opened them to see my dad, smiling and welcoming her to heaven.
We had a celebration of her life Saturday, March 19th. It was very "mom". A boy I grew up with who is now a preacher officiated, he had first hand experiences with mom. Her best friend spoke about how she didn't know what to do now since Mom was the person she'd call to figure out what to do and I spoke. Here is what I said:
I want to thank everyone for coming. You are all here because you knew mom and loved her or because you love me and my family. I appreciate it either way. In case you are here to support me and you never really got to know mom.
There are two things I want you to know about her. The first one is: She hated people. She'd freely tell you that. Didn't like people at all. Which is why she did certain things, like make frequent donations to a church she didn't attend so they could pay someone's bills or arrange a hotel room for a fellow dialysis patient when she found out he was sleeping by a pond. It's why she spent hours shopping for the school-age parent program at the career center where I worked, buying baby clothes and other necessities for girls with children who were trying to finish their education.
Once the director of that program approached me and explained that one of their students had a son that was too old for any of the clothes in the donation closet. He needed a winter coat and tennis shoes. Could mom possibly help? Not only did she get the boy a coat and shoes (which she stressed out over because she hated that the boy wasn't getting to pick out his own shoes.) When she found out all the teenage mother had was a light jacket, she bought her two coats because, as mom said, she deserved to be warm and to have a choice in what she wore. That's how much mom didn't like people.
She brought individual bouquets of flowers to the dialysis clinic and gave them to all the patients and the staff because it was a depressing place and people needed a reason to smile. Right after she became a hospice patient, a friend who works in a Pediatric ICU, causally mentioned they were running low on hairbows for the children because the nurses usually purchased them out of their own money. That put mom on a mission. She gathered hairbows, nail polish and other assorted items for weeks to donate to the hospital because, as I said, she hated people.
Mom's one condition for all of this was anonymity. The man who got a hot shower and a warm bed to sleep in had no idea who paid for the hotel room. The friend who worked at the hospital offered to attach little "Donated by" tags to the hairbows. Mom rolled her eyes and said, "Absolutely not."
She didn't do it for recognition. She did it because it was something she could do. If there was a need that she had the ability to fill, that's what she did. As far as she was concerned, it was nobody's business where the help came from.
The other thing I want you to know is she didn't wait to live. From being a bartender to repossessing cars to traveling all over several states as a consultant, she always had great stories of things that could only happen to her. Some of you here are familiar with the "Universe of Connie". After her illness slowed her down, she'd say. "I'm really glad I was wild when I was younger because if I'd waited until my golden years to have some fun, I'd be really mad." Well, mom used a different word than mad…but, you get the idea.
When the doctors told us that there was nothing else to be done, she looked at me and said, "Let's go home and make some memories." Which is what we did. We went shopping, we visited friends, we watched a lot of Judge Judy and QVC. We laughed. We told stories and made the best of the horrible situation we were facing.
As most of you know, mom didn't want a service. She kept saying she didn't think anyone would come. But, she's not here and we are. Sooo, sorry about that, mom. Since mom got sick, and especially in the week now since she's been gone, everyone has been asking me what they can do? How can they help? Here is my answer: Go fill a need. Go make a memory. Go love someone as fiercely as mom loved those close to her. Love them to the moon and back.
Five years ago, I posted
about jumping into the world of querying and pitching.
The daughter I mentioned is now a teenager. The teenager I mention is probably married and raising her own kids. Well, maybe not, but it's possible.
Until a few months ago, I was still standing on the end of that diving board.
I didn't jump.
I was pushed.
Now, all I have to do is make sure I cannon ball and not belly flop!
Like I said yesterday, I'm at ASL Teacher Camp this week. Okay, that's not what it's really called. But, that's pretty much what it is.
So, tell me your best camp story. Pranks, homesickness, sneaking out of the cabin and meeting that special someone (not that I ever did that!)
You know, this one time at band camp....
|The puppy is the tan one.|
She's 5 months old.
I was going to add more pictures, but just looking at them was freaking me out!
So, tell me your story.