The Old Green Truck

SONY DSC

Deer, Big Cypress

My post from yesterday made me begin to ponder pride and I thought about other times that mine has caused me to feel bad or to make others feel bad (or both).  This brought to mind an old green truck.

As I have mentioned before my dad was a commercial fisherman and stone crabber, for most of my childhood.  It was seasonal; there were some times of feast or famine and I even remember once when my stay-at-home mom had to get a part-time job to help out when Dad suffered with a ruptured disc in his back.  I think Dad’s pride hurt more than his back did then, as mom had never worked, but that’s another story.

This story stars an ugly old green truck with multiple compartments on the sides.  I don’t remember where my dad got it or why, but I hated it.  It was the ugliest old truck I had ever seen in my life.

Dad worked hard, but on the days he got home early enough, one of his favorite things to do was to load his family up and go for an early evening ride on one of the neighboring dirt roads.  My brother and sister lived for this kind of stuff as they got to ride in the back and let their hair whip in the wind.  I enjoyed it too, but I didn’t want anyone to know that.  I think I was around 12 and maybe hormones played a part; maybe I was just a brat.

We would all pile into the truck with me finagling a way to ride in the front when I could.  Many times I got my way since my brother and sister actually wanted to be in the back.  Our first stop would be at Mrs. Watson’s general store about a mile (if that) from our house.   One of the highlights of stopping here was talking to Mrs. Watson’s mina bird, Sam.  The other highlight was the candy.

Dad would get his beverage of choice and we always got to pick our favorite candy.  Mom would always tell us we were silly if we got anything other than chocolate (her favorite).  My sister would usually get chocolate too, but my brother and I often ended up with wax candy bottles filled with juice, gobstoppers, or Laffy taffy.  My sister says we always wanted what she had, but I don’t remember this.  I will have to take her word for it.  Often, we would all get Astro Pops.  Remember those?  I learned an interesting fact about them today.  They were created by Rocket Scientists working on the space program in El Segundo, CA who decided to quit their jobs at Rocketdyne and create the Astro Pop®, modeling the pop after a three-stage rocket.  They were very pointed and had wax around the bottom.  We used these to poke each other after we licked the tips until they were even sharper than they came.   We had to be very discreet about our pokes.

After talking to whoever we might have encountered there, we were off for our backroads drive.  Dad would crank up his country tunes and make me sing along and we would see our share of wild animals and a beautiful sunset.  My husband and I take the same drive sometimes and I now understand why it was so relaxing to my parents.

The part of this memory that brings me pain is my hatefulness about the old truck.  I remember one time in particular that I really did not want to go on one of these outings; I wanted to be left behind at home.  I made up every reason in the world, but my dad finally discerned that I was embarrassed to be seen in the old truck.  He was absolutely correct, even though I denied it vehemently.  I remember the look on his face when that realization set in that his eldest daughter didn’t want to be discovered in the old green truck by one of her friends.   I don’t remember the outcome on that day, but I am 99% sure, knowing my dad, that my high-and-mighty little backside was parked in the back of the truck with the rest of the family.

When I look back, my despicable behavior was rooted in pride; the same pride that caused me not to want to be seen at church in yard shoes.  Looking back, of course it was incredibly silly as I know none of my friends would have thought any less of me and probably would have loved to be doing the same thing with their family.

Surely I am not the only one who had these types of struggles and I am thankful that I have learned from them by the help and grace of God.    I try to be transparent here in hopes that perhaps something I say may resonate with someone or spur a conscience.  It is a great truth that if we can learn from our mistakes, there is potential for growth in our character.  The lessons we learn can be considered a gift that keeps on giving.

 

I am mom

Dearest Mother BIG tag

Dearest Mother BIG tag (Photo credit: AForestFrolic)

From the time you see that soft, wiggly, bawling baby, you fall in love.  You become a fierce protector.  You are mom.  This tiny gift from heaven rocks your world and melts your heart.

You vow she will always be safe in your arms, sheltered by your love, kept far away from all evil and danger.  She needs you.

She will be given every opportunity, receive plenty of praise and encouragement along with proper discipline and instruction.

As the years go marching by in this journey, you stumble, yes you even fall a time or two, but you do your best.  You learn quickly that this thing called parenting is no easy feat.  Your best isn’t perfect, but you never give up.  You defend, you teach, your love grows deeper.

She drives you crazy sometimes.  She reminds you of when you were that age.  She makes you want to tell your mom you’re sorry again.

She grows up overnight and it seems she doesn’t need you as much anymore.   Thankfully, she still calls and asks your advice.  She doesn’t always take it.  You probably drive her crazy sometimes.  You have dreams and goals and hopes for her.  She has different ones, but you will love her anyway.

Your love grows ever deeper and she returns that love.  She begins to realize that you often make sense and tells you so.  You watch her become more like you in many ways.  You become one of her closest confidantes.

She’s not perfect; she stumbles and yes, even falls sometimes, but she gets right back up. You are her biggest fan and you secretly hope she got that tenacity from you.

Your role as a parent never ends; it merely changes.  You continue to pray that as the years pass and you both continue to grow older, that you are always what she needs you to be.  You are mom.

The lost laces

Shoe lace on a sneaker

Shoe lace on a sneaker (Photo credit: MoHotta18)

I began writing this on November 27, 2013 and about two paragraphs in, I got a phone call that my beloved Granny starring in this little story had gone home to heaven.  If you are a follower, you will know I have many posts starring the precious, Granny.  I hope you enjoy this one!

 

Granny lived in the yellow house across from the  K-12 school I attended during my elementary years.  Words would not begin to express the comfort that was derived from knowing she was so close, knowing that while I studied, she was in her rocking chair with the bible open on her lap, or visiting with one of her many friends, or maybe even baking my favorite chocolate pie.

One day in particular brings back another memory of a day Granny single-handedly turned my grey skies to blue.  It was a school day and on that day, I had P.E. as we called it back then, for physical education.  This meant I had to bring and wear the required hideous uniform which consisted of blue loose legged shorts which made my bony legs even more apparent, a white t-shirt, tennis shoes and white socks.  P.E. went well as far as I recall, except for Tommy calling me chicken legs, which always got him into trouble and upset me far more than I let on.

Afterwards, for some reason that eludes me, several of us had not only removed our shoes, but our laces as well.  When it was time to change and go back to class, I discovered that my laces were nowhere to be found.  This distressed me greatly and in retrospect, I have no idea why, but it provoked me to tears.  Granted, I was well known for losing or misplacing things and I was horrified at the idea of admitting that I had done it again.   This was also during a time in our lives when money was tight and I didn’t want to be the reason for another expense, albeit a small one, so perhaps this contributed to my extreme dismay.

I vaguely remember making my way to the office, with one thing on my mind and that was to call my granny.  I dialed her number on the rotary phone and when that beloved voice answered, I whispered my dilemma to her looking away from the eyes peering at me from across the counter.  Granny told me to come right over after school and not to worry about a thing.

So, when school was out, instead of boarding the hot, smelly school bus, I ran across the street to granny’s house.

After making sure I was well fed and hydrated, Granny and I left for the local hardware store.  We lived in such a small town, I remember doubting we would be successful in our quest.  Granny swung open the door and I followed as it chimed a greeting to us and announced to the proprietor there were customers.  She marched straight up to the counter and asked for white shoe laces, without even mentioning my name, bless her heart.  And lo and behold, they had some.

Granny paid and we waited for the little brown paper bag holding the laces to be passed across the counter.  I gushed with relief and thankfulness and Granny just smiled and hugged me tightly to her.

Now, I don’t know all of the details and never did ask, but my mother showed up later that afternoon to pick me up and not a word was uttered about missed school buses or missing laces.

My heart still swells with love and gratitude when I remember how granny always made me feel like I was the most important person in the entire world.  It’s funny because if you ask my siblings or my cousins they would tell you the same thing.  She loved us all and made each of us feel like number one without slighting anyone.  Tonight I’m feeling very blessed and thankful for her highly valued presence in my life once again.

Thankfulness in forward motion

cookies

cookies

On this third day of November, I have already noticed all of the “what I’m thankful for” posts on Facebook.  I surmise that because November is the month of Thanksgiving, we are reminded of all the things that we sometimes take for granted.  It’s encouraging and uplifting to see so many people thoughtfully posting their thanks throughout the month of November.

We are a blessed nation, even in the midst of some of our circumstances.  However, I want to encourage all of you, my friends, that as we are thankful, as we express our gratefulness we would be mindful that this is a difficult month for many.  As the holidays approach, there are those without family, those who are estranged from their families and those who aren’t feeling too particularly thankful at this time in their life.

I pray that we make it our business to search out, to find out who these people are in our neighborhoods. My hope is that as part of the demonstration of our thankfulness, we would reach out and somehow provide that feeling of home and comfort to the aged, the lonely and the downcast.

Many of us will bake and decorate, and our homes will smell of cinnamon and spices; we will surround ourselves with family and friends and feel that “thankful” spirit for our fellowship.  Let’s spread it around; let’s be mindful of those less fortunate.

We can do this by our prayers and by giving, but it’s also in the simple knock on the door of a shut-in or a hot apple pie delivered to someone who might not be able to see well enough to do all the baking they once enjoyed.

Please feel free to share what your plans are to give back or things that you and your family have done in years past to share the love.

If we all just reach one, there would be hundreds of smiles that might not be possible otherwise.

Love, Prayers and Happy November!

Thinking and thanking

spaghetti-squash-with-parmesan-cheese

spaghetti-squash-with-parmesan-cheese (Photo credit: famfriendsfood)

The smell of bacon permeates my kitchen as it pops and splatters noisily in the pan.  Tonight is one of those “force yourself to put one foot in front of the other; just hurry up and get it all done so you can relax” kind of nights  Tonight I find myself lamenting the fact that I pulled out new recipes to try, but stubborn enough to try them anyway.  My back is achy because my job in front of a computer all day was a tense one and I can’t wait to hop in a warm shower.  At least there is an extra piece of bacon I can munch on as I continue cooking.

Today has been the kind of day where I had to choose to make a conscious effort to see the positive, to choose happy.  Throughout the day I reminded myself, “this too shall pass” and “you are blessed to have a job”.  As time rolled around for dinner preparation, “I am thankful I have food to cook”.

By the time I pulled the spaghetti squash out of the oven and started removing the tender threads, my mood was already elevating.   I don’t know what it was; the smell of the yummy food, the call from my husband (because once again our wedding song is playing on the radio and he likes to play it for me), the message from a friend, or a combination of it all.  I just know I stopped and remembered to be grateful.  Sometimes you just have to turn off the distractions and take a few moments to realize what you already know.

The truth washes over me afresh, that there are so many people out there who would see one of my “bad days” as one of their “very good” days.  The truth stings as I begin to think about those people and some of their situations.

Something to think about as you reflect on your Monday.

And she isn’t even gone

Dusky, hazy, purple day after rain

Dusky, hazy, purple day after rain

As the thunder rolls outside, it’s almost deafening, compared to the silence inside.  There is a faint whisper from one of the televisions left on in another room.  Other than that, there is nothing.

Normally, I relish in the quiet but today it is different.  Today I cannot seem to stop the agonizing silence from reminding me that there is much more of it to come.

You see my days of telling toddlers to eat all of their dinner or get in the bathtub are over.  My days of shuttling adolescents to appointments long before they get their permit are gone.  Sleepovers and sports, bedtime stories and battling are a thing of the past.  When my youngest departs in a couple of months to carry on with her life, it will leave its mark.

People will tell you to think on the bright side; of lives fulfilled and your “good raising” and grandchildren and hope and dreams realized.  And I will.  They will say, “This is a normal, natural part of life and you should embrace it”.  And I have.  Some offer that, “Now, you have all this free time and you and the hubby can enjoy each other!”  Yes, this I realize.

But you know what?  That doesn’t take away the ache, the missing and the worry.

I know God has His hand on all of us, and things really will work out for the best.  And maybe I will even look back someday and laugh about my melancholy days, missing my children before the last one is even really gone.

But not today, not right now.

Daily Prompt: There is no place like home

The challenge today was to write about this question.

If you had the opportunity to live a nomadic life, traveling from place to place, would you do it? Do you need a home base? What makes a place “home” to you?

Home is where the heart is

Home is where the heart is (Photo credit: countrykitty)

Oh, home; the place where I find solace and comfort and familiarity and family.   Could I ever live a nomadic life, home base stripped away?  No, that is an easily answered question for me.

I love my mornings at home, rolling out of my king size bed, well rested and ready for a new day.  I relish in padding off to the kitchen to pop in my favorite coffee and wait for the keurig to do its job.  This is my favorite part of the day, when all is quiet, and the day is like a fresh, clean slate ready to be filled with experiences.

Coffee in hand, I either sit on the couch or take a walk outside to sit on the dock.  This depends largely on the weather and our mosquito season.  I spend some time in devotions and prayer to fuel my spirit and begin my journey toward another sunset.

I feel safe and at ease in the bosom of this home.  It doesn’t matter if family is present or not; because there are so many memories.  I only need to pull one up like a movie in my mind to remember the details of days gone by; of new babies arriving for the first time, running children and laughter, packing up rooms as kids move away, and making same rooms ready for visits.

Just knowing that my girls have this home base, however simple it is, is very important to me.  Their memories are here.  I know that if we were forced to move, we could make new memories and establish that same homey feeling, but I would so miss the memories.

For me, home is where I feel strong and grounded.  These walls seem to envelop me with a hug that says, “You are safe here”.  Silly?  Maybe.  A little overboard?  Possibly.  But, my home is truly a part of me and the joys of making others feel at home here is a pleasure that will go on until I reach my final days and go to my eternal home.

Too much stuff

Cluttered Bust

Cluttered Bust (Photo credit: mikecogh)

When my mom was in her forties, although she only survived until 49, I remember her saying, “I’m sick of stuff!”  She said it was time to enjoy people and memories and not concentrate on accumulating more stuff; her nick-nacks started to decrease because she didn’t want to spend the time dusting.  Lately, I find myself sharing her sentiments.  We have so much stuff to take care of that our efforts to keep up with it all cut into the time that we actually spend with our loved ones.

With this in mind, I knew one of the junked up areas in my home/life was my closet.  When you go to get ready in the morning and you continually run into the problem where you cannot find that belt or tank or whatever the need of the day may be, you know it is time to get busy!  I realize I should have done this as part of my annual spring cleaning.  The problem with that is mine never got fully accomplished.

The closet attack started off with a bang and then as per usual, I get hung up in the details.  Which hangers should I keep?  Should I arrange by season or by color?  Will that EVER fit, or should I just give it away and be done with the disappointment?  Should I keep the few shoe boxes I have or get rid of them since I don’t have them all?  This is the type of minutia that impedes my progress no matter the task!

Finally, I got frustrated, headed for my laptop and read some blogs about closet organization.  You would think by 47, I would have figured all of this out long ago, but no, so thankfully I gleaned valuable  tips from some savvy women.

Three bulging garbage bags later, I finally saw the bottom of my closet and everything was on a hanger or in a box.  Oh, the feeling of finally allowing yourself to let go of “stuff”!  But, seriously, if you haven’t worn something in a year, you just aren’t going to.  You probably bought it on a whim, on sale or someone gave it to you .  Let it go and preferably to someone who can really benefit!

Not a moment too soon, my husband came in for the evening and rescued me from further detailing, so I still have the color coding to go, but this girl is feeling accomplished.  Yes, my first efforts in down-sizing to a more manageable collection of clothing was a success and I’m anxious to move on to something else.

Digging up Memories

Reaching upward drinking in the rain

Reaching upward drinking in the rain

There is nothing more therapeutic in my opinion than digging in the dark soil, until it’s trapped beneath my fingernails, or pulling out the weeds around a plant or in a bed.  These sneaky imposters, sporting defiant root systems and a plethora of seeds would like to spread themselves far and wide, but not while I’m on guard.

There is also something to be said for the feeling of accomplishment when you stand, back aching and neck burning from the sun’s much too ardent kiss; and admire your work.

The desire to dig in the dirt goes back at least four generations on my mother’s side.  Most of my memories of my great-grandmother Hall are in her yard as I relentlessly peppered her with questions about what each planted was named.  I loved to hear the names roll off of her lips; “Why that’s night blooming jasmine, honey”, or “this is a hydrangea or sweet viburnum”.  The names sounded exotic and romantic.

Granny’s yard displayed much beauty due to her diligent care.  I can only suppose that it was her love for gardening that sparked an interest in my grandmother.IMG_3378

Many times, if you visited either of them you would find them outside.  I don’t remember ever seeing either of them in anything but dresses.   They may have worn something else, but not that I ever remember.  Of course that was when the length of dresses kept their “neathies” (as my mom liked to call anything that should be covered by clothes) unexposed.

My mother shared their green thumb and quickly transformed any yard we had into a well landscaped display of her talent.  She recruited us as often as she could to help her and most of the time I was pretty compliant.

I inherited the love as well, but unfortunately not the knack or skill; I fear my thumb is sorely lacking in green.  Thankfully, I’m getting better with age, but my kill quota was pretty high there for a while.  Maybe one reason I love it so much is due to the memories that I made with each of them.  Take some time to dig up some good memories of your own and relish them!

IMG_3379

Black shiny shoes and a floppy purple hat

Ayda

Ayda

When my daughter posted this picture today of my granddaughter, my first reaction was this huge smile, followed by out-loud laughter, and then of course the missing her. I made some quip about someone having dressed herself again. I’ll be the first to admit that I feel somewhat obligated to match and dress seasonally appropriate and somewhat stylish (at least enough not to embarrass my children).

This precious image stayed in my head as I put away the left-overs and took a shower. She had obviously dressed herself and was sauntering along outside, looking very content with her choices. Oh, the innocence of children!

It made me wonder. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all be so nonchalant about how we look? What if we were confident to choose what we wear with reckless abandon, never a thought about what others opinions may be and no wondering if we are committing a major fashion fax pas?

My mom used to refer to the poem “Warning”, by Jenny Joseph, more widely known as, “When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple”. She would say, “When I get old, I’m going to do, say, wear whatever I want”. My mom didn’t get the chance although she was never swayed by public opinion and said pretty much whatever she wanted to.

My mom went to heaven at a mere 49 years old. I think if she had something to say on the topic she would most definitely say that her great granddaughter, Ayda, has it all figured out.

It’s okay to wear black patent shiny shoes, sans socks and tights, with a Disney dress and a floppy purple Easter hat, and strut like you own the world while you’re doing it!

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