Thursday, August 16, 2012

Just Because You Die Doesn’t Mean That You Are Forgotten

Just Because You Die Doesn’t Mean That You Are Forgotten

 How does the old saying go? You are not dead until you are forgotten and no one talks about you or something along that line.  Today my photo group had the word cemetery as our prompt and there were many amazing final resting places posted. Each time period and country had their own special way of showing their respect and remembrance of those that had gone on.  Some had huge monuments while others very simple markers.  The saddest were for children with little angels depicted with their head held low.  Cemeteries are a place of sadness but also great beauty in many cases. The trees and flowers along give a serenest can be very comforting.

  Death is one of those topics that each family seems to handle differently.  In the home I grew up in when someone died they are still talked about. It was almost like they have just left the room to get something and will return any moment.  When I go home now friends and family that have been gone for years their stories are still being told.  How good their biscuits were, what a character they were, or a funny story about them.  I think it is wonderful and I enjoy hearing these little pearls from the past.  The joy the teller gets from remembering and reliving is something words cannot describe.

  My Great Grand Father Poppy is a favorite topic on my Mother’s side.  For a man who never weight over 100 pounds he was bigger than life.  The stories I have heard about him over the years are just legendary in my family. Recently Mom told me a story that I had never heard before.  When she was around 12 years old she had gone into town with him. That day next to the courthouse was a snake oil salesman hawking his goods.  A crowd had gathered along with Poppy as the salesman told the group that what he had would cure you of all your ills. You would be stronger, healthier and more virile with just one bottle of this magical mixture.  Poppy begin heckling the man and tell him and the crowd that it was all ridiculous and a bunch of cock and bull.  The salesmen threaten to come into the crowd and show how health he was to this scrawny man. Poppy being Poppy didn’t back down and pulled out his hawk knife.  Mom said she just remember being so embarrassed.     That was the Poppy I knew and loved.  It doesn’t matter that he has been gone for almost 40 years it really is just like he has left the room for a moment.  That is saying a lot about a person’s   life to still be the topic of conversation.

  This is a good goal in life to have.  Leave good stories and feels while here on earth.   Use all the colors in the box of life and be a colorful character and make your mark.

Friday, August 10, 2012


 I’m 47 years old and in that time I have seen and experienced many new and wonderful things.  Each and every day has moments that bring me little presents of joy and happiness.  Less and less as I have become an adult do I truly have that magical moment that my heart stops and the joy before my eyes can be truly called BREATHTAKING?  Or Oh My God moments which I mean with complete reverence. That is one of the bad parts of becoming an adult. When I’m lucky enough to be gifted such a time I love the shear amazement and joy from what I see, hear and feel feeding my very soul. As I grow older there are fewer and fewer things that you have not seen for real or in other ways.   It is work to keep looking at the world like a child who every day sees things they have never seen before.  Plus my life is so busy that slowing down is not an option as everyone else is to.

This week I was lucky enough to have three wondrous moments that made me take a deep breath and feel my heart and soul sing at the pure joy of what I was witnessing.  All of them happened at the same magical place.  The first was early in the week when my son and I took our lunch to the dock to eat. I heard a fluttering and look up to see big beautiful eyes looking down on us. Perched on a branch was barred owl with its sweet little face. This was not the first one I have ever seen this close but it was still just as heart stopping.

Next I was all alone on the dock when I saw a little nose popping out of the water and heard a little splash. Then I lump of grey break the surface.  I realized that it wasn’t just one but five manatee swimming ten feet from me. As I continue watching I truly feel that internal squeal I had as a child when I was so excited I felt I would burst. I was so memorized I just could not leave and felt so blessed that I got to witness what wonderful creatures they were.  Being able to stay and watch them for so long in the wild was beyond words. Days later I still feel that way.

The last one was just a brief experience where I was standing looking at the water when I see a bird flying at me. I get my camera ready and I’m expecting to get a wonderful shot of maybe a heron. Instead a handsome osprey as graced me with a visit. His regal appearance is something I will not forget. Then as quickly as he came he flew away.

These to me are presents from God and they are given to me when I need a lift or just because. Truly nature and all the wonderful creatures are gifts that make my heart and soul fly. If I can go to my grave still getting that flutter in my stomach and wide eyed amazement then I will have truly learned to see the gifts given to me.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Homeless In My Neighborhood or Sullivan's Travel in Mandarin

         We see these people in our everyday life. Basically they are invisible unless we are forced to look at them and read their signs they hold while standing beside our car as we wait for the light to turn.  Homeless Please Help or Hungry Will Work for Food. I always want to ask them what one thing causes their lives to turn out the way it did. Or maybe there were many circumstances that brought them to this.   Some you know have mental illness and others have substance abuse. Then there are others that you know but for the grace of God go you.

     Our son has always been fascinated with these people. I have explained to him many times that you have to be very careful in life to make good choices.  You do have to get an education and have many skills to get you where you want. Like most teens this advice falls on deaf ears.  Truly he even at 18 is ill prepared for what the world expects from him.  I tell him that each and every one of those people have a family. Really I hope that at some point in their lives they had someone who loved, supported and cared for them.  It is not a given I know.

     The other week our son for the first time decides to walk to McDonalds for breakfast alone. It was a Saturday morning and we live in a neighborhood with many walkers. So there were many people out and we were not worried. We live in a relatively safe area but it is near 2-95 so that is a worry.  Off he goes on his adventure with his cell phone in hand.  We told him to call and we wanted him back to help with some things around the house.  Well he didn’t come home but called about every 3 to 4 hours. We decided to just see how long he would stay out and thought he was avoiding the work that needed to be completed.  You have to let go sometime and he had money along with his phone.  He called in often and told us where he was.  Mom I’m at Target and now I’m at Walgreens and got a drink and snack.   He returned later that afternoon and all was well.

    Later we were talking about what he did while he was out. Turns out he was talking to homeless people.  One man he said had a home but he couldn’t live there because he had a restraining order against him.  Another guy lived in his car and worked at as dishwasher.  Then there was guy around his age that we had seen a few weeks before.  We saw him walking one night talking to himself and performing a ritual around each pole. This guy had bottles tied around his neck and things hanging on his belt. The other guys he talked to told him to stay away from him.   Of course he didn’t listen and I think finally went in Target to and found a security guard to get away for this man.  After all these stories I asked him was it fun hanging out with the homeless that day.  He didn’t really enjoy that day on the street and I hope he learned some good life lessons.

   So now when we are driving around I have to ask “Do you know that person?”  Sometime it is yes but like with this gentleman and his dog the answer is no.  I don’t approve of what he did and his grandmother has already given him a piece of her mind, yes he told her the whole story, but it is good for him as well as all of us to remember that these are real people.  Other than that I don’t know what to do. I don’t roll down my window and give them money. I will confess I have bought an extra meal and drink and handed it to them.  More importantly we just need to keep our humanity when we see them.
This gentleman had a sign that said Homeless Please Help.  I would love to know the story of him and his dog. Also where are his shoes?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Yes it is good to Clean Your Closet out Because You Might Find More inThere than You Imagine

 Yes it is good to Clean Your Closet outBecause You Might Find More in There than You Imagine

(Be warned my editor has yet to make the corrections to this piece but it has been so long since I posted last it was time. So please look over any of my errors.)

         It is amazing what things we hold onto and what they represent to us. They bring back fond memories and remind usof parts of our lives.  It is good to andpurge some of these things. It helps you to really decide what is important toyou and what is holding you down like a rock tied to a drowning man. Myhousehold has been doing just that and making some hard decisions. Like GeorgeCarlin said a house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and getmore stuff.  Looking through all thethings you have gives you a true map of what you should be doing and yourpurpose.  Who you have been and what youcan be is hiding in all the other stuff and you have to get down on hands andknees and pry it from the heap.   Some ofthe things I knew about myself was I love pictures but I guess many of youalready know that.  Also I like officeproducts, old Mad Magazines, pretty rocks, the weather vane off my parent’shouse and the list could go on and on.  Thehard part is deciding what you really NEED to keep bringing happiness to you orothers.

  I remember as a child I couldn’t wait to grow up and have purpose.  The longing for my time when I was in controlwas acute.  I wanted important things inmy purse, appointments on my schedule, and life to get going.   There was always a plan and agenda, things todo and places to go. With my planning nature I had my bags packed with all thethings I thought I would need for the journey.  Then on top of that I was born with a bit of arestless spirit and need for changes.  Asa kid I had a backpack but not your normal old camping in the woods backpack.Noooooo mine was an astronaut’s backpack and the care that went into gatheringup my supplies for the trip would have made NASA proud. I was prepared andready for the adventure then as now and just need to set my course.

 I’m lucky in that I have also married someonewho is driven and isn’t afraid of turning life upside-down if you get toocomfortable. We have been together for almost 30 years and have started talkingabout how we see the rest of our lives together.  Together we have gone on many adventures fromearly married to adopting a child, each of our families growing and declining,our parents getting older and our son turning 18.  Our road just like everyone’s has had potholes as well as intarstate and no matter how much you plan and researchyour trip life will have some surprise for you along the way.  One day you drive into the middle of a paradeand the next you drive off a cliff. Still doesn’t mean you should not try to bea prepared for whatever life throws at you.  So we have started penciling in a rough draftof where we want to be in the next 10 to 15 years. Heck the next 50 years ormore.  Something’s on the list are I’msure on everyone’s list –health, family, financial security and our bucket list. The process has been very revitalizingto both of us.

    This year has beena trial and I have been reevaluating many things that I do. Maybe it is my ageand some of it is the concussion I received but I feel different and that isOK.   Life can be get so jammed packedthat you are running from one task to the next. Also if you are like me there are things that you have taken on thathave served their purpose and just need to be ended.  The life of that thing, activity or ritualhas come to an end and its purpose is complete. It doesn’t mean that you werenot thankful for what it brought you but there is a life span to everything.Many examples of this have been found with the massive clean out of our home.  I mean really do I really need to keep ajacket I wore in high school and can still wear?  When was the last time ANYONE played with thelegos?   Let’s be honest I’m never going to make allthose wonderful meals out of all those cookbooks.  Each of these things were truly Special andbrought joy and happiness. Everyone’s life has different volumes and I’m morethan excited to start writing my next part of the series. I’m not one of thesepeople wishing to go back and remain in any part of my past.  Most of it has been wonderful and I wouldtrade it for anything.  The experienceshave made me who I am and other than a few pounds I would like to shed I amhappy with whom I am warts and all.   

   So let’s all go outthere every day plot our course and see the magic, find the joy and grab on tohappiness with all our might. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

What Do You Do When You Are Behind An Impaired Driver?

This evening, we had a frustrating event happen to us while
driving home this fine Saturday night. The
three of us had finished a shopping trip to Sam’s and were on our way home
traveling on I-295, when in front of us, a truck started veering out of its
lane. Then as cars tried to pass it on
the left side, the driver would meander into that car’s lane. So as we are
approaching the Buckman Bridge, Jay calls 911 to report this erratic driver.
The Buckman Bridge has been the scene of several very horrible accidents. We get the 911 operator on the line and give
her all the information and while we are doing this, we pass one State Patrol
officer at the beginning of the bridge. That
officer was evidently not informed of the knucklehead in front of us. The
driver continues onto the bridge where many drivers try to get around him and luckily
do. All the while we are giving the
operator the information and then, amazingly, a local police car came by
him. We think this is great but the police
drive on by and the driver in the truck starts to drive like he is off to
Sunday school. All the while, we are still on the phone being transferred to
different operators in the next county. As we travel along I-295 giving information of
location and play by play of the swerving and swaying, the operator then has to
relay other information about another call to a coworker. Someone had called screaming because someone
was hitting another person with a baseball bat.
Then she comes back to us as we make the turn down I-95 watching the
truck straddle the centerline. Shortly
we are heading into the next county and we are transferred to a new operator. By
this time we have driven 20 miles past our destination and we are still talking
with the 911 operators. All the while
the truck continues on its path obviously watched over by an army of angels
from heaven. We talk with the 911
operators for a few more minutes giving them all the information we can. Now we know that shortly an officer will find
this menace but after two more exits and a total of 30 miles nothing. Short of following him to Key West we decide
to turn and head home. I hope that the driver either meets officers soon or gets
to where he is going.
I know that the
police and 911 operators have a tough job and that resources are limited but I
feel confused on what else we could do.
It seems that the officers are not connected to a central 911 dispatch
office and that makes their jobs impossible. Plus, the other crimes that were
being committed have a more immediate need. Being an officer or a 911 dispatcher has to
be such a tough job, but I still wish this driver had been caught. As Jay
pointed out, they knew he was out there.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!     – Dr. Seuss

 Theodor Seuss Geisel was a wonderful writer who has shape the imagination of so many generations.    The first book I remember  checking out was  One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish from Oxford Elementary ‘s library and I checked it out so many times that my Mom finally made me stop.  Between the silly drawings and the funny sentences what child would not be mesmerized by these stories?  The worlds and characters he created you just wished you could go and visited and play for the day.
These books opened your imagination and the possibilities that could be out there in life. Why can’t eggs and ham be green?   Who knows maybe there is a tiny planet no bigger than a speck of dust? Your wish is that all children have the opportunity to read and experience the cat in the hat,   the Grinch, Cindy Lou Who, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and to know that there is beauty, silliness and hope out there.   I discovered last year that Dr. Seuss is not known to all the parents or children. Jay and I were on the island of Dominica which is one of our favorite ports  to explore.  We had been there several times and decided this time to be ambitious and hike to  Middleham falls.  The hike is two hours long and the trail is slippery and rocky and I was not sure if I was going to make it. One of our guides was also named Cindy and we stuck up a conversation about kids as she guided me along the path.  Cindy was in her 50’s and had three children her youngest was 8 and she also was a grandmother. She did this hike about four times a week and could maneuver like mountain goat over the rocky and root filled paths.  As I’m resting at one point I asked her has anyone ever called her Cindy Lou Who.  She had never heard of Dr. Seuss nor had she ever seen The Grinch That Stole Christmas. Imagine trying to describe this story or any of the stories to someone who had never read or seen these books.    What stood out to me was there are experiences and ideas that you think that most of the world has been exposed to and children books come under that umbrella.  Each of our lives has so much in common but so many differences the goal is to learn from all of them.  

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"Always Daddy's Funny Valentine"

     I just had the sweetest   flash of memory cross my mind this Valentines’ Day about my Dad.   Growing up my Dad was not the kind who hugged and kissed you. It was even hard for him to say he loved you.  I remember at night saying Love You and Mom saying Alfred say “I Love You back.”   Truly I never felt that he didn’t love me because the words didn’t come easily. He showed it every day in his actions.  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I would always be safe with him and taking care of.  Really security for a child shows true love. 

    On Valentine’s Day morning I would get up and waiting at both mine and Mom’s place at the table would be a beautiful heart shaped box full of chocolate candies.  The boxes would have lace and flowers on it and I thought there was nothing to compare to how pretty they were.  Looking back it wasn’t that they were filled with candy that made them so special. It was more that my box said I was SPECIAL and   even if I wasn’t in school yet this made me feel so very grown up.  This tradition continued after I was married and showed that no matter how old you are you will always be Daddy’s Little Valentine.

   The first man in my life was my Dad and I used him to measure the rest I would meet along life’s journey.    I’m lucky to have met and   marry   a man that shows me every day that he loves me not only with words but actions.   As a bonus my Dad not only loves my new Valentine but likes him as well. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Are You The Okra In Life's Gumbo

With Mardi Gras upon
us I have been thinking about Gumbo.
What a distinctive dish full of unique flavors. I have enjoyed gumbo many times and must say I
don’t think I have ever had it the same way twice. Each person who makes this dish has their own
special ingredients. Some use roux, other file gumbo but okra is the ingredient
that I encounter most often that provides gumbo the thickness it requires. To be honest I don’t really care for okra. Let’s face it there is slime in the pods and
the seeds are huge. There has to be
something to hold all the ingredients together so I put up with the okra
because without it, you don’t have Gumbo.
It occurred to me that
every day we go out into the world a part of our own Gumbo. We meet different people and gather in
groups. We all have different places in
this recipe and often that place changes. Some are the doers, others are the organizers,
the cheer leaders……………..the list could go on and on with infinite possibilities. Sometimes in the group there is a person who
really just annoys you. They might say inappropriate things, be loud, and cause
drama. Basically, something they do just gets on your nerves. When you talk to others, they feel the same
way and you know it is not just you. Then
one day that person is not in the group anymore and you think OK now the group
will be calmer and things will move smoother.
Sometimes that is not what happens but instead the group falls
apart. No one is sure why the group has
stopped working it just has. Like okra,
they just had this strange ability to thicken the bonds of everyone in that
situation. When they are absent, you go
from gumbo to just soup.
So next time you are
in the Big Melting Pot of life, look around and see what each unique flavor
each person brings. Just like Gumbo not
everyone can be the shrimp or andouille sausage and
somebody has to be the okra. Without that gooey slimy vegetable, there would be nothing to thicken the mix and
bond the rest.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Certain Age

   At this moment   I’m   in my little boat called life and serenely floating along.  Most days are smooth as glass but I know that up ahead the white waters and the rapid are lurking.  I gave this analogy to my husband and   explained that we have gotten to an age where we worry about our child, parents, family and we pretend that we have control but really it is just a mirage.  Every person has to experience these sad and scary parts.  I know they go along with all the wonderful things that we have in life.

   He told me in that sweet gentle voice.  “Darlin you just have to take one day at a time because that is the only way you will ever make it.” 

   That really is all any of us can do.  We try to do our best and make good choices but there are some certainties that are inevitable.  So as we wake each morning and place our feet firmly on the steady ground remember one step at a time as well as one day at a time.  Darlin that is really the only way any of us will ever make it.