Thursday, May 2, 2013

Decoration Day

Decoration Day's a coming.  That's a big deal from where I come from.  Growing up it meant visiting J and G for all your silk floral needs.  Loading the bed of your pick up with hoes, weedeaters, and shovels, and making sure you had the latest gossip to share with long lost kin and friends. A bucket of fried chicken never hurt anyone, either.
Decoration Day, the forerunner to Memorial Day, a day to pay respects to the fallen of that time our country turned on itself like a rabid dog.  A day to come together to leave the freshly bloomed buttercups at the grave of a cousin, a posy for your brother, and an armful of those wild climbing honeysuckle roses for your beloved. 
I don't know about up north, but for the south, we still take the time to remember.  Not just for those who fought a battle that was never really theirs, but for kin and friends alike, come and gone.
  I loved spending Decoration Day with my granny.  It meant loading her blue Gran Torino with all the afore mentioned items, plus a gallon pickle jar of sun tea in the floorboard held in place by my forcibly shoed feet, and a sackful of sandwiches.  We'd drive across the county to DeMent Cemetery early morning to tend the graves of those gone on.  Those no longer buck dancing this side of eternity, but still keeping time.
Anyone will tell you they are there for the dead.  And, in truth, they're only half lying.  Decoration Day isn't just about tidying up the final ancestral resting place, it's just as much as keeping up with the living.  To take a break, resting one's chin on the top handle of a hoe while listening to the goings on of your cousin's grandbabies.   To stop with great fanfare, and go on over how much those twin great nieces have shot up since last May, and to hold your sister in law close as you both cry over the loss of that dear man you spent your childhood chasing and racing, riding donkeys, praying they get in trouble instead of you.  That's Decoration Day.

It isn't about those pine boxes beneath.  It's about those lives that are woven into yours.  Those lives that lived a century, decades, right beside yours.  
I'm homesick.  I miss a mother I never had.  I don't even know how that's possible to miss something you never knew - not really.  But, I do know that I'm eternally homesick for my grandmother.  She took her last shallow breath this day a year ago, a few minutes past her church bringing the noon meal.  Brother Bowers and his wife had just left, crying how they never saw this coming from the strongest woman they knew. To be honest, none of us wanted to see it coming.  It took a blindsiding.  

All Mommy Wanted Was A Backrub

(Not my picture - found on Pinterest without credit)

I failed to mention that our family is unexpectedly expecting this fall. Seems like I would have thought to have shared that little tidbit, but you was busy.
I'm really missing Beulah, my doula and dear friend from Nashville that attended my two other births. But, am loving my midwife and the birthing center we're going with here.
 The natives are beyond excited that they're getting a sibling. And, Hubby gets the goofy grin about the Tater Tot as well. I've always wanted a houseful of kiddos, but really thought we were finished. I'm thrilled. Amazingly, over the moon, delightedly giddy thrilled. Somebody remind me of that come this September when I'm sleep deprived, engorged, and upside down learning a new schedule that'll change every few nights!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Martha Lou

I never thought it would be this way. I never thought the grief would be this all consuming. I've faced close, personal grief before, but never like this.
 Come to think of it, I never thought I'd lose her, either. Not really. You don't just lose the strongest, most determined woman the red dirt of Alabama has, and will ever see. You don't just have her laughing on the phone one day, and then, then have family talking in hushed tones around the hospital bed the next. But, truth is, you do.
 I've tried and tried to write since my grandmother died. And, I managed a few pieces, but I always pulled them. They were too raw, too real. And, that was before the actual grieving set in. And, how it has set in.
Grief just hasn't set in.  It's consuming me in small increments. It's stolen my focus of the here and now, and mocked me in my dreams by bringing her back to me. Only to wake me to a world without her morning after morning. It moved in so slowly I didn't see it setting up camp in every corner of my soul. But, here it is in all its pain.
 It's ugly. It hurts. It twists my heart in one hand, and soul in the other when I pick up the phone to call her only to remember I can't.
 And, then it comforts. It reminds me that God was blessing us even before our own mother walked out on us. He blessed us with being just across the road from Grandmom. One phone call, and two and a half minutes away to the woman who was more my mama than my real one.
 I spent more time in her house than I probably did my own. I grew up stealing cookies from her cookie jar while she was sewing all our clothes in the next room. My sister and I played school in the toy room. We rambled the fields careful not to ramble too far, for she seldom spanked, but heaven help us when she did.
 My brother plowed countless acres of carefully laid out rows with his farm tractors up and down the green carpet of her living room. And, I will never forget what I will call a surprised face, once when he stuck a key into an electrical outlet.
 Once, a baby squirrel fell from its nest out of one of her massive white oaks or towering hickory trees. Grandmom took a dish towel and saved him from the front flower bed to let us try to make a pet of him.
 Bushytail lived the good life with his condo made of milk crates, and lavish meals of apples, peanut butter, and hand shelled nuts. I have no idea why that critter insisted on continually trying to escape.
  She had PaPa put a swimming pool in much against his own feelings. Too many stories to tell of the joys of summer hours spent playing chicken on the giant tractor tire they brought from the farm. Forts built out of folding lawn chairs draped with beach towels were the prime headquarters for clubs of giggly girls every Wednesday.
 Our standing pool party had some of the finest girlfriends a girl could ever wish for. Lindsay, Emily, Wendy, my sister, Jess, and I swimming laps of Aligator Go, diving into the depths for safety from horseflies, and never getting out of the pool when told.
 Aggravation was my cousin Larry trying to get his daughter Emily out of the pool without diving in after, and dragging her to the truck. I still laugh when I think of all the times he'd have her almost to the truck and she'd turn to run and jump right back in the pool.
 Someone once asked me if there was anything I thought I couldn't do. After thinking on it, I had to laugh. No, I went on to say. I suppose I never had. After being raised by Martha Lou, and seeing her do everything from the most intricate crochet work, to killing a six foot long chicken snake with nothing but a garden hoe, an incensed bull dog, and three terrified, screaming children, I never thought otherwise. Always making meals to take to the sick, blankets for new babes at church, and the sole reason Hallmark is still in business, as she never forgot a birthday, anniversary, or sympathy card. I'm willing to bet she could have bought a car with the amount of money she must have paid in postage fees.
 She left that bar high.  A bar so high, I know I'll never rise to meet it. But, I've got the rest of my life to try, however long that might be.
 You'd think all these memories would plug the holes, and stop the tears from spilling. But, it just doesn't work that way. She's gone. And, I feel like I'm the one dying on the inside. I know all the cliches will hold true. I know it'll get easier with time. I know this won't last. I know, I know, I know. But, knowing just isn't going to magically get me over and through this.
 Martha Lou Hargrave was the finest lady to ever walk out of the cotton fields of Greenbriar and Belle Mina. The kindest, gentlest, hardest working, most determined woman I have ever known. And, I'll never be the same for it again. Thank God. She is entrenched so deeply in my bones, my spirit, I will never truly be without her. Thank God.
 But, what I wouldn't give for just one more hug from the woman who raised me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Titanic Adventures

This weekend I may have watched too much coverage regarding the sinking of the Titanic.
Yes, I am one of "those" that tuned into almost every episode I could find. From the shipyard, to the launch, and all the way to the last minutes aboard the much celebrated vessel, I watched tentatively.
I'm sure some of you are wondering if I thought the outcome might change with each new viewing. Let's be honest. Each show wasn't that much different from the last with its portrayals of the good life aboard the grandest ship of its day. They all featured the same black and white, grainy photos of the interior and exterior of the ship. They all contained the same facts, same data. The only difference were the actors in period costume and the varying sizes of the handlebar moustache that seemed to be all the rage at that time.
Honestly, I have no idea why it fascinates me. I suppose for the same reason it fascinates people the world over. Regardless, I watched entirely too much of it this weekend. And, never was it more evident than when Firstborn came running into the kitchen this morning with his play Dirt Devil vacuum in one hand, and his sister's plastic, pink hairdryer in the other, shouting, "Quick, Mommy! We're trapped by icebergs on both sides and the power's goin' out soon!"
Playing along I said, "Okay, let's quickly think of our plan of action. Do we need to abandon ship?"
"No. I think we'll be okay. I'm gonna blast the bad guy icebergs with my laser gun", he held up the hairdryer, "and my blaster vac", as he gestured to his trusty, upright, bag-less dust buster.
It dawned on me at that moment that my sweet, sensitive little boy had somehow turned into all boy in a matter of moments unbeknownst to me. And, not wanting to waste anymore precious play time, we jumped ship, landing on his rocket ship, and zoomed off to Mars for more adventures.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kicking Complaining to the Curb, I Call Uncle

When I last left you on my month long challenge of Kicking Complaining to the Curb, I was having myself a pity party over a crummy day. I'd like to tell you that the very next day I picked myself up, plastered a smile upon my face, and got busy being positive. But, it didn't quite work out that way.
Oh, I was positive alright, but it wasn't my attitude. I was positive for Strep Throat. When I last left you, I was on my way out the door to take First and Secondborn to the Pedi for what I thought were colds. Unfortunately, my car battery was dead and I wasn't able to. Hubby replaced the battery that afternoon and I rescheduled their appointments for the following morning.
The Pedi thought as I did, and that they both had viruses and would just need to work their way through them. But, he tested them for Strep since it's been showing up at his office like wildfire. The Pedi was incredibly surprised that both kids were, indeed, positive.
After writing out multiple prescriptions for steroidal breathing treatments and antibiotics, he asked me to open my mouth and say, "Ahhh". After take a look see he wrote me a prescription. I thought he was being cute and it would say something along the lines of, "Get some rest, Mom". But, no. It told me to get to my doctor immediately.
So, while sitting in the car line at the pharmacy to drop off for the second time within three hours, I called my dear friend, Amanda. You remember her, right? She's the one who helped inspire this project of Kicking Complaining to the Curb and the Grateful Granny Square project.
I called and proceeded to be anything but positive. There were tears. There were curse words, There were complaints, and lots of 'em baby. But, as I boo-hoo-ed in the drive through line to Amanda, I actually began to feel better.
How could that be? I had been on this quest for positive enlightenment. To admit that complaining not only lightened my mental load, but provided for some much needed good laughs would be to admit defeat, failure.
So, here goes. I failed Kicking Complaining to the Curb....sort of.
Yes, I complained. Who wouldn't with four strep diagnosis in one household within one week? (Yup, even Hubby fell ill.) We felt like poo and our throats were itchy and burning. And, because we were all ill, we were all house bound. Throw in the fact that both First and Secondborn were on two separate steroidal treatments apiece, twice daily, and you've got yourself a recipe for insanity.
But, I found that holding all those complaints close to the breast probably would have done far more damage than letting them out. So, while most would count my challenge a complete failure, I count it as successful. Well, maybe not a soaring success, mind you, but I took away some powerful knowledge.
I was reminded of how good it feels to look on the brighter side of a messy situation. But, it also feels good to have a great friend who'll lend an ear, and throw in some dirty words with you when that brighter side is too clouded over to glimpse. I'm catching myself before I get grouchy and grumpy, and rerouting my attitude with much more ease than in the past.
Kids, jobs, spouses, life, it gets in the way of what we feel our life should be. Well, it's just that. It's life. You do the best you can, and move on. And, this is me moving on. I humbly admit that Kicking Complaining to the Curb kicked my hiney.....sort of. How 'bout we just call it a draw?

Monday, November 21, 2011

21 November KCttC

Today's challenge is an epic fail, and all before lunch time.
The kids and I've been sick with a yucky cold all weekend, hence no blog catching up. Sorry.
This morning I knew it was time to call the pedi since Firstborn now sounded like his cold had landed in his chest and would need to go back on breathing treatments. So, I called and made an appointment for 2:15. Forty-five minutes later they called to see if they could move my appointment up to 1:00. I was more than willing to go ahead and get the appointment over with so I agreed.
After fighting with Secondborn for half an hour over what constituted appropriate footwear we headed out the door only to find that the Mommymobile would not start. It tried to turn over followed by lots of clicking indicating I am most likely in need of a new battery. Awesome. I'm sure that will result in yet another economics lesson that I will have to endure.
At this point I am failing miserably at staying positive. But, maybe after going back to bed, drinking some hot tea, and downing enough Ibuprofen to take out a six year old I'll be in a more positive mindset. One can only hope, right?

Friday, November 18, 2011

18 November KCttC

It's nap time. The house is fairly quiet save the Soundscapes digital music channel playing, and the sounds of Hubby working from home in his office. Secondborn is fast asleep in her own bed, while Firstborn is snuggled up fast and close to me in the big bed. Try as I might, there just doesn't seem to be anything that I could find wrong with this day. Sure, there have been a few moments of irritation, but always held in check.
Today was the performance of Firstborn's preschool Winter program, and as preschool programs go, it was what you'd expect. It was fortunate that I wore my roomy sweater, because this mama was puffed up with quite the load of pride for her son. And, who wouldn't have been? They sang songs, practiced their rhythm using tamborines, they donned headdresses, and even exhibited their knowledge of those imposing black keys on the piano. Hubby and I couldn't be happier with the school that he's attending.
Afterwards we headed to Chic-fil-A for a rare fast food outing. The kids were thrilled with the fact that not only were they getting french fries and chicken nuggets, but they were going to get their germ on by playing in the play yard. Every kid's dream and every mama's nightmare, yes, I know.
While waiting on Hubby to bring the much anticipated grub to the table, the kids were treated even more by the fact that one of the Chic-fil-A cows was greeting each and every table. Judging by the look on Firstborn's face, life for him at that exact moment just couldn't have been much better. Well, okay, the cow could have been delivering a hot fudge sundae, but still, the kid was over the moon.
And, when my kids are over the moon, well, so am I. Especially when one or more is snuggled up fast and close as he is now possibly dreaming of his morning, cows, and maybe hot fudge sundaes. Maybe he's even dreaming of his mommy with her goofiest of goofy grins plastered on face, clapping like a fool as he looked out across that stage.

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. ~Robert Brault