Mothers

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Oh. My. Word. While scrambling around for a photo to post for Mother’s Day, I reached into the box of items I last brought home from Dad and Mom’s home place — a box I knew had some albums, but had not had time — that greedy taskmaster — to go through.
 
As I flipped through the slightly mildewy-scented pages, I spied the photo on the left.
 
I HOOTED!
 
Did I even remember this picture existed? This 55-year-old brain had no recollection of the time or the place but I delighted in the finding.
 
Dad captured us — his 4 women — at our finest [and from our best angles 🙂 ]
 
The brave Lelia, Elaine and Judy are leaning out, while our ever cautious Mom is standing back — silently, or maybe not so silently, warning us and praying for us to not fall over the ledge.
 
While careful, Mom was a pioneer.
A brainy woman, she worked on the first computer in Greensboro before she married. Had she the opportunity, I think she would have made a smashing lawyer — perhaps even a Supreme Court judge. It was said she would argue with a sign and then dig it up and argue with the hole in the ground. Even as she was imprisoned in her body by Parkinson’s, her mind was sharp as she kept up with all the news.
 
The photo on the right shows Mom and my dad’s mom. [Christmas and vacations seem to be when cameras are pulled out most.]
 
Mary, my paternal grandma, was a teacher, a farmer’s wife, a quilter, a church-going mother of 5 — 4 rambunctious boys and 1 baby girl. She survived cancer and a debilitating stroke back in the ’70s when medical advances aren’t what they are today.
 
I come from strong and interesting stock.
 
Happy Mother’s Day.

My Tired is Tired

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The old adage, “A man will work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done,” popped up in my head this morning…as I awoke early after a long and tiring public work week…and decided I had just too much to do to be malingering in bed past 6 a.m.
Not to disparage the male gender — oh NO! — not one bit; I have one of the hardest working spouses known to the free world — I just began thinking of the innumerable tasks that must and should be done on my two days off to keep the family unit clicking along…and thought, “whew,”
This will be a “light” weekend of groceries, cooking and meal prep for the week ahead, washing The Dawg, his laundry, OUR laundry, dusting, sweeping, mopping, dishes and finding room for last week’s summer wardrobe purchases. [I’m a seasonal shopper; twice yearly purge and restock.]
There are other household jobs that will be mocking me from their dust-covered, stagnant spots — sorting departed family’s items, photos to be pored over, cabinets which resemble Flibber McGee’s closet when opened, to be cleared, well, you get the gist.
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Yet here I sit blogging — on a long neglected site — I might add.
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There’s more to life than work — Emotional Brain whispers.
There’s work to be done, Missy — yells my Practical Brain.
It’s a struggle.
*sigh*

The Anatomy of Fear [or Walking A Tightrope in Today’s World or Tiptoeing in a Politically Charged Environment or…]

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I’m a child of the Sixties, so I’ve seen a protest or two in my life. Born into a family of readers and open-minded, socially-forward-thinking parents, I was never at a loss for reading material on all manner of current world events. Quakers are especially known for activism and booklets, pamphlets, and half-page, folded, copied and stapled treatises on war, government, environment, civil rights, ad infinitum, littered our coffee table, Daddy’s desk and Mom’s bookshelves. I read. I absorbed.

My favorite reading material showed up weekly in the mailbox with its glossy, come-hither wrappings — the now defunct Newsweek. The other items were interesting, but Newsweek, with its color, current, and sometimes disturbing pictures, brought the protest-fodder to life. The stories ran parallel: Friends against war in Vietnam — photo of “Napalm Girl” running in abject terror; Friends in unity for civil rights  — photos of M.L.King, John Lewis, Emmett Till and the KKK; Sam Levering who stayed at our home on the way to D.C. for FCNL and Law of the Sea business — pictures of Greenpeace rubber rafts vs whaling ships.

I lived Sixties’ and Seventies’ history through my reading and relationships.

While we are currently in an apparent, never-before-seen, turbulent time of “us against them,” I try to recall those days of my childhood when we were also a nation divided.

Memories of driving through downtown Emporia before Highway 58 bypassed the mostly African-American section shortly after King was assassinated, in the summer, with the windows down, in an un-air conditioned car, watching a gathering of protesters chanting in anger.

Passing the entrance to the field in Goldsboro which was to be the site of a huge KKK rally according to a giant roadside billboard and seeing two white-sheet-clad men[?] wave cars onto the grounds.

Attempting to understand how National Guard troops could be ordered to shoot real ammo at college students.

We’ve seen volatility and protest before.

As I’ve struggled to dissect today’s overabundance of national angst and distrust and worry, and at the risk of oversimplification, I attribute all mostly to fear.

We are all afraid.

A few random conversations, which have somehow started out innocently enough and then leaped into the state of our politics, has set me on this path of reasoning.

The young white girl who waters our office plants talking about her excitement over new homeownership,

a non-white lady in the neighboring Belk’s dressing room who sneezed and I blessed her,

my African-American, male coworkers, a couple of whom stop by my cubicle daily to wish me a good morning and make me laugh and their real concerns over the choices of the current administration,

my female friends who fear loss of respect and choice,

my other friends who are fighting for the rights of the un-born,

my white, male friends who were tired of their values being threatened and trod upon over the last 8 years,

all afraid and all wanting their fears to be listened to and validated.

My response, and it somehow sounds Pollyanna-esque, has been that we are being exposed to the two extremes and that here in the middle, where we meet one-on-one, sanity reigns.

We have to continue to meet each other face to face and be kind to one another — that’s where fears can be squashed — in our daily interactions and only in our understanding that we are more alike than we are different.

Just as Newsweek’s pictures brought dry activism topics into clearer focus, these heartfelt conversations with real people, bring me a hope that the world has not gone mad — we are only afraid it has.

Peace.

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Do You Believe In Ghosts?

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My great-grandmother walked past my bedroom window when I was about 7 complete with white hair pulled tautly back in her signature bun and a serious look on her profile. That might have been normal except for the fact that she had recently passed away and I had attended her funeral. That fleeting second or two didn’t really unnerve my young self and I don’t think I gave it much thought because as children, especially a child that reads a lot and daydreams a lot, we tend to take life — or in this case — afterlife — in stride.

As I’ve become older and have experienced many more passings of loved ones, that moment and the accompanying mental picture, keeps cropping up. It has taken on a comforting tone; like an intangible talisman of hope that our selves — our “us-ness” — continues on in some form or another…even doing “float-bys” outside a child’s window.

Imagination and curiosity have been constant companions since birth and I’ve always been drawn to books that delve into the facts about death and what happens to our bodies when we die and even the hundreds of theories about our spiritual landing spots afterward. Energy — and we are energy — cannot be destroyed so it stands to reason that we don’t just “poof” but where do we go, what do we look like, can we communicate/nudge/influence?

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When a friend died under less than ideal circumstances, I was gifted a book of comfort to read by a minister friend. That in of itself was expected, but his accompanying note was not. He shared a story about his life where he lost a brother suddenly and that same brother visited him during the night post-mortem saying nothing, just passing by to give a quick visit. This had the same soothing effect on my minister friend that my great-grandmother’s fly by had on me. He wondered if I would receive a similar visit from my quickly departed friend.

I did not, although I sort of hoped I would — I had a ton of questions — which was perhaps why she stayed away. I could be a pest with questions at the best of times.

The most recent unexplainable occurrence that lends comfort, was as we planned my eldest sister’s service. She had passed without warning during the previous night and we were all shocked, dismayed, grieving and very much at a loss. As we sat around the polished funeral home conference table seriously discussing flowers, casket choices, dates and times, Jimmy Buffett starts singing…from my brother-in-law’s pocket. [Imagine here the furrowed brows, side-eye looks, confused faces.] Judy had decided that she wanted a part in the planning of HER memorial and through her password-protected cell phone, messaged us that she wanted Buffett’s version of “All The Ways I Want You” played. And so we immediately included it.

Even the funeral director was taken back a bit about the otherworldly, yet technologically savvy method of communication — he didn’t know Judy’s powerful personality. 🙂

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All of this rambling and remembrance probably comes from being in the middle of reading Mary Roach’s book, Spook. If you’ve never read any of her work, Roach is a wonderfully funny writer who takes on all types of weird topics — death, gastrointestinal functions, mating — and spins them into quite readable and bitingly witty books. In Spook, she is tackling the topic of the afterlife and the various ways over the years that people have attempted to capture proof. It has been quite a fascinating journey complete with those who only want to trick the bereaved to those who actually seem to be able to communicate with the departed. An admitted skeptic, Roach has so far — as far as I’ve gotten through the book — fallen into the un-believing camp — and I’m curious to see her opinions at the end of the book.

Regardless of her conclusions, I have my great-grandmother’s wafting form and my sister’s cell phone playlist to tide me over until I know what lies beyond.

I’ve also got a list of people to visit.

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Do You Believe In Ghosts?

487380_447118778644291_2034595823_n

My great-grandmother walked past my bedroom window when I was about 7 complete with white hair pulled tautly back in her signature bun and a serious look on her profile. That might have been normal except for the fact that she had recently passed away and I had attended her funeral. That fleeting second or two didn’t really unnerve my young self and I don’t think I gave it much thought because as children, especially a child that reads a lot and daydreams a lot, we tend to take life — or in this case — afterlife — in stride.

As I’ve become older and have experienced many more passings of loved ones, that moment and the accompanying mental picture, keeps cropping up. It has taken on a comforting tone; like an intangible talisman of hope that our selves — our “us-ness” — continues on in some form or another…even doing “float-bys” outside a child’s window.

Imagination and curiosity have been constant companions since birth and I’ve always been drawn to books that delve into the facts about death and what happens to our bodies when we die and even the hundreds of theories about our spiritual landing spots afterward. Energy — and we are energy — cannot be destroyed so it stands to reason that we don’t just “poof” but where do we go, what do we look like, can we communicate/nudge/influence?

561084_447119645310871_978672057_n

When a friend died under less than ideal circumstances, I was gifted a book of comfort to read by a minister friend. That in of itself was expected, but his accompanying note was not. He shared a story about his life where he lost a brother suddenly and that same brother visited him during the night post-mortem saying nothing, just passing by to give a quick visit. This had the same soothing effect on my minister friend that my great-grandmother’s fly by had on me. He wondered if I would receive a similar visit from my quickly departed friend.

I did not, although I sort of hoped I would — I had a ton of questions — which was perhaps why she stayed away. I could be a pest with questions at the best of times.

The most recent unexplainable occurrence that lends comfort, was as we planned my eldest sister’s service. She had passed without warning during the previous night and we were all shocked, dismayed, grieving and very much at a loss. As we sat around the polished funeral home conference table seriously discussing flowers, casket choices, dates and times, Jimmy Buffett starts singing…from my brother-in-law’s pocket. [Imagine here the furrowed brows, side-eye looks, confused faces.] Judy had decided that she wanted a part in the planning of HER memorial and through her password-protected cell phone, messaged us that she wanted Buffett’s version of “All The Ways I Want You” played. And so we immediately included it.

Even the funeral director was taken back a bit about the otherworldly, yet technologically savvy method of communication — he didn’t know Judy’s powerful personality. 🙂

576149_447117181977784_322807014_n

All of this rambling and remembrance probably comes from being in the middle of reading Mary Roach’s book, Spook. If you’ve never read any of her work, Roach is a wonderfully funny writer who takes on all types of weird topics — death, gastrointestinal functions, mating — and spins them into quite readable and bitingly witty books. In Spook, she is tackling the topic of the afterlife and the various ways over the years that people have attempted to capture proof. It has been quite a fascinating journey complete with those who only want to trick the bereaved to those who actually seem to be able to communicate with the departed. An admitted skeptic, Roach has so far — as far as I’ve gotten through the book — fallen into the un-believing camp — and I’m curious to see her opinions at the end of the book.

Regardless of her conclusions, I have my great-grandmother’s wafting form and my sister’s cell phone playlist to tide me over until I know what lies beyond.

I’ve also got a list of people to visit.

560999_447119495310886_395798455_n

 

 

Anxiety: The Modern Day Coal in the Stocking

hello-my-name-is-anxiety-1Oh golly. Anxiety is real especially this time of year.

I truly wonder if some ingredient in the DayQuil/NyQuil cocktail in which I’ve been imbibing exasperates my tendency toward stressful worry…Or if I’m simply prone to experience this knotty feeling of overwhelming “to-dos” because of my genetic makeup.

Regardless, I found myself awake in a snit over things I can control as well as those I cannot.

Although I had read the aptly-timed devotional (see photo below) the night before and thought, “this is true,” it didn’t “take.”

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Even as I also stumbled across a quote of C. S. Lewis last night that spoke and nagged to the point where I had to bookmark,…

“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

…my nerves were frayed.


A particularly pithy Facebook post from yesterday illustrates my mindset.

One row of branches on pre-lit tree will not light.

Several elf finger-sized fuse changes and a couple of puncture wounds from prying possible dud bulbs with a pointy eyeglass screwdriver later and nada, zilch, nope.

Remind me how electrified shrubbery plays into the Christmas story?

#hohono #notfeelingfestive #treemayendupinwoods
🌲🎄🌲🎄🌲🎄🌲🎄🌲🎄🌲🎄🌲👿👿👿👿👿👿👿👿👿👿👿👿👿


Sometimes, God has to pull out the 2 X 4 and smack me in the forehead.

Because I could not sleep, I walked with The Dawg in the pre-dawn darkness and was rewarded with firstly, an exuberantly happy Dawg, and secondly, a beautiful silhouette of black trees against a red sky with bird song for the soundtrack.

Calming moments with God.

I began recalling the readings of the previous night to the rhythm of my steps and finally threw my mind-numbing angst to God — as one throws spaghetti against the wall to test doneness.

The Hubster awoke at the perfect time for me to enumerate my list of worries and he patiently listened as I sorted them into columns of “can control” and “can’t control.” AND he listened and listened without trying to fix.

A dear cousin has pointed me to a product that hopefully will cure my tree bulb woes and I’ve dispatched my knight in search of one.

The OCD side of me now has a workable plan and schedule for chipping away at the rock of tasks.

The DayQuil/NyQuil bottles are put away for this round of sickness and I’ll settle for plain Tylenol.

My thoughts are set down in type — always helpful.

*Deep breath*

As I snarkily asked in my FB post about the relevance between lit trees and the Holy birth, I also have to ask, how does the stress of “the season” deepen out relationship with the Christ child?

It doesn’t.

Will I have another meltdown before the new year? Probably.

Am I surrounded by many others suffering with the same syndrome? Most definitely.

Hopefully, when I begin to work myself up into a full-fledged hissy fit before 2016 closes, I will remember this moment and all the signs God placed in my path before beaning me between the eyes with His cosmic fast ball.

Peace unto you my friends.

There’s more to Christmas than electrified shrubbery.