Wednesday, September 12, 2018


As we sat in the waiting room of the Orthopedic surgeon Hubby was due to see, I looked at him and said with a wry smile, "Tell me again why we were in such a big hurry to grow up when we were kids?  Why doesn't anyone ever tell you this part?"

You know, the part where your parts start to kink, wrinkle and fail.  At least now many of them can now be replaced.  I'm sure some day, they'll just take a few cells from your body and grow a new "whatever" you need fixed. 

Hubby nodded with that expression of someone in pain who is trying to remain upbeat.  He has a high pain threshold...but I've known him since he was 17, so I can take one look in his eyes and discover the truth.  Four years ago this surgeon replaced both of his knees, about three months apart.  The surgeon remarked at the time on how dense Hubby's bones were...joking that he went through 2 saw blades for the first surgery, making him buy "diamond tip blades" for the second.

We ran the gauntlet of the world's longest fill-in-the-blank medical questionnaire   (so long that Hubby said, "You know the answers.  Let me know if something stumps you."), to the "let's talk payment plan", being weighed, x-rayed and talking to the P.A., who we knew from the previous surgeries.  (And yes, they allowed me to go back with him, which meant I got to listen to 10 minutes of hunting stories before a plan was made.)

Oddly enough, it was the "payment plan" that proved most...interesting.

I wrote a check for the day's visit and the lady asked me for my driver's license.  When she was noting the number, she looked up with a smile and said, "Hey, I'm one of those!" as she pointed to her name tag, which bore my maiden name.  I asked who she had married, only to discover her name had never changed.  So, good southern gal that I am, the next question is always, "Who's your Daddy?"  When she told me, I instantly recognized the name and smiled. 

"You know who that is?" she asked, rather surprised.

I did.  First I offered my condolences, because he had passed away within the last year.  She was amazed I knew that.  I replied I remembered him in a way only a kid could and I hope she wouldn't be offended.  

When I was growing up, I called him "the Funeral Cousin."

Intrigued, she asked me to explain.  I shared that when I was a kid, it didn't matter which one of our clan died, her Dad always attended the funeral.  I recognized him immediately, but for some reason, could never remember his name.  Every time I would ask Dad, he'd tell me, and I would say, "Oh.  The Funeral Cousin."  Thankfully she wasn't offended and even smiled.  I asked who her Granddaddy was and since I handle our family tree, I knew her Granddaddy and mine were brothers.  When we exchanged names, she remembered my Dad.  We laughed about the small world moment and moved on to the next room.

As I sat in the exam room, waiting for Hubby to get back from x-ray, it made me think how many times I'd sat in a room like this when Dad had cancer.  Waiting for x-rays.  Results.  News sometimes good, but invariably bad.  Yet Dad had the same "I got this!" spirit that Hubby has when dealing with a physical problem.  Then for a moment, I got the oddest lump in my throat.  Somewhere from the back of my brain, where good memories generally dwell, came a sad one.  Today was the day in 1995 that we buried my Dad.

Then just as soon as the tears wanted to fall, something made me smile.  Of all the people who came to Dad's funeral, I only remember speaking to a fraction of them.  The one I remember?

The Funeral Cousin.  He came up to me at graveside, hugged me tight like a father would and told me what a good a man Dad had been.  Thanks Alfred, for always being there. 

Part of me wonders if our Dads were watching this morning, mine shaking his head that I couldn't remember a simple name and hers laughing that he'd had a nickname that still stuck from my childhood.  I wonder what they thought, seeing their girls together this morning, trying their best to help others.  I'm hoping they'd be as proud of us as we were of them.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Eye of the Beholder

My 2 and a half year old niece, Gracie, likes to come by with "Nana" (my Mom) to visit me at work on Wednesday afternoons before I go home.  There are a variety of objects in my office which she has claimed are now hers.  One is a "Sheep on a stick" sent by my Scottish poet friend, JoAnne McKay's twin boys years ago.  Their names are John and Luke.  After telling her where the sheep had come from, I asked what she'd like to name the sheep.  With a grin she declared, "John Luke!"   With thoughts of Capt. Picard running through my head, I congratulated her on the name.  She now comes in, tells me "Hi", then heads straight for the corner, advising she's going to retrieve John Luke. 

So when she's not drawing on the chalk board (my Center was originally a school and  3 of the rooms have old fashion, green chalkboards in them, the width of the front of the class), she finds new things to enjoy.  Both my niece, and her 18 year old off at college brother were both adopted the day after they were born.  But I think maybe I'm rubbing off on them.   "Nana" took one look at my tissue holder and declared it gross.  Gracie took one look at it and....

and started laughing.
That's why I got it...because it makes me laugh through allergy season.

Then there was the pen. 

It's a silly shape and she immediately latched on to it.  After playing with it for an hour, she promptly burst into tears when I told her she had to leave it at the office.  I wanted to get the "guts" out of it before she played with it again.  As she threw her arms around my neck and sobbed uncontrollably, I simply whispered that John Luke needed company until she got back.  She agreed.  

 In a happy moment...

What I love the most about the imagination of a child is that whatever is fresh in their brain, they apply.  I asked what she was going to "name" the pen (since she's named almost everything in my office).  She smiled and said, "Jesus!"  

Nana shared that at daycare, the kids had learned "Jesus Loves Me" that week.  So Miss Gracie decided it was a good name for her new friend.  

I didn't have the heart to tell her it was a pen from a Weight Loss group that meets at my Center.  Considering how many versions and portraits there are of Jesus, her version made me smile.

Thumbs up, kid.  Keep being creative.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

My Guardian Angel has a sense of humor

When I was a kid, adults were respected for staying with a job more than twenty years....well, the ones that weren't doing just enough above lazy to get a paycheck or couldn't be caught doing something illegal.  My grandfather's company not only threw an annual Christmas party where grandkids were invited, he received a gold pin every five years.  At one point, those pins started to have a ruby or diamond in them.  He received enough pins that Grandma had a nice ring made out of them after he died.

Dad wasn't as fortunate, as his company was bought and sold several times.  One acquisition even took away their previous retirement savings!  But at least the Bosses were smart enough to give out Atta-Boys to ensure he'd continue to show up.  Which he did, in spite of cancer and chemo treatments.

I hit a work milestone Friday in my role as Director of my senior citizen children.  The only reason anyone knew was because I made a joke in their monthly newsletter: "The 1st (and only) Director once said I'd never make it to 18 years, like her.  She was right.  I hit 25 years on Aug. 3rd.  And this is your 300th newsletter."

(Actually her REAL statement was that I was too young to understand old people, that I wouldn't last a year and I would be the downfall of the group to the point it would disband.)

Sometimes stubborn can prove a person wrong.  :)

I actually reached the 31 year mark with my employer this year, but the work world is a busy place and no one notices employees who show up....just the ones who frequently call in sick.  Deep down I know this.  I work in an "at will" state, meaning they can fire me if they don't like the color of my outfit...they merely don't need a reason to let me go.  Years ago I helped re-write the Employee Handbook.  It was re-written a couple of times over the last few years and it at this point, it looks more like a document to legally protect my employer from every possible angle under the sun, with employees resembling annoyances, not the help.  Public servants don't get to ask raises and if they had the gall to do so (not me) they're reminded about the "at will"  part.  Comes with the territory. 

And yet on Friday, I felt a huge sense of disappointment as the day came and went without a single mention that I'd given a quarter of a century of my life to one job.

I tried to shake it off.  I'm an adult, right?  After all, I handle the tasks of what was formerly performed by 2 people.  As the Director AND the entire staff, I should be use to it.

But there was a nagging sensation that maybe I'd made a bad choice in staying.  When I first began, only 3 of us in my Dept. had college degrees.  The pay does not reflect that.  (See asking for a raise reference).  The seniors of today can be more like spoiled children than the "greatest generation" folks that I started off with.  As I started up the driveway Friday afternoon on my way home, I felt like a dark cloud was hanging over my as angry and menacing as the real skies above.  Why do I stay?  I'm not lazy and would never resort to anything illegal...I have a huge sense of right and wrong with NO poker face.

So as I prepared to sit for 10 minutes trying to turn left into weekend traffic, heart heavy, something across the road caught my eye.  Something which hadn't been there that morning.  A new billboard.

Okay Guardian Angel. 
 I get it. 
Doing for others, adding to the greater good,
 is better than pouting or tweeting.  
See you Monday morning.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Finding the Mute Button

Lately, social media and the news make me feel like....

Okay, except for the nice "average citizen" in England yesterday 
who told an NPR reporter during a man-on-the-street-interview,
 "We actually love Americans.  We love all of you... but one."

So today, think I'll take a break.  Y'all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

In Honor of George Washington and his friends

Today makes me want to give a standing ovation to the only U.S. President who was voted in unanimously, gave a 3 minute Inauguration speech, refused both a salary and the title of King, and gave America a good start.  

Nobody's perfect, but at least his heart was in the right place and he made decisions based on facts.  He may be the only President I wish I could've met.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Good bye my friend

In Oct. 2016, I shared how our old pecan tree, affectionately known as "The Old Gal" had barely survived a hurricane.  With the help of neighbors we got her back upright March 31, 2017.  Read about it here.

This spring, half of her sprung to life.  The right side, which had dug into the ground as if tunneling away from the storm, never did completely heal.  About a month later, Hubby noticed something odd.  Sawdust. Coming out of the tree.  Hubby looked chagrined and said something about wood boring beetles.

I nodded.  And felt slightly queasy.  Yet I, she of hope-springs-eternal, believed the rest of the Old Gal would triumph.  I'll admit to talking to her when I take the dog out or just before getting in my car to go to work.  

Sadly, even hope and TLC can't always save a tree.

Last week, the side with cute green leaves slowly turned brown.  And yep, we found sawdust coming out of the "good" side. She's still tall, but she's no longer proud.

As I sat on the steps last night, the dog wandering around watering the lawn, I'll admit a few tears fell.  After all, I'm the one who always told people, "We bought the tree and the house came with it."  The fact that a buzzard likes to roost on the top branch seems like insult to injury.  So yeah, I yelled at him last night to get the hell out of my tree!  The bird stared at me...the dog stared at me...and I yelled at the bird again until he flew off.  He circled round to come back but I stared at him so hard, he changed his mind.

That's when I saw it.

Hubby told me that at the base of the Old Gal is one of her "children" which has sprung up.  We will dig up that kid and nurture her until time to plant next year.  Yes, right in the same spot.  For now, the Old Gal will be my living lightning rod and will remain standing until at least summer is over.

Hubby said he hopes that some day, 300 years from now, someone looks up at a huge pecan tree out front and wonders where she came from.  In fact, he even said we should put everything in a journal so that someday, when we're dead and gone, whoever lives here will know she put up a good fight....and left a piece of herself behind.  That way, she really can live forever.