Monday, December 22, 2014

A Day Will Come...

In 1988/89, I took a job with a newspaper, the now defunct "Calhoun News-Dispatch." Before it closed down, I finally found a venue for my love of writing. Besides being a reporter, I became a weekly columnist. This is a column I found that I wrote some 25 years ago. My children were 15, 12, 10, and 6. I thought I would share it with you now since it is still rings true today...

A day will come...

The cycle of life is continuous...a never ending revolution of trials and errors. For humans, for those who have children, or plan to have children, or are involved with children, this is particularly pertinent. But remember...

A day will come when two o'clock feedings and constant crying along with continuous fatigue will become a thing of the past.

A day will come when clotheslines full of shimmering white diapers or boxes of the things, bought at unreasonable prices will be distant memories.

A day will come when the perfume or aftershave you so carefully applied will not be clouded by the distinct odor of baby spit up.

A day will come when you won't have to return home to change your clothes and the wee ones because of an accident beyond yours or his control.

A day will come when "potty training" won't seem as difficult as it really was.

A day will come when the "terrible twos" won't seem to have lived up to its name.

A day will come when no one will be hanging on to you for dear life, crying in a most pitiful way as she gives you accusing looks of betrayal.

A day will come when windows will no longer hold sticky finger prints of peanut butter and God knows what else.

A day will come when trips to the emergency room at ungodly hours of the night because of an unexplainable fever of alarming magnitude will be only a distant memory.

A day will come when there will no longer be bald spots in the yard and broken tree limbs because of the constant pounding of little feet and the hanging on of stringy little arms.

A day will come when pleading eyes and the fateful question, "Can we keep it?" will not be heard again.

A day will come when the only skinned knees and elbows will be your own because you didn't watch where you were going.

A day will come when no more half eaten apples, rotten banana peels, broken treasures or torn jackets will be found hidden in some obscure place.

A day will come when the driveway won't be blocked by forgotten Big wheels, bicycles, toys, and rock forts.

A day will come when there will be no more practices or rehearsals of any kind, way, shape, or form...and the family taxi service is out of business.

A day will come when baseball cards, too loud tapes and video games will no longer be scattered and heard throughout the house.

A day will come when you won't ever again ask the proverbial  question, "If Jimmy jumps off a bridge, will you jump, too?"

A day will come when the extra cash you tucked away for yourself will no longer have to be used for the forgotten club dues or "special" outfit that he or she MUST have.

A day will come when the grades of C or D brought home with excuses and promises of "I bring it up next time" will not seem so important anymore.

A day will come when disgusted looks and the slamming of doors will fade into oblivion.

A day will come when there will be no more late nights of staying up worrying until your wayward youngster has returned to the fold with a suspiciously glazed look to his or her eyes and a slight slur to the speech.

A day will come when you will no longer say, "You're grounded for two weeks!"

A day will come when you will no longer hear, "You just don't understand!"

A day will come when the keys to your car will be in your possession permanently.

A day will come when you will say, "Be careful" and that squirming little bundle you brought home...was it only yesterday?...will set out on his/her own.

But wait...a day will come when she/he will return and place a tiny squirming infant into your arms and you will instantly acquire a new name..."Grammy or Granddaddy.

Thus, the cycle begins...again.

My children are all grown now. They have their own lives to live. But oh, what a joy and a blessing they were when they were young. I miss them.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Old Age Is Not For Sissies....

Do you ever wonder what your life would have been like had things been different or one small occurrence did or didn't happen? This brings me to mind of that Ray Bradbury short story "The Sound of Thunder." It has to do with a place that transports hunters back to the time of dinosaurs. The hunters must stay on a special walk way and follow all the rules with no deviation, the reason being they risk changing the future. One hunter does stray from the path and, well, I won't be a spoiler, but it's a great story.

I'm heading toward my 68th year. That seems so impossible to me. How did this happen? How did the time sweep me so quickly toward old age? I don't feel 67, but I'm not sure how 67 should feel. People tell me that I don't look 67. I look younger. That's comforting, I think. In truth, I generally don't tell people my age like I used to. Now, when I do, some act differently toward me, like I should be using a cane or wearing old lady clothes instead of my jeans and tee shirts. It makes me feel...well...old and I'm not ready to feel old yet.

I think back on my childhood and consider myself lucky. Growing up an Air Force brat, my life was just a bit nomadic until I was around 13 or so. Our family never lived in one place over three years. Packing up and moving was not a big deal to me. The thought of going to a different place and meeting new people was always exciting. My mom, sister, and I took a huge ocean liner all the way to Morocco to be with my dad who had traveled there earlier to find us a place to live near his air base. What a great adventure we had on that ship. We even experienced a major hurricane that was churning up in the Atlantic. It rocked that big ol' boat like it was a fishing cork. We were probably in danger, but didn't know it.

I loved Morocco. We were close to the Mediterranean Sea, and we played on the beach many a day. The one thing I can remember taking away from there even as a young child was that all human beings are alike deep down. They may speak a different language, have different cultures and religions, different skin colors, but they all want safe shelter, food to feed their families, a peaceful existence, and love. I had friends who were Arabic and French, along with the American military kids. We all played together in the little village some 26 miles from the base. We ran around on the unpaved streets, ate bread sold from a guy who brought it in bags on his bicycle. His name was Mohammad (lots of guys were named Mohammad.). We picked fruit from some trees whose limbs hung over a big fenced in place and no one stopped us. We bought fresh vegetables and other foods from open markets and it was wonderful. I loved our maid the Air Force provided for us. Her name was Aisha and she was a young Arab woman whose husband was in the French Foreign Legion.. She taught me French (Arabic was just so difficult) and sang songs to me. Not many American kids go to Morocco. I was a lucky one.

I've lived in or visited most states in this country. One of my favorite states we lived in when I was a kid was Kansas. I'm not sure why I loved it so much. We lived in Central Kansas with prairie landscapes, flat lands with a few little hills we called knolls. I experienced tornadoes, blizzards, floods, unbelievable cold, and the hottest constant winds in summer. I loved it. I loved climbing up a knoll and looking out at the ripe fields of wheat waving in the wind like a brilliant ocean of gold. I loved going to Lindsborg and hear the people speak in their Scandinavian accents or language. I loved the quaint shops and wonderful pastries. I loved going to Lake Kanopolis, a man-made lake developed over 50 years ago now. I know that Lindsborg still exists, but I wonder if it still has that quaintness about it? Lake Kanopolis is a state park now.

When my father retired from the Air Force as a Major at 37 (he went on to work for the Post Office), we settled back in his home state of Tennessee. I was miserable. I missed the air bases, kids who I had things in common with,  the B-47s and B-52s bombers land or take off from the runways on the bases. The kids I went to school with in Tennessee had grown up together. They knew most of their friends all their lives. For the first time in my life, I felt different. I felt like I was out of place. Oh, people liked me okay, but they mainly wanted to listen to me talk. I had a Midwestern accent which really was no accent at all. Being singled out this way was disconcerting. Being made to feel special because I talked differently and had moved around all over the place was not the way I wanted to feel special. I don't think I ever fit in with the 8th graders at Smithwood Elementary School.

High school was different. Our family moved to another neighborhood, and it was like starting new again. I made friends and had a successful time at Holston High. I even was one of the senior speakers at graduation. Everyone told me I was the only one they heard that evening. In truth, I have always been a little person with a big huskey voice. It has served me well throughout my life. And since my mother has been hard of hearing all my life, she has helped me hone my speaking skills because I had to speak clearly and distinctly so she could understand me.

My college years were when I grew up and "found" myself. I went to a small Baptist college and had a ball. I did not much follow the Baptist faith and I was a drama major, so I looked at the world a little differently. One professor told me I walked to the beat of a different drummer. That was a compliment, I do believe. In college, I made life long friendships. I worked on my skills as an actress and loved being in plays from comedies to high drama. Winning the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress awards were high lights of my college career. Quite frankly, I wasn't a very good student...except in what I really liked such as literature, acting classes, interpretive movement classes,  writing, English. My college professor in Short Stories told me I should be a writer. That meant so much...and I am a writer...on a small scale. And I am very active in my local little theater where I live thanks to Papa Welton, my drama professor. He always encouraged me to move forward and do what I loved.

Someone nominated me for Miss Carson-Newman back in my college days which could have led all the way to Miss America. I guess I was flattered, but I never thought I was ever beauty pageant material. I couldn't sing very well. Playing a musical instrument was not my forte'. I loved to dance, but I was not formally trained. The only talent I had was doing some kind of dramatic reading which seemed really silly to me. Besides, I was and still am 5'2" tall and not anywhere near drop dead gorgeous. How many Miss Americas have been that short...and not drop dead gorgeous. I was skinny, too. So I said, "No thank you" in the nicest way I could. I think it kind of hurt the guys feelings, but I just couldn't. Shoot, now that I think of it, I could have paved the way and been the first short, skinny, NOT drop dead gorgeous Miss America. Never would have happened. No way.

So here I am. After college graduation, I did not go to New York City or Hollywood like I dreamed of doing. I came to a small Northwest Georgia town to teach 8th grade English...and I don't regret one moment of my decision. Teaching became my career with a side career as a writer. I fell in love with a marvelously wonderful man who has made me laugh and brought me joy. I have become the mother of four beautiful and successful children, the mother in law to a son and daughter, and the grandmother to a grandson and granddaughter...And I am awaiting the arrival of a new family member, a granddaughter in January. I have made deep and lasting friendships here. This is my home. This is the place I love. My feet are firmly planted in this Georgia red clay.

Has my life turned out the way I had hoped? Yes, I think it has. How many can say they've known love...true life long love? How many can say that they have held four new born babies close to their hearts and felt overwhelming joy. How many can say they watched their grandchildren take their first breaths? How many can say that they made a positive difference in people's lives? How many can say that they earned the right to retire? I have and am busier now than I ever have been.The difference is that I'm doing things I want to do, not have to do.

I'm looking forward to the next third of my life. I'm cruising into old age with an upbeat attitude. I plan to dance more...sing more...most definitely laugh more...write more...act more...but most of all...I plan to love more than I've ever loved.

After all, as my late great mother in law...Evelyn Hatcher Brooks Causby used to say..."Old age is not for sissies."

Monday, October 20, 2014

Chocolate...It Has A Hold of My Whole Being...And I Will Love It Forever

So I'm sitting here at the dining room table eating chocolate chips because I wanted something chocolate. Now, the chips are for some future cookies; however, I'm not sure any of this particular bag will make it into cookie batter. We'll just see.

I've had a love affair with chocolate as far back as I can remember...a serious...I got to have affair. The chocolate doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to be the high end made in Europe and shipped over to the states kind of chocolate. Don't get me wrong. I'll not turn down that kind of chocolate if someone were to give it to me, but Hershey's is just fine with me or a Mars bar or Mounds or...never mind. You get the picture.

When I was a little girl, my favorite ice cream guessed it...chocolate. My mother still laments how I ruined many a pretty dress or shirt by the way I ate my ice cream.  My daddy always got my sister and me an ice cream cone every Sunday. He'd stop at whatever ice cream place suited his fancy and come out with big ol' ice cream cones. I was not a neat eater. And I had a habit of biting the bottom out of the cone so I could suck out the ice cream. It never dawned on me that I could suck it out the top. It was more fun to bite out the bottom and do my thing. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I had a lot of sense at that age.

Of course, the ice cream melted faster than I could slurp it up, so I was a mess. Daddy always laughed as Mama fussed at me. The chocolate melting goo even got on my socks and shoes sometimes and, of course on the car seat and floor. My sister would fuss at me too. An animated kid, I would talk a lot with my hands even at six or seven. Sometimes I'd accidentally swipe a blob of chocolate on my sister's dress or her nose. Then, of course, I'd get tickled and that would make it even worse. I think if she had known any curse words back then, my whole being would have been fried by her language.

I'm a caramel fan also, but back in my younger days, the caramel bag always had some chocolate caramels in them. They were wrapped in silver or gold...can't remember which...and I'd steal them out of the bag before anyone else could get any. I told you I had a love affair with chocolate. This was another thing that made my sister mad.

Oh my lord, I remember the first s'more I ever ate. Graham crackers, hot roasted marshmallows, Hershey's chocolate all squished together by the crackers with the chocolate melting as the hot marshmallow sat on top of it. What a glorious combination of flavors and textures. With the first bite, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I am forever grateful to whomever invited this confection.

When I ate ice cream at home, it was generally in a dish and it was vanilla. Of course, Mom always had Hershey's chocolate syrup to pour all over it. I'd mix the chocolate all in with the vanilla until it resembled the consistency of a thick milkshake. Sometimes, I'd pour a little of the syrup on my hand and fingers and lick it off. That seems really gross to me now.

I still eat Tootsie Pops and the all chocolate ones are my favorite. Of course, every Tootsie Pop, no matter what flavor has a chocolate Tootie roll center, so if I don't find a chocolate one, I'm still good.

I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate for most things except Hershey's Candy Kisses. They must be milk chocolate. I will put the whole piece in my mouth and let it melt until it is nothingness. With M&Ms, I crack the shell off with my teeth and let the chocolate melt on my tongue.

Have you ever bitten into a cookie thinking it was chocolate chip and it turned out to be oatmeal raisin? I have, and I have even voiced my dismay publically at functions...and this has been as an adult. Don't get me wrong. A good oatmeal raisin cookie is wonderful IF you know this is what you're eating. But when you are ready to savor a fat chocolate chip and it turns out to be a raisin. Well, that just isn't fittin'.

My favorite cake in all the world is CocaCola cake, warmed with vanilla ice cream on it. I get it sometimes at Cracker Barrel Restaurant. It is all chocolate with this chocolate fudge frosting...oh, so sinfully good. Gracious good golly, it will make my toes curl up. In my younger years, my favorite cake was the chocolate devil's food cake my mama made from scratch with her luscious 7-Minute frosting slathered all over it. She'd sprinkle coconut on top. I haven't had it in years, but it rivaled the CocaCola cake. I can't make that icing. I just can't.

Now that chocolate has been found to have lots of good healthy qualities, I don't feel so guilty when I finish off a whole can of Betty Crocker's Dark Fudge Chocolate frosting. Of course all the additives probably take away any healthy benefits from it. It's chocolate. I have no control when it comes to chocolate. Additives be damned.

These chocolate chips that I have been noshing on as I write this are just fine...healthy...dark...yum. No, I haven't finished the bag. I may not. But if I do, I will not feel guilty. Chocolate is just too good to be made to feel guilty.

So my love affair with chocolate continues. Let's face it, I know that chocolate is good for my soul. I know that it has a hold on my whole being.  And I will love it forever and ever.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

This Child is a Full Grown Man...An Epiphany from a Mother

A friend of mine who is a writer herself encouraged me to begin writing on my blog again. So I decided that since I love to write this may just be the time to get back at it. Oh, I write a "morning missive" every single day on facebook and sometimes it's almost as long as a regular blog, but there are subjects I can write about on "Little Mary Sunshine" that I can't really write about on facebook. I can get a bit meatier on here.

You want to know what is disconcerting? It's the day that a parent realizes that her children are really grown...that they are adults. This happened to me the other day. It wasn't something amazing that happened. It wasn't newsworthy. It just was. I turned to say something to my oldest son, (he and his wife were visiting from out of town) and the words caught in my throat. Maybe it was a look on his face. Maybe it was the way he was lacing his boots. Maybe it was his whole demeanor. I don't really know what exactly triggered it, but it was at that moment that I realized the little mop topped boy I had nurtured since birth was gone. In his place was this man...full grown...low voiced...authoritarian.

When he was growing up, he was small, really small. He was pretty much the smallest kid in his class. He liked to put rocks, paper, dead bugs...all kinds of stuff in his pants pockets. Laundering his clothes on any given day was an adventure in the discovery of a cornucopia of surprise thingies...some good, some pretty gross.

As a kid, he had a sweet nature (he might not appreciate this) and loved to work with his dad on all kinds of things. He'd help his dad spread "manuker" and when his dad was working on a basement for the house, he wanted to help him with the "mortimer." He laughed easily and was a happy kid.

Well, he was happy most of the time. When his dad was in the hospital for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome for almost a year, he was pretty much devastated. He missed his dad terribly and it affected his school work. In the gifted program at school, it came time for him to be retested during his dad's hospitalization. He didn't do well enough to stay in and had to leave the program. For some odd reason, I didn't catch that, but it could have been because I was so devastated myself. That was a tough time for all of us.

When he started high school, he was 4'9" tall. His dad is not so tall at 5'6", so I figured he'd be about his size. Something happened, though. In his junior year in high school, he started growing and he didn't stop  until he was in law school. That little biddy boy grew to be over 6 feet tall. He somehow morphed into a big man, an imposing man.

It hit me that morning just a few days ago...hit me hard. My little boy who used to duck his head when he wasn't sure of himself. My little fella with the huge soulful eyes and long dark eyelashes who was so cute, "you could eat him with a spoon" someone said to me once, was not around anymore. He had grown up before I realized it. He had become a man, and I just didn't see it.

Oh, he met a wonderful girl, a beautiful girl after he graduated from college and was living in North Carolina. He brought her home and I knew he had finally found "the one." They married in a lovely ceremony in the woods on family land we call Evelyn's Eden. It didn't dawn on me then that he was grown. I know. I know. It should have. He was getting married. He was planning on attending law school. He was moving on with his life.

This child of mine, my first son, was my 30th birthday present. Yes. He was born on my birthday. What a beautiful child he was...all dark curls and big brown eyes...inquisitive eyes. He always has had inquisitive eyes. He always needed to know things. He always asked questions like, "Mom, why is dirt brown?" Heck, I could have gone into stuff about minerals, elements, crushed rock, flora and fauna, but I didn't. He was three. So I took the easy road. I told him God did it. I'm not even all that religious.

So what triggered this epiphany...this realization that my oldest son was grown? I mean this child, this little boy I loved/love so much is a full blown man. Maybe it's the loving way he treats his wife. Kelly is pregnant with their first child, a girl we will call Evelyn. Maybe it's the way he treats his dad. His dad helps him now with a cabin that has been an ongoing project at Evelyn's Eden.

I am proud of this son of mine. I am proud of what he stands for in his life. I am still surprised when he takes command of a situation, not with arrogance, but with assurance and knowledge of what is right and wrong. He knows how to treat people with dignity and kindness. He knows when to be assertive and when to back up and let things happen.

I'm not sure why he is the way he is. Of course, as his mom, I hope he's learned some things from me. 

My husband and I were blessed with four children when, at one time, we thought we would not have any. Our first born is our daughter who is a wife, mother, writer, and photographer. Our second child is featured in this blog. Our third child, a beautiful baby boy is part of the staff of the campaign team for Jason Carter who is running for governor of Georgia. Our fourth child, a boy is a marvelous writer, artist, and performer. I am so proud of each and every one of them.They are all grown now. I know they are grown.  It just took my oldest son to help me realize it.