Wednesday, June 11, 2014

home sweet school

There I was at the self-checkout of My Beloved Meijer when who should sidle up beside but Mrs. Deason, my much revered and feared high school math teacher. My heart stopped, then it pounded. I leapt with joy as I sprung to thank her for all she put me through to teach me a thing or two about formulas and complicated sums.

She was a tough egg to crack, let me tell you. She was to be feared, and most of us with a lick of sense truly did. Who know what she would make us do if we didn't get our homework done or show all our work. She was driven and tenacious, and she knew how to use that furrowed brow when she needed it.

Looking back, she was my favorite teacher although at the time, I was too petrified of her to realize it. She made you work, baby. Blood, sweat, and tears.

I gushed unabashedly on her ability to get the most out of a kid. She was touched, I could tell, almost brought to tears. It had been nearly thirty years since I'd been in her classroom, and I don't know how long since she retired.

She couldn't have known how much I respected her because I didn't realize it myself until after I left much, much later.

Then I thought to show her my children. I told her that we homeschool, and she shrunk back in visible discomfort.

What is it, Mrs. Deason? What troubles you so? Have a little faith in me. I was a good student, remember? I was in National Honor Society two years running. I got good grades. I could have done better. Yes, but even though the lightbulb often didn't come on until after the test, I showed great promise, did I not?

What then should be troubling you? Is it the fact that I was just feverishly looking for the $5 coupon I knew I had floating around in my purse. Was it the flurry of cards and papers and personal effects that had erupted from my pocketbook? Honestly, my life isn't really this cloud of confusion you see before you now. It gets better.

Here, go ask my children. Ask the young one if he knows how to do long division. See for yourself. Ask them what the capital of Florida is. Don't worry now. Have faith in the system. I know what I'm doing. I'm a degreed librarian. If I don't have the answer at my fingertips, I sure as shootin' know how to find it.

Don't wince like that, Mrs. Deason. There's hope for the future. My own children love math. Why, it is actually their favorite subject. And just think, I'm sure somewhere right this very minute there is a calculus class undergoing a grueling pop-quiz. Doesn't that make you feel better, Mrs. Deason? Somewhere an entire classroom of highschoolers is cutting their teeth on the quadratic formula. There, there, steady now. O lady, weep no more. It's all just a dream. Just a bad, bad dream.

link: life of fred, weep no more

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

a lady always knows when to leave

Preamble
I wanted to write this post before my mama died, so I could share it with her. But the words never came. Apparently God wasn't finished with me yet. I don't really have a problem with that. By the time she died, she knew I was crazy about her.

__________

Early in November, my mama passed away much like my dad did six months prior. Let’s just say this year has been mighty eventful. Cancer got both of them, but it didn’t get all of them. Some things cancer can’t kill. It can’t kill love. Doesn’t even touch it. Magnifies it, in fact, in exponential proportion. Cancer can’t kill a soul either. That goes on forever. Thankfully, I can look forward to seeing my folks again because they were both believers. Yes, Virginia, this Thanksgiving I have much to be thankful for.

I had the honor of serving my mama in her last days. She chose to spend them at home instead of going to a hospital. My two sisters and I helped her fulfill this, her last wish. I’ve never felt so close to her or adored her more fully.

When her pain subsided, she was beautiful, absolutely radiant. I couldn’t stop kissing her. To an onlooker, it would have seemed as though her beauty had wasted away long ago. Unable to eat for weeks, she was frail and thin, emaciated, but my mama still held her head high. She was humbled by the need to have help for every little thing in life, but she accepted help gracefully, kindly, with dignity.

She had an iron will and stamina to match, and she loved her Lord unequivocally. He’d seen her through her darkest days when classmates would make fun of her for having buck teeth and dresses made out of potato sacks. The Depression took poor to a whole new level. She actually danced down the sidewalk when she realized that God loved her, as is, and regarded her special. In return, my mama loved everybody, as is. Especially those of us who weren’t exactly beautiful by the world’s standards. Especially the underdogs. The tired, the poor, the huddled masses. If you ever ate her food, you knew you were loved since cooking was her love language. Man, was she ever good at that.

My mama was also physically strong and had a high pain tolerance. Two things she’d need desperately until she drew her last breath. God gifted her with the skill set required to end it with grace. Go gracefully, she did. She waited until my sisters and I had removed ourselves a bit. We’d all watched my daddy pass away, and she knew how traumatic that scene could be. So she waited until she was calm, and we had drawn away to rest, and then she bowed out. Quietly, without fanfare, so we didn't have to watch. Her last labor of love.

A lady always knows when to leave.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

count your blessings

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Refrain:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
  • Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
  • Count your blessings, name them one by one,
    *Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
    [*And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.]
  • Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
    Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
    Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
    And you will keep singing as the days go by.
  • When you look at others with their lands and gold
    Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
    Count your many blessings—wealth can never buy
    Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
  • So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
    Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
    Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
    Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
  • ~ Count Your Blessings by Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1897

    This is my daddy's favorite song. It epitomizes who he is.

    It is hard for me to describe my dad, to give you an accurate picture. He is a gentle giant. He has a cunning wit and a ready smile. He is a good provider, a faithful husband, a dedicated father, a supportive grandfather. He is stable and true. A man of integrity. He is one goofy dude as was his father before him, and, truth be told, his mother had her own spats of silliness as well. Some people are born silly; other people have silliness thrust upon them.

    My dad turned a full-length schoolbus into a camper complete with bunkbeds. He's a smart one with that whole, engineering-brain thing going on. He likes to challenge and nourish his mind with things like complicated puzzles of all sorts and books rich in history.

    He is oft quiet but holds his own in a conversation. He is frugal yet generous. He is nonconfrontational, so he may not talk the talk much, but he'll walk the walk every time. Well, almost. ;) He is steadfast with patience like you wouldn't believe. A man of integrity indeed.

    What motivates him? Hmmm...lots of things, I suppose. The desire to do what's right. To please his God. To love his wife. To lead his children.

    It is an awesome responsibility to be the patriarch of a family. It's not easy, and all eyes are on you. But I see what you've done, Daddy. I see the man you are. How you count your blessings no matter what. Your silent strength isn't lost on me. You are absolutely right. You will beat cancer one day...and heaven will be a richer place.

    I love you, Dad.
    Your little girl...always


    Friday, May 21, 2010

    terror in the hearts of men

    It would appear as though I am raising a terrorist or two.

    For those of you who have ever lived with a small boy, this picture needs no explanation. These things, they happen. When I saw what transpired in my living room, I laughed. I laughed long and loud. Although you can't tell it, there was a set of handcuffs involved. I'm not sure what the dog did to exact such punishment.

    Allow me to dance delicately around the whole racial profiling issue, but am I not the only one who sees shades of terrorism here? The checkered fabric is somewhat disturbing. That's all I'm saying.

    I inquired of my sons why they did this. I got sheepish grins and shrugs in response. I'm not sure they knew fully why they did it. They just did. They had to. It was in their blood. More accurately it was in their genes...or jeans. Uh, well, let's just say, "Testosterone made 'em do it," and leave it at that, shall we?

    I never had a brother. Now there are three guys in the house and me. The lone female in a sea of testosterone. There is a lot I just don't understand. I laugh because they're weird. I laugh because they're different. I laugh because they stink. I laugh lest I cry. What's a girl to do?

    I don't get it. Really I don't. Why are guys so weird? Why do they snort and sweat and huff and puff and swagger and sway? Why do they lift heavy stuff and tote that barge and hoist that bale? What is it they're trying to prove? Who is it they're trying to impress? Do they know? Do they care? Is there method behind their madness? Or do they do it because they gotta? Because it just feels right. Because it's there.

    And what if they don't? What if they don't pretend to be bad guys or borderline terrorists? Will they explode? Will they implode? Will they disintegrate?

    Frankly, I'm a little fearful. I know the minds of these young boys. I know what's coming. They'll tire of torturing each other and turn their attention to me. Then I'll be bound and gagged. Don't worry about me though. I mean, they wouldn't keep me that way forever, would they? Only until they got hungry, right? Then they'd have to let me go. Even terrorists gotta stop to eat once in a while, don't they? Don't they?!?

    Please send help.

    Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    see the blazing yule before us



    My favorite Christmas decoration is the lighted wreath on the back of my SUV.

    My Beloved - bless his geeky, little heart - MacGyvered a way to make the wreath light up anytime the vehicle's ignition is engaged. Now I can make merry without having to worry about switches and batteries and such. Isn't he wonderful? He enables my goofy, little whims.

    Yes, I realize I am odd. In all the years I have done this, I don't recall seeing another wreath like it. Could be because it is perhaps, shall we say, a little bit, um, illegal? Well, I don't know that it is illegal, but it could be. Maybe that's why I've never seen another one like it. Or maybe it is legal, and I'm the only loon out there. No, that can't be it. Just the other day, I saw an older gentleman with antlers affixed to the sides of his car to make it look like a reindeer. The antlers were on backward. That's what I call loony. Festive but loony.

    I'm calling myself an entrepreneur. Living on the edge. Dig that paradigm. Everybody wants to be me.

    If I had half a brain, I'd probably try to sell these things. Yet it is that little issue of legality that stops me. But, c'mon, folks, what officer who is sound of mind would stop a merry citizen who is just trying to spread a little Christmas cheer even if it is in the form of a small traffic diversion, eh? "Would you care for a Christmas cookie, officer, or maybe some figgy pudding, hmmm?"

    link: nat king cole

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    high and my tea

    It was a good hair day in a whimsical, stick-my-finger-in-a-light-socket kind of way. Then I actually went to high tea in my Peanuts gang t-shirt and my pink, canvas shoes whose print smacks of a tattoo or maybe a Guns N' Roses concert tee. Needless to say, I'm my own kinda gal.

    Yes, I can see a couple of you wincing and smacking your foreheads at the thought of me at high tea in my Peanuts shirt. But this is me, y'all.

    High tea. Now there's something I never thought I'd find myself doing. I loooove tea; don't get me wrong. I'm just, well, not prim and proper. You read the above paragraphs, right? I'm comic relief, not high tea material.


    Even so, I was flattered beyond belief that I was invited to such an event. It was amazing. Little finger sandwiches, scones, chocolate-covered strawberries, and tea, of course. The tablecloth alone was gorgeous. (Why is it that I can't remember the last time I sat at a table that donned a tablecloth? Oh yeah, probably has something to do with my Peanuts t-shirt. Ahem.) The dishes were dainty. The company was fun, and there was a lot of laughter.

    Is it OK to laugh at high tea? There weren't any guffaws. Don't recall any chortles either. Maybe some snickers. Plenty o' mirth. Just the right mix of joviality for the occasion, methinks. But, hey, this is me here. Consider the source.

    A part of me has always wanted to be dignified in an Anne Shirley sort of way. Now, there's a gal I can relate to. Just enough mischief to make her interesting. Beautiful with a wild imagination. A fire in her heart and a gleam in her eye. Yet she knew how she was supposed to act in social situations. Whether or not she always carried it off with dignity, she knew.

    Me? I don't quite know. I'd like to know, but I don't. I haven't been properly trained.

    This is me, y'all. What you see is what you get. Hope you like it. Love me or leave me.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    a tale of two journeys

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

    Camping with the extended family is always a rollicking good time. So is camping. Period. For that matter.

    This time, it didn't go so well really, not for Dave. He suffered with the worst migraine of his four-year old, little life. Lots of pain and puking. Sorry. No nice way to put it.

    That's all behind him now. I think. I hope. I pray.

    He was a new man today. No more agony. Just lots of full-throttle silliness. That's my boy.

    The camping trip was an odd mix. Check that. I'm not speaking of my relatives in this instance, although "odd mix" would not be a stretch. Ahem.

    It rained often if not much. Enough to dampen the feet. Inwardly, I laughed at the rain. It was either laugh or cry. I'd much rather laugh.

    I had my husband's baseball hat to protect my curly locks. Dry bangs = happy woman.

    All told, dry ankles = happy woman too. Every morning I had clean, dry pants to don. No matter that within minutes I'd step out into sogginess that would eventually soak my ankles because, for the moment, my pants were clean and snug and unsaturated by rain slosh.

    These, I found, were the essentials: my baseball hat, clean pants, and a pain-free Dave. Unfortunately I got the latter far less than I would have liked. C'est la vie.

    Last year at this time, all was right with the world. I don't recall that it rained. Even more of the extended family was on hand to add to the aforementioned odd mix. I most certainly had a pain-free Dave then. Yet, he didn't quite make it through the canoe trip.



    It was the best of times.

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    my perfect storm

    It was an exhilarating downpour. I was outside under a big fir tree. I heard the rain start, but it was subtle and moments before completely dry, so I thought the noise was the wind kicking up. I looked up, and this beautiful, not-too-hard, not-too-dense rain was all encompassing. I stepped out into it taken aback. It stopped shortly thereafter. Everything was gorgeous and bright. Glistening. Stunning. There I was in the midst of one of God's everyday miracles.

    Monday, September 14, 2009

    the way you sip your tea

    I have a friend who shares the same personality type I do. It is quite amusing to see the male manifestation of myself. Apparently, I'm buff. I'm tough. I'm a big teddy bear. And I have a tattoo. Everybody wants to be me.

    Now this guy's wife has the polar opposite personality type of her husband and I. You'd think the two of us would really gang up on her and want to claw her eyes out. But we don't. We find her rather fascinating. She's quite amusing. Then again, so are we. She's ubercool. We are too. She's smart. Yeah, us too. I could go on, but I don't want to embarrass myself. I do have to continue writing, you know.

    My point, and I do have one, is this: Perhaps the reason her husband and I find her so riveting is that she's different. Well, she's different than he is for obvious reasons. Ahem. But she's also different than the both us for other reasons. And we find ourselves standing back, shaking our heads and smiling to ourselves in that knowing way. You know, "Oh, there she goes again."

    This is where it gets particularly compelling to me. The personality is the thing. Well, at least for me, that's the attraction. I mean, he, no doubt, has these uncontrollable urges to kiss her, and I just don't. It'd be all wrong. For one thing, she's entirely too tall for me. (Oh, I amuse myself.)

    At any rate, discounting all else, if you zone in on the personality gig, you start to wonder what exactly it is that makes different personalities want to come together in the first place. This is what I want to understand. How does all this work? What makes us tick? How are we different, and how are we the same?

    Speaking of the same, my hubby and I have strikingly similar personalities 'cept he's more spontaneous than I. I guess that makes me the boring one. Shirley, you jest.

    Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Cuz I got a surprise for you. You may be able to figure out what it is about you that makes you do what you do. And grab your peeps because they may want to do this too.

    There's this thing called a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. There is also this other thing called a Jung Typology Test. Fancy names for a personality test. Don't worry. It can be fun. Just take it and see what you get. Then armed with your personality type, see what it means.

    Now I won't be so bold as to tell you that what you read about yourself will be 100% accurate. It may feel like your personality profile fits you like yesterday's underwear. But it will raise your eyebrows a few times. I guarantee. And you'll probably laugh in spite of yourself if you know what's good for you.

    Step One: Take this free online test. HumanMetrics
    Step Two: Given your personality type, see what it means. Personality Type Portraits

    Give it a whirl. Hopefully you'll be glad you did. Here, I'll show you mine, and you can show me yours if you like. I'm an ISTJ. See, that wasn't so hard, now was it?

    link: ella and louis

    Sunday, September 13, 2009

    how firm a foundation

    The day finally arrived. I went to my local IGA in my pajama pants, and my Janie was there. It is the little things in life that thrill me. The funniest little things.

    We hugged. We laughed. We talked about our pajama pants. It was classic.

    You have to know Janie. She's quite a lady. Lemme see if I can find you something. This says a lot.

    See what I mean? She's some kinda gal. This was a billboard spread. It is only one little piece of her story.

    She's amazing. Have I already said that? Well, she is. Talk about strength of character. Whew, doggie! She's a lot like her mama. Beautiful inside and out.
    How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
    Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
    What more can He say than to you He hath said—
    To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

    Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
    For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
    I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
    Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

    When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
    The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
    For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
    And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

    When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
    My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
    The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
    Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

    The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
    I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
    That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
    I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.