I’m Late! I’m Late! For a Non-Existant Date!

AIW RabbitThe Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland (Copyright  — Disney)

Have you ever been massively stressed out because you showed up incredibly late to an important event that didn’t even exist?

Yeah?  Me too.  Here’s what happened to me yesterday:

I am part of an artistic group that I’m super jazzed to be a part of.  I had spent a good portion of my day working on my “exhibit” that I would showcase along with the other artists.  It’s something we do once a month in order to constructively critique our work and sharpen our skills.

The problem is that some of us artistic people are sometimes more creative than organized, more distracted than punctual, more scattered all over the place than efficient. 

So it was no surprise last night I felt myself internally blowing a gasket when:

My husband forgot about my meeting despite repeated reminders, thus forgetting to come home from work to watch our young son so I wouldn’t be late for the fourth time in a row.

At 6:59 pm, I stopped by the local gag-a-burger joint en route.   I was 2nd in line at the drive thru (“One fry, one sweet tea, please hurry, thank you!”) only to have to wait 9 ENTIRE minutes for ONE car in front of me to receive their order.  I watched my rear view mirror as the line began to snake an entire circle around the joint.   I had no room to back up and abandon my order, and I couldn’t ram the driver in front of me to “the special designated area for “folks whose custom orders delay EVERYTHING for the rest of us.”  I was forced to wait!

I felt my blood pressure points accumulate faster than the points on a Medieval Madness pinball machine.  To make matters worse, Bachman Turner Overdrive was singing “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” on the radio.  For whatever reason that song totally grates on my nerves and added to my stress levels.    I began to scroll down the paltry six presets on my radio:

  • Station One:  Lady Gaga.  No, please! 
  • (Switch)  Katy Perry.  No Lord, I beg you please, double no!  Not if it were the last song on earth!
  • (Switch)  Commercial (Men are you urinating more frequently then you used to?)
  • (Switch)  Another commercial (Parents, does your child talk back to you at least once per month?)
  •  (Switch)  Pearl Jam  (Jeremy Spoke in Class Today)—should I blog about the deeper meaning of this song or chuck the thought? I quickly decide on the latter.  I realize the song is weirder than my weirdest thoughts and yet it intrigues me how such lyrics generated millions of dollars and fans.  Whatever!
  •  Switch–Classical music.  Cool!   I start to calm.  I go to Whole Foods in my mind and make 15 cups of Kona breakfast blend with lots of brown sugar and cream.   I meditate here for a moment.

7:29 pm.  I have arrived at my destination.   Let the stress of late begin.

Everything this entire forsaken day has transpired against me it seems. Nothing got finished on time.  I had been disorganized, delayed and detained all day.  No hour of the day remotely resembled the hour preceding it.   It was all I could do to make up a new ultra creative excuse for why my family sometimes forgets why this night is important to me.

Criminy!  I barged into the room, now thirty minutes late, where the other artists would already be showing and critiquing their work.  They would be calm, in place, at peace, focused, and ready to present.  I would be out of breath, frazzled, confused, and wondering if I could slowly slink by and find a chair without spilling my wares or causing everyone to look at the REALLY LATE girl (again).

“Hi, I’m sorry I’m…..” OH!  Wait a minute. ..

These aren’t my people!  These people were immersed in a bible study with soothing moments of solitude, prayers, peacefulness, and calmness.  Like those who shall someday inherit the earth, I meekly said, “Is this the Thursday Night Artists Club?”   Duh!  I knew it wasn’t!!  I was just grasping to say anything at all while my breath was making its way in from the parking lot to catch up to my body.

“No sweetie, it’s not.  But you could probably ask someone at the front desk on your way out.”  Gahhh!

I couldn’t exit quick enough!  It finally dawned on me.  I ran to my car and fished thru my purse full of clutter.  Finally!  I found my pocket calendar.  Yes, I know my phone has a calendar, but I’m always afraid I’ll lose my phone if I rely on it for not just phone numbers, Facebook, and photos, but my actual life plan so I view a paper calendar as an insurance policy, a reverse Murphy’s Law if you will, that as long as I don’t totally DEPEND on my phone, I’m insured against losing it.  Just a stupid mind game I play myself, but hey we all have them!

I pull out the calendar.  Though I clearly knew the day of the week (Thursday) I had inadvertently forgotten the date!   I see now it’s the 5th Thursday of the month.  Though we meet the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month, I had not run into this 5th week phenomenon before.

Deflated and breathless I take a moment and realize I am the Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. I live my days traveling at the speed of light from moment to moment and task to task but often with the awareness of a gnat.  I not only don’t see the forest through the trees sometimes, I sometimes miss the fact that I’ve left the woods entirely and am now suddenly surrounded by Mac trucks on an eight lane interstate.

All this technology to keep us in check, we spend all our time emailing, texting, status-updating (way guilty!), messaging, tweeting, chronicling and calendaring ourselves into oblivionBy attempting to do everything, we often accomplish nothing. 

In the end, my daughter called.  She’d be coming home in an hour!  A rare treat!  We only see her a few times a year now as she is in college, living at the beach this summer, and traveling still between jobs.  She’d be crashing at our house for just tonight.  She wants sushi rolls for supper.  Downtown.  With all the trendy people under perpetual Christmas lights with their shiny cars that are parked by the valet. 

So now that I’m free tonight, it’s a date.  Our family goes.  My seven year old has only a banana split with massive whip cream and ice cream for dinner, as he is not sushi-tolerant yet.  I justify this sugar infusion since he will also be dealing with sleep deprivation tomorrow at school.  Oh well, not my problem. 

And so it goes.  Another day in the life of Liz.  No two hours are the same.  If you have a family you may have a life like that too.  You wake up dreaming of order and art; you close the day with chaos, crabmeat, and chopsticks eating “Steven Tyler”.  It’s TRUE!  That’s what my sushi dish was called; The Steven Tyler.  It was delicious!   We also ate the Bob Marley but passed on the Marilyn Monroe.

A change of plans is our only constant in our busy lives.  We’ve but one option:  Roll with it.

“It was amazing how you could get so far from where you’d planned, and yet find it was exactly were you needed to be.”  Sarah Dessen: “What Happened to Goodbye”

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.    Ecclesiastes 3:1

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

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Roughin’ It (With Estee Lauder)

SteampunkhomePHOTO CREDIT:  Steampunkhome.blogspot.com

     Last weekend I went camping with my family.  It went down like this:

A 65 percent chance of thunderstorms was forecasted.  It was the night of my birthday; though not a decade marker yet, it hovers just slightly south of the cincuenta border.   I had worked earlier that day, then shopped for groceries, prepared hobo packets for dinner, and loaded the Jeep with 6 bins of camp gear, sleeping bags, cooler with prepped food, grill, charcoal, collapsible chairs, portable table, a 19-inch deluxe air mattress and pump, a single mattress for the munchkin, about a dozen D-sized batteries, lanterns, and our brand spanking new forty-five pound bag of:

DELUXE TENT – SLEEPS SIX.

     Now here’s the beautiful thing:  We just received our swanky new tent a few days earlier.  I found the ONE website on the entire internet that sold it for $100 less than everywhere elseIt is the Taj Mahal of camping tents!  It has a hinged front door.  It has a 3-inch mini zippered door beneath the main door, so your pet mouse can go in and out.  Or at least that’s what I thought, until my genius husband explained that was for the electrical cords to pass thru.  Fabulous!

It has windows that have slap bracelets inserted in them, so you can roll them down instantly with a cool-sounding SLAP!  And it even has a 3-way light and dimmer above, and get this:  An adaptor for a camping ceiling fan!    The only design flaw I could find is that it doesn’t come with a flushing toilet, but I will submit this suggestion online.

Cool beansNow Liz is ready to rough it for the weekend. 

Fast forward to 7 pm.  Hubby arrives home late from work.  Mama is hungry and fairly exhausted and feeling kind of birthday-less after going at breakneck speed to MAKE THIS HAPPEN (a fatal flaw of mine when my intentional plans run contrary to unexpected circumstances.   I run upstairs to print prior email with camp directions as this was a family scouting trip.

WHAT’S THIS?!?  The trip was cancelled?  Why didn’t this email stamped 11:32 am come to my phone that I checked throughout the day?!?!  (A mystery of technology that will never be explained!)

  &*(#%@ I thought inwardly.  We are camping come hell or high-water, with high-water being a high probability.  See, I had already invested in this trip with precious energy.  It was too late to back out for me.  If we were the only ones at the camp ground, we were going!

Well we drove everywhere that night down dark spooky roads out in the country.  9:03pm.  Eureka!  What’s this?  The gates close at 9 pm.  We go back home.  Starving.  Both of us tired from work.  Frustrated.  Ill at one another.  Disappointed.

Mr. Holland was right:  Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

Saturday, 7 am:   Reload the cooler and off we go.  My husband has a bad back.  You know what that means.  I got to carry the gear down the hill, through the valley, and back up a hill, until we reached our campsite.  Hooray!  A few die-hard campers were there; we weren’t alone.  Then the ensuing men-are-from-Mars, women-are-from-Venus battle of the sexes transpired over reading pica .001 directions on the tent label.  Actually, it was not that bad.  It took about thirty minutes and now we’ve got it for next time.

The rest of the day was great.  We went on a hike and watched friends fish.    We lamented that we still haven’t bought fishing gear, but if we do, we’ll need a back door basket as we are already at overflow capacity.

Our oldest son met us mid-day and brought our dog who became best friends with everyone who brought meat.  Letting him be loved by so many and play with kids in the woods was a blast. Liz made smores for kids in an industrial smore-maker with gargantuan marshmallows.   My young son, and I, and other scouts played the trivia game Hoopla by the fire.  One of the other Dads recited from memory Shakespear’s Hamlet that he knew by heart as we sat around the fire. Liz was impressed.  And exhausted.  Unable to move or speak.  Nearly numb.  Just sitting there experiencing this one thing…..at long last:

STILLNESS

     It’s something I rarely do.  Just sit.  In a chair.  Thinking about nothing.  Doing nothing.  Just watching fire.  Contemplating life.  And then quickly forgetting it.  Why is this so hard for me?  I wonder

10 pm.  Plip.  Plop.  Right on schedule.  Rain.   Story time around the fire is over and nothing left but to go back to the tent and sleep under a rainy sky.  Well not exactly rain, more like a monsoon.  ALL NIGHT LONG.   But the Taj Mahal stayed dry thanks to the generosity of a friend who gave us another tarp to put over the rainfly.  So I didn’t get to see the stars I’d hoped to see, as my weary eyes dimmed, but I did have this one comforting thought:

At least when I wake up, I can put on my Estee Lauder make up in the tent.  I can just TURN ON THE LIGHT and use a mirror.  And although Camp Hyatt (Grand) is still my favorite place to take a family vacay, the whole camping thing is something every woman should experience at least once! 

Out in the wild wilderness I can bring a bit of plum lipstick to a mostly brown and green forest.   I am older now, but not so old I can’t put a little sweat equity into participating in outdoor adventures with the two and a half men in my life.  I can get muddy.  I can lift a heavy load a few times.  And somewhere in the mix of all these boys, and men, and dirt, and fish, and canvass, and leaves, and dog breath, and fire is a little girl inside a middle-aged woman’s body dreaming of the stories she will someday write.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape

Scarlet Ibis by Liz GrayWhere do you fly away to when life becomes too stressful?  Let me tell you about a beautiful place in NC that can only be described as one of my personal “Seven Wonders” of my world at least.  It is a waterfowl sanctuary in Scotland Neck, NC called “Sylvan Heights Bird Park”.  It is the largest waterfowl sanctuary in the world and is twenty-six acres of sheer beauty.  You will see beautiful birds and flowers and everywhere you turn  you’ll see beauty and have a chance to see the birds.  If you go to the Landing Zone, you will have an opportunity to feed them as well and let them land on you, and believe me they will land on everything: your shoulders, your head, and your shoes, especially if you have laces.

If you are an avid bird watcher or a professional or hobbyist photographer, this is one of the nicest places I’ve ever seen.  It takes about a half day to really appreciate it and you will love the personal attention from the staff towards you and the birds.  Put this  place on your bucket list!

IMG_0034I took this picture of a peacock thru a chain linked fence. He displayed his beautiful feathers for about 10 minutes!

IMG_9888Flamingo in The Landing Zone

IMG_9828My young son had up to five birds land on him in The Landing Zone

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Peek-a-boo!

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pad2013w

Running With The Bulls

13.2 0267Liz (Age 1) with her very first dog rudy!

     So it’s that time again.  That day where I complete my annual orbit around the sun.  For the 48th time, I’ve made this annual pilgrimage.  And you know what?  Although the vehicle I’m driving has more dings on it, and the paint is somewhat faded, and the vision in the rear view has dimmed a bit, the engine is still strong.  There is still gas in the tank, and a road map with a million more destinations.  Allow me a narcissistic moment here—I’m talking about me! 

LIVE LIFE FEARLESSLY!

13.6 0667      There may be some miles on these here heels,  but the will is still strong.  The heart is chipped in places, but it is undeterred.  The soul still dreams and hasn’t given up.  Not by a long shot.  Not even close.  In fact, some days I feel like I just emerged from a nice little dip in the Fountain of Youth.  Then the mirror quietly chuckles. 

Today I did some research on myself.  You see I am a Taurus.  A bull.  Stubborn.  Determined.  A lover of beauty.   A heightened awareness of sensation according to Wikipedia.  (LizLogicTranslation:  Seen as either obsessive-compulsive or hyper-sensitive to others).  Self-indulgent and lazy.  (Ouch!  But I seem so busy all the time!  Doesn’t that qualify me as non-lazy?)

13.3 0667SUNBATHING AND CONTEMPLATING LIFE!

I have a lot of Taurean friends.  I have at least six sweet friends or family members born on my birthday.  I was born on the 18th birthday of a favorite aunt that I’m most close to.  I share a birthday with actor Dennis Hopper (think 1960s Easy Rider) and dance instructor Derek Hough (my favorite dancer on Dancing With The Stars, –a show I don’t like that much except I like this about him—he perfects dance, he’s beautiful, and he wins!)  No wonder I like him.  I share my birthday with Andrea Corr, an Irish singer who has sung with my other favorite Irish singer.   Yes, the Ayatolla Khomeini and I were born under the same sign and on my PMS days share the same temperament.  Also the actress Paige Turco was born on the same exact day as me.  Paige was breaking into soap opera stardom as I become a mom the same year (1987).  I never saw her in the soaps, but my oldest son and I watched her when he was just a little boy play the reporter April O’Neil in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  In a twist of twisted fate I also was born on the same day as Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails.

LAUGH LINES BEAT WORRY LINES

13.9 0667        Though I have no preference for NIN music, I once had a very vivid dream about Trent in which I told him, “Maybe you’re looking for the answers in all the wrong places.”  I awoke from the dream so startled, I had to know more.  Why in the world would I dream about HIM of all people?  I confessed to my husband my oddly bizarre dream (no shame here, we can’t help what we dream!).  I was so disturbed by my sleep disturbance of Trent Reznor, I had to know more.  So I Googled him.  And whoa!  It turns out we share the same birthday!  In fact, the exact same birthday!  He too was born on the same day of the same year.   More oddly, he actually wrote the lyrics for a song called “Hurt” that Johnny Cash sings.  I’ve been a Johnny Cash fan since I was a little girl, but this song has always been one of the most soulful ones and little known that he sings.  I find this song, one of the last songs Johnny Cash ever recorded, his most beautiful by far!

       I’m not a superstitious person, though I do believe there is no such thing as coincidence.  Everything happens for a reason in life. All things are connected!  All the beauty, all the pain—there are lessons in both.  Gratitude and pleas for mercy walk hand in hand in life.  I believe we are indeed part of a Master Plan and God our creator holds the key.

13.7 0667DON’T OVERTHINK THINGS!

Here’s a few more things I learned about me, just another travelling bull charging towards my destiny from Wikipedia:

Taurus is the one who has immense perseverance, even when others have given up, the Taurus rages on. Solid and persistent, just like the bull, which is Taurus’ well suited symbol. Taurus’s have a well known reputation for being stubborn, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The stubborn streak can cause Taurus to butt heads and conflict with other strong character types. Taurus are not fond of change. They like the familiar and routine comfort of life. Taurus is easy going and not one to pick a fight but should some poor souls attempt to provoke Taurus, the wrath will be known, for they have a temper underneath the calm surface. Taurus are very responsive to their surroundings. They like decorations, color, anything that appeals to all the senses. Taurus like possessions and the Taurus home is nicely decorated with lots of things. Taurus are down to earth, they do not like gaudy, flashy or over the top things. They prefer comfortable and creative settings and objects. Taurus likes security, in every aspect of their lives from home, to love, to career. Taurus can be secretive, opinionated and stingy. Taurus tend to be self-indulgent and lazy, Taurus are master procrastinators of the astrology zodiac! They do however have a strong, persistent drive that comes to life when they choose, and no one would ever know that they are lazy. The secret to this is that their laziness is pushed aside when it comes to themselves. [3]

    Wow!  That kind of seems sort of spot-on Wikipedia!  I boldfaced everything I totally agree with and left alone the “ouch” comments opinions, as Taureans are also very warm-blooded, prone to hyper-sensitivity, and fragile when pierced with the arrows of tender truth!   

Lazy?  Hmmm…I struggle with this.  Is spending time doing what you what you love lazy?

I don’t know if you have any bulls in your life.  If you do, we’re easier to deal with than you think.   Find the beauty inside of us.  Admire our tenacity.   Respect our will.  Buckle up!  Get rested so you’ll always be ready for adventure!  And on stormy days, please give us a wide berth.  Chances are if you run with the bulls, after the dust clears, you just may find a trail of roses left behind!

And last but not least…a shout out of love to the “mama bull” who raised me and instilled the love of the written word!002 0965

OKAY…so this isn’t exactly a feel good happy birthday song, but perhaps if you have any Taurean blood in you too, you may see that beauty is the flower that blooms from that which sometimes hurts us.  And if you’re already a Johnny Cash fan, I hope you haven’t missed this jewel:

Weather on the 8s

  
PRESS PLAY BEFORE READING MOM!

Four score and seven years ago today, a very special lady celebrated her first birthday.  Did she have cake to crumble and icing to smear?  Did her mom have to make cake from scratch in the 1920s?  Three full years before the great stock market crash of ’29?  Was she the apple of her mama and papa’s eyes as they had not yet given birth yet to her two brothers?

Was she an easy baby?  Or was she fussy?  Did her parents ever tell her?  Does she remember?  Have I ever thought to even ask?

Her childhood for me is but a remnant of out of focus and scattered black and white photos with so many people I never knew but have a deep need to know now so I will always remember.

I’m talking about my mother.  Today she turns 88.  Double eights.   In her grandson Tyler’s world, that would make her a mere teenager, a ripe 16 year old.  But we know differently.  Time passes quickly and in a blink she surely must have gone from being a baby to a child to a lovely teenage woman coming of age at 14 when World War II started when Germany invaded Poland.   Her Sweet Sixteen was eclipsed by Japan bombing Pearl Harbor.  So many young men died; so many young wives and mothers cried.

Perhaps that is why she hates to see American soldiers, young boys and even girls now, shipped off to distant lands like Iraq and Afghanistan because it brings back memories of the boys of her youth who never came back.  When the war ended she was my daughter’s age now.  At twenty years old, just like her granddaughter Caroline who is enrolled in college, she too was enrolled in college in the big city of Manhattan……Manhattan, Kansas that is.  Good old K-State.

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Before long she was out and working full time at Boeing.  What was it like mom?  Making airplane parts?  Being the first generation of women who worked full time?   Dating flyboys in bomber jackets with big egos who probably smoked cigars and drank everything “on the rocks” while dancing to Benny Goodman or Glenn Miller.  I look at pictures of you in slender skirts and pearls with a wave in your hair just so with your Bette Davis eyes and I think I can almost hear Glen Miller’s “In the Mood” and I want to go back in time with you.

I want to be there in the dance halls where the smoke was thick and the women were all beautiful and hoping their man would be safely home this time next year.  I want to stand with you when American Pride was in full swing as much as the music that characterized your generation.  I want to look into your young eyes as you were waltzed off your feet to “Moonlight Serenade” by…..   By whom mom?  Did you tell me?  Why can’t I remember?  Will you write your stories down for me so I will always know?

I want to be the one that pins a fancy jeweled brooch on your tweed herringbone suit.  I want to position your hat just right and then we’ll go to the movies and come home and sneak a smoke.  I’ll pretend I’m Veronica Lake and you can be Lana Turner and we’ll hit the streets of Wichita and turn heads everywhere we go.

Maybe our food will be rationed but our imagination and wanderlust to see the world outside this state of wheat and sunflowers, this dust bowl smack dab in the middle of tornado alley, will never be stifled.

I’ll go with you and I’ll fuss the boy out who left a tack on your chair for you to sit on when you first starting teaching high school English, Latin, and the merits of Shakespeare in Syracuse, Kansas.  And then I’ll quietly fade to the background when your long legs, superior intellect, and proper grasp of the King’s English captivated my father’s heart several years later when you taught Freshman English at Wichita State.

Yes, he was so lovestruck he wrote you poems and tried to impress you with his writing as well.  You were a pioneer in that area my dearie too.  Long before there was Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, there was my mom who easily got away with marrying her student nine years her junior, because after all, who could tell the difference?    What are mere years when two hearts fall?

I’ll ride in the backseat of your Peugot as you and Dad make your way to Alaska to live in Fairbanks.  I’ll put on a fur parka and enjoy taking a dog sled ride with you across this frozen tundra where the dark of night sometimes lasts only a few hours.  We’ll watch the Northern Lights and then I’ll sit by the fire with you and Dad in the log cabin he built as you plan your dreams for the future, not knowing then what we both know now.  Some of our dreams come true; others don’t.  And yet life still has a way of working out for the best!  While your friends from rural Kansas were making babies and cooking Friday night pot roast, you were off exploring new lands.  I was with you then in spirit.  You just didn’t know it yet.

Soon you were off to Athens Greece.  That’s where you both made me.  I started out so small and unaware that someday I too would have another sister, my beloved sister from another mother, who also calls Athens home.  But that would be years later.

It was back to Omaha, Nebraska so you could bring me into the world.  Dad was given the news overseas in Greece where he promptly passed out cigars to his fellow Athenian workers to announce the birth of his “son”.  It’s okay now.  I watch Mad Men.  I get it.   The sexism.  The 60s.  The cocktail parties.  It all went together.

Several weeks later, off we went again.  This time to Oberhochstadt Germany where I would live for the next four months.   Back to Nebraska and Kansas to see family and then Pasco, Washington.   Why can’t I remember the photo of the baby girl in curls kissing her red puppy dog Rudy?  I want to remember this in a way that is real and not observed by looking at a picture.

By the time I turned four, we had moved to Raleigh, NC where we established deep and permanent roots.   I went to school all twelve years with the same neighborhood friends, a rarity that doesn’t exist now.  When I was very young, I remember we were always having company or going to see family.  Meals and traveling in our yellow convertible Cadillac and playing with cousins and favorite aunts and uncles were common.  It was what families did back in the 1970s.

We must have traveled like every weekend or something until my 8th birthday.  It was May 17, 1973.  I was bedridden and covered head to toe with a wicked case of poison ivy.   While my friends’ moms made Watergate salad, I watched Watergate hearings and President’s Nixon’s scowling jowls wave in the wind as he insisted “I am not a crook” before he ultimately resigned.  Years later I would vote Republican anyway and become politically obstinate in my own views.  I guess you can blame it on the poison ivy.  It made me sympathetic towards Nixon I guess.

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Suddenly it was just the two of us.  Two little women in a huge house, alone, with no brothers or men, just our wits and creativity and a hatful of kittens to propel us forward.  And on we marched.  While other moms traded meatloaf recipes and made new creations with Jello, you quit smoking and took me to the mountains as we watched falling stars.  You took me to the mountains in upper New York State and also to Corning Glass Works and watched glassblowers turn sand into liquid glass and form it into works of art in front of our very eyes.  We went to the mountains of Georgia and I learned yoga at an early age.  We went to Myrtle Beach a lot and I rode my raft in the ocean and played shuffleboard!   We were not only hippy chicks, we were hip.

And when I was twelve we went to San Francisco and rented a tiny car and you drove us on the twisty Lombard Street of San Francisco.  I thought I had turned into the Beach Boys’ California Girl, if only for a week.   We went to beautiful Monterey where we saw sea lions crack clam shells as they floated on their backs.  I went to camp in the wine country of Napa Valley where all the kids asked me to “speak” like a trained dog because of my southern accent that came out anyway despite your best attempts to teach me to talk correctly.

The years passed quickly after that.   My rebellious teenage years collided with your transition to the full-time work force again.  Other moms stayed home and continued to play bridge but you knew there was work to be done, and a teenage daughter to deal with, and bills that had to be paid.  Still, you found the courage to date, and even become the President of the Capital City’s premier group for single parents and their families.  You didn’t wither up and shrink into depression when Dad left, instead you thrived, and we became brave and adept at traveling and creating our own adventures and defining our destiny.  You sought leadership outside the world of homemaking and had the solace and comfort and coffee of a dear neighborhood friend.    You thought I was out playing, but I was watching too.

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I was watching and learning.  I learned that the world is full of endless possibilities.  Sometimes we will choose right and sometimes we will choose wrong, but God can use both kinds of choices to teach us and guide us towards becoming who He already knows we are capable of being.    I learned that fried green tomatoes are tasty.  I also learned that eating cereal for supper won’t kill a kid and is one of my favorite family suppers to this day when I have other things I need to do.  Perhaps it is the secret of slim Or at least for the first few decades of life.

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I learned what kind of mother I wanted to be someday.  I wanted to be a mom who created her own destiny, not just be “somebody’s mother” or “somebody’s wife.”    You taught me it is okay to have shared dreams as well as dreams of my own.  And that is a good thing.

When you retired after many years of working for the state, and then ultimately as a bus driver for the airlines (go mom!) that is when you best found your niche in life:  Helping me by helping me with my kids.  Oh how they have been so blessed by your presence dear mother.  Having a baby in the 80s, 90s, and then the “oh-ohs” as I like to call it, was made more special because you have been in it.  Like you, I knew 40 was plenty young enough to still have a baby.

Three decades you’ve faithfully served at “watching” my kids when I worked or maybe just worked out or ran errands.  You have always been there, more steady and true than the rocks at Stonehenge.  Just like my childhood, you’ve shared with my children the love of many a cats, and now a beloved dog.

Every morning the local radio gives the “weather on the 8’s.”  Well here we are mom.  The time is on the 8s!  How is the weather?  How is the view?  Here it is, the third of May and yet it feels like Autumn with a cool 60 degree morning in Raleigh, North Carolina.  It may feel like Autumn in your life too.  But this much I know is true:

You have lived a long life.  Indeed, you have lived a blessed life.  God has blessed you with so many years, and with a strong body and mind that still is going strong.  I know your body has slowed somewhat, but your heart is still strong.  Your will is still firm.  And your love is long.  It is eternal.  It is the song that goes on and on.  Long after you’re gone, and I’m gone, all that have come through me, and beyond are gone.  It is our Sentimental Journey that transcends time and place and keeps us as one until God carries each of us safely home.

Happy Birthday Mother!  May you be blessed today and always.

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From the daughter and the family who loves you more than words can adequately describe.

Elizabeth

PS – I apologize in advance for all spelling and grammatical errors.  It’s not for lack of teaching.  But I too am getting older, and sometimes I forget what you taught me.  But I’m still young enough to relearn.  😉

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