Wednesday, August 24, 2011

When Home Is Forever

If you've ever lost a loved one you're probably with most folks. If not, you're either very fortunate that it hasn't happened yet or you haven't loved enough.

I've had several online friends that have recently lost mother, father, grands & of course that sort of news brings back memories of my own losses. This got me to thinking about why I feel sad when I think of them. What is grief about?

When my mother passed, she had battled cancer for nine long months. Surgery had been done to remove most of her liver, but no other treatment was recommended. She suffered greatly. Knowing what she went through & being there with her daily, I can say, although it was one of the hardest times of my life, it was a blessing being with her during her illness.

All things had fell into place before she got sick that would allow me to be with her as much as I was. I was a single parent with only my income to support us. I had been out of work for about three months & things were looking pretty hopeless. My uncle, whom I had never worked for, came looking for my help. Later when we found out about mom, he would let me off anytime I needed to be with her for the day or several days.

I went through such a depression after her passing & didn't realize what was going on. But that too had been taken care of years before by my being put into the care of a specific doctor that had also been mom's doctor, as was his father before him.

Mother was 44 years old when she had me. She always told me the story of how she thought she wouldn't live long enough to raise me, so she wanted to give me up. In 1953 that wasn't a common thing to do. Her doctor in '53 was the father of our present doctor, but the son hadn't been born yet. Her doctor was going to adopt me.

I've always marveled at the story of Jesus raising Lazareth from the dead. The shortest verse in the Bible is there in that story. Jesus wept. I've wondered why did He weep? He had to know He was going to bring Lazareth back from the dead. Maybe He weep because of the people's disbelief? Maybe it was the accusation of the sister blaming Jesus for not being there in time?

Whatever the reason, Jesus wept & to the people there it must have seemed as in grief of losing a loved one.  This tells me it is right to grieve at one's passing. But isn't grief the deep, emotional feeling of missing them?

I sing to myself a lot, mainly cause no one else wants to listen. Sometimes it's old Journey songs or some crazy song I've heard that gets stuck in my head until I hear something else. But sometimes it's songs I need to hear; songs that comfort me. Beulah Land is the one going round now.

"Beulah Land I am longing for you. And someday on thee I'll stand. There my home shall be eternal. Beulah Land, sweet, Beulah Land"

Anyone that has been with someone through a fatal illness doesn't need a play by play recap of the heartbreak, stress, anger, fatigue involved. But to be able to say, " It was a blessing to be with that person through it", does have to have Holy intervention. God gave me a wonderful gift to be with my mom through the worst & best time of her life & for me to be able to realize it.

I had the privilege of hearing her make her peace with God. I heard her cry out in disbelief, in sadness, in anger & then her take comfort in what He was giving her. When she left this world, she was ready.

My sister-in-law was there the night mother passed. After so many nights of me not getting enough sleep, I was exhausted. Sometime after midnight, I woke to mother calling my name just as she had always done to wake me. I raised up in bed & saw her standing at the closed door. She was young. I had never seen her when she was young. She said, "Cindy, everything will be alright" & she was gone. At that very second my sister-in-law was knocking on the door for me to hurry & get in mother's room. She was taking her last breaths.

I am convinced that there is no way that a loved one that has passed on, saved by their belief of Jesus as the Son of God & their Saviour, & standing before the Holy presence of God, can ever wish to be in a mortal body again. Knowing & experiencing all that my mother went through, there is no way I could wish her back in that condition.

So my grief is for me. It is my missing her presence & others I have lost. I don't believe she misses me. Instead, I think she watches for my presence with her when the time is right for me to come home.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Don't Know Who Wrote This, But Sure Would Like to Give Them Credit!

This came to me in an email from a friend. No author was on it. If anyone knows where it came from, please let me know so I can give credit. I love this!
A possum is a flat animal that sleeps in the middle of the road.
There are 5,000 types of snakes and 4,998 of them live in the South.
There are 10,000 types of spiders. All 10,000 of them live in the South, plus a couple no one's seen before.
If it grows, it'll stick ya. If it crawls, it'll bite cha.
Onced and Twiced are words.
It is not a shopping cart, it is a buggy!
Jawl-P? means Did y'all go to the bathroom?
People actually grow,eat and like okra.
Fixinto is one word. It means I'm fixing to do that.
There is no such thing as lunch. There is only dinner and then there is supper.
Iced tea is appropriate for all meals and you start drinking it when you're two. We do like a little tea with our sugar. It is referred to as the Wine of the South.
Backwards and forwards means I know everything about you.
The word jeet is actually a phrase meaning 'Did you eat?'
You don't have to wear a watch, because it doesn't matter what time it is, you work until you're done or it's too dark to see.
You don't PUSH buttons, you MASH em.
Ya'll is singular; All ya'll is plural.
You measure distance in minutes.
You switch from heat to A/C in the same day.
All the festivals across the state are named after a fruit, vegetable, grain, insect, or animal.
You know what a DAWG is.
You carry jumper cables in your car - for your OWN car.
You only own five spices: salt, pepper, mustard, Tabasco and ketchup.
The local papers cover national and international news on one page, but require 6 pages for local high school sports and motor sports, and gossip.
You think that the first day of deer season is a national holiday.
You find 100 degrees Fahrenheit a bit warm.
You know what a hissy fit is.
Going to Wal-Mart is a favorite pastime known as goin Wal-Martin' or off to Wally World.
You describe the first cool snap (below 70 degrees) as good beef stew or chili weather.
Fried catfish is the other white meat.
We don't need no dang Driver's Ed. If our mama says we can drive, we can drive!!!
You understand these jokes and forward them to your Southern friends and those who just wish they were from the SOUTH.
 Don't you love it!
I'm sure this could be continued. Any suggestions?

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Dreamed of Lavender

Do you have those times upon waking, that you just know you've had a wonderful dream, but no way can you remember it? Try as you might, it just slips away further & further until you even forget that you had the feeling of knowing.

This has been happening to me alot lately. Not sure if it's coincidence, the natural order of dreams or a commentary on my aging state of mind. Then during the day, or maybe even several days later, it just pops into my thoughts as clear as though I was in it in the present.

Today was such a day for me. Whenever I remember a dream I have to wonder is there a message, a warning, a promise, something in there that I'm needing to get me through the day, through life.

It is so vivid even though it's been hours since the pop happened. Could that alone make it a thought I need for some purpose yet unseen?

To put into words to descrbe the dream is an awesome task that I wish I was much better equipped for. And then to anaylze the meaning may truely be beyond me. The best I can do will have to do.

I haven't remembered where or what I was doing in the dream, nor events leading up to the memory. I can see my hand holding a dead branch & I'm staring at it. I'm thinking, this is lavender. I've killed yet another lavender plant. As I stare at the branch it begins to sprout tiny buds. The buds grow right before my eyes. They open into leaves. Then gloriously the lovely lavender blooms begin to open one after another & the fragrance hits me & the color is so crystal clear.

But that's all I remember. But I have this feeling of joy & hope inside. That's the feeling I woke with. That's how I knew I'd had a wonderful dream.

All day I couldn't help but think of the time when God raised the dried bones & put flesh on them. I need to sit down & find that & reread it. Maybe this is the why of the dream, so I will get back into God's word.

I still feel the hope in the dream; from dead to life, from ugly to glorious & that brings the joy.

I've always told God if He really needed me to listen, He should shout & put His finger on the it I need to know. Not because I don't want to do what He wants me to, but because I can be pretty dense most of the time. Perhaps this is His way of shouting at me.

He certainly knows me though. He knows I believe all true joy & hope comes from Him.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Now I Know, There's No Place Like Home

When I was a teen I couldn't wait to grow up & leave Alabama; mainly the small town I had been born & raised in. Mother would just give me a look that I didn't quite grasp the meaning of until I was much older. Now I know!

Until you appreciate yourself, your uniqueness, how can you expect others to? And until you're around others that are different from you, how can you tell your differences?

I mentioned in the previous post about our first quilt guild meet this month & how about 10 of us ladies had gone to the Chinese restaurant for lunch. We had a great meet & a great lunch, but it was the company, companionship that we shared that made it so special.

Most of our group is locals; folks that have always called this home even if they have lived out of state for periods in their lives. But every once in awhile we get a transplant. Right now we have two that I can think of right off.

Betty is a transplant from Vermont. A super sweet person, but not at all loud & boisterous like most of the rest of us. She does have grown children & I just know those kids were never hollered at when they were little. Betty is so soft spoken that when she does speak, by the time everybody gets thru saying, "Ssssh, Betty's talking", she's halfway done.

Our other transplant is Marcie. She came to us from California via Minnesota. Now that's a combination! But I don't think she was quite ready for Alabama.

At meet the other day, she needed to know if southerns had a problem giving directions. She had called another member, Judy, about meeting a small group at another members house. Marcie's telling us this story. Judy tells her to leave her house & head to 280 (main highway), cross 280 & go to first red light & turn. Marcie says ok, sounds simple enough.

Said she crosses 280 & she starts immediately looking for the red light. In California, there's one on every corner. She keeps driving, no red light. She keeps driving, no red light. She keeps driving, no red light.

Fifteen miles later, there's the red light. She wants to know is this the way people around here give directions. She asks, "Is this a southern thing?" And we're all like yeah that's right. And Judy's like, " well you found us!"

So when we take off to lunch together, the conversations continue in about the same manner. Marcie is so funny at pointing out the uniqueness of Alabamians. Course it's not a one sided observation. She has us rolling in the floor doing her Minnesota accents & phrases, but that's a gotta be there & hear it thing.

At one point something came up about not cooking, husbands & do you think I have a boyfriend. At that moment, the crowded restaurant went silent. People love to hear other folks juicy stuff. Thought maybe any minute we were gonna be asked to leave, but not! That would have cost them about $100 if we all got up & left.

Then one of our southern girls, Susan, came over with an observation to add. She was an English teacher at one time in Louisiana. Started talking about the southern word y'all. You should hear Marcie say that! Another roll of laughter. You'd think we were all having drinks other than sweet tea. Or maybe the sweet tea was the problem; all hyped up on sugar.

Anyway Susan said she had figured out that y'all being a contraction for you all was the only word where there could correctly be two apostrophes in a word. Example: Get y'all's quilts & bring them with you. The first apostrophe is the contraction & the second apostrophe shows possession.

Course we all agreed this rule should be added to the American English language. Told them I had always thought y'all should be just one word yall, but since this new rule would be so unique, I give.

So thinking about my mother's look she always gave me when I started the leave Alabama routine; she knew one day I'd find out for myself. There's no place like home!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

History & A Lesson Learned

No matter how unimportant, minuscule, mundane, insert your own adjective you think your life is, you have lasting impact on others without even trying.

Even if you try to hermitize your life, like I have at times, you still impact others by the lack of your presence & input whether positive or negative. As I look back on my life, I can see that even the ugliest, hurtful times have helped make me a better person & if not better, the person I am.

I get some of my best ideas for this blog while chatting with friends on Pat Sloan's forum. I'm sure they must think I talk too much, but no one has told me to shut up yet, & I do TRY self control & somewhat limit myself.

I was relaying to them my happenings on Tuesday which is my quilt guild 1st meet day of the month. We always have such a super time, but Tuesday was exceptional. We had a great meeting then afterwards, a group of about 10 of us went to our favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch. Now THAT lunch is a whole nother story.

After I left them, I went to Walmart to get a few things. It was so hot & walking over that big store didn't help. I was so hot & sweaty all I wanted to do was go home & shower. I was almost done when I heard someone call my name.

It was Mary. I had seen her briefly about a year ago at same Walmart, of course. We had gone to high school together 40+ years ago & had become friends. That in itself is not the story.

The story is that was the time of the 60's in the south, in Alabama in particular, around the time that George Wallace was/had been governor & the schools were just beginning integration. Mary was one of two black kids that were put in the white school. Don't know if it was voluntary, forced, paid or what; don't remember us ever discussing the how/why she was there.

If the situation had been reversed & I had had to go to the black school, there's no way I would have done it. Not just because it was the black school, but because it was different. I was shy back then, but more than that I was selective. It meant something special for me to talk to anyone or be friends so mostly I kept my mouth shut.

This meeting with Mary, she brought up all these memories, she wanted to talk about it & what it meant to her to have a friend. She said something bout how she had seen that I never talked to anyone, but I talked to her & she couldn't believe it. I don't remember all that, but apparently she does.

Each one of us live in a part of what will become history. Each one of us make the history around us. I do believe God always guides our lives, whether we are willing to follow or not. I don't mean predestination, I mean He cares for us & He makes a way, a path, for us to follow. Sometimes it takes years for us to find that path, sometimes we may feel as though we never find it & sometimes it just pops up at Walmart & you look back & see at least once you were on it.

It would have been normal for me to treat her the way I guess she expected to be treated in that time & circumstance. I was brought up just like everyone else, with normal being a division, a prejudice towards blacks. And then they were called many other names besides blacks or African Americans. Coloreds was a common name.

I still have much of that prejudice instilled in me. Although I believe we are born into the evil of this world, I also believe love & hate are learned & although we all possess the traits of good & evil, it's what we choose to let rule our life that makes us.

As a quilter, color is an important factor in what I do. Even shades of one color can be very striking or bland depending on how they are used. If you think about it there is color everywhere. It's one of those gifts from God that make the world beautiful. And we as people are all colored, all different shades of color.

I thought Mary was gonna cry talking about this. She reached for me for a hug. Told her I was hot & sweaty, but she didn't care. If she had started crying, my heart would have melted. Then I couldn't be the tough broad life has made me. I would have cried too.

So in parting I told her, "I guess we just needed each other." So that's the history lesson here. We do all need each other. Each of us has a part to play in someones life. We chose whether for good or evil, love or hate.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tents & Roads Not Taken

It's sad how words come back to haunt you. Something said yesterday or 20 years ago creeping back into your head & making you think of things best left alone.

I wonder if other people do this. Or do they just bubble along from day to day like never a care can touch them. Guess I think too much, especially when I'm down.

In these times, when I'm wanting so not to be in this life I'm living, I try to lift myself up & say it's all for a reason; there's a lesson to be learned that I need to learn. But that little irritating voice pipes in to say 'naw that's not it, you made a bad decision along the road.'

'A bad decision.' I've heard that recently from someone in relation to someone else. Is that how people explain the wrongs that happen. Is everyone in two neat little groups; the ones that have made bad decisions & the ones who have it made?

So where is the line? Someone that has lost their job through no fault of their own, then lost their home, then the family fell apart, was that a bad decision to have taken that job because they were gonna lose it? Or was it a bad decision because they didn't foresee losing the job & seek another before failure hit them?

When I see one of the have it made's, I think they've never known how it is to get down & nothing you seem to do makes it right. They seem to overlook the scenario that one day could be their day to find out.

And sometimes Christians are the worst at seeing their blessings for what they could be; a taste of what they could be doing without. There is this thing called practicing humility. Sort of like practice what you preach. 

I've kinda taken off down a different road myself. Meaning, I'm trying to look at something that happened in my family yesterday, take out the anger, the hurt feelings & see where it leads me.

Seems all thoughts lead me back to bad decisions & roads not taken. And the thought just occurred to me, how blessed it would be to be satisfied with your life. But would it really be a blessing. When you really think about that it seems sorta like sleeping in church; you miss a lot.

So what to do about this dilemma I have of not wanting to be living my life. How many times have I said, 'when all else fails, read the directions.' Now THAT would be turning it over to God & truly trusting Him to walk with me through whatever happens.

But I always think I have to fix it; it being whatever is broken. Just who do I think I am?

At least 20 years ago, a friend & I were talking about relationships. She was having hubby problems & me, I don't remember, except that I was divorced at the time. And the words that are coming back to haunt me now, "if I had someone who truly loved me, I would live in a tent & pee in the woods."

At the time, that statement was the personification of the love I could have for someone who truly loved me. Although I couldn't physically survive or pee in the woods now, the jest of it remains true.

But where I am now, I do not feel loved. So why am I here? And am I here to learn a lesson I need to learn. I can think of a few I know I should learn. And if this is where God wants me to be to make me into who I should become, who am I to say this is a bad decision.

A road is a road. You never know what's down at the end of it until you get there.