Summer Fizzle

I made a quick trip to the grocery store this morning for a few necessities. When I turned to head down the “summer” aisle, this is what I saw. All summer stuff was clearance at 70% off. The ominous blue sign was hanging from the ceiling and the obligatory boxes on the floor held pencils and folders and glue and scissors and loose leaf paper and dread, for kids, anyway.

Wait…summer is over? It is only July 14. I haven’t even had on a swimsuit (not that I want to.) I haven’t yet been to a body of water (except the one in my clogged bathtub.) I haven’t had grilled chicken or made s’mores or been fishing or gone camping or received a sunburn. 

Later in the day I stopped by another store to pick up some candles and they had fall foliage and all things autumn on the shelves. I wanted to protest but when you are 60 years old and protest about something, you just look old and cranky. So I let out a big sigh and found my candles.

Tonight I heard the quintessential loud summer melody of crickets mixed with the low hum of cicadas. It is that sound that often accompanies humidity, mosquitoes and lightening bugs. But tonight it had a sad note, like an end of summer reprise, like a swan song.

Summer is actually not my favorite season. I do not love the heat, I do not love the constant yard work and weeding and flower watering. I do not love the schedule of long days and irregularity and people out of town. I enjoy the consistency of fall and winter. 

But I also do not love the idea of rushing a season. It is not time for school. It is not time for wool sweaters. It is not time for gold mums and orange pumpkins. I will love those things when it is their time. But it is not yet their time and I do not want to be told otherwise. 

There ya go. 

Birthday Boy

Today my baby, my BABY turned 31 years old. Wow. I always heard parents say that you don’t feel old until your youngest child turns 30. I must agree.

Thirty-one years ago I awakened on a beautiful summer morning from a dream that I had had a baby. Shortly after I got up, my water broke. I called my husband and told him to come home. I called my mother-in-law and asked if she could come and be with my two other little boys. I then shaved my legs. Really. Baby coming or not, I wanted smooth legs, no stubs.

Noah was born via Caesarean section, as were my other two. My firstborn, was a hefty 8 pounds, 11 ounces. He was also in a breech position. The doctor felt it best to go Caesarean. I certainly agreed.

At the time of Noah’s birth, I was working at the hospital in which he was born so I feel that I received extra special care from the nursing staff and also had many visitors. It is a good memory for obvious reasons but also for the bonus of familiarity. 

One of the hit songs in the time period of Noah’s birth was Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now, by Jefferson Starship. What a catchy, great song. I remember specifically that song was playing on the radio when we were en route to the hospital. It has, since that time, become known as Noah’s song. Even now when we happen to catch it on an oldies station, we all smile and know. 

Here are a few lines from the song:

I’m so glad I found you

I’m not gonna lose you

Whatever it takes

I will stay here with you

Take it to the good times

See it though the bad times

Whatever it takes

Is what I’m gonna do

And that is how life has been with Noah these 31 amazing years. Enjoying the good times. Seeing each other through the tough times. Whatever it takes is what I’m gonna do. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you, my beautiful baby boy and now grown man. Push on in this life, and you will continue to find your way. 

Christmas in July

Being with Mama is a bit like living out A Christmas Carol. She wants to understand and have explained the ghosts of her past, her present, and her future.

From my “Good morning” greeting to her until I give her one last drink of water at bedtime, I feel like Jacob Marley, showing her all events of her life before this moment, in this moment and in the moments yet to come.

Mama has an enormous capability to recall the past, which is, for some, a very typical characteristic of dementia. So we talk about the past. We walk through darkened halls of sorrow and then back into the light of sweet memories. 

The ghost of the present is a real challenge. For Mama, the present truly is the moment at hand. The present as recent as last night’s phone call from my sister, or breakfast this morning, or even watering flowers an hour ago is gone. 

The biggest challenge is the ghost of the future. These questions can only be answered loosely, as all future plans must be held. 

Ghosts of the past, present, and future haunt all of us to some degree; what we did or didn’t do, what we should or shouldn’t do, what we hope or fear for the days/years to come. 

The past is unalterable. The future is uncertain. And the present can feel elusive. These realizations are driven home each time I am with Mama. As if that needs to be any huger, combine that with being 60 and well…the royal blues can set in. 

God bless us, every one. 

Wake Up!

I wrote a blog a few months ago about vanity plates. As a general rule, I dislike them.

My husband and I were out and at a stop light I could see a vanity plate ahead of us but could not read the words. When we got a bit closer I could see the printing and snapped a quick photo. 

In a coma, huh? That is not exactly confidence inspiring for a person operating a 4,000 pound vehicle. 

On the other hand, though I know nothing of his story, perhaps he is being a bit tongue-in-cheek in his moments of messaging. 

Maybe we are all somewhat in a coma. The truth is that many of us drive around, half awake, literally and figuratively. 

I want to be and make good effort to be a conscientious driver. I stay alert, watching my mirrors, watching my speed, not texting, keeping safe distances. But am I always engaged in my driving? Probably not. 

Usually on my mind are everything from what am I making for dinner to praying for my family to wishing I had chosen a different nail color to wondering about the meaning of life. To some degree, I may occasionally be in a coma.

But I desire to be in the present. I want to be awake. The sunroof will be opened on future trips. I want to feel its warmth on the top of my head and let it blow my hair, which will not help my look, but so be it.  

We will always have things on our minds, that is part of life. But we do not have to be in a coma. We can choose to be aware and awake.

I read that you should always assume that a person in a coma can hear. Hearing is usually the last sensory faculty to deteriorate when people are dying. There have even been documented cases when someone hard of hearing in their normal state can hear better in their altered consciousness. 

There you go. If you are in a coma, driving or not, it is very possible that your hearing has been elevated.

It is time to listen.  

Serious Sunday

My maternal grandparents were humbly devoted to God. They lived it out They lived it in their love for their children and their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren and for strangers. They also lived in out in their love for each other. 

I have sweet memories of my grandma wearing dresses, with full front aprons and hose, and I don’t mean panty hose, out to work in her flower garden. And she sang. She sang about Jesus. And she laughed. Man, did she laugh. She had this great gold tooth that gleamed as brilliantly as her laughter.

I need to check with the family historian, my cousin, MJ, but I believe it was the late 1970s that we started a tradition of celebrating Grandma’s birthday, which was June 10. We had a family reunion/picnic in the park. Of course Grandma and Grandpa awakened in Glory years ago but we have continued the tradition to this day. 

And this day was that day. The crowd waxes and wanes from year to year but there is always a group that sets aside the day to come together to eat wonderful food, including myriad desserts that would make Grandma smile. We talk and we laugh and we take photos and we remember how important is the bloodline. 

It is rich and red and strong and runs through us with vigor and persistence. We know it is bigger than us as individuals. When we are together, it is fierce and fearless. We never forget from where we came. And we are grateful.

The prayers of my grandparents, the love of my grandparents, and the faithfulness of my grandparents are the shoulders on which the rest of us stand. 

Our legs may get wobbly, our eyes may occasionally fall away from the prize, our hearts my wander, but we are never far from Grandma. Her voice is the tether that keeps us close. She never lets us go.

I pray that we continue on the journey and that those who come behind us know that their ease in walking it is only possible because our grandparents forged that path.

The two in the photo are my mama, Evelyn and her younger brother, Jay. They are the last of their generation. They are listening for the voice of my grandma as she sings about Jesus. And that voice is getting clearer. 

Yale Glee Club

Tonight we had the privilege of attending the Yale Glee Club 2018 Commencement Concert. It was so very good! 

We commented on the enthusiasm these students portrayed. Of course they are incredibly talented and groomed musicians. But passion comes from within. And it showed. 

There was such an eclectic mix of songs. One was a Shaker melody named “I’ll Go with You.” Here are the words:

I’ll go with you what e’er be-tide,

Thro’ sorrow, joy and pleasure,

You will always be by my side,

A friend beyond all measure.

I’ll walk with you the lowly vale

Where streams of life are flowing

And there partake of every good,

Onward we are going. 

The graduating class of 2018, the seniors, sang this song. There were hugs and smiles and tears. 

There is true camaraderie in this group, it was obvious.

The hope is that these students will never forget this night, their four years at this school, their fiends, their connections. And that they will learn to take this mindset into the rest of their lives; jobs, marriage, parenthood. 

What e’er be-tide,

Thro’ sorrow, joy and pleasure ~

To always be a friend beyond all measure. 

That is how they can change the world. That is how we can all change the world.

Where streams of life are flowing

Saturday with Mama

This is a photo of a happy moment with Mama today. She loves to work so we worked! We spent four straight hours outside; raking leaves, trimming rose bushes, sweeping the patios and sidewalks, and overall spring cleanup. I kept telling her to rest and have a seat in the rocking chair on the front porch. She would go sit but within five minutes, was up working again. She is a trooper.

There were many, many other moments that were not happy. While we were working, it was good. We stayed busy and even worked on opposite sides of the yard at times. We then sat on the front porch step and I cut her fingernails and shaped them nicely with an emery board. 

After we came into the house and settled down a bit for late afternoon and evening, Mama started asking me questions. She asked if my husband knew that I was once married to her son, Greg. Wait…what?

I said: “Mama, no! I was never married to your son because he was my brother.” She looked totally puzzled. “Greg was* your son and I am your daughter.” Mama’s eyes filled with tears. “You are my daughter?” “Yes, Mama.” Her reply, “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me?” 

After two hours of that conversation, I laid my head on her knee. I told her I can’t take it anymore. She put her hand on my head and began to cry, apologizing for not knowing I was her daughter. She asked if I knew, when I was a little girl, that she was my mother. “Yes Mama”, I said. Then we both sat and cried.

That is how life with Mama goes. We have light-hearted, good moments. In fact, once when we were outside working, I asked her if she was doing okay. She said, “Yes, life is beautiful today.”

And then we have moments that cause me to ponder the meaning of life and make me question who I am. In those moments, I wonder whether or not I am good for her. It is entirely possibly that I am not the right person to be responsible for her care. I may just not be good enough.

Before bed, we made hot cocoa and homemade popcorn and ate pecan sandies. We had a few sweet moments. But later as I was helping her get ready for bed, she asked me how we met.


She is in bed now and I just peeked in on her. She looks peaceful as she sleeps with her reading glasses on her nose and a bible on her lap. 

I am praying the Lord’s mercy on us both. 

*I say ‘was’ because my dear brother drowned in 1982 when he was 29 years old.

(A shout-out to my treasured friends, Phil and Adrienne, for the gift of the green yard scoopers.)


Today, a trip to the BMV, or as some call it, the DMV. Either way, we know what happens there.

You wait. 

I was with Christopher. We had been running a few errands and this one was on the list. As soon as we walked through the door we could feel it. An aura. It surrounded everyone in the room, like a nimbus above their heads. Eyes are glazed over. There is very little movement. It is like the sitting walking dead.

Christopher commented about the chairs. Since he is a designer, he notices everything. There are three throws of folding metal chairs. A thin padding covers the seat and back. But it is a mirage. It is faux padding. You sit, expecting softness but it does not come. It is actually worse than no cushion. You expect more, but get less. 

Christopher said that there should be rows of easy chairs in here; reclining La-Z-Boys, perhaps a cashmere throw laid neatly across the arm.

I would like a coffee bar, too. You could sit in comfort and warmth while sipping a hot cappuccino. These things would bring a sense of peace in a non-peaceful setting. Tension would melt away. People may actually smile. And if you are not in too big of a hurry, when your number is called out, you may even say “Oh, I’m fine. Go to the next number. I want to finish my caramel macchiato.” 

Yes, I am dreaming. But there must be something that can be done to bring a brightness.

It is dismal in there. The employees are kind but they quietly chat and laugh about private jokes. We are at their disposal. They have all of the power in this section of frozen time. 

Finally, your number is called. Angels voices start to warm up. The clouds part slightly.

And then, victory! The dripping golden words of the clerk…”You are all done. Have a nice day.”

You open the heavy glass door and re-enter a world where all is familiar; where things make sense.

The angels are in full-singing mode. The sunshine is warm upon your face. You have powered through, mostly unscathed, for one more year. 

Being Watchful

“On familiar landscapes we are less likely than elsewhere to notice the widening of fissures along fault lines. While we ought to act to avoid them, we often may ignore the signals or find ourselves unmotivated to discern when to take them seriously enough to move around and beyond them.”

I first learned the word fissure about 35 years ago when I was worked in the surgery department at a large local hospital.

The definition of fissure is this:

  1. A narrow opening or crack of considerable length and depth usually occurring from some breaking or parting; a fissure in the earth’s crust.
  2. A natural cleft between body parts or in the substance of an organ; a break in tissue at the junction of skin and mucous membrane.
  3. A separation or disagreement in thought or viewpoint.

As we move through our days occasionally things occur that motivate us to discern or act. Often, the most difficult of these will not have to do with unrecognized danger in the external world but with what is going on around the fault lines of the soul.

In my daily devotional reading, this line stood out: “It is much easier to stay away from the crumbling edge of an abyss than to find a way out of it.”

The alcoholic and workaholic and chocoholic and shopaholic and social mediaholic exist at the edge of the abyss.

The addicted learn, as do all who are brave enough to self-exam, that everyone has to deal with from where we came and our life experiences that have brought us to where we are at this moment.

Thus, the AA serenity prayer:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

My desire is to continue to be aware of the “widening fissures along the fault lines and to discern when to take them seriously enough to move around and beyond them. “

Serious Sunday.

Peace in Decision-Making

In 2001 I visited Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. This was the location of my annual cousins retreat that year.

Shaker Hill is a lovely 3,000 acre working village. It is home to the third largest Shaker community in the United States between1805 and 1910.

Though the Kentucky Shakers were poor when they started out, they were skilled farmers who made the most of their property. Even the most skeptical observed that they prospered quickly, in part because of the high quality of their products.

The Pleasant Hill community was known for its excellent livestock. They bred imported cows to improve their herd’s milk production. They practiced selective breeding and scientific agriculture well before the average farmer did. They also raised Saxony sheep for the wool, which the Shaker sisters spun into fine cloth for home use.

The Shaker raised broom corn and made flat brooms so good that that they sold for more than “ordinary” brooms. They also raised fruit and sold it dried or as preserve. Yum.

An evening of dining at Shaker Village is a verifiable celebration of Shaker Village’s roots by featuring dishes made of seasonal ingredients from their garden and local farmers. Again, yum.

On my visit there I picked up a book entitled When True Simplicity is Gained by Martin and Micah Marty. Someones likes alliteration.

A few days ago I was looking through a box and ran across the book. I sat on the floor and glanced through it. An hour and half later, I looked up to check the clock. Stiff and a bit aggravated that I had spent time reading instead of working, I got up and put the book on my desk.

However, much of what I read has stayed with me and I will share bits and pieces of it that are relatable to most likely…well, everyone. No hyperbole there.

My first posting from the book is about peace in our decisions. For me, that is a subject that instantly pricks my ears. I often struggle with decision-making.

“Not to decide, we know, is to decide. Even whether to make a choice demands choice. Serious people learn to gain perspective on the choices they must make from the experience and knowledge they possess.”

“The voice of true simplicity prompts us to discern the foolishness of looking out only for ourselves and thus overlooking both the common good and our own human limits”

False choices come from self-interest, cowardice and lack of faith in a higher power.

I was 43 years old when I bought the book. I must be a slow learner.

But bam! Perhaps you can teach an old dog new tricks.