5/29/15

Foggy Morning

I am not sure anyone reads this but the therapy that writing gives me is reward enough!

When I had to get up early this morning because the cats would not leave us alone, the fog was heavy and lingering.   I love foggy mornings.  The dew sticks to the spider webs leaving the fields and trees looking as if they had finely crocheted lace patches.  They glitter with the dew and look so very magical.  It's odd for a girl who is terrified of spiders to appreciate the beauty they can create.  I am learning through my daughter's love for nature to leave them be as long as they don't invade my home.   The thousands of webs I see hanging on the top of the grass and trees have been designed to catch mosquitoes that do far more damage to my thin skin than those tiny creatures who designed the webs.

I am learning to watch the life of small creatures and appreciate what they do.   Spiders seem to be designed as protectors of our skin and homes.   There is a large brown spider living outside the horse barn.  In all honesty, he makes my head spin each time I see him.   The terror of them hasn't subsided, but I know if I keep my distance they really are not interested in me.  But the awesome thing about this guy is each evening he builds a gigantic web in a matter of minutes it seems.  That web catches enough I suppose for him or her to survive the next day.  As the sun comes up, this thing takes it all down and leaves nothing for me to walk through which would cause me to faint as the terror takes over.  So he's a welcome guest.

For years we had those silver and yellow spiders that built beautiful webs and sat at the top waiting for food to arrive.   I taught my daughter how to catch grasshoppers and other critters and toss them into the webs just as my mother taught me.  Mom appreciated them so much that she would take a broom and encourage them to take the ride to their new spot...a spot that I could't walk through.   They do not take them down so they are occasionally swatted into oblivion and yes, I feel a small hint of guilt.

When I was a child, it was my job to feed the calves my dad would buy at the auction for next to nothing.  In those days when the dairy farmers removed the calves, they often did not have time to raise them.  My Daddy was know to be one to buy them.  They were often weak and wobbly.  Daddy would give them shots of B12 and I would become their guardian.   I mixed the formula in a gigantic pan with an hand mixer which I still have.  Then I would fill the bottles...normally we had four.  

I would lug those big bottles up the hill to the barn and let the calves out two at a time and feed them holding the bottle with both hands.  They would get stronger and it would be one at a time.  This required me to move them out of the front stall and into the back one which stayed open until feeding time.   Then one by one, I would let them out.  As more of them had eaten and were not removed back into the other stall, I would feed the next one and fight off the others.   They would butt and pull and on the bottle just like they do their mothers - it was instinct.

One morning as I was heading to their stall, I opened the door and walked right through Charlotte's evil web.   As I felt the spider (My mom named them) crawling up the back of my neck and into my hair.  That's the last memory I have of that moment.  As I woke up from the faint, I realized the calves had tried to help themselves to the bottle and managed to pull the nipples off.  I was covered in calf formula, drool and... whatever it was I landed in.  Every time I tried to get up, one of the calves would hover over me and push me back down. It was an adventure.  Daddy finally realized that I was taking longer than normal and, assuming I was doing the training with halters and so on, came to watch.  I heard him bust out laughing and he finally picked me.  At that time I was a scrawny thing and the calves probably outweighed me.  Needless to say, Charlotte was removed to a new location and I learned to take a broom with me to clean out any other residents webs with each feeding.   I am sure those spiders caught flies and other things that were bad for the calves, but those webs....evil, evil things.

I digressed...it's what I do.   This morning the fog...and the beauty took me back forty years to what we children thought were happy, happy days and simpler times.   We didn't feel the stressful economics that our parents were burdened with and which we feel as grown ups.   This foggy morning gave me the opportunity to take a breath and reflect on the journey that got me here today.

5/23/15

Bad Dreams

And Like a Bad Dream (I am back):

It's been years...or so it seems since I visited this tiny corner of the web world.   I have learned a lot about the internet since I began this journey of putting my life on a page...one day at a time or week or month or year.   Unfortunately, most of what I have learned about the internet has not been pleasant.   

To start - be careful who you trust and what you put into your computer world.   Those you trust the most or expect the most to be ethical and moral are sometimes the most likely to violent every trust you have afforded them.   Those who seemingly have power over you will be the most likely to abuse that power and that trust you have that at least they won't try to hurt you if you give them your best.  But enough of that.   It's likely that those are the very stalkers who will first read this posting.

Life for me has changed so much in the last few years.   But, life for me has been a changing specter since I can recall.   Now being in my 50s, I find myself looking back on my life and analyzing my expectations of the past.  I don't look upon any of that in disappointment or regret to be honest but with renewed and revamped expectations.  These days, instead of hoping or dreaming of fame and fortune, just a good day with my health seems to satisfy me completely.   

My family is dearer, my child's dreams are more important and my friends are treasures.  In this life I have come to understand that friends are so hard to come by - I think we can count on one hand the TRUE friends we will have in our lives.  If we are lucky, we will count them and appreciate them before we lose them.   That being said, if we grieve over the lack of TRUE friends, perhaps we can focus more on our intentions in that regard.

Stay tuned...life is getting better with each passing day.   I am so pleased to have these days to experience it.   I am truly blessed.

6/3/14

Summer Already!

Spring just blew past us as does every season since I hit 40.  We had a relatively mild winter short of the four day frozen assault that shut down the southeast for nearly a week.   I had forgotten just how much I loathe cold and/or wet or any combination of the two.  In this part of the country, frozen wet weather means good tidings for the auto body repair shops and debris removal businesses.   

Despite all the threats we withstood this spring, we were spared the most miserable of the storms.  My hometown was not as fortunate.   Homes I remember from the time we moved to Flintville, TN were completely destroyed.   I am forever amazed how the weather takes no prisoners.  It either spares you or it doesn't.  The old farmhouse is still standing.  The homes, trailers and just about anything else that existed prior to the big storm system are now completely gone...some of the homes having been built in the early 1950s.  They lasted until 2014.  That's actually a pretty impressive life unless, of course, you were one of the current owners of said buildings.   

God uses all to His greater glory as was the case this spring as far as I am concerned.   A friend, the FIRST friend I ever had when we moved "to the country" and I have found one another while I was researching the damage assessments.  I forgot just how much I loved this friend.  She was the one who spent hour upon hour with me and me with her while we grieved the passing of her cousin and my dear friend at the age of 13.   She was the one who shared her wild ponies with me when my Daddy would not let me have one of my own.   She was the one whose Mother could tell the most amusing stories of poor country life in times gone by.  

As time passed, Donna and I moved on with our lives in different directions.   I went to college, got a career and eventually got married....once!  Donna didn't take the education and career path but she did get married ...five times!  I am not really sure which one of us has had the most fun in the last 40 years.   I am not sure which one of us learned the most or more productively applied those lessons.   I am only sure that God knew now what he knew then...that Donna and I needed each other...even if these days our interactions are through the internet.  

Back then, when we talked outside of school and our many adventures together, it was through telephone calls...party lines and all.  Now, we talk through the internet...facebook mostly.  But the conversations and amusement we have regarding each others lives hasn't changed a bit!  

9/1/12

I MISS MY MOM

I MISS MY MOM!

One year ago August my mother made a left turn, failing to notice the red light or the utility truck coming through the intersection.   I can still hear my brother's voice as he tried to gently described the circumstances an situation.   She was still alive, in intensive care and everyone was waiting to find out what was to be done next.  It was easier to count the bones that were not broken than the ones that were.  

I didn't know what to do.  I finally resolved myself to make the six hour drive to the hospital where she was just to feel reassured that she was o.k.   This visit was the first time her children had been together in the same place for over ten years.  It took a horrific accident to draw us each out of our own life's dramas and back to one another.  Mom raised us individually to experience our own lives and follow our life's journeys and dreams with no regrets or guilt over leaving home!  We each kept our life grounded through our continued relationship with her and she was always there to encourage us and provide honest advice absent of judgment or condemnation.   She taught us how to be supportive wives and husbands who respected our families above all else.

When I arrived the first day, I did not recognize the old and worn person laying in that bed with the tubes coming out.  The visit from the doctor felt like a runaway train was running through my head.  So many decisions were to be made..which injuries to concentrate on first, which ones could wait.  Fortunately, my oldest brother had the strength and wherewithal to make the decisions necessary continually consulting my other older brother and working as a team member in making decisions that had to be made.

The situation with my Mother evolved to a setting where we were with her 24/7 in order to get her into a private room in a desperate attempt to resolve the confusion created by the ICU environment where the lights were never turned off and the pace was always fast.   Her confusion did resolve at times and her body began to slowly heal.  

As the days turned into weeks and the weeks began to turn into months, we began to realize that we were losing our Mother...one hour at a time.   Her brain just could not heal like the rest of her body and filled her days with fear and confusion.   I am not sure I was ever able to accept that I was losing the one person who had always been my confidant, my comforter and the one person who had enough life experience to always be my consultant.

The natural "order" of our lives includes the children outliving the parents and so on.  But Mother was a vert heathy and fit 76 year old!  I was not prepared for this change in my life.  My brothers tried as hard as they could to be strong and supportive.   Their wives did as well.   The daughters though...our relationship was more fragle and our sense of loss seemed to be more profound thought I seriously doubt that was or is the case.  Men simply have to look strong regardless.  I can still see the look on my brother's face when I tried to get him to promise me Mom would be o  k and he wanted to try.  He wanted so desperately to be right.   They fought doctors, nurses and every other doubting entity to try to help my mother recover ...to convince her and all those who loved her she WOULD be o.k.  

Throughout her last ten weeks, we fought many fronts from negligent nurses, doctors who simply didn't see past a patient number  and her own fears.  We wanted her healed.  We wanted to force her TO HEAL!  But we lost!   Death had its victory and the McLeroy siblings lost forever the force that dedicated her life to teaching and counseling them how to get through theirs.   

After death of a matriarch, things take on a new tone.  We began to disburse her life's work pursuant to the guidance of her "will" to divide everything "equally".   We began dismounting HER life and passing out the pieces among us and to various charitable organizations.   How do children win this game?  It is absolutely impossible to dismantle a person's life...a person who you have loved your entire life...without some moment of breakdown or some challenge for some token memory.  Amazingly, my brother managed to keep us focused and moving towards COMPLETE disbursement not only of HER life efforts but that of several generations before her that she had held on to after the death of our grandparents.  

It is mind boggling when you discover secrets that were never intended for your eyes or begin to realize that not a one of us is perfect!  The history of our family began to play out through pictures, letters, trinkets and stories we discovered.  We set a fast pace for this discovery process knowing that if we slowed down or stopped, we could never finish.   Thinking about what was happening and dealing with those thoughts would have simply removed all coping mechanisms left.    So we marched forward trying not to look back, trying not to think and trying not to let grief interfere with the task at hand.

A year ago last month my mother was killed in a car accident.  She lived another ten weeks, sometimes coherent and able to converse with us in the here and now, other times screaming for help in fear of something we could not see.   Her agony was something we begged her to continue to endure....selfishly trying to force her to fight a losing battle.  Try she did...but that last night...when I talked to her on the phone she said two words, "I'm done!"   Two hours later all life slipped from her.   

I miss her more than words can describe.  I miss the daily e-mails, the phone calls, the cards and the advice she always had hoping to help me prevent some disaster she had already experienced.  Today, I am "back in town" to get the LAST LOAD.  Her house has been sold so the remaining furniture needed to be taken.  The last of the stuff that I wanted and my siblings all said they did not want.   I will leave behind the home but not the memories as I go home with this last load.   I will go home with the reality that it is now completely up to me to get through this life and with the new revelation of how insignificant all this "stuff" really is in the long run.   She worked so hard to save it and preserve it  for HER children.   In the end, we got it, but she ended up with a trip to Heaven.   I know her life is better now.   Asking her to endure a tragedy on the level to which hers was is just too much.   We did ask but we did not understand the volume of her injuries.   

There are blessings in every tragedy.  MY blessing is a renewed relationship with ALL my siblings.  When the going got tough, the tough got together.   We will all survive this loss, each through our own grieving process.  Eventually I will make it through the pile in the corner of the bedroom that has been built as I have brought stuff home.   But for now... this moment...in this day...I miss my Mom.   She was an amazing Mom.  She was a loving Mom.   She was a person who I strive each day to represent.   I miss her but she's in my heart.  I hear the laughter and the voice that once was her.  It's now inside of ME and a part of who I am.  That alone consoles me.   That alone blesses my life!


7/2/12

And today is?,,,,,

Stardate....July 25, 2012.   Brundidge, Alabama

Today was a Monday...allll day long!  The haze of yesterday became the storms of last night.  At about 2 a.m., the weather alert began sounding.  There is nothing closer to a heart attack than being in a sound sleep at 2 a.m. and the alarm of the weather alert going off...followed by crashing thunder and crackling lightning.   Don't get me wrong.   I believe a weather alert should be a required installation in every housetrailer, home and apartment.   But it sure can be loud!   Yeah boy...it was a Monday from the moment it stopped being Sunday.

I think each moment of this day that could have been organized and easily traversed was somehow replaced with chaos and confusion.   Even the simplest of tasks became complicated by too many people trying to figure them out or those incapable (me for today) trying to accomplish them.   It was a Monday.

But you know what?  I was here to get through it and I had friends and family I love here with me!  So really, I should say thank you for this day and the trials it brought with it.  I would love a cooler day, an easier day and a day where the news that comes is great news inspiring me to just skip out of the room and into the next moment!  Oh well.  I made it home alive and still employed.  So most complaints are trumped by those facts! 

Have a great evening world!  I am going to do my very best to have one myself!

7/1/12

Lazy, hazy days?....

It is a miserable day outside.  When I left Piggly Wiggly a few moments ago, the little bank sign said it was 103 degrees.  If anyone knows how to use the symbol for "degrees", it would sure save me some typing.  Or would it?  I might end up spending more time trying to get and remember the key combination that it takes.    Either way, the weather outside is frightening and the air conditioner is so inviting! 

It's been a long year for me.   I haven't been around much and hope to resolve that issue.   Well, I have been around, I just haven't been close enough to a keyboard.   I got a good deal on a laptop at the local flea market and thought I would give it a try.  It seems to have turned out to be a REALLY good deal!

The heat is so extreme that it causes the skies to seem blurred.  There is an August haze hanging in the sky even though we are just beginning July.  In the late afternoons, the haze seems to convert to clouds and tease of rain.   But the rain never seems to be released.   It seems only the strongest of anything can survive these conditions...wildlife, dogs, cats, air conditioners, car motors...and temperaments.   It doesn't take much to work up a sweat and become really agitated.  It doesn't take much for the dogs to completely dissolve the clean atmosphere I have tried to create within the walls of this house.   Between the dust they bring in on their fur or the gas they release once they get inside, sometimes feeling sorry for them and allowing them a little cooling time is rather trying.   Then, there is the sense that everything is being intruded upon by their presence and by the never ending presence of one another due to our aging intolerance to these conditions.  My mother's love of the beach doesn't leave me during days like this.  There you always have a breeze or even warm wind.  Here you have still, calm and, what seems like, a suffocating layer of heat being held within the dome of the haze and clouds.

These days are long in every sense.  Every creature waits for sunset just to get what little relief the darkness affords.  I don't think these are the lazy days of summer in as much as they are the sweltering, energy draining days that we are forced to endure.  Then again, once winter gets here and everything turns grey, damp and gloomy, I will be remembering even THESE days fondly.

I hope everyone has a wonderful evening and is able to appreciate whatever trials you are forced to endure.  There will always be a memory and experience created with each one that will strengthen and prepare you for the next one that is around the corner!

11/4/09

Ah the Memories

I tend to spend a large part of my time reminiscing about events in my life. Thanksgiving happens to be one of the holidays that floods my mind with never ending memories. It is without a doubt my favorite holiday mainly because it has always been a time when both family and friends come together to enjoy at least one day of unselfish sharing and giving both of spirit and nourishment.

Our entire juvenile lives, my siblings and I spent Thanksgiving day watching football with Dad and/or assisting Mom (getting in her way) with dinner. I learned at an early age how to make the most difficult dish of the mean - mashed potatoes - and have spent years perfecting my most delicious recipe that includes real cream, maybe a bit of sour cream or mayo and other "secret" ingredients that even my own mother has lost track of. I progressed from mashed potato duty though I never gave up the duty of "official potato masher" into deviled egg duty. Those too are some of my now family favorites.

I can still feel the heat in the kitchen combined with the aromas of turkey, sage dressing and broth. I can feel the steam as, once again, I checked the potatoes boiling to make sure they were not too soft yet. I can hear my mother telling me how profoundly great I was at such a duty -one of her many ploys to maintain full participation. Sometimes when I feel the steam coming from a pot of potatoes I hear my father and brothers cheering and jeering in the living room as their favorite team plays out one of their games.

My freshman year of college marked a change in our festivities to some extent. My sister in law was pregnant with my first niece and they came to stay with us during the holiday. So, we had an extra guest and my brother had to behave a little more during the football game. She sat in the kitchen and visited with us as we talked about the day and worked on all the recipes. I got the potatoes and the deviled eggs ready and then, we discovered that Mom had once again forgotten to turn on the oven. The turkey sat there, still half frozen...waiting for something to be done to finish the meal. Not to be outdone, Mom made my very favorite meal - spaghetti - and we rescheduled "Thanksgiving" for the next day. All's well that ends well.

I have always been a person to bring home strays and Thanksgiving was the greatest day for "stray gathering" ever. Once I got into college and met people from other countries, states and towns, I managed to always collect a good carload of strays for Thanksgiving day. I never noticed our old country home was not some nice dining parlor, I just drug them all in and we always had a great day. Once, I believe most of the Canadian contingent of our college hockey team joined us for the meal. That was fun as none of those guys had ever had a southern Thanksgiving before. Not to mention, my Dad was very vocal during the football game and they had a blast just ...being Canadians...and making noise right along with him. I think by the end of the day he had become bonded with a couple of the guys. My little sister had become quite attracted to them as well. Yeah, I had my fella, but he wasn't one of them...they were just friends who had nowhere else to go. I wouldn't dare let them not have Thanksgiving - it is a treasured day!

These days, I cook at home for my own family. Still...the tradition continues. My turkey is always too big for my family, my ham is too much and I make too many potatoes for us to ever indulge in. So, we end up with a bunch of strays or with plates in a box to carry to people who are working at the local stores, our police dispatchers or just about anyone else we can think of. The dogs and cats get quite a feast as well.

I usually end Thanksgiving with putting up and lighting the Christmas tree. That was a joyful thing for us when we were younger. Christmas is glorious with the lights, the gifts and the month long celebration of our Savior's birth. But Thanksgiving - that's when people can just love one another - and eat like there's not tomorrow.

Yeah...Thanksgiving is one of the greatest holidays ever invented. I wonder if those pilgrims and those Indians ever realized just what a great tradition they had started.