Friday, August 5, 2011

Fifty Years of Love

On August 8, 2011, my parents will celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

Fifty years.



Like many from the south, I call my parents Momma and Daddy. I don't know of many southerners that call their parents anything else. I don't know of a southerner that actually has a Mother. We all have momma's. I recall reading a post somewhere that anyone over the age of three that still calls their father 'daddy' should seek therapy immediately because they're too childish to function in the real world. I immediately thought that my entire family would need therapy because every single one of us (and we are legion) call our fathers 'daddy.' My 101 year old grandfather was still called 'Daddy' by his three remaining sons, and they are in their late 60's to 70's.

I reckon it might be a southern thing, but I digress ...

My parents married in 1961. In 1961, 101 Dalmations was the #1 movie, and West Side Story was the #2 movie. Splendor in the Grass and Blue Hawaii rounded out the top seven movies of the year. In January of 1961, JFK was the first president to be sworn in, in a color telecast. The Beach Boys were formed in 1961 and Stand By Me, by Ben E. King was the biggest hit single of the year ... and who could forget Patsy Cline with 'I Fall to Pieces' and 'Crazy.' John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps and Pampers introduced the first disposable diapers, Alan Shepard made the first space flight and Niagra Falls started producing hydroelectric power.

Put into that kind of perspective, fifty years is full of amazing, wonderful things that filled the world with great cinema, some of the best music that has lasted half a century, and that, unbeknownst to them, marked the end of an era to come ... because in July, 2011, NASA flew it's final space shuttle mission - the program that Alan Shepard's flight helped to launch and continue for fifty years.

But how do you conceive of fifty years of love? How can one possibly even begin to understand what fifty years of love looks like or feels like? The fact that, considering the inattentive population of today, two people are still married after fifty years ... well, that's a miracle. And I happen to be a front-row witness to it.

So, to my parents, I wish you a happy anniversary, and I thank you for giving me that miracle.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Walking to the End of the Garden

Many things in this post are similar to a previous post, unintentionally. I wrote this a few hours after my grandfather passed away, knowing I was having to say goodbye to him.

I was raised a few hundred yards from my grandparents. In our family, you didn’t ‘grow up.’ You got raised. You were raised by a family, in a family. My parents shared 12 acres with my grandparents, Mema and Pepa. I saw them every day. I don’t have a memory from my youth that doesn’t contain them in some way.  I still look over at their house and half expect to see Mema ‘out on the stoop’ while supper is cooking. Her hand waving as she wiped the sweat off of her head (that’s where we all get it from!) and hollered ‘Hoo-ey’ in her sweet voice. Sometimes you’d just hear it and as you looked for her, you’d realize she was standing at the kitchen sink with the window open. Mema left us fourteen years ago and she is missed each and every day.

My grandfather, Pepa, always kept a garden. I’m not talking about a patch of tomatoes and peppers. He kept a full garden from lettuce and radishes to corn, beans and potatoes. All manner of greens and root vegetables, melons and a wonderful grape vine running through the fence. If it could be grown, he grew it. He even kept a garden snake or two. The garden was in two huge sections, just outside the fenced yard. The end of the garden was the half-way point to my parent’s house. There was a night watcher (city folks call them street lights) not far past the end of the garden that lit the ‘field’ between our houses.

Pepa never said no to any request of a grandchild. I can’t tell you how many times he walked me to the pond and flipped over the flat bottom boat so we could see if there were any snakes. He drove me around ‘the circle’ which was a few miles of highway five, down Bailey Cutoff, up highway nine, back to highway five to their house, often stopping at Crow’s Station for a ‘cold drink.’ There were always cold peaches in syrup to have on top of a Jumbo Lemon Cookie or some other treat. I stood on his feet while he walked around the house. We played ‘Humbledy Bumbledy Buck’ until we ran out of numbers and I used to sit in his lap and comb his hair for hours. It’s a wonder he had any hair left at all. I tilled the garden with him, rode on the back of the tractor for hours while he mowed and often pilfered through the shed to discover treasures that would have thrilled Puff the Magic Dragon down to his scales.

Some days I would stay all day, late into the evening. The phone would ring and my mom would tell Mema to send me home. She would always look at me and say, “Uh oh … that’s your momma calling for you to come home.” She’d answer the phone and tell my mom, “Why don’t you just let the little thing stay the night. She can sleep in the middle bedroom and eat breakfast with us.” Having been there all day, I’d be forced, against my will, to return home. By this time, it was dark and I was one of those kids that was scared of the dark. Scared of every scurry in the woods, of every flap of the bat’s wing and beetle scurry. Living in the country, I always imagined coyotes and wolves snatching me up and carting me off into the wild. Pepa, gentleman that he was, would walk me to the end of the garden, just before the night watcher and I’d take off running up the little hill to my house, where my mom stood with one hand on her hip, waiting for her wayward daughter to get up on the porch. Pepa and his flashlight stood there, at the end of the garden, until I hit the bottom step. “Goodnight, dumplin’ … I’ll see you tomorrow!” he’d call out after me. “Night Pepa!” I’d yell, while my mom ruffled my hair and sent me to my bath.

Yesterday, May 11, 2011 Pepa passed away at the age of 101 years, 3 months and 13 days. Until about a month ago, he was as active as a man thirty years younger. He drove, he walked every day and was very independent. The last month, his health declined and his body slowly declined. He never complained. He never professed anger. He just continued to live each day to the fullest with a smile and a kind word to anyone and everyone.

He was the very best man that I have ever known, in all my life. I know that last night he dined with the King of Kings and with his beloved for the first time in fourteen years. But tonight, I’ll walk to the end of the garden and I’ll remember my forty one years with him and I’ll thank God that we were blessed with him. I’ll whisper, “Goodnight Pepa … I’ll see you soon.”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Century Plus One

In January, my sweet grandfather, Pepa, will turn 101.  He walks several miles every day and until this past year, kept a garden and still drives as well as a man half his age.  Just before his 100th birthday, he renewed his driver’s license for four more years.  There was a spectacular article written in the Benton Courier and a wonderful party was held on one of the iciest weekends that Arkansas has seen.  Despite the dicey roads, the family life center was packed with friends and family. There were letters of congratulations from The White House to the city mayor and a basket of cards, handmade by all the kids in the church he attends. 

He and my grandmother, Mema, were married 64 years (I think) when she passed away.  I used to think that 64 years of anything was an extremely large amount, but now that I’m forty, 64 isn’t quite as long as I once thought.  During their years together, they raised five sons, each of whom married wonderful women, and thus began the begetting. At any given time, there are sixty-something of our five generations running around.  It boggles the mind.  We are legion.

In his lifetime, Pepa has buried his parents, his siblings, his wife, two of his sons and one grandchild.  Also, in his lifetime, he has shared his love, his time and his life experience with countless numbers.

My childhood summers were spent on the back of his tractor as he mowed twelve acres that they and my parents owned.  Pepa was always up for a ride around the community, a ‘cold drink’ when it was blazing hot outside, a flat-bottom boat ride around the pond and he never, ever told me I couldn’t help him with some project or another.  The answer was always yes.  I’m positive I hindered more than I helped, but I never knew it as a child. He always wore Big Smith overalls, every day, without fail, and in the winter, plaid flannel shirts accompanied them.  I recall owning my own Big Smiths and begging my mom for shirts from the boys department because they had the same flannel that Pepa wore.  He could take you anywhere in the county, down all the back roads and Weyerhaeuser roads, because he worked for the county for years driving a motor grater.  There was always a snack available, though not what you commonly think of these days.  Pepa kept a bowl handy that would hold a Jumbo lemon cookie with a peach half and syrup … sometimes pears.  I must have logged a zillion hours sitting in his lap, writing down ‘the count and amount’ from the local noon news channel in the Big Chief writing tablet that sat by his chair.  I used to sit and comb his hair, side to side and back again, and he never told me to stop.  I’d drag him out to the shed to pilfer though the multitude of things that fascinated me, or talk him into feeding the fish in the pond or just about anything else.

I was a blessed child in an amazing family.  I was taught, and taught well, the things that would enable me to succeed in life.  I was raised with morals, values, faith, and a strength that, as I’ve aged, I’ve discovered not very many people understand.  My grandparents passed on their knowledge to their kids and I have to admit … a century of wisdom is awe-inspiring. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Make A Difference

One week from tomorrow you have the power to change your world.


Check out your local elections.  Read the items up for vote.  Check out the candidates - don't rely on ads.

It doesn't matter if you're right, left, forward or backward.  It doesn't matter if you're red, blue, green or yellow. 


We all have our complaints about our local, state and federal governments.  As long as we have life, we will have complaints.  We also have the freedom to have those complaints voiced.  We also have the freedom to do something about those complaints.  That privilege is voting ... so ...


Friday, October 22, 2010

Three Little Birds

Recently my 15 year old was injured in a junior varsity football game.  As a Sophomore, his taste of the turf comes on JV game days rather than under the glare of the Friday Night Lights. JV games are a different vibe, different crowd, different feel.  While I love the Friday night games, I suppose I enjoy the JV nights more. There is a wonder on those nights as the boys learn and put to use all the things they learned during the summer practices.  Pee wee and junior high are all about learning the fundamentals.  High school is where it all comes together. It's also where the injuries are more likely to happen.  After a trip to an ortho doctor where two days of tests revealed fractured ribs and a severly bruised calf, my kid is pacing the sidelines for six weeks.  In effect, the rest of the season.  That's a difficult thing for a teenager to deal with so I tried to be positive and supportive without being too ... mom.  When the final verdict was handed down and we were on our way home I was inspired.  No one can stay down long when Three Little Birds by Mr. Bob Marley is blaring out of the speakers.  We had a moment, my kid and me ... and that moment has kept him motivated over the past couple of weeks.  It also inspired the title of my blog, because when you look at the bigger picture, it's all gonna be alright ...

And so it begins ...

... my life as a blogger.

I'll be honest and tell you that I have no idea what I'm doing, but as with all things, live and learn! As the days pass, I'll figure it out ... or pester those in the know!

In the mean time, some of my favorite things are my kid who plays high school football, my family who inspire me every day, cooking, reading, yarncrafts and photography (though I don't shoot anymore).