Category Archives: childhood

My beloved …

much missed and cherished convertible is back.

She still makes noises and currently has no back seats, but she’s running.

I have missed my little car.

I mistreated her by making her pretend she was a Jeep, but she took it.

I will mistreat her again to get to the places I need to go and she, as she always has, will understand.

She knows me, my dreams and aspirations.

She understands my yearning to see and photograph.

I’m very happy to have her back and hope she knows how much I’ve missed her.

She’s mine; she was always meant to be mine.

I won’t trade her when I am finally able fulfill my lifelong dream and get a Jeep.

No, she’s safe here. She will always have a place in my heart (and in my driveway).

I’m pretty sure she knows that.

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She took me to my falls many, many times.

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She took me to the high places at Clingman’s Dome in the Smoky Mountains, where snow fell heavily in October.

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She took me, in the pouring rain, to Hungry Mother Park in Marion, VA

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She took me up and down Big Moccasin every day, stopping often so I could photograph my favorite trees.

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She took me, more than once, to the Outer Banks of NC.

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OBX again …

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and again.

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She took my girls with me many times …

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      many times.

Yes, I’m very happy to have her back.

Very happy, indeed.

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Learning from Gracie as she contines to grow …

is an experience in humility.

She has Down’s Syndrome, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to or watching her.

She runs, plays, swing, argues, wrestles, loves, hugs, manipulates and somehow ends up being the center of attention wherever she goes simply because she has a larger than life personality.

She knows what she wants and how to get it.

Usually by putting her innocent-looking, pixie-faced, tinkerbell eyes on her Papaw.

He can deny her nothing.  He says he can, but he can’t.

Or maybe won’t is the better way to say it.

She has him wrapped as tight as Dick’s hatband around her little finger, her forefinger, her middle finger, her thumb.

He is wrapped.

Period.

Ice cream, Papaw.

Okay.

Pretzels, Papaw.

Okay.

Murder the neighbor and bury them in Louisa’s spring, Papaw.

Okay.

It is a joy to watch her as she learns to manipulate the ones she knows are easy marks.

I, on occasion, an am easy mark, but for the most part, she knows that Nini means business and expects her to act like a human child; but even I have my limitations when she flashes that smile and says “I love you, Nini”.

I am, after all,  human.

She is growing up so fast.

It seems like only moments ago that she was in the NICU with lines and tubes and a tiny body that looked as though it would break with a look and shatter with a touch.

But she passed the shatter stage a while back.

She is a pistol, is our Gracie, and as tough as nails.

She doesn’t take no for an answer, asks a million questions one after the other and could give Flash Gordon a run for his money when she feels like it.

I think we have all chased her (and lost) at some point, while she laughs and skips and eludes our efforts to catch her.

She is a bit like the gingerbread man.  Catch me if you can, she says, knowing we are too slow to be any real threat.

She went back to school this week and loved on all her classmates as though they had been cruelly separated for years.

I don’t know much about anything but I know this … a hug from Gracie can make the worst day, the most difficult moment, the hardest trial seem as nothing.

She has way about her.  A being, an aura, a spirit … call it what you will, but it is irresistible and it is life-altering.

She has a way of making you feel, at the moment, as though you are the most important thing in the world; and the ability to make you believe it unequivocally.

I cannot imagine, and will not imagine a world without Gracie for it would, without doubt, irrevocably break my spirit.

She is the epitome of sunshine.  I’m pretty sure when Jimmy Davis and Charles Mitchell wrote “you are my sunshine”, they did so because they had a premonition about Gracie.  God is cool that way.

She is a bright spot in the lives of everyone she come across.

It would be my great pleasure for all of my friends to meet her, to know her and to benefit greatly from one of her “I love you even if you are an idiot” hugs.

She doesn’t take into account how smart, how talented, how boring, how nerdy, how geeky, how crazy, how messed up, how depressed, how out of touch or how indifferent you are.

She changes lives, just by being, by smiling, by living.

A smile from Gracie, unless you are the devil  himself, will melt you like warm chocolate.

She is, unto herself, an entity.

There really is no way to avoid the beauty that enters your person when she hugs you tightly and puts her little face into your neck.

She is a gift from God.  A simple truth.

She sees life and people  in one dimension and that is unbiased love.  She doesn’t understand anything else (except the occasional temper tantrum that makes the Kraken look like a goldfish).

But we’ll save that tidbit for another day.

For now, by proxy, be encouraged by Gracie. She is a power to be reckoned with and it is wonderful to be a part of this precious child’s life.

“It’s Nini” she says, as she runs with her arms outstretched to me.  Every other thought in my head dissolves for it has no power against such beauty.

I am thankful for her.  I am grateful for her.  I am indebted to her.

May God continue to bless our sweet Gracie.

She is beautiful and she makes everything and everyone around her beautiful as well.

like a mermaid, she take to the ocean ... free and beautiful

like a mermaid, she takes to the ocean … free and beautiful

no matter where she goes, she will always be her daddy’s girl

Sometimes, only a papaw will do …

When the Halloween episode of Little House on the Prairie …

makes you hide under the covers and sleep with the lights on for a month, it sticks with you for a long, long time.  We’re working on what, now?  Thirty years?  Thirty five? More?

It sticks.  Trust me.

Ok, so maybe I am the only person, other than Laura Ingalls, who was terrified, freaked out and mentally assaulted at the thought of good-natured, sweet, gentile, patient, unassuming Mr. Olsen taking Mrs. Olsen’s head off with a sword and then answering the knock at the front door with an apron covered in blood.

Maybe I am.

It wouldn’t be the first thing, nor I regrettably admit, will it be the last, that freaked me out while having little or no effect on those around me.

No effect other than making them roll their eyes and mutter comments under their breath that they didn’t think I could hear.

I heard them.

All of them.

Well, most of them anyway.

Or I imagined them which, in my world, amounts to pretty much the same thing.

(For those who are unsure as to whom I speak, Laura was not a real person … well, she was, as she was an actress, but her character was just that … a character … made up by the ever talented, though now dead, Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I have read ALL of the Little  House books, unashamedly, multiple times over and do not  remember this particular scene in any of them.  I could have blocked it out, though, because that is what I do with disturbing images that terrify me and make me wet the bed because I am too afraid to put my feet on the floor, opening them to whatever may be underneath it, to walk to the bathroom.)

It wasn’t a scary show, but then neither was The Waltons and the episode when Elizabeth (whom I disliked a great deal anyway)  was becoming a teenager, made me feel the need for serious, long-term, ongoing therapy.

Knowing these things and, knowing as I do what a fraidy-cat, chicken-hearted, scare-baby (thanks Pollyanna, for scare-baby) I am, it is with horrified trepidation that I await the soon-to-be-received Netflix selection of True Blood that is even now on its way to my terrified-by-association mailbox.

The very thought of blood in my mouth makes my usually absent gag reflex perk up and sing the hallelujah chorus.

And still yet.

I can’t imagine what I was thinking.

Yes I can.  Peer pressure.  I succumbed to it.  Pure and simple.

I was recently introduced, by a friend, at least she was disguised as a friend, to Joe Manganiello, aka Alcide.  Well, not personally introduced for if I had met him in person, I would be bragging daily in that “I’m better than you can ever hope to be because I have met Alcide in person” tone.

I don’t know exactly how to brag efficiently because I don’t have much to brag about, but were I to meet that man in person, I would learn quickly.

Or at least fake it persuasively.

And I would become adept at lying, which is pretty much the same as faking it persuasively, but oh dear me …  the stories I would tell.

But all of that hinges on the the possibility that I had been introduced to him in person, when in reality, I wasn’t.

I had not heard of him before.  I don’t watch TV, watch the news, read the newspaper or otherwise partake in life as it happens outside my own definition of reality.

Sometimes I wonder why I don’t just strap a backpack filled with toast-chee crackers and hot mama sausages to my back and live my life in the mountains in a way that would closely resemble Grizzly Adams … or, more aptly, Mad Jack and Old Number Seven.

So anyway, after a brief diversion, I get back to the point; this video, filled with vampires, blood, gore, blood, violence, blood, sex, blood and a gruesomeness that I cannot even imagine … oh, and blood, in the mouth no less …  is on its way to my home.

I was told that this Alcide character didn’t show up until the third season, but to have a single solitary clue what was happening, I had to watch it from the beginning.  I have doubts, however, given my reaction after five minutes subjected to “The Living Dead”, which is not an HBO production, that I will make it through the first episode.

That statement is notwithstanding to the fact that the email from  Netflix with the photo associated with the show nearly made we wretch.

I have striven to be tough, more immune to outside influences, harder of heart and body and more like a living, breathing human being.

I really have.

But I’m not sure I accomplished what I set out to accomplish.

I wanted to be popular.

Like my sister.

I wanted to be good at sports.

Like my sister.

I wanted to have the ability to watch horror movies in the eighties with MY boyfriend instead of running out of the theater crying inconsolably.

Like my sister.

Just ask her.  It was a proud moment in her life.  Actually proud moments because she went on nearly every date I ever had.

But that is neither here nor there.  Actually it is or I wouldn’t have brought it up, but it shouldn’t be.  I’ll just say it that way.

And she, the sister I wanted to be like, watched “The Exorcist” with her friends while I cowered in my room with a thin wall between me and the TV and belted out show-tunes to keep the sound of the movie from my ears.  It was pathetic and likely still the topic of dinner table conversations of those who partook in that particular episode of my life.

And people wonder why I am warped.

I suppose, too, that they will be wondering why I am in the hospital on an overdose on stolen Xanax after only a few minutes of watching the pilot episode of True Blood.

Then they will remember this post and say “Oh …  yeah … well, I’m not all that surprised” as they bite into their warm, six inch, flatbread, tuna with provolone, spinach, avocado, red onion, black olive sandwich with jalapeno on the side from Subway.

Then they will go on with their lives while I gulp down Thorazine and fight off night terrors.

Peer pressure.

Do as I say, not as I do and avoid it at all costs.

I’ve got one hand in my pocket and the other one on an ancient typewritertypewriter

Abby, howling with ecstasy or insanity … either one workslaughingAbby