Without it, life would take an incomprehensible and irreversible turn.
Every few days, my mom says to me “we’re going to the funeral home”.
The “we” is she and my dad.
I never know what’s going on so, as far as I’m concerned, it could be a relative or close personal friend.
Tonight, it was the wife of a preacher I’ve never heard of.
I don’t take the paper myself and even if I did, I wouldn’t read every word of every obituary looking for familiar names so I’d have a reason to go to the funeral home.
When I was a kid, growing up on a dirt road miles off the “main road”, the obituaries were read on the radio.
You late forty and older crowd, who live or have lived in the South, know what I’m talking about.
There was one AM station on the radio that was only part static and most words could be understood.
First came the Pledge of Allegiance, then the obituaries followed by the madly popular “Swap Shop”.
Since there was only that one discernable station, everyone around our parts listened to it.
They swapped hogs and chickens for mule harnesses and tractor tires, then met at the funeral home to talk about it because someone they didn’t know, who was a relative of someone they hadn’t seen in years, had died.
Congregating at the funeral home; it’s a Southern thing, I suppose.
Or maybe it’s just a Southwest Virginia thing.
I think we’ll find, however, it’s broader than my little neck of the woods and call it a Southern thang.
of blogging about driving around today with the convertible top down, the music loud and the wind in my face; of blooming trees and budding flowers, puffy clouds in a blue, sun-drenched sky and the perfectness of a warm April day.
But I just hung up the phone after talking to my mom and the things I previously held up in importance faded into the background.
She is a rock, a beacon, a lighthouse, a safe haven.
She knows everything about me, the things that shamed me and, at one time or another, shamed her.
In my youth, I hurt her deeply and couldn’t find within myself the knowledge or ability to make it right.
She knows of my dreams and aspirations and is always the first one to encourage me even as she puts her own dreams and aspirations on hold.
It isn’t easy to explain to someone that thoughts, images, words, experiences, memories and a myriad of other flotsam runs through my head, in a constant stream, even when I’m sleeping.
And that is when I am at my baseline and not in manic mode.
She takes it in stride without judgement or condemnation and, I have come to realize, did so even when I felt I was being judged and condemned.
Nobody can condemn me any more than I condemn myself. It is the nature of my world and I live with it.
She knows, though, simply by looking at my face or hearing my voice ,when I am in the throes of mania or, thankfully more rarely, the despondency of a depressive crash.
She understands that sometimes, I have to go away; from her, from myself, from everyone and just be dormant.
She knows these things and doesn’t hold them against me.
There is no “well, you did this or that or the other thing”.
She isn’t like that.
She is patient and kind.
She is, without doubt, the Proverbs 31 woman.
I would like to be like her, but that is an aspiration that will never come. It isn’t that my cup is half empty, but that I live, as much as I can, in a reality-based existence.
She is a light in a dark place and I migrate to her when I need simply to know that someone loves me unconditionally.
I tell her I love her, but how do you describe to someone that you cannot imagine a life without them.
Unless I die first by some freak event, by the natural order of things, I will lose her at some point in my life.
I cannot imagine a world without my mom.
So I will put that with other things I cannot imagine into a box that lives in the outer-regions of my heart.
When I am manic, the box will break open and I will have to face the possibility, but for now, when I am am simply on overdrive, it is secure in the little locked box.
She inspires me with her acceptance and encouragement and that, without doubt or reservation, beats blooming trees in springtime seen from a back road drive with the convertible top down.
I love you, Mom .
My Mother’s Mother’s bleeding hearts
This is how she makes me feel … cherished
All of that being said about my mom, I want to extrapolate to another area and extend prayers and encouragement to a friend that I have long lost touch with. She lost her son, the light of her world and is now lying among the shattered pieces of her world. Keep Pam Begley in your prayers when you pray. I cannot fathom losing a child.
More specifically, to Clinch Mountain and even more specifically, to Big Moccasin.
The temperatures and weather over the past couple of weeks has been like riding the world’s most vertigo-inducing roller-coaster immediately after eating corn dogs, grilled sausages with onions and funnel cakes.
Better than Ipecac syrup, that.
But this past Sunday … wow. Just wow.
A perfect day filled with fog, clouds, blue sky, sunshine, a spring breeze, and a trip into my mountain.
Like my orchard, the mountain isn’t really mine.
It isn’t really anyone’s.
Even though someone may hold the deed to a particular part of the earth, that part thrives and takes what it wants and has little regard for that little piece of paper that claims ownership.
The trees grow, the flowers bloom, the grass thrives, the leaves bud, the creek flows and human existence is of little relevance.
I found this to be true when I went into “my” mountain on Sunday.
If it was glad to see me, it didn’t say so, not with words, but I think, at least I like to think, that it missed me a little bit, anyway.
I went to the Orchard first. It was just beginning to bud. I kissed the tender buds, the gnarled branches and the crooked trunks.
Was I worshiping the trees or the orchard or the sun or the sky?
Of course not.
I was worshiping the Creator of those lovely things.
I laid on the newly-greening grass beneath the apple trees and thought deep thoughts about everything and nothing. I thought forbidden thoughts, dreamed lovely dreams, and reveled in the sense of contented aloneness that I feel while immersed in nature.
I can be myself beneath the trees that I love, without pretending or hoping or wishing. They have an understanding of who I am and what I aspire to be. That is the nature of trees. They are unassuming and accept me, along with my dreams and fantasies, without condemnation.
Just as I am, without filters or regrets.
Thank you, Jesus, for the Orchard.
I find peace in no place like I find it behind the lens of a camera watching the world that God created play before my very eyes. I feel, sometimes, like an intruder into the perfect world of nature but I cannot look away from the magnificence.
Of course, as on any successful excursion, hike or trail shoot, I became unbelievably filthy and muddy by crawling beneath branches and vines on the edge of the creek in order to preserve, through images, the delicacy of fragile blooms that help to define spring.
I didn’t, on this journey, find any fiddle-heads, but it is a bit early yet. I am already looking forward to my next trek into the spring mountain, for with every trip, every journey, there will be more to see, to experience. More to overload my already overloaded senses and send me to a place that one can only get to by being in the mountains in springtime.
I am, without doubt, blessed beyond measure and I am thankful.
Isaiah 55:12 ~ For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
although sometimes, until it is compromised, we can forget that simple fact and take for granted that we will just wake up every morning.
We forget that no-one is promised another day, another hour, another minute.
Took it for granted, that is.
I set my alarm each night in a way that is likely odd to most. I set it for 1:00 am, then hit the three hour snooze which takes me to 4:00 am, then hit the preset alarm for 5:15. And when it goes off that last time, I spring up and begin my routine which is exactly the same every morning.
This past Friday, I followed the same pattern. I woke up, started the coffee, brushed my teeth, drank half my coffee and took the rest into a scalding hot shower for 20 minutes, started my car (it’s pitch dark here at that hour, so clothes are optional), fed the cat, dressed and went to work.
I arrived without incident, but while walking into the building, I passed out.
A friend I walk into work with most mornings was with me and kept me from busting my head on the concrete, for which I am grateful, and got me to the ER.
I was found to be profoundly anemic and the plans to administer a transfusion were quickly underway.
But in the meantime, life interfered.
My heart stopped.
I don’t recollect that as it was for less than two minutes before the adept ER staff had me back up and running, but it doesn’t change the fact that, for a period of 96 seconds, my heart did not beat.
I left that part out when I told my family about my transfusion because, well, I suppose I don’t have a good reason except that they would have made a big deal about it and worried unnecessarily about the whole thing.
I didn’t see any lights or hear voices nor did I venture into the afterlife.
I have no stories to tell or visions to embellish.
What I do know is that each moment, even the boring and insubstantial ones, carry some importance.
I could have simply slipped away. That would have been ok as I know who I am, to whom I belong and where I well be when my time is up.
I’m thankful, however, that I have more time to love those who touch my heart, to offer encouragement and to continue to walk the path I have been given.