Tag Archives: memories

My nieces …

are remarkable.

Each of them brings me unspeakable joy.

Sophie, the oldest, was my first. I watched her being born and captured the first photograph of her.

She became, that photograph did, anyway, a greeting card.

http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/holiday-cards/nurses-day-cards/general-nurses-day/nurses-day-obstetrics-new-baby-exam-150758?aid=133039

Gracie, known to me as Gracie-Bell, was second. I didn’t witness her birth as she decided to create all kinds of drama.

She, like her older sister, is a drama queen.

Gracie has Down’s Syndrome but lives life as though it will end tomorrow. She’s a character and, as you may have imagined, a greeting card as well.

http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/holiday-cards/nurses-day-cards/general-nurses-day/happy-nurses-day-child-dancing-803906?aid=133039

Life happens as it happens and as it does, I capture it.

It’s what I do.

My daughter, for instance, was a music education major.  She’s chosen a different path, yet still found herself on a greeting card.

http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/miss-you-cards/general-miss-you/girl-with-trumpet-music-135567?aid=133039

My dad, an inspiration to me though we often butted heads, is my mentor. Guess what?  Yep, a greeting card.

http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/dad-father-birthday-cards/general/happy-birthday-dad-farmer-246883?aid=133039

Life happens.

In that life is magnificence.

Live.

Love.

Embrace.

Enjoy.

Time passes, life goes on, memories fade.

Enjoy each moment for there will come a time when nothing, except memories, remain.

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Family. Friends. Creation. Life.

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Nothing matters more.

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It’s funny how it’s funny …

later.

I am a facebook junkie. I admit it.  No reason not to really, since people I have never laid eyes on see the things I say.  I post random thoughts at random times and forget, more often than not, to change the filter that goes from my brain to my mouth; or in this case, my fingers.

Often, things that other people say or do remind me of events of my own life.  Tonight was one of those times.  As it happened this time, it was something I said that brought the old-but-not-forgotten memory into focus and I was taken back, decades, to a time in my childhood.

I was six years old.  Ok, maybe I was five or even seven; it has been so long ago that the age has escaped me, but the clarity of the memory has not.  I write this, not to remind my beautiful, wonderful Aunt Nell of the error of her ways (though to a kid, the error was heinous), but to relive a priceless, however painful, moment in time.

She was like a mystery wrapped in an enigma, was my Aunt Nell.  She was beautiful, knew famous people and likely, most importantly even, owned a portable tape recorder and brought presents in her multi-colored bag.  She and my Uncle Ford lived in Pennsylvania which, to a kid growing up in the back country, tobacco-farming, cow-milking, chicken-raising, hog-slopping, corn-hoeing, bean-picking, mule-plowing area of Southwest Virginia, could just have well been Ireland or Italy or France.

Or Gate City.

All I knew for certain was that it was hours away and trips there, with Grandaddy in the back seat with me and later, my little sister, was never a joy.

And yet, I digress.

As I said, I was a kid, the age remaining undetermined, and was on the cusp of pulling  a tooth.  Even as a little girl, the very thought of blood in my mouth made me sick to my stomach.  So obviously, pulling a tooth was right up there with being staked to an anthill.

They, she and Uncle Ford, came to visit, along with the snazzy clothes, tape recorder and gifts that I could never resist hinting about.

That drove my mother crazy … the hinting, not the presents … but I knew she would bring me something and the suspense nearly gave me a coronary.

How embarrassing  that would have been at five, or six or whatever.

And so, I digress again.  This was supposed to be a story about an event that has, for obvious reasons, stuck with me for nearly forty years.

The loose tooth.

So, Aunt Nell, or as we in the family call her, Aunt Neldie, had the bright idea that she could pluck that tooth right out of my mouth, painlessly and with little to no bloodshed.

I, being a gullible child, went along with it.

She was, after all, the well-respected, visit-anticipated, living in another country, Aunt Nell.

I let her, against my inner voice’s urging, tie a string to my tooth.

Then I watched in barely contained horror as she tied the other end of the string to a doorknob.

Then I stood, idly by, as she proceeded to slam the door with the strength of a Sumo wrestler.

Or Batman, even.

This being the same door holding the string tied to my tooth.

It should have worked, she said.

I don’t understand it, she said.

Don’t cry (as if!), she said.

Come back, she said.

At least I think she said these things.

I had disentangled myself from the doorknob at this point and was stalking up the hill towards the smokehouse.

I’ll explain a smokehouse some other time, but it isn’t where you go to smoke, unless you were my cousin.  It’s where he went to smoke unless he wanted to be skinned by my mamaw.

As I was stalking off, I was crying.  I hadn’t yet learned to say curse words or I would have been cursing, which would have gotten my mouth washed out with soap.  For real.  I made it to the top of the hill, the house still in view when I stopped.

There at the top of the hill was the mule that everyone called Old Beck.  She was a gentle creature, but I, as a child (and even into my teens and twenties – and let’s just be truthful here, my thirties) was an avowed chicken.

I was afraid of everything.  Bugs, airplanes, grass, bees, water, dark, oxygen.

Even sweet-natured-if-stubborn-to-a-fault Old Beck.

It would be much simpler to say what I wasn’t afraid of.

Dirt.

I wasn’t afraid of dirt.

Unless there were bugs or worms in it.

At any rate, I found myself too chicken to actually run away as I had originally planned and went back to the house where the offense had occurred.

While it wasn’t funny at the time, it has been a constant source of amusement over the years.

I forgave Aunt Neldie, because otherwise, she wouldn’t have given me the present she brought or let me play with her tape recorder.

But I didn’t forget it.

Some things just stick with you, ya know?

I. Was. Running.flolicking

Don’t panic .. and wear your sunglasses.Beemer, a sweet Great Pyrenees, shows his Hollywood

George Jones’ death …

took me back, in my mind, many years and unearthed several memories that I had suppressed.  As a kid, whether we were driving to church or going on vacation (for my Dad was in charge of choosing stations), there was one of two things on the radio; sports or George Jones.

At the time, I thought that surely, this was the worst thing that could happen to a person.

However, as I got older, and developed my own taste in music (and sports, though that is irrelevant in this post), I found that I listened to quite a bit of George.

Or “Possum”, as he was familiarly known.  It wasn’t the most flattering nickname, but in reality, he really did, somewhat resemble, a possum.

Sorry George, but as my dad is fond of saying, “the truth will stand when the world’s on fire”.

When I look at my LP collection, I find that there are several of his albums there.  When I still had eight-tracks (and for those of you too young to know what that is, look it up) there were many “George Jones” in that collection, too.

My dad was a fan.  I was always trying to impress my dad and win his approval, so I suppose that some of my “George admiration” came from that.  But at some point, I realized that I just plain liked his music.

I also liked Conway Twitty, John Conlee, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Reba McEntire, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Elvis and Lefty Frizzelle (just to name the ones that come easily, without stressing my brain, to mind).

So sue me.

The music today that calls itself country has little to do with what I grew up with.  As a matter of fact, it has little to do with music at all, but then, I may be biased.

OK, I am biased.  But so what?  Even though I have a hard time playing a note of music, I know what it should sound like.  I understand it on a personal level and appreciate it in the very basic way that one understands and appreciates it.

It is a huge, very consuming part of my everyday life.

But I digress.  I was talking about George and the impact his death had on me and I know, without asking, on my Dad.

I don’t consider myself immortal.  I believe with my whole being that, if I died right now, I would go to Heaven and I have no illusions about living forever.  But …

Seeing my idols and the people that I have “known” all my life die … well, that makes me think.

I don’t remember a time in my life that George wasn’t a part of it.  He was popular when I was born (or so I am told, as I don’t remember those first few days) and became moreso in the years to come.  And now he is dead.  His music will live on for decades and generations, but the man himself is gone from this world.  That is a sobering thought.

It hurts my heart nearly as much as when Andy Gibb died.  That was a black day in my life.  I loved him more than life, but he chose drugs over life.  Choices.  It all comes down, once again, to choices, BUT, I digress once again.

I cried like a child when, first Maurice Gibb and then again when Robin Gibb died.  The Brothers Gibb (Bee-Gees) were my favorites and remain so, even though only Barry remains.  Sometimes, when I think about them young and beautiful, singing their songs as only they could, I still cry. (If I keep this up, I will be crying before the night is out).

It was an end of an era for me, as it was when Conway died, as it was … then when Waylon died … then when Johnny died; well, this could go on for pages, but you get the idea.

The same can be said of George.  I’ll miss you, Possum, and will, most likely, cry for you now and again as well because … well, because I loved you, too.

RIP, George … RIP.

Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?  Who, indeed?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xi3GgoLtlWk

a single day in a remarkable journey

Early this morning, well before sunrise, I was up because I had planned to go to Sunrise Service at church.  Had been looking forward to it.  There is something inexplicably peaceful about standing in the cemetery on Easter as the first blush of morning blooms behind the quaint little country church.  There is a knowing that this is real, that what I have believed, what I have based my life on, is true.

Standing there in the cemetery.

But the sound of the pouring rain and knowing that because of it, the service would be held inside the church, changed my mind.

I tooled around the house a bit, restless.  During lulls in the rain, I stood on the back porch, absorbing the heavy, moisture-laden air, smelling the scents that can only be found during springtime in the mountains.  Thinking about things.

As the seemingly random thoughts passed through my mind, I found myself immersed in memory and longing.  It has been over three years since Jim died and I haven’t dreamed of him once.   Now, though, images that have been building over the past few days floated before me in a lovely haze.  Annie’s song.  The bagpiper in the cemetery.  A sharp tux at my first gallery showing.  The painting of the tree in my closet.  Looking back, the signs were there.  I think the memories were likely kindled last week when I was fiddling around with his clarinet.

Out of nowhere, it occurred to me that in all the years we were married, he never played for me.  Not once.

Of course, thinking of such things can do nothing but ruin an otherwise lovely day and I said as much to myself as I turned on the music.  It didn’t matter what kind, just anything would do until, as usual, I migrated to what was on my mind all along.  The melodies and verse filled my mind.  It didn’t stop the memories, though; they came anyway, unbidden and uninvited.   That’s the way of it sometimes.

The more I listened, the more I allowed myself to be carried along as I stepped back, in my mind, in time.  The music continued to play as  background to my thoughts while scenes long past wavered and became clear on the edges of my subconscious.   Jim and I had a great deal in common when it came to music.    It was a huge part of our lives, both a joy and a heartache; a double-edged sword.  At least it was how it seemed to me.

We took something very different away from it.  I shared with him the thoughts and feelings the music evoked; the way it made me want to weep or laugh or scream … to dance in the grass under the light of a full, summer moon … the excitement in the pit of my stomach.  To him, it was only sound and what I was trying to explain made sense only to me.  Seeing it now years later, with eyes unobstructed by grief, I realize I wanted him to want to understand me and was perplexed when he didn’t.

That knowledge chipped away at something vital to my well-being and made me feel foolish and insecure.  It was hurtful.  It wasn’t intentional, but it was still hurtful. I had not yet reached a point in my life when I trusted the way that music made me feel; didn’t realize that it held the same power over me whether anyone else felt it or not. I tried to bury, or at least quiet, the discombobulating range of emotion that it evoked in me … but the music was just too powerful.

It still is.  It will always be.  I not only know and understand what it can do to me, but embrace it and that in itself is freeing, like falling through the air.  Through his indifference, not just about music, but other things, came encouragement to find my own skin and be comfortable in it.    To everything, there is a season.

Memories teach me many things … for one, life goes on … my past doesn’t change, but my perception of it often does.  God takes the pieces that seem out of place and puts them in perspective.  Even with its ups, downs, doses of reality, complexities and melancholic rantings, life really is quite remarkable.  There is enough joy and wonder to balance out the rest if we embrace it.

powelvalley_windsofmtnempire-3

For the first time in years …

a Christmas tree is in my home.  I don’t really  know what to feel about it.  There are so many emotions swirling through my mind and heart that I find it nearly impossible to separate them.  There is, first and foremost, the pure joy of having a lighted tree in my house that I am moved to tears, over and over, moved to tears.  The smell of cedar permeates the very existence that I know.  The lights blink, fade and flash, making me wonder if perhaps I am having a spell of some sort.  I have only lights on the tree as anything else seems to take away from the beauty. I am enamored and find myself staring, nearly hypnotized by the purity of that which is before me.

I hadn’t really planned on having a Christmas tree.  It has been so long and the thought made me feel sad and anxious along with a myriad of other emotions  and to be perfectly honest, I was afraid.  Afraid of the thoughts it would provoke and the memories it would invoke … but as I look at and dream with the lights, I realize that it is not made of things past or memories best left unearthed, but perfect beauty.  I am  awed by what I see and know that the memories I am making are my own, not those that are carried over from time past, but mine.  I don’t know that I have, before now, had memories that didn’t include someone else, memories that, in my heart, belonged only to me.  But now I do, and so I will cherish them.  I can’t say for certain that when Christmas comes around next year, I will have a tree, but I hope I will.  I hope for many things and hope is a good thing … maybe the best of things.  As long as hope is alive, no good thing ever dies.  I am grateful.  I am thankful.  I am content.  I find that being content is, without doubt, one of the greatest feelings ever.  Yes, there are people I am missing in my life, friends that I seem to have lost touch with, loved ones who are far away, but contentment is something that comes from within.  It has little to do with the outside world and everything to do with how I feel when I am alone.  Being alone does not have to be coexistent with being lonely. I am not lonely.  I am, at times, confused, and possibly discombobulated, but not lonely.  I have everything I need right here.  Yes, I am content; a beautiful thing indeed.

CHRISTMAS