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Archive for November, 2014

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If The Ocean Were Whiskey and I Was a Duck…

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Spinning Yarns.”


Stories weave us all together like a tightly woven quilt. My Daddy was quite the storyteller!! Combined with his infectious personality and his perfect comedic timing, he could tell you a joke and have you convinced it was true life!!! It would often take several moments after the punchline to realize everything he had told you was a story. Daddy was from a small town and his stories brought to life experiences that I couldn’t imagine, being more of a city girl.

Mom, on the other hand, was a city girl! She would regale me with stories of taking the bus downtown to go shopping at The Jones Store Company or eating lunch at Woolworth’s. When we would visit her childhood home, she would point out the skeletal remains of buildings that once grandly housed movie theaters, restaurants and shops. Now those buildings are lonely reminders of days past. I also recall her telling me how much she HATED chicken because she would go to the meat market with her momma and watch them ring the chickens’ necks, while being covered in blood-soaked aprons. She said the smell and sight stuck with her throughout her whole life and she could hardly stomach eating it.

I love to read, but more importantly, I love to listen. I can remember sitting on the back porch, as a sweet little girl, and just listen to Daddy tell stories. I remember him telling the story of the time he got kicked out of his high school band because he poured water in his Tuba. I can also recall the time he shared when he and his brothers, Alvin and Mop, built a wooden airplane. Somehow they convinced Mop to man the “plane” while Daddy and Alvin attempted the takeoff from the barn. One of my favorite tales was how he and many other boys in town did not want the dog catcher to take any dogs to the pound. One would be a lookout, and while the dog catcher was capturing a dog, the boys would sneak to his truck and let the imprisoned ones out!!!

As I grew into adulthood, those stories became more important to me. They were part of my legacy that I wanted to pass to my kids. I wanted them to know the history of their grandparents. As my Daddy’s thoughts and memories retreated further into the deep corners of his mind, I found I cherished those stories even more. I soaked up every word, even if he had told that same story, over and over and over… One evening, out of the blue he looked me square in the eye and said…”If the ocean were whiskey and I was a duck, I’d dive to the bottom and never come up.” WHAT????????? First off, I have never seen my Daddy with an alcoholic beverage! I asked where on earth that came from and he repeated it again. I never could get an answer. So, I met up with my new friend, Google, and typed in that sentence. What I found was the song, Rye Whiskey. Since his stories were slowly becoming silenced, I could only infer that this was a song his Daddy and brothers would play on their old front porch at night.

To me, a great storyteller isn’t necessarily one who is a famous published writer. Some of the best stories are the ones that are passed down from one generation to another, many times never recorded and almost always told again and again. Those stories that Momma and Daddy told us of their youth somehow connected me to them and actually made them real, not super humans. Now that they are both gone, that’s all I have left to remember them by…their stories. I hope that my kids remember the stories they heard from their grandparents, plus the stories I’ve told them and pass them on to the next generation. One day, the stories of my parents will only exist in their souls…departed from this earth, never to be shared again.

Perspective…No Matter How You See Things, There Will Always Be A Different Point-Of-View

As strange as this may sound, my upbringing was full of contradictions. Any time I would face a difficult moment, my mom would always try and help me see the other side of the coin. However, many things in my mom’s point of view was black and white, no gray. Her way or the highway. One such instance was church. We did NOT miss Mass for anything. We might be excused if we were vomiting, and we would definitely be excused if we had died, but other than that, it was a no go. You can imagine how well that set with a slightly rebellious teenager who wasn’t afraid to argue with her momma. Sunday morning, Mom would wake me up for Mass. I would grumble and fuss and matter-of-factly inform her I would NOT be attending Mass. She left my room and I went back to sleep CERTAIN I had won this battle. We fought this battle almost every Sunday and I never won, so I’m not sure why I was so persistent. Anyhow, she would return a little while later and be a bit more stern with me and demand I get up and get ready for Mass. Again, I would point out that my friends did not HAVE to get up EVERY Sunday and it wasn’t a sin to miss every once in a while. About that point, I received “the look” and again, she left my room. Ha!!!! I definitely knew I won that fight! More time would pass and I would start to fall back in a wonderful state of sleep, when she would return, once more, to awaken me from my slumber. The arguing, on my part, would start again. However, she would grow silent (which was NEVER a good sign that it would end well for me) and waited the proper wait time before she ever so sweetly and patiently uttered the following phrase…”Honey, God is in our house 7 days a week, you can spend one hour in His House.”. Shoot, I lost. There was NO fighting that logic and I got up and went to Mass. Well-played, Momma, well played!! I learned my momma skills from the Master!!!

The issue of attendance at Mass was black and white. Actually, I wouldn’t say it was black and white…you WENT regardless if you wanted to or not.

My point to my little anecdote is to point out that although my mom knew when to pick her battles, there were certain components of life that were non-negotiable, nor open to another perspective. Did her insistence influence my Faith? Not really. I have a very strong Faith and praise God daily for my blessings and try really hard to “offer up” my hard times and struggles.

One thing I have noticed more and more about myself is that I often find that I am putting myself in another person’s shoes trying to understand their particular perspective. I think when we fully try to see another point of view, we are more able to, and apt to, accept people for who they truly are and not what we “perceive” people to be.

I would say my strongest perspective is always trying to be positive, even when things are tough. I was just speaking to Brian the other day about times being tough. I’m a single-parent running a household on my income. There has been a recent glitch and I have had to start carrying the insurance on the family. That has taken a huge chunk out of my monthly income, but I am thankful I have insurance for my kids. Getting paid monthly makes for some creative budgeting! We live like royalty for the first few weeks, then the last week my meal-planning and prep takes on a more creative roll. I can remember not so far in the distant past, where the kids and I were cushion surfing trying to find as many coins as possible in order to pay for school lunches or whatnot.

What’s my perspective on this struggle?? Well, some of my fondest memories and bonding moments with my loved ones are when money is tightest. It seems we spend a lot more time at home and less time running around. We have more dinners around the table, even if they aren’t restaurant quality. Strange, huh???

Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient has also completely transformed my level of patience for others and understanding for the elderly population. My Daddy was a great man, but his personality was heightened due to his disease. Sometimes, he would be grumpy and argumentative and really didn’t care who heard what he had to say. Not always the most fun when we were in public. He could also be incredibly flirty…again, there were many embarrassing moments when he would propose marriage to complete strangers!!! I learned to go with the flow with him. One day, he thought I was his sister and other days he would think I was momma or even a childhood girlfriend. So my take on things now? When I see someone who is hateful and misbehaving in public, I don’t automatically assume they are jerks. It could be they are having a moment. I’m sure many people thought my dad was an odd duck, when in reality he was a gentle man who suffered cruelly from a miserable disease. Strangers did not know this. How could they, he didn’t wear a stamp that indicated his trial. Like everyone else, we have no clue what is going on in each other’s life at any given moment.

Am I always the epitome of happiness? No!! There are many times I am down and frustrated. There are many times I can’t always see the forest through the trees. There are many times I find I am jaded and cynical. BUT, in the end I manage to end the self-doubt and self-pity and try to find a different take on things. I find that when I try to look through a different lens, I have a much deeper understanding and appreciation for everyone, regardless of their life’s journey. My challenge during this season of Thanks and Giving is to really, truly try and put yourself in someone’s shoes. Don’t assume a person’s behavior is an automatic personality determinant. I remember reading a challenge somewhere that encouraged people to try and not complain for 24 hours. That may be something I’ll try!!!

Love and blessings to all

Letting Go…I Have To But It Can Be So Dang Hard.

I have been silent for a very long time.  It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  I have had a lot to say.  So much, that I had no clue where to start or what to even write about.  It seems life is flying by way too fast and I just wish it would slow down a bit.  In the past few years, there have been way too many transitions in my life.  My mom, my best friend, passed away.  Devastation is about the only word I can say that describes losing your momma.  No matter how prepared you are for it, it still hurts.  Then I had to say goodbye to Daddy…twice.  The Alzheimer’s took the man I knew and loved and replaced him with someone different.  Then his body couldn’t take it anymore.  He went to be with momma.  Again, there are no other words to describe it than…devastation.  I miss them.  A lot.

As the days continue to move forward, there are so many more transitions where I find that I have to let go.  2011, Andrew (my oldest) graduated from high school.  He is my first born, and just 22 years ago I never thought the day would come where it was time for him to leave the nest.  He kept me busy!!!  He was involved in everything, and I was right there by his side, cheering him on every step of the way.  The day he graduated from high school was almost as amazing as the day I first held him in my arms.  For the first time ever, I watched my boy cross the stage and became a man!  He stayed home his first year of college and it was a challenging year.  We butted heads, a lot!  He knew he wanted to fly, he just didn’t know where he wanted to fly to.  During that year, he finally decided on a major and a college.  So, the following September, it was time to move him to college…and let go.  I held the tears back, until I was on the road.  During those 3 years, I have truly witnessed something awe inspiring and amazing.  I watched that beautiful, amazing boy become a man.  I watched him make adult decisions and adult mistakes.  I also witnessed him learn from his successes and mistakes and become a better person for it.  I have no doubt in my heart that this boy, (ok, man) will do phenomenal things with his life.

2014, time to let another kiddo fly into the world!  It was Jody’s time to shine!!!  photo (1)I swear, from the moment that boy was born, I knew he was going to keep me on my game.  There was never a dull moment with that one.  He spent a lot of his time during elementary school in time out.  We also spent countless hours at various hospitals with different broken bones and stitches.  He played hard!!!  As he grew, I also saw an incredible leader begin to take shape and a young man who worked hard in his studies.  His senior year, he decided to join the US Navy Reserves.  So the summer after he graduated high school, it was time to let another fledgling leave my happy little nest.  In August, I watched him board a plane a very scared young man to leave for Boot Camp.  I had very little contact with him during that time, and that was hard.  He had to make it on his own, and there wasn’t anything I could do to help him.  In October, I was able to attend his graduation from Boot Camp and the transformation was incredible.  I gave the Navy my boy, and they have made him a strong, independent man.  I am so very proud of him.

I wish I could say I’m done with transitions, but I’m not.  My baby girl, Carolyn, is taking flight now.  She’s my baby and I still see her as such, but these past few months I’m seeing a beautiful, amazing and intelligent young woman.  You see, it’s her Senior year now.  It’s her year!!!  A she’s embracing every moment of it.  She’s an incredible leader who is quiet but able to see and feel another person’s point
photo (2)of view.  She is such a genuine, beautiful, gentle soul.  I have watched her transform before my eyes!  She was one of the drum majors for her high school marching band, and she led them with pride.  She’s made a college and career decision, and I couldn’t be more proud of that sweet, sweet soul.  She’s going to a be a nurse!  Why?  Because she was so impressed with the level of care her grandpa received while in hospice care.  In her words, someone had a huge impact on her who did not even realize they were doing so!  In a few months, I am going to witness the culmination of my years as a momma.  I get to see her walk across that stage and receive her high school diploma.  In less than a year I’ll be letting go for the third time. That thought is hard, but I know that I have done a great job raising her.

Even though letting go is so dang hard, it’s part of the transition of life.  I want my kids to know how very, very proud I am of each of them.  They have done amazing things so far and they will continue to impress and amaze me.  I know they want their independence, and I truly believe one of the best gifts I can give them is the unconditional freedom to find their footprint in this world.  I remember being their age and wanting to fly fast and fly far.  I also remember kicking back from my parents, but I also remember my parents giving me the freedom to find myself without too many guilt trips.  I guess what I’m saying is, giving the world these amazing human beings is truly the greatest accomplishment I’ve done so far.