A Wedding

June 30, 1984, Billy Crozier and I got married. Just that. It was always enough for me. Neither of us had a job, car, a dime to our name. We were 18 years old and in love. No one thought we would be together a year, except my Granny Sally. She would always tell me: You will make it. You love each other too much not to be together.
Over these many years, we have given birth to and raised the two most perfect people in the world: Pam and Derek. We have had tragedy and heart break. Buried all our grandparents and our parents. Seen our children become successful, happy, courageous, accomplished adults. Had adventures and survived storms, both figuratively and literally.
A few months ago, I mentioned our anniversary and he told me he was taking care of it. So, I packed a bag and loaded up in the truck Friday afternoon to go wherever and to do whatever he had planned.
We went to Galveston and avoided the seaweed piles, ate at Fish Tails, stayed in a motel, got up and went to Moody Gardens to see the Rainforest and Aquarium Pyramids. He had commented we had to be home about 4 and that Pam was doing something pretty for me and Jessica was helping her. Being a lover of surprises, I never try to figure out anything. I just went along with everything.
When we got home, Pam led me, eyes covered except to see where to put my feet. To the back bedroom and door closed. She brought me coffee and offered my laptop. No thanks on the laptop. No, she said I couldn’t unpack (clothes and other things were in the closet as later discovered).
Jessica arrived. I did hear Derek’s voice when they were unloading the TV and cabinet. This was expected. Derek and Jessica are moving to Oahu next week and we got those items through the process of them breaking up housekeeping. I still didn’t think too much. Just very glad my kids were here. Derek must have gotten off early to take care of moving business, I thought.
“Here, Mother. This is my spanx. Put it on.” “No, you can’t keep it.”
Hot rollers were plugged up. Make up bags unpacked. Pam and Jess went to work. I still just thought a nice dinner party. Not even thinking anyone else would be here. I never heard cars or voices other than Derek’s just for that minute. He came and gave me a hug.
While the makeup and hair session was going on, Mike (Pam’s boyfriend) kept texting. She kept replying. I thought it odd. But, still was not suspicious. I learned later he was a vital co-conspirator as well. Remember, I love surprises, so I just kept going along enjoying all the attention. Pam had commented that Jess was a little nervous about how I would go along with it. With my being content and compliant, she and Pam were giggling and acting like girls playing beauty shop. I loved seeing them having fun!
Then, the time came to be blindfolded. On the promise that I would keep my eyes closed and to preserve the makeup and hair, I did just that. Closed my eyes. They put a dress on me. I felt lace sleeves and a long skirt. I teared up thinking, this is a beautiful dress. Of course, Pam, Jess and I had talked about my having a photo shoot in different outfits to make up for never having a wedding with all the associated photos. It crossed my mind that this might be what we were doing. But, I don’t want to guess. So, I put it out of my mind.
Jewelry, lipstick, shoes. Keep my eyes closed. Jess had left the room and then came back. Pam changed clothes and freshened her makeup. My eyes still closed. Out into the hall. I have a mirror at the end of the hall. Turn around. Stand here. Open your eyes.
A white, full length, lace sleeved wedding dress!! I later learned Pamela had made it. Over my shoulder, in the mirror, I could see Billy and Derek then Jessica and Pam all in turquoise. This is more than dinner. To my left a young man I did not know was behind a camera. To my right, one of my best friends is holding a video camera. Oh, MY!!! This is more than dinner!! I had to run back to the bedroom to see my hair and makeup! Wow!!!
Back up the hall. At the kitchen, I look to my right. OH, MY!!! Brian!!! My brother-in-law. Billy’s brother I haven’t seen in years……..I lost it.
Billy didn’t know Brian was coming either. Billy was supposed to see him when he walked out with Pam. However, a technical detail caused Billy to discover him hiding in the office. Pam was summoned from the room where we were and I heard her exclaim. Something hadn’t worked out. Jess went to check and they came back saying, “It draped the other way, but it is fine.”
Over his shoulder is Jann. My very special sister- friend. I later learned that Larry, my brother-friend, had cooked the meat for us. It was delicious as expected! Their daughter, my Donna Jean, was there taking care of things, too. She is our wedding cake cutting expert!
Someone pointed to my left. There is Bob. My very special brother-friend. Matt (his youngest) comes round for a quick hug. Pam gives instructions, Derek and Jess first out, Uncle B and Pam, listen for the music to change, then Bob will walk me out. My mind is whirling!!
I step out the door. I see Crystal, Mary, Aunt Sis, Roger, Mackie. There is Billy and an arch. I stop to cry again. I see other faces in a blur to my left. I see my wonderful pastor, Brother Doyle. Then, I am standing next to Billy. Everything was so green and lovely. I was trembling a little. Brother Doyle spoke wonderful words and Billy and I promised to continue living our lives with God in charge and each other as partners, companions, lovers and friends, until death. Pamela had rings for us! Mine, a pearl set in white gold and his, a titanium band with pearl inlay. Beautiful!!!
A kiss and he is stuck with me again……….this time I have more witnesses……..!!! And pictures!!!! (Pam had hired Cody, the young man I didn’t know, to take pictures. Earlier, when I first opened my eyes, I looked at him and, in tears, said, “Hello, I don’t know who you are.”)
Looking around, I start hugging necks and kissing my nieces! Bethany and Marlana Jane were there! Line up for photos! Into the house! A bowl of punch (the same color as the bride’s maids’ dresses-I did get some Southern Belle training into that girl of mine!) and a wedding cake! There is barbecue beef and chicken, beans, tater salad, iced tea. My mother’s tea cups out for coffee service.
Pamela had made the cake. Three tiers. Top had raspberry cream filling, middle was German chocolate, bottom was pineapple! Homemade marzipan over buttercream frosting. Every bite delicious!!!
Billy was a terrific sport about the entire thing. Thank you, Billy! He and Brian have gone to wet a hook this morning before Brian has to get back to the airport. He lives in Illinois. He is such a treasure to us. We love and miss him so much.
Gary and Laura and two of their grands were there. Gary is one of our hunting buddies. He is the one we call in the middle of the night to help us get out of the woods when something goes wrong.
Mackie and Roger came, too! Roger is our huntin’ buddy. He and I watch what all Billy can run through or over. I get to see Mackie on holidays, like opening weekend of deer season and Thanksgiving, so it was a treat to have her here!
Anna and Tim came despite the stormy weather and brought my lovely little girls! I am so glad they got to come! I finally remembered I had a white “princess” dress in the closet I had picked up at a resale shop for Bethany. I got it out for her to put on and dance in the living room! Of course, Tim always pays the best compliments to flatter this old girl. Anna is my first baby girl, so it is always special to have her with me. And my Marlana Jane was here. She was fussy unless I was holding her, so it seemed.
Bob and Jodi and the boys were here. They were with us Memorial Weekend and none of them uttered a peep about all this. They are so dear to me. I told Hunter, I am glad I didn’t see him while I was going up the aisle, I might have been a runaway bride. He has a special something about him that charms everyone he meets. Sometimes quiet, sometimes crazy Jack. He is the one that will hang out with us old gals and never complain. Matt did a fine job with the music and hugging me, looking up with that sweet face letting me know with a look he loves me! Thank you to each of “my boys”.
Mike is something special! He took care of so much for Pamela. Bless his heart! He was hot, sweaty and worn out from all the work. He is a trooper, though. He must love our little girl very much! I am grateful for his presence in our lives.
Something about seeing Crystal, Mary and Aunt Sis always helps me feel the link to Mother and Granny Sally even stronger. Helps me sense my roots again. Of course, Crystal is one of my heroines, too. She was with me, when after the ceremony, I lifted my hem to turn for pictures and saw my shoes for the first time.
Pamela, knowing I have a foot injury, had gotten me flip flops to wear. When she put them on my feet, my eyes closed, I thought they were just low heels. Then, she said, “No, Mother, just regular flip flops.” So, I wiggled my feet and figured out what I was feeling. I visualized black flip flops with maybe some blingy stuff. When I finally saw them I squealed: “Look at my shoes!” White flip flops with pearls added by Pamela! So pretty! Pearl earrings, pearl bracelet, pearl necklace, pearl ring, pearl flip-flops. Perfect!
My Derek and my Jess. Such wonderful delights to my heart! They are trying to break up housekeeping to move to Hawai’i next week. Still, they took out time to help get all this done for us. Picking up Brian from the airport, working with Pam, setting up, fixing me up, cleaning up. It was fun with Jess doing my makeup. I need for her to give me lessons! She is a pro! Thank you for making me look so lovely!
Pamela. She is amazing. She is so much like her father and my mother. Strong and brave and bold and able to get things done. I am strong and I can get things done, too. But, I am not so brave and bold. She is everything any mother could ask for in a daughter and more. She is the friend to every person who knows her. The friend that you know will come and will help and will be with you in time of need and time of joy. I don’t know why God saw fit to share her with me, but I am eternally grateful for the blessing of her. She is my best friend. She was a joy to raise. A challenge to raise with her strength of mind and will, but nevertheless, a joy. As the loveliest woman I know, I am proud to call her my best girlfriend.
Last, but really, first. Let me talk about Him and him. I don’t usually talk about the Lord directly. I had not published Billy’s name until this post. Twenty years ago, he put God first in his life. It changed our relationship. It was almost like starting over in some ways. His perspective changed. There were times before and after we didn’t know why we were still trying to keep going. Then, he decided we were not going to argue any more. Period. I posted about this recently, so I won’t go into it here. The Lord has blessed us not with an easy life of no troubles, but with resilience and forgiveness. How dare I hold anything against another human being, especially Billy, in the face of God’s forgiveness of me for what I have done against Him?
Billy’s love for me has sustained me through many dark days. Billy’s love for me has helped me learn to love myself. I love him. With every fiber of my being and identity, I love him. He is my dream and my life and my destiny. Being his wife is an epic journey. The destination is always the next level of understanding and intimacy. Growing up. Letting go of personal expectations. Becoming two as one. Always rowing in the same direction. I live my life around him and his life. Where he goes, I go. Not grudgingly, or sacrificially, or with a “this is your turn, but mine is coming” thought. I do not need my turn. I never expect, nor ask for a turn to be first or even at all. None of this comes from him. It is my own idea and the reality I have worked toward. It is enough to be his bride, to expend my life itself caring for him and his well-being.
But, when they decide to surprise me with a gift, boy do they surprise me!! No one could believe I had not guessed and no one had let the cat out of the bag. I love surprises! I love this surprise! What a treasure of memories!
The previous was written the day after the event. Now, on the actual date of our anniversary, I have taken a day of vacation and floated around all day still on cloud eleven. Yes, higher than cloud nine!
My little girl made a dream come true for me that I never even had. I never dreamed of having such an event. Never imagined such a beautiful thing would be done for us. Thank you is inadequate to express my feelings of gratitude to her and to him, to our son and his bride, our family and friends. I am glad my Lord and Savior can see my heart. It is to Him and His blessings I am most grateful.

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Tropical Living

I love East Texas summers. I really do. No sarcasm. I love the warm, moist air. I love the steaming, hot air. I will sit outside in the shade during the hottest part of the day just feeling the heat and the dampness.
I love tropical plants, too. I have a banana patch outside the porch windows. I love looking at the huge bright green leaves. Cannas, or flags as I grew up calling them, are one of my favorite flowers. Many varieties of brightly hued flowers atop large leaves with different colors to choose from with them as well. Green, maroon, purple, variegated.  I am trying to get a collection going.
As I sit here this Monday morning, the light is gently growing and illuminating my banana trees. I could sit here all day listening to the birdsong and gazing out the window. Sometimes……I do.

 

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Old Spice and King Edwards

My father was tall and handsome and smelled of Old Spice and King Edward cigars. He was a sailor on an oil tanker. He worked in the engine room as an engineer. Mother would take us with her to see him when he came in to port, especially in Texas City. We would stay at the Holiday Inn and always drove out the long jetty while we were there. We spent more than one Christmas in that motel because Daddy was in port. The smell of an oil refinery is perfume to me. It means getting to see Daddy.
We would go to the dock and watch them tie up the ship sometimes. Often, as soon as the gang plank was down, a tall, slender man, broad shouldered, long legged, would stride down in his white tee shirt and dark khakis to greet us. In a few moments, he would climb back up to the ship to finish his shift. Later, we would return to pick up that same smiling sailor in his fresh white tee shirt and camel colored khakis smelling of Old Spice. Mother was so in love with him, it made me love him, too.
He and I loved each other. He had struggled apparently all his life with emotional issues and developed full blown mental illness in his early 40s. When he was balanced, he was wonderful! Adventurous and full of humor. When he was down, it broke our hearts. When he was manic, it broke our hearts. He was never abusive or mean. Just ill. Lying in the bed barely moving with depression. Or never putting his head to the pillow. Always working toward some project that never got moving. Trot lining usually. He loved to be out in that old boat on the lake. So do I.
After he would be admitted to the hospital, Mother would spend half a day gathering up things and putting them away. We would go see him every weekend. Finally, he would get to come home. Mother and I tried to count how many electro-shock therapy treatments he had during the seventies when that was supposed to be the answer. We lost count or could not continue counting at over 100. If one could have seen up close and personal the condition he was in, it was understandable that when a psychiatrist told you the only way to get him back was to consent to such treatment, desperation answered.
He loved cigars. He smoked King Edward cigars, Camel cigarettes and a pipe, too. He would sometimes get the makings and roll his own cigarettes. He always wore khakis and white tee shirts. He wore top siders in the summer. He kept his hair clipped completely off. Mother would use the clippers with no guard and buzz his hair off every few weeks. If it was cold, he would wear a flannel shirt and a small black toboggan.
He read Louis Lamour westerns avidly. He would read them over again, making a little box “x” inside the cover to record reading and re-reading the different stories. He liked lemon meringue pie and homemade banana pudding with meringue browned in the oven.
He was eccentric and romantic and creative. He was brilliant and handsome. He was a sailor and a fisherman. I miss the man who held my hand and loved me so much. I came to him later in life and he was patient and kind and gentle to me when I was a child. When I was a teenager, he and I would get in these heated conversations about politics and world affairs. Finally, Mother would call time out and we would stop. How stupid and liberal I was and how much I might have understood sooner had I listened. Still, he was my father. At the store, I pause in front of the Old Spice things. Even yesterday while in the soap isle, I picked up a new flavor of Old Spice body wash to take a sniff. Checking to see if it rings true to the label. Maybe a little. At any rate, my mind races back to childhood, when ships and refinery lights and salt air meant paradise…………..seeing Daddy……………

 

 

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A Lifetime

On June 30th, we will be married 30 years. A lifetime of growing together and alongside each other. A lifetime of figuring out how to keep in the same boat paddling the same direction.
Some things we have worked out:
When we don’t like each other much, we remember how crazy about each other we were in the beginning when things were really tough and hang on till we do like each other again. This doesn’t happen much anymore. For my part, I am crazier about him now than ever before. Love is a choice. Love requires feeding and pruning, grooming and tending.
We don’t argue anymore. This is difficult for me because I like to argue. But our rule is that if it is important enough to argue about, it is too important to argue about. Secondly, we don’t try to resolve any thing in the evening or near bedtime. Go to sleep mad, if needed, and if it was important, it can be discussed in the clear light of day. Most likely, it is one of those “Mama, he’s looking at me” things anyway and we won’t recall what the issue was.
I learned a long time ago the real meaning behind “Let the wife submit to her own husband.” Not to all men, but to him alone. And it is the wife’s choice. He submits to Christ, so this is not as difficult as it may sound. In such a situation, the blessings are immeasurable. He assumes full responsibility for our household and all our business. I do my part under his authority and consent. When something goes awry he takes care of it. I don’t have to fuss with anyone or anything. I am expected to keep up my end, but I am not left to keep up both ends. By my willing submission to his authority without exception, he protects, nurtures, encourages and loves me.
My only concern is that I am not doing enough for him. I want my part to be done better. He never complains outright about things, so it is not easy to determine if I am getting it right. I suppose if I mess up royally he would explain it to me.
I spoil him all I can, deferring to him and his plans. I want to be with him and do things with him. I don’t want a separate life only spending a few hours a month on a date or something. I want to be in the truck, on the buggy, on the tractor, on the boat right alongside him. It takes extra time and effort to take me along and help me with my gear. I guess he wants me there. He always expects me to load up.
He is my best friend. He knows me better than I know myself most of the time. He makes me tell him what I am worrying about. He catches my tears. He advises me and prays for me. He refuses to let me wallow in my depression. He checks me when I don’t check my own attitude.
He has no clue about shopping for gifts for me sometimes. But, then, one of our two greatest accomplishments helps her Daddy figure out just what it is I was wanting. That is fine, too. One of the things that makes him so precious to me is the father his is to our children. Though they are both nearer thirty than I care to recall, he is still fathering them in a marvelous fashion.

 

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Not that there are thorns on rose bushes, but that there are roses on thorn bushes.

Surveying the beautiful life we have and are sharing, it has not and is not always a rose petal laden path.

But, the roses on the thorn bush grow lovelier and more fragrant with each passing year.

Love grows richer and deeper with each passing year.

Not settled and ordinary, but robust and flamboyant, with deep roots and sturdy canes.

Yielding blooms in all seasons and all weather.

Not blown to pieces by the storms, but sparkling with raindrops caught in the ever returning sunlight.

 

 

Still Struggling

I have a lot of free time. I could spend more time cleaning house and doing yard work. I feel I should do so. I want to get to a place of contemplation and quiet.
I want to learn to do yoga and to paint. I want to learn to meditate. But I fear meditation because I am afraid of what it will bring up. I must decide whether to forget about meditation or to forget about my fear. I know I can paint. I just have to figure out how to manage the material. The acrylic and the brush and the canvas. Just need practice.
I do not want to be sad and grieving anymore. I want to not feel lonely anymore.
I don’t know what I want to do each day. I feel as if there is something missing. Something I should be doing. Something that would make me feel less mournful and more anchored. Do I want to feel anchored? Or do I just want to feel safe floating and drifting?
I am not afraid, am I? I despise fear. I fight to overcome anything I fear. I am still working on fear of heights. I feel as if I am going to be flung off into the abyss. I have a couple of unspeakable fears. I tried to write them but could not. I will never overcome them. They are acceptable fears. Natural to a mother and a wife.
Only love can heal. Only love can overcome fear. Not time, not conditioning, not anything can truly change the heart aside from love.
I keep struggling for answers and I don’t really know the questions.
What does my life look like on the other side?
I don’t want to feel compelled to do anything remarkable. Is it enough to simply live? To get up each day and enjoy getting dressed and preparing food to eat and playing. Whether the playing be on the computer or writing or creating a pretty bauble.
I spent so many years taking care of others who were either growing up or fading away. Now, with time to do what I always thought I would do if I had time, I don’t seem to be able to commit. I always thought my lack of commitment to creative development was due to fear of interruption. I didn’t want to be in the middle of something and be called away to hospital or school or some family need.
Part of my dilemma is not having a place to work. A place to set up arts and craft supplies and spread out projects and leave them there to work on when I have time. It has to be a place I can close off from site. Remember that I cannot abide messes. I am constantly rearranging my nest to reduce clutter and mess. I bring in things and arrange them only to pack them up and store them out of site but never out of mind. Worrying about the space taken up in the attic or back closet or on the carport. A part of my insanity. Each of us has something to some degree or other.
So, I am struggling still. When I was on Oahu, I would sit on the beach and try to get my mind still to think. I could barely put a thought together. I could barely write. I am feeling that way some now. My mind scattered and tired. My heart achy and sore. This will, of course, pass shortly.
Tomorrow, I will be soaking in sunshine and later this week snuggling with little people. Can anything feel better than a child’s love? My mind may still flutter away unable to focus a thought, but my heart will be soothed and comforted.

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What chased my mind all over the island?

What churned my soul like the waves breaking over the reef?

What simmered beneath the surface of my heart like the sunlight in the lagoon depths?

Dare I chase away the fear?

Dare I overcome the feeling of fear and climb the heights?

Dare I be flung into the abyss of the unknown adventure?

Time will tell if Love will overpower fear in this struggle.