Thirty-three Years

Has it been that long?  And yet, who are those two kids in a couple of grainy photographs, getting married.  Eighteen, no jobs, no higher education, no car, no place to live.  No wonder Mother was so upset.

But, that feeling we had for each other would not be silenced.  We had to be together, no matter what.  And I didn’t want to start out living together without a license.  If we had, we might not have stuck it out.

A month later, Pasadena.  A perfect little apartment upstairs on the end.  I remember how he smelled when he would come in from work.  Like sunshine and clean sweat.  He had long brown curls and no mustache, then.  We laughed and played and fought and made up like the lovers we were.

Along came pregnancy and a lay off.  Finally, Uncle Sam put him to work and we took our baby son to California.  Our baby girl came along while we were out there.

We hadn’t been back from his service duty long when an industrial accident took most of his left hand.  People forget he has, I hate to use the word disability, but that hindrance.  After he got that business settled, we set in to making a home and raising our two little ones.

Adventure on the river during a few summers was the main thing. Then, he found a passion for longhorn cows.  The reconnection Mother made to her cousin during this time sustained me through many difficult years after Mother passed away.  She had longhorn cows and we got going with the Butler Sale the year we lost Mother.

I wasn’t long, it seems, Daddy went on to be with the Lord, our son graduated and moved off to school.  He hasn’t resided with us since. Then, our daughter graduated and moved off to school, only coming to reside after graduating and during a couple of job transitions, totally only a few months.  During, he lost both his parents a few months apart.  His father’s was sudden and unexpected. This was a dark and difficult period for those two young lovers mentioned at the beginning of this passage.

He started taking me to the deer lease with him.  Riding in the woods and learning how to hunt with him pieced our hearts back together.

Our son fell in love and got married.  Just that fast.  Our daughter married and then figured out he was not the right man.  So, we all went down and loaded her up and brought her home.  That is the night I realized my little family was going to be strong, after all.  She married the right man a couple of years later.

Our son and his bride have taken me on adventures in Hawai’i and California.  And after several years of wondering if they would, they produced a grandchild for us.  Five months later our daughter and her honey produced another grandchild for us.  Two girls.  Two suns to rise and set each day.

We are officially middle aged.  Grandparents.  We still like to have adventures on the river and in the woods.  Our favorite thing is playing with our girls.  I have a couple of great-nieces we love to play with, too.

We work hard to make sure we don’t take each other for granted.  We don’t want “settled” love.  We want to keep the passion growing deeper and sweeter with time.  I don’t know where I end and he begins.  And, yet, I am still shy to share some things with him.  His is the only opinion I truly care about.  He is the only person who can actually hurt my feelings.  He is the only person who has walked through the fires of hell with me and hauled me through the rough places not letting me quit.

So when I say Happy Anniversary to him, I really mean thank you; I love you; I can’t breathe without you; you still make my heart skip a beat; I am still trying to make sure I am pleasing to you; I need your love to keep me warm; you are my Rock. Happy Anniversary.

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Challenges

The week has been full of challenges.

I have had a very busy week at the 9-5.  We had a project to do on short notice.  The results showed I have made more progress than I imagined in a major audit that occurs next year.  Every three years we have an audit that requires annual documentation to be collected from dozens of areas. The information has to be compiled into folders.  I do a lot of the collecting and all of the compiling.  I have some co-workers who assist when they have time and I appreciate them like a glass of sweet tea in August.  The nice thing is that (Lord willing), the audit next year will be my fourth and last one.  I should be able to retire before it comes around again.

I also had a challenge to try to say the right things to a friend going through a major crisis.  She has a lot of difficult and heart rending things happening.  I reminded her that it will be okay, that she is strong, that she has a large support system.  I know He will take care of every need.

I am challenged with trying to write this post.  I am not feeling very inspired.  But, the exercise is to show up and type.  For one trying to develop a writing lifestyle, it is an important thing to just show up at the page.

He always encourages me to write.  I tease him that he just likes to read how wonderful he is and see me telling the world how wonderful he is to me.  He is my Valentine every day.  He has been for thirty four years.  He continues to amaze me with his ability to face the world with such bravado and touch the world with such compassion for others with less bold courage.  What a treasure is my True Love.

 

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Her Name is Sally

Last week, he had me wait for him to go to town after work for some Christmas shopping. This may be normal for some husbands. Not mine.  First of all, he works in the town where we were going to shop.  It is about 30 miles for the round trip.  He doesn’t help me Christmas shop. In thirty years, he hasn’t helped me shop much at all.  He had the excuse for this time that he needed to bring the ice chest full of venison home rather than leave it in the back of the truck, and he thought he would help get something for our son-in-law.  So, I met him at the house. To be very clear, his behavior was out of character.

As we rode to town, we talked about what we could get our daughter’s champion and where we wanted to eat supper. He said he had forgotten his uniforms at work.  We made one stop at a clothing shop. Then, we went to the dealership where he is the service manager to get his uniforms. He went in and got his clothes.  After he locked the door, he motioned for me to come around to the front of the building.  I got out and walked around to look at whatever he wanted me to see.

He showed me a beautiful dark smoke gray Jeep. Big mud grips on 20s. Four doors with a big back seat for grandbabies.  He asked me what I thought about the color.  I told him I thought it was pretty. Better than the black I liked.  He said, “You’d better think it is more than pretty.  It’s yours.” He handed me the keys.  I was stunned and cried.  I still tear up at moments.

I asked him why he got it for me. What feelings were behind it?  He simply said, “I just want you to have it.”  That’s him.  He feels deeply. He cries when he talks about our children and their children and our Lord.  But, he doesn’t express his feelings directly with words easily.

Knowing him the way I know him, this is about the grandest show of love and affection ever. I can never repay with such an extravagant gift for him. I can only continue to do my best to take care of him in every way possible.

I did get a comment from him at some point about my never saying anything negative about his getting trucks or boats or cows or whatever he wants. I don’t. He is a grown man and makes his own money. He takes care of me and his family and contributes to the household expenses. What he does with the rest is none of my business. He is very successful in business.  He doesn’t need me telling him what to do.

I expressed praise at church tonight. He was in another room.  I work for the State of Texas.  I have been working on an audit.  I was a little concerned about locating some needed documents in the allotted time.  He called me on his lunch break the other day.  I told him my concerns.  The rest of the day and into the next day, the audit prep smoothed out and everything has fallen into place in half the allotted time. I have no doubt he lifted up me and the situation with the audit in prayer. My praise is about his relationship with our Lord and his great faith and the positive effect their relationship has in my life.

Why is my Jeep called Sally? When he and I married at age eighteen, we had nothing. No job, no money, no car. Nothing but our love and devotion for each other and a certainty that we belong together. One person in the whole world believed we would make it.  She believed we had that special something that would make our marriage last.  We have lasted almost 33 years.  We started dating 34 years ago next month.  We still like each other.  We still love each other.  I would say she was right.  She was my maternal grandmother, Sally.  The Jeep is a symbol of our success.  Our life, our marriage, our love. So, my Jeep is called Sally to remember that someone believed in us from the beginning.

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Holiday Countdown

I should be wrapping presents. I have almost everything purchased.  We sent a box to California, today.  I hope it makes it before Christmas.  If not, it will still be full of goodies when it gets there.

Last week, I refinished a table. Photos below.  I used chalk paint to redo an old coffee table I found at a junk shop.  I filled it with votive candles and two birds over a crocheted doily a dear lady made for me years ago.

This past weekend my niece brought my little nieces for a visit. Among the fun was cocoa served from an old tea pot alongside homemade shortbread frosted with milk chocolate and Christmas sprinkles.  We used the table featured in the photos for this event.  It was the follow up to an adventure in town walking through a park filled with Christmas light displays.

We walked and raced round the creek and pond, pausing to look at the lights and get out of the way of the train. We opted to walk rather than wait with a two year old in the line to ride the train.  It was a great option.  She slept soundly, barely moving all night!  This matters because she was in bed with me.

Our daughter and her loves will be here this weekend to have our Christmas with them. I should be wrapping presents.

I am enjoying the season more this year than I usually do. It feels a little more magical for some reason.  A sign of healing?  The grief of so much loss is releasing its grip, perhaps? I am believing Him for that.

I care greatly about several friends and some family members whose grief might never be relieved this side of Heaven. This season reminds them of the moment tragedy struck. The decorations that were so brilliantly beautiful before that moment of disaster now glare and blur through the tears that still linger in their hearts.  I pray for His Peace to pour into their spirits and His Joy to fill their hearts.

I am grateful I have joy this season. I will savor my joy with praise and thanksgiving.  Not smugly, but carefully.  Mindful of those who do not have it.

And yet, I want some moments of wild abandon. Exuberant joy overflowing and bursting out.  Thrills seeing lights and tinsel, pretty presents all wrapped under the tree, my heart beating rapidly as the children pull into the driveway.  Our son and his bride and our little Princess will not be here physically. But distance is no master to Love.  They will be here in my heart for Christmas.  I will hug our daughter, her groom and our “borrowed” grand all the tighter for it.

Well, enough for now. I should be wrapping presents. Here is my pre-holiday project.  I am well-pleased with the outcome.

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California

I know it is expected of me to write about the arrival of the California Dream.  I don’t think I can do that here.  I will break down in tears like I did the day she arrived.  She was taking her sweet time and it pushed me over the edge to a spell in the hospital chapel crying and praying.  Except now the tears would be bittersweet.  Not knowing when I will touch her again is something I refuse to think about.

Our son’s grandmothers had the same dilemma.  Our son was four weeks old when we left for California.  And we definitely didn’t know when we would see each other again.  Contact was a 15 minute long-distance phone call on Sunday afternoon and “snail mail”.  I still have the piles of letters my mother and I exchanged.

Things are different for our situation now.  Nevertheless, the need to catch a plane to get to her causes my heart to ache.

I am still fatigued from the trip. The all-day travel to then from California. The comfortable yet strange bed.  The time difference.  The anticipation. The anxiety. The excitement. The anguish.

I take photos of the foothills behind her house. In between my turn to hold her, I would go out and look at the hills again. The ever changing light makes them look different constantly.  They are like my lake with their continual cycle of lights and shadows playing across them.  I will try to go back to the lake tomorrow.  Time to start walking again. And I need to tell the ghosts who linger there in my memory about the little one I am loving for them and for me.

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Two Days

I have Friday off from work. And nothing scheduled Saturday. Two days.  I am working out things to have both days to devote to home keeping.  Not housework.  That should be completed by Thursday’s bedtime.  The activity to which I am referring is more like making things pretty.

I have several projects lined up to create ornamental objects for the house. One is actually for Christmas decorating. I won’t reveal that at this time.  I will have to see how it turns out before I publish it.  A long while back I purchased some very large framed oil paintings super cheap from the thrift store.  The subject matter is not why I bought them.  I wanted the frames and the large sized canvases.  I intend to gesso over them and put my own creations in place.  I have no thought to do a painting.  But, I do have an idea with which I want to experiment.

The weather is predicted to be pleasant enough to work outside. I hope to do a lot of catching up on the yard work.  Every area is behind on care.  I have good layer of pine straw in the front yard.  I want to clean the azalea bed and mulch with the fresh straw.  The purple jew is overflowing its area and I want to move it to a better spot.  Weeds, weeds, weeds. I don’t even want to think about that topic right now.  Yard work is excellent therapy for the mind and soul.

Part of my working out being able to stay home the two days was seeing someone this evening. Someone I love is in the hospital.  I needed to see her tonight so I could have my two days without fretting about her.  She seems a little improved.  I told her I was coming.  She said I didn’t need to go all that way.  I told her I was coming anyway and could I bring her anything.  A coke from Sonic.

I hope my coming helped her. It helped me.  I recently saw a meme that reads: Find your tribe. Love them hard.  I am defining my tribe. Redefining, I suppose.  I want her to be part of it.  So I needed to do something to connect.  She always reminds us that we are strong women from a long line of strong women.  She has to be the strongest of us, though.  Frail, delicate, brave, and tougher than old shoe leather.

I appreciate him for supporting my going. I appreciate how much he supports me in so many ways for so many things.  I appreciate his never giving up on his crazy wife.  My half-baked ideas and goofy schemes make him shake his head.

The walking is going well.   I have been getting some photographs along the way.  There is so much to see and things change constantly.  Leaves turning, flowers, the sky, the light on the water.  Then, there are the trees themselves.  So beautiful and so often overlooked.  Seen as window dressing rather than a focal point.  A frame around the view.  But, I love the trees.  See…….black lace.

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