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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More Clutter-busting

I worry about what I will do when I get rid of all the clutter and extra stuff such as arts and crafts supplies and sewing stuff. And home decorations. Undone projects. Extra potted plants. Excess home keeping gear.  Superfluous books and printed materials. Cumbersome furniture items.  Costume jewelry. Scarves. Yes, even scarves.

I will do more or less what I do now. Read, watch television, web surf. And I will still have coloring and embroidery to do.  I was coloring for stress relief long before it became vogue.  I have a Disneyland coloring book at least 20 years old I have been working my way through.  I pick it up from time to time and do another page.

What will I not have to do when I get everything cleared out?  I won’t have to move this to get to that. I won’t have overloaded cabinets, pantries and drawers.  I will easily see what I have and what I need to replenish and so avoid buying something of which I already have a good supply.  I won’t expend energy shuffling boxes of stuff around.  I won’t waste valuable square footage of real estate holding onto “Made in China” junk, “got it for a dollar” junk, “Walmart” junk, “Dollar Store” junk.  What didn’t get unloaded onto me at the passing of a loved one probably came from one of those sources.  Even most of the inherited things came from similarly mass produced lines of goods.

I don’t own much that is rare. I have a few things that are very special to me personally, but certainly not valuable antiques.  I practice an exercise periodically.  I imagine a wildfire is approaching and I only have three hours to load all I can in my little car and perhaps the back of his truck.  What would I load up to haul to safety?  Of what was left behind, on what would I spend the money to replace?  Items not making either of these lists become good candidates for the charity shop donation box.  The things that would not get loaded and would likely not get replaced can certainly be removed from my housekeeping ménage.

The major problem I face is the selection of items that belonged to ancestors. Some are not practical.  Some I do not have the courage to unload.  With grandchildren on the way, I am increasing my consideration of those things.  I don’t want my descendants to have the same kind of problem I have.  I worry about the challenges he or our children would face after I am gone.  If I were to not see today’s sunset, what am I leaving for them to clean up and disperse?  I would rather not have very much for the charity shop to haul away after an estate sale.  A few useful or sentimental things for them to take home and some things I need now to keep house that they won’t need are all I really want to keep.

When I read about decluttering, some much of the lists are simply trash. Broken this and piles of rusted that. I don’t have that problem. Occasionally, I keep a lamp in need of repair a little longer than usual before I give up and get rid of it.  If an article of clothing gets into the mending pile, it is doomed unless our daughter rescues it and does her magic trick to repair it.  I try to get around to it.  I just don’t make it. Magazines and billing statements can sometimes get a little much.  Candles, nail polish and lipstick are problem areas for me. They are still good items.  But, I have more than I will use in a reasonable timeframe.

My trouble is more that the excess is useful and usable stuff. Not necessarily useful for me.  Each time I come home from a shopping trip, I evaluate what non-essential items I have purchased.  These days, even food is reviewed for non-essentials (chips, ice cream, cookies). I ask myself if I have bought more fresh produce than the two of us will consume before it loses its freshness.  Cooking for two is still a major challenge.  What about toiletries and kitchen gadgets? Magazines? Cup towels? Rugs? Storage boxes? I would rather not face my purse, shoe, book and coffee addiction just yet.  But, it will come.  Sooner or later, I will deal with those things, too.

I used to watch Clean Sweep and Hoarders.  Don Aslett’s books about clutter are on my bookshelf. I have read through them several times.  I saw a small portion of Oprah’s trip to India.  A woman, her husband and their three daughters lived without despair in an eight by eight room.  Water and latrines were down the hall in a communal area.  All of these sources have helped me work through to what is essential for well-being.

Each person has a well-being setting. Mine happens to be clear, open and streamlined.  Lots of sunlight and bright spots of colors are in the plan.  Looking at the space around me in this room, I have more work to do. However, I will not berate myself for not being finished.  I will commend myself for all I have done for the past couple of weeks and over the past 25 years.

My little nieces have helped me see things more clearly, too. The time they spend here helps me see how better to make things for them and the ones coming after them.  They show me that snuggles under the covers watching Scooby Doo after a Barbie Doll bubble bath are the best!

I want to have a minimal house so I can have maximum time, energy and money to spend with them, with him and with the Dreams coming true. In the day to day, I want time and energy to spend on my true career, housekeeping. Housekeeping is not shuffling clutter around.  It is cooking and cleaning, dusting and sweeping, washing and folding. Polishing the place we gather to live together.  I want time and energy and love to spend on him.  With him. Twirling around to a song on the radio across a clean wide open floor. Or bouncing along in the buggy down a wildflower trail…………..

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Poor Student

I should have read “Lessons” Monday, before I left for the 9-5. I arrived to find my office floor partially flooded.  A co-worker had moved some things from the floor to my desk top to protect them from damage.  I appreciate her effort.  The mess still left me with a negative attitude.  I had that emotional reaction I wrote about avoiding last week.

That is the way all three of my work days have gone. I did have a few good things after work.  My front flower bed got some attention.  I found a good container and decorations for our candy bowl donations at the 9-5.  Guesses of how many pieces of candy are sold to raise money for local charity.  One of many projects my workplace does to help our community.  I stopped by our newly opened dollar store and loaded a gift bag of goodies for my soon-to-be six year old great niece.  Or is it grandniece?

Last weekend was a fine time with some friends. Festival going and boutique shopping finished off by my first try at a local Italian restaurant. My entrée was delicious!  The coming weekend promises to be wonderful, too.  I will see my all my little girls. Niece, grand nieces, daughter……..I have in mind to revisit a place from my distant past. It will depend on my daughter’s schedule.

I don’t expect the 9-5 to be much less stressful tomorrow. Too much to do in too little time.  Mentally demanding tasks and a multitude of interruptions make for stress.

The simple beauty of things includes a fabulous white cloud gleaming in the sky before me all the way home. Then, at that same dollar store stop, I found Blue Bell’s Camo ice cream.  I had forgotten about them introducing it.  I had looked for it previously without success.  Without paying much attention, it suddenly caught my eye in the freezer case.  I need to wrap up this post and go get a bowl of it.

Now that I think about it, the week hasn’t been so bad after all. Once again, He has used my own keyboard to show me how wonderful is my life.  He and I will get a big bowl of ice cream and be thankful for all the wonderfulness He is pouring into our life.

California Dream arriving in November and now a Texas Honey arriving in late April or early May. Those are the best beautiful blessings.  Nine to five, weeds in the flower bed, a trick back, all those troubles fade away before the wonder of those two little ones.

My heart feels as billowy as that fine cloud I saw shining in the sky before me…………………

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Orchid Petals

I have noticed a change.  I am sure it has been occurring more and more in recent years.  But, I realized it this  morning.

As is common with children as they become teenagers and young adults learning to use their wings, mine would sometimes respond to unsolicited advice with a less than positive attitude.  “Mom, I’ve got this.”

I had the privilege of spending time with our daughter at her first full dress rehearsal as a theater teacher.  She had the parents of the middle schoolers attend.  I spent time doing make up, encouraging quiet backstage, helping actors get to various places.  Afterward, as we were driving home, she and I chatted on the phone.  I suggested some things and she happily agreed.

Then, again this morning, I suggested another idea and she readily agreed.  I have a similar response from our son these days.  When I suggest some option to his situation, he doesn’t put me off.  He actually welcomes my input.  Whether they take my advice or not is irrelevant.  I just appreciate the chance to be part of their lives in a new dimension.

I remember when they were the ages of my great nieces.  At five, it’s just about playing and having fun.  At 20 months, it is just about playing and being cuddled.  I love being able to watch the older one change from toddler to girl and the younger from baby to toddler.  But, each changing stage is poignant.  Reminding me of time racing and lives changing.  Please slow down just for a minute or two each day old world.  My love is still pouring out for that little one of yesterday.

My mind goes back to a teenage boy I once knew.  He was new to town and his amber eyes melted my heart.  He was strong and stubborn.  Stronger and more stubborn than me.  Yet, his love for me was tender and passionate.  There is a man’s man in his place now.  Still strong and stubborn.  Gentler and more patient than the middle days. Nevertheless, he is not a bear I want to cross.  I am still amazed at how much he loves me.

Our life together is the best part of me.  I told someone recently, my life mainly consists of my 9 to 5, a little housework, going to church and tagging along after him.  Tagging along is the best part of my life.  I love to tag along with him and with our children. You should see the path of orchid petals they leave behind for me to enjoy!

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Tears

My little nieces came to visit this past weekend. They are wonderful little folks!

But, it is hard on me when they leave. I cry for an hour or so each time they pull out of the drive to go home.

This house is so painfully quiet most of the time. Our own children have been out and on their own for ten years already. He and I ramble around trying to keep up with things.

I miss my children. Yes, I miss the adult children they are now. But, I really miss my little ones. When they were babies and small children and even big children.

I tried to have special times with them every chance I got. I was selfish with them, too. I didn’t let the rest of the world have much of their time until they were too old for me to keep them close.

I suppose I knew even then these days would come. Days when those amazing grown-ups would call me Mother and I would look in wonder at the marvelous people who honor me with that title in their lives. I suppose I knew even then I would forever miss my little ones.

And so I cry because the little ones who come to visit me now will someday be grown-ups and I will miss their little selves.

Such is life. Hurling through time at the speed of love. Life is far too short to be in a hurry. My motto for many years. Better stop and experience this life at this moment. Don’t rush headlong into the future. It doesn’t exist. Only now is real. Only now fills the heart with love. Only now allows memories to build the beautiful life I so long for.

Let my eyes fill with tears and my heart ache only for a moment. Then let the memories sustain me until the next now happens. When I will not rush to do, but pause to be.

 

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Another Long Weekend

Summer is kicking off wet, wild and dangerous in Texas this year.  Weeks of heavy rain have saturated the ground and filled every low spot.  Things are running over now.  There are deaths being reported and dozens of raging water videos and photos circulating the web.

Regardless of the weather threat, we were blessed to have my niece and her lovely family with us for two nights.  We enjoy their visits for many reasons.  He gets to visit with our dynamic and comical nephew-in-law.  I get to visit with my “first child”.  I was sixteen and still at home when my brother had his daughter.  I spent many days tending her the first few years of her life.

Her four year old is a charming pistol.  She is so smart! She tries to work every situation to her advantage.  Often with success.  She and I are always measuring each other up for the next challenge.  I love her and see in her so much potential to contribute to the world at large with her sharp wit and bright mind.

Baby sister is a lovely doll!  She displays a stubborn temper occasionally.  But, that does not detract from the spell she has bound over him.  He melts when she is with him.  The two of them seem to have that special chemistry with each other.  Even though he only sees her every few months, she takes to him each time.

We ate and visited and ate and visited.  We napped some, too.  After they left, I wanted to cry over this empty house.

This morning, he and I had a leisurely start.  Finally, he mentioned something about a fishing trip before the rain returns.  I loaded up as fast as I could.

We had a great adventure!  We saw several alligators, including a small one that chased his top water lure over and over.  He was careful to not let it latch hold.  I got one good strike.  We didn’t land anything.  We also saw several extra-large turtles and one extra tiny one.

Oddly, no one was at the sand bar.  There were very few boaters out at all.  I guess the flood reports and rain threats kept everyone home.  We road down to where the forks of the rivers meet.  The Angelina runs into the Neches.  The boiling Neches did make me a bit nervous.  He asked if I was afraid.  I nodded yes.  He laughed reminding me we were in a boat!  We only barely passed over into the current before turning back to the less turbulent Angelina.

There is a slough that runs into the Angelina from the area between the two rivers.  The Neches is overflowing into the slough and running flood water into the Angelina above the forks.  We road into the slough just to see it.

Thing is, the water is supposed to be still rising.  The floods north of here will run through in the coming days.  Already there are trees toppled into the river and debris piled up in new places.  When the water returns to normal levels, things will be different.  One positive of the high water is evidence of sand bars developing.  They have been non-existent for a while. The Angelina will form long vanilla cream bars of semi-course sand.  Luxurious to lie on and watch the boats go by or the children splash about the shallow edges.

Half my life ago memories were made I still take out and admire from time to time.  Memories of young men and young women and young children playing, laughing, loving life.  We were young and strong and fearless.

Things did not go as I imagined them to go.  Things changed for our family and our friends.

One thing I have come to understand.  Those golden times of our lives are transient.  I look back and see periods of time when everything is remembered as wonderful, though we certainly had problems just as today.

My best example is of my mother.  I imagine she had about 10 years of her 59 short ones where life was as is should be.  She had married my father and he had not yet succumbed to his illness.  But, just like my husband, you would not know the hidden parts of her struggle.

She continued to live, live, live! She did not let illness, hers or his, get in the way of what she wanted her life to be like.  She was never bitter or ill humored.  Yes. Privately I held her when she broke down.  One time it was too much for me.  I didn’t know what to do. It was a time when she really faced that she was close to leaving us.  That is all she cared about.  She hated to leave us alone without her.  She knew the pain and struggle we would have to face without her support and courage.  She knew the joys and triumphs we would achieve without her participation and celebration.

Several times this weekend, I could feel her here with me.  How she would love her now grown grandchildren bringing their loves to see her!  But, I cooked a pot of pinto beans and they were pleased.  As I sit here this evening, I know she is pleased as well.

Summer has again returned.  I have closed the windows on the porch to allow the air conditioning to flow in and cool things.  I do sometimes wish he would let me feed coons again.  Over the fence, away from the dog.

But, he is stronger than even she was and I will not change his mind about that issue.  I do not even try.  He takes me to see the alligators and the flooding water and does not let me allow fear to best me.

Confidence.  They both push me to be confident.  It was one trait my mother insisted I develop and he picked up beside her and continues to this day.  Pushing me to be confident.  My daughter has taken up the task to assist him in her stead.

Golden times are often transient.  But, if I will allow it, the golden times will continue to transition.  One era fades and the next emerges.  I must not wallow in pity or stagnate in the past.  Embrace today.  Embrace the flood of orchids pouring into my life.  Let them surround me with lovely fragrance and move on into the realm of memory.  The next lovely flow of petals will arrive soon enough.  Take in the loveliness of the present bouquets and on brief occasion ponder the past bouquets with gratitude.  Be ever ready to receive the gift of raining orchids.

Sometimes orchids have bumpy hides and live in murky waters.  A wondrous creature to behold……this one is kind of cute, too.

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Violets

The weekend was well spent.  A major chore was completed.  I had snuggle time with my great nieces.  I took some time with him.  I got to walk in the woods soaking up fresh air and sunshine, listening to birdsong.

On the walk, I constantly noticed the violets.  Some were blooming and some were just sprouting out of the leaf litter on the forest floor.  I always think of my mother when I see them.  She would love to ride up to the park to see if the one particular section was full of blooms.

The birds have been filling my ears and heart with joyful sound.  I sometimes wish I didn’t have a cat so I could put out bird feeders near the house and watch them come and go.

Everything is springing to life.  It is just coming awake from its slumbering winter.  Time for me to do the same.  Shake off the slumber of the recent days and spring to life.   Push through the debris of things and spring to a fresh outlook.

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