Mother’s Day

I’ve been dreading today. And yet strangely looking forward to getting through it and beyond it. It’s another first milestone. This morning I was thinking about Mama’s life and her many unwritten but not unspoken pieces of wisdom. I remembered a story I’d forgotten. In 1985, during my last year in college, Glen and I were living in Oakdale and I was commuting to LC. Monday nights I had Commercial Law from 6PM-9PM so I stayed in Pineville those nights. I got a call one evening telling me that Glen was in the hospital with pneumonia. That would not normally be a huge deal except that in addition to having had Legionnaires’ disease Glen had also had pneumonia 6 times and almost died the last time he’d had it. I turned to my Mama trying not to panic and asked, “What am I going to do? What if he doesn’t make it?” My Mama looked at me, as calm as usual and said, “He’s going to be okay. You’re going to be okay. We’re going to be okay. Now pack your stuff and go to the hospital.” So I did. And she was right. The next semester Glen was in Houston recovering from lung surgery. After the surgery his dad left to head home and I was in Houston by myself. That evening I got a call that Glen was bleeding internally and they were taking him back into surgery. Mama and Daddy were coming to Houston the next morning so I called my Mama around midnight. Again she calmly explained what I was going to do. “Go get a cup of coffee and we’ll be there soon.” The next morning about 6AM she and Daddy walked into the hospital. They’d packed and left as soon as we got off of the phone. After checking on Glen she said, “Get your purse we’re going to breakfast. We’ll find a Cracker Barrel somewhere.”  And so we did. Totsy did not understand nor accept quitting. At anything. She was in some ways unbendingly optimistic and I hope to leave that type of legacy. Happy Mother’s Day to all the types of Mothers. Mothers who’ve given birth. Mothers who have adopted. Mothers who are single parents. Mothers who’ve lost their mothers. Mothers who’ve lost a child. Mothers who have a child they will meet in heaven one day. Mothers who haven’t “had” any children, yet play the all important role of mother in the life of someone that they love as their own.  Remember your mother today and love on all the mothers you know because they may need a little extra love today. Mothers don’t have the luxury of quitting and often they may be smiling on the outside while weeping on the inside. So look past the usual, the outside and see their hearts. Help them celebrate. Help them grieve. Just help them and love them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mothers

The word Mama can be glorious or painful. A year ago it usually brought a smile to my face. And some days it still does. But a year ago my Mama was still here, a force of nature plowing through life as only Totsy could. She left a checkerboard legacy, but one that I think she would be proud of.
There was nothing left unsaid between us. She rarely allowed that. Her advice to “live your life in a way that you don’t have any regrets” was one of her suggestions for which I am most grateful. She taught me to be myself. And though I didn’t always live by the philosophy, I did buy into it completely.
She valued education highly. Her Mama, my grandmother, Mama Tot was the first person in her family to finish high school, as valedictorian. My Mama was the first person in her family to go to college. She got to see both of my children graduate from college in 2012. She was proud, but in true Totsy fashion expected it because her grandchildren were “extremely smart.”
This past Saturday my daughter, Mattie, graduated with her MSW, a Masters degree in Social Work. She made all As. I can hear my Mama say, “Well, of course she did. She’s smart.”
In the 6 months since she’s been gone I’ve realized that the firsts catch me by surprise. We made it through our first Thanksgiving and our first Christmas without her. Sunday will be our first Mother’s Day without her. It seems weird that she won’t be here for her 3 daughters to compete to see who calls first. (It was usually me because I am an early riser.) We’ll also be making our annual trip to Gatlinburg in May without her. #gatlinburg2019 will be different but it will also be a celebration of her humor and the quirky lens through which she viewed life. I still hear her pithy suggestions and see her funny faces. I’m wearing some of her rings and have used her purse since she died. I’m just not ready to change it yet. I’m not sure if I ever will be.
I want to share one thing I’ve learned. Grieving is as individual as each person doing the grieving. If you need to grieve the loss of a parent, child, sibling, marriage, or any other loss, then you do it in your way, in your time. Don’t add to your grief by trying to control it or make it conform to someone’s idea of what grief looks like. As Totsy often said, “Why would you want to be like anyone else? You do YOUR best, and that is enough.”
Thanks, Mama.

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Rocks

While on our annual trip to Gatlinburg, we saw a store that advertised rocks…jagged crystals that are a lot like broken glass. Yes, pretty rocks, but still rocks. There is a sign that said, “No bare feet. Rocks are sharp.” It seemed an unecessary warning since the ground was littered with broken glass-like objects, but maybe they’ve had an unfortunate incident in the past. The “Great Glass Fiasco of 2012,” might have forever changed their perception of what is necessary signage. It seems  they could branch out into selling pets without any increase in overhead…or stock. Pet rocks. No microchip or food expenses. No vaccinations or medications. No pet sitters or boarding fees. No muss, no fuss. Advertising would be easy…”We will, we will rock you.” “Your pet rocks!” …rock and roll, rock steady, rockadoodle, rock a bye baby…the list is as endless as it is cheesy. There were little, tiny bags and a sign: “Fill a bag for $5.”  As my dad would say, ” That’s a deal at half the price.” He has also said, “If you sell something, somebody will buy it.” Also true. When rocks grow into boulders, or mountains, or continents then it’s impressive. I’m just not sure having a pocket full of rocks is the acme of dreams, but if a handful of colored glass brings a person joy, then good for them. Celebrate life.

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Never say, “Never.”

I’m usually pretty consistent in never saying “I’ll never…” You know, “I’ll never do this,” or “I’ll never do that.” Whether in reference to raising my kids or being rude to a waiter, the concept is the same. Well, never say, “Never.” I said I would never write a blog, and yet, here I am. I’ve spent years working on becoming NOT a perfectionist. Though grammatical errors really annoy me. Especially my own. That can create problems for a perfectionist. I also have made a point NOT to compare myself to others. Of course this may be my first, and last, post which would solve both dilemmas. I don’t like being boxed in. In addition to my aforementioned proclamation, my family has an unusually high percentage of excellent writers. Somewhere around 100%.
My husband, Glen, has written 2 books “Busy and Empty,” and “The Abiding Cycle.” My daughter, Mattie writes beautifully and can move me to tears almost immediately. Which, considering that I rarely cry, is saying something. Her husband Jake writes wonderful short pieces (jacobcrumpwrtings.blogspot.com and thedweebjar.wordpress.com) My son, Todd, is not only a great persuasive writer but also has been writing wonderful creative songs for years. (Todd Whatley and the Frontmen) So it seems futile to make the attempt. Then it occurred to me that I could write it for me And I guess for my sister Mandy also. She has my sense of humor and would enjoy it even if no one else does. As a side note: She is also a better writer than I am. Frankly, I’m almost talking myself out of having a blog, but I hate to waste effort.
As a parting disclaimer/warning, I will leave you with this thought from J. J. R. Tolkien: “But I warn you, if you bore me, I shall take my revenge.” One of the advantages of the written word over the spoken word is that you may stop reading. I occasionally feel and am in fact, as evidenced by this post, long-winded. If you were with me in person you could: A) pretend to listen or B) actually listen. Fortunately, you have a third option. C) Stop. Do not pass “Go.” Do not collect $200. It’s better than revenge. Just say, “No,” is applicable in numerous instances. This may very well be one of those instances.

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