Posted in NaBloPoMo, NanoPoblano

The Decision

If you could redo one moment in your life, what would it be and why? How would it change who you are now?1968-07-lee-with-grandpa-walker

I have to start out by saying that no matter what, I wouldn’t change anything about my life, because if I did, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be where I am now.  I believe that every decision and every action thus far in my life was a vital step to bring me to this exact spot. Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve got regrets. I’ve got a lot of regrets, but I think those are important because they have shaped the woman I am today. However, for the sake of this prompt, I will describe a moment that I do wonder about sometimes.

As a child, my grandfather was the most important person in my life. I loved my parents and I loved my other three grandparents, but the bond with my Grandpa Walker was stronger than any other.  The scene played out one Saturday morning. As usual, I had spent the night with my grandparents and sometime mid-morning, I walked back home to my parents’ house.  Minutes after arriving, the phone rang.  It was my grandmother calling for help. Something was wrong with my grandfather. “Come quick!” she yelled.  

My mom grabbed my sister and me and we jumped in the car for the quarter mile ride back to my grandparents’ house.  My grandfather was on the couch just as he had been when I left less than 30 minutes earlier. It was clear he was in great distress.  My grandmother was panicking and my mother yelled for me to go get help.  

Now, I was 10 years old.  My dad and uncle were working and the next nearest neighbor was a half mile away. It was quicker for me to go for help than to call for help as my family lived over 10 miles from the nearest doctor or ambulance service.

I remember thinking that it would be faster if I just got in the car and drove for help. I know what you are thinking. I’m was TEN. But, growing up in the country had its advantages. I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t driving. Before my feet could reach the peddles, my grandfather would put me in his lap and I would steer us everywhere we went. As a 10 year old, I was sort of tall, so I had finally reached the point where my tippy toes could reach and I could really drive a car with an automatic transmission. Although I had done it a few times in the fields and yards, I was never allowed to do it without an adult with me.

1971-lee-and-grandpa-walkerSo, here I am on this morning as my 10 year old self stood in the road with the the biggest decision I had made to date bearing down on me. I looked at the car, keys in the ignition and pointing in the direction I needed to go. I looked down the road to the neighbor’s house knowing that even for a relatively active child, the half mile was going to be hard. The side of me that feared getting in trouble won, and my feet began to pound the pavement as fast as my little legs would carry me. I made the first quarter mile without slowing down, but I finally had to stop for a breath. After a few seconds I took off again. I remember the stabbing pains in my side and the feeling my lungs were on fire.

I made it to the neighbor’s and luckily he was home.  I crashed into his back door and shouted through exhaustion, “something is wrong with grandpa,” and without missing a beat, he grabbed his keys and we headed back. I remember the scene so vividly as we stormed through the back door of my grandparents’ home. My mom was stooped over my grandfather giving him CPR as best she could, but the look on her face said it all.  He was gone. The neighbor stepped in and confirmed what my mom already knew.

I can remember not being able to catch my breath. I remember the sobs and most of all, I remember the guilt. Did I make the wrong choice when standing in the middle of that road? If I had taken the car, would we have been able to get back in time to save him? Was being afraid of getting in trouble the thing that killed my grandpa?

Over the next few days I remember hearing the hushed voices of my mother and grandmother telling friends and family how he had died before my mom and I ever got there, of how my grandmother heard him take his last breath before she was even able to call us for help. I heard the doctor say there was nothing anyone could have done and even if he had been closer to medical help, it would not have saved him. But none of those things made me feel better. I was so sure that my wrong choice was the reason he died. And honestly, here I am almost 40 years later and I still think about that day when he comes to mind; I still wonder if the outcome would have been different. My adult brain knows the truth,but sometimes it’s hard to shake the thoughts of that little girl who, in an instant, lost her rock and her best friend.

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Posted in Uncategorized

From Reeling to Reborn

2013; It’s been quite a year. A year filled with heartbreak and disappointment. A year filled with love, family and friends. 2013 was a year that brought me to my knees in desperation, and in gratitude.

As I reflected on 2013 for this blog post, I thought about skipping over the bad stuff. However, the single most important thing I want to do with this blog is to be authentic in who I am and who I want to be. And skipping the bad wouldn’t be true to that. However, upon further reflection, I could think of only one bad thing worthy enough to even write about. It was a single heartbreak, although it’s probably not the kind of heartbreak you would think. It wasn’t a person, per sé, that broke my heart. No, it was a company. Specifically, my employer.

In order to protect myself just a little bit, I’ll forego the down and dirty details, but I can assure you that my heart was metaphorically ripped out, put in a blender, and turned into mincemeat. I had bounced back from the previous year’s disappointment, and even began to thrive and enjoy my role in the company. Then, in late January, some news came down that changed everything. I was given a new role, a new boss, new employees, and new responsibilities.  Ironically, I was given almost everything I wanted the year before, but in the worst possible way it could have been done. I know we all experience professional disappointments from time to time, but this was the kind of ongoing mental beat down that makes you want stay down. It’s the kind that breaks most people.

But, you know what? It has not broken me. I’m hurt and disappointed by what’s been done to me, but I know in my heart that what I’m going through is all part of God’s perfect plan for me. If there is one thing that’s come from this experience, it’s that I find myself growing closer to God. In 2013, my soul exploded with His love. I’ve read more books, listened to more music, and received more messages of God’s Word than ever before. I’ve found that in my very darkest times, God continues to fan the flame in my heart. That flame was bigger and brighter than ever on August 4 when I was baptized for a second time. There’s something about making that decision and commitment as an adult that means so much more than my childhood decision thirty-five years ago. It was the #1 moment of the year, made even more special when Gil surprised me by taking my hand and joining me in a commitment to live out this faith journey together, side by side.

2013 could also be summarized by the “F” word. Well, three little “F” words actually: faith, family, friends. I know it is cliché, but this was the year that those three words began to morph into the same entity. I cannot speak about one without talking about the others. My faith brought so many incredible friends into my life, friends that are now as important as any family member could be. And speaking of family, the most important person in my life, my husband, is also my best friend and a guiding source of God inspired love and service. I’ve seen Gil’s faith really grow this year, and I am so proud of him and so blessed to be his wife.

If I had to pick one word to describe 2013, it would be metamorphosis. This was my, “Year of the Butterfly”. I found my happy place right in my own back yard during the late summer months. Over and over again I watched something ugly become something beautiful. Sometimes it was in the birth of a pinhead sized caterpillar, or a bee sucking nectar from an alien looking passionflower bloom.  Sometimes it was in the sparkling sunlight reflecting off drops of rain on a vibrant, orange flower. Mostly, it was in the moments glorious new life emerged from an ugly, hardened chrysalis. These were the moments that took my breath away. These were the moments in which I remembered God’s grace. While the voices in my head wreaked havoc on my thoughts, I found moments of beauty and stillness in those fluttering, beautiful insects. The beauty would take my breath away and silence the demons in my mind. In those moments, I was reminded that God will make beautiful things out of all of us. I felt a kind of rebirth, very much like the moment of my baptism.

Metamorphosis is defined as a major change in the appearance or character of someone or something. My metamorphosis is happening. I can feel it from the inside, in very much the same way that the caterpillar transforms into the butterfly inside a chrysalis. You can’t see it happening, but you watch, and you wait with giddy anticipation. With hope. With faith that something beautiful is coming. I believe God gave me those experiences last year to remind me that He’s not finished with me. I believe I needed to see that the ugly doesn’t last. I needed to feel that special kind of hope.

So, it’s with giddy anticipation I enter 2014 filled with hope that God’s hand and His grace will continue to transform me into the person He wants me to be.

Posted in Inspired by Music, My life in pictures

146/365 AHH.Maz.ING

This one one of those weekends we live for. From start to finish it was simply amazing. Friday started with Gil and me picking up the kids and heading out for a bite to eat at the mall, then just hanging out at Barnes & Nobel for more than an hour. On Saturday I slept in a little, did a bit of laundry, packed for an overnight trip and headed to the soccer field where Natalie’s team won their game. Yah! This was a double win because these two teams had tied before and the officiating was horrible. The girls deserved a solid win and they got it.

As soon as the game was over Gil and I jumped in the car and headed north to Jacksonville. We got there about an hour before Dirty Shannon took the stage and wowed us with some of their new, unreleased music. I cannot wait for their next CD to be released. It’s going to be good. No, wait. It’s going to be GREAT!

The whole purpose of our trip to Jacksonville was to support our friends Son of a Bad Man. Their new CD just came out this week and this show on Saturday night was to celebrate that release. First of all, go buy their CD. Go….I’ll wait here till you get back.

…..

Ok, now that you’ve bought their new CD, give it a listen and let me know what you think. I think it’s fantastic. These boys totally rocked our faces off. The night was extra special because we got to see some dear friends and catch up between sets.

When we made the decision to make this crazy overnight trip to Jax to see two of our favorite bands, I contacted my cousin to ask if we could crash with her. We haven’t seen each other in about 4 years and that was at a crowded restaurant. Before that, I think 2001 may have been the last time we actually spent any quality time together. She and her husband didn’t join us for the show and the plan was for us to enjoy our concert and then head to her house, which is exactly what we did.

We spent several hours talking a whole bunch of crazy talk because somehow we ended up on the subject of politics. THIS is a subject that I tend to avoid like the plague, but here we were, 2AM in the morning, each of us defending our views and opinions. Let’s just say that after 10+ years of falling out of touch with someone, talking politics may not be the best way to reconnect. I say this in jest, of course. At least we did find out that we tend to lean in opposite directions but we did indeed learn quite a bit about each other. It wasn’t until my eyelids refused to stay up that we abandoned our own little debate and headed to bed.

My cousin and her family lives on a beautiful piece of property right on the St. Johns River. We awoke to a breathtaking view of the river and the Dames Point Bridge. We also awoke to this…

This is Patches and she likes to play…with toes..under the covers. Okay, so this was not a bad thing. She was so freaking sweet and had slept by my feet all night (at least I think she was there all night). And when the morning came, she was ready to play. Gil and I both had several play sessions with her before we finally stumbled out of bed and into the kitchen.

My domestic goddess of a cousin prepared a delicious breakfast quiche and fruit salad for breakfast. We sat around the table truly catching up this time (no politics) and soon realized it was 3:00 in the afternoon. The cuz then grabbed some chicken and venison to throw on the grill. We left with our hearts and bellies quite full.

Now we are back home and it’s time to crash before the rat race starts again tomorrow. I’m so very thankful that God gave me this weekend to recharge my spirit. I feel like my little light is shining a little brighter tonight and I intend to take it with me as I start a new week.

Did you have a great weekend you want to share? I would love to hear all about it!

Posted in Childhood Memories, My life in pictures

114/365 The Reason I’m Here

My Uncle Vic passed away yesterday. I knewthat my photo post today would have to be one of my Great Uncle. He’s the handsome fellow on the right, sitting next to his beautiful, boisterous, wife, Aunt Riece. These two were quite the characters and I cherished every minute with them when they came for a visit.

My Uncle Vic and Aunt Riece are the reason I’m even here today. And, this story is totally going to feed into the whole idea of all of us southerners being a bunch of inbred hicks. I’m not even sure I know how the story goes other than at some family gathering after my great aunt and uncle got married (or maybe before), my Uncle Vic introduced his sister Elizabeth (my grandmother) to my Aunt Riece’s cousin, Coleman (my grandfather). I don’t know if it was love at first sight between my grandmother and grandfather but for the sake of my story, we’ll say it was. 🙂 So thanks to my Uncle Vic marrying my Aunt Riece, my grandparents met and fell in love and got married and had babies….one of which was my mom. In short, my uncle is the reason I’m here.

Now, who wants to chart out my family tree? LOL Before you volunteer, you should know that this is not the only instance in my family of cousins being aunts, uncles being cousins, and first cousins also being third cousins.

Posted in Childhood Memories

The End of a Generation

I received word last night that my Great Uncle Vic had passed away. I had not seen him in years but kept up with him through family members.  Uncle Vic was the last of my grandparent’s generation. My grandmothers and grandfathers and all of their siblings have now passed on and it hit me today just how sad this is. An entire generation of my family is gone and the children of today will never know what an amazing group of people these ‘old timers’ were.  I’m sad with the realization that so many stories of their rich lives will never be heard. I’m sad that this history is lost forever. I’m sad that our children of today will never hear these stories presented with the charm, wit, and charisma that men like my uncle often used to recount their lifetime of memories.

I guess we all know the time will come when one generation fades away and the next takes its place as the reigning leaders and historians of a family. We may know it’s inevitable, but when we are old enough to see the last of a generation leave us, it’s a pretty big jolt of reality. I am now part of the second generation of my family. I’m not sure I’m ready for this. It was the old folks who held the families together when I was a kid. It was the old folks that continued the traditions, and passed down the stories of our heritage. They prepared the large family meals and hosted all of the family get-togethers. It was the old folks who took care of us when we needed taking care of. In two days I’ll be 44 years old and I am now one generation away from being ‘the old folks’ and I’m not sure I’m ready for that responsibility.

The passing of my great uncle has left me longing for my childhood. It’s left me feeling like I’ve missed something really, really important. It’s left me simply missing the people who were so important in shaping who I am today, and who filled my childhood with memories. I’m also filled with regret that I didn’t spend more time listening to these previous generations of relatives. I have written copies of my grandmother’s recipes. I have photos of my great aunts and uncles. I have my grandfather’s wallet. What I don’t have are their memories associated with these ‘things’. I only have MY memories of what these people did and said to me. I wish I knew more.

It is for this reason that I want to foster my blog so that it becomes my own personal living, breathing history book. I want to do this for my nephew, Hunter, and for my step-children, Natalie and Daniel.  I want to fill it with stories of my childhood, of coming of age and of finding myself. I want them to know what I’m thinking and what I’m feeling so that they can look back and say, “I remember when that happened to us but I never knew she felt that way about it.” I want to leave future generations with more than just mementos and photographs of my life. I also want to leave them my memories.

 Rest In Peace, Uncle Vic

Posted in Inspired by Music, My life in pictures

111/365 On The Twelfth Day Of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my Father gave to me…

Family.

Family that is not my blood, but who holds such a special place in my heart.

Family separated by distance, but only a Facebook post away.

Family, because I said “I do.”

To my family, I am blessed by the grace of God when it comes to all of you in my life I get to call family. No matter how far apart we may be, how disgruntled we may get with each other, or how much time passes between phone calls or emails, you are always in my thoughts and I love each and every one of you.

I know what we share isn’t always perfect, but I also know those negative times could be a million times worse. We could be the family portrayed in this song covered by my friends, the Sarah Mac Band. I wanted to share it with you y’all because – well, let’s face it – I think we can all relate just a little bit to the words in the song.

(especially the part of the Mexican boyfriend)

Feliz Navidad!