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Sunday, October 25, 2009

SARAH







I went to a women's retreat this weekend. I am too tired to know yet if I am refreshed and revitalized. It was fun, though, and I think I may have learned something. I just need a few days to sort it out.



I was talking to a woman I had just met and said something about my daughter, Sarah. She said she had a Sarah too, and did mine live up to her "princess" name, as hers did. I said no, but thought about it later and wondered, when did princess become so derogatory? What used to imply royalty, and was an affectionate name a father might call his daughter, now means spoiled and self centered.



I really don't like this. I don't like the tight fitting tshirts with princess printed on the front or the shorts with it on the butt. I don't know why we want to dress our girls like junior hookers or why we would raise them to take so much pride in being selfish and demanding.



My Sarah is a princess. She is a kind and thoughtful servant, not unlike Cinderella. She is sweet and sensitive, as in The Princess and the Pea. And like Abraham's Sarah, she is royalty, her daddy's the King.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Walkin' on Sunshine


I was about four or maybe five when this picture was taken. I, for some reason, feel very happy when ever I see it. I think it must have been a good day.

There have been times all through my life when I have stopped to realize, I am very happy. I'm not talking about overwhelming joy, caused by some wonderful event. More like the peaceful contentment when all is right with the world.

Music seems to always trigger memories of these times. When I hear Sam Cooke sing, We're Having a Party, I see my sister, Sherry and her husband Si dancing in our living room on Christmas Eve, 1964. The Beatles, Hey Jude, takes me back to a warm summer night sleeping under the stars, with the best friends a sixth grader ever had.

I remember July 4th, 1985, Jon and I took our kids to the lake, like we did many times that summer. There was a sandy beach and swimming area for kids, and the local rock station broadcast from there. I was sitting on the beach, very pregnant, watching Eric and Sarah play. I suddenly thought, I am truly happy. Just then the baby started dancing in my belly as the radio played, Katrina and the Waves, I'm Walking on Sunshine. Lauren was born six days later.

Monday, October 19, 2009

BROTHERS




This is a picture of my brothers as young boys watching TV, a scene that will be played out a million times over the next fifty years.


I have six older brothers. I have been asked all my life, what was it like growing up with all those boys? How did I survive? Honestly, I cant imagine my life without them. Not that it was all so easy. Anytime there are that many kids in one house, there will be battles. One of my brothers has a fork prong shaped battle scar on his forehead. Family dinners are great, aren't they? I feel a little sorry for them. Had I been in competition with five sisters, I might not be so well adjusted.






As much as I love baseball, because of my brothers, I hate football for the same reason. I believe it was invented so all males, young and old, have a reason to ignore me.


Standing at the check out stand in the grocery store one day, I picked up a book on cats. I flipped through the pages and read"The unaltered male is extremely hard to live with." I thought, "Wow is this from the Bible?"


If there is any wisdom I can pass on to a little sister of brothers it would be, always check to see if the toilet seat is down. And also, if your brothers say they want to work on your bike, they are just looking for spare parts.








Friday, October 16, 2009

Halloween Memories




Up until this year I was living and working in a very small town south of here. Every Halloween the Down Town Association would hand out candy to the trick or treaters, starting about 5:00, or sooner, if the kids showed up early. It was quite a sight. All those children and dogs in their costumes up and down the street. They were so thick the one and only policeman in town had to direct traffic. It was like Norman Rockwell painting. I think I will really miss it this year.

I loved Halloween when I was a kid. My brothers and I had the best neighborhood to trick or treat in. There were big scary houses with gnarly old trees, and of course lots of crazy old ladies. Crazy old ladies make it Halloween, don't they? There was one house we went to every year, expecting to be eaten by the witch who lived there. We slowly and fearfully approached her big dark scary house, knocked on the door and waited. I swear, every year, she came to the door, talking about how she always forgets its Halloween and all she has is popcorn.Then she puts big handfuls of popcorn in each of our bags. We put ourselves through this for popcorn she handled with her bare hands.

We had those hard plastic mask back then. The ones with the rubber band to hold them on your face. If the rubber band didn't break before Halloween, it tangled and pulled your hair. It also was very hard to see out of the holes cut in the mask for eyes. Then there was the breathing thing. Between the hair pulling, being blind and asphyxiating it's strange we never lost anyone.

I have not been comfortable dressing up for Halloween since Ive been an adult. Someone always tries to talk me into it, but I just don't care for the attention, I guess. One Halloween, a young woman I worked with, tried to get everyone to agree to wear a costume. We all kept saying no but I guess she thought we didn't mean it. Every day she would say,"Sheila you're gonna dress up, aren't you?" And I would say no. On the morning of Halloween, she walked in wrapped from head to toe like a mummy. She had on white makeup and could barely walk because her feet were bound. She looked around at everyone and said" I thought we were gonna dress up!"

Now that's scary.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Remember 1963


I just read a great book I would like to recommend. It was called The Help. Sorry I don't remember the author and Ive already returned it to the library. It's set in Jackson Mississippi 1963. The book is written from the perspective of three different women. Two are black maids. The other, a young white woman who made the awful mistake of leaving O'l Miss with a degree instead of a husband. I have never been a Feminist, but after reading this book, that may have been because I was too young to know it was bad when it was bad.

It's shocking to read what these women went through. And the lies people told to keep them down.

My mother and I rode a bus to Washington DC in November of 1963. Just the week before, I was sitting in my first grade class room, when my teacher tearfully announced, President Kennedy had been shot. We were being dismissed from school to be with our families. We were all so sad, but our parents were frightened. We didn't know about all the civil unrest in the country. Hey, that was life before 24 hour cable news.

Anyway, the trip to Washington had been planned for sometime before all of this, because my sister was getting an artificial heart valve courtesy of the U S Army. She was one of the first, if not the first to receive a new heart valve, and it was being done at Walter Reed hospital.

Our trip began after dinner on Thanksgiving day. We rode the bus for two days and nights, down through the deep south and up to the east coast, all the way to Virginia. I was young but I did notice people and their rules changed from state to state. I remember a pretty young black women who sat with us and talked until we crossed into, let's just say, one of the more southern states. Right on cue, she took her place at the back of the bus and didn't make eye contact again. Another time, I woke up to shouting and cursing. The bus stopped and the police were there waiting to take someone away.

I didn't have any idea what was going on around me. Honestly in 1963 I had not seen very many black people in person. It's hard to believe so much has changed in such a short time but our lives are better for it. Think what you would have missed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Long Drive

I haven't posted in several days. I meant for this blog to be more upbeat and I know I've been a real downer lately. So I tried to wait until some of these feelings passed, but, forgive me, I just have to write them down. I hope this is the last one.
You see it's started again. This time every year kids around here start dying in car wrecks. The latest, a student from our local university, was killed by a drunk driver Saturday night. She was twenty and here from another state. About four years ago two students from that same school were killed in a wreck during Fall break. Both were friends of my daughter Lauren, and I knew the parents of the young man quite well. The other was a dancer. Ballet. She was the one that saddened me the most. I could just imagine her parents driving from New Mexico, knowing their daughter was dead. How hopelessly long that drive must have seemed. A year or so later that girls mother wrote me the sweetest letter when we lost Lauren. I never responded. It was too hard.
I thought Lauren would be alive when we arrived. On the drive home,I went from wanting to shield my other two children from the pain, to wishing we had hit that deer in the road, had an accident and died without ever knowing what the very near future held.
After the accident on Saturday I thought about this latest victim and her parents making that drive. The longest drive.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sad Daze


I went to my water aerobics class tonight. My doctor suggested water aerobics after I hurt my back and it turns out I love it. Most of the people who go, are going for some kind of physical therapy.

Tonight there was a new face in the crowd . She was someone I had known in another place and time, but I didn't recognize her at first. She was always so cheerful, bright eyes, big smile. But tonight she had a blank stare and a forced smile when she saw me. After the class we were talking and she said she was coming to this class as part of her therapy. I asked what she needed therapy for, expecting her to say something about her back or knees, whatever. But then she looked at me and said depression. I don't know how I didn't see it. I wanted to know what happened, if anything, but knew I couldn't ask.

When my daughter died, I wondered if it showed on my face. I could be in a room full of people and felt so alone. My doctor gave me a prescription for antidepressants, but they didn't take away the sadness, I just couldn't cry anymore. I needed to cry, so I quit taking them. But they gave me that same look I saw on her face tonight. My heart broke for her.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Seasons Change


My backyard is covered in gold and brown leaves and the Rangers have played their last game of the season. It must be Autumn.

A good friend of mine talks a lot about seasons, as in the seasons of our lives. You know, when we were young girls we were in Spring, then as young wives and mothers it was Summer. Now it is Autumn. This is supposed to be the best part of our lives. Our children are grown and some ladies I know even have grandchildren. Our homes are paid for and we actually have a little savings. It's all about freedom now, or that's what they say. Let's see how it goes.

I can't help but wonder, is it the Autumn of our lives because, like the leaves on the trees, gravity has taken over and everything is going south? Or maybe because we are shedding brain cells like the trees shed their leaves in the fall. At any rate I won't have to face it alone. Ive got good friends like Estee Lauder and Mary Kay to help me, as I go kicking and screaming into Winter.

Enjoy these burnt orange and gold days.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Miss Mia Armstrong




Okay, so we named the puppy. Meet Mia.


Mia is a Pekingese. She is very sweet and makes friends easily. Her hobbies include, grass rolling, chewing on flip flops, and chasing Chihuahuas around the house. She is sporting a pink camouflage collar and is freshly bathed.

Friday, October 2, 2009

What's in a Name?

This was my last day of vacation, sigh........ oh well, sigh........
I have a new puppy, a Pekingese. She is adorable. We are trying to think of a good name, and we can't agree on anything. I really like Mia, but Jon doesn't so much. She is very brave. She loves Darnell and thinks they are "potty partners". Darnell is very jealous and snaps at her all the time, but she is not deterred. She follows him around like he is Jerry Garcia. Butters is terrified of her and the puppy chases her all over the house. It's so funny. She really needs a name.
We watched a pretty good movie this evening, Away We Go. Maya Randolph was in it and that cute guy from The Office. They were a young couple with no close family ties, about to have a baby, and trying to find the perfect place to raise her. It's funny and sad and sweet and, yes, very adult, but well worth your time. Maya Randolph's character is named Verona, like the city in Italy and Romeo and Juliet. I like that name for my puppy.
It has always been hard to think of original names for my dogs. Cats are easy. Jon brought home a Siamese kitten once and I looked at him and said "what's your name?", and he said "Mao" so that was his name. Funny, he had the personality of a Chinese dictator. Jon brought home another kitten he found down by the school yard and of course his name was Julio. We've had Emma's and Annies and Stormy's and Muddy's, named after the great Muddy Waters. But dogs are just harder. They all have unique personalities and you want the name to fit the dog.
So what's it gonna be? I don't know, but I will get back with you when I do, and I'll have picture.

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A wife, mother, and spoiler of small dogs, I grew up in a small West Texas town, with my eyes full of sand, and my heart full of joy.


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