Saturday, June 6, 2009


When I first locked my eyes with your eyes and fell into those black pools I loved you. I loved you before I saw you, when I saw you and I love you still.
You were six months old when I got off the plane at the San Salvador International Airport, El Salvador. It was November of 1976 just before Thanksgiving. I stepped out onto the stairs of the aircraft into the sticky sweet tropical evening and looked up to the roof of the terminal. There clustered against the sky a throng of people awaited the arrival of the plane that I was on. The silhouette of one tall man holding an infant high above his head into the fading light caught and held my searching gaze. I knew as a mother knows her child that he was holding you up for me.
Somehow at 25 years of age I had arrived alone at this place at this time to receive into my arms my first child. After struggling through the crush and confusion of Customs I found you again out side the glass doors of arrivals. Thomas your foster father came directly toward me and placed you into my outstretched arms. Immediately you looked up into my eyes and grabbed my nose and held on tight. Your little body was solid and so warmly dressed in a yellow terry one piece footed pajama. Sweat curled your straight black hair into glistening concentric swirls on the crown of your head. I drank you in. Your heft, your scent, no longer strange to me, but now a part of me. We came together a mother and a son as only God alone could have chosen.
Looking into your eyes I saw an expanse of time that reached back to the very beginnings of time. Like rain pouring down a spring green leaf and mud sliding an other wise sure footed step I tumbled into an awareness of love. Love that passes all understanding. Our Father's love for us. All of that reflected in your deep dark brown eyes.
When love is not enough there is faith. I have had to be reminded of that so many times. God has you in his hands. He always has. I pray that his plans for you become fulfilled. My son. My boy for whom I could not always do what was needed or wanted. My Joshua. You are filled with light and laughter and I pray that our Heavenly Father's guiding hand keeps you safe and heals you.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Guy and My Son

Step Stools, Spanx and Marraige To The Right Guy

When I was single between the end of a 23 year marriage and finding the last man I will ever marry I was looking for the right guy. I was in Hiawasse, Georgia coming out of an all you can eat buffet with my brother Chip and our Mom when I thought I saw him. He came out of the restaurant with his wife or maybe she was still his lucky girlfriend. They both had the ample markings of never having missed dinner or the buffet line. His big red pick up truck was parked beside our car. He was tall and swung long blue jean clad legs from under his well belted waist and belly. She was short and round and he held her arm as they laughed and walked to the passenger door of the truck. Being a Southern Gentleman he opened the door for her, no surprise there, but what happened next knocked me in the solar plexus. He reached into the bed of the truck and pulled out a step stool, placed it on the ground by the side of the door and helped her up onto the stool and into the truck. With an affectionate pat on her bottom he made sure she was all the way in and ready to perch on the seat before closing the door and putting the stool away.

I was stunned and my Mom and Chip and I turned to each other and let out a collective breath and sigh and "WOW DID YOU SEE THAT". We had all been watching and equally captivated at the loving gesture. It instantly created a new frame of reference for me. Find a loving and supportive man willing to help in any situation. I would have expected ridicule and jokes waiting for her to pull herself into the truck's cab. Instead of teasing and embarrassment we watched kindness and caring pull out of the parking lot in that truck.

It took a couple more years before my right guy came along. But when he did he was able to help me out with kindness and humor. He carefully drove around a parking lot to look for me when I had told him I'd wait in our car for him to pay the breakfast bill. I was happily reading the Sunday paper in the car when out of the passenger side review mirror I saw him. He was cruising by slowly and unmistakably in our bright orange Pontiac Grand Prix. I looked around me and in an instant realized I was sitting in the wrong car, different make different color, reading somebody else s Sunday paper while he patiently looked for me. Flinging open the car door I fled to the safety of my husbands car and we shared one of many hearty laughs.
This morning he helped me into a pair of Spanx. Spanx for those of you who might be uninformed are the new millennium's girdle. Spandex with no visible pantie lines. I bought them to wear under the dress I am wearing to my son's wedding. They are a remarkably tight fit and required some engineering and assistance to get into. He was just the guy for the job and again we shared in the fun and humor of life. He is my rock and safe place. He shared our home with my mother when she was in her nineties with much more grace than I and stood by me when she died. He has taken care of our pets and home and me with good grace and humor.

My son is getting married. I can't imagine his utterly lovely, long and willowy bride to be will ever need a step stool or a pair of Spanx. What she will need is a guy who will help her out when she falls a bit short and possibly lands in the wrong car, or out of a tight squeeze in a sticky situation. No doubt he will need the same of her. I hope I have set him off with enough humor in his kind heart and enough patience in his eager soul to meet any challenge that married life and a long relationship can bring. Marriage takes love which is patience and kindness. Humor is the balm that eases the way.

I Corinthians 13

Monday, April 6, 2009

My Mother's Journals

My mother left her journals behind. I have read them. The first time I found them I was cleaning out her cabin after she had gone to live in a nursing home. Alzheimer's disease had gotten the best of her and the safe keeping of last resort had arrived. It had become time for her to live with twenty-four hour supervision. Mama's cabin was tucked under the tall pines and tulip trees on the side of Track Rock Gap in the North Georgia Mountains. It had been her beloved safe haven for eleven years. Built by my brothers hands and contracting to her exacting specifications and stuffed with the memoirs, photos, albums, books, letters and writings collected in her ninety years.
The heavy oak desk in her bedroom held all sorts of treasure. I knew by the heft of the drawers as I tugged them open that nothing inside would be insignificant. I also knew this as I had been peaking into them all my life. An inveterate snoop I was not looking for surprises, I was just having to take another look. So when her slim diary dating from 1994 slipped out from behind a stack of greeting cards it did take my breath away.
I crawled into Mama's bed to read it. Mama's bed was so comforting. The old Hudson Bay blanket still smelled of moth balls and damp. Her sheets of soft well worn flannel felt smooth against my bare toes. And the heavy weight of her Autumn Leave quilt as I pulled it high up to my chin helped to settle the pounding beat of my heart as I opened her diary. There had never been a question that I would read it. Why would she have written it if not to share? I sensed that it was what she had meant for me to do.
Most of the entry's where brief notes of the day. "Went to the library, met Chip for lunch and talked about the girls". "Walked the side of Track Rock Road and picked the first violets of the year". "Rained today worked on notes for writing group". Little snippets of a life lived with an earnest desire to get things done, not waste time, be productive. Here and there as the days went by Mama would open her heart and write an entry longer than most. Usually prompted by a concern for family that brought forth a memory of her own trials with her personnel life.
All my snooping and delving into things none of my business my whole life long did not prepare me for her candid accounts of her own personnel feelings written in honest simplicity.
Mama sprang from the pages of that note book not the Mama I knew, but the woman she was and had been. The young woman who fell in love in 1939 to a man she could not "in that day and age" marry. The wife who traveled to England in 1976 with her beloved husband to visit his birth place and "discover their roots and history." The mother who grieved the loss of her first born son and fought with gripping bouts of depression to find her place left in life. Her feelings for her own mother's black periods of despair. The grandmother so proud to write the accomplishments of her many grandchildren and to pray and plead for their success and survival in a harsh world.
Amidst the words on those pages came to life a woman just like me, only so much more accomplished. Mama's brave and hard working spirit and love of God and faith in a promising future for her clan. I am glad she wrote her diaries and I was inspired to write my own. I haven't done much of that as day to day my life seems so mundane. Yet when I look back on what she shared of her days it was the day to day the trivial that intrigued and gave shape to the random remembrances and heart wrenching stories she told. So everyday and normal. A woman growing and living her life in her eighties. Her last decade of life lived independently, widowed after a fifty year marriage and for the first time able to spend her days as she wished.
Mama started each day over coffee, a nourishing breakfast and a scripture reading. Many of her days where ended with a small note in her diary. Together saved with her letters and books the diaries keep her with me. They remind me that even the incidental is important. Just reading that on a Tuesday "it rained and Tom cat took shelter on the front porch", gives me back my mother in her fullness.
She reminds me that it is important to pray.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saving Grace My Journey Back To Weight Watchers

Two weeks ago the young nurse practitioner at my office handed me a glossy catalog of cookie dough.
The inevitable fund raiser for her son's day care center. I have always managed to pass on these handouts. This time the idea of my own personal three pound bucket of frozen glistening chocolate chip cookie dough was more than I could resist. My ears buzzed with the whir of out of control negative stinking thinking as I handed her my fifteen dollars and placed my order. I joked to all my coworkers in the heart center that I was getting it with a spoon. It seemed to me a splendid idea. In the following days as I waited for delivery I dreamed about it. I imagined how much fun it would be. Just me, my bucket of dough and my ever faithful companion, my dog Angie. I figured she would want in on some of the action or at least a ring side seat.
As the days went by the dreams began to erode my otherwise normal daily routine of racking up CDOP's (complete days on program for you non WW'ers), journaling, and walking Angie. It did seem a bit pointless after all to be CDOP when any fool with an ounce of wits knew the bucket was coming and all would be lost. I stopped counting, journaling fell into a limited scrawl of daily events and foods consumed and then withered away entirely. My meals and snacks were still made of the healthy, simply filling foods that WW expounds on when they aren't trying to sell me 1 point snack cakes. I'd smirk at the luncheon size plates in the cupboard and reach past them for a big old dinner plate and load it up with my simply filling foods and eat them until I was stuffed. That buzzing in my ears got louder and I knew I was headed for a serious breakdown. When my mind stops talking in complete sentences and starts to just whir and thrum and hum like a funnel cloud I am really on the skids. My sweet bucket- ridden dreams of cookie dough began to be interrupted with thoughts of a crisis. What was I going to do with three pounds of dough? My very supportive husband is diabetic. I knew he would help shovel with a spoon, but he has his limits and then there is that issue of his health. My freezer is too small to refreeze the dough - it would have to sit on a shelf in the refrigerator next to yesterday's brown rice and tomorrow's limp romaine.
I spent the night before last awake. The arrival date was fast approaching and I was having second thoughts. I needed help. I prayed. God why do I have these temptations? I walked the floor late at night and ate two bowls of cheerios. It struck me that I could give it away to the needy. My mother always wanted me to give to the needy. The needy lived in little wooden shacks down the hill from us when we were growing up. She liked to point them out to my brothers and me when we went to the grain store. They were wedged up against the train tracks that my Dad traveled on his way into Boston to work at Zorigan's Studio everyday. Good Deeds. As three am approached I wondered where I could take my bucket here in Florida. I could bake cookies and hand them out to the homeless who wander the waterfront in Sarasota. But they would smell so good baking and I knew if I opened the lid even once I would be doomed. That just wouldn't work. I could send them to Angelina and Brad - they are skinny and don't have problems with buckets of dough. Maybe they could take them to Africa and do some more Good Deeds for George Clooney to grin over.
It was an exhausting night, but by morning I'd had a brain storm. I would give the unopened unseen bucket away to a nurse at work. She has a free day care center at her church. They could have the bucket of dough. I even resolved that since this is the last week to go to WW and sign back up without paying all your missed meetings fees that I would rush to a meeting right after work.
It was a relief to tell my friend she could have the whole enchilada when it came in. I promptly went off by myself and ate some freshly made cookies that another earnest coworker had made. I needed some consoling. I was still full from the cereal so what the heck, let's have some of these peanut butter cookies with the cute little fork marks crisscrossed on their tops. Soon enough I would be at a meeting and signing my life away. Oh my dangerous mind. The long work day wore on and I ran into every available food item with an open mouth and an out stretched greedy hand.
Now my dear husband knew I'd had a sleepless night. He called during the afternoon to say he'd take me out to dinner. That was very nice, but I told him I was determined to go and sign up at WW first and then we could go and eat.
He picked me up just before 6pm and off we drove. Angie grinning in the backseat is always ready for a road trip with food involved. Well, we went right out of the office parking lot and WW was to the left. Oh, the fickle finger of fate I thought. He has forgotten my meeting... well never mind... no harm will come... I'll just go to dinner and then go sign up at the meeting tomorrow night. Oh see how easy it is to redirect my best intentions. I had prayed over this. Help was on the way. I had done my Good Deed and given the bucket away unseen. It would just be a small delay and I was so full from my day of indulgence that I would just get a bowl of soup at our local diner. Angie thumped her tail from the back seat and grinned out the window in perfect agreement with me.
I really was full so it was just my luck that they had nine bean and ham soup on the menu. They make a new soup everyday. Nine beans that would qualify as a simply filling meal. It wouldn't have much ham in it. My husband tucked into his salad and I had the first bite of creamy smokey soup. You know how sometimes ham will have just that little plastic bit of dark brown rind on the edge? Well my bite of ham had that and I didn't care for it so I delicately removed the little tidbit from my mouth and spooned up my second bite of creamy beans and broth. Mindless now that I was eating, the third bite came on autopilot to my mouth. With my peripheral vision I noticed another bit of that glossy brown rind on my spoon and took another look at my spoon before closing my lips around it. Now you may remember I mentioned I had prayed to God for help. Well have you ever wondered what is God really thinking? Why did he make all manner of creatures to share our planet? What possible use does a horseshoe crab still have. I mean they are ancient and they just seem to wash up on beaches, tentacles and feet flapping uselessly into the air. Why are they still here? Why did God make so many bugs and things that slither around and frighten us? What kind of a mind dreams these things up and to what end? You just never know. Until you look a second time at your spoonful of nine bean and ham soup and there on the brim are two long delicate antennae waving at me from the stewed body of a gleaming brown cockroach. Suddenly you stop eating, spoon in mid- air and the riddles of God's precious world become crystal clear to you. There is Saving Grace. It is bigger than Good Deeds. It is God working in the details to answer a late night prayer. A Florida cockroach has been kept crawling on this good earth, the spitting image of a horseshoe crab, it crawls and does what roaches do. It gets into places you don't want. With that you stop your orgy of overeating and come face to face with the dose of reality you were so blindly seeking for two long weeks. There it is, you have the ability to stop and put the spoon down. So simple. Just stop and put the spoon onto the table.
I got up and went out to the car for a heart to heart with my dog Angie. My husband sorted out what was left of our bill and tipped the poor waitress.
My prayer was answered. I got help. Tonight I did go to my meeting and sign up. I sat in the back and thought about how lucky I am to get another chance.
WW has given me all the tools I need. From my prayer I got some extra Grace. A little more time to make this work.