We and us

November, 2018

"But if Hugh dies first, would I ever be able to stop saying "we" and say "I"? I doubt it. I do not think that death can take away the fact the Hugh and I are "we" and "us", a new creature born at the time of our marriage vows, which has grown along with us as our marriage has grown." - Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L'Engle 

I find myself struggling when I talk to people who don’t really know me yet. I think when I say “we” I confuse them. But, so many times it’s just not the right time to tell the whole story. And If I just say, “My husband passed away last year,” they are left in an uncomfortable position sometimes. They always say, “I’m so sorry,” but then there is this awkward silence.

And I really don’t like being introduced as the woman who just lost her husband. I’d rather tell people on my own terms, in my own time, in my own way.

So, yes, I’ll always be a part of “we” but I’m also “I”. Whoever that is.

Texts from the past #1: thinking of you

 

IMG_3068

 

The end of June I went through Chuck’s phone and wrote down some of the texts. I haven’t been able to go back again yet, but I hope to soon. Even though the phone is turned off, I think the texts will still be there.

Just about every one triggers a memory.

 

December 22, 2017

From Chuck to me: “Packing to the sounds of the Avett Brothers and thinking of you.”

 

He was always thinking of me. This was when I went to Jacksonville before Christmas and he followed a few days later. It was the last Christmas we had with Mom.

117948468_851617048899791_3623615452668130153_nHe thought of me in the special surprise gifts he got me throughout the years. Like the sandals he bought me one spring just because he thought I’d like them. I did and I still have them, 9-10 years later.

 

 

118214757_504763390367639_8447991204546636539_n

 

 

 

He thought of me when he got the tickets last fall for the Avett Brothers concert  in April, which ended up being canceled. And even if it hadn’t he was so ill by then we could not have gone.

 

 

He was always thinking of me.

He knew how much I missed the family and he let me go and stayed behind with first Loretta and then Ruby.

He got left behind so often during our Birmingham years as I flew back and forth to Tampa to see the grandkids or drove to Jacksonville to see mom. Juliette so often asked, “Where’s Grandpa?” My response was, “He’s working.” He was so looking forward to retirement just to spend more time with the kids. Last summer’s Bell Camp  was such an absolute blessing and fun time. This year it will just be Grammy Camp and I don’t know if I’ll do it justice without him.

 

Hello, Goodbye

Word Art 17

So, I was talking to 2019:

She said, “Goodbye”

I said, “High.”

She said, “Low.”

“But, these are my goals for 2020,”  I told her. “If not high, at least higher. In three categories: books read, miles hiked, blog posts written. So, 2019, let’s take a look and you’ll see what I mean.”

“With you, I read or listened to 43 books. That averages 3 1/2 a month. With you, I hiked 132 miles. That’s an average of only 2 1/2 a week. With you, I wrote 67 blog posts. That’s about 5 1/2 a month.”

She said, “Why?” And I said, “I don’t know” 

She said, “Stop”.

I said,  “Okay. I’m done with you. Finished. You are kaput!”

So, I talked to 2020 for a bit.

“Hey, 2020!” I said,  “Hello, hello, hello.”

I said, “Go, go, go.” At first she misunderstood me.  

“No, no, don’t go away. I mean go WITH me. We’ve got some goals to take care of to beat 2019. We need to read at least four books a month. And hike at least 3 miles a week.  And write at least six posts a month.” 

2020 said, “Yes.”

 

An afternoon in the woods

Yesterday I got off work early and was able to hike around at Moss Rock Preserve with Ruby before the sun set. At 4:51 pm. Blasted Daylight Savings Time.  The fall colors were absolutely  magnificent. The weather was perfect. The company was amicable.

IMG_5776

I came across two brothers who were rock climbing while their mom took pictures and video. I watched a minute from the top of a boulder opposite the activity. The older boy was hoisting the younger one up with a rope and pulley system of some sort. My path crossed theirs a little later and they were still having fun.

As I approached the waterfall area I came across a man, younger than me I think, helping an elderly couple in their seventies to get down the rocky path along the waterfall. Which could hardly be called a waterfall, more a water trickle But, I digress. I could tell from the snatches of conversation I heard these people didn’t know each other. Just one person giving a helping hand.

IMG_5803

Moss Rock – sun hasn’t set yet but moon is up

After I wandered around above the “falls” and crossed over, I sat a few minutes to just enjoy the scenery and let Ruby lap up some water. She started a little low growling as a man approached from behind, taking pictures. When he came into my sightline I saw he was wearing a Georgia Bulldogs shirt. I told Ruby he was not the enemy and then I told him I liked his shirt. That opened the door for a little conversation. He graduated from the University of Georgia ten years ago. We talked about different places to hike in the area and then I went on my way.

I came up on the elderly couple again and slowed my pace to stay behind them. Which was pretty slow since my pace is already slow. The man turned to me and began a conversation. His name is Bo, hers is Joan. He asked me where I go to church, then proceeded to tell me all about his.

Ruby and I then tried to get ahead of them by taking a different path but ended up right behind them again. No matter, we were almost back to the entrance.

Usually when I hike it’s pretty quiet. I hardly ever engage in a lot of conversation. But you never know. I’d much rather run into someone who wants to talk than to run into another copperhead snake.

 

 

 

“strangers are friends that we some day may meet”

athens tee

via The Sterling Sunflower

Today was just an ordinary day. A visit to the chiropractor, a trip to the Hoover Library book sale, and a stop at the At Home store. But some days, even the most mundane tasks can be a blessing.

The chiro’s office was like a mini family reunion among people I didn’t know. There was pleasant conversation, ohhing-and-ahhing over the cutest little baby boy, and lots of laughter, with Dr. Drew being the loudest.

At the library I had an extended conversation with a young man that started over his compliment to my shirt. I was wearing my Atlanta Braves tee-shirt, and we were both happy after last night’s victory. I then had to compliment HIS shirt which said “Athens Georgia” on it with a picture of a red pickup toting a bulldog. (I googled and found a pic.)

We talked baseball, Braves, and SunTrust stadium. I found out his favorite spot to sit is near first base so he can see his favorite players, Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis. He mentioned bringing his woobie as rain protection and I knew what that was. He is in the army, so I told him about my son and we then went on to talk about Arlington Cemetery, Tomb Sentinels, and D.C.

Somehow the conversation moved to doing business in a small town. He shared a funny story of when he and his wife went to apply for passports and I shared our (me and hubby’s)  6-hour ordeal getting our licenses and car tags when we moved here in 2014.

I just love running into people and getting to know them. I’ll probably never see him again, but I’ll be looking for him if I get to another Braves game. Or at the next library sale. I think his name is Cervantes.

The following poem  by Edgar Albert Guest expresses so much better how I was feeling today.

Faith

I believe in the world and its bigness and splendor:
That most of the hearts beating round us are tender;
That days are but footsteps and years are but miles
That lead us to beauty and singing and smiles:
That roses that blossom and toilers that plod
Are filled with the glorious spirit of God.

I believe in the purpose of everything living:
That taking is but the forerunner of giving;
That strangers are friends that we some day may meet;
And not all the bitter can equal the sweet;
That creeds are but colors, and no man has said
That God loves the yellow rose more than the red.

I believe in the path that to-day I am treading,
That I shall come safe through the dangers I’m dreading;
That even the scoffer shall turn from his ways
And some day be won back to trust and to praise;
That the leaf on the tree and the thing we call Man
Are sharing alike in His infinite plan.

I believe that all things that are living and breathing
Some richness of beauty to earth are bequeathing;
That all that goes out of this world leaves behind
Some duty accomplished for mortals to find;
That the humblest of creatures our praise is deserving,
For it, with the wisest, the Master is serving.

On the Surface

af

I’m really glad she felt like writing.

“I have a family, loving aunts, and a good home. No, on the surface I seem to have everything except my one true friend. All I think about when I’m with friends is having a good time. I can’t bring myself to talk about anything but ordinary everyday things. We don’t seem to be able to get any closer, and that’s the problem.” – Anne Frank

I stumbled on these words from Anne Frank and I was overwhelmed with an affinity for what she was feeling. When I’m with most people, this is me. We don’t seem to be able to get any closer. And that’s the problem.

And that’s all for today., except for this picture I found of Anne that I love.

anne

Shopworn Words

stuart miles

graphic-stuart miles

In a book by Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, she says this about language:

“If our vocabulary dwindles to a few shopworn words, we are setting ourselves up for takeover by a dictator.”

Now, at first glance that seems a little overboard. But, when you think about it she makes a great point. I know I am ashamed of my lack of vocabulary. I’ve tried, and failed, to incorporate some kind of self-help ritual to learn new words. But, I won’t give up; I’ll persevere in my efforts. I do not want to fall to a despot. I do not want my lack of good words to allow me to be usurped.

My facebook/twitter-pal and ex-Bhamian (is that a word? well, now it is), Mandy Shunnarah, used to post a word a week;  such as words like youthquake and pablum. She is onto something.

 

 

So, are you with us? Take up the vocabulary yoke!

Charlottesville and Beyond

I don’t watch much news. When I see something on twitter, I look up what’s happening in the world. Is that the best way to be alert? Probably not, but that’s me right now.

So I totally missed the goings-on in Charlottesville. But, facebook to the rescue. After being told what I, as a white woman, should be doing, I had to first read about what was going on. I read up and am appalled and sad. I in no way agree with what these protesters were doing. If I was a person who was in the right place at the right time, I would have been on the side of the counter protesters.

I wasn’t there. I was just returned from a trip visiting relatives in Florida. While there, my mother-in-law had emergency surgery and her life is hanging in the balance. I saw my grandkids off to their first days of pre-k and second grade. These children have friends who are “brown”. They do not seem to notice a difference; they never refer to their friends except by name unless they are asked to describe them.

I read this from a well meaning person I respect: “For all my white friends in different parts of the country, we must continue to chip away at the bedrock of this hatred in every conversation we take part in, and every action we take.” I understand his concern, but why must I do this in every conversation I have?

Michael Eric Dyson wrote this in The New York Times: “Now is the time for every decent white American to prove he or she loves this country by actively speaking out against the scourge this bigotocracy represents.”

I am speaking out now, but not because I love America, though I do like it an awful lot and I’m grateful to be one of its citizens. I’m speaking out because I love Christ. I strive to follow him in all I do including the way I treat everyone on a daily basis. I believe that in the Bible God has given instruction on how to live. Do I follow His instructions every day? No. Do I bend over backwards to consider the needs of others? No, not nearly enough. I do strive toward this end; I am learning more everyday what it means to serve others and to love my enemies.

I may not chip away at this hatred in every spoken conversation. I may be hanging out in a hospital waiting room, meeting my grandchildren’s friends, or hugging students when I substitute teach. An older, Middle English definition of conversation meant behavior or manner of living. This is the conversation with which I hope to chip away at hatred.

But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation    –   I Peter 1:15

 

friends2

BFFs