Thoughts inspired by This is Us #1

I started binge watching This is Us in early February, and midway through season one, I got a call from my brother. Mom was gone. No forewarning, no long illness. This was Mom who, at 81, wasn’t on any meds except the recent prescription she’d finished taking for her knee. This was Mom, who told me she’d only had one headache in her life, who didn’t remember any symptoms of menopause except,  “Well, I guess I did get a little hot.” This was Mom who packed a pistol for her trips to Georgia, who drove her friends to the store and hairdresser, who ran the Bridge Club. Now, I will eventually go back to watching This is Us, but I’ll be thinking of all the This Was Us episodes of my life, Mom’s life, our life. Below is what I’d written before I got the call.

S1/E8                                                                                                                          Pilgrim Rick

Yes, it’s February and I’m watching Pilgrim Rick, the Thanksgiving episode from season one of This Is Us. Better late than never. I was able to watch the first two episodes online – enough to know I HAD to watch them all. The three day wait for my DVD to arrive from Amazon was a long stretch.

The tears began to roll when the Pearson family ended up at the Pinewood Lodge. My flashback was to Christmas of 1995. We were about to have an early Christmas dinner and celebration with my husband’s father who had traveled three hours to our house, when I got the call. My dad was sinking fast; I should come home. So, we packed it all up; some food; the kids unopened presents, including hockey sticks; clothes for a few days; presents for extended family; and then we piled into the car. Our younger son rode with Grandpa Bell, the rest of us were like sardines in a can, cushioned with jackets and backpacks and suitcases into our Chevy Lumina. On the road to Jacksonville we sang along to Stevie Wonder cassettes and I tried to prepare for what was ahead.

We were fortunate to stay in the Homewood Suites sans Pilgrim Rick, where we had our family Christmas, the six of us snuggled together. We opened presents and laughed and hugged, making bittersweet memories. That night our younger son saw Star Wars for the first time and now, 22 years later, he is still a fan.

The next day we spent time with my brothers and their families, trying to be cheerful but not sure how to act without Mom and Dad there. Dad rallied for a few weeks, and I was able to stay with him and Mom for part of that time. He died on January 6, 1996, Mom holding his hand and me holding Mom.

“Do the Right Thing”

Watching Rebecca and her mother discuss the prospects of life with three babies brings me back to when I told my parents I was expecting for the first time. I was so excited, but my joy bubble burst when all I heard in their voices was doubt and worry. It took them a while to adjust to the idea, but they hit the road as soon as we called to tell them it was time. They made the four hour drive to Clearwater, arriving just minutes after the birth of our firstborn. They didn’t persuade us to return to Jacksonville, but when we decided, they had a home ready to rent to us. Four years later we purchased it and two more children later we sold it. With those two children there was still hesitation on their part, the slow acceptance that this was our life and our family. But, they were there for us over and over – loaning us money and babysitting and being there at the birth of not only those next two, but the last, also. They drove to Georgia to be there the day our youngest was born. Mom was with me up until the last few minutes.

Mom is still with me and I’m grateful for the support and model she has been. Not perfect, but neither am I. Not by a long shot. The picture is of Mom and me, both pregnant with our firstborn.

me n mom prego

It wasn’t long after I’d typed those words “Mom is still with me” that I found out she wasn’t. I pray that all she taught and modeled for me will live on in me.


Wait Silently


To look for community instead of cocktail-party relationships is part of choosing sides in the vast, strange battle. To say, “I’m sorry”; to be silent; to say “I love you,” “I care.” It is these little things that are going to make the difference. For God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, the weak to overthrow the strong.

– The Irrational Season (1977) by Madeleine L’Engle


I’ve written about this before, I’m sure; I am writing to myself again. I long for community, real and true. I think I’m settling for cocktail-party relationships via social media. I see the words “I love you”, “I care” “praying” all over facebook, but what does it really mean? Is it so others can see you are so concerned? To do so in person is another kettle of fish all together.


It is not easy to say I’m sorry, especially I’m sorry without a but after it. However, it’s often too easy to say I love you  – love ya – as an alternate to see ya later. Said too easily and it looses its meaning. Saying I care may be harder; harder still to show you care in a tangible may.


But the hardest may be to be silent. Silent when you want to scream or cry or yell or explain or accuse or complain.


My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. – Psalm 62:5


Help me, LORD, to be silent. To show love and care.  To pray.

Dream On


“Cancel subscriptions to Southern Living, Veranda and Southern Lady magazines”

dream (1)

– I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg

In Flagg’s book, the main character, Maggie Fortenberry, is making plans to kill herself, but she just can’t leave the world without putting everything in order first, including canceling her magazine subscriptions. I am familiar with all three of these magazines; in fact, Southern Living and Southern Lady are both published right here in Birmingham. In another fact, I worked for Southern Lady for two whole weeks. But, that’s a long story for another day.

The bad thing for me about magazines like these is the desires they stir up. Everything is lovely and perfect… and usually expensive. Granted, there is a lot of good information between the pages, such as gardening tips and recipes. But, then again, I don’t have a green thumb and don’t cook like I used to. Maggie Fortenberry didn’t really garden or cook, either. So, why do we get these magazines?

Sometimes it’s fun to just dream. We think about houses we’d like to live in one day, places we’d like to visit, clothes that are lovely. Others of us get inspired: I could make a table like that; I could paint my room that color; I could visit that town on a budget. There is a lot of potential good if we peruse the pages with a little common sense. Or, we can just cancel those subscriptions altogether.

Thoughts on the words of J. Gresham Machen – Think for yourself


art-Stuart Miles

J. Gresham Machen lived from 1881-1937. He was a Presbyterian churchman, a New Testament scholar, a Princeton Theological Seminary professor, founder of the Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Machen is considered to be the last of the great Princeton theologians. The quotes in this series come from his book, “Christianity and Liberalism”.

“It is usually considered good practice to examine a thing for oneself before echoing the vulgar ridicule of it.”

I’ve learned, and am still learning, the wisdom of this statement. I think this thought can apply to many different situations, not just religion.
Some other example where it might apply:

  • Homeschooling – often people want to put down homeschooling based on traditions. They are so used to the public school system, the way they were raised, that they jump to conclusions. I did this years ago when our friends were the first people I knew who had decided to homeschool. I thought they were nuts. Little did I know.
  • Outward appearance – the old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” applies here.
  • Vegetarianism – I am not a vegetarian, but I certainly see the wisdom in it.
  • Alternative medicine – Many of our nation of pill takers don’t question all the prescriptions they are handed. Many people think those who prefer natural methods are wackos. Not so.
  •  Everything you read on social media. Nuff said.

“It seemed so unfair: that time should render both sadness and happiness into a source of pain” – from A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Today’s PAD challenge was to write a poem about family


3 g

Can’t Separate

Can’t separate me from the past
my grandfather’s desertion
my grandmother’s tenacity
the stories told and retold
by the aunts who remember

Can’t separate me from my childhood
Dad’s bellowing and invented words
Mom’s steadfastness and silly jokes
brothers by my side, happy or not
supper in the kitchen every night

Can’t separate me from those cousins
who made paper dolls for me
we swam and skated and pretended
and whispered into the night
those first and forever friends

Can’t separate me from my husband
who made a new family with me
who grew and stumbled by my side
the one who really knows me
and loves me anyway

Can’t separate me from my offspring
flesh of my flesh who look like their dad
my babies grown up too soon
across state lines and time zones
in joy and sorrow, mine

Can’t separate me from this next generation
the little ones who let me love on them
these two with bits of me inside
this hope for the future
this family of mine


Today’s PAD prompt was “Panic” . This came to mind as it does quite often.

that night

September, 2000


That Night


The black darkness as we tumbled

came so swift and sudden until

we were upright

across the road

facing the opposite direction

and she was gone


outside the car

screaming my name

before I could even make sense of it

I climbed out the window

to get her in my arms

and my heart restarted

my breath returned

Not Today

Today marks the second day of PAD – Poem a Day – for this year. This is a yearly challenge by Robert Brewer of Writer’s Digest. You can read more about it HERE  I think this makes my 7th year of participation. I will be posting some of my poems here throughout the month.


Today’s prompt was “not today”.  Here is my attempt:

not today




Once a slamming door rattled the picture on the wall in the living room

I bellowed “settle down”

which you did for two minutes


Laughter and foot patters echoed through the upstairs

I smiled to myself in contentment

knowing you were up to something


We would roll down the windows and sing off key

the wind tangling our curls

carrying our voices into the treetops

but today I sing alone, softly


You and James played in the rain

floating boats in the gutter

then stripped off your clothes in the garage


You always called dibs on the shower

on the way home from the beach

anxious to rid yourself of the sand in your suit


Last week I found that picture we took

on the way to Georgia

with Smokey the Bear

you in your black knee highs

me when my hair was long

and I smiled


But not today



You can read PAD Day One HERE.