“I Wish You Never Left Me”

jujugrandpa

 

June 13th

As I look at this list of times I’m making tonight, I think back to almost 40 years ago and another list.

Tonight I am keeping track of what time I give medicines. Medicines to try to keep my husband out of pain in this wretched losing battle with pancreatic cancer. In two and three hour intervals I give him the tiny pills with sips of water to try to ease him into sleep and ease his pain.

Many years ago, on the back of an envelope, we wrote down times. These, too, were times of pain, but pain that led to great joy, the birth of our firstborn. I still have that envelope tucked away.

Across the years we have counted minutes, hours, days and years. We marked off days in anticipation of our trip to California. We looked back at years of marriage, and so often my husband would choose the perfect gift accordingly : pearls, agate, ruby.

 

June 15th

Two days after I wrote the above, my husband was gone. It’s been only two weeks and I have wanted to write but I just can’t find the words. My world has been turned upside down. Less than three months ago we were selling our house and planning for retirement. Now I am moving once more, just me and my dog, and starting a life without the one who has been by my side for over 41 years. 

I stayed up until 3:30 one night last week, reading all the texts on his phone. All the little conversations we had about what to eat for supper, reminders to feed the dog, ideas for the weekend, don’t forget eggs.  Then I found a 43 minute clip that was unknowingly recorded. I’m pretty certain he never knew it. It was us – going through a drive-thru near our house, eating fries until we got home, talking to the dog, laughing, burping, just being. Just being together. 

 

June 29th

And though I can’t find words, my seven year old granddaughter found some. Beautiful words. This is what she wrote:

 

Sunshine

You’re the sunshine in my heart

I wish you never left me…

I sometimes wish you are here

Why wouldn’t you stay?

Wait until dawn for you to arrive…

Sunset – you should be here!

I guess you don’t belong here

My heart is beating hard as a drum

Sunshine in my heart

You are part of my family

 

Book Browsings #3: Voices

 

tiaIn Book Browsings #2 I referenced the writing club I sponsored. It was called the Young Author’s Club. I found a copy of the first, and I think only, issue we put together. The girls chose the name Voices for the title. It had four sections: Book Beginnings, Short Story, Poetry and Essay. As I look over the list of contributors I can see most of their faces. Tia was the one who came to me with the request to sponsor the club. I still keep up with her via Instagram and occasionally her blog.  She works in publishing among other things. I still have the scarf she brought me back from China when she visited there with her parents. Her mother, Yulin, was our parent sponsor and a huge help. I can semi-recall the faces of Kylie, Haley, Anna and Jakob who also contributed work to Voices.

One essay, by Anna Rea, came, as I recall, from a short in-class writing prompt. Hers was titled How to Be a Bad Neighbor.  Pretty hilarious! Here are a few excerpts:

Every person in their life comes across a bad neighbor. Why wait for a bad neighbor when you yourself could be a bad neighbor? In a few easy steps you could be the most hated person on the block…

One of the many things to do to be a bad neighbor is to have parties. Now, not just any party. It has to be a loud, all-nighter. …

Another thing that really gets your neighbor mad is having an obnoxious yappy dog…

Step three of how to be a bad neighbor is to leave your garbage cans out for long periods of time….

Finally, the most important part: HOLIDAYS! Around Christmas you have to buy those big, blow-up things… you must buy at least six of them. 

I loved teaching these kids. They were not just smart, but funny, fun-loving, caring, and full of energy. One student, Caroline, really stood out. I got to know her through her writings, but also while visiting her home when we were working on a charity project and meeting her mother and younger brothers. Her mom was just one of many parents who supported me and my students that year. Caroline graduated from Princeton and is now a fellow at  Washington University School of Medicine. She is following in the footsteps of her grandfather who was a prominent and well-loved physician in Jacksonville.

JP is a logistics officer in the Marines and living in Hawaii. Carson, now married, comes to mind whenever I see the scarf he brought me back from his trip to Vietnam where his grandfather was in in the war. Same with Harrison, who brought me playing cards from his trip to Africa.

I will always be grateful for the students who crossed my path and left a footprint. I am thrilled whenever I happen upon good news about one of them.

 

 

amb

I guess it’s a natural thing

mamaw

 

I discovered Sean of the South this year and when I see see his name in my inbox every morning  I know I’m in for a good read on his blog.  He writes about everything, but a recurring theme is the loss of his dad when he was 12. He even mentioned that someone has said he talks about that too much. I don’t think so. It’s a part of him.

Grief touches us all in different ways. When my Dad died I grieved, but so much was going on in my immediate family that I didn’t really have time to stop and grieve. It hit me about eight or nine months later. Like a knock down punch.  Mom had been grieving in her own way. I remember she wasn’t eating enough at one point, then later it was the opposite – she was eating a lot of sweets which was unusual for her.

She also could not listen to music for a long time, because it always made her think of Dad. It was quite a while before she began playing the radio again.

This year for NaNoWriMo I’m attempting the family story once again. Last year I wrote about 23,000 words. This year I’m trying to redo it in the forms of verse and letters. So I’m reading/rereading the tons of letters I have here, from 1925-2015. Today I read a letter Mom wrote her sister, Billie, a month after their mother, my Mamaw, died in 1983.

“Seems like for the last couple of weeks I’ve had a delayed reaction to Mama’s dying. Can’t explain it, but I guess it’s a natural thing, I don’t know.” 

It really struck me all over how much I miss Mom. Lately I’ve found myself tearing up with an overwhelming feeling of loss. It just comes over me and I can’t control it. In three months it will be two years that she’s been gone. I know I’ve talked about it a good bit here; forgive me.

Avetts in October #25: Today’s the Day

redwoods

Redwoods- 2018

Today is The Avett Brothers concert in Pelham, Alabama. As hard as it is to listen to sometimes, I sure hope they play No Hard Feelings.

 

“Why does it seem so often to be a human quality to forget those who have done good things for us, and to remember those who have hurt us?” – from Sold Into Egypt by Madeleine L’Engle

 

“Even as a tiny girl, she would just absorb the meanness of people around her, and as that strange girl slapped her,  Margaret literally turned the other cheek. ‘I just took it,’ she said sixty years later. ” – from Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg

 

Avetts in October #24: A lot of movin’

In anticipation of The Avett Brothers concert TOMORROW, I have been writing  a series of blog posts connecting some of their lyrics to words of some of my favorite authors.

“And in every place he abandons he leaves something vital, it seems to me, and starts his new live somewhat less encrusted, like a lobster that has shed his skin and is for a time soft and vulnerable.E.B. White

I love E.B. White, best known to most for his classics, Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan.  But it’s his essays that I like even more.

I have moved a bit in my adult life. We have lived in 11 houses in our 40 years of marriage. I get what White says about leaving something vital behind. We’ve left friends and family too many times. A few moves, though, let us, like the lobster, shed a skin and leave behind an old unwanted crust. Every new house, every new beginning, brings with it a time of being soft and vulnerable. But, nearly every house became a home that was hard to leave. All I know is I don’t want to live encrusted like the lobster. I want to be soft and vulnerable.

A lot of movin’, A lot of rollin’

A lot of drivin’, A lot of strollin’

A lot of leavin’ here

A lot of arrivin’ there

 

Avetts in October #23: Love in real life

In anticipation of The Avett Brothers concert on October 25th, I’ve been posting a series  connecting some of their lyrics to words of some of my favorite authors.

 

“Ah wants things sweet wid mah marriage lak when you sit under a pear tree and think…”

– Janie,  from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

 

 

“…what they had discovered in those years was not the love people whisper about over candles, but the kind they need when their baby girl is coughing at three 0’clock in the morning.” -from Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg

 

 

From “Love Like The Movies” 

 

I don’t want to be in love like the movies

Cause in the movies they’re not in love at all

With a twinkle in their eyes

They’re just saying their lines

So we can’t be in love like the movies. 

 

 

Avetts in October #12: Say Love

Word Art 10

Living of Love – TAB

“You  can drive a man into devilry by contempt. If you want to melt him into goodness, try love.”  – Alexander Maclaren

Note: Maclaren was born in 1826 in Glasgow, Scotland. He received his BA from the University of London before he was 20, then began his ministry at Portland Chapel, Southampton, England. After 12 years he went to Union Chapel in Manchester where he remained until 1903. His words have been a great help and comfort to me for the past year.

In anticipation of The Avett Brothers concert on October 25th, I have been writing a series of blog posts connecting some of their lyrics to words of some of my favorite authors. Back in August and September many educators all across the US were going back to school with the goal of connecting with their students. As a former full-time teacher and current substitute teacher this idea rings so very true.  Just last week I was in a fifth grade classroom and inevitably a few students felt they needed to guide me in the ways of their teacher’s discipline plan. They felt I needed to put some of their classmates names on a list. I refrained. I know they were only trying to be good and wanted to be sure I knew it. I made so many mistakes in my classroom discipline back in the day. Just as in parenting. So, I now approach subbing just like I do grandparenting. I “Say Love”.

If the days aren’t easy and the nights are rough
When they ask you what you’re thinking of
Say love, say for me love
Say love, say for me love…

And yes we live in desperate times…

Say love, say for me love…   – Living of Love

 

I love how the audience sings along in this video. Can’t wait for the 25th! 

 

 

February Wisdom

“I don’t think we can ever love too much…only too little.”  – from Blue Eyes Better by Ruth Wallace-Brodeur

I’v tried to think of a time when this statement wouldn’t apply, but I just can’t. Yes, we can overindulge is many ways, but that isn’t love. We can say “love you’ at the end of every conversation, but that’s not always love; it’s often habit. Sometimes it feels as if we have loved too much when it isn’t returned, but no, if it’s real love it’s never too much.

We have a new dog in our household and it’s been a real learning experience for us all – me, the dog, the husband. We don’t know anything about her background as she was just dumped off at the shelter, but we suspect a little abuse. However, she is one, in whatever way a dog “loves”, that knows no bounds. She can never be accused of loving too little. Our last dog, Loretta, was wonderful. We had her for ten years. She was sweet and faithful as a dog can be and loved being with us and near us. But this new girl, Ruby, she needs to be right next to if not on top of us. She craves and gives the most snuggles of any dog I’ve ever had. But, for me, it’s never too much.

Keep loving – it’s never too much.

 

 

 

Monday Music #17

 

“Roll with it or get rolled over.” – Raven’s tattoo

 

I love the story behind this video and I really love the song. I am new to John Moreland, but this caused me to look up some more of his music.  Take a listen to  Slow Down Easy.  And then watch the video below. Don’t cry…

 

 

 

That’s Love

clipart panda

by clipart-panda

That’s Love

Laughing at her son’s jokes
when they aren’t really funny
and listening to his long, detailed telling
of an episode of Justice League
That’s love

Driving thirty minutes out of his way
to deliver
his wife’s forgotten cell phone
so she wouldn’t worry
That’s love

Running to the kitchen for ice
when your big brother gets hit by a ball
even though he just pinched you
an hour ago
That’s love

Buying a portable wheelchair for his wife
as a surprise
so they could visit the zoo and stroll the mall
even though he’s not a mall person
That’s love

4-25-17