An Adventure

After the death of my mother-in-law, Saint Helen, we found boxes and boxes of photographs. I believe we could’ve papered the interior of her home with old photos and still had enough remaining to fill a dozen albums.

Many of the photos were ones I’d seen before: baby pictures of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, along with photos from her retirement party and the trip she took to Alaska. But Saint Helen had saved some from the time she and I visited her eldest daughter, Lyn, in Jamaica, that I didn’t know existed.

I’ll share one with you because it features all three of us, Lyn, Saint Helen, and me. We’d gone on an adventure that day to a natural water park, the name of which escapes me now, but I clearly remember the day. The perfect weather and invitingly warm waters had the three of us giggling like little kids as we slid down the slippery rocks and plunged into a pool, only to climb again for another trip down. None of us were youngsters, but we all felt young that day.

They both are gone now, having passed within a day of each other from COVID just a few weeks ago.

Lyn died first, and I can clearly picture her beckoning her mother on from the other side. You know none of us could ever resist Lyn when she invited us on an adventure. I’d like to think they’re carefree again like we were on that beautiful Jamaica day.

Lyn, me, Saint Helen

Peace, people.

Beautiful Tributes

My daughter is a fine writer. I expect one day she’ll write a bestseller and everyone will be singing her praises. Right now, though, she is tied up with raising a beautiful family and working full time as the office manager of a busy veterinary hospital. She’s a pretty amazing human being and I love her so much it hurts sometimes.

Today she posted tributes to the two ladies our family lost to COVID this past week. I had planned on writing down my own memories, but honestly, Ashley’s tributes are so beautiful I could never have matched them. With her permission here’s her post from Facebook:

“My family suffered two great losses this past week. We gathered in Texas to remember, mourn, honor, and celebrate the lives of my Greatest Aunt Lyn and my Mema Helen. There are now two giant holes in my heart, and our family will never be the same without them.

Aunt Lynnie was full of life. She lived and loved with her entire heart, and with purpose. She was protective of everyone she loved, caring, hilarious, strong, adventurous, and a force to be reckoned with. If you ever had a chance to talk to her, you would almost immediately get a sense of who she was. She loved to talk about her family, her passions, and her pride and joy – the Hereford Senior Center and the thrift store that she made her baby. I can hear her laughter, and see her smile…the ones that lit up every room and made everyone feel welcomed and loved. She was always the one to suggest a “girl’s trip” to get a drink and lottery tickets.

Lyn Noyes Rayburn (aka Greatest Aunt Lyn)

Mema’s legacy will live on through our entire family. She was one of the most amazing people this world will ever know. The stories from her childhood in Pie Town, New Mexico. Her famous biscuits & gravy. Her laughter, especially when one of us said something slightly inappropriate that she thought she probably shouldn’t have been laughing at (and then the subsequent use of that person’s first AND middle names). Her love for her family. Her sense of adventure and the way her eyes lit up when she talked about trips to the casino, or her grandkids, or the cruises she enjoyed taking. She loved her church, her friends, and traveling. I can only hope I live my life with as much gusto and passion as my Mema did.”

Our Mema, Helen Parker Noyes

My words—when folks die we tend to exaggerate their sweetness or say they were loved by all, even if they weren’t, but I can honestly say that these two women were admired by all who knew them. Gone from this world much too soon, but never forgotten. We will always love them.

Peace, people.

Bright Spots

I haven’t posted much lately. My mind is occupied with worry for my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, both of whom remain in an Amarillo hospital battling COVID. Both are now on ventilators.

On Tuesday I began my journey from Tallahassee, Florida, to Amarillo, Texas. I’m hoping to be a help and not a hindrance to the sister-in-law and niece who have been bearing the brunt of the responsibility these past few weeks.

Last night I stayed with my son and two of my grand dogs and this morning I’ll have a fairly short (four hour) drive to Amarillo.

The son and dogs were bright spots on my trip.

Jason and Milo
Ryder

Ryder slept with me part of the night. He snores a lot less than Studly Doright.

Peace, people. Oh, and wear your masks and get vaccinated and boosted as soon as you can.

Cautiously Optimistic

I haven’t had it in me to write a blog post these past few days, but I’m going to give it a go. On Christmas Day, my mother-in-law, Saint Helen, was taken to an Amarillo hospital where she tested positive for COVID. Her eldest daughter and son-in-law also tested positive.

Due to the overwhelming number of COVID patients there were no rooms, so the three stayed in the emergency room. When a room on the COVID floor did open up it was given to my sister-in-law who had developed the crystals that indicate COVID pneumonia in both lungs.

Saint Helen did well enough that she was released to her middle daughter after a couple of days. Unfortunately COVID wasn’t ready to let her go and she was readmitted a few days ago. Currently, she is in the Intensive Care Unit. She had two really rough days, but maybe turned a corner last night. Middle daughter says they are cautiously optimistic.

My sister-in-law, “Almost Saint Lyn,” is one of my favorite people in the entire world. She remains in the ICU (I believe, I forgot to ask this morning) and also has had some really tough days, and likely still more to come, but we are hopeful she has turned a corner. I’ve texted with her a time or two and she feels good enough to be bored.

Her husband was able to go home yesterday, and according to Almost Saint Lyn’s daughter, who is taking care of him, he’s cranky, so that’s a good sign.

Now, Saint Helen’s middle daughter, Angie, has shouldered most of the responsibility for keeping the rest of us informed. Angie has been the constant solid contact since Christmas, caring for the sick, suiting up and going onto the COVID floor for the once daily 30 minute visits with her mom and the others. She’s had help from Almost Saint Lyn’s daughter and also from Saint Helen’s youngest daughter, but Angie is the one who has born the brunt of the crisis.

Please keep our loved ones in your prayers or send good vibes or whatever you can spare. I know we aren’t the only ones in this situation. The number of new infections is staggering.

So I’m officially granting Angie sainthood. She has earned it. It doesn’t pay well, but we are so grateful to her. Studly Doright and I have felt so helpless being in Florida, so far away from family, but Saint Angie has been our rock.

I joke to keep from crying, you know. Still, Saint Angie has a nice ring to it.

Peace, people.

This photo of Saint Helen and me was taken at Christmas several years ago. We were in Nashville getting ready to attend a performance of the Grand Ole Opry. She’s the best.

Still Wearing My Mask

I’m fully vaccinated, but I live in Florida where only 49.8% of the population can say the same. Good old Florida, where the number of those infected with Covid continues to rise and hospitals are again running out of resources with which to treat them. I personally know a man who was sent home on oxygen because the local hospital was out of beds for Covid patients. He’s not doing well.

The Delta variant is resulting in breakthrough infections among the vaccinated. And while if I were to be infected I’d likely have a milder case of Covid than an unvaccinated person, I’m not willing to risk it.

This stubborn refusal to take the vaccine coupled with the anti-mask mindset of many in my state is literally killing people. And I just don’t understand it. For some it’s become political—a show of solidarity for a former president (who, by the way, admits to having received the vaccine). I guess I put common sense above politics.

Others have fallen victim to disinformation spread via social media. I’ve had people tell me that the vaccine inserts a device into the bloodstream so the government can track them. That one gives me a headache. Guess what, folks, the government really doesn’t have time or the need to track every single one of us. And unless you’re up to no good, why would that even worry you?

Others believe the vaccine is the biblical mark of the beast. C’mon man. I’ve had every vaccine available since I was a little kid. Chances are, these naysayers had as well—until Covid came along.

So yes, I’m still masked up even as I see most of my fellow Floridians unmasked in stores. I smile at them with my eyes while they give me dirty looks. Like I’m the one potentially spreading a deadly virus. Hm. Go figure.

Peace, people.

Buzzkill

Yesterday I was feeling pretty high after I voted. Happy, happy, happy, and optimistic.

I’d worn blue from top to bottom (even my undies were blue) and once I had that “I Voted” sticker I decided to run some errands.

I was in the checkout line at Walmart, keeping a nice social distance from the folks in front of me when I sensed someone standing right behind me. I moved up a couple of steps. They followed. Finally I turned around and said, “You go in front of me. I feel uncomfortable with you standing so close.”

Then I realized this woman, about my age, didn’t have on a mask. I should’ve kept my mouth shut, but sometimes it operates independently of my brain.

“Good grief. You don’t even have on a mask. What is wrong with you?”

“Oh, maybe I have one in my pocket,” she smirked. She actually smirked.

Before I could do anything more stupid, I walked away and miraculously found a register that had just opened. Karma?

The whole thing brought my mood down for a second or two, but dang. What’s up with some people?!

Trying to remember: Peace, people.

Normal

I’m sitting in my car under the shade of a tree, eating lunch. It’s become my new normal. The cafés I frequent don’t offer seating nowadays. Instead, one orders at a window, waits in an approved area, picks up one’s food, and departs.

If I lived a little closer to Tallahassee, or weren’t so impatient, I’d take my lunch home. Yes, I could make lunch for myself, but I crave interaction with others, even if it only comes through a window during the ordering process.

The young woman at Sweet Pea Cafe asked me how I was doing today. Her question touched me. I even remembered to ask her how she’d been. Some of the niceties of human contact have almost fallen by the wayside, but we salvaged them, at least for today.

Once I’m finished with lunch I’ll make a quick stop at a store to buy pepper. We don’t really need pepper, but will in a week or so. I could put off the trip until I needed to buy more from the store, but maybe the person who rings up my purchase will comment. I’ll respond, and it’ll almost be normal.

Peace, people.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Something I’ve noticed as more and more people are wearing masks is that I rely an awful lot on watching people’s mouths in order to understand what they’re saying.

Studly Doright has told me for years that my hearing has deteriorated. I just say, “Huh?” and move on to the next topic. But now I get what he’s talking about.

Yes, the masks dampen sound, but even if someone is speaking up and enunciating, it often takes me three or four tries to understand what’s being said. Once I had to ask a person to write down their question. It was, “Do you want fries with that?” Color me embarrassed.

The masks at least, offer an excuse, but I have a feeling it’s time I sought professional help. I’d hate to miss out on someone yelling “Timberrrrr!” or “Fore!” or “Chocolate!”

Peace, people!

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