A Week of Loss

Earlier this week my mother-in-law, Saint Helen, called to let us know that her beloved brother-in-law, our Uncle Junior, had passed away. Junior was one of the best men I ever met. He always had a smile and a story to tell. Every Sunday he’d call Saint Helen and they’d share their week’s adventures. Even in his last years Junior would be out on his large property in Oklahoma tending to chores that would be daunting to much younger men. He was quite a man.

I also lost a friend I met in a Facebook group of political progressives, and while we never met face to face, Thom’s death hit me hard. He was a retired Methodist minister who lived a life of service to others. His heart was huge and his sense of humor kept us all on our toes. He shared his beautifully written prayers with us along with his calming and deep wisdom. Even in his last days he was posting puns on Facebook to cheer us up. The world has lost a great man.

Then just this morning I learned that a friend from my hometown was hit by a car and killed. I hadn’t seen Roy in years, but he was like a big brother to me when I was in high school. He had a big personality and an even bigger heart. I’m so sad for his family and for all who knew him. Another good guy gone.

Life is short. Hug your loved ones, cherish your friends.

Peace, people.

Don’t

Don’t

Don’t be shocked by another school shooting, the eleventh in this brand new year.

Don’t tell me we are better than this; obviously, we are not.

Don’t send up thoughts and prayers. God honors action, not weepy hand-wringing.

Don’t try to console me; your words are empty.

Don’t tell me you are pro-life when clearly you support the industry of death.

Don’t.

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/tennessee/articles/2018-01-23/governor-1-dead-many-wounded-in-kentucky-school-shooting

Under a Cloud

Lately I feel like I’m living under a cloud. Not a happy, fluffy cloud, but not a threatening one, either. Just a cloud.

Well, that one is a little too cute, and vaguely resembles a politician, but you get my drift.

Am I depressed? Maybe. Fall is always a tough time for me. My mom passed away on a beautiful fall day 22 years ago, and since her death I view the season with mixed emotions. Fall has always been my favorite time of year, but some days, like this one, it’s difficult to muster the energy to get out of bed.

Thank goodness I have some upcoming events to prepare for, forcing me to get a move on, otherwise I’d burrow beneath my covers and perhaps never emerge again. That’s pretty pitiful, am I right?

I know this all will pass. Today just seems very hard–and it’s only 7:30 a.m. Thanks for reading. Some days writing this blog is my motivation to participate in life. Now go away little cloud.

Peace people.

Casting Stones

Will you enter this long sleep with clear conscience, exalted by your good works, camouflaged by your religion?

If you expect pointed fingers to catch you out, they won’t be mine. I’ve hurt my share of people, filled my own bucket with

The dregs of guilt and regret. If anything I will be the one to offer reconciliation, but without the artifice of narrow beliefs.

Think now on those you’ve wronged, those whose affections you’ve betrayed, while anyone without sin casts the first stones.

Guns in Church

Will we take our guns to church now?

Jesus take the wheel, but leave me my pistol

Dylan Roof opened fire in a South Carolina prayer meeting

Now more dead occupy the pews in Texas

Just wondering which firearm goes best with Psalms.

Yea, tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil,

For I am armed with a semi-automatic weapon.

No doubt lawmakers will offer meaningless thoughts and prayers

Their mantra sounding weaker by the hour

Who will answer for these deaths?

Who will offer a solution?

The Assignment

Once upon a time I was a teacher. I wasn’t a great teacher, nor was I an awful one. I loved being with young people all day long, but I am a woman of little patience, and that is not a good thing when working with active children.

While I taught students in grades three through seven at various times in my career, by far my favorite years were those I spent teaching English to middle schoolers. I know what you’re thinking, “How’d someone with Leslie’s blatant disregard for the rules of grammar ever teach English?”

Shucks, y’all. I had a teaching manual. Duh. Seriously, though, before I began blogging I was much more cognizant of, and adherent to, those pesky rules. Now it’s “Rules, Shmules” most days. But this post really isn’t about me. Gasp!

One of the first assignments I gave as a seventh grade English teacher was for students to write about something important that had happened in their lives. It could be something funny or frightening, happy, or sad. I’m not even sure I placed a word count requirement on this paper, I just wanted to get to know the students better and to get a feel for their individual writing abilities.

I was shocked and pleased that those seventh graders went immediately to work, and after I’d read their rough drafts I knew that the students who wanted to share their stories with their classmates should have the opportunity to do so. Much of what they’d handed in was so honest that it had to be worth more than just a grade.

After making some editing and proofreading suggestions on each of the ninety or so papers (I taught four sections of English), I handed back the papers and told my students how proud I was to have them in my class, and that once they’d written their final copy I’d open up the floor for anyone who chose to share.

Now seventh graders are an interesting lot. I figured I’d have perhaps twenty percent of each class volunteer to read their papers. Instead, every single student shared their stories. And what an experience that became! I’m sure we spent way too much time on this activity, but my students and I bonded over these stories.

One athletic young man had us all in stitches as he told of the time he and his buddies got into his older sister’s closet and put on various pieces of her clothing, including tutus and swimsuits. and wore them to dinner, much to the horror of his sister and the amusement of his parents.

A shy young woman told of being chased by a vicious dog while riding her bike and being rescued by another dog at the last minute! By the end of the story her classmates were on the edges of their seats, cheering her on.

The story I remember having the most impact, though, was the story a quiet young man told about his mother’s illness. He and his father and sister were at the hospital visiting his mom who had been diagnosed with cancer. As the boy walked down the hospital hallway, he turned to his sister and asked, “Is Mom going to die?”

His sister became angry and told him that he just killed their mom because it’s bad luck to mention dying in the hospital. Their mother did die later that week, and the child blamed himself. The class sat silently when he finished, many were in tears. I was in tears, and I’d read the story.

The love that then surrounded that young man was amazing. Other students made a point to tell him he wasn’t to blame for his mom’s death. He knew that deep down, but hearing those words from his peers seemed to turn a light on in this child. I watched him blossom that year.

When we finished sharing, more than one child thanked me for allowing them to write about themselves. While I’d just been trying to help myself get a feel for their abilities, I got a good deal more. Extras like that are what make the profession unlike any other.

Peace, people.

Straight out of Floydada

I’m a native of the tiny Texas panhandle town of Floydada. So was country music artist Don Williams. He’s much better known than I am, and that’s a fact.

Mr. Williams passed away this week. His music, though, will live on. I was a fan of his work, and believe I would have been even if we hadn’t had Floydada in common.

https://youtu.be/4qkoZQRbl3s

And When I Die

And When I Die
by Leslie Noyes

When I die I pray someone will mourn; that a song so achingly sweet will be offered up, and 

People will sob in response. I also want a celebration, though, a praise service with dancing in every aisle, 

Worshipful arms upstretched to the heavens. God only knows where I will turn up. I have not 

Lived a blameless life; how interminably boring that would be, But still, I think of the ecstasy of 

Being taken up by a heavenly host of angels, rising on wings of gossamer, when I die.

“Ascending Angels” by Steven Lavaggi

https://youtu.be/1BPoMIQHwpo

An Unfinished Game

Politics connected us, provided conversation.
We’d never met, and still, I wept the day
That Richard died.

I became friends with a fascinating man on Facebook through a Liberal group we’d gravitated to before this past election. Richard was smart, funny, and upbeat. I learned that he’d lost his wife a few months before we “friended” each other, and he was fighting through his grief while dealing with a grave illness of his own.

As he prepared for a round of chemo Richard asked for volunteers to play against him in Words With Friends, figuring it would be a great way to distract him from the rigors of chemotherapy.

I volunteered and we played one game after another. He was a novice player, and I beat him soundly every time. We didn’t chat much on the app; although, he promised he’d come out the winner eventually. 

A couple of days ago Richard posted on FB that he was going to take some time away from the computer to concentrate all his energy on feeling better. We all wished him well and figured he’d be back in no time, not knowing how very sick he was. The man never complained.

This morning, though, a post from Richard’s brother let us know that our friend had succumbed to complications from pneumonia. All of those who’d befriended him in our political group are devastated, and I cried all morning for the loss of this friend.

We never met in person. Chances are our real world paths never would have crossed, but I valued his friendship. And I mourn his death. Rest easy friend. 


Peace, people.