So Lucky

We are missing our Scout, but my blogging friend at Savoring Sixty and Beyond savoringsixty.com reminded me of this A.A. Milne quote.

We really were so lucky to have known this special cat who never met a stranger. If you were a guest in our home, you were a recipient of her affections.

She enjoyed playing endless games of fetch. Her favorite activity was “helping” me make the bed, making that activity last at least twice as long as was necessary.

She felt she needed to be present when either David or I took a shower, and she loved being wrapped up in a towel. She danced with me and gave me kitty kisses. For much of her life she thought my left ear was something to suckle on. Even after she’d outgrown that need to nurse, every now and then she’d nudge my earlobe as if to say, “Remember, Mommy?” She loved to lay across my neck and massage my shoulders. Her purrs were epic.

Studly Doright was the recipient of many head butts (aka, kitty kisses). Scout had to help him any time his computer was being used. She often made him choose between her and work. He always chose her. During Hurricane Michael, when I was in Texas, she kept Studly company. The two of them patrolled the grounds, watching trees fall and hunkering down like good Floridians. She slept beside him while I was gone.

She adored her stuffed toys: mice, birds, candy canes, small bears, catnip pillows. But her favorite toy was a stick with feathers on the end. She loved “feathers” as we called it at one time. Over the years, the feathers fell out. Then we called it “feather” until finally, when every feather was gone, we just called it “stick”. She still loved it and up until her last couple of weeks of life Scout would bring “stick” to us for play time.

The day before she died she insisted on going out on the screened-in porch. She’d refused food for more than 24 hours, and could barely walk, but still she wanted to go out one last time to enjoy her favorite place. I’m certain she was remembering all of the lizards she’d chased in her lifetime.

And her last morning on earth, she found the strength to join Studly as he finished his shower. “See, Daddy, I remembered.”

We will miss this sweet kitty for the rest of our lives, but we were so lucky to have known her.

Peace, people.

Honoring the Dead

A classmate of mine passed away this week. We’d attended kindergarten together. We were in band together. His family lived across the alley from my grandparents’ home in a small Texas town. I’m sad that he is gone.

I’m sad even though he was pretty cruel to me when we were in junior high and high school. He taunted me more than once. Insinuated some pretty awful stuff about me—none of it true. Made jokes about me even as I sat right there two bleacher seats in front of him at a basketball game. He hurt me emotionally that time. I went home in tears.

Still, he was somebody’s son, somebody’s father, somebody’s sibling. He died too soon, and maybe, given the chance, he might’ve apologized for all he’d said about me. All the times he’d hurt my feelings. I’ll never know. But, I forgive him, and that feels so good.

Peace, people.

For Jim

Oh, Jim,

When I close my eyes, I see your face,

I hear your voice, those words of wry wisdom and gentle humor.

For months I’ve known this day would come, still the news of your passing caught me off guard,

Hit me right in the heart.

Knocked me off my feet.

You were our leader. The one who made the exaggerated gesture—feet off the pegs, legs askew—while riding your motorcycle, making me laugh,

Even as I negotiated the curves on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

You never pushed me to ride over my head, simply let me ride my own pace.

Oh, how I’ll miss you.

Dear Jim,

I hope you’ll sing karaoke in heaven.

Georgia on My Mind for all the Wrong Reasons

Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, is opening up businesses in his state beginning Friday, I believe. Hair salons, barber shops, nail salons—will be considered essential.

Now, you might ask, “Why should that worry you? Don’t you live in Florida?”

Well, yes I do.

In the map above, locate Tallahassee. We live just north of there, and south of Quincy. Georgia is just a few miles north of Quincy. Lots of folks who live in my part of the state work in Georgia, and a bunch of Georgia residents work in Florida. So, you see why I’m concerned, right?

Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis is a Trump sycophant, so it won’t be long before he follows suit, opening our beaches and theme parks before the Corona virus has reached its peak.

At least DeSantis hasn’t yet said we should be happy to die if it means saving the economy as Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick has declared on more than one occasion. Florida has way too many elderly people in residence for DeSantis to say such a thing out loud. But you just know he’s thinking it.

I don’t know about you, but this 63-year-old isn’t sacrificing herself to make Trump’s economy look good. Pardon my language, but fuck that noise.

Peace, people.

Patience

After days in the desert

‘Neath a scorching sun

Failing to find sanctuary

Sporting a swollen tongue,

I fell to my knees

Intending to pray

Lord help me find water

Please show me the way.

A solemn committee

Plucked from the sky

Gathered together

As I lay to die

Black robed watchers huddled

‘Round my fading form

Whispering assurance

Yearning yet to mourn

Stoop shouldered graspers

Nodding their sage heads

Poised for the wake

Preparing to be fed

Through cracked lips I spoke

Syllables faint with dread

Fly away motherfeathers

I’m not yet dead.

A Little Love

It’s Saturday morning, the 15th of February. Studly Doright took me to a nice dinner to celebrate Valentines Day with friends at our golf club last night. There was much laughter and wine and good conversation.

A call from a childhood friend took me away from the table for just a few minutes. She seldom calls me at night, so my heart froze for a minute thinking something bad had happened. Thank goodness that wasn’t the case! She just wanted to relate an encounter she’d had with a woman who’d been the bane of our middle school years. Her call made me laugh out loud.

I returned to the table and answered Studly’s concerned look with a squeeze of the hand. You see we have a friend who is in the final stages of his fight with cancer. Every phone call now could mean that he’s finally at peace, and that his sweet wife and children, along with all of his friends, have to deal with living in a world without his affection, his wit and wisdom, and his vast store of knowledge on darn near any topic.

So I’m sending love out into the universe today for our friend, Jim, and all those who love him. Would you please take the time to do the same? Even if it’s just a little love, if everyone does it it’ll be huge.

Peace and love, people.

Open Minded

My husband, Studly Doright, never ceases to amaze me. I’m not sure if it’s his wit, but I’m fairly certain it’s not his wisdom.

Friday afternoon he reminded me that he’ll be attending two celebration of life ceremonies on Saturday for two men he’s played golf with for the last eight years. The guys died within a few hours of one another right before Christmas, and now they’ll be remembered on the same day. The golfers will head straight to the first service following their Saturday round on the links and then to the second after that. They were both good men, as far as I could tell, and had lived interesting lives.

As usual when contemplating death I think ahead to my own wishes for end of life arrangements. Studly and I both want to be cremated, and I told him that instead of a funeral and/or a celebration of life that I just want a wake. I want beer and wine to be served and for everyone to just sit and talk–mostly about me, but I guess I can’t control that. Prayers for a safe transition would be appreciated, and I’d probably be happy with a few tears being shed. Nothing too sad, though. I’d like my kids to pick out some suitable music–they both know what I like.

As to my cremated remains, if I go first I’d like my ashes to be placed in a pretty urn–World Market has some beautiful ones that fit the bill, and they’re a fraction of the cost the funeral home charges. When Studly dies his ashes are to be added to mine.

I was saying all this out loud when Studly interrupted to ask about his second wife.

“Hmm,” I said. “I guess she could join us in the urn if she didn’t have other plans.”

“Wow, you’d be open to a threesome?”

If it makes him feel better, I suppose so.

Peace, people.

Too Beautiful

I came across this on Facebook and thought it was just too beautiful not to share. If any of my loved ones sees this, I’d love it read at any memorial service that’s held when I die. (Sorry it’s in a smaller font.)

“Every once in a while, a poem or song is so well constructed, so clearly conveys the author’s meaning and is so precisely expressive that it becomes something of an anthem. The poem below, Epitaph, was written by Merrit Malloy and as one of those poems, has become a staple of funeral and memorial services…for good reason.”

Epitaph – By Merrit Malloy

When I die

Give what’s left of me away

To children

And old men that wait to die.

And if you need to cry,

Cry for your brother

Walking the street beside you.

And when you need me,

Put your arms

Around anyone

And give them

What you need to give to me.

I want to leave you something,

Something better

Than words

Or sounds.

Look for me

In the people I’ve known

Or loved,

And if you cannot give me away,

At least let me live on in your eyes

And not your mind.

You can love me most

By letting

Hands touch hands,

By letting bodies touch bodies,

And by letting go

Of children

That need to be free.

Love doesn’t die,

People do.

So, when all that’s left of me

Is love,

Give me away.

Raising a Glass

Last night I poured myself a Guinness and toasted the memory of my dear friend, Julie.

Smart, funny, caring Julie. She embodied love and laughter, and she lived a beautiful, yet all too brief, life, leaving this world on Saturday morning at the age of 63.

Not long after Studly Doright and I moved to Tallahassee, I went to work part time for an educational research group at Florida State University. My job was to implement lessons designed by educational researchers and at the end of the year, administer diagnostic tests to children at several local elementary schools.

At one of these schools I was working in a room with this woman who just had a way about her. She wore flowy dresses and always had a smile. The children in her groups adored her, and she never had to raise her voice. They just wanted to make Miss Julie happy. Heck, after awhile we ALL just wanted to make Miss Julie happy.

Julie and I became friends. Occasionally she’d come out to Doright Manor, and we’d walk and talk. Her stories were fascinating. She and her very British mum had once lived in Alaska and owned a tea room there. She knew all sorts of interesting people and cultivated great friendships with folks from all walks of life.

After I stopped working for the research group, Julie and I saw each other less often, but we kept in touch via Facebook and text. She invited me along to movies and concerts and we had lunch together several times. I always knew she was “right there” if I needed a friend, and I hope she knew that about me, too.

Julie was the kind of person who’d drop everything and take off cross country to care for an ailing friend. The kind of person who’d show up to listen to a friend (me) tell one of my silly stories in a public venue, and laugh louder than anyone. And oh, what a lovely laugh!

Julie was the kind of person whose door was always open and whose heart was filled with love for people and the planet. I’d never really known a true earth mother until I met Julie, and I’m so much richer for having had her in my life.

Our very last conversation was on Facebook on Friday evening, the night before she died. We’d both gone to see “Yesterday,” at different theaters and discussed it briefly. I wish I’d kept the conversation going into the night and through the next day. Maybe we could’ve made it past the episode that claimed her life.

And the last thing of mine she shared on Facebook? I cried fresh tears when I read it.

Let me assure you, even though she didn’t make it to 65, Julie didn’t take anything for granted. She lived with her entire heart and soul. And I know that all who knew her were enriched by the relationship.

So Julie, this is for you. May your spirit rest in beauty and peace.

Love,

Leslie