Fire and Rain

James Taylor knew, didn’t he, the pain of

Thinking he’d have one more chance

To hold a hand

To say the words and hear theirs in return

To savor their embrace

Only to be denied these comforts

Forever.

Oh, I always thought that I’d see them

One more time again.

https://youtu.be/EbD7lfrsY2s

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.

Out of the Blue

Grief doesn’t always give fair warning before picking you by the scruff of the neck and shaking you until both eyes leak copious amounts of tears. No, sometimes grief slides in without even a whisper, wraps its arms around you and squeezes so gently you don’t even realize it’s to blame for your distress until you’re writhing on the floor in agony.

Today, grief was triggered by a song I’d never heard before. It was an Emmylou Harris cover of the John Prine song, Hello In There.

https://youtu.be/scKPIbdD7WA

The damned song grabbed me by the throat and choked tears out of me. I’d already been thinking of old friends who’d died way too young, and the song added to my melancholy.

Today would’ve been the 65th birthday of my first real friend, the first bond formed on my own, without my parents’ intervention. Johnnimae Bachus, my polar opposite.

We first met in Sunday school at Calvary Baptist Church, gravitating to one another in that mysterious way children do. Johnnimae was petite and ladylike while I was a gangly weirdo. Her mother created all of Johnniemae’s wardrobe—each dress was perfect. She could twirl a full circle with her skirt floating elegantly around her, suspended in beauty above her perfect little knees. When I tried to emulate her, my sturdy shirtwaist clung to my skinny legs and I looked like a dork,

We attended the same kindergarten—she cried for her mama until she saw that I was there. I felt quite emboldened by her confidence in me. Still I tried to copy her in everything she did. She’d color a page in blues and greens, so would I. She’d express a song preference and it would become mine. One day she became fed up with my copycat mentality and ruined her picture by coloring it in bold black marks. She did me a favor that day and I developed my own style.

Johnnimae moved away in our eighth or ninth grade year, and due to some silly school girl politics, I wasn’t invited to her going away party. I lost track of her, but we reunited at a mutual friend’s wedding several years later. I was the matron of honor and she was maid of honor. She was still perfect, while I was still a dork.

Not long after, that same mutual friend called me out of the blue one sunny day to tell me Johnnimae had died. She was maybe 24 or 25 and poised to graduate from pharmacy school. She was engaged to be married. Her life was filled with joy and accomplishments and a world of possibilities. Then, on one ordinary day she went for a swim with friends and somehow ingested or inhaled an amoeba and died soon after. The shock at her loss was immense. This golden girl was no longer in this world. How could that be?

So today I cried for her. Big old tears that wouldn’t stop and left my nose red and my eyes bloodshot. I cried while listening to Emmylou Harris sing about growing old—a privilege Johnnimae never had.

Out of the blue

Peace, people.

I’ve Been Thinking

Driving, I thought

Of life and death

How some folks live more

In only a handful of years

Than some who barely scratch

Life’s surface after decade upon decade

Of blood coursing through veins

A heart beating, lungs expanding,

Going through the motions

But that’s not living.

That’s marking time.

Common Sense

When did common sense become politicized? When did we stop thinking rationally? Honestly, I’m concerned. You see, most sane adults understand that there’s a pandemic that has taken the lives of more than half a million Americans and an estimated 2.57 million human beings worldwide.

We know that the virus is mutating and that even though there are now vaccines to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 only a small percentage of the population has received the vaccine as of March 5, 2021. We are not anywhere near the point of herd immunity.

And yet certain governors in the U.S. have decided that it’s time to do away with all the restrictions. They’ve opened everything up. No more masks. No more social distancing. No more limits on the number of people who can gather in groups. No more common sense.

Ah! Sweet freedom. Freedom to kill and be killed. Freedom to not care about our friends and neighbors. Freedom from common sense. God help us all.

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.

The War Effort

We’ve been told we are at war

With a virus, an invisible enemy

But our nominal president

Plays golf and tweets erratically

Swatting at Titleists

Swearing at journalists

Embarrassing most of us

While one hundred thousand Americans

Lay dead,

And it’s not yet June.

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.

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