Pardon Our Dust

Studly Doright, (my first and current husband), our two children, and I have moved many times in our 38.5 years of marriage, so we’ve never become overly attached to any one residence. Home has always been wherever our little family is at any given time.

A friend wrote something on Facebook the other day, though, that made me wonder what it would have felt like to have stayed in one home for all of our married lives, raising a family and watching them grow, and helping them leave the nest. I wondered what it would be like when eventually one of us had to face the task of selling the home. Ok, I got a little teary eyed.

The poem below is what came of my reverie. Parts of it are gleaned from true events from my own childhood–I drew the mountains, my brothers and I played for hours and hours under a big old pine tree in a long ago front yard.

Please pardon our dust
The old house has been closed up for a long, long time.
But if you close your eyes
You can almost feel the love that once lived here.
Over there our children played
At make-believe
Before they made their own lives
And their own dust in their own homes.

Please pardon my tears
I really thought this would be easier,
But remembering is both sweet and hard.
You see these marks on the wall?
Our oldest drew ‘mountains’ there
When she was barely three.
I kept meaning to paint over them
But thirty years later you can still
Pretend to take a trip to the summit
And ski down the slopes to drink
Hot chocolate at the lodge.

Please pardon my lapse
I just can’t go through the rest
Look around on your own
Take your time.
Be sure to visit the backyard and
Swing on that old tire,
Maybe dig in the sand,
And carve roads under the pine.
It’s a fine place for kids
It was a fine place for us.

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Giving Thanks

Our lives have not always been easy. We struggled financially for many years. We failed each other many times, but we always got up and made things right. There were many times when it would have been easy to give up, to quit, but we refused. We were never satisfied with failure or with doing things half-assed.

So today I’m thankful for a certain willful stubbornness. A refusal to accept the status quo. Studly and I are living proof that if you work hard and treat others as you wish to be treated that there’s a good chance you’ll do okay in this world. No, we aren’t wealthy. But we are comfortable. We won’t have a fortune to leave our kids. But we have a whole lot of love to leave them. And stubbornness.

Here’s hoping that this Thanksgiving Day allows each of my readers to take a moment to think on all the really good things in their lives. I’m thankful for each of you.

Thanks, people!

Laughter and Love

The market on love
Has been cornered
By those of us
Who know that
Sometimes the clouds threaten
And the sky goes sunless
Day upon day
And all that holds the storm at bay
Are the winds swept aloft
By shared laughter.

So what if we can’t live
On love alone?
Honestly we never even tried.
Some days we might have
Forgotten to remember, though
The importance of just looking
Into a smile and seeing
The world we’ve created
From no more than a pair
Of long ago I do’s
.

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Happy birthday Studly!

Old Married Couples’ Club

Married folks tend to learn each other’s tics and tendencies over time. I’ve made note of some of the things that we just do because we’ve been yoked together for so long. Some of it isn’t all that pretty, but some of it is just right. I guess you’ll have to decide which is which.

Crack each other up with just the right facial expression.

Fart and/or belch freely, then apologize sincerely before farting and/or belching again.

Steal each other’s portion of the blanket.

Hold hands unselfconsciously.

Snore unabashedly.

Find each other’s lips on the first try in the darkest of rooms.

Know exactly where to scratch when their partner has an itch.

Finish each other’s sentences. Sometimes correctly.

Elaborate on one another’s stories.

Watch a program they don’t want to watch because their partner wants to watch it.

Understand the “look” and adjust as needed.

Commiserate with one another’s angst, even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you.

Be the bright spot when the other’s is dim.

Anticipate the other’s needs, such as bringing home a new bottle of wine without being asked.

Refrain from making a joke at the other’s expense.

Gladly be the butt of a joke when necessary.

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Something I Love

I’m sitting at Whole Foods enjoying a non-fat chai latte, medium, almost too hot to drink, and checking my email on my phone. There’s a funny message from Studly Doright. It was sent to three recipients: our son, our daughter, and me. It struck me how much I love that–that our family group is united in that email. Even though we’re hundreds of miles apart, Studly knew we’d all find the message amusing. At some point today each person will read, giggle, and perhaps shake his/her head at what our well-loved patriarch has wrought.

Yes. This is something I love.

You Are My Density

The meat in my sandwich
The cold in my ice
The onions in my taco
The dots on my dice.

The biscuit ‘neath my gravy
The tootsie in my roll
The water in my ocean
The statistics in my poll.

The sand in my bucket
The flowers in my vase
The chocolate in my chip
The smile on my face.

Love you, Studly.

Peace, People!

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Just Catty

Cats are infinitely superior to mere humans as this interview illustrates: Me: Good afternoon, Fluffy. Fluffy: Are you addressing me? Me: Well, yes. It is after all just the two of us in the room. Fluffy: I hadn’t noticed. (yawn) Me: Listen Fluffy, I want to get to know you better. Fluffy: Whatever for? Me: Well, to strengthen our bond. Fluffy: (Sniff) Me: What would make you happier? What do you need? Fluffy: I need it all. Everything. Sunshine. Insects. Birds. Food. Treats. Naps. A new feather on a stick. Your pillow. The clothing you had planned on wearing today. Me: About that. I notice that you feel the impulse to lay on anything I place on the bed. Can you explain that? Fluffy: The bed is mine. Everything on the bed is mine. Just remember, it’s all mine. If you want something of your own, get a dog. Me: We had a dog. You terrorized him. Remember? Fluffy: You mean that sniveling excuse of an animal you called Barney? He smelled like dog. Me: Well, he was one. Fluffy: That was no excuse. And he tried to lick me. Ew. Me: He just wanted to show you some affection, and you repaid him by sticking a claw in his left nostril. Fluffy: That was amusing. Too bad he had to go on a nice long vacation. Me: Barney was a good dog. Listen do you have any feelings for me at all. Fluffy: Such as? Me: Maybe gratitude. I buy only the best canned food. You always have fresh water. You get treats three times each day. I made your cat bed from the softest sheepskin I could find. You could at least purr once in awhile. Fluffy: Purr. Purr. Me: That wasn’t a real purr. I can tell the difference you know. Fluffy: I think it’s time for my nap now. Me: Not so fast! Would it kill you to let me pet you occasionally? Fluffy: Have I been vaccinated for that? Me: Forget it. I’m going to the store. Fluffy: Meow!?! (Purrrrrrrr, purrrrrrrr) Me: Oh, sweet kitty! I’ll bring you a new feather on a stick, yes I will! Mama’s little bitty kitty! Fluffy: Sucker.

It’s the Little Things

Like…

Finding an episode of Criminal Minds that you’ve not seen before

Having fresh guacamole made to your taste right at your table

Opening up a fresh loaf of soft bread

Discovering a new author whose books speak to your soul

Listening to a song that lifts your spirits

Identifying with a character in a novel

Having that aha! moment when working on a project

Completing a less than fun task in a fun way (you should see my toilet cleaning technique)

Singing in the shower and sounding like a pop star

Clicking through the channels and finding “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” already in progress

Getting an old-fashioned letter in the mail

Snuggling with a kitten

Kayaking with my Studly on the lake behind our home

Getting surprise calls from my youngest and oldest grandchildren on the same day (thank you D and Ninibelle)

Having a cup of coffee or a glass of wine on the patio with a good friend

Dancing

Finding peace within myself if only for a moment

Having a good dream about loved ones I’ve lost (Mom, thanks for your “visit” last night)

Hearing the words, “I love you, Nana!”

What are your little things?

Peace, People!

What’s a Gingy?

When our son was born, my mom decided that she wanted to be called Grandmother. Not Granny or Grandma, Nana or Mimi. Grandmother. Well, that was all well and good, but our son had other ideas. Jason didn’t talk early. We began to wonder if he’d ever talk at all, but by three he had a decent vocabulary. Try as he might, though, he could not say Grandmother or Grandaddy. What emerged was something that sounded a lot like Gingy, so my parents, for better or worse, became Gingymama and Gingydaddy. And, since he was the first of the grandchildren, it stuck.

Daddy’s 81st birthday would have been yesterday, and since yesterday’s post was on the sappy side I thought I’d have my children and nieces and nephews post their memories of their Gingydaddy.

Jason texted, “Him rescuing me from the side of a mountain…teaching me to pee without unbuttoning my pants aka the utility of the zipper…first set of golf clubs…how to flirt…taught me how to use a knife to slice an apple….”

Ignoring the pee remark, I asked him what Gingy had told him about flirting

“I just learned by example….”

Sounds like some valuable lessons Gingy was passing along. He was a hopeless flirt.

Ashley texted, “Genius,” was his email password, but he could never remember how to spell it! He had to cut Christopher’s seatbelt off when the Gingys took us three oldest grand kids to California. He called one of his nurses Donut Girl. He never fully stopped at a stoplight; he always inched forward until the light turned green. How he always had to show us off when we’d go visit him at whatever grocery store he worked at. Oh, and the seatbelt! He would never buckle the damn belt, just held it right above the clicker while he drove to fool the cops. He never met a stranger.”

My niece Claire, said, “Sitting in lawn chairs in the garage with the door open just talking about life and laughing about him getting numbers from the ladies from the piggly wiggly!”

Nephew Christopher added, “Easy! Eating Oreos with iced milk.” I think he made sure all the grand kids experienced the joy of Oreos in milk.

Hanna added this to the group text, “Fishing in the little pond in red river, nm 😊”

Their memories are all so different because Gingydaddy was easygoing. He was able to live in the moment and find ways to connect with each of his grandchildren.

Gingydaddy loved taking the kids on vacation. I think the saddest thing for him about his COPD was that he could no longer make those big memory-making trips. Daddy told me once that if he’d known he was going to live into his 70’s he’d have taken a lot better care of himself. Damned cigarettes. Damned habit.

Peace and Good Memories, People!

Not Just Any Man

He was my daddy, and I was his little girl. Not biologically, but in every way that mattered. I don’t remember when he came into my life, I just know that he was always there when it mattered. According to my mother, I had Daddy wrapped around my little finger from the moment we met. Again, I don’t remember that. I just remember enjoying every moment I spent with him.

One of my earliest memories is of a time that Daddy and I drove together to a football game in Amarillo. From the age of four, I was Daddy’s football watching buddy. He taught me about first downs and illegal blocks, quarterback sneaks and Hail Mary passes. Living in small town Texas we were avid fans of the the local high school team, the Floydada Whirlwinds. We seldom, if ever, missed a game. Usually, we attended as a family, but on this occasion Mom stayed home in protest, saying it was too cold.

I vividly remember the drive to the game. I was standing in the seat next to Daddy (we used the old “parental arm” method of child safety restraint back then). Snow was falling in huge flakes, covering the road and making it hard for us to see. To keep me occupied, Daddy taught me to watch the odometer so I could count off the miles to Amarillo. Pretty soon, I could pinpoint a mile with my eyes closed. It seemed like a really long distance! According to family legend when we got to the game everyone was amazed that he’d brought me with him, driving into one of the worst storms in memory. My Nanny and Grandaddy were there and I snuggled into the warmth of my family to watch the Whirlwinds win. I don’t remember the cold, just the love.

Daddy managed the Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Floydada for many years. As soon as I was old enough I’d walk to the store–we only lived a couple of blocks away–to see Daddy and spend my allowance money. I got the hefty sum of $1 a week, coincidentally one could buy a 45 rpm record at Piggly Wiggly for 99 cents at the time, so I had quite the collection. No matter what he was doing, Daddy would stop and give me a hug and a kiss. If he wasn’t terribly busy he’d ask me to tag along. I got to go behind the swinging doors to smell the fresh produce as it came in. I got to watch the butchers cut meat with the huge slicer. I got to be part of his world.

That world continued to turn. Daddy had his own store for awhile, but when that didn’t pan out we moved to Dumas. The Piggly Wiggly chain closed its stores in Texas and Mom and Dad moved to Canyon and then several years later, to Abilene. My brothers and I had all grown up, moved away, and started our own families. Life was as it should be.

Then we lost Mom to cancer. After Mom passed away Daddy’s life changed dramatically. He was still working, so he could take some memorable trips. He took one to California to spend time with his sisters. He traveled to our home in Kansas and to the homes of my brothers. He’d take off and head to the casinos on occasion.

Daddy and I went to Ruidoso, New Mexico, one weekend for the most fun I’ve ever had losing money. I’d driven from Kansas to see him, and I hadn’t been at his tiny apartment for longer than 15 minutes before he said, “Sis, you want to go to the casino?” So off we went. Daddy hit a hot streak at the blackjack table while I lost at slots. Every now and then I’d wander by his table and he’d hand me a stack of chips that I’d pocket. He decided I was the best gambling partner he’d ever had since he actually took home some money. He took me to the horse races and told me I bet just like my mom, code for, “you aren’t very good at this,” but again he won some money and said I could gamble with him any time. That was high praise, indeed.

Then the grocery store Daddy had been working for closed with no advance notice. Studly invited him to move in with us. Our kids were grown by then and we’d been transferred to Florida. We had plenty of room and sunshine year round. Yet he declined. He didn’t want to be in the way. Finally Studly insisted. Daddy was sick and really needed to be closer to family. So, we had Daddy with us.

Those were great years. Daddy and I got to know each other as adults. He told me stories about his Navy days that left me speechless. Stories I cannot repeat here. Great Stories. He and Studly played golf as long as Daddy was able, and even after his COPD no longer allowed him to play he’d hang out in the garage and create the perfect bag of clubs for a particular course.

Studly earned a nice promotion that prompted Daddy to call him The Director, from that point on, and was transferred to Illinois, so while Studly worked, Daddy and I explored our new state. I started doing some substitute teaching and Daddy hung out around the house. He had his daily routines and a nice little pickup truck, but he spent a lot of time sitting on our front porch and interacting with our neighbors. No matter where he went, he made friends. And we got to talk. We still enjoyed our football games and he’d still make an occasional run to the casino in Peoria, but his lung disease was getting the best of him.

His last days were spent in the hospital. We had made arrangements for hospice care, and on the day before we were to take him home, he perked up dramatically. He and my brother Kelly and I had the best day. We talked and made plans. We reminisced and laughed. When Kelly stepped out of the room to take a call, Daddy said to me, “Sis, in case I forget to tell you, I really had a great time with you and your brother today.”

That night he had a stroke and he passed away the next evening. Today would have been his birthday. My Daddy, my love. I miss him every day.

Peace and Love, People.