I think we’ve established that I’m not a model from Fitness Magazine. I have a few health challenges on my plate. And a few years ago, our local hospital filed for bankruptcy. As such, a lot of my Dr.’s appointments are out of town, an hour drive. Last week, I had 3 appointments set in one day. I planned to go by myself, like I typically do. But my daughter took me to pick up my car from being worked on and for some reason I asked her if she’d like to ride with me. I rarely do something like that. I don’t like to take my clown show to the professionals. They’d medicate all of us if they saw us in action.
She jumped at the chance to ride along. Maybe because she likes asking the doctor twenty questions that embarrass me. But it happened to be my Dad’s birthday, so maybe Blondie just knew I needed a little company. Of course, I also wanted to be sure I saw my stepmom, especially since the hospital is close to her house. And it’s the first birthday since he passed away Christmas Day. Which means it was hard day for me, and for her. I think we will forever be linked by the magnanimous amount of love we share for my father. It’s almost indescribable.
It’s been a few years since my friend Tracy first faced her cancer diagnosis. Our little town rallied behind her. There were fundraisers and church events and out-pourings of love. At one point, it seemed the battle was won. There were many “Praise Gods” and “Hallelujahs” when round one ended. But cancer is a dirty, relentless bitch.
So came round two. She seemed ready to fight again. But about six weeks ago, she texted me that the doctors said they’d exhausted every option. They couldn’t give her anymore chemo. No more radiation. It was time for rest. When Tracy said the word “hospice,” I couldn’t believe someone my age could be out of hope.
What hurt me the most is knowing Tracy wouldn’t see her boys get married. Or become parents. Tracy would leave this world without ever being a grandma. And I know she would’ve been an amazing grandma. The fairy godmother type.
I met Tracy when we were both young moms. We were competing to be Mrs. Caffey’s head room mother for the first grade. In her wisdom, Mrs. Caffey put us both in charge. I was immediately impressed with Tracy’s stellar organization and her love of crafting. She was a woman after my own heart- all hot glue and glitter. Then she roped me into joining the PTO. Later, she left the PTO in my hands, and that was quite the journey! We rode out some hiccups together, that’s for sure.
Saturday morning. My husband rolled out of bed way earlier than I wanted him to. Usually I would roll over and hunker down. Because I refuse to become one of those morning people.
But today, I decided to roll out of bed and ride into town with Mr. Mornings. We were supposed to head to Walmart, but that soon changed to O’Reilly when we stumbled upon some parts we needed to return.
I should mention it’s an unheard of 28°F here in Central Texas. Winter around here is usually 3 days a year. And we got our three days alongside a record breaking snowfall a few weeks ago. So for another 5 or 6 days of freezing cold temperatures is creating quite the spectacle around here. The grocery stores are empty. Firewood just tripled in value. And rumor says we can expect another 10 inches of snow in the next few days.
I started this post weeks ago. Actually it was in my head on Christmas night. I’ve tried to finish it, but it’s taking me a lot of time to process, so forgive me if I ramble a bit. My head is still spinning… But here’s my effort to complete the first post I started after my world stopped turning…
If you’re my real-life friend, my Facebook friend, or you liked my Instagram somewhere along the way, then you already heard how my Christmas was. It’s been weeks, and I’m still not convinced this is real. But eventually I will face the facts. My father died of covid, and he can’t come back.
I know, hundreds of thousands of people are dying of covid. Politicians say millions even. I won’t get into the politics of it, but I will concede that hundreds and thousands of daughters, sons, grandchildren, and other assorted family and friends are left behind trying to understand what happened. In that sense, I’m nothing special. But my father was. In fact, he still is.
I can’t lie. One of my absolute favorite writers is Dr. Seuss.
Yes, he’s simple and rhymie. But he’s also brilliant and worldly. And one of my favorite books that he wrote is the same book people pass out year after year as a graduation gift. Oh! The Places You’ll Go! I know, it sounds totally cliché. But hear me out.
I wrote this blog last Wednesday, but I couldn’t get it to post. And it was 3am, which seems to be the hour at which I do the most thinking in the deep quiet of the night. Still, I finally gave up and went to sleep with this sitting in my “drafts folder.” Luckily for me, we got through the bumps of Wednesday and tomorrow my dad should be heading home to finish recovering. So now, I can take a minute and go back to what I was trying to say.
Today was a tough day for me. My father had surgery to remove part of his lung. That is scary enough on its own. Then you add the covid-19 pandemic and it gets even scarier. And to top it off, the night before his surgery, he had a spontaneous pneaumothorax. That’s a really big word for a blood clot in his lung that ruptured. So, perhaps God designed it just so he’d be in the hands of a skilled surgeon right as this rupture threatened his life. I’m definitely seeing how God’s infinite wisdom carefully winds things together. But I just don’t understand this world where I wasn’t allowed to be there. Read the rest of this entry →
It’s almost 6am and I’m still not asleep. I’ve been in bed for hours, but I just can’t drift off to dreamland. I’ve always had insomnia to some degree, but lately it’s been worse than ever. Sadly, I know that the second I fall asleep, morning will be bright in the sky and these kids know nothing about tip-toes and whispers.
I started wondering if maybe I’m not getting enough sunshine. I believe we’re a lot like plants. We need water and sun to thrive. I’m reminded of that commercial about non-24. Apparently it’s a sleep disorder that affects many shift workers and those with visual impairments. They don’t get to see the sun enough, and it throws off their entire sleep/wake rhythm.
That thought reminds me of another commercial. Someone asks how Starbursts get so juicy and then you see these tiny airplanes shooting yumminess into chewy squares of fruit flavored candy. These thoughts illustrate how my brain goes in circles. The Starburst commercial alongside the non 24 commercial has me thinking about disorders and how they’re named.
I picture a little tiny office with a cartoon businessman sitting at his desk. He’s got a nameplate on his desk that bills him the “disorder namer.” And a parade of workers circulate through his office all day long.
This namer guy starts pretty strong. He comes up with clever disorder names like dyslexia, anorexia, arthrogyposis, polycythemia, schizophrenia, and myocarditus. But as the line gets shorter, he’s starts running out of clever ideas. That’s when he comes up with dropsy (fluid build-up under the skin) and maple syrup urine disease. Yes, it’s a real thing that can leave you in a coma. Ironically, such a serious threat is marked by sweet-smelling urine.
Then the namer is clearly ready to call it quits. He comes up with Coxsackie virus, which lives in the digestive tract but seems like it belongs in a junior high boys locker room. Finally, he’s ready to wrap it up, so the next list of symptoms is about legs that refuse to go to sleep with the rest of your body. Thus, restless leg syndrome is born. Namer is headed home when just one more worker needs his disorder named. The symptoms? Laying in bed for five hours wishing you could just fall asleep. Voila! Non 24 it is! He writes it down just as he shuts the door and says “let’s call it a day Jim.”
I’ve always thought I’m probably the only person who lays awake while my brain spins in circles of over-active imagination. But the other day, one of my boys told me he lays awake playing the 3 wishes game. Of course, this is where you assume you met the magic genie and you have just three wishes. I like to create compound sentences that cram two or three wishes into one. Surprisingly, my son has the same wish at the top of his list. Maybe that’s not really so surprising. He is my child that is most like me, which also means he is most likely to piss me off. But back to my disorder…
I think I’m having trouble sleeping because I’m anxious. Like everyone else, I’m exhausted by all this time at home. I’m sad for the seniors missing prom and graduation. And I’m sad for all the baseball and softball players stuck inside. I’m sad for my Blondie and her Beau, as they’ve lost 100% of their livelihood. And I’m frustrated because I know these kids just miss being out in the world. But, there are still blessings abound. We have much to be thankful for. I refuse to get twisted because my frustration is always contagious. But I’m not gonna lie, I sure wish I didn’t just look at the clock to see it’s now 6:25. I’d say good night, but I think it’s more like good morning. At least the dog is getting some Zzzz’s. Maybe in my next life I should be a spoiled little maltipoo.
Today is my birthday. And it’s a bummer to be stuck in quarantine. For so many reasons…
My grandpa has been gone for almost seventeen years. We shared our birthday. So whenever this day rolls around, I can’t help but imagine the way we’d be celebrating together. I remember when I turned 16 and he took me to get my driver’s license. After I passed my test, he took me to lunch at James Coney Island. I never told him that I hate hot dogs. Because I was just so happy to be with him. I think I’d eat a snail to have one more birthday together.
I’ve yet to see a day when he didn’t cross my mind. I think some people are just so amazing they occupy a space in your heart for all of your days. He was definitely that force for so many people. But I’m going to claim a special spot in his heart. I was his first grandchild. And I made my debut on his birthday just to be sure we’d have a special bond. At least I tell myself I was born that day on purpose.
Several years ago my dad started taking me on little birthday road trips. We go to Fredericksburg or some other town full of junk shops. My parents stop at anything I want to see. No concrete plan. But there are always places to stop and have pie. Sadly, my dad is one of those who can’t afford a respiratory virus. He’s minding quarantine orders to the T. So I’m missing him a lot today.
My mom usually takes me to lunch. No kids. I don’t often leave my kids behind when I go do something, but every now and then it’s nice to have a conversation that doesn’t include these words: Boys! Stop biting your brother! (Biting can be exchanged for hitting, pushing, shoving, bullying, or pantsing. Yes, I said pantsing.)
Last year I convinced my husband to take me on a weekend getaway. We went camping in Big Bend. It was the first time we’d done something like that, just the two of us. I had every intention of making that a tradition. Instead, we got a “shelter in place” order.
To top it off, a bad storm knocked out our power. Just as I was finishing up an article. I’m afraid to log in and see if my changed were lost. Because I have a bad feeling about it….
Last, but not least, Facebook stole my joy today. It used to be fun to see all the birthday wishes generated by social media. But today Facebook says I have about 80 birthday messages on my timeline. But I can only see about 20 of them. With 3 weeks of being stuck inside with lots of kids, it would have been great to have some kind of outing today.
But, it’s not all bad. I spent the day hanging out with my kids. And my dad just sent us pizza! I guess he took me to dinner after all.
I started writing poetry when I was about eight years old. By the time I was 10, I had a Trapper Keeper full of pages I had penned. Junior High and High School gave me lines and lines of inspiration as I awkwardly navigated the halls. But I rarely shared my words with anyone.
I do remember entering a contest. I think I was in 8th or 9th grade. I was going to turn my poem in on notebook paper. Then I showed it to my parents. My step-dad was so proud of me, he went to the store and bought me a foam core poster board and these letters you had to rub onto the poster. He helped me space my lines perfectly. The moment stays in my mind because it was one of the first times I let someone see my writing. That was a truly vulnerable moment. And when I won the prize ribbon, I was so surprised that I kept that poster for years, until the letters faded away.
By the time I was 20, I had three binders jammed packed. And one binder that I attempted to weave into a book. I named it “Lost and Found,” and I filled it with the poems that I used to work through the lows of first loves lost, and growing pains. Everything from missing my father to being uncomfortable in my own skin. Those were the stories of my ‘lost.’
The stories of my found celebrated the excitements of young love. I was pretty dramatic when my pen flowed across the notebook paper. I could stretch my emotions to a level real life had yet to show me. And I chronicled so many things like my adoration for my grandfather. My appreciation for the rocking chair my mother passed down to me. My love of Christmas. Those were my ‘found,’ but no matter how joyful my words, I kept them closed in the binders. These words exposed my heart. And that is a dangerous endeavor.
Then I became a wife and a mother. Sometimes my husband would try to intrude on my moments alone with my pen and paper. He’d grab a page and read it, which made me feel so vulnerable and exposed. I wasn’t ready to share my words. So I kept them neatly in the binder on a shelf hidden in my room. Every once in a while, I’d share my words. But never all of them. Because my heart needed shielding from prying eyes that sought to know me better.
Then one day I noticed my sunshine wasn’t shining so bright. My Blondie was growing up and being an 11 year old girl is dramatic. There’s no other word for it. Especially if you are the creative type. For some reason, emotions are a roller coaster through those tween years.
She had so many things she was trying to work out in her mind. And we had just bought her a piano keyboard for Christmas. She was already the karaoke queen. And I thought maybe, just maybe she could grow into something more. A true artist. But I’d have to show her the words.
For the first time in my life I opened the binder and let someone dig through the pages. And then she got out her own pen. And she put her own heart on the lines. And together, we made music.
She was born with soul in her vocal chords. She could sing her joys and her pains in a way that just pulled you in to her world. We spent so many hours up late at night weaving the words together until we got it just right.
This language formed between us. And this journey began. I remember when my dad bought her a guitar. It was a pretty basic acoustic pawn shop guitar. It came with a promise that if she learned to play it, she’d get a better one.
It took a few months for her to truly start learning. One day she picked jingle bells and suddenly her interest was sparked. My father-in-law showed her a few chords and a silly little diddy. She entertained the neighborhood from our front porch. Somehow this little trip back in time still exists on YouTube.
From there, grandparents tipped bands big bucks to let her on stage. They bought her first PA system, a beautiful spalted maple acoustic-electric Dean guitar, and even an HD video camera to make YouTube videos. But it was always me and her when it came time to make the magic words.
That tween turned into a teen and started chasing a dream. And after high school she went off to Nashville and I’d have to go online to see her live. And there she met a boy. They say it was love at first song. And for the past 6 years, they’ve been growing strong!
My little songbird came back to Texas. And she had exactly what I knew she’d find- a boy to sit on the couch and write songs with. And I watched them fall in love and write the songs that tell their story. I’ve seen them up, and I’ve seen them down. I watched them become parents, artists, a team! They are the duo known as Treble Soul. And if you’re wondering where that name came from, well I looked at two ‘kids’ who weren’t kids, on the verge of creating magic. And I saw the music in their hearts, and I knew they’d live a life with music as the very vein running through them. So I called it Treble Soul and they forged into something so incredible I can barely find the words!
Every now and then she still comes and gets the binders off the shelf. Or brings me a verse in the middle of the night. Because I’ve shared the words with her like I’ve done with no one else. And sometimes, she takes my words, and gives them a voice. I can’t tell you how it feels to see someone put your heart on display, but I can tell you she’s the only one who knows me like that.
Some people see the journey unfold on social media. They watched her on Undercover Boss as Darius Rucker was blown away by her sound. They voted for Treble Soul to be the 2018 Texas Country duo of the year. And now they’re all tuned in as her American Idol journey unfolds.
This girl dreamed of that her entire life. But that’s a story for another day. For now, I am just looking through time at all the words we weaved together. And thinking of this daughter who is an absolute treasure. And hoping the world takes a moment just to see what I see. The magic words from the soul of a truly special girl. And yeah, I’m that mom with the sparkly “mom” hat, sitting in the back, cheering her on. And I have an extra pen if she needs one…