I have neglected my blog. One can imagine that actually living the memories are much more gratifying than taking time to write about them; however, I did start this long ago to share my thoughts, so I will try to keep this blog moving. It has been a whirlwind of activity to say the least. Our sweet son recently married, (nearly a year ago now), and now in just a few months our beautiful daughter will marry her prince. I smile a lot lately. And, as we prepare for this big event I am reminded of times past. Occasions that prick your heart and take you way back to the birth of those children, weddings and deaths. Heartfelt moments that are captured in time, here for a season and then gone forever. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were heading to school with that major science project balancing it’s very existence between back packs and musical instruments in the back seat? We blinked, and it was time for high school graduation, and college. I stored these memories in the back of my mind and I bring them out once in a while just to have a tender moment, or a good cry. Time is passing, and at a great speed. We don’t get a redo, this is it. I am older, we are older, the stuff we have is dusty and sits there on the shelves like stale bread on a counter. I am feeling a little different from I did even three years ago. Why not get a smaller house? or a piece of land on a quiet lake. Life is short! Days fly by like a roller coaster at warp speed, with ups and downs and twists and turns, until we are dizzy from it all. We’ve spent the money, made the memories and took the time. Forgetting that I was a year older than I thought I was, brought me to a jolting halt. Yes, I thought I was a year younger, and I am ok to say it. But for the life of me, I cannot understand where that extra year went. It was filled with activities and I know I lived it. I was quickly corrected by many who say they love me….that I was a year older. Well, I’m not having work done, or bleaching my hair or having my DNA sucked out of my hips or my lips inflated to balloon status; but, it happened. Somehow lost on the pages of a now outdated calendar is a lost birthday. But, that is a story for another time. I am my biggest critic, so anything I do or say, can become comical to me, and this admission was my best work. Who loses a year of age? But, I have learned a good lesson. I am now at a point where it’s ok to eat off the good stuff, use my expensive cologne on a regular day, and drink from the thin glasses. We come to the realization that nothing we do will make it stop, time is not on our side. So I say, go ahead and sit on the nice sofa, and pull out grandma’s vase to fill with flowers. We are LIVING NOW…write the check, see the sights, breathe the air and enjoy yourself. Life Is Short, Use the Good Stuff while you can.
Ok, so you know that if you have read this blog for any length of time you know I am not a fan of change. I have contemplated new ideas for holiday decor, and even went as far as purchasing the new “homey” tree this year. And, it sat ever so large in the coffin sized box for a while. I was in no hurry to see what it had to offer. But, after a few days of it looming over us, we went ahead and set it up just to see how it looked. Not to bad, a little thin for my liking, but it did have those new fangled lights that are so practical, and most importantly, it could be ready to go in just a few minutes, and no fuss. . It came with a lot of hoopla about saving time and the crazy selling points of less energy used, wouldn’t hurt your back, up and down in record time and the perfect tree…yeah, all that to reel me in for a care free holiday. I walked around it and inspected every inch to try to find fault. It stood straight and tall, (but thin), and the lights did bring a different nuance to our room. Once again it sat there quietly and reverently while I weighed my options. Should I send this foreign thing back to the store, or give it a whirl I wondered? I don’t know about you, but I am pretty sappy. I am very much a traditionalist and quite content doing the very same things year after year. I think as a family, we are all guilty of this practice. It’s not my fault, I blame my mother, as any good daughter will do, for instilling all of that tradition nonsense in me. That old decoration will go in that same place next year, and the recipes are not tweaked with my own new idea, or tips from the Food Network Chefs, Nope, they are exactly as she would have prepared them. I even use some of mom’s pans and her old measuring spoons on certain dishes, not because I have too but because I need too. So many happy memories were shared in our big kitchen, and my children have never known anything but grandma’s food, desserts, and over the top events.. The smells bring me back to a time when I was perched upon a stool with long dark braids, and flour on my nose…..stirring my hands off elbow deep in dough or cookie batter. Oh, and I use my old dull metal cookie cutters for Santa’s cookies, because I can’t bring myself to use all of those new red and green plastic ones I have collected over the years. Well, back to the tree. So, when my daughter enters the house she is immediately drawn to the new tree. Awe, what a cute Charlie Brown Tree mama….she says in all seriousness. That’s it, I tell my husband, this is a hot mess and I am returning it, I say in disgust, what was I thinking? My husband is the voice of reason in these situations. And, of course, he want’s to give it a chance. It’s almost 8 feet tall, so the tree is not small by any means; however, it is still thin…Would it even hold some of our ornaments? He assures me it will be fine, so we begin decorating. It’s not horrible, and held up fine to the weight of the many ornaments I loaded on the branches to test its strength. The lights are evenly distributed and I must admit it’s not bad-looking now, even kind of pretty. So, once the “homey” tree is decorated, my daughter weighs in with it’s pretty mom, much better decorated. We all agree it can stay. And, as I look at it I am trying to understand my feelings. It’s just a tree, not something with a heart for heaven’s sake. I have to agree that it is so much easier to set up than our old tree, and we always had issues with lights that had a bulb out. Those are hard to find, Ugh. What is my beef then with this poor green object. I sigh to myself. It isn’t the tree’s fault its more practical, and efficient. But it isn’t …. our tree. The tree that my babies helped decorate in anticipation for Santa’s visit. It was the tree that held their little hand prints from preschool, and construction paper mittens with gaudy gold glitter. I guess I could still put those little treasures on this new tree and it may work. But it isn’t the tree at all. The problem is me. It’s not the old tree. And, those babies are now adults and all too happy to make their own new traditions and food. And as it should be, we have added new family members to share in our holiday joy. I am so happy and grateful for our enlarged family.. But it is the change. That’s it. Change, is happening, and it’s not easy. Knowing our kids want to keep our old trees is a great comfort to me. They will stand tall in their new homes and bring them joy as they did in our home for many years. And who knows, maybe I will add some more new decorations. Some of our things are tired looking, but too me, they are beautiful and reek of good times and dust. Just the way I like it,,old and filled with memories….. just like me. I am adjusting slowly to the newness of everything….even a tree. Life doesn’t stay the same. We can’t hold time back, but we can have tradition and continuity, The tree represents the newness too this chapter of our live. That;s it! Kind of like being the same, but with a twist.
I continue to shake my head at life and all of its drama. For a person that loves aspects of reality television, I must say I think I could have my own show. It’s a mix of What? Huh? and Why? lately. Just when I think all is well, something else fills the bowl and adds to the mix. Not to be surprised at anything, and I must admit not always the most positive person….I still struggle. So during one of my meltdowns last evening, after going from room to room in my house and asking the Lord to remove any evil, negative, or hurtful elements in Jesus’s name! and showing the devil to the door….I read that Sage can do this. Oh really? Now, I must admit I am known for my love of all things condiment and spicy. I keep a steady flow of spices and blends to zest food up a bit. A little of this and a little of that, or a pinch here and there. Some wonderful element that will completely filter through the house with an aroma so good it makes you want to breathe it all in with one big gulp. But Sage? Apparently, you need to put some in a disposable pan or some type hard-surfaced bowl, and set it on fire. Then as the instructions say via the internet (where everything that is true and just is found), you blow out the fire and with a large fan, feather or pom-pom. And, after that you then go through the room or house and gently let the smoke filter out and into the atmosphere. Thus, the Sage, removes evil spirits and negativity, and all things wrong with the world in the room (or said house). Well, that got me thinking. Hum…well what if you wanted to use Chili powder, or coriander, or a bay leaf…would they do the same thing? or if I wanted to sprinkle parsley or put a torch or match to cinnamon…could that also do the trick in transforming my home from a worry free, negative free, out pouring of bad luck, continuous black hole of gloom into a continuous state of peace and a calm dome of wonderfulness? The only thing I use sage for is Thanksgiving Stuffing or a rub mix for the Turkey. And, it’s not even my favorite spice, in fact, it’s probably my least favorite. Unless you add poultry seasoning and other spices to it, it’s pretty bland. So here’s where I am going with this. With everything that I am and that I know, I cannot put my mind around spice (especially Sage), being my redeemer. Yes, things could be better for me right now in a variety of ways. It’s almost laughable what all I am facing and I have had times when I doubt where God is. What have I done to have all of this neatly dumped in my lap? And then I remember why I am facing crisis. It keeps me praying, that’s why. I could be a person so wrapped in “other things” that I could forget my place. With everything on my list, God get’s left off on occasion. I could forget who I am, and why I am even here anyway. So my journey continues and it continues with a desire to reach God more completely, feel him more alive in my life, and long for the day when I finally become the person he is molding me to be. So, that is why my head was in my hands praying out to God last evening for help and direction. I don’t need anything from my spice drawer to direct me. I certainly don’t want a fire-ball of smell in my home that lingers and reminds me that I have reduced my relationship with the Lord to a match and fragrance for lack of faith. My faith (though weak at times), will be in the Lord Jesus.
A regular appointment for a recheck. And seriously, for a few days I felt ok. Some things squeaked, a few joints creaked, and I had a numbness here and there. Overall, not too bad for me considering my history. We visited, discussed how I needed to wait for additional joint injections and then we discussed our kids. I spoke of the recent wedding in our family, he talked about his three, and one of which is a wandering soul with a free spirit. Then after a quick update in my records and a prescription for a refill shot off from his laptop to the pharmacy, I was out in record time. All in all a good visit, except for checkout. I heard sniffing, and coughing, and other noises coming from the reception area when I rounded the corner, and then witnessed a Kleenex to the nose of the one helping me, figures. I used the hand sanitizer on the desk, we made small talk between her coughs and I left with my next appointment scheduled. The next evening I had a scratchy throat, and a stuffy nose. Now, three days later I sound like a man with a deep voice and my head feels like I have water jetting through my ears and out my eyes. I don’t have allergies, I was infected!!! at the doctor’s office no less. Hopefully, you aren’t like me. I have the resistance of a nat. I cannot afford to be around illness, especially at my doctor’s office. I can’t win. I should send them a bill for having to go to yet another doctor on Monday to get something for this cold before it get’s worse. Caution too all. Don’t talk to anyone with a Kleenex in their hand this time of year. Oh, and stay away from the doctor’s office if at all possible, it’s not safe there.
I have completely neglected my blog. I write for several reasons, I have been paid in the past for writing, so it’s a plus. I want my thoughts to be out there in the air so that my grandchildren may someday read them and know a little about me; and for the most important reason, I have a lot of words. Or, at least that is what Bruce (my husband) says, and he is right. I spill them all out of my head so I can make room for more. This seemed a perfect re-launch, since it is the one month anniversary of my sons wedding to his beautiful wife. WARNING THIS IS MUCH LONGER THAN A NORMAL BLOG ENTRY, because it is a special one. Seems like just yesterday (one month ago today), I was giving a little speech at the rehearsal dinner about his legacy and grandparents, so that Katy’s family would understand what strong and loving hands she has placed her future in. And I can still feel vividly with my heart and eyes, his arm shaking a little as we waited with him to walk down the aisle and take our seats at the wedding of the year the next day. I reminded him to breathe and take it all in. He said as he had a million times before, Mom, do I look ok? Of course you do! and I will take anyone outside for a whooping if they think otherwise. That was my thought at the time, and believe me, I could have fully delivered. But back to my speech, especially one with your heart in your throat, you don’t say everything you want people to know. I could have written it all down but then I would have said too much. Who would blame me, I have kids that are amazing and they have many accolades, and they earned them. So because I can, I will now share the things you may not know about our son. I won’t go back to childhood, that would take way too much space; and they are all documented in the scrapbooks of his life. Athletic awards, and other achievements along with his sister that took away from those Baptist brats at the private elementary school they attended. Don’t judge, you would need to know the entire story. Let’s just move on to 9th grade and see if my mood improves, I need to forget those days. Hey! you may not know that he was a pitcher in baseball, Junior Varsity quarterback, basketball center, and 9th grade Ambassador. Jonathan achieved high honors for academics and was in the honor program. He excelled in 10th grade continuing as a baseball pitcher, 10th grade Ambassador; a Tri Hi Y brother. Awards included Leadership, English, and Sports/Marketing Award for highest GPA; while also volunteering with inner city ministries teaching basketball, and working at our local grocery store. We swore we had a son, but we never saw him unless it was at a school or church activity. During 11th grade he shined so brightly as ‘The Toe’ LaFoe varsity punter (when the action/buzz really started around his ability), and he was awarded the coaches award for baseball Best All Around Player. Jonathan was on the local and national honor roll, a National English Award nominee, part of the National Beta Club, National Honor Society, Who’s Who Among America High School Students, Nominee for National Society of High School Scholars, awarded four academic awards, continued to work at the grocery store and worked with our church food ministry. Hardly a day went by that we weren’t being invited to some event where he was recognized for something outstanding. Oh, and did I mention he volunteered at the Humane Society in what little spare time he had? I know what you are thinking, who knew??? Right. That’s why I am putting it out there now, it would have been a very long rehearsal dinner speech. The buzz began early in his Junior year when he began setting punting records both locally and nationally. Early in 2006-07 we received a call to get a copy of the University of Tennessee Magazine because he was named as Top Tennessee Talent, and Chattanooga’s Top College Prospect, Summer 2006. Featured on the local news as Student Athlete of the Week, college letters began flooding in. I still have all of the letters, awards, and every single piece of paper with his name on it. Not to mention the number of UT magazines I ran out and purchased at Books A Million the night we received the call. We started his Senior year with a bang or maybe it was a punt. Along with all of the awards he received in 11th grade, he did the same as a senior; but in addition he was Home Coming King, Prom King, Voted Most Athletic, Torch Bearer, Best All Around, Top 10% of his Senior Class, Featured in a County Citizenship poster, Mr. Technology, All American Scholar Nominee, Tri Hi Y Ideal Guy and Brother, Student Athlete of the year, Senior Court, English award for Future Tycoon and National Football Award Nominee. Oh, and the award he rolled his eyes at….Biggest Angel, (I think voted on by the girls),…and Wow, I need to breathe. During this time, we were making arrangements to travel to Universities all around the country for his football visits. I was manager of events, so I had everything on a very long spreadsheet to keep in contact with the programs on his behalf. Since our very busy son was also still employed, it was difficult. He had invitations from Most Universities and even the Pigskin Classic in Hawaii, but time was getting away from us. Yale, Dartmouth, West Point, Harvard, South Carolina (my preference and I believe his dad’s as well), and so many more other schools large and smaller; and we did receive letters early on from UT. But, then the day came when he sat us down and said, I’m a Tennessee boy; this is all great, but I don’t want to go anywhere but UT. We tried exhaustively to convince him that he had so many opportunities to choose from where he could get a full ride and, play football etc; but we had to respect his choice. When we didn’t hear from UT again, I must admit I got my mother/manager feathers ruffled and I called the recruiter. Yes, I called a Division 1 Football Team, so? Steve explained that with Jonathan being a Junior he could not continue to pursue him until his senior year because of NCAA rules. I quickly reminded him that Jonathan was a SENIOR…and the phone went quiet. You idiot, and other ugly things were going through my mind of which I had to repent of later; however, at the time I was furious. NO!!!! I don’t know what to say Mrs. LaFoe, was his reply. He had dropped the ball (pun intended). Through his many apologies and my backlash at his carelessness we ended the conversation with his commitment to make it right. We were there the next weekend. I remember how calm Jonathan was during the entire time, he kept saying it’s fine, I’ll just walk on. And things like, Colquitt, is a great punter so I can wait. I kept thinking, this wouldn’t happen in South Carolina, but I didn’t say it. Well, I did but not to him. It worked out in the end, and Jonathan made the right decision. He became a VOL, walked on the team until he got tired of waiting for his spot, met friends on and off campus that we will always hold dear in our hearts, got the dream job before even completing college with two degrees in Animal Science and Animal Resource Economics, and met and married the love of his life. That’s a run on sentence but I like it to ramble. So, here we are a month to the day after our wonderful event leading up to their beautiful wedding. What can I say, I’m a mom lost in her memories of old times, and I am excited at what the future holds for this terrific couple, and all their future anniversaries to come. Maybe one day out in the future I will have a grandson that may take a gander at South Carolina, but then again, he will probably be a handsome devil with great athletic ability, a smile that could charm the sun from the sky, and sign on as a UT VOL.
We built our house and didn’t landscape for about two years afterward. We were so tired of everything building related that we just moved in and that was it. Then a plan came together. We decided to move ahead with planting some things to achieve curb appeal. Whatever. So, Spring break came and we bargained with the kids. We will work on the landscape during the day, and each evening we will go wherever you would like for dinner, etc. Seemed like a good plan at first. We shopped for the plants, trees, scrubs, mulch etc. And so it began an ongoing project. For a novice family, we did ok. We didn’t really know what went together, but we knew what we liked. The first few days seemed like things were taking shape, the front spaces around the house began to fill with various green things, and we watched with pride how hard our kids worked. It was Spring break after all. We had a little whining, mostly from me, as I am not an outdoors kind of gal. But all in all, it went smoothly. We worked very hard, and by the end of the week, we had the start of a pretty good looking yard. That was eleven years ago. Today, Bruce was up early, and already in the yard planting more decorative plants to add color. I went out to observe. See I pick things out, and he plants them. We both argue over where items should go, and I can’t ever get the 6 hours of sunlight thing right. So wisdom prevails and he wins out on selecting spots for where plants should be placed. We have more time now because the children are on their own, so the work we do in the yard now is mostly for entertainment. Sad, I know. But the days of running from school activities, to ball practice are over. We are into the yard, and are contemplating an RV of some sort. We have become older parents. It’s fine, we knew it would happen eventually, just not so soon. Anyway, we were deciding this morning about the very front of the house where our hard work began that Spring break. We have some Japanese type plants that have overtaken the flower beds. When we purchased them they were about 12 inches wide, and they looked so nice lined up along the walk ways. Now, they have taken over the entire length of the house, and we were wondering what to do. This morning’s conversation went something like, “I would like to dig all of this up, and take the yard back closer to the house with grass,” this was Bruce.” We can put some coloring plants in groupings in and it should look great.” He continued. I said, “yes, I can see we need more color and the groupings would be great, but I am not sure about digging all of these up. Can’t we just cut them way back until they are small again? And, that is when I began to cry. Now, it is a little hypocritical on both our parts, because we wanted to sell this house for a cool piece of property on the lake, and I am not sure we would not give in and do it if the right offer came along. But, today, I was taken back to a week 11 years ago, when everything was smaller then. We were all together, digging in a new yard, and wondering how everything was going to turn out. Eleven years ago! it seems like yesterday. Time has gone by so fast. My sweet husband gave me a huge smile and said, I think maybe we should just cut them back some and leave them there. Good answer. We may not have things as they were, but we have wonderful memories of times, kids, and plants that have grown way to fast.
I guess I am a little sad today, so writing seems to be my best outlet. Our daughter’s friend is facing a life and death situation with her husband. It started suddenly with him having some strange moments, that led to a brain tumor and now to a coma. It happened quickly, no reasoning, no history, just a sudden action that could possibly change a family forever. During my prayer time, I began to remember things and events from the past. I tend to keep memories alive in my mind, they comfort me in times like this. We attended a very small church when our children were small. It may have had 40 members tops. Mostly elderly folks attended, but I will never trade that experience or time in our lives. Because that is where our children were prayed over by those loving prayer warriors. I believe that the favor they have today with God, is directly the result of that prayer time. We had a dear saint, Brother Haney. He and his wife were wonderful loving people. And, they both adored our children. Brother Haney was feeble, but he sat at the front of the church and taped every single service so that he could share tapes with shut ins, or those that missed a service. That was his ministry, he would say. He always carried candy in his pocket for everyone, and although he was hearing impaired, he and Jonathan had many long conversations. Each Sunday, right after service, Jonathan (maybe five at the time), would make a bee line for Brother Haney. We would patiently wait until they were finished, and our cue was a big hug to each other, and a handful of candy. We usually heard about something funny Brother Haney had shared in the car ride home, and Jonathan would always say….”I sure do love Brodder Haney,” (that’s what he called him). We lost Brother Haney one evening due to an aneurism. It was a shock to all of us. And the worst part was trying to figure out how to tell a little five year old that his best buddy wouldn’t be at church anymore. Bruce and I prayed for wisdom, and since the children were small we weren’t sure about taking them to the visitation or the service. You wrestle with this when you are trying to spare your child from heartache. And although we understood, and knew that Brother Haney had gone to be with the Lord, we were not sure the children would understand. The decision was made, and we went to the viewing. I remember having the florist give us to white doves, along with the flowers that would be later sent. The place was full of visitors when we arrived, but Sister Haney spotted us and came right over, the children received their big hugs, and they gave her the beautiful doves. I was so nervous, that since they were little they would do something even after much preparation in the car ride over, but she put her arm around my shoulder and said, let me take Jonathan with me. We followed behind, and were soon at the casket where are dear friend lay. Sister Haney stood their with Jonathan, and then he moved in closer and got on his tip toes and peered into the casket towards Brother Haney’s ear. Standing there a few moments just looking, he finally said “Hi Brodder Haney, this is Jonathan. I love you, and you look real nice in your new suit. Don’t worry about the candy this time, I know you are in heaven.” I think everyone was silent, when they witnessed this little fellow saying goodbye to his friend. I can still see it today. It wasn’t until after we were headed home, that some tears flowed. But there was assurance that even though we were worlds apart now, Heaven was just a breath away. We don’t understand death, or suffering. But, we do know that every day we must live our lives to the fullest, make a difference, love each other, and know that we have hope that we will see those we love later on in God’s time if we live our lives for him. A little child with a calm keen awareness that his friend was gone, taught us a lesson that day about how simple it is to know that we have hope, and that there is just a thin line between earth and Heaven.