Time flies…… a good day for a wedding!


Way back when I was just a little girl, time was slow, really slow and steady. The thirty plus days between Thanksgiving  until Christmas were more like thirty months  and if the school year was any longer and summer break was any shorter then we would be in school full time! This is from the perspective of a child which I have found is the exact opposite when you become….middle aged. That being said, when the children that you watch be born and grow up, that are not your own seem to leap to adulthood in like a week, it makes one painfully aware that time does not stand still…it do fly!

This weekend we are a part of a wedding back in East Tennessee, the preacherman will unite in marriage a grown man and  a little girl who was just a little runt a few years back! How did this happen! I blinked. She is also a twin….a twin that although I have known them from birth…I still call…twins, as in not their real names…..because lets be real, they are twins and for the life of me I could never tell you which was which…ever…..! I mean put name tags on them, dress them differently it did not matter, I never really knew. This is not for lack of trying I was around them all the time. Their Dad is my husbands best friend and his wife is my best friend, we have a history yet I was lost. I did try, my kids knew which was which but not me.

They were always the twins, scary little mystery girls that I was never sure about what they were up to. Twins are a special secret club, they have a language…a underlying knowing that is a little creepy. I never felt like I could ever get the upper hand, even me an adult, I felt as if those two heads put together would always out smart me….and I was right! I have spent a lot of time with them in many situations and they were equipped with this sly grin that reminded me to be on my guard. My own sweet little daughter was one of their dear little friends…she always knew which was which….and she always came home a little wiser, sitting under the tutelage of these two masterminds. They have  extra jolt of energy and mischief than other kids, always up for fun and anything that is exciting.

They are for sure a rare breed and as time does fly, they are all grown up. One of them, Amber has already been in the Army and served our Country (thank you for your service Amber!) and now finished school and knocking it out of the park with a great career! The other one, Aubrey is  walking down the aisle tomorrow, she also has finished school and began her own successful career, raising a beautiful little boy and has found her one true love. This little girl has before our very eyes…grown up, along with her twin and her oldest sister, Ariel and her little brother, Lee. The original Ellis brood. There is a baby brother, thrown in for good measure, the extra blessing, Jeremy. I think they had to “one-up” us, WE…. Praise the Lord stopped with four kids!

These “kids” are making lives for themselves, I am proud of them and the job their Dad and Cheryl did with them…..they say it takes a village to raise kids these days, I would like to think that I had a tiny piece of influence…maybe. If nothing else I hope they see Gods grace and commitment to Him which is the only way to survive the flying of Time and the ups and downs of marriage especially. Congratulations Sweet Aubrey on the day of your marriage ceremony and I pray for many years of love and laughter. They are equal parts that are needed….but that is how you were raised so I’m not worried. Best wishes on your special day, Aubs….or is it Amber?

Much love from all of Us “indoor people”who love you!

 

 

Hands extended


My Mom looks at her hands constantly….she touches them, rubs and worries over them, she will even comment that her hands look so bad. I beg to differ with her…I consider them the strong symbols for a life lived, proof of her endurance.

wpid-photo-2.jpgYet she, seems surprised by the look of them….I know why, it is a daily reminder of the days lived, her age can’t  be hidden from her hands. All the beauty products in the world can’t conceal the well worn years, lipstick and blush can paint in our youth but, our hands reveal our true self.

Now that she has been overcome by the perils of Alzheimer’s, her life has shifted, she no longer is …”I am woman, hear me roar!”, a pseudo strength that propelled her to raise kids and work after divorce when not everyone was so understanding of her independence…she is although, still somewhat the master of her domain even within the realm of her small world now, it is baffling and yet touching to see these hardworking hands lend comfort to her new friends.

She extends kind words and a soft touch, holding the hands of those precious souls who have her same disease, maybe a little farther gone but, still in need of a friend. I witness hands that once cooked great food and that held my hands across my life, now helpful in the lives of others. She is showing kindness and love and actually ministering there in this home where she lives. I asked her once about her relationship with God, she quickly set me straight….”……..how do you think I ever got through my life without trusting in God!!!!!!!!” Special emphasis on the exclamation marks….she set me in my place! I will forever have hope that was her testimony and now her hands are His hands extended there in her world.

Although she frets the aged-ness revealed in her hands, I enjoy the touch of her gentle hands, the mother’s love that I long for, for which i felt I didn’t always get as much as I wanted, I am blessed to receive now. I find myself noticing my hands more, a few age spots….dang Sun worship.…now I know why Southern Belles wore those cute white gloves….should have thought that one out…oops. I am learning how important it is to connect with people, be present at the moment, especially now when the few moments I get to sit with her are running low.

Life is a gift…..our parents are gifts…..our children and grandchildren are our joy…..Life goes full circle. (I feel like I am about to break out singing The Lion King …….and no one wants that to happen!!!!)
But, I will say one line from an old song…..”put your hand in the hand of man that stilled the water…” and in the hand of someone who needs it. Thanks Mom for holding mine….still.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Put_Your_Hand_in_the_Hand

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AGING, Alzheimer’ s and Angels


There is a major truth about life and that is, we all die. That being said, the process can be a painful especially when faced with a debilitating disease. This process is a reality to many people and a real life come to Jesus for those of us who are the ones forgotten. Well maybe not forgotten just….not remembered.

Everyday begins a repetitive exercise in futility…..not for the precious soul we have lost but for the caregivers. The chronic disease of Alzheimer s is the dark curse of the aged. It is an overwhelmingly diligent disease that never ceases, but only gains strength as the days pass. Those left to cope are nearly as lost, not knowing how to deal with the new person in front of them.

Aging is a part of life. This is played out before us all in nature as an example. A tree starts out a small sapling and grows into a mighty Oak with high branches and long roots. Trees can survive the passing of time unless lightening strikes or a hurricane wind causes destruction. We marvel at the results from the spectacle of ….…“an act of God!” But what about a disease, there is nothing to marvel at there.

The cruelest of diseases is the slow moving root rot or disease that moves in, undetected for a while. Not until a hollow trunk reveals the bitter truth. All is lost, time to cut down. This is the story of Alzheimer s. It is a sly, sneaky bitter disease that is hard to realize at first, but comes on like gangbusters when it’s revealed. The hollow shell of a person is the real result of this dark curse. This “rabbit hole” is not what it’s cracked up to be.

Why does this happen…..how could it be prevented….what did we do wrong? No answer will suffice. There are no answers….only questions. It is like a  depletion of marrow from the bones and not only the precious soul who has the disease but also for the caregivers. It is one of the hardest days on earth to hug your Mother and her politely smile and say “Welcome!”…as if you are a stranger….because you are.

The hollow eyes of our elderly parent are a somber realization of the frailty of life. It is a first person, in your face ……{dramatic pause}…who’s next? When confronted with that question it becomes more real than any of us want to know. This person who birthed me, raised me, has fought the good fight only to be left clueless. Sometimes I think she is the lucky one, not knowing, selfishly knowing is unsettling…..but this is life and aging.

imageMy Mom was never a overly sweet person. She was kind and pleasant and with a big beautiful smile, very personable, but not sugary sweet. That was ok, she was tough, she had to be. Most people liked her, she worked in the public her whole life, she was beautiful and a force. Since her disease has changed her, she is precious, sweet and kind with a bigger personality than before, but she still has a wit, one-liners that always crack me up. As we have watched her downward spiral into this hollowness I see her more like a Angel. Her hair is a beautiful white now, her eyes are weak but seem to stare straight into my soul.

Not being a big fan of the big Angel pseudo worship world, not loving all the figurines and paraphernalia, I still can’t help but see her in this light, a childlike innocence that enjoys every visit, every hug, every holding of her hand. She wasn’t overtly affectionate either, but now she is. I hug her every chance I get….I hug her and breathe in…. her soul into mine.

I wish she knew me, I wish I could lay my head in her lap and feel comforted, but this AGING process is just that, a process. She has aged, she has Alzheimer’ s and she is a Angel to be with. This road has been long and painful, my prayers are for mercy for her and to be honest for us, her three girls, who look after her now, with the help of a great group of caregivers at a beautiful home, where we are comforted she is getting the best care possible. This is not done without help and no one has sacrificed more than my sister she had lived with for eleven years. We all would have done the same for her, but she will and has been blessed for the time spent caring for this woman who impacted us all so much.

Sweet Marie has three young girls(as she calls us now), and  just today she told me she misses and  loves “them”, then she said “I know they love me!” It was music to my ears and joy for my heart. It is sweet to hear her talk about us in such a way, keeping back the tears is the hard part. She had warm and fuzzy feelings for us back in the day, I know that now, a gift to me, a blessing for this youngest daughter. The answer to a question I have asked God many times, such a sweet gift for which I am thankful.cropped-408838_3013208655831_1430990521_33175807_236533728_n.jpg

Who will be next, will it be me? I don’t know and with my memory I seem to be a good bet, but if it is me, I pray my soft side…..(I really do have one y’all! ….Really!!!) shows up and allows me to age with the dignity of this strong southern woman.

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…”how do you solve a problem like….”


One of my husbands, (yes, I am ratting him out!)… all time favorite movies is The Sound of Music!

The Sound of Music (film)
The Sound of Music (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For all the years I have known him, he has rallied all the kids around to watch it …ONCE AGAIN! at Easter time, only to be compared to the ritual of watching The Ten Commandments, (“…so let it be written, so let it be done!”). You have to be impressed with his loyalty and dedication! But, in the Sound of Music there are many, many songs to sing with (for which we(HE! DOES MOSTLY)do and lately without the whole family only  because the kids have gotten older and they choose not to endure our festivities….spoil sports!

Movie poster of The Ten Commandments.
Movie poster of The Ten Commandments. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my favorite songs is…..How do you solve a problem like Maria…lalala! This brings me to my point in writing today…(ya knew I would get there eventually, right?) And it is a stretch so hang in there….but….this song is one that reminds me of my beautiful Bethany. Tomorrow is her birthday and because I enjoy writing about my kids if only to completely humiliate them…..(paybacks rule!) here I am once again attempting to let her know how important she is to me.

Back to the song…it is about this NUN who is just a little too human for the rest of the NUNS which makes her perfect for God….. if you ask me. She is always getting into a pickle and causing a ruckus….full of opinions and speaking her peace! So goes part of the song…….

…..When I’m with her I’m confused
Out of focus and bemused
And I never know exactly where I am
Unpredictable as weather
She’s as flighty as a feather
She’s a darling! She’s a demon! She’s a lamb!

She’d outpester any pest
Drive a hornet from its nest
She could throw a whirling dervish out of whirl
She is gentle! She is wild!
She’s a riddle! She’s a child!
She’s a headache! She’s an angel!
She’s a girl!

Yep, that about explains it all! My Bethany is all that and more…I prayed earnestly for her, picked her out and described her to GOD. HE picks this one time to answer my prayer…exactly! He is cute like that…..and awesome and she is my only girl and for that she had to be something special!

Her birthdays come every year, like clock work, like us all and she would sell her soul for a white cake and white icing-STORE BOUGHT CAKE….for which is the worst ….I say…wedding cake kind is her fav! I have attempted to make my kids their cakes ,but the love is lost on this girlie….so I will give in and succumb to my loss of tradition…..she is just that worth it! No matter what goofiness or literal pain in the heart she can be, I adore this kid.

And so I have to respond with these lines from the song:

……Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her
Many a thing she ought to understand
But how do you make her stay
And listen to all you say
How do you keep a wave upon the sand

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?(BETHANY)
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

She is the heart of my heart and so much like me I feel sorry for her…..she has grown to side with her daddy WAY TOO MUCH which is disturbing when I am odd man out but never a day goes by that I don’t praise the Lord for her and her spirit. She keeps me praying and I know that her future is HUGE with all kinds of exciting twists and turns.

20120228-193313.jpg
….then (my favorite pic!)
307549_10151190120057592_1745377602_n
…now! (what a doll!)

Happy Birthday my sweet Bethany Rose!….a problem I will never solve because like Maria, even if those strict NUNS acted like they were mad…they loved her and like Maria, my Bethany  is a joy. You are never a problem and without you I would be lost….

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Life Dates


In my life of canvases and paint I usually really mess up a few and it can not be seen even by my family….as is this day…and in my need to cover up a horrible sight I ended up painting in a new direction for me…a collage of sorts with paint.

I love collages, especially word ones…I make a few from time to time…but I ended up painting one this time…for which as a painter, doing lettering is a bit dicey! But, here it is…all my family life dates, our marriage and birth dates and names…..ENJOY!!!!DSCN0664DSCN0663

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Tradition


This year my family traveled to visit our family for Thanksgiving in East Tennessee. This is never my first choice, to travel I mean, I am a home body as a rule and especially on a big holiday. I like to be the one doing the cooking. This year though, it worked out for us to go so we did.

My side of the family had a reunion a couple of weeks ago instead of the usual Thanksgiving celebration. We were blessed to have our precious Uncle Leon and Aunt Ornella as well as cousins John and Susan, which is always a special treat for us all. They have always lived far away so when they come home it is always a joy. My Aunt and Uncle are getting up in years and I have to catch myself when I hug them to not hug too hard because the thought always crosses my mind that this may be the last time. Morbid I know. Just trying to be prepared and enjoy them as long as I can.

It is not my intent, but I rarely get to see them and I just can’t bear the thought…..I as well feel this way about a lot of people in my life. We never know when this may be the last hug or laugh or words. Since my Mom has spent the last few years becoming less and less capable of knowing all of us, I am ever mindful of just how short life is.

Energizer Bunny

This became even more relevant to me yesterday during our visit to my mother in laws home. I don’t see here as often now and when I do, it is always shocking at the amount of “slowing down” she has done. If you had asked me if it ever would have happened I would have never believed it, she was the Energizer Bunny before the bunny was….she never knew how to rest, take it easy…..always doing something. Even at a time of relaxation, she would be embroidering.

I learned how to cook for the most part from her. When I married the preacherman and moved to his hometown and was thrust amongst all the good cookin’ church ladies and I was enlightened to the world of casseroles and some of the best in Southern cooking. I mastered the Thanksgiving Dinner from my mother in law, this was the first food of hers I had ever eaten….on a trip there with my room-mate(pre-marriage) to see University of Tennessee vs Vanderbilt. Reason number twenty-eight on why I went…got to see boyfriend and check out his hometown. Mission accomplished and some great food for us hungry college kids!

It was evident this week that she is slowing down, she was more frail and smaller…..just like my own Mom, although my Moms mind is failing her, my Mom in law is still pretty sharp. It is just her body that is tuckering out. But I swear if she still wont hardly let me help her….frustrating. What is it about the

English: at 955 Airport Boulevard, near , in .
English: at 955 Airport Boulevard, near , in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

elderly that makes them not stop or rather allow us to help. I hope I will be different, I hope I allow my kids to do all they can……or maybe that is how I feel now, sorry kids!

We had our lunch at a local, very popular restaurant, The Cracker Barrel. I was amazed at the amount of people who ate out for their Traditional Thanksgiving meal.  Do people not cook anymore? The over whelming part also was the amount of elderly people. I know this restaurant is a favorite of

the elderly as well as the Hardee’s breakfast, but it seemed there was mostly older folks. It actually made me sad and wonder…..where are all the children that go with these people. Did they choose to not be there with the Moms and Dads or maybe just like us went to the other side of the families dinner. I don’t know, it just seemed like of all the people there, ninety percent of them were older.

Maybe they have just “been there done that”, cooked the big meals, had the big house destroying family get together’s, broke the bank on all the pretty foods and accessories……maybe they are happy going out to eat and just driving home, in peace and quiet. I just don’t know. I think I was the only one who even cared, probably because two of my brood were not with us, I missed them and I missed not cooking for them all. My romantic view of life tends to get the best of me when I miss my kids.

On a side note: …..I also do not even want to obsess over the amount of people who play with those little wooden games with the golf tees that are on every table; the ones that have been scattered on the floor a zillion times and put back on the table and never disinfected. Then, while I watched people over and over touch those germ laced games and then pick up their fresh hot biscuits and jelly and eat them with the same dirty fingers……ugh, STOP!   STOP I would think, yelling in my head…..then I notice my own people doing the same thing….just as I had also done before…..ewe, wish I had not remembered that part…….I must have been tired, obsessing about all that. Some days it just doesn’t help to think so much!

So in the end, I chose pork chops for my special holiday meal….seemed to be a good choice, it had to be made fresh and it was good… unlike the big piles of turkey and vats of gravy and pans of mashed potatoes that have been made for hours …there I go obsessing again! I also knew I had a great home cooked meal waiting for me in a few hours when we traveled back home at my own Mom and sisters house. Happy to report is was awesome!

Thanksgiving deems to be getting squished out with all the shopping deals….I have never shopped on this day, truthfully, I have never had a large supply of money to do shopping with and I am also pretty protective of sleep and I have large crows issues…someone always gets trampled…..it ain’t gonna be me, sista! I have great Thanksgiving memories….a day for slowing down, a long weekend, throwing a football. Watching the parades and dreaming of living in New York……oh to be a kid again, the truth is my days are numbered and I know it. Soon I too will be enjoying my meals where everyone knows my name…..not CHEERS!…but my local Cracker Barrel!

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The lonesome year…….in Honor of my friend


In a few short days the one year anniversary of the death of one of my closest friends will be upon me. She was more than a friend, she was my preacher man husbands sister. From the first time I met her I made it my goal to win her over…..since I have two sisters of my own, I know girls and I knew pretty quick she was a contender.

She was a few years older than my preacher man which was fine until I realized she was my age. I am older also than him……which was not a problem…he was taller!(the logic I had back then!!) To him though, she was the dreaded big sister…and that was pretty much their relationship. This was going to be an uphill battle.

But, it turned out that it was pretty smooth. Me being a person who always wanted to be liked and her need to be the boss of him (not really, but she was already the enemy and I was soon becoming a traitor!)I think in his eyes at least I was on treacherous ground. It was understandable since in ALL families the kids are some days on the same side and on other days mortal enemies. Nothing so shocking about that. I am from a family of four kids…and we had four kids…….drama times four!

We did become fast friends and spent the next nearly thirty years, raising our kids, talking on the phone every day(thank you Lord for the invention of call waiting, that was about the death of me)since to get through the day we had long conversations about anything from baby rashes to the world news and everything in-between. Some days we would venture out of the house to tour the local Wal-Mart or fast food kid meals and playgrounds. Yep we had a big life….oh me!

Our families would hang out and we would cook great suppers and play cards and visit and compare our husbands. The rub was that mine was her baby brother….like I said treacherous grounds. But with many good and bad days…fights and fusses….prayers and intercession we were tight. Our lives were inter-twinned. She was my people….. my sister just as much as my two blood sisters and in the adult time of my life I was with her more.

So after one year with out her I can honestly say it has been hard. It wasn’t fair…we didn’t have enough time. There wasn’t enough time for her to spend with her grande babies. No one loved babies more than her. Where I liked only my kids…mostly, she loved to play with all babies(weird!) but sweet of her. Those grand babies were her heart after her two boys who were her pride and joy. She loved her boys and she was such a better sports mother than me….she was at every event, no matter the distance. In my defense…three kids on three different fields…..exhausting!

I could tell funny stories for days about our adventures, we were a cross between Lucy and Ethel and Laverne and Shirley; many stories are too unmentionable(funny as well as gross!) but most of them were silly, just like we were. We have shopped on the curbs of the finest homes(they leave their “junk” out there to be picked up)(we were recyclers before it was cool)and did every craft that was in style. She would call and say…”you up Ethel?…..lets go eat breakfast after the kids go to school” and we would go….pony tails and sweat pants, we didn’t care.

My loss is in no way anything like that of her husband and boys, but it is my pain. I had the best friend for a time…we were brutal on each other as well as full of love. This has been a lonesome year for me. I cherish my friends and I cherish the time I had with her. I am not sad for her, she is healed and beautiful and happy and where she lived her life to go, in heaven worshiping her Savior. I would not want her to come back to the pain she felt before she passed. I know I will see her again.

So in tribute to her, I post her picture as my header for my blog. This is the place I share my heart and I wanted to honor her in some small way, my way. Jesus knows my pain and he has carried me through. We all have lost people in our lives, I am nothing special but this is my friend…my sister….so this is my way to honor her. If she was writing this she would say…don’t weep for me, give your heart to the Lord, follow HIM, He is the Way, Truth and the Life, He brings peace and he loves YOU!

This is what I say also……Jesus is the only way.

John 3:16
John 3:16 (Photo credit: Martin LaBar)
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