Category Archives: WAR

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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GOD BLESS AMERICA


In honor of Memorial Day I must say thank you to all of the brave men ans women who have served to protect us all. Those who joined up or obeyed the draft…you all are HERO’s.

I don’t know how my heart would contain the pain to see my boys be drafted….or even join, as a mother I would assume it would be awful.

My Mom had to let go of her only son years ago. He signed up for the Vietnam War back in ’68/69 and it was awful for her as well. Thankfully he came back to us safe and sound only to be a career ARMY guy, climbing the ranks to Lt. Colonel(I think that was his rank at retiring? (bad sister!)) HE was a hero to me, his kid sister and on this day when we set aside life and remember……

Jim-brother
Tom- nephew
J W- nephew

I say thank you to him.

The coolest of all ARMY dudes! Jim Mcknight!

Happy Memorial Day ya’ll!

GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Daddy- James W McKnight

ALSO, lest I forget….My Daddy-James Mcknight, Sr. Korean War

Nephew- James Mcknight, III-Coast Guard

Nephew- Tom Mcknight- ARMY

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GOD BLESS AMERICA


In honor of Memorial Day I must say thank you to all of the brave men ans women who have served to protect us all. Those who joined up or obeyed the draft…you all are HERO’s.

I don’t know how my heart would contain the pain to see my boys be drafted….or even join, as a mother I would assume it would be awful.

My Mom had to let go of her only son years ago. He signed up for the Vietnam War back in ’68/69 and it was awful for her as well. Thankfully he came back to us safe and sound only to be a career ARMY guy, climbing the ranks to Lt. Colonel(I think that was his rank at retiring? (bad sister!)) HE was a hero to me, his kid sister and on this day when we set aside life and remember……

Jim-brother
Tom- nephew
J W- nephew

I say thank you to him.

The coolest of all ARMY dudes! Jim Mcknight!

Happy Memorial Day ya’ll!

GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Daddy- James W McKnight

ALSO, lest I forget….My Daddy-James Mcknight, Sr. Korean War

Nephew- James Mcknight, III-Coast Guard

Nephew- Tom Mcknight- ARMY

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Is this what is has come to?


In my effort to be a good daughter, which by the way, I fail most days…..I went over to my Mom’s this afternoon for a visit. To my joy my sister was there, also and they were in one of their usual Scrabble games. My joy was big because it is easier to be there when she is there too. It is painfully hard to visit with my Mom and it is shameful that I even say this thing. This thing that she would...”jerk a knot in me!” for even saying. My Momma, of before  Alzheimer’s,would have scolded me for such an attitude…but now she is a mere shade of her old self.

It isn’t only the Alzheimer’s to contend with but he is…. hard-a-hearin’ too, as the old folks used to call it. If I am not close by and looking at her straight on she is clueless to what I am saying. This brings up another frustrating subject. About the time my Mom started showing signs of the Alzheimer’s, my sister took her and paid for her a set of hearing aids. Sweetest thing in this world BUT….as I had guessed would happen (because I am younger and smarter!) my Mom would not even wear them! Ugh!

This of course has been a lesson in patience for my dear sister who was doing her best to love our Mom through this act of kindness. But to no avai….l she may have worn them once and no more….the cost was not cheap and at this point down the drain or still in the box, as it were. So during this visit it was me speaking, as loud as I could (and I have a big loud mouth…no comments please!) only to hear HUH????....augh!!!Jesus take the wheel!

The only good part was that every time…I would crack my sister up while saying something funny or smarmy under my breath as to not let my Mom hear me(because somehow she hears that stuff)….my sis would bust up laughing and so would I and our poor Mom siting there saying ……HUH! Bless her heart….in my sick mind it has become a sort of drinking game (without the alcohol!) for me to see how many times I can make my sister laugh after our mom says…HUH!

I am sure there is a special layer of Hell for people like me….and this will come back to haunt me when  I am eighty-three.  The conversation could not get more depressing though…(Mom)…”I have a knot on my head,…(sister) might be a mole?…..(ME)…I can call you Knot-head!…(Mom)……you would have to call me knot-face it’s on my face! Oh geez…the next time she brought it up (ten minutes later) the knot was on the other side of her head/face! Is this what it has come too? Sitting around talking about all the aches and pains we have and to top it off….. also she informed us we need to do sit ups as to lose the weight around our middles and then showed us how!….. for which my response was….”I think sit-ups are out of style now!”

I can honestly say that if what goes around comes around and I know it does (I am living proof) then good luck kids…all four of you can flip a coin to see who is stuck coming to see me on Sunday afternoon! Please know that I don’t blame you a bit….I know how you feel. What is the big deal about getting old? The big deal is we want things to stay the same…some things like our Momma’s. I want chicken and dumplins’ and chocolate pie like she can only make. That I will never get again…..bummer!I want to be able to tell her all my woes and her listen.

So to my crew….I will be with you in my heart…even if you don’t realize it and I have to say I know my Mom would be the first to gripe if this was her Mom…..actually I think she did, less than me of course because I am way more sarcastic than her….like I said, special layer of Hell waiting on me…..ouch!

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Senior Citizens aka old folks


Today I was on my way home from my Mom’s house, after enjoying the little time with her while she still remembers me, walking her yard and looking at all her many flowers. I have commented before how she is this amazing ‘flower-whisperer’ — and I do wish that was the gift that she had given me — but, NO! I do love them as much as her but the ability to stick a lone seed in the rough dirt and grow an abundance of beautiful flowers … well that gene must have skipped me! Try as I might I only have about a tenth of her success … probably because of the dirt and rain and sun, no help from me!Image It is something that causes me to marvel at her ability to get up everyday and do her chores and at eighty-three it is a blessing she still can.

This brings me to the … on the way home part! I pulled up to a stop light in the rural part of two towns that are seemingly conjoined and I spied an old man, sitting in an old school wheel chair out near the road, pulling a pretty good size tree limb as best he could. Backing up, scooting his feet backwards, hauling that dead tree limb across his yard! With each little scoot of his heel in that kind-of-high grass, he pulled with his one good arm, the other looked paralyzed, but with all he could , he was clearing his yard of debris. It seemed impossible for the wheels to turn very well and it made me tired just watching him.

So as I sat there at thisImage traffic light, in my nice car with air conditioning, a body that is without any known conditions (I am usually holding out hope for a reason for my “out-of-shaped-ness”) (besides the obvious! which is my point) and I am humbled by him. I watched him and he watched me, or I felt like he was … guilt I am sure! He had on dark glasses and what appeared to be not so many teeth and it reminded me of my own dear grandfather.

He suffered a stroke several years before he died and he would not let that get him down. Papa Maxwell was a strong man, lived a hard life but took care of his wife and six (ugh!) kids the best he could. He was my Mom’s Daddy and she loved him more than anyone else, probably even more than us kids if the truth be known. When he suffered his stroke it took a bit for him to get his bearings but it wasn’t long before he was up and going. He had a riding lawnmower that he rode all over his yard and property. He even rode it up and down that old country road … everyone knew to watch for him. He was not going to be that old guy who sat in a chair and died. He was tough and he kept on keeping on until he couldn’t anymore.

Eventually he asked to be Baptized. If I remember correctly, Papa Maxwell never went to church very much .. .or ever. My Granny did, every time the doors were open but I don’t think he did (my family may correct me if needed). But at this point in his life he felt the need to do the thing he knew to do. Makes me wonder if my Granny had ever nagged him about it? Stupid question I guess, she was a wife!

My theology tells me that Baptism isn’t salvation, we must make a conscious decision in our hearts to accept Christ then be born again. Then, as a sign of what has happened on the inside we are baptized as a public confession of our faith.

I never knew if anything ever happened in that order with my papa. I wouldn’t have understood any of it back then anyway and, if he had spoken, it would have been (because of his stroke he couldn’t really speak real words) a cuss word, which he did speak, not one of the big ones, only the same one over and over.

This always cracked me up. Somewhere in my crazy mind I think if I couldn’t speak but a tiny bit, a cuss word would come in handy and I would worry about etiquette later! But, I do know one thing … GOD saw his heart and HE knew what my Papa wanted to do and say in the bowing in reverence through this baptism. And I believe HE honored him in that and my Papa is there with him now.

What does that do to my so-called theology? I don’t know but I believe it anyway!

My Papa worked hard his whole life and was good to every one. He was a fair and just man, not perfect but a good man all the same. SO, when I saw this poor old man today it reminded me first to pray for him, that if he needs help someone will come to his aid. Also, to get up off my keester and make something of my self.

Truth be known, even if someone had stopped to help that old man he probably would have said NO! That’s the way old people are. They don’t make them that way anymore. I am glad that I am old enough to know folks who are that way. I am still humbled by the older generation and the fortitude and character they have. If I could relay this to my own kids I would be a happy momma!

Lord, bless that old man and all senior citizens. They have a right to be crabby — they’ve been pulling us all along for generations!

Flower Whisperer


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Today I found myself amazed once again by the ability of my Mom in the area of flower growing. My whole life she has had a green thumb. In reality I think she has green all the way to her elbows! She is the flower whisperer!
I have to admit I have always been jealous of her for this one, it appears she doesn’t even try….not even the look of wonder on her face! Will they grow….will each one of those seeds actually bloom? Never a question in her mind……HOW DOES SHE DO IT?!!!!!
So annoying! I have killed more plants than she has grown….yet I keep on trying, every year, over and over. Only to see a few of them actually survive. I think one clue is patience….which pretty much explains it. This is the missing gene in me and the same reason I can not keep from burning cookies and bread in the oven. I walk away, impatient….ugh!
Working in her garden is like her Zen, her place of peace. Pulling weeds, planting rose bushes, Marigolds and zinnias all of which grow bountifully. This is her special joy and at this time in her life when her thoughts are fleeting as soon as she thinks them, this gardening is still with her feeding her soul.
Thanks for the heritage you are leaving me, I too adore flowers and I never think it a waste to buy fresh-cut flowers for someone. Maybe she will leave this gift to me, somehow the gene I was born without may stir up in me. And maybe that flower whisperer power will jump on me. I fear it won’t though since my oldest sister seems to have gotten it! Bummer!

Soothes MY Soul


Today I spent some time at my Mom’s. It was later in the afternoon and I was getting a feeling for nap time! Mostly because her house is always warm, well to be honest it is HOT! But that is to be expected, she is elderly. I can’t believe I just called her that. Never in all my born days have I thought of my mom as elderly. She never has been until now. Truth be known, if she knew I called her that she would probably skin me alive!

I wish that she could know. I wish she was the same, quick to set things straight, lady I have always known. She is but a shadow of her former self. Her mind has retreated in so many ways and her momentary memory is all that is left. Thankfully she is in good health otherwise, for which I am so thankful, it would be more sorrowful if not. Even so, she is sweet and kindhearted now, two adjectives I would have thought of her in the past, just not as obvious. She was always a good woman, strong and forthright. But she wasn’t much drama, pretty much just a straight shooter. “Just the facts!” (I must be more like my Dad…all drama!)

The time I spend with her now is hard and taxing. The crazy part is that it has gotten hard for me just in the last few months. Before I was able to take it in stride, dealt with it pretty good before, and I even felt pretty proud of myself and felt the need to help my sisters wrap their heads around this disease. Pretty smug considering now it is a struggle for me. I am not sure why, maybe because the amount of loss we have had lately. Losing my sister-in-law to cancer last year took a toll on me I know.

Daily I miss her. Daily I search my mind for remnants of her. I still have the last four voice mails on my cell phone she sent me. I listen to them often as well as the last stream of texts. She was reminding me to be careful on the cruise we were about to board with all the mishaps, husbands and wives falling overboard and all. I think she had an over and under bet on me and her brother and if you knew her and us that would be believable. We constantly ragged her poor brother about everything — not that he ever knew it! It was our own little world. Her being his OLDER sister made for plenty of wars. He was pretty obnoxious I am sure as any little brother can be. I think their mom would make her take him on dates with her and her boyfriends! Recipe for murder I say!! SO who could blame them for their lack of warm fuzzies about each other! She would describe the little boy and I would defend the grown up man — a never-ending test of wills. I eventually won that battle and she agreed. She loved him despite herself which is the best ending of all.

I often remember the crazy conversations we had. One minute we would be deciding on what to cook our crews for supper and then without skipping a beat go into a story of our many yard sale adventures and my search EVERY TIME for a bathroom. YES, I did ask people to use theirs. She would go hide in the car, humiliated yet laughing her a#& off! (only word that can be used there, it is a Bible word, by the way! Just in case, forgive me Lord!) It would almost be a dare and the funny thing was people would let me. She would say she couldn’t believe I had the nerve to ask and I would say I couldn’t believe they would be so dumb to let me!! Me a stranger, though my only agenda was to potty and not have to leave such a good sale to drive a gazillion miles to a gas station. As a side bonus I did get to see some pretty cool houses! We were also famous for dragging home old furniture from the curbs….good times! The best of times and had I known they would be over so soon….whew makes me tear up again.

So when I go to my Mom’s house I guess I am realizing that the time will come when I will have to say good-bye to her. It is all so “in your face” this slow death. It is a fact of life that is a bitter pill. Not for the one who dies but for those of us left behind. I know where my sister-in-law is and I know she wouldn’t come back if given the choice but, still so very hard. Today her son made a funny (to me) comment on Facebook about a driver in front of him and I belly laughed because it was HER spit out! She, like me, was a verbal driver and had no patience for ignoramuses who pretend to know how to drive and when I read his comment it was hysterical.

Things like that give me comfort…maybe I am the only one, but when I hear or see something that reminds me of someone I love it is soothing to my soul. Her children do arise and call her blessed and every time I see a red bird — Cardinal — I am reminded of my Mom, though she doesn’t remember know that she used to love to see them. I do and it soothes my soul. I too will arise and call her blessed.

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Flower Whisperer


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Today I found myself amazed once again by the ability of my Mom in the area of flower growing. My whole life she has had a green thumb. In reality I think she has green all the way to her elbows! She IS the flower whisperer!
I have to admit I have always been jealous of her for this one, it appears she doesn’t even try….not even the look of wonder on her face! Will they grow?….will each one of those seeds actually bloom? Never a question in her mind……HOW DOES SHE DO IT?!!!!!
So annoying! I have killed more plants than she has grown….yet I keep on trying, every year, over and over. To see only a few of them actually survive. I think one clue is patience….which pretty much explains it. This is the missing gene in me and the same reason I can not keep from burning cookies and bread in the oven. I walk away, get bored. My children are the ones who bake cookies, they don’t even want me to try!
Working in her flowers is like my Mom’s peace, she loves her time in her yard and proof is in the puddin’ so to speak. She can simply drop a few seeds in the ground and poof! Beautiful every time versus ME! Just like I watch her make chicken and dumplins’, a southern staple, looks easy enough but, NO I am unable to do it! She has the touch!
She doesn’t cook much anymore, gone are the days of homemade chocolate pies, dumplings and biscuits. But she still has her gardening. Though her mind has bailed on her, the very thoughts are fleeting as soon as she thinks them but there she is pulling weeds and planting Zenias, marigolds and rose bushes that will be pretty as a picture every time.
This gives her joy and that is a good thing, that flower whisperer Momma of mine!

Significance


There are many people who seem to fall thru the cracks. They are ones who may or may not have the hope or where with all to feel they can make a difference in the world. Many have been the ones who have carried the burden for the rest of us, the “work horse” that is stedfast to set their face like a flint and keep on keeping on. I have known many people who fall into this category over the years and it has been a great blessing to call them my friends. One such person has been a blessing to me my whole life and is my closest sibling to me, my dear sister Janice. She was born third and as a rule in the birth order theory, the third child tends to be the one who hangs out and easy going, never making a fuss and usually compliant to everyone. Sometimes even when it isn’t the best thing for them, they are humble and quiet in nature. My big sister is all these and more. She has always been the trustworthy one, faithful to always help us out with her time or her extra money. Never did I leave the house without her making sure I had a little bit of ” mad money” or phone call money( this pre-dates cell phones! )She was my nurturer, my teacher and my best friend. She was stuck sharing a double bed with me my first ten years of my life. Bless her heart! I could always count on her to be there for me….. She was a significant part of my life, she still is! Today is her birthday…..she was born in Munich, Germany when our Dad was stationed there in the Korean War. One day I called her a Nazi…..okay I was a little kid, don’t judge, I grew out of that stage especially since she pounded me for it! Ya live and learn! She spent her life following in the shadow of our big brother and sister who were stand outs on their own being first and second, she was quiet and stayed under the radar. Always keeping tabs on her rotten little sister though ……she was my rock. My own third child was a boy and he too has the same personality, he’s as solid as they come and like her he is an avid reader. A regular bookworm…both of them, living the high life vicariously through the books they so love. My sisters love for books is her most memorable trait for me, if the chores were finished you could always find her with her nose in a book. She is the one who encouraged me to love reading and introduced me to the great C.S.Lewis, Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe as well as the stories of The Bible. When I would ask why we had Easter or other Holiday’s it was her who showed me in the Word. My sister was and is my friend and when I needed a level head to council me she was the one. My other sister who was a standout in my world also was the one I turned to when I wanted to get away with my many shenanigan’s, we are way too much alike! Usually partners in crime! It was a balanced life and I have always needed them both. At this time in the Birthday girls life she is the caretaker of our Mom who has been dealt an awful lot….Alzheimer’s. She has loved our Mom with compassion and respect and does her best to give her the best life possible, endures the daily heartbreaks of loss of moms memory and the constant stress of the obligation. Even the literal ” heat wave” she endures because of moms need to stay warm, a common need of the elderly. I honor my sister…JC (Janice Carol) but my favorite nickname for her was , January which our Uncle, Mr Miller ( I don’t think I ever knew his first name, how funny!) named her. She always gave a big smile when he called her that…I think it made her feel special if just for a minute….significant and that is the best thing of all. My sister’s life is significant….she has significance at least to me. I know she is significant to our mom and to her only daughter but most of all she is significant to GOD. He made her special if for no other reason but to be there for me…yes I think I am that special! I love you my sissy.,,.including the times you have had to correct me and those have been many, but more often you gave me courage and strength to go on and get busy. You will always be Lucy…peering into the Wardrobe showing me a whole new land to explore, thank you for that gift. Happy Birthday sweet one!

Forget Me Knots


When I was a little girl growing up on my beloved farm, the world was wide open. The days were long and there were more dreams than thoughts that ran through my pretty little head. I had no realization that there were ever going to be tragedies or failures or any days of sadness. Probably the first of many dark days was when we moved from this farm of mine. I should say that my parents pending divorce was the worst, but for me the result was worse….I had to leave my daisy fields and apple orchard along with our precious pet cows, Tad and Sad! I don’t even want to think about what happened to them. I shutter at the thought! As a girl of ten, these were scary times…..1969! The Viet Nam War was going strong and my only big brother was headed straight towards it. His choice…left home to join up….didn’t even wait to be drafted, for him staying home was worse. Poor guy. The world was changing and my world would never be the same. My memories of those times are precious to me and it is my most valuable possession. Most days it is easier to remember those days than what I did yesterday. Can I get a witness on that? Amen! The frightening thing for me is that I now have a family history of being forgetful…..one that makes this absent-mindedness a symptom rather than a …….oops! This has been a sad development for my siblings and I with our mother being the one who is losing herself day by day. She has been the strongest woman example in my life….she endured years of abuse in a love/hate marriage filled with drugs and alcohol and an eventual resulting divorce…..a need to protect her children which followed with days, weeks, months and years of working three jobs just to give us a descent life. By the time I was seventeen she had an offer to work in Alaska of all places on the North Slope at the Oil Company pipeline Housing Compound, once again leaving me feeling lost. But because we are a tough brood of girls I survived as well as her for the long nine years. She did return back home only to retire from two more jobs after her Oil Company job. She is a determined hard-working dame and always has been; has always had to be, she was the oldest girl of six kids growing up in a hard time. But now in this winter of her life she is battling the greatest enemy for any person, especially one so opinionated and strong-willed. The frustrating thing for us is that she isn’t always present in her mind. In a moment of discussing a beautiful orchid she has on her table and how much she loves the flower…… then only within five minutes she will ask about it again and so on and so on. Most days I am able to roll with it and I tend to change-up on my responses each time I am asked….”yes Mom it is beautiful….oh, isn’t it pretty…..and ..oh! that is so pretty!” Whatever it takes to get through the night…I say. I am being silly but at this time in our lives it is the best medicine, laughter that is! On the flip side, my mom can remember everything from she was a girl. She spends hour telling me about growing up in the mountains, Sherwood, Tn and being the oldest girl. There aren’t many funny memories but mostly ones of her mother and how she was sometimes hard on her. I try to reason with her and explain that is the way it is in families, even in ours, my sisters had to start dinner and do the dishes and clean house and all those chores that come with a family. It is not strange at all and when I “forget” for a moment that I can’t reason with her now…..oh geeez…now I have upset her! The good side of this disease is that in a few minutes she doesn’t even remember it……Sadly. I do miss my “in your face” discussions we would have…politics, religion….well that was it. I seem to bring out the best in her on those subjects because we were polar opposites. Oh I would love to have a fuss with her right about now……at least she has her memories and it turns out they are our most valuable possessions. Alzheimer’s is an unforgiving disease, it is a savage beast and I am forever aware of the possibility that it may be my future. I hope that I can handle it with as much grace as she has and my prayer is that she is able to take comfort in the memories that she does have. If the day come’s that she can’t recognize me I will take her a bouquet of Forget-me-knots and hold her hand and love her just the way she is.