Monday, October 23, 2017

An Old, Familiar Face

My brothers and their families were coming over, this weekend, to celebrate my Mama's birthday.  I was busy getting the food ready and setting the tables while Davis vacuumed the den rug and took out the trash. It didn't take long for me to notice that our old dog, Sugar, was taking every step that I was taking. She was looking at me like she was needing some reassurance that something out of the ordinary wasn't about to happen.

I'm her person, you see. I'm the one she looks for when she's not too sure about something and I can read her like a book. We all love Sugar, of course, but I have the deepest bond with her, I'd say. So, I could almost hear her inner voice saying, "Why don't you just sit down in your chair, please, and I'll lie in my bed next to your chair and we can relax in our comfortable, predictable routine and just forget about this whole company thing!" I suppose when you're about 87 in dog years, you're at the point where you just want every day to be the same. No surprises. 

Well, she stayed on my heels as our house filled up with people, a few of which were children, Sugar's least favorite kind of people. Discomfort was written all over her face. She likes to do the exact same activities, every day. At the exact same time. With the exact same people around. Even something as small as putting up the Christmas tree and the minor furniture adjustments required for that is anxiety-inducing. Basically, any deviation from the norm causes Sugar distress.
I don't know how but she just seems to sense when something is about to go down. She knows when we're getting ready to go on a trip.......even days before we leave. She can tell when we're about to have company. She knows if we turn a different way in the car than we normally do.  The sight of luggage sends her into a depression. We even tried to replace her old, raggedy blanket, one time, but she found it behind the garbage can and, with great effort, pulled it out and all the way back to our door.      

Needless to say, she's had a hard time of it lately in her quest to live a predictable life.  We've been out of town a good bit. We were definitely running on a different schedule throughout the wedding season and our house was rearranged with gifts and extra furniture everywhere.  Now, I'm starting to work longer hours getting ready for Christmas. Things have just been a little topsy-turvy around here and she's not liked it in the least.       

As heart-tugging as it is to deal with Sugar's tight grip on a routine, I was thinking how we're all like my old, unbending dog to some degree. We kind of like things to be pretty consistent. We spend time making our little nests and getting all comfy and nestled deep down in the feathers of its familiarity. It's why we get the blues after Christmas. Why we have trouble when the kids go off to college. Why we have a hard time adjusting to retirement. Why we catch ourselves wanting to call someone who's died. Why we can't wait to sleep in our own beds no matter how wonderful the vacation is. We get used to something or comfortable with the way things are and change kind of throws us off.

The funny thing about life, though, is that it's constantly messing with our nests. Just about the time we settle into one stage of life, we have to adjust to a new reality.  People die. Friends move. Jobs change. Children grow up. Roles reverse. Life is constantly moving and, sometimes, we feel like an old dog who's frantically looking for a recognizable face who will sit with us in a familiar place and just curl up under the covers of the way it's always been. 

I guess I'm writing about this because, from where I stand, I've seen life throw a lot of unexpected curves at people, lately. There have been some unbelievably life changing, dream shattering, unwelcomed winds of change blowing through several families we know and know of.  Not to oversimplify or sound flippant, but it just came to me, as I held my Sugar during the party, that when big changes happen.....when our minds are spinning with anxiety and our hearts are racing with the fear of unwanted shifts that have come our way, I suppose, like my old dog, we look around for the face of the one who always offers us the most comfort. The face of the one who we know loves us more than all the others.  The face of the one that we can always count on to bend down in the chaos and reassure us.

I'd be willing to bet that we're all in the process of some kind of change. Some small. Some overwhelmingly large and crippling. Some we knew were coming. Some hitting us out of nowhere. Some we'll recover from quickly. Others will have us on our backs for a while. Some for which we've had a lifetime to prepare. Others, no one could ever be prepared to face. Whatever change we're in or adjusting to, there is a face that we can look for in the unfamiliar chaos.
 "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8 

No matter the change you're facing, stay on His heels and take every step He takes through the unknown. He knows exactly how you're feeling because He can read you like a book. His heart hurts for you because you are His.  He'll never forget you're there needing His reassurance. He'll never be too busy to hold you.   

Y'all have a good day!                  



Sunday, October 15, 2017

My Long-Awaited Friend, Fall

Well, I'm just feeling kinda like it's the night before Christmas.  After 5 1/2 grueling months of suffocating humidity, mosquito slapping, and heat that would drain anyone's will to live, there's finally going to be a cool down tomorrow. 

Yeah, I know. The first day of fall came and went, a while back, for most of y'all but, in the South, fall is just a fancy name for Summer, Part 2.  Sure, we've had a cool day, here and there, and a handful of pleasant mornings but this week promises to finally break the back of those dang upper 80's and lower 90's, once and for all. 

Let me put it to you like this.....for over 165 straight days, we've been sweating our patooties off down here and, for those of us who have little desire to attend the dress rehearsal for Hell, well, we grew tired of it about 164 days ago.  I promise you if 99.9% of the people that I love didn't live down here in this steam bath, I'd set out in search of a cooler climate. 
So, I have some new cosmetics that I haven't told you all about yet. I must preface that with a little bit about my background. I'm pretty sure I've told you that I grew up with two brothers. The one on the right tormented me and I, in turn, tormented the one on the left. The circle of life. Yeah, I grew up between these two. Whatever they played, I played. Wherever they went on their bikes, I went, too. (These pictures were taken at the wedding in an unusual sighting of them in suits. They generally don't look this fancy.)
So, needless to say, there wasn't a whole lot in the way of girly at our house unless you want to count bottles of Doe in Heat. As a result of growing up betwixt these two, cavemen, I've never been one to care to study makeup application and such as that.  Not that I don't like to look nice but I don't get too bogged down in the techniques and specifics of it. I don't watch YouTube makeup tutorials or read reviews about hair products. I mean, I want to look presentable but, please. (You can imagine my shock when I gave birth to the mother of all things girly.) 

Anyway, when we got to New Orleans before the wedding, I realized I had never gotten my wedding lipstick, so Blair was more than happy to go along with me to Dillard's to find what I needed.  A perky lady in a white coat seemed all too anxious to help me as she instructed me to sit in her chair near the illuminated mirrors. You know those ladies in the white coats whose faces are made up to perfection, who want to sell you all the little brushes and creams and foundations to make you look just like them? Well, Blair explained what I needed and the color of my dress and they began to talk between themselves like I wasn't even there. I felt like a kid being taken to the doctor....."this is what's wrong with her, what can you do for us" kind of thing.

They began throwing around words like matte, gloss, liner, and skin tone as they looked me over intently. The lady bounced over to the samples and then came back to apply a shade to my lips.  Of course, while she applied it, she commented on the dryness of my lips and that I might want to try one of their moisturizing products. I'm sure for another $65, she could've hooked me up with some of that, but we were on the eve of funding a wedding and so the $1 Chapstick near the Wal-Mart register would have to suffice. 

Anyway, she applied the first color and she and Blair both stepped back and cocked their heads to the side to analyze the lip color.  It was like they were looking at a painting at an art gallery as they discussed its warmness and its faintest hint of purple and how it really made my eyes pop.  To be sure, they cocked their heads the other way and both made approving noises.  After a little while of trying different shades and discussing the pros and cons of each, they decided that Pink Chocolate was definitely what I needed.  I was all ready to check out until Blair opened her mouth and told her I never wear lip liner despite her repeated efforts to convince me.  Well, that was like calling the lioness over to enjoy some fresh antelope. "You don't wear lip liner?" the white coat lady asked with a puzzled look.

Never in my life have I worn a lip liner.  What is the purpose of that anyway?  I wasn't sure, but they both seemed so adamant about the need for it in my life that I added it to my purchase.  I gave it all to the lady who did our makeup for the wedding, the next day, and it did look lovely with my dress, I must say.  But, now, I'm back home in the humble, little world in which I live which does not include a personal makeup artist and now I have this brand new lip liner, that cost me no telling what, which I have no idea how to apply. And I'd imagine it's something you don't want to get wrong.    

So, now that the wedding preparation frenzy is over, Davis and I can concentrate solely on Carson, our high school senior. You remember how it was when something big was going on in your sibling's life that consumed the family's time and attention and you were just sitting over there like, "um, hello, I'm still here....your other kid."  Well, that's what I've felt poor Carson has been like.....except that he's a boy and boys seem to prefer it that way. But, now, like it or not, we're all his and just look how excited he is about it.  Basketball season will start soon and other senior activities are cranking up and I'm sure he's praying another project or two will come along to give us other hobbies besides him.  He's not going to get rid of us that easy, though.           
So, I'm going to Atlanta for a couple of days.  I'll check in when I get back!
Y'all have a cool, brisk Monday!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Memories to Have and to Hold from this Day Forward

Well, the wedding is over.  And it was glorious. I've had several of you request pictures and a rundown of the day so I thought I'd do that today. Maybe share some special touches that the cameras didn't capture. With the couple's permission, of course, blogging about the special occasion will help me document it all for myself, too.  Of course, we don't have the real pictures back so I'm just going to use various pictures that people took.

I don't even know where to start.  As you know, Hurricane Nate was making his way up through the gulf about the time we were headed down to New Orleans for their wedding but besides a brief, light mist for a few minutes after the ceremony, it didn't affect us at all, so that was a big blessing from God.  It was actually a beautiful day near the Big Easy.

I'll just use pictures to tell the story from here. 

The wedding was at 6:30 but the day started early for the girls. Blair has the very sweetest friends and they tended to her every need from the very beginning. Steaming. Looking for things that were lost....which can be a problem for the bride, sometimes. Checking teeth for lipstick. Offering bathroom support with the 40 pounds of tulle skirting.  You know....things like that.  They have been sweet and precious friends in life and also in wedding-dom. 
Of course, what took so long was getting 11 women's hair and makeup done.  There was a hair chair and a makeup chair and girls cycled in and out of them from 9:00 to 3:45.  The beauty was already there, of course.  It just needed to be enhanced a little for pictures. When she asked for his preferences, the groom requested her hair down and not a ton of makeup so that's the look she went with. It was a good call.   
And I'm not sure there was anything that the maid of honor didn't think to take care of!  When I say she was on top of things, I mean she was.  She took a load off of my mind for sure!  What a good friend she's been to Blair.  She was even behind a tree taking pictures while Blair was getting engaged. She was her little sister in Phi Mu and always a sister in life. 
Then, we left for pictures. Some of these are from her bridal shoot and others are just pictures snapped while the photographer worked.  A couple of them are pictures of pictures so excuse the poor quality of some.
Handsome guys with my good looking boy on the right end.  Be still, my heart.
Hair and makeup complete.  Gorgeous girls.  Just gorgeous.
The bond between a mother and son is a strong and powerful one.
I don't know who planted those trees 350 years ago, but I'd like to thank them.
And Blair had the most beautiful register attendant ever!  Her sweet cousin, Jordan, carries a lot of experience in this area and it really showed.
Three generations of women. Can you tell who had to run the most mailboxes to fit into her dress?
First look.
My thoughtful sis-in-love, Teresa, made Blair and my mother wedding handkerchiefs from one of my Daddy's ivory colored shirts. What a beautiful way to hold him near on that special occasion.  There was a memory tree just for him in the reception.  I noticed Blair alone, at one point in the evening, looking at all of the pictures of her and her Grandpa.  I suppose she just wanted a moment to remember him on that special day and love on him in her heart.    
At about the time their pictures were starting, Blair had arranged for her Granny to be delivered a corsage and a bridal portrait. I think I've told you that Davis' mom is in a personal care home with advanced Alzheimer's disease.  She couldn't come to the wedding but Blair wanted to include her in the day as much as she could. We all love our sweet Granny.    
So after I tell you that Blair's bouquet was wrapped with a piece of my wedding dress....I have to tell you what kind of wonderful man has taken my daughter as his wife. He gave her so many thoughtful gifts before the wedding.  One was a locket to hang in her bouquet that held her Granny's picture inside.  Blair held her and her Grandpa close as she said her vows because, well, they're part of who she is. 
But, then......John Samuel gave her something that took my breath away so I can't imagine what it did to Blair.  I'd noticed that, in the last almost three years, that he's been coming to our house, I'd see him, from time to time, writing in a little notebook.  Having no idea what he was doing, sometimes, I'd casually ask if he was working on homework or something and he'd say he was just writing.  Little did she know that, for the last 3 years, he'd been writing love letters to her after special dates, or significant events, or just as love filled his heart on a normal, routine day.  On her wedding day, he gave her a book full of letters that he'd written to her through their dating years. 
Davis and I didn't know what kind of man she'd choose for herself, one day, but we could've never dreamed he'd have a heart as tender and sweet as John Samuel's.  Every parent's wish for their little girl.       
It was time for the wedding and it was just magical with the lighting and scenery and all the love.  I could've sat there all night and enjoyed the atmosphere.
On the arm of my precious son. 
Her Daddy walking her down the aisle.  This all affected him more than he thought.  He was sort of in a daze after the wedding.  A happy daze but a daze, nonetheless.

The ceremony was beautiful and officiated by my Uncle Raymon who married Davis and me......and all of the other people in our family for that matter.  No one does a more beautiful wedding....or funeral.....than he does.  It was a God-centered wedding ceremony witnessed by people who love them most. 
We couldn't imagine so many people coming to celebrate so far away from where most of us live but distance and an uncertain weather forecast kept very few away.  There were even guests who drove 9 hours to get there and back in one day.  Now, that will touch your heart down deep.  It's so wonderful to start your marriage basking in the love of family and friends. 
It was time for the second line to the reception.  We were just a bunch of Mississippi people trying to be all New Orleans-y but we sure had fun trying.  I looked back, at one point, and some of them had a look of "what the heck are we doing?"     

I wish I could post more pictures of everyone there but you'd get bored way before I was done.  I also wish I had a picture that captured the beauty of the reception, the second line parade, and the departure but I don't have any yet. 
Oh, and I can't forget Blair's Uncle Lee and Aunt Jenny who delivered her dress back to Birmingham so it can be cleaned and preserved to take its rightful place in a box under her bed for the next 30 years or so.
I do have one more quick story to share.  Davis and I had taken separate cars from the hotel to the wedding because we needed the extra space to haul everything back. So, we left the reception around 11:30 pm and I was driving back to the hotel by myself.  About 30 miles from New Orleans, I decided that I couldn't go another mile with that darn girdle on.  I had been cinched in since 2:30 and, according to my calculations, that was 9 hours too many. I don't know why I didn't think of it before I started the drive but I didn't.  The highway was pretty dark and desolate so I wasn't going to pull over.  So, I kicked the shoes off my feet, which had no skin left on them, at this point, and quickly unbuckled my seat belt so I could get a hand up into my dress to peel the dang thing off so that my kidneys could receive blood flow again.  I finally got hold of its waist band and started pulling.  Oh, in that straight dress, it was harder than I thought it would be. I finally worked it down and got it near my ankles and felt so much better.  I, then, had two choices.  I could leave it there.  Or I could go all the way with it.  Feeling it might impede my driving, I awkwardly leaned down to grab it and decided that if I went on to Glory trying to get my girdle off from around my ankles while driving, well, it'd be a worthy cause.  A story people would always remember, you know?          
We just all wanted the night to go on forever.  But, now, the carriage has turned back into a pumpkin for her parents and we go back to work tomorrow....maybe run to Wal-Mart......have something ordinary like meatloaf and green beans for supper. It will be an adjustment.  It's just not every day that we wear fake eyelashes, tease our hair, listen to a string quartet while sitting under a canopy of oak trees with moss blowing softly in the breeze on the Mississippi River. We normally don't walk in parade formation or dance much on any given day or sip on mint juleps under a full moon or have photographers follow us around. 
No, it was a wonderful evening of out of the ordinary happenings in a far away, unfamiliar place for the celebration of a uniquely beautiful love story and if I could change anything about it, well, I wouldn't be able to think of one, single, solitary thing.  It was just one of those perfect days. God blessed them with the perfect weather, gave everyone safe travels, and took care of all the things that only He can control.  We will always be grateful to Him for that.  
So, thanks for letting me share.  Y'all have walked with us through this engagement/wedding planning and posts have been a little sparse, at times, along the way, so I just wanted to show you how their long awaited day went.   
Thanks for loving me through this.  Being a mother of the bride is not for the faint of heart.  I think special times and hard times both serve as a reminder of just how precious and valuable friends are.  I will always remember the acts of kindness and gestures of thoughtfulness shown to me over the last few weeks.  They humble me.    
Give me a few days to get back into normal life and I'll be back.