Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Layers of Love

In all of the activity of the last week, I didn't share the exciting news that my Michelle is a first time grandmother. Last Tuesday, I was able to see my precious, oldest friend and her husband, Paul, look at their child's child with wonder and pure joy. Their most treasured titles now are Big Poppy and Sis.

Michelle and I lost our dads, four months apart, and, without the other knowing, we each had decided to use what our daddies called us as our grandmother names. When she told me she was going to be Sis, I told her I was hoping to be a Punkin, one day. We both had the same idea to take a little piece of our daddies with us to love on the next generation that they'd never meet. Here on earth, at least.

Proud grandparents
I know what you're thinking, but he's yawning...not screaming. I haven't lost my touch.

Michelle's son and daughter-in-law live here in town and I was getting text updates from the expectant grandmother throughout the looooong labor. Finally, I got word that he'd been born on Tuesday night and I headed up to the hospital, the next day, to see the sweet bundle of joy. They were just down the hall from where the rooster and I had "given birth" just a few weeks earlier. I told the proud, new dad that it seemed like just yesterday when Michelle was calling me at work from Orlando to tell me that he'd been born. I knew when I said it that it sounded like one of those things that your grandmother used to say, but, apparently, I'm getting into that age bracket now, so it's all good, I guess. Time's pace has really picked up as of late.

They say grandkids are the best thing ever. I've been told this time and time again by my friends, who've crossed over into the land of grandparenthood and I've tried to imagine what it would be like to hold my child's child, but, because I haven't experienced it, I just can't fully grasp all of its glorious splendor. There are some places so wonderful that imagination just can't take you there. Paul shared a picture with me of Michelle wiping tears as she held their grandson for the first time. After all of those years of being like me....trying to imagine what it would be like....she'd finally experienced the magnitude of a grandmother's love and it was obviously more than her heart could hold.

My Daddy described it as watching someone you love more than anything holding someone they love more than anything. The love just multiplies. From that description, I always kind of looked at it like layers of love. The love gets richer and more wonderful as its depth grows.

Here in the South, we know about the importance of layers. And the more layers, the better. We love our chocolate trifles. A good banana pudding. Our homemade lasagna. Our mile high wedding cakes. We love to sink into a bed covered in layers of blankets and quilts on a cold night. We, southern women, recognize how vital a good, layered haircut is. We enjoy layering our shirts, sweaters, vests, scarves, and jackets in the winter months. We know that one layer of anything is ok, but if you keep piling it on, well, it just gets better and better. Love is like that, too, I suppose.  

But, from our chairs situated in front of our televisions, sometimes, it can seem that the world is hopelessly tiered with hate. We might even feel like any measure of love that we could possibly dispense, no matter how great, would just be cancelled out.....all of its good collapsing under the weight of the hatred that can seem almost palpable. We might start to think that love is just outpaced and understaffed, sometimes.
I'm pretty sure God sees things more clearly than us, though. I think when He looks down from His throne onto His creation, His eyes see all those layers of love. Love that's growing down deep and spreading out. One generation of souls loving on another, so it can grow and spread the seeds of love and salvation for generations to come. We may see the shadows of hate from where we are, but I think from where He sits, there's a clearer sightline of all the hope and promise that deep-seated love offers each day.
"Let each generation tell its children what glorious things He does."
Psalm 145:4
"For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations." Psalm 100:5
Whether it's a family layering generation upon generation. Teachers teaching kids who grow to be teachers who teach kids. Someone who is told the gospel who goes and tells someone else of the hope of Jesus. A mentor for someone needing a positive influence in her life, who turns to mentor someone else in return. There are a million ways in which love is layered. Countless ways it grows deeper and becomes firmly established.

God sees that the batons of love and salvation continue to be passed along down the line. I think that's why He hasn't given up on this world yet. The generations to come are depending on us to keep it moving. And He's counting on us to keep layering up.

 "A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on."
  Carl Sandburg

Congratulations to Sis and Big Poppy!


Sunday, October 28, 2018

That's the Way Love Goes

Davis and I finally broke down, this year, and joined a tailgate group. We had tickets to several of the Mississippi State games and, before the season started, we bought some new chairs, a rolling ice chest, some serving pieces.....all the things you need to be a legit tailgater. We'd been invited to join groups before and never had, but we decided this was our year.

Well, the season rolled around and we missed the first game due to traveling and then the next couple of home games due to an unplanned hysterectomy. And that took us all the way to game 8, which was the day after Sugar had passed away on Friday evening. Davis and I had just cried ourselves to dehydration, Friday night, and I knew if we stayed home on Saturday, we'd do nothing but lose more fluids. So, we decided we'd go and get our minds off of sad things and I sent him to the grocery store with a list.

Even though they had a rare weekend to stay home with no obligations, Blair and John Samuel drove in unexpectedly on Friday night to be with us. Bless their sweet hearts. All of Sugar's people being together was good. When your heart is feeling the same pain as the other people in the room, well, it finds a strange comfort there. Blair prepared my tailgate dishes and they helped us get some things done as we'd been preoccupied for a couple of days. I really don't think I could've done it without them. Blair knows her Mama well enough to know that I was going to be in rough shape and that she could help. She took charge and what a blessing that was to me. And what a humbling experience it is when your children love you so sacrificially.

So, on Saturday morning, Davis and I woke up from our second terrible night's sleep and had another good crying meltdown. When we woke up to that first day without our old girl, well, the waterworks started all over again at square one. But, with my eyes bloodshot and swollen, my sinuses throbbing, my head pounding, and practically unable to keep on eye makeup for any period of time, I put my sunglasses on and we set out to tailgate. Oh, we were going to be loads of fun to be around. We knew everyone was going to want to hang out with us with our sunny dispositions and snotty noses, but I was certain it would do us both some good to get away.

I was right, too. We both really enjoyed the day. Being with sweet friends in a totally different place, helped get our minds off of our little friend for a while. And the game was so good. Even though we left early, we were really glad we'd decided to go.

On the way home, though, all the sadness we'd shoved in the corner for a while....all the grief that we'd pushed down all day, well, it came rising back up to the surface. The hum of the dark highway seemed to remind us that we were going home for the first time and that Sugar wouldn't be sitting at the door when we got there. We grieved and cried some more in the glow of oncoming headlights.

Sunday morning came around and I sent everyone to church without me. I think the stress of the week and possibly some overexertion had just left me completely exhausted. We had lunch and visited with the kids, but, when Blair and John Samuel drove away, the sadness came back. It bubbled right up to the top again. Grief is like that, you know. I just see Sugar everywhere in our house. And she's not in those places where she should be. For almost 14 years, those little habits and routines of hers had become part of ours and they're gone now and it's so hard to let them go.

Now, I know Sugar was a dog. I know that there are people grieving for people right now and I certainly don't elevate her to that level, but, the heart feels what it feels. There's not much we can do about it when our soul longs and cries out for something it deeply loved. Sometimes, love just feels like love and we just have to let the heart do its thing and acknowledge what it's lost. In whatever way it has to do it. Love and loss have to run its course.

I can't leave without loving on my husband. I blogged, a few weeks ago, about men having their strengths and women having theirs. Well, I'd place pet burial in the man column, every time, and even with his heart broken wide open just like mine, Davis, of course, took care of our girl. He's been taking awfully good care of me, too, and I don't know what I'd do without him.

Thank you for all of your kind words to us.

Hope you have a good week.


Friday, October 26, 2018

Rest in Peace, Sugar Miller

Sugar Miller, age 13.5, (94 in dog years) passed away peacefully at her residence on Friday, October 26, surrounded by her family and comforted by Dr. Leslie Williams. She died on her bed and blanket, next to her human mother's chair, where she felt most content, comfortable, and safe.

Sugar was born on April 8, 2005 in south Mississippi and, when she became of age, relocated to central Mississippi with her new family. She never attended obedience school or received any type of official papers, but was very smart and had a real command of the English language. Among her favorite words were treat, dinner, outside, bird, cat, squirrel, and lizard.

Sugar is preceded in death by her mother, a dachshund from Columbia, MS, and her father, a chihuahua of unknown address. She is survived by her human father, Davis Miller, who fed her at mealtimes and fixed her nighttime bowl of Cheerios and milk. Because of his important role, he was greeted most warmly upon arriving home. Her human mother, Joni Miller, was her closest companion and the one most likely to feed her from the table. They were longtime nap partners and she was often accused as having deemed Sugar as her favorite child. Her sister, Blair, who enjoyed dressing her up in doll clothes as a child, later, spent many hours snuggling and watching Netflix in bed with Sugar. Sugar lovingly recognized her name as Sissy. Her brother, Carson, was the one for whom Sugar felt a caretaking responsibility. She enjoyed when he shared his Pop Tart corners and bits of Nutri-Grain bar and looked forward to their nighttime visits on the front porch. Her brother-in-law, John Samuel, while he got off on a shaky foot, after suffering a couple of warning bites to the leg, soon became part of her very exclusive circle.

Sugar was employed by Miller Security, where she worked as a guard for the family home. She took her job very seriously. She was seen as a threat to the ankles of any stranger, who came lurking around. She had the least tolerance for small children and parcel carrier employees. Anyone entering her home was viewed as a threat to the four people for whom she acted as body guard. Sugar will always be remembered for her dedication to her work.

Her hobbies included chasing lizards, stalking the neighbor's cat, barking at doorbells...the ones in real life and on TV, chasing the UPS man back to his truck, following the smell of bacon, and going on walks down the street with her people. In her later years, these passions were scaled down to fit her physical limitations. They included walking to the mailbox with her Daddy, barking at the UPS man from the porch, and just growling and lunging toward the cat to let him know she could chase him if she chose to. She could still follow the smell of bacon, however, even up to the very end.

Sugar wasn't one for traveling. She liked to visit her grandfather and enjoy the smells of the wide open country and the thrill of chasing squirrels and, every spring, she took a trip across town to Sonic for her birthday dinner. Any unrecognizable road brought on anxiety as suspicions of a vet visit would arise, so she really just preferred staying at home, where she felt most at ease. Sugar didn't have many friends, but that was her choice. She was often misunderstood by outsiders and so she chose to live as a homebody and spend all of her time with her family.

Some of her favorite recent memories came within the last couple of months when her mother helped her corner a lizard in the garage and she was able to slay him like she'd done so many times before in her younger days. It was a special day recapturing the fires of her youth. She also enjoyed the two recent weeks when she spent 24/7 together with her mother, helping her recover from surgery. It just worked out that it was the time when the elderly Sugar needed her best friend to be close and her best friend needed her loyal companion, too. During that time, Sugar grew even more dependent on her mother's presence and left her post, next to her mother's chair, to keep watch next to her bedside, where she continued to sleep every night for the rest of her time here on earth.

Her last day was spent at the lake eating a cheeseburger and barking at the geese. They were frightened and quickly set out into the water, giving Sugar much satisfaction that she could still terrorize water fowl. She also enjoyed a sweet visit from her most adoring neighbor, Miss Kitzi. Sugar was also warmed by special one on one time on the floor with her brother, Carson, before he left for school and work and with an emotional FaceTime visit with her sister, Blair, who needed to say her goodbyes from far away. She enjoyed a delicious cheese omelet for supper.

Sugar will long be remembered by her family for her ferocious loyalty and her unapologetic protective nature. Her family will never be able to express their appreciation for her years of unwavering devotion to them. No one has ever loved them more passionately or defended them more fiercely or adored them more unconditionally. They will sorely miss her enthusiastic greetings upon walking in the door. No matter how much time passes, they will forever long to see her there in that spot waiting on them. What a lonely feeling that will be for them to come home now. It is important to note that Sugar had been with her family for more than half of Davis and Joni's married life. She was there to help raise their children and sat with them as their nest started to empty. She was there for the first day of preschool, birthday parties, beauty reviews, proms, graduations, and packing for college. For a long time to come, their hearts will have a gaping hole that she once filled, but that is the price they are happy to pay for 13 years of her slobbery, unabashed love.

The family asks that everyone make a donation of a Beggin' Strip and belly rub to their dog in Sugar's memory. And a prayer for her heartbroken humans would be greatly appreciated, too. They really need it.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Seasons of Waiting

As you may or may not know, Carson is a freshman here at our local community college, this year. He's majoring in business and will transfer to Mississippi State, next fall, but we sure are enjoying having him home for this one last year. I don't write too much about Carson, because, sometimes, he's not all that excited to be my blog subject or, at least, he wasn't when he was younger. While Blair, on the other hand, has always been more than happy to be the topic. But, I got special permission to talk about Carson, today, so we better enjoy this while we can.

Carson, much to his dismay, comes from a line of late bloomers on Davis' side. Not only do they start growing later than most of their peers, but, even when they're all done, they don't really put up very big numbers. My daddy and brothers all measured/measure in at over 6' and Carson has hoped for years that those genes would come through for him, but he also has plenty of genes that could work against him in the height department...not just from Davis' dad's side, but my mother's, too.

Davis' dad joined the Air Force at the age of 18 (Carson's age now) and he was 5'3" and weighted 113 pounds. He grew 5 more inches over the next couple of years. Then, came Davis, who had to sit on a cushion in order to see over the steering wheel to take his driving test and graduated from high school at the same whopping 5'3" as his dad. He also grew 5 more inches in his college years. You're seeing the pattern here.

You know how guys start shooting up around the 9th grade. Well, all of Carson's friends started their growth spurts about then, too. Their legs got long and lanky and their bodies started to stretch out, over those high school years, leaving Carson in the dust. When he was learning to drive, we'd see people doing double takes as they thought they'd spotted an underage driver for sure. We'd think he was making some strides until he'd have friends over and we realized that, for every inch he grew, they'd grown four. Blair was always on the short side, too, but I never realized, until I had a son, how height is on a whole different concern level for boys than it is for girls. The taller his friends got, the more he'd ask us when he was going to grow. We'd measure him and mark it inside his closet, where we kept our unofficial growth chart. We'd make a big deal out of any vertical movement in the pencil marks, but he was never satisfied. There just wasn't enough space between those markings to suit him.

Despite Davis' empathizing pep talks about how he got through the long wait, himself, and even with doctors' assurances that he was just following the family pattern and would eventually grow, it did very little to satisfy him. We'd listen patiently as he'd vent his frustrations for the thousandth time. He'd step up to us, toe to toe, and try to gauge his progress by checking eye levels. He'd ask what vitamins he could take to make himself grow. He'd search the internet for foods he could eat to spark the coveted vertical growth. It was just a constant weight on his mind and, sometimes, I wanted to pull my hair out, honestly.

That is....until around the first of this year. Halfway through his senior year, Carson started falling asleep every time he'd sit down. On the floor. On the couch. A straight back chair. Riding in the car. Lights on. Lights off. People making noise. Didn't matter. He even fell asleep while we were enjoying an evening at the house of some friends. He was sitting in a chair and just leaned over the chair arm and, within a minute, was sleeping like a passed out drunk. He was doing that heavy, loud breathing, you know, like you do when you're really sleeping good. It got so ridiculous that I gave him a stern, "Carson! Wake up, son!" as I was afraid he was going to start drooling on their furniture. And you can't wake him. Forget it. You'd have more luck going to the cemetery and trying to rouse somebody down there.

Now, I know you're thinking...the boy has narcolepsy, but no. I'm all too familiar with how much boys sleep when they're growing. I grew up between two of those creatures. My younger brother practically slipped into a coma during those years. We thought his sheets would become grafted to his skin. After our concerned mother took him to the doctor, he found the problem to be that Lee had grown 6 inches in 8 months. Apparently, it really takes it out of you to grow like that.

And when Carson isn't sleeping, he's eating or asking what we're about to eat or what we have to eat or what we plan to eat in the future or what time we're going to eat or when we're going to buy more to eat. The light in our refrigerator is always shining like the star of Bethlehem. A beacon of hope and provision. One Chick-fil-A sandwich doesn't get the job done anymore. Forget having leftovers for tomorrow's lunch. And the boy can put away some milk, I'm here to tell you.

I also know, all too well, about how boys eat when they're growing. They are metabolic machines. My older brother ate like a pregnant goat on steroids. I know I've told y'all this before, but he's the reason I eat so fast to this day. You had a small window of time to take in your life sustenance before he devoured everything. It was a matter of survival just like on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. And I'd have to go to the grocery store with my mother to push the second buggy. One just didn't cut it when he was a teenager. Four gallons of milk sat in the child seat of the cart. Four. And things stuffed all up under the bottom of the cart. I remember, one night, we all went to bed with a new loaf of bread on the counter, leaving Zane up to watch TV. When we got up, the next day, there were 3 pieces of bread left. He'd made himself some sandwiches.

So, we didn't realize what all Carson's eating and sleeping was really adding up to until we were reminiscing and looking through wedding pictures on Blair and John Samuel's recent one year anniversary. What a difference a year makes.
10/6/17                          10/6/18
We all have changes that we're waiting for. Things we're hoping and praying will happen soon. There's usually that one thing, though, that we desire so deeply that it drives us mad with impatience. Whether it's praying about a health problem or for a change of heart in a wayward child. Whether we're desperate for a job change, looking for a significant other, or waiting on a pregnancy or adoption to happen, we want it now. We just want something when we want it in this day of instant gratification.

We look around and see other people who have those things that we desire or we compare our wait time to theirs. We start to use their lives as our measuring stick when assessing our circumstances. There will always be people who will respond to treatment faster or find the perfect mate sooner. There will always be someone who will get where you want to be more quickly and with much more ease. Comparison can keep us continually frustrated and ungrateful if that's where our focus is. It convinces us that our lives can begin only when that wanted change it did for him or her over there. That focus can make us miss the lessons and the joys of living right here and now in the middle of the waiting.      
Carson has now already passed his dad and granddad's full grown height and something tells me he still has a way to go before he's done considering his ongoing sleep/feed pattern. All of that searching to find the answers himself was in vain. Growth came when it came and nothing he did made it come a minute sooner. If we concentrate on what we, in our own power, might do to speed our answers along, we'll just make ourselves stressed and anxious. If we think we have to help God work things out with our own research or our forced assistance, we'll likely be too preoccupied to see the things He wants to accomplish in us while we wait. He sees the whole picture and we can trust Him to know what's best and when it's best.

"While you're waiting, God is working."

I'm 5'6" and I'm looking up to my son now. But, that's nothing new. He's kind, compassionate, so thoughtful, generous, and considerate. He's a gentle soul. And no matter how tall he grows to be, in my book, he's been a big man for a long time now.

Y'all have a great day!

Monday, October 22, 2018

A Blog Post Slightly Longer Than a Tweet

I wouldn't really say this counts as a blog post, but I did think I should check in since it's been a little while. I've rejoined the outside world as I went to the doctor and regained my driving privileges, mid-week. I couldn't wait to drive myself somewhere. Anywhere, really. I'd even go so far to say that I may have been more excited to drive, last Wednesday, than I was when I first got my license at 15 and that's what you'd call a pretty heightened level of excitement.

I'm doing really good, but I still just run out of gas early, which is why I haven't posted. Nighttime is my writing time and I've just been conking out. That will have to work itself out soon as I must retake my rightful place as queen of the night. (wait, that doesn't sound quite right)

Anyway, I'll try to get back before the week is over. Just wanted you to know that, despite the writing goal I set for tonight, it's now 8:36 p.m.and I'm just trying to stay awake to, at least, a minimally respectable hour for a card carrying night owl.

I've been missing this! I'll get my act together soon, people.



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Old Dude on the Hall

Well, I'm home and taking it easy just like they said. There are many beautiful words in the English language, but perhaps, to a woman, the most lovely of them all are "go home and just rest for two weeks." How melodious the words and yet how rarely are they spoken. They drip with sweetness like honey from the comb. Words so full of beauty and promise that they beg and they plead to be immortalized in cross stitching somewhere. Too bad Davis had gone to get the car when the beautiful words were being disseminated and so I informed her that she'd have to recite the whole thing again when he was present. From the very start. Word for word. The part about the laundry and dishes and everything. It all sounded pretty good, at the time, until about day 7, when it started to lose its appeal.

But, besides completely losing the ability to recollect 2 days of my life due to substantial drug use and my midriff having a way to go before next halter top season, I'm starting to feel human again.

I could never say enough about having a home economics major for a mother at times like this. She spent her birthday and most of the other days helping me. God bless her. After she'd cleaned, straightened, organized, washed, folded, and sanitized everything in our house, I emerged from the bedroom to find her on her hands and knees in the family room, having unloaded all of the built-in shelves, dusting all of the books and knick knacks. I mean, if there is ever a time that calls for one's knick knacks to be free of dust, it is particularly crucial in the days following the removal of one's uterus. And Davis and Carson have another couple of weeks to enjoy those starched undershirts and crisp ironed sheets she's churning out before we go back to the old way of straight from the dryer. Really, she has been invaluable to me, which is her usual way.

I assume for the doctor's convenience, they put us on the maternity floor after my surgery. You know, the hall lined with doors embellished with baby wreaths and decorative canvas birth announcements. And then there was our door. Plain, unadorned. There were several babies born while we were there and so Davis passed all sorts of young guys out in the hall in his comings and goings. He said it made him feel young and I'm sure a bit studly being there at his advanced age. I bet the young dads were thinking, "Whoa, old dude got himself a young wife thang in there having him a baby".....when actually, old dude had his old lady in there for maintenance and repair as she'd just turned over 150,000 miles. Not near as steamy as it would appear to the young bucks. But, what the young men didn't know, couldn't dampen Davis' strut as he'd go out to get coffee, fraternizing with the more virile set. I imagine he lifted his chin as they passed on the OB hall as if to say, "Wassup."
So, I don't have a lot to talk about unless you want to hear about the laps I've done around the den/dining room or the online Christmas shopping I've done or the forward progress made in Frasier episodes on Hulu. It is noteworthy that I have lost some weight from all this and would like to maintain it, but currently having bread pudding, chocolate chip cookies, a caramel cake, and Hershey bar pie in our kitchen will make this a difficult, if not impossible, feat. But, thank God for friends, who minister to us with refined sugars when we're down.

Thank you so, so much for your kind messages and emails.

One week down and one to go.

We'll talk soon.