Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sometimes all you can do is cry.....

I was sitting at my desk making a birthday card for my youngest brother when all of a sudden I started to cry. My Mama used to send out birthday and anniversary cards to each family member. There are 51 of us now. On the back of each of the cards I send out in her behalf there is a tribute to her. I was copying and pasting it to my brother's card when the tears started flowing. My Mama. I miss her so much. I still can't believe she is not here. I've wanted and needed to talk to her many times since April. There is a huge void in my life now that I can't seem to fill. I've tried to keep busy (which isn't hard to do around here) and fill my mind and time with other people and things, but nothing will plug up the crater that's there now. I'm told that time will ease these feelings. I can tell that it has, a little bit, maybe. It still makes me so sad.....

My heart goes out to all who have lost a loved one.

Sometimes all you can do is cry.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday Afternoon Thoughts

Sitting at my desk and listening to beautiful piano music sparked a writing flame within me. It's peaceful for the moment, a rare thing in our household lately.

Will is watching me from "his" chair and offers an occasional chuckle at the tap, tap, tapping of the keys as I type. I don't know why he finds that particular sound humorous, but he does, and that's ok. I love hearing him laugh.

I don't have anything specific to write about today. It'll be a bunch of random stuff flowing through my head and onto the screen in front of me. Just warning you, in case you are looking for a theme within this post. You probably won't find one. I just felt like writing......

I've been thinking a lot lately about my issues of control. I admit, I have a problem with trying to manipulate outcomes of situations I have no business interfering with. There, I've said it. I'm trying to accept the FACT that I can't "fix" everything and really shouldn't be trying to.

It used to be so easy for me to find joy in the simplest of things. Somewhere along the way life got a bit too serious for me to ignore and came crashing down with such force I didn't think I'd be able to wiggle out from under it -- ever again. (I may be expounding too much, but just take it all with a grain of salt, ok? Thanks.)

Instead of enjoying the things that I used to, nothing was fun anymore. Everything seemed to be hard (impossible) and gloomy (black, actually). Why bother to get out of bed in the morning when more of the same awaited me, day after miserable day? That doesn't sound quite like me, does it? Well, it has been. I had to get put flat of my back (again, and again), look up, and realize (again) who is really in charge, and it ain't me! Did I learn my lesson this time? I sure hope so, 'cause that pit sure is dark and lonely....... Even so, there were (and are) friends who kept enough light shining my way for me to start regaining my foothold on the brighter path -- the one I somehow temporarily lost sight of. I will be forever grateful to them for that. You know who you are. You can relax now. I think it's all going to be ok.

On to happier stuff!

Molly Anne was born on October 18 and is the most beautiful baby girl! She's so perfect -- soft, pink and wonderful! I love being a grandmother. I love everything about it. From changing diapers, to reading hundreds of books to a little boy with an insatiable appetite for hearing the same stories over and over, to snuggling for hours on end with babies too precious to put down. Watching Christine mother her little ones is also an amazing sight to behold. It's been hard to stay away lately (I'm still recovering from bronchitis), but we'll have a great time again soon!

I've run out of things to say for the moment. So, on to cleaning out the fridge, laundry, and grocery shopping. I hope you are all doing well and are happy -- truly happy.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit.

God Bless.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How Can You Tell If It's Real?!

So. Today. Where do I begin?..... After careful planning to go to Institute class this morning, I didn't sleep much last night which made me oversleep when I finally did drift off. I got Will up (which requires jumping through all kinds of hoops -- thyroid meds, bathroom, shaving, brushing teeth, helping dress, getting food ready for him to take 2 hours to eat -- stuff like that), then finally made it to the shower. I felt drugged from lack of sleep, but I wanted to go, so I gave it my best effort. Not realizing it, I was already late before I had even gotten into the shower. There's so much to do in the mornings! I settled down and accepted the fact that I wasn't going anywhere at that moment.

I dressed, made sure Will was doing alright, left him with Ron and Scott, and took off to run a couple of errands.

Let me back up a little here.... yesterday, in the mail, was an insurance refund check made out to me in the amount of $22.00. Not huge, but a nice surprise, nonetheless. I had cancelled collision insurance on Ron's Suburban since it's been sitting in the driveway in the same spot for months now with a busted transmission. It's not going anywhere so collision insurance seemed a little pointless for now. I don't know why it took me so long to figure that out..... Anyway, I wasn't expecting money back. I did a little dance in the kitchen and knew exactly what I was going to do with it before it was all the way out of the envelope it came in.

Ok. I dressed, made sure Will was doing alright, etc. (see above:) The first place I went to was my bank. I placed my check and driver's license in the tube, shot it up and over to the teller and sat patiently in my car until my cash arrived in its place. Next stop, the power company (that's another story for another day. Of course, my $22 was not going to cover what I had to do there).
Last stop before home, Wal-mart. I had five items on my list, but of course, it's Wal-mart, so I ended up with nine things instead. I had cash in my purse, which I gave to the cashier, with a smile on my face because really it didn't cost me more than $7 of my "own" money. $28. 72 -- total bill. No problem. I had $10 already in my purse before I cashed the $22 check. It's all good..... until..... the cashier looked at my $20 bill (that I'd just gotten from my bank) and told me, "It doesn't look real. See. When I marked the other bills (she had a marker of some sort behind the register that I never saw), the line turns yellow. When I marked this bill, it's dark brown. I'll be right back. Don't go anywhere."

I waited and I waited. She finally came back and had me write a check for my stuff, gave me a receipt and led me to the customer service desk. My $20 bill was counterfeit! She and her manager explained that typically they would have the police come to the store, but instead I was given my phony $20 bill back and told that the best thing to do would be leave, call the police and have them meet me at my bank to try to recover some "real" money.

In the meantime, I called the bank manager who quickly and matter-of-factly (is that a word??)explained to me that once I left the bank with the money, it was mine and there was nothing they could do for me! I sort of vented on her about how it was their fault in the first place that I was in the predicament I was in and that I wanted my money! I would have been happy to hand them back the $22 they had given to me and taken my check back, to another bank, to get real money for it since they didn't know how to protect their customers from fraud. That didn't go over well with her, so before I hung up, she knew that I would be meeting the police at her branch to straighten all this out. I didn't wait for a response. I just hung up. My next call was to the police department.

I met the nicest police officer in the parking lot of the bank. He had me and Will wait at my car while he went inside and had someone in the bank verify that the bill was indeed fake. He wrote up a complaint, assigned a case number to me, and clipped the 20 to his report. He then gave me a piece of paper with all the information I needed to obtain a copy of the complaint in a few days. What happened next melted my heart, and his. He pulled his wallet out of his pocket, handed me a $10 bill and said, "The Lord has impressed it upon my heart to give this to you." I told him that I couldn't take his hard-earned money from him, but thanked him so much anyway. He kept it in front of me and repeated that the Lord had impressed it upon his heart to give it to me and that I needed to take it. He told me that he works about 80 hours a week, that he still had money in his wallet and that tomorrow was payday for him. He would be alright. "Take it." So, I did, and cried right there and then, gave him a hug, and cried all the way home at his goodness and concern for me and my family. What an exceptional thing for him to do. It was way above and beyond the call of his duty.

There are so many good people in the world. We just need to recognize them when they cross our path and spread that goodness around when we see a need.

Officer S informed me that someone from a special unit of the Secret Service would contact me by phone shortly and they would eventually reimburse me the $20 I lost today (actually only $10 after his kind donation). I'll let you know how that goes, and, if the SS lets me take a picture of them I'll post it on here with the rest of the story later, with their permission, of course. A couple of my friends were at my home this afternoon listening to me rehash this experience. We had a good laugh conjuring up images of the SS guys in their dark suits, dark shoes, dark ties and dark glasses. We'll see if we got it right. It was great to laugh after all the stress....

When I get my reimbursement, I'm going to look up Officer S and offer his $10 back, along with another hug and a big plate of homemade cinnamon rolls.

I had no idea I had received, and tried to pass off, bogus money today. It wasn't real, but how could I have possibly known? To look at it, it appeared to be like any other bill. It was only after careful examination that the truth was revealed.

Isn't that how a lot of things in life are?

Trying to keep it REAL --
Love and hugs!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ah.... Sunday

After a fitful night's sleep, I awoke around 6:30 this morning and began to ready myself for the long day ahead of me. I was tired, struggling with family problems, and really just wanted to pull the covers over my head and stay where I was until, well, until much later. I hoisted my tired aching body out of bed, ate some honeydew melon, showered, dressed and made it out the door in time to be about ten minutes late (again) for Church. I quietly eased into a seat beside a sweet young mother and her baby daughter.

With gratitude in my heart for at least being there in time to take the Sacrament, I bowed my head in silent prayer. "Please, soften my heart," I prayed. "Heavenly Father, please bless me now." That was all I could think of to pray for. I opened my eyes, and all around me were friends. I was at home, another safe place. I realized that I already was blessed with an abundance of love that I could see and feel. My heart not only softened, I think it melted, just a bit.

Tonight, as I opened up my blog and started typing, a message came to me that I thought I should share with you. It's from Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the leaders of our Church. All of his talks (sermons) seem to strike some nerve with me. My favorite talk of his is entitled, He Hath Filled the Hungry with Good Things. In this particular talk, he is speaking to anyone and everyone, regardless of our situations in life. He extends an invitation to all who hunger and thirst, but cannot be satisfied with the choices being dished out by the vain and foolish servants in a world of pride, greed, and selfishness.

Responding to Elder Holland's invitation requires a desire for change. He said: "Everything in the gospel teaches us that we can change if we need to, that we can be helped if we truly want it, that we can be made whole, whatever the problems of the past." I believe this can happen, but that it will only happen when a need for change is recognized and truly sought after. I love the phrase hunger and thirst. It seems to demand some action to prevent death, either physical or spiritual, or both. A feast can be laid out before us, but unless we reach out to partake of it, we are still left as empty as we were before we took our seat at the table.

Also included in Elder Holland's talk was this: "In spite of life's tribulations and as fearful as some of our prospects are, I testify that there is help for the journey. There is the Bread of Eternal Life and the Well of Living Water. Christ has overcome the world--our world--and His gift to us is peace now and exaltation in the world to come. Our fundamental requirement is to have faith in Him and follow Him--always. When He bids us to walk in His way and by His light, it is because He has walked this way before us, and He has made it safe for our own travel here. He knows where the sharp stones and stumbling blocks lie hidden and where thorns and thistles are the most severe. He knows where the path is perilous, and He knows which way to go when the road forks and nightfall comes. He knows all this ..... because He has suffered 'pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind . . . , that he may know . . . how to succor his people according to their infirmities.' To succor means 'to run to.' I testify that in my fears and in my infirmities the Savior has surely run to me. I will never be able to thank Him enough for such personal kindness and such loving care. "

The small effort (it really was small, comparatively speaking) I made to get myself to Church this morning, and hang in there for the whole block of meetings, was rewarded with an overflowing cup of "spiritual nutrition" to help me "keep on climbing," at least for another week.....

To read all of Elder Holland's talk, just click on, or copy and paste, this link:,5232,23-1-32-24,00.html

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Fear Not, I Am With Thee"

One of my favorite Hymns in our Church is, How Firm a Foundation. The third verse goes like this: "Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed, For I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand. Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand" (Hymns, 85).

If ever I needed strength, help, and to be upheld by God's righteous omnipotent hand, it is now. Although I acknowledge God's hand in my life, I also realize how real and powerful Satan's forces are. While a loving Father in Heaven would have us feel peace and joy, Satan would have us think it is not possible in a world of Light.

I frequently read the news on CNN's online edition. Just a quick glance down the homepage you'll find stories such as, "Attorney says mom to plead 'not guilty' to killing sons," "What could drive a mother to kill," "Topless, painted Miss Universe," [for crying out loud!] "Jessica Simpson wants bigger 'booty'," more controversy over Proposition 8, and my favorite, "Real life Judge Judy in trouble."

What has happened to our society?!

When you look at the news reports in general you can see where the world's priorities lie. Yesterday, I was appalled by one of the "news" stories on the homepage of CNN. I know it was "entertainment news," but still.... Please, tell me I wasn't the only one who saw the cover of The Rolling Stone magazine plastered right there, complete with a naked woman sandwiched between two naked men with what appeared to be blood splattered on them. The caption read, "Rolling Stone reveals the joys of vamp sex." Call me a prude, but there was nothing joyful about that preview of coming attractions!! Or distractions might be the correct word to use. I'm still in shock over that one........

Where is God's hand in any of the garbage? It isn't. When we allow ourselves to get caught up in the "thick of thin things," we are left on our own. None of the things we see around us will be here forever, but our families will be eternal, never ending.

I've been struggling a lot lately with my emotions over issues that are beyond my control. It finally occurred to me, today, that I was putting my trust in man more than God. Men (and women) will lie, cheat, steal and even kill their own children. The news reads like a story from the Old Testament sometimes, where the people had become so wicked that Jehovah wiped them off the face of the earth and started all over, almost. What will become of our posterity if we ourselves don't break free from the chains of a troubled world that is spiraling out of control?

On a more positive ending, here are the words to the seventh verse to How Firm a Foundation:

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!
OK. I'm done with my preaching. Those were obviously some thoughts I needed to get out, so there you have it. Thanks for indulging me. See you again soon!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Four Months Later.....

MY DEAR SWEET MAMA, I've thought about you every day since you've been gone. There was so much I should have told you when I had the chance. It probably doesn't matter much right now, to you, but it does to me.

I should have told you how much I admired your courage, strength and perseverance. You went at everything with all the energy you had, and got it done. When you started something, you finished it. Laziness was not in your daily schedule. I learned a lot about hard work from you and Daddy. It certainly paid off for the two of you. Maybe someday it will for me, too.

I know you had a hard life, but you didn't let it stop you from looking to the future while taking care of the present. When anxiety and depression became your companions you pushed ahead in spite of them. You accomplished more in one day than some of us do in a month, even from your wheelchair. You always did the best you could with what you had to work with.

When you sensed your days on earth were coming to an end, you took care of all the important issues that you could. You left beautiful messages for each of your children to keep and read as a reminder of your love and care for us. I have mine memorized......

Sometimes I can hardly believe you are not here. Even though I know I will see you again, I still miss you so badly that I hurt. I want to feel my check next to yours and smell the soft scent of peppermint on your breath. "I love you SO much!" still echoes through my mind when I think of you. I heard you say it so many times, just like that.

I didn't do nearly enough to show my love to you, to spend more time with you and let you know how important you were and are to me. As you watch me from where you are, I hope you will be pleased with your efforts to teach me the things you knew would help me survive and find happiness in this life.

I love you with all my heart.

Save me a place beside you at your Table!

Blowing kisses to you, Mama.......

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Safe Place

"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away."-Dinah Craik

In times of distress, sorrow, and anguish of body and soul we all need a safe place to go -- a place where the door is always open and we are welcome at any time of the day or night. A place where kind words of understanding and patience envelope the brutal forces of this life and send them far away from our aching hearts.

When our faith is wavering, the faithful come forward to steady it for us until we can do it for ourselves again. As we are falling, strong gentle hands catch us before we've reached the total darkness of despair. They stay with us until we can walk, back to where life is beautiful and light again, no matter how long it takes.

My safe place beckons me to come, to rest from my labors, to unload the heavy burdens from my heart and mind, to restore what has been lost and set out on my journey, once again.

Friendship and compassion reign supreme, in my safe place. It is a place where hearts are "knit together in love and in unity." Wounds are tended to and tears are dried with a cloth torn from an endless tapestry of caring and unspeakable wisdom.

I have visited this safe place often, especially lately. And, although the burdens are heavy and hard to bear, I do not bear them alone.

Of this, I am certain.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I know there are some of you with no daughters (or sons) of your own. Please know that your influence reaches out to my children and to others' children. Your work and service are immeasurable and appreciated each time you give your time and attention to any of our children or grandchildren. You are Mothers and Fathers to many who look to you for your numerous examples of kindness and patience and love.

I'll never forget the first time I saw my daughter, Christine. After the docs delivered her, she was placed on my shoulder, up next to my cheek. My arms were strapped to some kind of boards out to my sides so I wouldn't interfere with the C-Section they were performing due to complications during pregnancy. I couldn't actually hold Christine next to me, but I snuggled against her as best I could and looked her over through tear streaked eyes. She was the most beautiful little baby girl I had ever seen! I instantly fell in love with her. I have to admit I was terrified about being a mother for the first time, but after the fear subsided and my instincts caught hold of me, I hit the ground running with all my might!

Christine's Grandmother came and stayed with us the first week we were home from the hospital, then Mama came the next week. They both left their homes to come and help me and Christine adjust to each other's schedules and establish some routines. It was such a comfort to have their experience and love surrounding us as I learned what was needed at the time. We sort of viewed each other differently after the birth of Christine. I was their equal now. We were all Mothers.

Even though Sue (Grandmother) didn't have daughters of her own, she still had four daughters-in-law. We were like her daughters in some respects -- the daughters she didn't get to raise, but was still teaching all the same. We learned a lot from her, lessons to remember.

[For those of you with only sons -- love those daughters-in-law as your own daughters!]

Mama had two daughters, my younger sister and me. Oh, we fought some fierce battles with each other at times, and I'm sure our Mama was exhausted by it all, but she still loved and cared for us with all the energy she had. I learned a lot more from Mama than I would have admitted while in my youth. As I began a family, I realized how much she had done for us and how much she sacrificed so that we would have a chance to try to make our way out in the world. The greatest lessons I have learned came from my Mother. I am so grateful to be able to recognize and acknowledge her influence for good in my life. I'm also glad I remembered to tell her about some of those good things while she was living and able to savor my gratitude to and for her.

Being the Mother of a daughter has been the highlight of my life. To watch her grow from a tiny baby to holding her own baby is a miracle that is beyond words. This fall, Christine will give birth to her own daughter. She will experience for herself what I, and my Mother, experienced when we looked into our daughters' eyes for the very first time, kissed those softer than soft cheeks, loved with a love too great to speak, and thought, 'it just can't get any better than this'.....

You are in for the time of your life, my beautiful daughter, Christine! I love you!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Three Months Later....

I miss my Mama even more. There are things I need to talk over with her. I need to touch her hair and hold her hand and feel my cheek against hers. I need to cry with her and hear her tell me it will all be ok.

I guess I'll just have to wait....

Blowing kisses to you Mama. Are you getting them?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How Do I Spell RELIEF?


It's been a long four years, but we think we have received the correct diagnosis for Will's latest set of symptoms. Among the list are fatigue, hoarseness (the few words he now says only come out after clearing his throat several times), occasional dizziness, [the appearance of] loss of interest, loss of concentration, a general feeling of un-wellness, etc.

We are now learning to adjust to Hypothyroidism. Hopefully the [loose] diagnosis of parkinsonism will be thrown out altogether, in the near future. As scary as hypo is, parkinsonism was seriously depressing me.

About five weeks ago Will had his first appointment with a new doc (we have given him the title of Saint Clifton, since he has probably helped save Will's life for the moment). A lengthy discussion took place between St. C and us, blood was drawn and all results received. Will started his new meds and already seems a little happier and livelier, which, of course, makes me feel better.

I am so grateful for the progress that I can see taking place in Will. As a mother, there is nothing more heartbreaking than watching one of your children suffering right before your eyes and not being able to do anything about it without some help. Help does come, though, in a variety of ways. We don't always understand those ways while in the midst of the crisis. Sometimes we have to let some time pass and the dust settle before we can see the picture a little more clearly. From an Eternal perspective, everything happens for a reason. There is a Plan. Frequently, included in the plan is letting go of someone we love for now. I'm not sure I know how to do that just yet.....

I don't know how long I will be blessed with my son's presence in this life, but I do know, with no doubt, I will see him again when our lives on earth have ended. There is great comfort and relief in knowing certain things and having answers to the questions that really matter.

I am also grateful to know there is a loving Heavenly Father and a Savior in charge of everything. We can leave our troubles at their feet when they are too heavy to carry. I know we are loved more than we can comprehend at this moment in time, but it's really nice to have a little glimpse of it anyway.

We are relieved to have answers that [hopefully] will help Will. I'm also comforted by the fact that if the answers had been entirely different, we would have gotten through it -- with faith in the promise of blessings beyond measure -- if we endure all things well, until the end.

For now, this is one mother who is counting some of those blessings, one minute at the time......

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Two Months Later....

... and I'm still missing my Mama so very much.

I'd give anything to feel her cheek against mine again. I didn't snuggle with her nearly enough while I could.

"If tears could build a stairway
And memories were a lane,
I could walk right up to Heaven
And be with you again."

Blowing kisses to you, Mama....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Moment in Time

Several years ago, I paid a friend to design a book cover for my poems, in the hopes that someday I would have them published. Lately I've been encouraged (mostly by you!) to compile my blog posts into a book. I think I may do just that, sometime. I might even use a version of this cover for that book. Also, here's one of the poems I wrote over six years ago. Keep in mind, it was done a long time ago and I know it is not perfect. I'm always a work in progress.
A Moment in Time
by Darlene Womack

The vision unfolds; I know it so well.
Ever fleeting, yet everlasting, as I attempt to tell
If it really is me, coursing nearer to my Home.
A Host of Friends encourage; I am never alone.

Time after time, it appears to be
That work and adversity are all I can see.
Then impressions of Eternity come into my view
To remind me these moments will be but a few.
Press on! I must! More determined, becoming stronger.
To fall behind now will only make the journey seem longer.
Keep going! Don’t stop! ‘Be not afraid.’
This moment in time is for what you were made.

When the day is harsh and seems unfair
I reach for my Friend; I know He is there.
The Love of the Savior fills me within,
And I know that life’s battles, surely I’ll win.
With my Goal back in sight, renewed Hope touches my soul,
Gently healing my heart, and once again, I am whole.
Inspired by Personal Trials and Triumphs
February 2004
We'll see what happens....

Friday, June 11, 2010

"The Art of Healing"

This afternoon a friend of mine left a bag hanging on my back door knob. Inside the bag was a beautiful head of home grown cabbage from her garden. That thing had to weigh ten pounds, at least! Daddy usually has a big cabbage or two for me, but not this year. My friend stepped in and took care of it, though. She thought of me and took the time to deliver it right to my door. I couldn't help but grin at my plan to make enough of my Mama's recipe for Marinated Slaw to share with her. She's gonna love it!

Doing nice things for others makes me feel wonderfully alive. It makes me smile from the inside out. (I can't imagine what it will be like when I am no longer able to go and do....) When others take the time to think of me and my family, it also makes me feel loved, like delivering a big fat cabbage -- just because!

A memorable lesson from my Mama was to look around you and notice that there is always someone having a harder time of it. It's true. As I sit and type, I can think of so many of my friends who are struggling with the loss of a child, unemployment, a sick baby in the hospital, home foreclosures, repossessed transportation, devastating illnesses, loneliness that comes from bodies aging faster than the mind can comprehend, and on and on and on.

Marjorie Hinckley once said, "Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Just think about that for a minute or so.....

There are healing qualities in service that extend to the giver and the receiver. When I can look outward as I'm hurting, and offer an act of kindness, I forget or let go of some of the pain, even if only for a little while. It doesn't have to be anything huge. The acts of service I remember the most have been those given in small increments, and come at the best possible times, when they have been truly needed, and offered with a genuine interest in my well-being.

A past leader of our Church wrote: "Almost anyone can inflict a wound. It may be made by a word, a slight, or by general conduct. But the healing of a wound is an art not acquired by practice alone, but by the loving tenderness that comes from universal good will and a sympathetic interest in the welfare and happiness of others. If people were always as ready to administer kindness as they are indifferent to the pain of others—if they were as patient to heal as they are quick to wound—many an unkind word would never be spoken, many a slight would be avoided. The art of healing is really one of the highest qualities and attributes of man; it is a characteristic of a great and noble soul; the sure indication of generous impulse." --- Joseph F. Smith

I borrowed a phrase from someone a long time ago that goes like this: "Hands are for helping, not for hurting." I've learned from past experiences that wounds leave scars; helping avoids them.

I sure hope I live long enough to develop the "characteristic of a great and noble soul" that comes from learning and using "the art of healing," every day of my life.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Yesterday was a difficult day. First of all, I was supposed to have had Will all lined up to stay at home and in the shop so I could go down to my father's house and help my sister go through my mother's things and donate what we couldn't keep. My sister-in-law was also there to help us, which was a really great thing; my mother apparently kept everything, so there was much to sort through.

Will ended up going with me, which made for an extra long and boring day for him. He basically sat in one spot on the couch in the living room for about seven hours, except for the two trips he made to use the restroom. He entertained Daddy with several games of Henry (a battery powered light up matching game) and attempted to show him how to play BopIt. All that may have taken about forty-five minutes, max. Lunch for Will lasted another hour to hour and a half. The rest of the time he just sat, and sat.

I arrived (with Will in tow) about three hours after my sister did. She and my sis-in-law had already gotten a good start, so I jumped on in and began folding and boxing up Mama's clothes. The first thing I picked up was one of Mama's flannel nightgowns. I wrapped my arms around it as if somehow I might make her appear inside if I squeezed hard enough. I pressed it against my face and just couldn't get enough of the feel and the scent of her all around me. I buried my face in that nightgown and cried for my Mama. I dried my tears with it, folded it up and placed it with my purse to bring home.

There were headbands, combs and brushes with Mama's hair still in them. There was a half-eaten piece of peppermint sticking out of the wrapper on the night stand at her side of the bed. Mama always kept peppermints with her to pop in her mouth when her throat got dry and she started to cough. They were soothing to her, so she was never without them.

As I was going through the drawers in Mama's dresser, I found 26 pretty little handkerchiefs, some still in the original packaging. She always kept a lot of those on hand to give as gifts. She had given me several over the years. I brought those home with me, too. My sister and I decided I should send at least one to each of the girls in our family, on their next birthday, no matter what age they are. It may not mean much to the younger girls now, but in years to come, it will be a treasure. Their mothers will share stories about Maw Maw and how much she loved her children and grandchildren. We all have a special story to tell about her.

I can still picture Mama in her kitchen, canning beans, freezing corn, or mixing up enough Chicken and Dressing to feed the neighborhood (we ate as much as we could, then split it up and ate more at home) -- all from her wheelchair. As her health declined, Daddy helped her more and more, but she was busy doing as much as she could, which was a whole lot, considering the wheels on her chair were her walking legs..... She always had a list for Daddy, too. (He called her The Boss.)

Mama really didn't want to leave us when it did happen. She gripped the sheets on that hospital bed so tightly that her hands swelled. We'd have to remind her to straighten her fingers out, but after a few minutes she'd be holding on again. She just couldn't seem to let go. One of the clerks at the hospital motel told me of an experience she had with her own mother's passing. After lingering for days in a coma, her Aunt told her that just maybe she was trying to work out some unresolved issues with God and when it was all settled between the two of them, she would feel that she could then rest in peace. Maybe that happens with some people. I don't know. I do know that Mama stayed as long as she could, then she quietly, gracefully, gently, slipped away.

I'm so grateful to have witnessed the bond my parents had between them, especially during those final weeks of Mama's life. The love they shared is indescribable with words. It was even felt and mentioned by all the staff and fellow waiting room friends we came in contact with during our stay in the CCU. Mama and Daddy celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary exactly one week before her death. Daddy wore a tie all day, with his dress shirt and slacks. I'm sure he probably applied a little after shave lotion just for her. The nurses all complimented him on his appearance that day. He told them he was "trying to impress" his "girl." Daddy told us that when he looked at our Mama, he saw the same 14 year old girl that he married 65 years ago.

I was talking to one of my brothers on the phone the other day. We both decided that our Mama was IT. She pulled everything together, especially when it seemed impossible to do. Mama never stopped believing that whatever the problems were, someone else always had it tougher.

It was a hard thing to watch, my Mama taking her last breath, but I am so grateful to have been by her side when she did. I'm especially grateful to have had her in my life for almost 55 years. I look forward to spending an Eternity with my Mama. But, for now, I have the blessing of memories to embrace and to share. Mama. She was indeed IT.

Blowing kisses to you, Mama....

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What we might see...

...Through the Eyes of Will

I'm Mom's angel. I know because she tells me I am, all the time. She loves me.

Mom's a good cooker. She makes cinnamon rolls and I eat a lot of them. She tells me I have cinnamon rolls all around my belly button. Then she tickles me. I laugh. She's right. I pat my tummy. They are there alright. She makes good brownies, too. She loves me.

Mom always says, "Wrap those arms around me and squeeze me like you love me." It makes me smile and I give her a bigger hug. She kisses me on my cheek and says, "I love you, my angel." That makes me smile, too. She loves me, a lot.

Mom blesses my food for breakfast and lunch. I used to, but it's hard for me to say words now. They get stuck in my head and then in my throat, so I just let Mom do it. She blesses my food and prays for me to remember to be happy and to not fuss when people laugh or sniff. (Sometimes it annoys me so much when they do that! I stick my fingers in my ears, but I push too hard and it hurts my ears. I take my fingers out of my ears. I fuss instead.) She asks Heavenly Father to help me remember that people love me and that I should remember to love them too. Mom thanks Him for me and all my family and friends and asks Him to protect and watch over us. (I don't know what that means, but He must be doing it because she hasn't fussed at Him at all about it.) She thanks Him for everything we have. She tells Him that we are so rich, but when I ask her for a new movie or more fish, sometimes she tells me we have to wait until we get some more money. Mom is funny that way. Mom says long prayers, especially when I'm real hungry. But, she loves me so much.

I like walking on the treadmill. I walk on it for a long time. I hold on too tight, though, and it hurts my hands before I get through. I sweat a lot. It makes me shake, but I like walking, so I do it anyway. Mom smiles at me and says, "Don't shake...unless you mean it." I laugh. She's funny. She loves me a whole lot.

I have a lot of friends. Sometimes I go to lunch with them. They come to my house and play, too. I see them at Church. I like going to Church. I get to see my friends there. I like to shake hands and get hugs. I do that a lot at Church. I pick out the songs and lead the music in Priesthood. I really like doing that, but sometimes the men are noisy and I can't get up there and do it. I fuss instead. It makes me sad when that happens. Mom used to make me go to Church, but now I like to go. She gets me out of bed on Sundays and helps me get ready to go. She wants me to be in Church as much as I can. She really does love me.

I have a big family. I have a sister and three step-sisters, a brother (Christine's husband), a grandmother, a paw paw, lots of cousins, aunts and uncles, and I'm an uncle. I'm an uncle! I like to hold Simon's hand and walk with him. He likes it, too. We are buddies. Mom talks funny to him and thinks he is cute. It makes me smile when she talks to him in her silly voice. My step-dad and buddy, Ron, gives us cookies and marshmallows for a snack. Mom tells him when to quit. She doesn't want us to get sick. She loves us "a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck."

Mom wrote a poem about me a long time ago, when I was just a little boy. Christine helped her. They know me better than anybody else in the whole wide world!

What we might see . . .
Through the Eyes of Will
When you laugh, loud and long, I’m not sure what to do.
It scares me when my mind is on things, rather than on you;
Please talk slowly, clearly and calm, or I just won’t have a clue
to what is being said or done.
Instead of joining in, I’ll miss out on all the fun!
I need to see my Mom or Dad; they’ll tell me, "It’s alright.
It will get better, just stay calm. Please, try with all your might."
Oh! It’s so hard to be still! I try so hard, and I know I really should!
There are too many people; so much going on, and I’m trying to be good!
I know I am a child of God and will live with Him someday.
Could you please just teach me how to live and love,
right now, from day to day?
If it seems at times I’m nothing but a brat,
please don’t think of me like that.
Be patient, kind, and know that I do care!
It may take me a little longer, but I will get there.
Keep trying to take my hand and, in time, I’ll take yours, too.
I think that’s what the Savior would really want us to do.


And so, this is just a small glimpse of what we [might] see, through the eyes of Will, whom this Mom loves so much. Even though he seldom tells me in words, I know he loves me too, way more than much.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


"If we would have friends we should be rich in admiration and free from envy; rejoice greatly in the good of others; love with such generosity of heart that your love becomes a dear possession in absence or unkindness." -- Robert Louis Stevenson

There are not enough tender or kind words to say about true friends. You know, the ones who love you even when you're not lovable. They don't judge you for being less than perfect (or at least they keep it to themselves when they do). When you mess up, they've already forgiven you, before you even ask. You want to be together often, so you look for ways to make that happen, as much as life will allow.

A friend will show up at your door because she felt impressed to stop by and check up on you. She hasn't heard you laugh lately and that is usually the sign of a problem. You stand there amazed at the connection the two of you have. No words are necessary, but they are spoken anyway. "How did you know to come today?" "I just knew," she says. "I just knew."

Friends do know each other and sense when they are needed. They come to you with a fistful of flowers, a plate of brownies, or just a look that tells you that you are loved, and with a hug that you absolutely melt into. They drop what they are doing at the sound of your quivering voice and listen to you explain the rotten day you are having, but by the time you are finished with all the graphic details, you are both....laughing.

When something bad happens to you, it's [almost] the same as it happening to them. They love and care that much.

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words." -- Bernard Meltzer

You are that cherished friend, and I adore you!

What can I say more?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Rose that Bloomed for Mama

The day before Mama's funeral, I had driven down to Daddy's to help straighten and clean the house and to greet visitors dropping by offering sympathy to our family and generous gifts of food. There wasn't a lot to do since my sisters-in-law had already done most of the cleaning by the time I arrived. Daddy, my brothers and my sister had gone to finalize arrangements for the next day's services, so it was just the four of us there working, stopping for an occasional embrace and to wipe away a steady flow of tears. That house is all about Mama. Memories of her are everywhere....

I was expecting a friend of mine to come by with dinner for family members staying with Daddy. Instead of just the one friend, two friends arrived with a trunk full of food and fresh cut flowers for the table. We unloaded the car and made our way inside the house. I introduced my friends to my sisters-in-law, we all talked for a while, then I walked my friends back out to the car.

As we were standing outside, I noticed a red rose that was in full bloom on the bush nearest the driveway. It took my breath away for a second or two. I thought maybe there might be more blooms on the other bushes as well, so I excused myself and walked around the house looking at all the rose bushes in the yard. It was the only rose, and it was beautiful!

One of my friends took out her phone (one with a camera), got down on the ground as close to the rose as she could, snapped a couple of pictures of it, and told me she would email them to me from her home. Within the next day or so, I had crystal clear images of Mama's rose. I have a print of it on my refrigerator. I swear when I get close enough to that picture, I can almost smell its fragrance drifting past me. I close my eyes and imagine Mama sitting in front of me asking me to come closer so I can press my nose to its petals and savor it's sweet perfume. Oh, how she loved everything about roses! But, her favorite were the red ones.

I like to think that the rose flourishing before my eyes was a gift to those of us who stopped to admire it and remember. I call it the rose that bloomed for Mama, but maybe more accurately, it was a gentle reminder to take time to enjoy the beautifully simple things in life, before they slip away.

Love and miss my sweet Mama....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

More than a Bountiful Harvest

This is the time of year when Daddy would normally begin to gather fresh produce from the garden, bring it inside in baskets or boxes, and help Mama start preparing it for canning or freezing. Some of their bounty would always be spread out on the island counter. There would be talk of the harvest and the work to be done. I'd occasionally get a call from one of them telling me that I needed to come down and get some tomatoes, squash, beans or peas and those huge cabbages only Daddy knows how to grow. Sometimes it would all be waiting for me in plastic grocery sacks ready to bring home. At other times, Daddy and I would grab a box or two and head out to the field. Over the years, we've had some great talks together, he and I, while picking peas, pulling corn, cutting okra or harvesting whatever was ready to use. [Daddy and I have also had some intense conversations while fishing at the pond on their old property. But, that's a story for another day.]

During the colder months, my father suffers from the winter blues. Mama diagnosed him with it years ago. He doesn't like the shorter days, nor does he like the cold. He is miserable all winter long. There's just not much for him to accomplish during those cold winter months. Mama recognized the fact that, even though she was not physically able to preserve all of his plentiful crops, he needed to plant and work in the garden for his own preservation. So, they always had enough for themselves and much to share. And share they did. Neighbors, friends and family enjoyed the literal fruits of their labors. When the crops were especially generous, and we all had our fill, the excess would be placed in containers by their driveway for others to stop and collect. Nothing would go to waste.

The garden and kitchen seem so quiet right now, at my Daddy's house. I miss the sound of my Mama's voice as she tells me what all Daddy has planted and reminds me how much he loves his gardens and how good it is for him to be outside in the beautiful healing light of the sun. Mama told me once she was afraid that we (us kids) would blame her if Daddy were to die while working out in the hot sun. I told her, as I think my brothers and sister had echoed, "If Daddy dies doing something that he enjoys so much, there is no better way for him to go! Let him do it!"

Daddy told me about three weeks ago that he was just going to plant some green beans this year, for my sister. She had told him she needed some. "I don't know what she did with all those beans she canned last year and the year before," he said to me. My sister knew what she was doing when she asked him to plant those beans for her. She knew that it wasn't the green beans that were important or necessary. It was the motivation Daddy needed to get out in the field, plow and plant, nurture and harvest, and share. Since then, he's also planted tomatoes and peas, and I'm sure filled row after row with the seeds of his existence. And, watered them with his tears......

When I bite down into that ripe, juicy tomato that Daddy put his heart and soul into protecting and providing for me to enjoy, I will continue to thank my Father in Heaven for this great man, my Daddy, and for the strength He has blessed him with to (hopefully) work another spring and summer in his gardens, reaping more than a bountiful harvest.

You can do this, Daddy. I love you.

As of today, the 4th of June, the garden has been plowed, but Daddy's decided to wait until next year to plant after all..... He's really trying to do the best he can.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The hardest part about this life is.....

.....relationships! And, the most rewarding part about this life is relationships!

The Hard Part: Just when I think I've made peace with myself and others around me something else pops up and knocks me back a few steps. To me, some of the most important phrases in the English language (or any language) are: "please," "thank you/you're welcome," "I'm sorry/I forgive you," "I love you." I know I don't say those things (and mean it) nearly as often as I should, nor do I hear them as often as I would like to. Maybe we are so comfortable with each other that we tend to forget that sincere acts of courtesy might help when nothing else could. Maybe we don't think they are necessary. However, a little bit of kindness goes a long, long way, especially with the ones we love the most.

It takes less time, effort, emotional energy.... less of everything to avoid going to a place where we know we'll get lost and have a really hard time finding the way back. Follow the "road signs" and get there safely, whole and happier. No shortcuts, no half-hearted excuses for taking a different route, just follow the path. Sounds pretty simple. It's just hard to always do! I know, I take detours all the time and end up regretting them -- every time.

The Rewards: Peace, Unity, Courtesy (meant and felt by all), Security (the opposite of insecurity), Sympathy and Empathy, Unbreakable Bonds of Love. Is there anything better?

The Challenge: [Message to self] Do it! Today and Everyday!

Friday, May 21, 2010

No Greater Love

I'll probably write a lot about what is on the wall behind the computer monitor on my desk. There's a good reason why I have placed these things up there. Between facebook (I'll admit I'm addicted. It's a daily habit.), emailing, bookkeeping, writing out checks (when there's actually money to back them up), writing/typing out notes and letters and what not, I spend about a fourth of my day at my desk. Will likes to eat breakfast and lunch in the office with me while I work and write. He and I also listen to music there. It is usually a quiet and peaceful place to sit and just be together.

Back to the wall.... on the bottom row of pictures and quotes is a simple black and white print of a powerful message. The artist, Darin Ashby, simply portrays a portion of the Savior's clothed arm and His hand, His nail-scarred palm facing outward signing the words, "I love you." Whenever I'm feeling unloved, unappreciated or alone, this picture reminds me of how much greater Christ's love for me is than any other I think I should be receiving.

Disappointments will continue to come, expectations will go unfulfilled, some dreams may fall by the wayside, but one thing is for absolute and certain, nothing will ever compare to the the greatest Love shown to us by the One who has experienced it all. And, HE LIVES to tell us how to get through this life and into Eternity better than we could ever do so on our own.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends....Ye are my friends....I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." John 15:13-15

It is impossible for me to comprehend that much love right now -- the kind that allowed the Savior to endure rejection, betrayal , torture and crucifixion, but someday, when I am in His presence, I believe I will experience for myself no greater love.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"You just can't fake fun!"

"Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh." George Bernard Shaw

This morning a cherished friend came over, dug holes in my yard, poured in a shrub-friendly mixture of potting-soil-plant-food-nutrient... stuff, and planted some flowering bushes I've had since Mama's funeral. I provided a shovel, the yard, the plants, a hose pipe (and water, of course), a bucket and an opportunity for the two of us to get into some DIRT! I was a little concerned, at first, that I was making her do all the work. I even apologized for the clumsy way at which I was going about the whole thing. It's been a long time since I've planted shrubs or flowers and I didn't have a clue about how to start, much less how to proceed once I got into it. We were setting out Gardenias and Hydrangraes (I'm not even sure how to spell either one), both requiring proper light/shade, soil, moisture and attention. Up until today, I had given them water and kept them out on the porch or the patio in the same containers I had received them in, you know, the little pots that barely have enough room to hold a tangle of roots. They were beyond looking like they had not been given to a good home.

Anyway, as I was apologizing (for the 3rd or 4th time) for all the work my friend was having to do, she paused from digging, looked up at me through strands of sweat soaked hair and said, "I am having a great time! Stop worrying! This is what I LOVE doing. You can sort of pretend that you're happy or that everything is alright, but you just can't fake fun!" She looked like she was having fun, and I wanted to have fun, so we did! It was a great couple of hours. We were digging and planting and I was learning how to do something on my own. But, the best part of it was spending time with a dear friend.

My friend and I are both striving for peace and understanding in the midst of great losses. It would have been easy for us to have sat in my den and wept for what is not anymore, or for what could have been, and we still may do that sometime. Today, though, we worked, side by side. We laughed, out loud. It felt real and it felt good. We just couldn't fake fun.

Love, peace and an enormous thank you to my precious friend, for teaching me today about planting Gardenias and Hydrangeas, and, about how to nurture the fun and funny side of life. You are loved beyond words.

Monday, May 17, 2010

One Month Later....

Yesterday marked one month since my Mama passed away.

A flood of memories came rushing in as I was getting ready for Church. After spending 21 days and and nights with my brothers, my sister and Daddy, camped out in the waiting room of the CCU at the hospital, it's been difficult, if not impossible so far, to get back to some semblance of normal life for me at home. Every night when I go to bed I tell myself that "tomorrow" will be a little better, just work on it a little harder. I find myself torn between moving in with my Daddy to make sure he's really going to be alright without Mama (he really doesn't want me to do that), and digging in my heels to take on my world again at home with all the gusto I can muster up. I've a stack of bakery orders to fill (11 orders, to be exact), neglected bookkeeping for Ron's business, Church assignments to fulfill, housework left undone for weeks now, laundry baskets running over, flowering plants to dig holes in the yard for, new recipes to try out on my picky-eater boys, clothes to shop for (there's only so long you can wear a pair of jeans before holes begin to appear. I'm now covering them up with longer shirts.), grieving friends and family to visit, postponed lunch dates, closets and drawers to reorganize.....ok that's enough to think about for right now! I have a full life, typically. But life is not typical at the moment. And I know it.

In my opinion, there should be a strict guideline on how long a person should grieve so we'd know what to expect. When does energy and interest come back? When do the tears stop flowing without any advance warning? I have some questions here! Somehow, I think that the answers may be different for every person......

From my desk, I can see traffic going by, and birds lighting on the front porch railing, pecking at dried up bugs and such. The sun is shining brightly through the rustling leaves on the big oaks and pines. I can hear Scott out in the workshop turning plain pieces of wood into cabinets that will be installed into someone's "dream" kitchen. Will is sitting by with his earmuffs on, patiently waiting for the planer to start up so he can jump up and do his part in the creative process. That is "his job." Ron is on a jobsite, keeping his clients happy and pleased that he took on their plans to transform the old to the new (in a few short weeks). Their reward is not only money, but in seeing the results of their efforts -- the finished product -- and in receiving praise for their fine workmanship. A job well done.

As I've been typing, my eyes have kept glancing above the monitor to a quote from the President of our Church, Thomas S. Monson. I think I need to internalize his message (I've read it a hundred times and even used his quote a few times). "....our promised blessings are beyond measure. Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us. .... fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith."

Blessings, knowledge, comfort, joy, good cheer. I'd say those are great rewards for "a job well done."

Guess I'd better go get busy now......

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I figured it was about time I joined the I'll begin by saying I am happy to have a place to go when I need to talk, without worrying about what it might sound like. It's MY place, after all, so I think I'll just make myself right at home.

Ron and Will are out sailing boats at Aldridge Gardens at the moment. They are members of Birmingham RC Club. On the 3rd Saturday of every month they all meet and float their remote controlled boats on the lake behind the Gardens. I'll get some pictures up here soon. It's open to everyone, so go check it out on one of those Saturdays.

I'm trying to get my motivation back after a few months of struggling with pain from a pulled muscle in my back, the loss of my dear sweet Mother, and the loss of a young friend. I know this is all part of the plan of life, but it has been difficult to quickly adjust to some things. Life is unpredictable, for the most part, and it's a good thing to move forward and keep progressing, so I'm working on it!

Instead of doing what I thought I needed to be doing, I recently finished reading tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom (guess I figured I hadn't cried enough lately or something....). It was worth every minute and the cost of an extra box of tissues. If you haven't read that book, I highly recommend it. Some of my favorite lines from the book are: "Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone. .... giving to other people is what makes me feel alive. Not my car or my house. Not what I look like in the mirror. When I give my time, when I can make someone smile after they were feeling sad, it's as close to healthy as I ever feel. Do the kinds of things that come from the heart. When you do, you won't be dissatisfied, you won't be envious, you won't be longing for somebody else's things. On the contrary, you'll be overwhelmed with what comes back" (p. 128).

Time to go think on that again.