Category Archives: Parenting

Sweet Tea

Sweet tea, southern-style

I’m working hard today and it’s time for a break. Of course my #1 drink-of-choice is always and has almost always been iced tea. Here in the South, folks prefer SWEET TEA. In fact, they swear by it!!! Any eaterie will serve it. It will be sweet, really sweet. When you visit somebody, you will be offered SWEET TEA. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes lemonade or a beer will ALSO be offered, but you can betcha that in the South you will be drinking sweeeet tea sometime during your visit! So don’t turn up your nose at it. And if you move to the South, then you had better learn to like it! Oh, by the way….it is very often served in a Mason jar! Somehow it enhances the flavor (the opinion of a lot of us, haha). Many folks like it with lemon, some like it with mint. I normally drink it with mint simply because I usually have 3 or 4 types of mint growing in my garden.

I’ve been picking a few strawberries and blueberries out of my berry patch, trying to get to them before any of the’nuisance‘ critters do. I’m getting ready for a road trip so I need to tend to my gardens as much as possible before leaving. The blackberries and raspberries may or may not produce while I’m gone but there’s not much that I can do about that. Next up is my herb garden and all I can do is to pinch the tops off the basils so that they’ll grow fuller, as from past experience here in central Florida I do know that most types of basils can last 18 months or more! I’m putting 7 large pinwheels in my main garden to try and ward off some of the birds and squirrels that have been munching on my tomatoes (I have 12 plants already) and peppers and squashes and beans. I don’t know if they will keep ALL of the critters away but they surely do look pretty twirling in the breezes. We do have plenty of winds here in our part of the Sunshine State, and I’m hoping that they will at least keep away SOME of those varmints. I suppose I am the only one that can keep our puppy away from the pinwheels though!

When I was growing up, in Indiana (not the South!), my Mama served us iced tea EVERY night with our supper. I do mean every night: summer, fall, winter, spring. It wasn’t a choice, it was just a part of our meal. She cooked it in a saucepan on one of the 2 burners that was on the long island in our big kitchen while she was making the supper at the stove. Then she’d let it ‘steep‘ awhile. Right before supper, she’d have one of us kids pour the tea through a strainer into a large pitcher and add water and sweetener. We had to put the exact number of ice cubes into each glass and fill them with that beautiful amber-colored liquid beverage. Mama used Lipton loose tea and it always tasted perfect. When any of us had supper at somebody else’s home, we kinda missed having our iced tea. It was a tradition, I reckon, that you don’t even realize until later.

Nowadays I have diabetes and cannot add the sugar so I USUALLY sweeten my gallon-jug of tea with Truvia and Equal. Every once-in-a-while, I make it the old way with real sugar and then cringe as I take my blood-sugar reading the following day! It’s worth it occasionally if I don’t make it a habit! I also have made the switch to green teas. I also need to learn how to make hibiscus tea because I’ve got half-a-dozen gorgeous hibiscus bushes and my Hawaiian pals tell me that I oughta being making my own tea. I do like Jasmine tea. My daughter and I drink a gallon per day. Sometimes I make peppermint tea, or regular plain mint tea, or REAL tea (nowadays that seems to make me hyper and make frequent trips to the loo) but I do soooo love my SWEET TEA immensely! Well, I am thinking that I will go and have a jar right now!

Advertisements

Easter Passing

Gramma&I-Easter 1981

Yesterday was Easter Sunday, always a sad day for me. It’s a day of remembering of the EASTER PASSING of my darling beloved Gramma Pearl, and while most of the Christian world is celebrating Christ’s glorious resurrection….I am fondly thinking about Gramma and the joy that she brought to my life.

It was an Easter Sunday when I was 12 that I came forward to accept Jesus into my heart at the little white church that our family had always attended. I don’t recall ever NOT spending Sunday mornings and evenings at that church with our family and my Grandparents. My Gramma Pearl lived next door to us in our tiny farming town of 40+ homes, and the church was in the next town where my favorite Aunty lived. It was always so much fun to spend Sunday services with my cousins! Anyway, I had always believed in Christ because of the beautiful stories that were a part of my life, as taught to my brothers and I by our Mama and our Gramma. But I’d not yet been baptized, so for several weeks before Easter, my Gramma had been preparing and encouraging me to take that big step! She was so gentle and precious. When the time came for the ‘altar call‘ at church and I was nervous because several pair of eyes were upon me….my wonderful Gramma simply held out her loving hand and actually went with me! That has always left quite a lasting impression on me and is even making me misty-eyed as I write this!

Gramma enjoyed a very happy and fun-filled 3rd marriage. After Nick retired and their big old 2-story house and acreage got to be too much for them to handle, they moved into the nearest larger town, the county seat. They were across from an elementary school, a block from a ball field and a pizza place, and a short distance to anywhere they needed to go. My Mama and stepdad lived there too so Gramma got to see her oldest daughter almost daily and her other daughter a couple of times each week too. Life was good for her. As I journeyed, we wrote very often and I sent lotsa photos. Following my divorce, I moved back to that Hoosier small town and for 4 years, my children adored life with Great-Grandparents and 2 sets of Grandparents constantly being nearby for them at most any event. Since my kids are/were ‘Air Force brats‘ and had moved around A LOT, the 4 years spent there in my hometown gave them a sense of being grounded, of being FROM SOMEPLACE. They really really got to know their grandparents and great-grandparents. This was priceless!

After Nick died, in a few years my Gramma’s health declined to the point that her daughters weren’t able to take care of her. They tried, they really did, but they were unable to lift her so they had to place her into the local nursing home. This is a nice nursing home and my Mama visited her every day. Plus my cousin was a nurse there so Gramma had her own granddaughter to look after her care, and her private bedroom was directly across from the nurse’s station so she and my cousin could make ‘funny faces‘ at each other. This nursing home also has an aviary! Gramma knows all about birds, being the ultimate lover of nature, so this was something that she would converse about with anybody that’d listen! So it really didn’t take too long before my Gramma became the ‘QUEEN BEE‘ around that place! She was well-liked by all: staff, residents, other visitors.

Towards the end, we made a special visit in winter because my Mama told me that Gramma needed to see me and that she wouldn’t be lasting too much longer. I hate cold weather but still, I could not deny my dear Gramma, so we drove overnight to have what we expected to be our last visits with Gramma Pearl. This would indeed be the last visit for my 3 children to have with their Great-Gramma. She was in good spirits when we spent time with her and took our last photos together. After a brief stay with Mama, we left.

When Mama asked me again to come, just a couple of weeks later, I refused her request. I’d said my goodbyes to my dearly cherished grandmother and had been crying several times daily since I’d left her. I did not want to watch her die. I did not want my children to either, nor did I honestly believe that Gramma would want her grandchildren to remember that. So we were gonna wait to return for her funeral. At this point, Mama said that Gramma hadn’t been responsive or opening her eyes at all so probably wouldn’t know if’n I were there or not. Mama and my Aunty were taking turns being by her bedside and chattering, but they did not know whether or not she was aware of them being there. Every other day Mama would call and ask if I were ready to come home yet and I’d say that I would come home for the funeral.

Evidently, I don’t quite remember how it went, but somehow Gramma had asked for me. So shortly before Easter my Mama called and practically begged me to come home because she thought that her mother NEEDED to pass on to heaven but she WANTED me there one last time. There was a different sound in my Mama’s voice that I’d not heard before, or since. Even though I didn’t want to see my Gramma like this, or didn’t even know if we would make it ‘in time‘, the kids and I hurriedly packed and headed to Indiana.

I dropped the kids off at Mama’s house Easter night just as she came home. She was going to bathe and eat before going back to the nursing home but since I was there, she’d be able to take a little more time plus she needed to call my brothers to come soon from Indianapolis and Chicago (she lives between). It was late at night, well past visiting hours, when I walked into the nursing home….but nobody stopped me. Instead, the 2 nurses at the front must’ve known exactly who I was because one of them said, “You’re the one that she’s been waiting for.” And then they both started crying! (I’ll always remember this) I hurried to Gramma’s room and was startled at her appearance! I expected to be, but I am very glad that her eyes were closed. I hugged my Aunty, who was holding her hand and caressing her arm. I kissed Gramma’s cheek and forehead, unclenched her fist so that I could wrap her hand around mine, and told her that I was there. Gramma squeezed my hand and my Aunty smiled, then told me that Gramma won’t open her eyes, and that she hasn’t done so for several days. Well, the women in our family are stubborn and defiant. That includes ME and my only daughter, Mama, Aunty and all 3 of her girls, and it surely started with this beautiful, incredible lady laying beside me because the last thing that she did was to defy what her baby girl had just said that she wouldn’t do! She opened her eyes, barely, but enough to see that it was me standing there beside her smiling at her. She looked at me and I told her that I loved her and that it was all right. She knew what I meant. With a daughter and a granddaughter holding tightly onto her hands, she closed her eyes for the last time that Easter Sunday. My Gramma’s EASTER PASSING has always had a heavy impact upon my heart; not only upon my heart, but also upon my sense of guilt. Did I cause my treasured grandmother extra weeks of discomfort, pain, or unpleasantness just because of my stubborn unwillingness to come home and be present for her death? I did not know that she’d been waiting for me. I will always carry that with me. It bothers me still. But she has a new and glorious body now and I know that she would never ever place any of the blame onto me, even tho I may do so myself. That’s because she always loved me truly and thoroughly, the way I hope to love my grandchildren someday if I have any!

First Quilt

My 1st Quilt

I still have the FIRST QUILT that my Mama ever made for me when I was a little girl, more than half-a-century ago. This is also the very FIRST QUILT that she ever made! I think that it is a treasure and I love it dearly. It’s called a ‘postage stamp quilt’  because that is the design: it’s basically a patchwork quilt ; however, all of these squares are as little as postage stamps. It does differ than an ordinary patchwork quilt in that this quilt does have a pattern in the way that the squares are placed in a particular order into long strips as they’re sewn together, and then each row is sewn together to complete this pattern. Usually most patchwork quilts do not necessarily follow patterns because they’re using up scraps of leftover cloth. Mama used to make dresses for my cousins and Aunty and herself and I, so she’d buy lotsa material. She also made a lot of curtains back in the 50s when it was popular to do so. So whatever fabric was leftover was cut into little squares and this was what she designed into her FIRST QUILT. I can still point to the squares and remember which of my dresses or tops had the same fabric! That’s part of what makes the quilt special.

Mama has been trying to get me to throw this quilt away for the past dozen years or so! At this point she’s HANDMADE (never ever quilted by machine) over 325 quilts for folks!! What an amazing accomplishment! I am extremely proud of this! My Mama is soooo amazing! Myself, my children, my brothers and their children, my Aunty and her children, all have numerous quilts that Mama has lovingly made for us and we treasure each and every one of them. Most of Mama’s friends have commissioned her to make quilts for their own kin’s weddings or babies or graduations, etc. Plus Mama is regularly DONATING quilts to church raffles, nursing homes, and even soldiers’ hospitals overseas. This fills my heart. So for me to throw away her very first one, even tho it most definitely is old and fragile and could probably never be washed again or it’d likely fall apart, would surely cause me much dismay.

Believe it or not, my kiddies NEVER had a bedspread! They always had Grandma’s quilts on their beds. Me too. I wouldn’t have it any other way! There’s such a ‘homey ‘ look about a house that has bedrooms with a quilt on every bed, especially when those quilts are made by loved ones. My belief has always been that if the house catches on fire : kids out 1st, quilts 2nd, photo books 3rd!

So many times, as Mama would lovingly present me with a new quilt to put on my bed, or another lap quilt for the living room, she’d say : “NOW will you get rid of that old green quilt?” As if she REALLY REALLY thought that I would!! Every time she tries….and every time I turn her down. This was the FIRST QUILT that she ever made PLUS it’s my fave color PLUS this daughter-of-hers just cherishes it, and her, toooo much to ever even consider it! I LOVE MY MANY QUILTS!!!

Lifestyle Choice

 My First Car

I get so very irritated at my first-born child over what he chooses to deem his ‘LIFESTYLE CHOICE‘! In this day and age when that term can have a plethora of meanings, for my 32-year-old son the meaning is that he doesn’t drive! He takes the bus to and from his job at DisneyWorld and his wife hauls him around with her wherever else they wanna go. For now, the two of them have the same days off each week even tho he is a Food Service Trainer at Magic Kingdom and she coordinates training at a Disney resort. So it’s working out well for them….but not for me! My son never gets to ‘pop over for a visit’ or to ‘pick up something at the store on the way home’ for me or to ‘run an errand for his handicapped Mama’. Whenever he DOES get a chance to come over, it has to be planned at least a couple of weeks in advance (even tho he lives a mere 4&1/2 miles from me); and then if we go out to eat….I’m the only one doing the inviting and also doing the paying (even tho I’m on a very tight ‘fixed income‘ while they have two salaries). Or if I do need my 6-foot son to clean the ceiling fans, or something else that my 4’10” daughter (with whom I live because I don’t have enough income to live elsewhere) cannot reach, then I need to have a list ready for him plus I actually gotta PAY this child-of-mine for services rendered so that he can have some spending money because his wife gives him an allowance and he probably needs cigarettes! Grrrrr!

When I was young, I lived far out in the country and couldn’t wait to get my driver’s license so that I could drive, drive, drive! The photo is of my 1st car, an ugly pale yellow Ford Galaxy 500. But it got me where I wanted to go and most importantly was that I didn’t have to ride that darned old school bus anymore!!! YAY! Of course there was a catch and that was that I had to wait around after school until football practice was over and bring my younger brother home. I also had Marching Band practice before and/or after school sometimes too so I didn’t mind. Then in the winter I had to wait again after school for my brother to get outa wrestling practice, and then in the spring it was baseball practice. Oh well, Daddy bought my car and put in most of the gas so this was a pretty decent trade-off for all of us since we really did live soooo far out of town away from the High School.

My son and his wife have been living in the same tiny 1-bedroom apartment for a few years. He recently told me that they are about to sign yet another year’s lease. It’s not the nicest apartment but it is where they began their lives as newlyweds and also where they got their dog. I’m sure they’re sentimental. He told me the other day that they’re planning to only stay one more year, as they’re wanting to save money to buy a house in a particular area. They may even have a house built because there are a couple of subdivisions being planned near a new shopping area that we all really like and have been looking into and enjoy a lot. He told me the prices and I do think that it’s too expensive but I won’t say anything because I don’t wanna be that ‘meddling mother-in-law‘ (altho I certainly haven’t any qualms about telling just him my opinion, haha) that so many TV sitcoms depict so badly! IF AND WHEN this does happen, at that point my oldest child will most-definitely need to re-think his ‘LIFESTYLE CHOICE‘ simply because there are no city buses in the Orlando area that have stops in that vicinity! I really don’t foresee him leaving his high-seniority Disney job to go into retail at this point! Hmmmm, here’s a thought: his only other job that he’s ever had prior to Disney was managing a movie theater and THERE IS definitely a very nice movie theater in that shopping center plus it’s the same company that he previously worked for! This Mama sure does miss those free movies!!!

Missing Christmas

Missing Dad Christmas

Christmas came. Christmas 2014 is over. Most of the day I spent by myself, remembering past holidays when my own children were little. And of course, that also got me recalling the wonderful and cherished family members that attended Christmases when my brothers and I were little kids. So I mostly had a day of reminiscing and MISSING CHRISTMAS. My own parents were much younger than I am now when I was a little child and we had large family gatherings at our home filled with lotsa favorite cousins and Aunts and Uncles, as well as my beloved Grandparents. (The Grandparents and all of the Uncles are gone now and I have 1 Aunty left) After devouring a most scrumptious meal lovingly prepared by the fabulous cooks in our family (everybody had their ‘specialties’ which we came to expect and look forward to), the bigger kids would help to clear away dishes and arrange kids in the living room, my Daddy would mysteriously disappear, and soon thereafter Santa would come and hand our gifts. We had joyous holidays at our home.

1st Christmas with Daddy-5 months old-1956

Now my precious Daddy, pictured with a 1-year-old ME in the photo, is celebrating Christmas in heaven, and has been for a few years. I am sad, and the tears still flow because I miss him sooooo much. But I have learned not to be selfish, for I know that this is his ‘reward‘ and it is surely glorious beyond anything that my mind can imagine. Besides, this is Daddy’s very first Christmas in heaven with ALL 5 of his big brothers and his sister and his folks so I’m certain that they’re having a GRAND TIME! I still am blessed to have my darling Mama, pictured with me in the photo of my 1st Christmas, even tho she’s spending Christmas at her Hoosier home in Indiana. She does always hope for that ‘White Christmas‘, whether or she gets it is another story! The only white that I wanna see in the winter is the sugary white sands of the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico!

Mama&Jeannie-1st Christmas

I’m also missing my baby boy this Christmas. That’s him pictured with me when he was a young’un. He lives in PA with his fiancee and wasn’t able to come home to FL for Christmas since he’d just been here in October. But I’ll be seeing him in April when we all gather in Indiana for Mama’s 80th Birthday Celebration!

Mama & Joey Easter 1988

So even tho I spent most of my daytime yesterday MISSING CHRISTMAS, in the evening I did get to have supper with my other 2 kids and my daughter-in-law! We had a yummy meal and then our gift exchange at my son’s apartment. I enjoy living in central Florida; the down-side is sharing my kiddies with the tourists since this is officially ‘The Tourism Capital of the World’! My daughter and my son and his wife DO WORK for a giant Mouse, after all! Even tho it’s not cold here….it is very festive!

Waikiki Chase

Aerial Waikiki

Today I have 2 young cousins that are in Waikiki. They’re first cousins and didn’t even know that the other would be there too until their mothers informed them today of their posts that they read on Facebook! One is there for the Honolulu Marathon Week festivities and the other is just there for a short stopover before she heads for a much-needed 3-week vacation to be with her Mama, who lives on Kauai. Of course, this reminds me of a myriad of fabulous memories and events that I’ve enjoyed in Waikiki throughout the past 40 years, but thinking about the Honolulu Marathon being run tomorrow makes me think about my own WAIKIKI CHASE that occurred 26 years ago. The photo above is an aerial photo that was taken recently of Waikiki but the shoreline is basically the same, although the sandy beach area in front of the Sheraton Waikiki isn’t nearly as expansive as it used to be. The 2 red stars that I have placed on this photo are the beginning and end points of this ‘chase‘.

When my (now ex) hubby was stationed on a ‘remote’ tour-of-duty on the Arctic Circle in the very northern part of Canada, the USAF sent the 3 children and I to Oahu for 14 months to be near Hickam Air Force Base. We assumed this would be our next assignment. It didn’t turn out to be so, Hurlburt Field in Florida’s Panhandle did, but that will be for another story. Our favorite activities were going to the beaches and to the zoo. Luckily, the beaches are free and we had an annual pass that included both the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium. My daughter loved watching clams and anything else that’d make it’s way into the sand, and running after the birds. My youngest son had his most fun building sandcastles. My oldest son played in the water and chatted with the tourists. That’s one of the main reasons that I usually chose to frequent the beaches with the lifeguard stands….because my 3 kids were ages 5 and under.

We always took a cooler to the beach with our sandwiches and drinks. I kept my wallet in the bottom of this cooler for safekeeping so that I’d not have to have a purse to sling over my shoulder every time the kiddies and I wanted to go into the water. We had a lot of ‘stuff’ that we took to the beach: beach towels, hats, sunblock and suntan lotion, aloe, 2 pairs of sunglasses for each of us, boogie boards, slippahs (flip-flops), assorted items to build sandcastles with, pails and shovels, cooler, bandages, and even an extra swimsuit for each of the kids. I had a couple of big cloth bags that fit all of this stuff and it fit into the trunk of my car. Our car always had this ‘beach kit’….ready for anytime that the mood struck us to ‘hit the beach’!

On this particular day, we were eating lunch at the Ft. DeRussy Beach, which is the military beach at the western end of Waikiki. My daughter started chasing a small flock of birds. I called to her but she didn’t hear me. The wind picked up and she kept running, so I grabbed a boy in each hand and took off after her, leaving ALL of our belongings behind. Every time we got close to her, I’d call out to her but she didn’t hear me. She was 3-years-old and her only thought was to run and laugh as she chased those birds! She was having a blast while the boys and I were barely able to keep her within our sight! The tourists paid no attention and I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to ask a lifeguard for assistance. All I could think of was to get to my baby girl! We FINALLY caught up to her at the eastern end of Waikiki near the zoo. We’d run a total of 1.8 miles in the sand! My 5-year-old son caught her first and we all collapsed into the sand, exhausted. That’s when I realized that I didn’t want to make that long and tiresome trek back. I suddenly remembered that all of my belongings, including my wallet and keys, were almost 2 miles away. I decided to beg for a ride so that’s exactly what we did. I brushed off as much of the sand as we could, and then we went to the road, where The Bus comes along every 10 minutes. I was extremely thankful that the very first busdriver believed my story and let us ride for free!

When we got back to Ft. DeRussy, I was relieved that our stuff was still in the same spot where we left it. I was nervous as I stuck my hand down into the cooler but my untouched wallet and keys were actually there too! We gathered everything and walked to the car. Of course I made the kids pay extra attention to the long path as I drove along the exact route that we’d taken as we ran that 1.8 miles during our WAIKIKI CHASE!!! We were very tired when we got home but the ‘lecture‘ was minimal. My daughter never did catch those birds. She still tries though. She’s studying to be a Biologist with hopes of getting a Master’s degree in Zoology. Guess what? She DOES HAVE a special place in her heart for birds too! Hmmm, maybe it started when she was about 3 on a beach somewhere in Hawaii!

Hometown Pride

RCHS Mascot

Thanksgiving has come and gone for this year. Many events occurred during the last 2 weeks, other than just that traditional turkey dinner. My small Hoosier hometown celebrated much more than Thanksgiving this time around. Yes….everyone was truly thankful but that big family dinner was definitely not the MAIN EVENT this holiday season. HOMETOWN PRIDE was #1 on everybody’s menu this year as nearly every household was fixated upon the day after Thanksgiving. That was the BIG DAY….for the very first time in the history of Rensselaer High School Football, our young athletes were vying for the Indiana State 2A Championship! This undefeated team from a small town of less than 6000 residents actually won! HOORAY for the home team!

I live in central Florida but you had better believe that I was cheering on the Rensselaer Bombers from my chair right in front of my computer! My brother was at the game, which was played at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. I stayed with Facbook throughout the entirety of the game because I knew that at least 20 of my ‘friends’ were regularly posting every event plus plenty of short videos. So I was still able to view EVERY touchdown. How thrilling to see about 100 faces in the crowd that I knew. Also, how humorous to see them bundled up for the cool Hoosier weather while I was in my flip-flops here in Florida! I enjoyed the commentaries. It was fun watching the faces as they discovered themselves on the Jumbotron. Everybody was wearing their new ‘Bomber Nation‘ jerseys or their own former high school attire (if they still fit!) and it was wonderful to see the old school colors again: red and black!

So much has transpired during these past 2 weeks. Tragedy as well as Triumph. We’ve had a death in the family. My best friend of 49 years got her very 1st granddaughter and is expecting grandson #3 in a couple of weeks. This same friend retired 2 days after that granddaughter was born so I’m certain that she and her hubby will enjoy babysitting duties now that their schedules aren’t as hectic. Two of my children were honored at their workplace with a fabulous banquet, as per Disney tradition, for being 10-year Castmembers at Walt DisneyWorld! I’m soooo proud of them! My youngest son’s fiancee got the amazing promotion that she’d been hoping for and so far is enjoying her training quite a bit. My daughter-in-law finishes college this week too. I’m tired just trying to think about it all, my mind cannot keep up!

The photo above is our high school mascot. I’ve always thought that this little Bomber is a cute fella. I still think of my home team whenever I see the colors red and black together too; always have and probably always will. I like those colors. Same as the Chicago Bulls, which is, of course our favorite NBA team (the Pacers probably run a close second tho!). Rensselaer is a sports town. St. Joseph’s College is in Rensselaer and the Chicago Bears held their annual training camps there every year in August for 30 years, from 1944-1974. I think most folks still root for ‘Da Bears‘, while some also cheer on the Indianapolis Colts (did I mention that Rensselaer is geographically situated halfway between Indianpolis and Chicago?). As for baseball, well that’s easy. We’re all die-hard Cubs fans! Folks from my hometown NEVER GIVE UP HOPE! High School Football has been played in the fall, talked about, and attended for approximately 115 or more years in our town. That’s about as far back as anyone IS SURE ABOUT….maybe more! So that means that portions of 3 different centuries of HOMETOWN PRIDE has finally brought home the ultimate victory, plus bumped our school up into the next division too! Hmmmm, that makes me think of something: if’n it can happen for small-town guys like Rensselaer Bombers, who have waited over 100 years….I’m thinking that there’s still hope for those Cubbies yet! Make it happen Chicago Cubs!

Death Fascination

Jill

I accept that I am somewhat old-fashioned at times but I truly do not understand why youth these days have such a DEATH FASCINATION. What makes them flock to movies about zombies and underworldly creatures? Why do they long to be scared and then try so hard to make themselves look like they’re half-dead by using makeup and mutilating their bodies and slashing their clothing? Sure, I like a good vampire movie sometimes, but it doesn’t make me leave the movie theater wanting to seek a victim and sink my canine teeth into them to have a drink!

A young cousin died last week, leaving behind her 7-month-old son motherless for her husband to raise. She was playing with her precious child, her only child, and had a sudden heart attack. A couple of hours later her brother came to her house and found her there, and the screaming baby. This baby boy of hers was her ‘miracle baby‘….the child that the family had prayed for a very long time. She’d had many miscarriages until two years ago she gave birth to a little boy that died on the same day that he was born. So when this baby was born healthy, the family rejoiced! My cousin stayed home with her baby boy and I am so very glad that she posted almost-daily photos of him and often of the the two or three of them on Facebook. As it turns out, she packed a lotta loving into 7 short months and the little boy will have plenty of photos.

I was physically unable to travel to Indiana for the funeral. During the middle of the wake, I got a text from a cousin telling me that the body of our cousin looked terrible and that the makeup job was very bad. In her opinion (she’s a medical professional), the body should not been shown in an open casket because it’d been too long since her death. She also mentioned that this particular funeral home hasn’t done good makeup for the past several years. This concerns me because both of our mothers (sisters) have their funerals planned and prepaid at this same place and I doubt if there’s anything that I will be able to do about it when the time comes. I knew that Mama would’ve also gone to this particular wake so I talked to her that evening. She was nearly in tears as she told me how badly our cousin looked laying there in her coffin, and that even though the room was full of about 100 relatives, nobody was lined up to view the body. That’s so sad. Last night I was chatting on Facebook with another cousin, who told me that she stayed for quite awhile but had to leave when kids started taking ‘selfies‘ of themselves with the body. That is MAXIMUM DISRESPECT. My cousin even told me that she was glad that I wasn’t there to see that! I tell you what….if I were, I would’ve grabbed thosed kids and gotten their cellphones and erased those pictures! I don’t understand why their parents would allow that. Or why the funeral home director would allow that. I just told my youngest son about it and he agreed that it’s horrible but that evidently it’s a ‘FAD‘ now to post a photo of oneself on the Internet with a coffin. To me, this is beyond belief!

The photo I’ve posted above is a ‘prop photo op‘ from Universal StudiosHalloween Horror Nights. I did not like the thought of one of my kids in a casket, even for fun, so I tried to lighten the mood by putting hearts over her face!

I don’t know how long this DEATH FASCINATION craze will last but I hope I live long enough to see it fade away. Nonetheless, I AM handicapped and don’t know if I’ll die young or live a long time; so I’ve left specific instructions to my children to have my body cremated. Of course, this has been my desire for the past 3 decades and all of my family has known this so it’s well thought out. The only person that would’ve contested it was Daddy but he’s already in heaven. Mama is ok with it and so are the kids and the four of them are currently considered my ‘next-of-kin‘; they all understand my reasonings. My final wishes oughta be respected because they are just that: MY FINAL WISHES! I won’t be asking anything more. Just don’t show my dead body please! I’m a happy and friendly person. I don’t know if I will continue to be so as my illness progresses but I wish to be remembered that way!

Morning Person

Daytona sunrise7

Mama always said that once I had kids, then I’d learn to become a MORNING PERSON….well, the oldest kid is 32 now so I reckon that if it’s not happened by now then IT AIN’T HAPPENING! Oh sure, I do enjoy the occasional sunrise but mostly I’m a person that’d rather sleep late and stay up late. Always have been and always will be.

I live precisely in the middle of the state of Florida. The tourism marketing folks claim that we’re 45 minutes to the Atlantic Ocean and approximately an hour to the Gulf-of-Mexico. That’s quite an exaggeration. My house is on the eastern end of Kissimmee, away from the theme parks, and it still takes me much more than an hour to get to the nearest Atlantic beach. If I wish to drive to the most beautiful beaches, which are the dazzling sugar-white sandy beaches west of the Tampa area….it’ll take from 90 minutes to 2 hours of drive-time because of the dreadful traffic and seemingly never-ending road construction which winds through Tampa. It’s worth doing it anyway because the beaches and sunsets over the Gulf rarely disappoint.

Once-in-awhile I will have an opportunity to spend a night someplace along the Atlantic Ocean. This is blissful for me and I always will leave my balcony door at least partially open so that I can smell the saltiness and can hear the sounds of the waves as they come-and-go, come-and-go. Other than music and the sounds of children’s laughter, this is surely my favorite sound. I sleep well whenever I’m near the ocean. Yes, I do have one of those ‘sound simulators‘ that imitates the sound of the waves upon the shore….this does assist in helping me to fall asleep during the rest of the year but it’s a sad substitute for the real thing. The photo above was taken the last time that my daughter and I had a weekend getaway in Daytona Beach, 90 minutes to the northeast, and sat on our hotel balcony viewing the sun as it greeted the new day. EVERY time it makes me long to live by the seashore again. We moved from Jax Beach 10&1/2 years ago to come to central Florida to become Disney Castmembers. All in all it was a good move, but I do very much miss our apartment that was directly across the street from the beach. I miss falling asleep to the sounds of the waves and our tinkling wind chimes as the ocean breezes would play with/through them nearly all the time. Walking our American Eskimo dog along the beach (after 5pm as per the law) every evening was a special pleasure for the children.

I’ve also lived near the Gulf of Mexico, though not as close to the actual beach. When my oldest son was in 1st grade and we’d just returned from Hawaii, my husband got stationed at Hurlburt Field (USAF) by Ft. Walton Beach, which is in Florida’s Panhandle. That was an astonishing place to live and the beaches there were the most spectacular of all. Our favorite was the Officer’s Club Beach near Destin and we visited once or twice weekly, along with picnicking. After having having just lived more than a year in Hawaii, my children were already ‘beachbunnies’ and still were wanting to be at the beach more than anyplace else that I could take them to play. I’ve lived on the island of Oahu a couple of times, so that means I’ve also lived near the Pacific Ocean too, both with and without children. I have frequented all of the kid-friendly beaches dozens of times and also have patronized beaches where I’d not dare to take my kids!

So I’ve lived on an island, where I could see the sunrise on one side and go to another side for a sunset….and I did that often. Now I live in a state that’s mostly geographically just a great big peninsula. I reckon I could watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean in the morning and then cross the state and watch a Gulf sunset in the same day. But I don’t. I go to beaches on both sides but, alas, on different days. I still don’t like mornings so if I do go to the beaches at Cocoa or Daytona or Melbourne, which are MUCH quicker to get to, it’s gonna be late morning or noon-ish. But I do witness plenty of awe-inspiring sunsets, even though I have to fight traffic to get there, over at or near the more splendid beaches of Clearwater or St. Pete or Honeymoon Island. Come to think of it, if I ever bought a waterfront condo or home, I’d rather it be on the Gulf of Mexico because it’s just sooooo much more gorgeous. But real-estate prices and taxes also reflect that plus I’d get lots bigger condos (more square footage) for half the price on the Atlantic side….hmmmm, maybe that’ll be what it’ll ultimately take in order for me to become a MORNING PERSON after all! If I lived at the ocean again, I know that I’d not take it for granted because I like watching the sun come up. Maybe I’d better think about this!

4 Generations

4 generations-May 1993

Upon reaching a particular age in my lifetime, so many of the goals and dreams that I had once strived for but haven’t yet attained seem hazy now. Riches and notoriety are no longer as important as good health and longevity, especially when those things are not as abundant nor unending as my youthfulness once unwisely led me to believe. A photo of 4 GENERATIONS is a precious memory of my cute 9-year-old daughter with her head resting upon the shoulder of her beloved Great-Gramma with her doting Grandma on her other side, while I stand behind the three most important ladies in my life!

Twenty years later and my Gramma has been in heaven for more than a decade, my darling daughter is 30, and Mama and myself aren’t in the best of health. This spring the family will gather for a big party to celebrate Mama’s 80th birthday; quite an accomplishment! She’s had 3 children, 7 grandbabies, and a great-grandchild. She’s outlived 2 husbands and is happily married to #3 (she REALLY believes in LOVE and in ‘being in love‘, a characteristic that I didn’t inherit from her). She’s had 4 step-kids, lost 1, and has delighted in having 5 step-grandbabies too. She’s always been the epitome of MOM and GRANDMOTHER and WIFE. She learned this from my Gramma, her Mother, although they were from entirely different eras. They were as distinctly opposite as can be but yet alike in very many ways! I learned from both of them and they’ve been excellent role models.

So now I’m ready for my next role: to be a GRANDMA! I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting. My 3 kids are all at that 30-ish age….and yet still I wait. My middle child is 30. My youngest will be 30 on his next birthday and my 1st child passed it 2 years ago. My oldest son has been married for 3 years and keeps promising to start a family but still I hear excuses. I am at the point of wondering if I will ever be a Grandmother. Maybe it’s not meant to be. I may not even get to have a ‘3-Generation‘ photo, much less one with 4 GENERATIONS because I’ll be too old to ever hold that honored position of distinction of being the FAMILY MATRIARCH in one of those. I’ve seen many within my own extended families of cousins having photos of 5-Generations and even the rare 6-Generations in other families. But in doing the calculations….in order for me to hold even 1 of my Great-Great-Granchildren, a kid of mine would have to become a parent within the year and then that child would need to become a parent at age 21; then so would their child in order for me to become a Great-
Great-Grandparent just a couple of years past 100!