My Service

I have been to many funerals and memorial services in my life, a normality for those my age. And one thing I realized when I was planning my parent’s funerals is that the service is for those of us who are left, not the person who has died. And think about – the oerson is gone and not of this earth, so the service has no benefit for them. We do it for us – as a way to say goodbye, have closure, cry, and mark the occocasion of their passing, because it is a part of our lives.

So with that in mind, when it is my time…I don’t want a service, I want a party. If the service is for those who are left, not me, well, then let’s truly make it a celebration.

First there should be an open bar, and plenty of food. And chocolate. And music. Get up and do the Electric Slide as I slide on into the afterlife. What better way to do that than to dance to a song about a vibrator? And I want the ushers to be dressed in Grim Reaper costumes, and then stand quietly at the back of the room, maybe occasionally tapping people on the shoulder during the service, just for kicks. There better be some shenanigan’s or I will be extremely disappointed. Maybe get an angel to jump out of a cake or something. That would be fun.

And forget crying, get up and tell stories about how clumsy I am…and there are Plenty of those…like the time I slid down the stairs at a job only be met by my boss at the bottom…when I tripped again and spilled coffee on him. Or when I dropped the pre-employment drug test cup full of pee when I handed it off to the nurse…and she and I both looked down at the floor in horror and disgust. Or how about the time I fell into a mud puddle after nearly getting run over by the Mobile Library while walking home with my best friend from junior high school? Or my flatulence during a very quiet Midnight Mass (Christmas Eve) service (never eat spicy tacos before church)? Oh the list could go on and on.

The service could last for days on that alone.

I want people laughing so hard they cry, because they are having such a great time at my “Party.” Because no doubt if anyone can trip and fall, grabbing St. Peter’s halo and breaking it on the way down, it’s me. And if we do get Angels’ wings…can you imagine how many people I will take out with those? I can barely keep from hitting people with my purse in a crowded store…much less some massive pair of wings that I have to keep track of. That is a lot of extra space for a Pinktank in a china shop. Maybe it is good that Heaven has lots of clouds….clouds are soft and don’t hurt when you fall, trip, stumble or spill into them. And just know I am haunting everyone. I mean everyone. Maybe even you.

Indeed, I want there to be laughter and people to have such a good time that I need to reserve a hotel and shuttle to and for so people don’t drive. I want it to be legendary party. People should be exhausted, drunk, full of delicious food and chocolate dripped on there shirts and tear stained cheeks from laughing so hard.

And make my obituary funny too. Talk not about my accomplishments, but about my embarrassing moments, as there are much more of them anyway. Like when I saw my super hot neighbor at the store…when I had granny panties and a lip gloss in my shopping cart. Or when I tripped into a Christmas tree at a friends house and got tangled up in the lights, looking like a brightly colored dancing tree because I couldn’t get out of the it. Make fun of me hard. Laugh at me hard. If I’m haunting everyone anyway, you guys might as well earn it. But most of all, have fun.

Life is short. Celebrate it while you are here, and make sure your friends carry on the celebration after you are gone. After all, what are friends for?

The Wallet

I was going through some of my parents things the other day and found my mother’s wallet. I have not seen it for a few years and had to smile when I picked it up. As I opened it, a flood of memories ran through my mind. -How many years she had this wallet, where it come from and the many times we were out places when she would pull it out and pay for lunches or afternoons shopping? How many errands did we run together, and ow many times did she pull out that wallet to give me money when I was younger and struggling through college or first starting out?

I opened her wallet and looked at her drivers liscene. It is amazing how beautiful she was, even when she was sick and only 85 pounds. The picture was taken in 2014 when she renewed her lisense for the last time. She never thought she was pretty. She once confided in my that she thought she was ugly, something I simply cannot fathom looking at her pciture. She was stunning, even at 73. Even sick.

My mother was beautiful as a child, a woman, and later as a senior. And I love when people tell me I look like her. Not only because she was beautiful, honestly I would love it even if she weren’t. But because to look like her is physical validation that she was mine and I was hers. And this makes me happy.

One day maybe I will use her wallet as nine. But that would require taking out all of her things that she has tucked away and hidden in all the pockets and places. So for now, I will hold onto it, and smile every once in a while when I find it, and see her beautiful face in the pcitures held within.

Life is short. As I attend another service this weekend I go back to the advice of the Hospice grief counselor years ago: Remember those whom you have lost with affection and love. One day those memories will make you smile much more than cry. Take time to grieve, but remeber it is a pkace to visit, not a place to live.

Expect Grace

This a a lady that I have known for a long time in Atlanta. I met her about 2006 before she started her law firm. She has always been extremely positive and faithful. It has truly been a joy watching her succeed to where she is today. And with this positive message, you can understand why.

She talks about one of the principals I have lived by for a long time and have written about extensively: Expect Grace. When we are going through a hard time, we can find comfort in the fact that it is only temporary and that we will learn and grow by the time we get to the other side. Enjoy this message and Happy Monday!

The Letter

Someone from my hometown of Valdosta has been going through and reading many of my blog pages. One of the blogs that they stopped on and read was called “A Letter to My 16 Year Old Self.”

I had to smile as I went back and re-read it… It’s not a bad letter, though I would add a few things about what it’s like to lose both of your parents 7 months apart. So here it is again…my letter to 16 year old me:

Dear Me,

I know you are very strong willed and head strong, and are going to do what you want, but here are some tips to keep in mind along the way. Plus, everything that happens really does happen for a reason, and makes you into a great person who is strong and comapssionate. First, you are beautiful. You will later look back at pictures and wonder why you were so self conscious. Life at that age is awkward, from your body, to boys, to school, to, everything. Don’t worry, it all turns out OK. And don’t worry about your boobs, they fill out. It won’t happen until in your late 20’s and 30’s, but it does happen.

Second, remember that man who read your palm at your parents house? He said you were a writer, and you thought he was a bit crazy – he’s not. You do become a writer and it is even more fabulous than you could ever imagine. You write a book, many articles and you are happier in your career than you ever thought you could be. You also make really great money. In addition to writing, have a great career in radio in your 20’s. Your first boss in radio will be one of your lifelong best friends. You will also do a stint in finance…though you make a lot of money at it, it is not your true calling. Don’t feel bad when you leave it. You are not a failure, on the contrary, you are becoming what you were meant to be. You work hard and create the life you always wanted, and all the sacrifices along the way are worth it. You live your dreams.

Forget about what otehr people say and stick to your guns about doing the right thing. It pays off and your will always respect yourself.

Spend more time with Wendy, you’ll wish you had when she passes just a few short years from now. Her passing will have a deep and profound effect on you. And know, when it does happen, that there was nothing you could have done to stop it.

There will be two years, from 19-21, that you call the dark ages. Know that the things that happen are not your fault and you did nothing to deserve them. Forgive yourself.  Listen to Amy, she sticks by you, supports you and loves you, even when you don’t love or believe in yourself. Know that these years help shape the canvass of your life and that you truly do become a better, richer, deeper person for your expereinces.

You and your sister fight a lot now, but later she will be your best friend and biggest champion. You will also be hers. The Link between you two only grows stronger with age. And she hides your keys in the couch (you’ll know when you get there).

Mom, she is . right. Always. Don’t talk back to her as much, and yes you do need to clean your room. YoYou don’t know it, but she has cancer now though it won’t be discovered for many years. Be prepared for the first time you see her in the hospital, your knees will almost give out…it doesn’t look good and she has enough wires coming out of her to look like the back of a stereo system.  She survives but the next two years will be rough ones. They will tear you apart inside, but they will also bring the family even closer. And go to Vegas (you’ll understand when you get there).

On Dad: Take pictures of when the two of you work to fix the caliper in the rain. That will be one of your most cherished memories with him. As you get older he will be more and more one of your best friends and you often say he truly is the best man you know. And he is. And go out to dinner with him when he asks. That is very important.

You will have many friends in your life, and not all of them will be true or honest. But that’s OK. That is just part of life. You  don’t have to understand why, just love them and know that it all works out. Through it all, there will be many who stay your friends for life.They will be your heart.

On love and Dating:   You love with all your heart and everything you have. That is a very good thing, but you hurt the same way and just as deep. It’s all part of it. Don’t change it, as each time you love, it is deeper and stronger, until you are capable of loving even more than you thought possible. Loving someone is never a mistake, it is a gift. Never pass up the chance. Even if it doesn’t work, you will have wonderful memories, and a great book to write.

Having said that, here are some things you need to know: Don’t worry about what happens with your high school sweetheart. The man you date after that will say he loves you – believe him. You will spend many years looking for a man who will love you as unconditionally as he does. The man you call the love of your life truly is. When sis sets you up on that blind date, and you feel it, you are right. But that does not mean that you will end up together or live happily ever. after. It does mean that you will forever and always be thankful. It is worth it. Every second.

Some men you date will be wonderful, some terrible.  Somewhere along the way you get the idea that you have to be nice to everyone who wrongs you. No, you don’t. You do not have to give chance after chance. Remember that. If they were worth your time, and treated you right, you would not be walking away in the first place. Be civil, but beyond that they can kiss your ass. That goes for men, bosses and friends.

On Marriage: You have a sneaky suspicion that you will never get married and will always be a free spirit. You very well may be right. You do get close twice. The first will be with the man you are with now, just 13 years later. At 37 you decide that you will probably not ever get married and plan to start a family on your own once in your 40’s. With the second man, remember to trust your gut instincts. Don’t stay in the hotel. You love both of these men with all your heart, but sometimes love isn’t enough, and you have to let it go. And that hurts, a lot. You don’t regret either expereince or planning to marry them.. You loved them, and that is all that matters. Yes it is worth all of it, and yes you would do it again. It is never a mistake to love someone, never a mistake to take that chance, even if it ends badly. Love them, just as much, just as true. Just learn from those mistakse so you do not repeat them.

Also never forget who you are. You are magnificent, strong and capable. As in any life, there will be great highs and lows. Times you hurt so much that you can’t even cry, and great moments that you think you may pop from joy. I wish I could hold you through all those bad times, and tell you it will all be OK, but you already know that deep down, don’t you? Even if I could take away the pain and hard times that you will go through I wouldn’t, because that would deprive you of the knowleadge, expereince and depth you will gain from having gone through them and come out the other side. The pain you go through will carves out deep spaces within us, so that we may b=fell and experinece life even more deeply than we ever thought possible, but life must carve those deep spaces out first.

Know that as I look back on the girl you are, and the woman you grow into, that I am proud of you.

You will always be clumsy, that never gets better. Save more money, you’ll need it when the job market gets bad. Renew your tags every year – that’s important. And no, you really do not need to drive that fast. Give up on your sock drawer and your closet. Those will always be messy. You sing great…in the car. Never forget that.

There are many more things to tell you. I would love to sit down and have dinner and fill you in. But just know this…it is a magic, sometimes tragic, beautiful, wonderful, terrible, heartbreaking, joyfull, life. And it all works out.

Love You Always


The Wedding

One of my best friends got married recently. They have been togwther for aboit 3 years. He propsed a little while ago and they eloped this past weekend. It is always wonderful when,those you loce are happy. It is wonderful when someone they love sees how special, and amazing they are and treats them accordingly.

Tonight my heart is joyous knowing she is happy.

The Measure of a Man

My father was a great man by all accounts. And he taught me how to measure the worth of a man by example. Indeed, how you take care of your children and the mother of your children says a lot about you as a human being and your level of integrity. For instance, my father had three children by his first wife. After my parents died I found out that because my father’s first wife was so routinely unfaithful, there was more than a chance that the three children were not his.

And yet, he never mentioned this and he paid his child support as he should have, even twice in many occasions. He went above and beyond in making sure they had what they needed, paying for braces and trips to England for them. He did this quietly and never talked bad about their mother to the kids, no matter how many horrible things she said about him. Not only that, my father took care of 63 foster children. He never knew what he was coming home to, ow how many children would be there. But he took it all in stride, playing with them and talking with them and being a male figure in their lives that they could count on. The foster kids called them Jimdad and GennyMom.

Fast forward to this day and age. One of my best friend’s husbands left her, but not after cleaning out and closing all of the bank accounts, leaving her with nothing. No explanation of why he left, and no way to pay the household bills or bills that HE ran up on her credit. He was horrible with money and spent them into a whole every time she managed to get them out, and then would blame her, making her feel guilty. He took the cowards way out. Even if you no longer love her, you have the integrity to have the conversation of your intentions and decide the best way to move forward in a way that is fair.

My most recent ex, the alcoholic ex-financial executive, also behaved similarly. When he left his last ex w-wife, he cleaned out their joint account and she went to the court and ordered everything put back until after the divorce. He fought her on paying child support and custody. And I saw him regularly get drunk while watching his other children, to the point where he he was slurring his words, not able to walk and definitely could not drive if anything happened to his boys. He used the fact that he made a lot of money to control his first ex-wife because she couldn’t afford to fight him and he would refuse to supplement her income if she didn’t do as he wanted – including le

He left a woman pregnant with his child, refusing to communicate his intentions with her, except to say he was moving on with another woman. And he even killed a woman drunk driving when he was 20, and continued to drink after that.

I think of these two examples of “men.” And I think that they are not men at all. Because being a man is more than age and being able to screw. It is more than having a job or even earning a lot of money so you can Wisk your latest piece of ass around the world to beautiful beaches. It isn’t having a lot of power to screw people over if you want. And it isn’t intimidating and controlling people with money, not is it refusing to talk or communicate. No, those things are what cowards do, not men.

A man is standing up for what is right and fair, even when you are leaving. A man is someone who doesn’t have to beat his chest, or spend money to impress others….Basically a man shouldn’t have to be told how to be a man by the time he gets to my age. If he does, then he is a failure as a human being.

And that is why I am so very thankful for the man I have in my life, who takes care of those he loves, who loves children and who has a strong sense of integrity. He is the God father to a wonderful little girl, and the adopted “uncle” to three others when there was no father figure. He loves all of them and makes sure to be there for birthdays, holidays and in general for whatever those kids need or want. Not because he has to, or even because he should, but because he is so much of a man that he wants to.

Yes, he is a Man. And an example of what a man should be, as he leads by example his actions and attitude. I have never heard him speak bad against any ex, I have never heard him disrespect a woman in any way. I very thankful for him and that I had such a a strong, wonderful father to teach me by example of what a man should be. And I am thankful for my man’s father, for teaching him by example of what a man should be as well. You can always tell those who had horrible examples…

Life is short. The measure of a man is not how much money he makes, how much power he has, how tall he is. The measure of a man is how he takes care of his children and those who love him. Indeed it is a Little man who doesn’t take care if his children. Women, know the difference and don’t be fooled by fools gold.

Place and Time

Weote this a year ago. The plan was always to leave after 2 years…but sometimes you just need a sign.

There is a saying that God will place you exactly where you need to be. Many times in life we pray for direction, for wisdom and help in making decisions. And then we must get still and listen to the voice of God. Or sometimes the answer to our prayers will be so loud that we cannot miss them. But sometimes even then we do not listen.

What I have found is that things are more difficult, or simply don’t work out at all, when I do not listen to the answers that should be more than obvious. So I have learned the hard way to listen. When I started praying as to whether or not I should move or stay in place, I made an extra prayer to “please God, make it extremely clear, something I cannot miss because you know that I do not get hints.”

God listened and answered. Loudly. He answered in a text from my landlord stating that they would not be renewing the current rental lease. That made it pretty clear, thanks.

And so I must go. I must plan and place and pack and pray and move and leave. I must find a new place to call home. And that is the thing about life – it is always developing. Your story is always being written because your life continues to be lived. You never know what paths, twists or turns or events that might take place, so you have to enjoy every minute of where you are right now.

Keeping that in mind I look around at where I am. This place, this house, has been my safe place and my sanctuary for the last two years. When I came here I was broken, actually shattered, from such devastating loss and grief. But I have rebuilt myself, slowly filled in the cracks with tears that flowed and seasoned into steadfast love. There has been healing, building, trying, failing, hoping, praying, crying, working, resting and much, much more. It is here, inside and protected by these walls, that I have learned to breath again. I have learned to feel joy in the sunlight and felt the determination of a stubborn heart.

It is here, in this house, in this yard, with these walls, that I have build a home, and felt love, given love, built love, built a life, out of nothing at all. It has been in this location that I have been so utterly tired and exasperated and hurt and lonely, that I had no where to turn but up to God, crying so fiercely that only He could understand my whimpers.

And it is here, within these walls, inside these doors, along this staircase and hallway, that I found myself again. It is here, in this kitchen, that I found my soul again, and my joy, cooking for those friends I love. It is here that I found my smile again, hiding along the baseboards, seeking sunlight from the window. It is resting on these window panes, that I found my faith in myself again, as the tears rolled down my cheeks. And here that I danced in the rain, in the yard, letting my tears mingle with the raindrops, washing away the cold grime of grief.

It is this house, this gift from God, as he knew exactly where I needed to be two years ago, from where this Phoenix shall rise and fly again; joyful, beautiful, faithful and free. Yes, it is here where I found my happiness again. Where I found my new family, my nourishment and my strength for this next amazing chapter.

And soon it will be time for me to rise up and fly, always thankful for the blessings and safeties of here.

Life is short. Find where you are safe. Find where you are loved. It is there where you will find what you need. And always know that home is where you make it, where you build it and where you love it.

This has been quite a week in the history of my life. While things are going well for me personally, this past week had not been without emotional challenges. Coming to grips with a dear friend’s suicide attempt, finding out about the death of a family friend and then a dear persona’s sister passing. These situations are not easy. But we were never promised an easy life.

There have been strange dreams, a bit of crying and a general sense of uneasiness. and there has also been a lot of prayer – prayers for peace for those involved and loved ones. Prayers for my friend who thankfully was not successful in his attempt, prayers for strength and courage for my family friends in the loss of their father.

Indeed, it seems that the Grim reaper has been getting far too familiar with my friends. And I don’t like it. One thing a week like this past one does is remind you that life is short, so you must enjoy the time you have here, now. Say the things you need to say, take the risks and chances, and make sure to tell loved ones that you do love them,

And one other thing – take the time to enjoy the small, simple pleasures. It seems in the rush of our daily lives, trying to accomplish all of our gaols, we forget the simple things in life. A beautiful day, your favorite song on the radio, a conversation with a good friend…it could be anything, just as long as you take the time to breath it in and truly cherish that moment for the perfection that it is.

Tonight was just that. After such a week, I needed to replenish by slowing down and taking it all in. It started with a home cooked meal. I made simple creamy chicken and rice with grilled asparagus. There was eating outside to enjoy the lovely evening, and then enjoying one of my favorite TV shows afterwards whole snuggling with the kitties.

Sound boring? Yes, it was blissfully so. It was perfection.

Taking care of yourself and enjoying those small pleasures, is much needed. Especially during challenging times. It helps you reset and recharge, it helps you pray sna dslow down enough to hear God’s voice. And it simply helps you feel better.

Life is short. Enjoy the simple pleasures. They can make a tough time easier and a good day even better.

Excitement of Fall

It is no secret that this year has been a challenge for many. Between Covid, hurricanes, murder hornets, riots, dust storms spurring sand from the Sarah desert, to having to shelter in place and places being closed, we all wonder what each month might bring.

Right now, I am enjoying the fact that this month is bringing some cooler temperatures. It is the beginning of Fall – finally! This was my first Houston Summer and I have to say while it wasn’t that bad, I am ready for things to cool off a bit. I am ready to have my windows and doors open and having a break from high cooling bills. Sleeping with the windows open is an especially nice treat that I enjoy.

And the possibility of planting a fall and winter garden is tempting. The current garden is a bit of a mess and needs a bit of pruning and weeding. maybe a good restart as well.

Yes, there are adventures to be had this fall. New projects being started and new goals to reach. Fuzzy slippers to wear, with warm soft PJs and blankets. Nooks to read and write, and shows to watch.

This year may be a hard one, but we must work with what we are given. Even if you are not where you want to be, even if life is hard right now, work with what you have and make the most of it while you can.

Just how do we do that exactly? I find that being thankful is a start. Yes the cliché of an attitude of gratitude actually works. Because no matter how hard you have it, someone has it harder than you. If you don’t believe me, visit a hospital NICU or a nursing home. No matter what you are going through, it could always be worse, so be thankful that it is not.

Then you have to remind yourself that whatever the situation is, it is only temporary. It won’t be like this in 20 years, 10 years, 5 years…even one year. even 6 months. Then you decide what you can do about it to change it. Get a new job? Move to a new place? Go back to school? And you do it. Start making a plan. What if it is noth anything you can change at the moment? The you remind yourself that it’s only temporary and that each day you cannot change things brings you closer to the day that you can. And you work from there.

There may not be an easy fix for the hard times, but with perseverance you can turn that pain into power. And soon you will be celebrating and looking forward to the change of seasons as well.

Life is short. Play the hand you were given because you never know when you might be dealt an ace.

A Note

Hi Mom, it’s me. You have no idea how much I miss saying that when I would call you. There are still many times that I think to call you…

Now would be one of those times, to tell you how happy I am and all about why. My life here is wonderful and I am happier than I have been in a long time. I miss my friends and family in Georgia but hopefully will be able to visit them soon.

I think you and Dad would be proud of me and the life I have made here. You would love my house and the room I set up for you, called the “nap room.” It is perfect. My career is going well and I am fulfilling the plans to be a writer and have my book published. The garden is another story…it looks like your last garden. There really is no excuse except I have been enjoying life and playing. Do you know how long it had been since I played and had fun? I think you do since you were one of the only people I ever confided in, plus you could always tell by looking at me…and most of the time by the sound of my voice on the phone. I guess mother’s always have the sense about their children.

You would love the people I have met here too. My neighbors and dear people in my life. I think you would look at me and smile because I am so ridiculously happy here. I wish you had lived to see that. But I know that you see it now. And I do miss talking to you. I know that you are here and can see everything, but it’s not the same as sitting together on the back porch in the morning or night and talking over coffee or wine. The laughs we always had together are some of my favorite memories.

Cooking with you is another. And I just gave one of you recipes to Rita.

I found a pamphlet recently, and I know that you had something to do with it. I take it as a sign of you telling me that it is OK to move forward with it, that you guys are happy for me. I made a call today to start the process. It comforts me so knowing you and Dad are behind me.

Thank you for visiting me in my dreams so often. I love it when you do. I always wake up with such a warm feeling when you are Dad are there. You know you were my favorite Mom. I feel good that now I can joke about things and in your letters to you.

I am doing great, but I would still give anything to hug you and Dad one more time. Thank you for being the best parents in the world. Thank you for continuing to look out for me and send me signs (I know that butterfly the other day was you). Thank you for loving me unconditionally. Love you. Tell Dad I love him too.