Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I spoke with my dad on the phone last night.  He asked me if I remember the first time I drove on a Mother’s Day Sunday.  I thought back to my learning-to-drive days as a young teenager, but that was not the time frame he was remembering.  He began telling me a story that I’ve heard many times, but do actually remember parts of myself.

My dad reminisced about that Sunday morning long ago when he took me along to a little farm our family owned on a country highway, to cut some roses for my mother.  I accompanied him on the short trip, sitting next to him on the long bench-like front seat.  I was probably four-years-old.

When we arrived at the farm and turned into the graveled driveway, my dad decided that it would be easier and quicker work if he went and cut the flowers while I sat in the car.  I sure didn’t mind that because I would hold onto the steering wheel and pretend to drive while I watched him meander up the drive into the farm yard to retrieve the roses.

Evidently, on this Sunday morning, I decided that simply holding on to the large steering wheel wasn’t realistic enough pretending and I decided to grab the gear shift on the steering wheel column.  I moved the gear shift into neutral and the car that my dad had left in park began backing down the narrow driveway toward the highway.

My father heard the crunching sound of rubber tires rolling over gravel and looked up to see his black and white car with his four-year-old at the wheel moving away from him.  I was thrilled to have the car moving, never recognizing any danger whatsoever and then happy to see my daddy running to meet me.

Thankfully, the wheels on the car had been turned,  so the car was not going to roll too far and my daddy ran really fast I thought to get to me.  My dad stopped the car, opened the driver’s side door and scooped up his little girl.

I’m sure my dad breathed a sigh of relief and maybe even a prayer of thanks, but I was none the worse for wear; excited that I had gotten the car to move all by myself.

My father mentioned in our phone conversation that he doubted  I would remember, but often during my childhood years, he would take me along for the ride when he had to go somewhere.  But, I do remember.  I remember that some of my favorite times were sitting alongside my dad, riding in his Chrysler or Dodge sedan or later in his Jeep truck, running an errand for my mom or him going to check on some of his business matters.  It wasn’t that the errand missions were exciting.  Sometimes I would end up sitting in the passenger seat waiting on my dad to finish a conversation with one of his friends or business acquaintances, for what seemed like a short eternity to a kid.  But, that really didn’t bother me…it was a small price to pay to go riding with my dad.

Mothers

It’s the day after Mother’s Day and thoughts about the mothers in my life still bounce about in my head.  Yesterday I went to church with my family and at the beginning of the service we watched a video of a man interviewing job candidates for a job with a list of requirements that no one human could ever fulfill.  Except… women all over the world carry out the tasks every day that were listed in the job description presented in the interviews.  These women are moms.  My eyes welled up with tears as the interviewer revealed to the multiple interviewees that the job description was for the job of “mom.”

I watched the video and thought about how I love being a mom…and I thought about my mom and my grandmothers who influenced my life so much.  I’m thankful for each one of them.

My maternal grandmother grew up in eastern Tennessee, the daughter of a farmer.  She worked hard all of her life.  There was not a physical task that she was afraid to undertake.  She didn’t have a lot of education.  Her handwriting was always hard for me to read.  But she knew a lot about a lot of things, like growing any kind of plant.  She had the greenest of green thumbs.  The yard around her house across the street from ours was full of all kinds of flowers and trees.  She could take a cutting from any plant, put it into the ground and it would grow at her command.  It was amazing to me, even as a child.  I did not inherit her green thumb.

My grandmother like to play ball with me when I was little.  She would throw a rubber ball and I would catch it and toss it back.  She was always up for buying a new large in diameter bouncy ball, that we would bounce back and forth.  A love for bouncing balls I did inherit.

My maternal grandmother liked a good April’s Fool prank.  I remember listening to her stories about pranks while lying beside her in bed after the lights in our house were turned out     for the night.  Her stories made me laugh.

This grandmother of mine loved music and liked doing the twist.  She taught me how to ride my bike and let me and my cousin stay up late at her house watching Elvis movies or westerns.  She loved her children and grandchildren, but didn’t always know how to express that love.  She was a simple woman who appreciated hard work and sitting outside on a big swing in the evening.

My paternal grandmother was also a native of eastern Tennessee.  She had a gentle southern Tennessee accent.  She was a baker of breads and cakes and sometimes when I smell sausage cooking the mornings, I feel as though I’m walking into her kitchen.  She took a lot of meals to many people in her community.  She could talk to anyone and was charming with her southern graces.

This grandmother was tall and loved wearing sandals.  I remember her taking me to feed the ducks at a small lake near her home.  She loved a good cup of coffee and visiting with my mom.  She adored my grandfather and he adored her right back.  The two of them taught me how to bowl and play golf.  She would let me spend hours and hours running through her shrubberies playing games with the neighbor boy who lived across the street.  She taught me how to play a game of rummy and let me teach her how to play crazy eights, though she would mention that I sometimes changed the rules a bit during the game.

She is what comes to my mind when I think of a southern lady.

And then there is my momma, the lady who most inspired me to want to be a momma myself.  My mom was and is a hard worker like her mother before her.  She can manage a budget with amazing capability.  When I was young, she typically wore pretty shirt dresses and nice shoes.  I used to think that when I became a mom, I would have to trade in my favorite blue jeans and sneakers for shirt dresses and dress shoes.  Thankfully, times and styles changed and I have done ok mothering in my blue jeans and tennis shoes.

I have watched my mom do whatever she needed to do to care for her family.  She loves her children and grandchildren with the utmost loyalty.  She is proud of every one of them.

Moms can be amazing women and I am blessed to have watched three of those amazing moms up close.

There’s a puppy in my lap.  His name is Scout.  His sister, Darcy, is lying nearby on a blanket on our sectional.  Scout and Darcy are the dynamic brother and sister puppy duo who arrived at our home in January at the age of six weeks.  Now they are five months old.  They have grown so much from the little fluff balls they were when we first brought them home.

Scout and Darcy were part of a litter of pups that belonged to a friend of mine.  The momma, a terrier mix, and the daddy, a beautiful Brittany Spaniel, belong to my friend as well.  It was an unplanned pregnancy, but turned into a blessing for us all.

Our family had been searching for just the right puppy for almost a year, without success.  Then I heard about my friend’s litter of puppies, free to a good home.  Our family decided to take a look at them.

When four members of our family went to pick out one puppy to love, we picked out two.  We had just lost our much loved golden retriever, Ellie, and our dog-lonesome hearts decided that we needed two pups instead of one.  It was the right decision.

Puppies…they are a lot of work.  And puppies…they  bring a lot of joy.  Scout has a low-to-the-ground stocky body, the shape of his mother. He has a  white wiry coat with large brown spots, a terrier nose and beard, and floppy brown ears.  He has lots of brown freckles on his otherwise pink tummy.  Scout’s white paws are huge.

Darcy looks more like their Brittany Spaniel dad, only much daintier.  Her features are fine and her legs are long.  She has jet black, soft fur, except for the whitest white fur that interrupts her shiny black coat in places.  Her paws are dainty and small. Darcy has a lot of energy, whereas her brother,  Scout, is much more laid-back, an enjoyer of sitting quietly in our front yard watching a butterfly flutter by.

Darcy likes to run and run and run and run.  Scout likes to run and then sit…while Darcy continues to run and run circles around him.

Scout likes to wander off into the woods for a great explore.  Darcy likes to follow Scout.  They both have learned to accept the bath time that they need after a great explore into the woods, where they find all sort of smelly smells to adopt as their own and bring back home with them.

They both prefer to eat our cat’s weight management cat food to their premium brand puppy food.  They both like our cat, Chris (long story about the cat name).  Chris the cat tolerates the puppies, often with much hissing and spitting and tapping a pup’s head or nose.   But, Chris the cat has not scratched either of them…yet.

Scout likes to lick.  He seems to like to lick anything, but human limbs attached to his people’s bodies seem to be his favorite.  He especially likes to lick feet.  Darcy doesn’t lick as much as her brother.  She does like to stand on her hind legs and ask to be picked up.  She likes to be held and comforted, which is fine for now, but could be a problem if she gets much bigger.

Scout likes wearing a bow tie on his collar.  Darcy likes to look at Scout when he is wearing the bow tie on his collar.  Both of them could do a better job of coming when they are called and they still don’t let their people know every time they need to go outside before they go inside.  But, they love their people and their people love them.  That is why this morning, there’s a puppy in my lap.

When my third-born Jeffrey walked into his kindergarten class on his first day of school, I was a bit weepy.  I restrained the tears that were filling my heart until I had dropped him off and collected the small gift bag from his sweet new teacher, Mrs. Tiffany.  The bag contained a little poem, a pack of Kleenex and a tea bag for us moms to use when we got back to our homes while our little students stayed at the school.

Once back at home, the tears spilled out and ran down my cheeks. I sat in a recliner in my bedroom, surprised by all of the emotion.  I guess that I had wrongly assumed that it would not be as hard to take the third child to kindergarten.  After all, I had done this twice before.  But it was hard…another daytime  companion would be spending part of the day away from his mom.

My bout of sadness was interrupted by child number four.  He came into my room, walked over to the chair where I was sitting and announced that he wanted to learn to ride his bike…without the training wheels…right then.

So the weeping mom turned mechanic as I took the training wheels off the repainted, hand-me-down purple bike.  My three-year-old Timmy’s little legs could not touch the ground when he sat on the bike.  I wondered how he would ever be able to master the riding-without-training-wheels skill when the bike was so much bigger than he was.

We rolled the now-two-wheeler out to the edge of our cul-de-sac driveway and pointed the bike toward our garage.  I held the bike while he balanced on the seat.  If I let go, the bike would fall over and Timmy could not stop it.  So I began walking and pushing the bike and he began pedaling.  I let go of the bike and off he went.  I wondered how the ride would end, he could not just stop the bike and put his feet down, his feet didn’t reach the ground.  But my determined little boy did not stop the bike at the other end of the driveway, he simply bailed off the bike when it reached the end of the drive and let the bike roll into the grass.  Problem solved.

For the rest of the morning, I was busied by my three-year-old-turned-bike-rider.  Over and over again, I would balance him upon the seat at one end of the drive and he would pedal as fast as he could to the other end of the driveway and then jump off the bike.  He mastered riding the bike and dismounting by the end of the morning.  He mastered the bike; it did not master him.

I have watched my Timothy use this same determination to master other skills and challenges over the last many years.  He sets his goals and then works…he works hard.  He works hard at work and he works hard at play.  His determination and effort have served him well.  And with each accomplishment he has remained humble.  It has been a joy to watch him grow into the man version of the determined boy he has been all of his life.

This morning at a school assembly, I watched with admiration as Timothy received his congressional appointment to the Air Force Academy and was named valedictorian and a distinguished graduate of his senior class.  I thought about my little boy who was determined to ride that bike…and I was a bit weepy…and very proud.

I teach a preschool class at my church on Sunday mornings.  I have been with most of this same group of kids since they were two and could not yet form complete sentences when they spoke.  Now most of them are five.  They not only talk in complete sentences, but they talk in paragraph after paragraph…usually all at once…usually with my name, Mrs. Donna, interjected at the beginning of every new paragraph.  I try hard to listen to all they have to say every week.

When the class year was drawing to a close when they were two, I made the decision to move up with them to the three-year-old class.  My youngest son who helps me in the class moved up with me.  When the year was ending when they were three, I decided to move up with them to the four-year-old class.  My son moved up as well.

Now, most of the kids in the class have or are turning five.  They are very proud to announce that numerous times every Sunday morning.  Being five is a big deal.

When the time soon comes for them to move out of the preschool department to the grammar school age children’s department, I’m going with them.  I can’t help it…they stole my heart a couple of years ago, so I have to keep moving up with them.  When they graduate from high school, I will probably go live in a dormitory somewhere with them.  They all need to go to the same college.

Anyway, yesterday one of the little girls in the class, one of them that I have held in my arms on a lot of Sundays since she was two came in to the classroom.  We had not seen each other in a few weeks because I was gone and she was gone and yesterday, we were just happy to be together again.  I asked her about her T-ball season and what her favorite part of playing T-ball is…batting, of course…and we chatted about T-ball for a while.  Then she mentioned something about her dad and how he had cheered for THAT college team.  Her expression had changed from the excited talking-about-T-ball-expression that had just been on her face to a bummed-out look.

I was a little surprised that her dad cheered for this particular SEC college team because this little girl has worn a small-sized cheer-leading outfit for a rival SEC college team many times to church…that’s what we do in the south…at least in the SEC…at least in Alabama.

I listened quietly to her and then she looked at me with a piercing, questioning look and asked the question that we have avoided for the last three years, “Mrs. Donna are you a __________ fan?”…with the name of her favorite SEC college team filled in the blank.

I took a moment and gathered my courage.  Even after I had gathered all of the courage that I could gather as I looked into this five-year-old’s precious eyes, I only told her half the truth…the truth, but only half of it.  I told her that I had grown up in Arkansas and that since the time that I was the age that she is now I have been a Razorback fan.  Her face fell.  My face fell at her face falling.  I hoped that I had not permanently damaged our friendship.  I couldn’t bear to her that I am also a fan of that other school.

I tried to tell her about the calling-the-hogs-cheer that every Razorback fan knows, but her countenance remained a little disappointed.  My young friend was coming of age in Alabama…coming to the point of realization that some people you like and respect and even love “go” for the other team.

These kids and I have endured a lot together:  diapers, diaper bags, sippy cups, most episodes of VeggieTales, a lot of giggles and fun and some tears and missing mommies and daddies during the hours we have been together.  Just add this “coming of age” moment to the list.

Uniforms

I don’t usually wash laundry on Sundays, unless it’s absolutely necessary.  But today I’m washing a uniform…my son’s soccer uniform.  He wore it in a tough game yesterday.  One sniff of that soccer jersey and it’s apparent that washing this uniform is absolutely necessary.  The jersey smells of sweat and effort and determination and competition…things my son does well…things my son loves.

Today is the last time I will wash this particular uniform.  The playoff game didn’t go our way; our team won’t be moving on to the next round.  The soccer season is over for us.  My high school senior son has played his last game for the school that he has attended since first grade.  I am washing his playing uniform for the last time.

I taught this son several years ago how to wash his practice uniforms.  I realized that late afternoons and evenings were busy times at home and I might not always remember that there was a dirty practice uniform laying in the laundry room floor needing attention.  So my boy would get his uniform into the washing machine after a practice.  We would work in tandem to make sure the uniform got taken out of the washing machine and hung up to dry for use again the next day.  But the game day uniforms, I usually washed those.  They would need all of the laundry expertise that I could muster.

My kids have attended a school where uniforms are worn every day.  I have liked that.  School uniforms makes it easy on a mom when there are limited choices as to the day’s attire.  And I have washed loads and loads of khaki colored pants and shorts and a variety of colors of polos.  Sometimes I have had mounds of uniform clothing to launder but I’ve never really minded.

And then there’s the sports laundry.  The stinky laundry.  The wondering-how-I’m-going-to-get-that-stain-out kind of laundry.  The kind of laundry that has at times made me want to leave my laundry room in surrender.  The kind that has sometimes made me think that lighting a match to it might be the only way to get the smell out kind of laundry.  Washing that kind of laundry has been part of my contribution in supporting my young athletes.

When I’ve washed that super-stinky sports laundry I’ve thought about the game that my athletes played that got that uniform so smelly.  I’ve remembered the good plays and the not-so-good plays.  I’ve remembered the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.  The athletic competitions of my kids has been the wide, wide world of sports for me.  And I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

My high school senior will soon be switching to another kind of uniform.  He will continue to wear a uniform as he goes off to college at the U. S. Air Force Academy.  But…I won’t get to launder those uniforms.  He will do that on his own.  I’m sure that he will do a good job on his laundry.  He may make some laundering mistakes,  but he will learn.  I have full confidence in him as I hand off this job that I have had for the last 18 years of his life.  Doing my son’s laundry…it has been a privilege and even a joy.

clocks

     A week ago my family and I spent the day driving home after visiting extended family 2-3 states away.  We had a great time seeing relatives that we had not seen in far too long.  As we traveled the 14 hours back home, we carried a unexpected treasure back to south Alabama.  The treasure sits on our mantel now, chiming on the quarter hour.

     My kids don’t esteem the new-to-us clock in the same way I do.  And I must admit that hearing the chimes on a regular basis is taking some getting used to.  We are easing in to it.  But with every chime, I travel back in time to my grandparents’ home.  The same chimes rang in their home for as long as I can remember.  In fact, I have memories of standing in their Florida home in the mid 1960’s listening to the same chimes at the early age of three or four.  Whenever I have heard Westminster chimes I am transported to my grandparents’ home.

     My mom tells me that I would have first heard those chimes when my grandmother and grandfather lived in Tennessee, where they both grew up, got married, and raised a family consisting of my dad and my aunt.  Then my grandparents moved to Florida, where my aunt would attend school to earn her doctorate.  That’s the home where my first chime memories occurred.

     Then my grandparents would move with their English professor daughter to Virginia so she could teach at a college there.  When I was eight years old, I spent the first of many two week stays in the summer with my grandparents.  I have many memories of that first summer visit with them.  I enjoyed riding with my grandfather every day to pick up my aunt from the school where she taught, especially when we drove in his brown Barracuda convertible.  I remember getting a stomach virus, which was not very fun when you are far away from home and your mother, who had always taken care of me when I was sick, but I survived just fine.  My grandmother served the best Ginger Ale and saltine crackers that I had ever tasted and she played hours of card games with me sitting on the sofa in their basement den.

     I remember those chimes of the clock, keeping perfect time.

     The clock with the chimes that played in their home at that time sat on the mantel in their family room right above my granddaddy’s recliner, where he would watch the evening news faithfully every day.  This was before CNN or any other news station that broadcast 24/7 existed.   Watching the news was highly important to my grandfather and I learned that when the news broadcast came on the television, it was time for me to be quiet, so my grandfather could listen to every story

     My grandmother and aunt usually sat at a nearby table situated by a large window that overlooked their back yard or my grandmother might be in the adjacent kitchen making dinner.  And the clock kept time.

     The clock that chimed all through my summer visits for many years and my grandparents’ daily lives stopped working somewhere along the way.  For my grandparents 50th anniversary my parents and my aunt gave them a new clock that played the same chimes.  It has a little engraved plate on the top of it noting the occasion. 

     I remember travelling with my parents and two sisters from Arkansas to Virginia to celebrate their anniversary.  It was my freshman year of college.  I remembering listening to the family stories that I had heard many times before. We took photos galore in the living room seated on the wooden furniture with the maroon velvet seats.  That same furniture  is now arranged in the front room of my house.  And the chimes of the then new clock rang out on the quarter hour.

      Now that clock sits on my mantel.  My kids who are not accustomed to hearing the predictable ringing out of chimes.  I think they will get used to it.  But I notice that sometimes quarter hours will come and go with no chiming declaring the time and I realize that one of my kids has silenced the chimes for just a little while. 

     I think we will eventually adjust to this new audible addition.  And in time, when my children are all grown and gone and their children come to visit their grandparents, they will come to know the marking of time at their grandparents’ home by the chimes from the mantel clock.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 230 other followers