Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Memories of Lucy

I've been thinking about my mother-in-law the past couple of days. She passed away about two years ago as a result of Alzheimers. Her birthday was Sunday, June 22nd. Her knickname from childhood was Lucy, so that's how I will refer to her today.

I was blessed to have had this amazing lady in my life. Lucy rarely had a cross word for anyone, and usually found a reason to laugh at most situations. She was an excellent cook and gardener. Many times she bought flowers for my home. There was always a white waxy Begonia in the mix.

She loved to shop and we would always take the time for a shopping trip when we were visiting. One of her favorite parts of shopping was stopping for a bit of something sweet. This usually meant sharing a Mrs. Powell's cinnamon roll.

Lucy loved her family and especially her two grandsons. Whether they were playing a board game, sharing cookies and milk, or walking in her garden, it was always a wonderful time.

I still miss her. We all do. I pray the day will come that Alzheimers will be a thing of the past.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day Reflections

Well, I made it through another Father's Day. My dad passed 18 years ago but my grandpa, who holds the title of "father" in my heart passed, away just under two years ago.

First dad... He was a funny, warm man who popped in for the occasional birthday or holiday. Sometimes he'd bring my brother with him. That was always a treat! Sis and I loved playing with RR. Dad would usually pick up a guitar at some point and start playing "Keys to the Kingdom". He had a Merle Haggerty kind of country voice. Grandma would often harmonize in her low, low alto/tenor. Good times!

Dad became more of a regular fixture in our lives after the birth of my Sis's first child. The first grandchild... a granddaughter. I remember he brought her a stuffed Garfield the cat for her first birthday party. Two years later, Sis added another granddaughter, and I added his first grandson to the family. Two of my favorite pictures of him are with his first granddaughter and grandson. The final years we spent getting to know him were very special ones, filled with shared stories and laughter.

Grandpa became "father" to me when I was 8 years old... long story to be saved for another day. Anyway, he was the best. A gospel minister who loved to sing in a painfully offkey voice, but the joy that came with that voice was infectious. He drove my sister and I to school every morning and he had made up a little tune that we all sang together. "The sun's gonna shine this morning..." we'd chime in "Yeah, yeah, yeah" (a kind of Beatles after part). It would set us off laughing. Grandpa had a laugh that would lift the heart.

Here I am at Christmas time at Grandma and Grandpa's house.
I just found this photo recently and I love it. Grandpa almost always had that smile on his face! I couldn't find the pictures of my Dad with the grandkids so I'll have to add them at a later time.

My grandpa loved to garden. He tended the vegetables and flowers with equal care. He loved his grapevine and his gooseberry bushes. For years, he mowed the lawn in an old pair of slacks and a white button up shirt... usually long-sleeved. I still remember when he was given a denim jacket and a pair of jeans. He put them on, and he looked so out of character. My whole life I had never seen him in jeans!

My grandpa took special pride in a lilac "tree". He carefully tended one slender lilac branch, pruning away each year until it had thickened into a trunk and grew into a beautiful little tree. There were some who laughed at his little "stick" in the ground that were later amazed at how lovely it turned out to be.

I love the fact that I have so many good memories to dwell on. Sure, there were some hard times, but I have so much joy to remember. I like to think there were lessons learned from the difficulties, but the best lessons came from the love and the laughter that we shared.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Perhaps God...

I just spent the most wonderful evening at my aunt and uncle's home. It was a small gathering of family to preview my cousin's new CD. Her name is Laurie Roberts, and her CD is "Perhaps God" and it is amazing! I had to fight back tears the whole time we were listening to it. If you know me at all, then you know that holding back tears is not something I do well. I am a crier!

Some may think my opinion of Laurie's CD is probably tainted by my love for her. All I can say is, cousin or not, this is a great collection of songs. Almost all are written by her. One not written by Laurie, but a favorite of mine is her rendition of Amazing Grace. This song holds a special place in my heart and brings back so many family memories. The lead in from her "Every Day" right to "Amazing Grace" is magic!

"Sing Hallelujah" is so beautiful. It draws you right into worship. There is a special family surprise that touched my heart. No spoilers here though... you'll have to hear the CD for yourself.

I love just sitting in a family gathering listening to the stories go back and forth. You learn a lot about your own family history that way. What a unique thing a family is. There are riches in the shared stories, songs, tears, and laughter. I am richer for owning a piece of Laurie's heart and soul in the form of her music. Richer and blessed.

Music, Books and Memories

That's my little Sis and I sitting at the organ in our home on N. Meridian Road. We called it the "White House" because the former owner was named White.

I began my piano lessons on this organ. Then a family loaned us a piano for a couple of years until my mom bought us one. It was a huge, heavy Oak upright that has traveled everywhere I've gone. I'm sitting at my desk, right next to it, as I type this.

The first song I remember learning on the organ was Long, Long Ago and oddly enough, it was in an old song book I acquired recently.

"Tell me the tales that to me were so dear. Long, long ago... long, long ago. Sing me the songs I delighted to hear. Long, long ago, long ago..."

I have been traveling back in time, seeing long forgotten images. Grandma sitting in an old metal lawn chair with my little sis on one knee, and I am sitting in the grass, with my head resting on her other knee. She is reading "I Like Kindergarten". Sis and I loved that book.

I loved any books that were read to me or that I could read. I scoured the bookshelves at our house. My grandparents had an odd assortment of books. A lot of religious books, a copy of The Yearling, Cross Creek, two Dana Girl Mysteries that had belonged to our aunt, and our set of Childcraft Encylopedias. Sis and I had several Golden Books, Dr. Suess books and a small selection received as gifts; Daddy Long Legs, Dear Enemy, and the Bobbsey Twins, to name a few.

As I grew older, books were added to my collection through the school's Scholastic Book Club. I loved that little newsletter with all the colorful book covers and descriptions. I would study it from front to back, carefully making my selection. "Run Wild, Run Free, White Fang, Misty of Chincoteague, Ring of Bright Water, The Incredible Journey, David Copperfield, Anne of Green Gables.

I still have a tremendous love of music and books. I listen more than play these days, but I still spend a great deal of time reading. Books can take you away from yourself, and sometimes they can help you find out who you really are.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I'm Still Here...

It's been a while since my last post. Life has been busy! During the time I've been away, my sis was taken to the hospital (but she is fine now), my niece found an apartment with a friend (I helped her move), I got my computer problems ironed out (so far), and my Grandma Martha turned 90... that's a brief look.

I have been gathering materials for my planned art projects. Now it's a matter of getting organized and finding the time to do them. I'm big on planning and bigger on procrastination! This may give insight on why I chose the following quote...

"Besides the noble art of getting things done,
there is the noble art of leaving things undone.
The wisdom of life consists in the
elimination of non-essentials."
— Lin Yutang

Well, I still have some work to do on figuring out what my "non-essentials" are. I like to keep everything!