Just when you think your body cannot wrestle a toddler one more day, or the sun has warmed a little too quickly in the eastern sky, or you haven't yet had the energy to take a shower and the day feels like it's dragging on, something happens to awaken your senses, an experience that invigorates you and gives you inspiration for the day and for days to come. For me? It doesn't take much.
My kitchen window is above the sink, so quite a few times in a day I walk past it and take a quick glance or stand in front of it doing dishes. I did a double-take yesterday when I passed by, for there were five (not one, but five) beautiful horses grazing in the cul-de-sac plot of grass in front of my house. I went back and looked again. And again. Were my senses failing me or was I delirious from keeping a small bundle of energy I call my sweet Preston for four days? I finally convinced myself that they were indeed real, live horses, not the fairy-tale kind recently viewed while sharing some toddler TV with the little one. As I watched these gentle giants, they moved gracefully from the plot of cul-de-sac grass towards the woods and disappeared for a few minutes returning I thought to the farm east of our subdivision, only to resurface a few minutes later to reclaim their spot in the circle. But then, much to my surprise, they began moving towards my house. I went and scooped up Preston to show her the "horsies." She was less than impressed. (Perhaps because one time when I was visiting her in Honduras, a man rode his horse to work on their property while I was there). No, biggie, Nana, seeing a horse in your yard, it happens.
But as they moved closer, even she began to enjoy their presence. There appeared to be two who were the "leaders," and I use that term loosely because I know nothing about horses. But I surmised it was a family of five
-- you know, a mama and a daddy and three young ones, one of which was very young. Even Preston could see that this was a baby (because she said so). He was noticeably smaller than the rest and wore a fuzzy chestnut coat that looked something like one of those nubby throws for sale at Christmas time. They moved about the offerings of the yards in the neighborhood. There aren't many houses because our neighborhood is unfinished, but they checked out the few before returning to our yard, where they decided to camp out. I called my hubby out of my excitement and he produced a mild hissy-fit, knowing that his beautiful yard was gonna be chewed up. But Preston and I were enjoying every minute. We watched in silence except for the occasional outburst of toddler chatter. Several things were obvious as we examined our new friends. For one, the black one had a bridle on, so they obviously belonged to someone. Besides, the only "wild" horses even remotely near these parts are on Cumberland Island in South Georgia. Number two, they were obviously malnourished. We could see their ribs, so more reason not to deny them a decent meal. And, thirdly, it was obvious they were used to people. Preston's screeches from the screened porch didn't faze them. They were at peace chewing contentedly on the grass in my front yard -- the grass my husband has carefully tried to cultivate this spring. Yikes.
The hubs arrived home with a police officer in tow who got out of his patrol car as he was dialing animal control. After all, police officers keep law AND order, right? And something was definitely out of order around here. A neighbor with some horse experience also showed up shooing the horses away, but it was short-lived as they returned to our front lawn within the hour. He had also called the neighboring farms and no one had claimed them. I hated bothering these sweet creatures and would've taken them in for pets, but, alas, they are horses and my yard is postage-stamp size! Besides, in reality I am not in the market for any kind of pet right now. As a matter of fact, I recently gave my cat away to a good home. Don't judge me! As we dashed out the back door within the same hour to run an errand, the beauties had found their way to our back yard, where they looked up as if to say Excuse me, but is there a problem, sir? My husband took the water hose to them and, once again, they trotted to the empty lot. Later in the evening, they were gone. Either animal control came or their owners showed up to rescue them.
For a short time today, I fantasized I owned five horses. They grazed and made horse noises and we observed and enjoyed. And they were perfect pets for a day because they were kind enough to not leave any organic matter behind in my yard. I thought that so considerate of them. The photographer in me couldn't resist capturing their image for sharing purposes later. But as I have said before when I've been known to romanticize horse ownership, I remind myself there is a ton of work that goes into owning and caring for these gorgeous creatures. Every experience has lessons to be learned, and each time I get around horses, I am reminded of this lesson of hard work that is required in taking care of them -- food, water, grazing pastures, time for grooming, vet bills, the list goes on and on, and it is not a monthly responsibility, it is a daily duty. I know this because I have friends who own horses. Right now I am better suited to care for creatures of the human kind. Caring for my Preston this week has been a gift, but also hard work. I may have to take a week-long nap to recoup but it is a wonderful tired, if you know what I mean. Right now in my life I have three amazing grandchildren that I don't see that often but, when I do, I throw everything I have into making sure they know their nana loves them. One day I might have a pet again, when the grandkids are all grown and don't need my care any longer. If I live long enough, I might even see a great-grandchild or two, but by then I may be too feeble to dance around the living room to Let it Go. I might just have to watch them as they play on the floor close by with a little kitty in my lap or, who knows, maybe even a horse outside my front porch window.
Every experience is to be used, to be learned from,
Yesterday dawned a most beautiful spring day, gifting us with sunshine, a cool breeze and temperatures in the mid-sixties. That's a full 20 degrees cooler than it's been in Atlanta the last few days, so it was a welcome respite. Next to the state park where the hubs and I usually "take our exercise" as the old-timers say, my neighborhood is my next favorite place to enjoy a walk, even more so than the park sometimes because I have a treasure trove of beauty right outside my back door. So I hit the trail (a.k.a. the street) in my subdivision early and took in the fresh morning air. I only have to take several loops to get in my one to two miles, and with the beauty of the countryside surrounding our house, my walks usually prove to be very enjoyable. To the east is a farm with cows, including one mama and her baby whom I once photographed. I'm sure that baby is all grown up now. I silently chuckled to see that little family across the field staring me down. The resident donkey, on the other hand, is not so pleasant. I hear he is completely necessary to protect the cows, but he tends to bellow and carry on occasionally and that gentle breeze carries his music the 75 yards to my ears which happen to be relaxing on the screened porch. To the north, south and west is undisburbed land if you don't count the plumbing fixtures rising about six feet out of the earth in our unfinished community. They are pretty ugly but I don't let them bother me.
Getting in touch with nature, whether it's hiking at the park, napping on the beach listening to one of nature's perfect sleep aids, or photographing the weeds in my neighborhood (ha!), outdoor life inspires me. After all, one man's weeds are another man's flowers, and one gal's perfectly sandy beach nap is another one's sandy nightmare, right? Nature gets me to thinking on subjects that go far beyond the beauty I see sprouting up all around me in the spring. How do weeds grow so freely and easily yet it's a full-time job nourishing life into heirloom roses and the grass on the lawn? Seriously though, I not only see signs of life in nature, but there are signs of the completion of life as well. As plants die off, snakes shed their skins, caterpillars morph into butterflies for their beautiful short lives, and ducks, chicks, and birds break out of their shells to move to the next stage, we see that the evenutal progress of life which we call death is a necessary part of that life.
I think it so very interesting that it often seems life and death go along together, almost like actors coming in and out as the scene changes. One leaves and the other comes in and begins their performance on this stage we call earth. And how we view death as well as life plays a major role in determining our lifestyle and the way we form our opinions and make choices on how to live. Those who believe life doesn't end when we leave earth and there is something better awaiting us tend to try and make their life count for more while here. Many who live like hell on earth maybe don't believe there's gonna be one when they exit, or maybe life on earth is already hell, so they think it can't get any worse, which is really sad. I believe there's a hell but I also believe there's a heaven.
So just as the tide goes in and out, repeating its maneuvers day in and day out and day in and day out, so does life and death. I've had two of my friends lose a parent in the past two weeks, one a father and one a mother, and I've had a friend see her first grandchild born as well. It almost never fails, when someone I know dies, someone else I know is welcoming a new addition to their family. If I'm not mistaken, I think they call this the circle of life. And, even though it is so much happier to see a new life come in than a life go out, a life well-lived can also be a celebration of remembrance when it ends.
For the last four years, I have led a small group at my church. This group has been a motley crew to say the least. Every single woman has brought something pertinent, enlightening, and genuine to the table. Every single lady was and is unique. We've had some as young as 23 and a couple of older women into their seventies. Most fell somewhere in between. We have leaned on each other, supported and encouraged each other, and built friendships. We have shared tears, troubles, good news, answered prayers, and lots and lots of laughter. Some of these ladies are single, most are married, some have children, some have grandchildren. some not even thinking about children yet. But there is one thing all have had in common.....a love for God and a passion for life, family, and friends. They have a desire to grow in their faith and be better people. They have a desire to love others and give of their time and resources. We have met each week to uplift and to be uplifted. And we have had an understood saying -- "What is said in this room STAYS in this room." These sweet ladies will forever hold a special place in my heart.
If you are one of these ladies, I know our paths will cross again. I will see you at church, we'll get together for lunches, we'll visit in our homes, and we'll run into each other at the grocery store. One of you is even my best friend of 25 years. But it seems to me that when roles change, things are different. Different is not always a bad thing because it frees you up to serve each other in new roles and new ways. Some of you have shared your most intimate concerns with me and have treated me like your own mother or sister. I consider this the highest compliment that anyone would give me that honor. But all of you have been my friend, and for that I am eternally grateful. Friendships like these become dearer to me as the years roll along. It is a blessed person who has a true friend. A friend who will watch your back, give and not just take, and will pour their heart and soul into your life. A true friend will tell you the truth when it hurts and not judge you when you mess up. I can honestly say you women are that kind of friend.
So this is not really goodbye, dear sweet treasures. It is a tribute to our friendship and what you have meant to me over the last four years. It is a challenge to you and me to continue our friendships. I know we will see each other again, whether that be in the near future or distant future. For once you are my friend, you are my friend for life.
So it is with great love and joy in knowing you that I say "Adios Amigos." I will see you later, sweet friend.
"Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold."
The picture above is of mine and my girlfriends' luggage as we were loading up to leave the beach on Saturday. I guess in the great scheme of things it isn't really that much stuff for three women returning from a week at the beach. We're always telling each other to pack really light because we almost always acquire additional "stuff" while there, which will need to be transported back to the mother ship. Yeah, right, pack light? In your dreams. We don't know how to do that, thank you very much. The navy suitcase, pink tote, and LL Bean canvas tote at the far bottom right are my bags. The larger navy bag was filled mostly with clothes -- you know, outfits for dinner out, shorts and t-shirts for the beach, etc.; the pink bag, kitchen and food items; the canvas tote held shoes, toiletries, and beach items like swimsuits and sunscreen. While my friends were soaking up as much Vitamin D as their bodies could possibly hold, I was over there putting on the Coppertone baby SPF-50 with a big hat sitting under an umbrella. When I come back from the beach, I don't look like I'm coming back from the beach.
But because I do want to be prepared, even I pack more than I probably should at times. I mean, let's face it, it takes a lot of paraphernalia for women to travel: clothes, shoes, bags, makeup, bath toiletries, hair products and tools...the list seems endless. The night before we left, as one of my friends wrapped up her work week to head south with us, she confessed that her week had been so hectic she hadn't even begun to pack. And if I am a packer for all circumstances, this friend even more so. It proved to be a long night. The black bag in the picture dead center (her bag) is absolutely the biggest and most crammed full bag I have ever seen, and I am telling you it is HEAVY when fully loaded. But this friend is all about style and grooming and looking her best wherever she goes. I have never seen her when she isn't "fixed up." That's a saying the oldtimers used to use, but it fits her to a tee! Even though I don't usually leave home without a swipe of lipstick most times, I am not sure I've ever seen her without her makeup and impeccably dressed (except first thing in the morning). So the night before we left, I sent her this text: Throw the stuff in your bag and make sure you have your swimsuit; nothing else really matters. Once we arrived, she said that's what she had done. Hmm. Somehow, no matter where we go or what we're doing, she always looks put together and stunning. She is dressed in a stylish outfit with just the right jewelry carefully selected, complete with matching shoes, painted nails, and smelling like a floral bouquet. I, on the other hand, make sure my hair is clean, I have a semi-made-up face, and I am wearing clothes and shoes. My scent is the Dove bar I just bathed with. By the time I arrive back to the condo, my hair is a frizzy mess. The salty damp air on the coast hates my hair. Another thing about this same friend. She has a very green thumb. If you'll look closely at the picture, you'll see the clipping she rescued from the shrubs being trimmed outside our condo and plans to root it at home. Probably the next time I visit her, it will be a full-grown plant thriving in her yard. Some people just make it look so dang easy.
As women will do, depending on their budgets, we enjoy a little retail therapy while on trips. Sometimes (depending on my budget) I do more shopping than other times. This trip I bought a t-shirt, flipflops, and a distressed wooden tray perfect for holding magazines or toilet paper in the bathroom. Not too much damage on my end. BUT -- with a capital B -- there have been those times when we shopped more than usual and we could barely fit it all into the car. Some in our traveling parties have bought entire new wardrobes, everything on their Christmas list, small pieces of furniture, and plants for their backyards. They never ask me to drive; I have a teeny little car. So, once again, I'd say we all did pretty well this time. Even with three beach umbrellas, two beach chairs, a beach mat, a kite, our bed pillows, and various small bags, we managed to make it to the beach and back with pretty much the same amount of stuff. Not too bad for all that is required by women who wanna have fun, and look their very best while doing it.
The ever put-together Jules.....you go, girl.....digging those hot coral pants and sassy sandals!
being in my corner... forever since I touched her face or hugged her neck... forever since I could just pick up the phone to share the latest news. There is a hole in my heart that no one else can ever fill.
It's funny how the heart can grieve and rejoice at the very same time. Do you know what I mean? I rejoice that my mother has gone on to a much better place -- her forever home -- and that she is no longer suffering from the cancer that invaded her body. I know she lives on still in a place where there is no pain or anguish or bad news or disease. This is the peace that heals my heart when my heart is overcome by sadness. When I least expect it, the grief rears its ugly head and I succumb once more. I ache with the absence of my mother...the person who was my first sustainer of life and comforter, my first friend and confidante. She was the one in my life on whom I knew I could always depend. We had our ups and downs and occasional spats, but it hurt too much to be at odds for long, so we always made up. I ache when I pick up the phone to call and tell her the latest and cutest thing that her great-grandchildren are doing or what they've accomplished in school, when I remember she is no longer there to enjoy it with me. The grief tries to slide in when I'm not paying attention or when I've let down my guard.. It might be a picture of a birthday cake she baked for me or a special gift she gave me. It might be when I passed by the birdhouse or the wicker bench I inherited. Sometimes I resist the grief successfully and sometimes I give in to its sway. I've found that it's okay to give in sometimes. The tears have a cleansing property about them and they serve as a release from the emptiness that one feels when they lose their mother. And then finally, the tears give way once more to rejoicing.
I rejoice that I had my mom into her eighties. I rejoice that we were good friends all my life. I rejoice when I think of the hard-working, supreme-loving, always-passionate woman that exemplified my mother. I rejoice that she got to see all six of her great-grandchildren and hold each and every one of them. I rejoice that I was blessed to have a mother who loved me so much. I rejoice that she was a strong woman of faith, never letting the issues and problems of life get her down for too long. I rejoice because I had the great honor of knowing my mother.
Mother, this is the anniversary of one of the hardest days of my life. Every single year as long as I live on May 1st I will reflect on you, your life, and all that you meant to me. I will reflect on how how your supreme love still plays an active role in my life. I know that as time passes, I will have to work harder to remember your voice, your touch, your laughter, your ways. Time has a way of dulling the memory, of clouding how things were. And it also has a way of easing the pain that is so raw in the beginning. I'm thankful to live in a day where I have your voice recorded and I have pictures of your face. Those things will help me to remember your attributes and how feisty you were at times. But I need nothing to help me remember your phenomenal love. Nothing can ever make it fade or take it away or lessen the extreme effect it still has on my life. Your love transcends time and will forever be sealed in my heart.
Posted by CC
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