For Everything, there is a Season

DSCN3825When I was born, my parents lived in a little four-room house that my grandfather had built in the 1930’s  when someone offered to sell him a thousand board feet of wood for a thousand dollars.  With that as an inventive, grandpa built this small house, much like many others he had built around our community. His uncles were carpenters, he was an electrician.

For many years, this little house was the ‘first home’ to many young married couples. It was in a neighborhood surrounded by cousins, aunts and uncles. A little stream ran behind the house. It was a safe and loving neighborhood. My grandparents ran a little country store right across the creek, which, at that time could be crossed on a board from one side to another.

If I were to write a book that told the story of everyone who had made their start, or lived in that house when thy were young, it would be a long and interesting book.  I could name many families whose first and often second child was born while thy lived there. It wasn’t big, but it was not just a house, it was truly a home.

I think of all the babies who cried softly for attention in that house, the many sets of used furniture, cleaned up and decorated into a sweet and satisfying place to live. Anything from Model A’s to modern trucks have parked in that driveway. Black Heart Cherries served as delicious snacks on early summer afternoons.

My uncle next door often shared a portion of his garden to the families who lived there.  He would share his knowledge of gardening and even his water from the pump he put in the creek with his neighbors.We are fresh green beans in summer and carved pumpkins at Halloween.

I moved there here when I was seven months pregnant with my first child. To come there from a lonely apartment seemed like heaven. After a short,  rough marriage, I spent many lonely days and even some happy times while I lived there as a single parent of two.

I finished a 4- year University degree  in three years while I worked and raised two kids as a single parent. My two cousins across the creek spend many hours at my house during the eight years that I lived there. We played loud music, card games, laughed and passed the time. My best friend and her sisters would sit on my back steps and we would teach each other songs on out guitars.

There were days in the 1970’s that I spent my time with doors jingling colored beads that  hung from the doorways. Psychedelic  posters, Mother Earth Magazines and children’s books shared my walls and book shelves. I proudly called myself a ‘hippie ‘. Without the details, I will soon move on.  I had wicker furniture, pretty rocks, in a stack in a corner, a small black and white TV, no dryer, a hand- me- down washer and a clothes line beside the cherry tree snd flower garden. There were no extra ended or excesses.

i loved plants and one could be found in any feasible location, the floor, tables, or cabinet tops. The rooms were small, full yet cozy. I loved the claw legged bathtub and those relaxing bubble baths after an exhausting  day. After I graduated from college I moved  to my families” big house” which sat rather ‘ kitty corner’ from this little one. I had lived there for 8 years and for 32 more years, the story went on.

Young couples, single people, elderly widows, many more, lived in that house. A man and his mother were the last to live there. My aunt had promised her friend that she would continue to let her son, who never married, lived there after she died and both my aunts son, who inherited the house, and I, who bought a lot with both this  little house and my aunt and uncles house on it, kept our word.

By the time the elderly gentleman passed away while living in the house, it had seen its better days. In fact, it had seen them long before. The floors were warped, the doors no longer shut well, all the new siding  and Windows  and boards on the porches did not make the house truly livable by my standards after nearly 90 years.

With  a heavy heart, I decided last fall that I would have to tear the house down, it would have cost more to fix the little house than it was worth.  It wasn’t easy to watch the house be demolished, but the ease with which it went down,  showed me that I had made the right decision.  I planted flowers and vegetables in a box garden there this spring.

There are so many memories in that little house, I remember bringing my babies home to it, the soft strum of my guitar on the porch- and the loud Lynyrd Skynyrd on the stereo. I fondly recall the meals I prepared, the friends I entertained, the tears when life was rough and the smiles when life was good.

Even  though the house is no longer there, it will always be there in my mind. So many “firsts” to remember, the first steps of my oldest son and daughter, the first furniture that I bought on my own. Painting the walls, the relaxing warm baths, the  poems I wrote in that bedroom and the pictures I painted in the kitchen.

It is almost always hard when a page turns in our lives. Even if what lies ahead is a bit exciting, it is a challenge to move on. I can close my eyes and see the white picket fence, the rose bush I planted when my first child was born, building snowmen with my kids,  or looking out the window and seeing the first car that I bought myself.

Life goes on, through good times and bad. The ages creep in that little house just as they did with me. There is something about a place that holds so many ” firsts” that keeps it written permanently in my mind. So, it is with the little house at # 10. It is a part of my parents first years, of my own first house, and that of my first two babies.

I can close my eyes and see the basket where kittens were born, where I held my newborns, where I dreamed dreams that actually came true once in a while. Little White House, you now live only in my mind  but you are part of me and I love you. I will never forget the night skies or sunrises I saw there. You will always live in my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Red., White and Blue by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Red White and Blue
We don’t have no plastic L.A. Frynds,
ain’t on the edge of no popular trend.
Ain’t never seen the inside of that magazine GQ.
We don’t care if you ‘re a lawyer, or a texas oil man,
or some waitress busting ass in some liquor stand.
If you got Soul
We hang out with people just like you
My hair’s turning white,
my neck’s always been red,
my collar’s still blue,
we’ve always been here
just trying to sing the truth to you.
Yes you could say
we’ve always been,
Red, White, and Blue
Ride our own bikes To Sturgis
we pay our own dues,
smoking camels, drinking domestic BREWS
You want to know where I have been
just look at my hands
Yeah, I’ve driven by the White House,
Spent some time in jail.
Momma cried but she still wouldn’t pay my bail.
I ain’t been no angel,
But even…

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Still Unbroken by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Words to song:

Broken bones, broken hearts
Stripped down and torn apart
A little bit of rust
I’m still runnin’
Countin’ miles, countin’ tears
Twistin’ roads, shiftin’ gears
Year after year
It’s all or nothin’
But I’m not home
I’m not lost
Still holding on to what I got
Ain’t much left
Lord there’s so much that’s been stolen
Guess I’ve lost everything I’ve had
But I’m not dead, at least not yet
Still alone, still alive, still unbroken
I’m still alone, still alive, I’m still unbroken
Never captured, never tamed
Wild horses on the plains
You can call me lost, I call it freedom
I feel a spirit in my soul
It’s somethin’ Lord I can’t control
I’m never giving up while I’m still breathin’
I’m not home
I’m not lost
Still holding on to what I got
Ain’t much left
Though there’s…

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HB2 and my CAT-This is legit-please read

HB2 and my CAT- this is legit-so read it please! With this HB2 ( aka “The Toilet Papers”) so much in the news here in NC , I have a serious delima. I took my 6 year old cat to the vet this morning to get a rabies shot and they didn’t want to give it to HER without an exam, so I agreed to the exam. After thoroughly checking HER glands for possible infection, the vet felt that the cat was fine and could get the shot. However, he did have some rather surprising news for me, my cat, Cougar, who was found as a stray 6 years ago by my son, was a MALE.!!! It is NOT a FEMALE, as we have called ‘her’ and thought ‘she’ was for 6 years- since HE was less than a year old!!!! SO, HERE IS MY QUESTION– if my MALE cat identifies as a FEMALE because it had been told for most of its life that HE was a SHE, can HE USE our girl cats litter box? Oh, my,I’m SO confused!!!!

Brenda Lewis's photo.

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The Chance to Remember

 

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This week, I celebrated two events that I wasn’t, sure I would see.  My granddaughter turned two a few days ago. That seems like such a simple statement. I have quite a group of grandkids, but enjoying them has not always been easy. My youngest son graduated from high school, and it was as sweet and crazy as the other childrens were.

Why then were these events so memorable?  First, let me tell you about them.  After the ice cream and presents, I saw my older grandkids splashing in the creek trying to catch minnows, crayfish and salamanders. I didn’t give it a thought before I had grabbed two cups and headed for the creek. Because. Of my disabilities, I had to find an easy way in. My grandkids all know that I’m the nature lady- nothing makes me smile quicker than a chance to teach them a nature lesson, whether it is ” how to catch creek creatures”or “what are the different kinds of life cycles among insects?” Today, it was time for creek creature catching!   My oldest daughter loves these nature studies as much as I do and was already at the creek when I arrived. Among the happy shouts of ” I got one!” One of my grands would quietly ask me to catch one for them and let them have the cup to show off their prize.  I was in grandkids heaven as we lifted rocks and I tried o teach children the importance of patience and still waters if you want to catch your prize creatures. I am not sure a tassel of kids between 6 and nine really gets the meaning of patience.  Oh, well, having had six kids of my own, I could work around it. Soon, I was sharing cups with several little salamanders with them, the giggled and splashed and ‘dirtied’ the water as they ran to show them off to the others.

After a lot of hunting, we finally began to find some medium sized crayfish and put them in a bucket. My daughter and I explained how happy we were to see them because the ‘ nutrient rich’ water had killed off a lot of the creek life.  Yes, we had to explain that the ‘nutrients’ were fertilizers that he big houses that had been built used to make their perfect lawns , thus polluting the creeks and killing the creatures that lived there.)

As we worked to collect the creatures, I told my daughter and grands about the days when my mom took me and my friends to my grandpa’s pasture to catch creek creatures, much larger than these because the big houses had yet to overtake the farms. They were sweet memories. My mom, like me was a lover if nature. Rather than having instilled a fear of wildlife in me, she taught me to respect them.  From Black Widows to Black Snakes to water creatures and wild plants, my mom taught me to love them, catch and observe them, then let then go, so we could catch and observe them again. The memories of my mom and I, along with the privilege of sharing such a day with my daughters, sons and grandkids formed a mist in my eyes. You see, I never thought I would be able to do those things again.

Nearly ten years ago, as my 15 year old son was playing baseball, an unbelievable tragedy took him and “life” would never be the same. After a great double and a steal to third base, my lungs were sore from screaming my praises to him. The next kid struck out and soon the teams were practicing for the last half of the last inning. Suddenly someone called out, “What’s wrong with Andrew? ” I looked up to where he was practicing in the outfield and saw he begin to ru towRds me. Instinctively, I began to run to him, meeting close to the pitchers mound as he started to fall, hitting the ground in a swirl of dust. I was in shock. He had not even been sick, to my knowledge. I started screaming, ” Call 911, Call 911, and saw that the father of one of my sons team mates was calling. There was a fire station at the top of the hill and I expected an immediate response, but none came. After coaches and parents rushed up, one person ran up, said they were a nurse and looked at my unconscious son as he asked me questions. My heart, my mind was in a blur- why were there no sirens? Where were the EMT’s who could have walked there by now. Someone asked me his name and gently shook his shoulders, calling his name. No response- no siren or ambulance. I was screaming for the nurse to ‘ do something’ as the clock moved on and my son’s breathing became raspy. Between ten and twelve minutes passed before an ambulance finally came in a back gate- the opposite of the way an ambulance from the close-by fire Department would have come. The EMT’s first words were, ” bag him” ( give him oxygen).

I rode in the front of the ambulance to the hospital. I saw the attendants using a defibrillator on him. My mind was screaming, ” No, no!” I was met by a hospital cleric who lead me away as the ambulance attendants rushed my son in. After working on him for an hour a doctor came out and called our family in to a private room to tell us, ” They did everything they could.”

“You mean he’s dead?” I cried as we all sat in silent stares- our world crashing around us. I walked out the door with an apparently healthy 15 year old son and would walk, completely stunned back in that door without him.

Within a few months, I was having symptoms of what was later to be found to be a pituitary tumor, caused, mostly likely by the stress from loosening my son. This story is not about me, so I will suffice to say that neglect  nearly cost me my life just as someone giving the 911 operator the wrong directions to the ball park had cost my son his life.  By the time I had surgery to remove the tumor, I was told  that without the surgery, I would have had about three weeks to live.

Now, we come to the second part of this week just passed.  I saw my youngest child graduate from high school. He had been barely eight when his brother had died. Graduation is a crowded, long, yet joyous occasion. When the ceremony was over, my son’s girlfriend and I caught up with him and he gave me a ride back to my car when I would meet my husband and two other sons.  I was tired, in pain, yet thrilled for my son.   One more ordinary occasion that I got to witness.

It wasn’t until my son came home late that night that we talked about his graduation that he told me something that I guess I had never realized.  ” Mom, he said, as we sat on his bed, “years ago when you were so sick after we lost Andrew, I had the thought that you would not live to see me graduate. It has haunted me ever since.”

“But I did it.” I smiled as I hugged him. ” Yeah,  you did.” He smiled, holding my hand.

Tonight, as I sat in my room thinking, both of these simple events that I had enjoyed this weekend suddenly hit me. No one, most of all me, ever thought I would play in the creek with my grandkids and even my son had not believed that I would live to see him graduate.  I have suffered so much, so long, it just seemed endless. I still suffer everyday.  Somehow, this past year, I have found a way to bring joy back into my life, if even for a short time.  I told my son that it was his holding me close, willing me to live that had helped me  ” make it” this far. I thought of the song that I had heard on my Facebook page that some kids sang to their teacher who had cancer. it was called, “I’m Gonna Love you Throught It”.

That is just what my son, my kids and grandkids and my family had done for me. Through all the loss I had endured, the disability, the never- ending pain, I would feel their love and know that somehow, they still needed me.

As I found myself scratching the poision ivy on my arm tonight, I thought that even being able to work in my garden again was a blessing.  Maybe, I was still here ‘ for a reason’. The sweat running down my itchy face felt amazingly good somehow. I new life would never hold the same joy that it had when my son was alive and I was well, but I was still here, and I was determined, at last to be thankful for that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To

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Mothers Day Poem

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I don’t know how you make the time

To do the things you do,

You cook and clean and wash my hair,

when is there time for you?

You helped me with my homework,

you took me here and there.

You gently tucked me into bed

and softly said a prayer.

I know you get up early,

to see that we aren’t late.

How do you get us fed and clean,

and always look so great?

I guess what I am saying,

is you mean alot to me.

And I appreciate the things

you do- for us, your family.

Though once a year is not

enough to hear these things I say-

I love you, mom, with all my heart!

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

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Back to a Night as a 70’s “Hippie”

 

To set the reader in the mood for a typical Friday night partying with friends, along with a little ditty that I happened to read on Facebook recently that we sang “way back in the day”, I want to have you think back and remember, or perhaps experience for the first time what it was like to be young and “free”, with little responsibility and even less material things. First of all , remember, we didn’t care about material things. It was part of the idea of being a hippie. We didn’t call ourselves “hippies” as a rule. But a lot of other people did. It wasn’t near as evil or mysterious as outsiders suspected. It was usually just a group of friends, sitting around in the sparsely furnished living room of a friends “pad” or house, enjoying a little pot and a lot of munchies , such as M n M’s, potato Chips, candy bars, soft drinks, beer, whatever we could get-whatever someone could afford and brought to share.

I am not advocating this lifestyle or condemning it, though as a mature adult, it seems rather trivial.

Some of the friends had jobs or went to school, some of the girl had babies. Most were in their late teens to mid twenties. The furnishings in the living room often consisted of thousand dollar stereo on which to play albums and 8 tracks which a lot of our money was spent on. The stereo was often sitting on a long board with cement blocks as legs. The house was filled with hand-me-down or throw-away type furniture. I don’t remember the houses being dirty or lacking in style. It was clean and the furniture well arranged. The door to other rooms often had strings of beads hanging from ceiling to floor. There were lava lamps and psychedelic posters on the walls.

The music was the best part of being with friends on a Friday night or any other nights. No one was forced to take drugs, and usually, the drug of choice was marijuana. The music we listened to consisted of my all-time favorite (still), Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, J.J. Kale, old favorites from the Woodstock era, or any southern hard rock groups friends brought in to share with others. We turned the music up loud, sang along, pretended to play the guitar (some of really could, but not of the quality of the groups we listened to. It seems there always one person who put on a one man show of pretending to play the guitar, sing and dance around the room.

These were fleeting times, soon all of us would either rejoin the real world of college, jobs, family, or fall through the cracks that lead to more dangerous drugs and lifestyles. Still, I remember them fondly, and I imagine a lot of other people do too. I have seen a recurrence of a “hippie” like, earth lover types lately, and, to be honest it makes me smile. The new hippies may eat food that was (and is) strange to us who lived their youth in the 70’s, but they still decorate in a similar, though maybe more sophisticated manor, they still have beads on the doors, the pictures are more likely to be beautiful woodland scenes than psychedelic posters, the music more modern rock, hip-hop but still mingled with the favorites that have lasted the years.

Now, for those of you who have stayed with me this long-your reward-the song or “ditty”, if you will that has been sung by generations of hippies, just to get a laugh.

(Sung to the tune of “Row, Row, Row your boat” )

“Roll, roll, roll a joint, twist it at the end. Light it up, take a puff, share it with a friend!”

Peace and Blessings to the ‘hippies” of any age who may have smiled as they remembered….

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