Friday, July 26, 2013

Southern roots...


Mama and her world famous lemon pies.
My blogging schedule is off a bit. Sorry about that. The Hubs and I are down in Memphis this week visiting the folks and other relatives. It’s been great, although the 90-plus degrees and humidity thick enough to drink with a straw has me spending most of my waking hours trying to rehydrate myself.
I was born in the South and the minute I cross over the Mason-Dixon Line the y’alls, fixin to’s, and bless your hearts start slipping off my tongue faster than butter on a corn cob. While on Southern soil I get my fix of BQ, fried okra and sausage gravy. My mama’s coleslaw is the best in the world and her lemon pies would make angels pucker. All my life Mama’s lemon pie helped us celebrate any and everything important. If you needed a hug, Mama baked a lemon pie. If it was your birthday, a lemon pie was served just after the birthday song. Graduations, births, potlucks, whatever, we looked for excuses for Mama to make her pie.  And the very best part of Mama’s lemon pie making was if you were the lucky one who got picked to lick the bottom of the pot where warm lemon filling still lingered. My brother and I would fight over it so much that Mama began keeping tabs on whose turn it was and her word was the law. Well, yesterday, Mama made two lemon pies and I got to lick the pot. Even at age 62, it’s still the very best part.
Today, I worked in my parent’s yard wrestling with a rose bush that had knotted itself up like a ball of rubber bands. I suited up with gloves and a long-sleeved shirt and did battle. Using my dad’s pliers, wire cutter and hammer I replaced a broken trellis with a new, sturdier one and began the slow, prickly task of weaving the thick, thorny stems into some order. My dad, who has Alzheimer’s, stood out in the hot sun and watched over me. I couldn’t get him to go back into the house where it was cool. Somewhere in the back of his heart, he remembered that he was the one who took care of me, and even though he no longer could remember my name, he knew I needed some looking after. Once during the rose bush ordeal, I dropped the pliers on the ground and he came over and picked them up and told me in no uncertain terms that that wasn’t how you treat your tools. You see, my dad worked in construction all of his life, and in our home tools were as sacred as scripture. You took care of both your Bible and your tools. Growing up, both fed us in different ways.
I love that I have Southern roots. I love that Mama is still baking lemon pies and Daddy is still fussing over me and at me. These two people are the home of my heart. When the Hubs and I leave on Saturday morning, I’ll ponder all we’ve done this week, and as we cross over the Mississippi River and leave Tennessee behind, I’ll begin to once again long for home and my next taste of lemon pie.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A good surprise...

Sir Paul McCartney on stage

Sometimes surprises are bad and sometimes they are good. Lately, I’ve had mostly bad ones. The Hubs was diagnosed with Stage IV Melanoma…. was not expecting that. While at Mayo for treatment our basement back home (four hours away) flooded. Surprise! And, an unexpected trip to the emergency room surprised us with the news that the cancer had increased. That very same evening as we were leaving the emergency room at two in the morning, we climbed into our car only to find that it wouldn’t start. Our insurance company has informed us they will not pay for the Hubs’ treatment. They think it’s ‘medically unnecessary’. Oh, and add to those little afore mentioned ditties, my mom was diagnosed with melanoma as well. The above jumped out from behind the couch shouting surprise all since February.
But, this week I received a surprise that knocked my socks off, a good surprise. Leaving Mayo after the Hubs’ treatment, which was a wasted trip because we got there only to find that his blood count was too low to administer the chemo (bad surprise), the Hubs pulled a rabbit out of the hat. I thought we were leaving Mayo and traveling to our son’s house. It turned out, he had two tickets in his pocket for Paul McCartney’s Out There concert in Milwaukee. Good surprise. No, scratch that—a great surprise on the magnitude scale of a billion plus.  A McCartney concert had been on my wish list since 1964.
Oh, folks, it was wonderful. Sir Paul was on stage for three hours non-stop. He charmed. He crooned. He made us laugh. He made us cry. Singing along with Sir Paul, the Hubs and about 75,000 of my closest friends the words to “Hey, Jude” transcended me beyond all the ugliness of the past few weeks, and for three hours cancer did not have a death grip on my heart. When Paul stood on the stage by himself and sang “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away…” the Hubs and I locked eyes. I patted his now bald head and we kissed. Oh, at that moment how I believed in yesterday. 
Yeah, it was just a concert with flash and fireworks. It was only good for what it was good for, but for me that night, it lifted the burden and replaced it, albeit only temporarily, with a lightness I hadn’t experienced in months. And the best part is that the Hubs loved surprising me. He pulled it off. He was quite proud of himself.
These days, our life is about moments. Thanks to the sweet Hubs, I have another one to tuck away into my treasure chest.
Wishing you many good surprises to come…

Thursday, July 11, 2013



Summer days—touchable, breathable, smell-able gifts from a gracious God. Of course if you’re living where the temps reach triple digits you may have a different take on it. But to a Wisconsinite like myself, these days are golden and full of magic.
What makes promises better than a summer breeze? What restores you back to your childhood quicker than a mud puddle after a summer rain? A child’s laughter ricocheting off white billowing clouds overhead is priceless. The smell of cut grass. Sun warming your bones like a turtle on a rock. Lightening bugs. Hummingbirds. Campfires. The creak of a porch swing. A hammock in the shade. Sweet tea. The bang of a screen door. Oh, the list of summer joys goes on and on.
After a winter that just wouldn’t go away, this summer is particularly sweet. After a season of illness and fear, these warm-your-bones carefree days are manna from heaven. Summer heals. Joy sits under a shade tree. Happiness is a gold finch at your feeder. Friends drinking lemonade on your screened-in porch and grandchildren giggling from a tire swing hanging from a tree in your front yard build up healthy red blood cells almost as good as the drugs meant to do the same.
The Hubs and I are in season of sickness, but summer has a way of mosey-ing us along a daisy-lined path toward the hope of healing. These sweet days are a gift from breathing, sighing Creator.
Don’t waste these days fretting. Do not allow the leaves to begin to fall with regret of a summer lost. Live! Live them to the fullest. Pour strawberries on them. Spit watermelon seeds at them. Walk barefoot through them. Live! Rejoice! Raise your hands toward the heavens and twirl with gladness.
Live! Live!

Monday, July 8, 2013


The Hubs and me just being us.

One day I woke up and found myself living someone else’s life.  I went to sleep with a healthy, vibrant husband who was cuddled up next to a healthy, voluptuous wife (moi), and the next morning the healthy guy was replaced with a sick one. The gal I was replaced with wasn’t nearly as voluptuous and constantly has this 3,000 pound sack of worry sitting on her chest. She isn’t much fun, and neither is the sick guy.
Who are these people? My once strong Hubs is stooped a bit and spends hours in his recliner. The drugs he’s been infused with have depleted his strength and I hear by next week his sweet, round, curly head will be as bald and slick as the tires we just replaced on our van.
As for this new chick, what’s with her? She wakes up tired. Ice cream has lost its appeal. Sunsets make her cry. And, if the truth be told she’s aged about ten years since February, when the sick guy showed up.
Somebody shake us and wake us up please!
Of course, what’s startling is that we are awake. In fact, sleep is no longer our friend. Gary, the Hubs, the love of my life, has cancer. And I wake every morning with this incredible sense of loss sitting over in the corner of our bedroom... waiting, daring me to open my eyes so it can get started with its taunting.
However, and with God there is always a however, the Hubs and I have more good days than bad. The cancer has intruded, but hasn’t taken over. It has caused us indescribable grief, but has not thrown the towel over our Light. True, I don’t recognize this life we’re now living with trips to Mayo, nausea, chemo, and soon a new hair-less do. But, parts of us, and I must say, the best parts of us are still intact—like the way it feels to lay my head on Gary’s chest when we first climb into bed. On our wedding night, some forty-two years ago, when I first laid my head on that spot, it was like coming home… it still is. When the Hubs takes my hand when we’re walking, there’s nothing that can frighten me enough to make me run away. His hand, his big, strong, warm hand has always been there holding, protecting, and pulling me along… it still does. Oh, I could go on, but that’s enough for now.
I’d love my old life back. I’d love a turtle sundae to taste like it used to, but it’s not going to happen. That was then. This is now. I don’t know who these two people are these days, but their hearts are still beating as one and for now, that’s blessing enough.  
Oh, LuLu sends her love,