Have you any stash?

It was news I’d expected, really. I’d kept track of him from a distance for years… finding out through our mutual friends where he was and what was going on.  The news was never good – he was sinking deeper into the depths of addiction and the lifestyle that went with it. I didn’t understand it.  I still don’t understand it.  I never will understand it.

To me, he will always be the sweet boy who was on my side when some of the bigger kids tried to chase me in kindergarten.  The one who put those heart-shaped boxes of candy in my valentine box in elementary school.  The boy who asked me to be his date to the middle school bingo party at Darlington before the schools merged.  The one I asked to go with me to my freshman prom at Thornwood – and he was the one who gave me my very first kiss behind the gym there.  Things you never forget.

When the schools merged and we got into the same high school, it was evident that things were going to be different.  We were in the same crowd, but not really. And he ended up graduating a year after me, which was probably a good thing for him because school work was really never his strong suit.

After school, I went to college, and he stayed in town… we went our separate ways as did all of us who hung together in high school.  I saw him on occasion when I was in town, particularly at Christmas… for awhile he entertained the kids at the local mall playing Santa (we’ll just say he was always a sizeable fellow, and the Santa suit fit perfectly).

But then… I lost touch… and I think it was during that time that the drugs started to take hold.  I’d hear snippets here and there… he was jailed… he was in a halfway house… one time he had straightened up and was actually working at a local Cracker Barrel and waited on my parents and me (it was a nice surprise).  But to me, he vanished again.

I got the news today that I’d been dreading – that sweet boy who grew into a troubled man had finally lost his battle.  I’m selfishly heartbroken at the loss of yet another part of my life; I’m saddened at the waste of it all.

Rest well, David.  Whether you knew it or not, you were a very important part of my life, and  I thank you for it.  I hope you have found the peace that eluded you in this life as you enter the next.

We begin another year…

…another cycle around the sun. Time to wax philosophic about the possibilities ahead.

Adjustment continues – I’m starting this year without any physical attachments to my hometown.  My parents’ home sold in November, and the closing took place at the end of December, just a couple of days before New Year’s Eve.  There’s a couple of odds and ends to take care of, such as the transfer of utilities (I was in Highlands when the closing actually happened), but that chapter has now closed.  As I told some of my friends, it just seems surreal, but I know it’s just part of that lifelong process of growing up.

So 2017 starts with the clean slate I’d wanted. Hoping to make some improvements to our house here (probably after tax season) and just try to enjoy life.

Not making any resolutions – that’s pretty much an exercise in futility – but I’m hoping to make a conscious effort to balance work and off time just a little better. Hard to do when you’ve got an office in your home, but still…

Wishing everyone who takes the time to read this the happiest of New Years.  May blessings be yours.

Thankful, 2016

Dang, this year has gone by quickly. I remember a lady I worked with when I was much younger told me that the older I got, the faster they’d go, and it appears she was correct.

I realize I have so many blessings, no matter how much I gripe at times.  Today seems like a good time to reflect on them.

  • I’m thankful that I’m the child of a God so merciful that he sent his Son to be sacrificed for me.
  • I’m thankful for my wonderful husband, who has proved over and over again that he really took those wedding vows seriously about that “for better or worse” stuff.  I love you, Richard.
  • I’m thankful for my parents who were strict but loving and taught me a set of values as well as the value of things. They continue to shower blessings on me from heaven.
  • I’m thankful for a group of friends who accept me as family. We’re not all in the same place, but we manage to stay connected all the time.
  • I’m thankful for my church and my church family. I’m so blessed to have found a loving group of people with whom I can worship. And the choir and bell group is just the best.
  • I’m thankful for the education I worked for and the small business it allows me to run.  And I’m thankful for the group of clients who trust me.
  • I’m thankful I live in the best country in the world that gives me the freedom to make my own choices and make my own opportunities.

There’s so much more… but I’ll save all that for another time.  I wish all of you who take the time to read this a very Happy and blessed Thanksgiving.  I hope you have time to enjoy the day with people you love.

Talladega

2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Talladega

“When the winds go cold and it blows October,
I think about us shoulder to shoulder,
Like those cars my thoughts roll over and over and over,
In my mind

Tonight I’m in Talladega, boys raised up,
Whiskey in your glass, here’s to turning up,
Slowing down and cars that go real fast,
We were laughing and living, drinking and wishing,
And thinking as that checkered flag was waving,
Sure would like to stay in
Talladega”

How appropriate that my 40th high school reunion and the Talladega race fall on the same weekend.  Eric Church’s song isn’t about racing… it’s about a time in your life that stands out… that you’ll always remember.

I absolutely loved my time at Darlington.  I was fortunate in that I ended up getting to do just about everything I wanted to do in terms of extra-curricular activities, and the group of people that I hung out with were the ones who were very competitive in terms of grades, so those stayed up as well.  It was the full package, although I didn’t realize it at the time.  Sure… there was the usual teenage girl drama… and I was truly a bit of a nerd (which sometimes made me somewhat of a target)… but I figured out later that being a nerd was ok and paid off in the long run.

So, I’m headed for the class reunion tonight with memories of 40 years ago swirling in my mind.  All of us who are going are bringing years of experience with us, and we’re all much different people than we were then.

As for Talladega…. it’s the first track at which I was able to see a race in person.  It was right after my mom had been hospitalized in a very difficult situation, and it was touch and go right up to the morning of the race as to whether we’d be able to go.  But her caregivers, God bless them, assured me it would be ok, and we drove over in the middle of thunderstorms (which were a fitting metaphor for the week before).

When we reached the track… surrounding it was a sea of campers, and it was the largest sports facility I had ever seen (Remember, it’s a 2.66 mile track with 33 degree banking).  We had purchased a package that allowed us pit road access – and we did that in the rain. The race was delayed a bit… but the clouds cleared and the sun shined and finally the engines roared to life.

It was one of the most beautiful sounds I’d ever heard, and I had tears streaming down my face, because I’d finally made it to Talladega.

In the years since, we’ve been back every year.  I’ve crossed a bucket list item off by seeing Dale Jr. win a race there. And we’re going again this weekend to make another memory.

 

I’m taking a break…

I decided today that I’ve had it up to here (imagine my hand up at my hairline) with politics.

This is a big revelation for me, since I’m a naturally political animal.  One of my degrees is in Political Science.  The system and how it works fascinates me.

The problem is that this go round, everything is so horribly nasty that it’s just overwhelmingly exhausting.

I made up my mind how I’m going to vote a long time ago.  Very little outside of a headline in bold print about drowning puppies while running over kittens with a tank could change that.

So, I see no need to subject myself to the horrible animosity being generated by the current climate.  I’ve spent the afternoon going through my Facebook newsfeed and clearing it of many of the political sites I follow.  To all my friends who just can’t resist sharing such content, don’t be surprised if I unfollow you until sometime in mid-November.  It’s probably the only way we’ll stay friends.

With any luck my newsfeed will be full of NASCAR and dachshunds.

Like much of the American public, I’m tired – and I don’t know how the heck we got to this point.  For my own sanity, I’ve got to take a break.

I’ll re-evaluate after November 8.

“Bobby, it’s a tumor.”

I can still see Frank Hampton looking directly into my father’s face and saying those horrible words.  He had wanted to tell my dad himself, since he and my dad had been friends for years.  I felt the bottom drop out of my stomach – sort of like what happens when you’re on a carnival ride, except this wasn’t fun at all.  It was literally deadly serious.

The day was September 26, 2001.  Frank had admitted Dad to the hospital because he woke up that morning not making any sense when he spoke.  We thought he’d had a stroke.  At the time, the MRI was at the imaging center in Rome, so I took a ride in the ambulance over with Dad.  He knew every doctor in town because of his work with the hospital authority.  After his test, every doctor scattered.  I knew something was very wrong then, but I just didn’t know how bad it was.

I didn’t realize at the time how profoundly that day changed my life as I threw myself into researching brain tumors and, upon finding out he had the absolute worst kind you could have, researching what treatment options there were.  Going over his assets with him before the brain surgery so somebody would know what was going on if he shouldn’t survive it. I made a legal pad of information that I lived by for six months after his death.

But that day was when I switched from being a 43 year old adult who had very little responsibility outside of a job to a caregiver.  And I stayed in that role for the next 13 years till Mom passed.

I know that God has a purpose for everything.  I had to grow up fast during Dad’s illness, and I appreciated the fact that he had been so proactive in getting everything in order so that I could just manage things.  But the tumor gave me a gift in an odd way – I found out more about Dad’s boyhood and how he grew up with his siblings in the time he could still speak than I had ever learned before.  I treasure the lunches we had together on the two days a week I’d come up to take him to his radiation treatments.

Dad and I had always been close. He had a dry sense of humor that I adored. He’d get a twinkle in his eye before he did something silly.  And I couldn’t believe I was going to have to go on without him.  But by the end of three months, I had to let him go to God. It was a blessing because he was in such pain.

I learned a lot while Dad was sick.  I learned while watching my husband gently help my father take care of himself, then again years later while he held my mother down so they could medicate her while she was delirious (while tears were streaming down his face), that I had married the right man. He loved my parents, and he loved me during the nights of crying (which still happen).  I learned what a fantastic church family I have who supported me and came to Rome and stood with me at the funeral – both times.  And I learned that I have a core of friends who I’ve chosen as family.

September 26, 2001 changed everything in my life. I spent the next thirteen years essentially as a caregiver – first guiding Mom through living without the person on whom she’d been dependent for 52 years… then helping her through her final struggles with emphysema and dementia. It’s been two years since she passed, and I’m still adjusting to life without taking care of someone.  I’m watching my friends starting down the same path I’ve already traveled, and I wish I could make the way easier…

Fifteen years have passed since my life path altered so radically.  I miss my parents daily. But, when all is said and done, and I consider all that has happened and the road I’ve traveled – in the words of the beautiful hymn… “It Is Well With My Soul.”  Thanks be to the God who never left me.

(with apologies once again to my friend Jackie, who is a very nice person who works for them)

I have a friend for whom I do some business work who has a business account at BOA.  Opened it thirty six years ago in 1980.  She runs an organized business and is very low maintenance, banking-wise.

This past week she had need to open a second business account to do some online transactions.  I figured she’d go, open the account, transfer some money from her primary account, and be done with it.  Easy peasy.

Obviously I forgot who we were dealing with.  The manager at the branch informed my friend that a) there was no way they could open this account without the *original* paperwork she presented thirty six years ago and b) she’d have to keep an astronomical minimum balance in it.

Now, I understand that the business environment has changed in 36 years, but I have small businesses opening accounts all the time without such demands for documentation.  How many people do you know who can lay their hands on paperwork that old?  Anyone? Bueller??   I could have understood the demands if it were a new business coming in – but it was an existing account holder trying to open an additional account.

All of this to me was code for “We don’t want your business anymore.” I advised her that it was time to change banks to someone more business friendly – which is exactly what’s going to happen this coming week.

I still find it amazing that banks can treat people like this and stay in business… but then, based on my personal experience with BOA, I shouldn’t be surprised by anything.