Was It Really Worth It?


There was a shooting at the local Walmart this week. Two men were killed, a police officer was wounded, and the killer was shot by the police and is in the hospital. Last I heard he was expected to survive.

Since I live just south of Memphis, Tennessee, one of the most violent cities in the country, I hear about shootings all the time. The news reports anywhere from one to five shootings a week, or more. But there aren’t many in Southaven, Mississippi, so the shooting was big news. It is still big news, days later, because the Walmart still isn’t open for business.

The reason for the shooting was based on revenge. The shooter was placed on suspension from his job at Walmart because he had an altercation with a customer that resulted in him pulling a knife. He had not been fired from his job, as yet. He stopped the manager outside the store and shot him, then he shot and killed another employee who was simply going in to work. When the police showed up, he exchanged gunfire with the police and wounded one of them before he was shot. So, this guy does something totally unacceptable in the work place, refuses to take responsibility for his behavior, and decided it was the manager’s fault he was without a job. In the vernacular of the young men today, he was “disrespected” by the manager, and to regain his man card, he had to kill him. How utterly immature and ignorant can a grown man be?

What he doesn’t seem to understand is that what he has done will effect the families of the people involved for generations. Let’s start with his family. He has a wife and three small children. He will go to prison, and Mississippi has the death penalty. For a cold blooded, premeditated murder, it is most likely he will get the ultimate penalty. His children, if they ever see him again, will have to do so in the prison. They will grow up knowing their father was a killer, who shot three men in a fit of rage. They will grow up knowing that their dad had no respect for human life, and he allowed his immature feelings to dictate his actions causing unending pain to the families of his victims. And, they will worry about being as violent and emotionally immature as he was for most of their lives.

Then there are the families of the victims. The parents, spouse, children, siblings, and friends of those innocent men will be in shock, pain, and then have to go through all the stages of grief, and I can guarantee that getting past the anger with be the longest and hardest battle they will have. The funerals will come and go, sympathy will come and go, and then the wives will be left widows with children to raise on their own. And that is when the deepest sorrow and loneliness will hit the family. The emptiness in the lives of the families will never really go away. All the suffering was brought upon them by the purposeful actions of a man who refused to accept responsibility for his behavior. Like a two year old throwing a tantrum, he acted out in violence without an ounce of self control. The results of that may have given him back his self respect for all of two minutes, because he then tried to commit suicide by cop through forcing the officers to return fire. Was it really worth it?

Three families destroyed, a police officer left to deal with having to draw his gun and shoot at another human being, and the killer ends up in prison for life, if he doesn’t get the death penalty. The community has to deal with yet another senseless act of violence, creating even more issues around public safety. All because a male didn’t bother to grow up enough to take accept the consequences for his actions. Why. you may ask is this so important to me? Because I am a parent of a murdered child, and friend to the family of the man who died with my son. I know what the families will suffer, what the children will suffer, and that it will go on for generations, because I have seen it in my own family. May God bless the survivors, and may the killer obtain his just punishment – the death penalty.

Ever Wonder?


Ever have one of those days when you have a list of things to do, but by the time the day is over, nothing has been accomplished on the list?

Ever wish that things in your household chores acted like cartoon characters and did things like dishes jump in the dishwasher on their own, and books would pack themselves into the boxes, tape would run around the box with abandoned joy, and the pen would dance across the box and write on it for you? Then, just to top off the moment, the clothing would wash, dry, hang up and fold then put themselves away all the while singing and dancing in happiness.

Ever wonder why the pets just have to walk right where you need to be, or simply stand in front of you then get all huffy and offended when you tell them to move in an exasperated voice?

Ever wonder why you have to tell a kid the same thing, five times in a row with an even louder voice to get them to respond while they are watching television or on their phone– oh and that goes for the husband too?

Ever wonder why you can cook the same dish a million times and no one says a word about it, but you make it for the million and one time and everyone has a complaint?

Ever wonder why your favorite pair of jeans changes sizes on a regular basis even if you haven’t?

Ever wonder why your shoes move themselves in the night, just so you have to get on your hands and knees to look under the bed for them, then you find them sitting in the middle of the bathroom floor. (I know mine laugh at me every time I look under the bed.)

Ever wonder why you can see the last close in parking spot from across the entire parking lot, but in the twenty seconds it takes you to get there, five other cars are there first and the drivers are fighting for the spot?

Ever wonder why you can see an empty check out lane, but by the time you get there five seconds later, there is a line of ten other people with baskets filled to the brim and the only other check out lane has the slowest checker on earth with the most gossipy customers in their line?

Ever wonder why you always end up at the gas pump that always, always, ALWAYS takes the longest to fill up the car when it is either raining like mad, the wind is freezing cold, or it is so hot your shoes start sticking to the pavement?

Ever wonder why you always get the last of the ice cream and it has ice in it, but the person in front of you gets the good stuff?

Ever wonder why, when you have a complaint at the store, or want to return something, you always get the worker who doesn’t give a rat’s pattootie about it and makes you jump through hoops to do it. Then when you ask for the manager, they get all huffy and snarky?

Ever have those days when it is better just to go back to bed and say to heck with everything and find it better just to read a book instead?

Yeah, me too. Later people, the bed is calling my name.

Type A or Type B


I realized this morning that I literally had no idea what the date was. I used to be on top of things like that, I had to be with my full organizer and insane schedule of things to do and take care of in my hand. The more I thought about it, the more I realized something odd hand happened to the Type A, over achieving, overly committed, organized person I used to be. I was, heaven help me, turning into a Type B, laid back, unworried, unorganized, uncommitted person. The very kind of person that used to drive me crazy when I was the real me. How could I allow that to happen? How did I become such a slacker that I had no idea what the date was, even if I did know the day of the week? (As a Tuesday, I didn’t have dialysis, so I knew it was Tuesday – or a Thursday – or the weekend.) GASP!

When I was involved in Scouting, then in college, then working, I was always organized. I had things planned weeks and months in advance – all carefully written in my organizer and calendar. I had lists of things to do, lists of things to buy, lists of people to contact, and lists of when my lessons were due and papers needed to be turned in before exams were scheduled to be completed. I was never late to any event, and always prepared for my school work. I would sit down with each syllabus from each class and write everything down at the beginning of the semester. I would bookmark each and every story or article I had to read for each class – color coded no less – with the date written on each post it note. I was the champion of organization.

When it came to cleaning and organizing my house, I had a set schedule for each room and what had to be done when. I spring cleaned and fall cleaned every closet in every room in my home, every year without fail. I would shop for groceries once a month, and planned out every single meal I was going to cook ahead of time. I would have lists for those meals for the fresh things I would need every week, and I kept a running list of things I ran out of so I would always know what to buy at the grocery on those weekly trips. I knew, at one glance, what needed to be done next, and I kept the laundry just as organized and set up to be done efficiently and quickly. I was the one woman dynamo who kept my family just as organized. Until my boys became teenagers and I decided they just had to fend for themselves since they wouldn’t cooperate with my schedule. That worked too.

Yet, somehow, somewhere, over the past ten years, I lost my organizer, I quit working, I got sick, I got well, and I got old. I learned to stop over planning and allow life to happen on its own schedule. Then I realized that it didn’t matter if I was organized or not. Because I had no schedule, my closets would still be there to sort when I got healthy or determined enough to clear them out. I decided playing with the grandchildren was more fun than cleaning house or grocery shopping, or even cooking. And one day, BOOM, I became a Type B personality. It is shocking, it is hard to accept, but here I am, nonetheless. Now the only thing I schedule are doctor appointments and dialysis. In fact, if I didn’t have those things to go to, I would have NO social life at all. I guess I will learn to settle into my new normal eventually. It is a bit uncomfortable, like too tight jeans, right now, but I will stretch into the fit and learn to relax about everything as I continue to age.

Life is too important to do it at a full out run. I wonder how many things I missed because I was too busy looking ahead instead of enjoying the moment. I can’t go back and fix that, but I can change how I do the future. So this Type B, laid back, unorganized old woman is going to spend more time with my Mr., listen more to my children and grandchildren, and do more fun things like paint with my great granddaughter and write stories from my heart. And when I occasionally panic over losing the Type A part of myself, I will learn to laugh at myself and go do something totally unimportant, like have a cup of tea and a cookie.

Downsizing


We are getting ready to retire at the end of the year. Since we will be moving to a new home, we have started packing unnecessary things. We are constantly saying things like: What’s this? When did we get that? It’s not yours? I don’t know? Why would we need anything like that? I know, I didn’t buy it. Which kid did this belong to? Should we keep it, sell it, or toss it? Wow, this is cool! Does it still work? Who bought this stuff? Hey, that’s a keeper! I forgot all about this!

Downsizing is a new fangled word for getting rid of junk and clutter when preparing to moved. All of the above comments are the things we mutter while clearing out all the accumulated things every household seems to collect over the years of living in one place. None of it is planned, it simply happens as time rolls by and the family grows or shrinks, we redecorate rooms, or move things around and run out of space for items over time.

When we start going through everything we have collected, on purpose or through neglect, it is amazing the things we discover. So far, I have only started with my bookshelves and it is surprising the things I keep finding. It makes it really hard to get anything done when I keep stopping to read from books I forgot I had or haven’t read in years. If it is this hard to get through the bookshelves, I can only imagine what is going to happen when we get to the garage and attic.

Last weekend, I cleared out my closet like I do every year, twice a year, to get rid of things I haven not worn over the past season or two. I also cleared out the clothes I can no longer wear because they are too large. Some of the things were hard to let go because they have special meanings attached to them. For instance, the dress I wore when the Mr. and I went dancing at the Rainbow Room in New York City, and and the out fit I wore when we went sailing on The Flying Cloud in the Caribbean the first time. Both are many sizes too big, and I will never wear them again, but it was hard to let them go.

I noticed, today, I have many keepsakes in my craft room from our travels, from my children and grandchildren, and from my own penchant for collecting things that I am unsure we will have room for in the house we are retiring to in the new year. I don’t think I can get rid of them, especially the things from my boys and my grandchildren. I mean, how can I toss out the handmade paperweight my son made for me when he was a teenager, or the painting my budding artist granddaughter made for me when she was eight? I have no idea how people do things like that. I would sooner toss out my dishes. And that is just the stuff in my craft room. I have as much in my office, more in my bedroom, and even more in the living room – and that is not counting the art on the walls.

The Mr. and I are veteran collectors of everything from music, art, and books to gizmos, curiosities, and did I say books? All of that has found homes in various rooms in the house. We are also preppers, so that means our spare spaces are filled with all sorts of items in preparation for any disaster. The garage is filled with gear, including a generator and a multitude of tools and boxes of “just in case” items. Because we love to decorate for various holidays, our attic is stuffed with boxes and boxes of those decorations. I know I have sixteen boxes filled with Christmas decorations for inside and outside the house alone. Those are not going to be left behind or sold, because we will still want to decorate our house when we are retired and some of that stuff is impossible to replace since it came from abroad.

We are obviously stuck between a rock and a hard place. We have lived here for eleven years, longer than we have ever lived anywhere since we got married. I used to be an expert at moving, we did it on the average of every three years. I never collected anything bigger than a thimble. Now I have too much of everything, and a house big enough for all of it. The new place is almost as large, but configured far differently – with fewer, if larger, rooms. I guess I will have to bite the bullet and just learn to let go of things that don’t have an emotional connection. But I want to go on record stating that I hate downsizing. It, quite frankly, sucks.

The Farmer’s Market


Every Saturday morning from spring through late fall, there is a Farmer’s Market on the court house square in Hernando, Mississippi. We try to attend as often as possible. It isn’t a huge market, most of the sellers are local men and women who grow fruit and vegetables on their land. After awhile, they recognize buyers who turn up regularly.

It is a rather eclectic group of people. There is one man who sells fresh milk and eggs, but you had best be there early since he always sells out in the first two hours. The lemonade and fried pie guy has delicious products. We always buy lemonade, pies not so much since the Mr. isn’t all that fond of fried pies. I love them, especially the peach, but they are a no go on my diet. Darn it. The man who does sharpening for knives and anything else that needs a sharp edge is both affordable and super friendly. He does a great job, my kitchen knives have never been sharper.

There a several ladies who sell their home canned goods. I have never had better piccalilli, and the jams and jellies are delicious. I especially like the blueberry jelly the elderly couple who are always on the north side of the court house sells. They also make pickled okra that runs from mild to super hot. I get the medium because it is hot enough to be spicy but not so hot as to take the hide off my tongue.

Last week, we bought Addie a butterfly plant complete with caterpillar that had hatched that day. The vendor wrapped the plant in one of those wraps that will keep the caterpillar from getting away and still let in sunlight and made it easy to water. Once the caterpillar hatches into a butterfly we can let it go and re-pot the plant so it will attract other butterflies next spring. Addie is avidly watching the caterpillar for growth every day. There are several vendors who sell plants for gardens, flowers, and herbs at the market. Each one seems to specialize in different areas. We enjoy talking to them as we wander by.

There are a few hippy dippy types who specialize in things like soap and honey and lemon based products for the home. There are always a few folks who only sell holistic products, and they seem to do a booming business with the young mothers who are all about that sort of thing. And the vendors who appeal to the older folks are mostly down to earth farmers who simply sell good vegetables at a good price.

One of the charming things about the market is that most of the stalls are family operated. Kids from about nine and older help out. The Mr. always engages the kids, asking them questions about how the food is grown, if they helped harvest the product they are selling, all sorts of questions that sometimes stump them. He will buy from the kids who are the most informed and willing to talk to him. They can’t be a good salesman, or woman, if they aren’t willing to talk to the customers.

Among the vendors are artisans of all sorts, from bread makers, to candle makers, to pottery makers. It is always interesting to see what they have for sale. My favorite is the knife maker. For several years, I had looked for a knife that wouldn’t fall out of my hand when I used it. I have arthritis issues that makes it hard for my fingers to bend properly. Not only did he have what I needed, he was willing to make it so it fit my hand perfectly. Best of all, it was affordable, came with a sheath, and was as sharp as the knife sharpening guy could make it. A true artisan was at work that day.

The one stall we always stop at is the one operated by the local animal shelter. Every week they have kittens, puppies, dogs, or cats for adoption. I have to force myself not to take a new pet home every week. It is especially hard when they have kittens and puppies. We stop and love on the animals, then keep on going. One day, though, I know I will weaken and end up with a new pet. The Mr. won’t like it, but he will get used to it. He always does. I love the Farmer’s Market, it is a family destination.

Planning The Future


Addie wandered into my office holding her favorite baby doll. She needed help with the tiny buttons on the dress it was wearing. As I helped her we fell into conversation, as we always do.

Addie said, “Nana, when I grow up I want to have two girl babies.”

I said, “What about having a boy baby? It could happen you know.”

A: “Nope, I don’t want a boy baby, they are messy and loud. Besides, I don’t like boys.” (She is six.)

Me: “Well I had two boy babies, and I loved them very much. You might feel the same way.”

A: “No I won’t. I only want girl babies.”

M: “Keep in mind that you need a husband to have any babies. To do that, you will need to love him too. Just like I love your Papa.”

A: “Oh, yeah. I know that.” Long pause. “Well maybe just one boy baby, because my husband will probably want one since we will have two girls. But the Dad can take care of the boy, since I have no idea how to do that after they are little babies.”

M: “That would be a good compromise. But I bet you will love your boy baby as much as you will love your girls. Any baby is hard work, but it is worth every minute of your time and effort.”

A: “Oh I know that, Nana. You worked hard to raise my Grandpa Arron and Uncle Riley. and my Mommy, and now you work hard to raise me. I want to be just like you when I am a mommy.”

Me: Blinking back tears. “Oh Addie, I love you very much. I simply want you to be who you are and do what you want with your life.”

A: “I know, Nana. You will always love me all my life. So will Papa.”

With that, she wandered off to change her baby doll’s diaper. I heard her singing a song to rock it to sleep. In so many ways, I see her copy behavior she has seen from me and her Papa. It warms my heart and fills me with hope for the future, and she will eventually soften her attitude on boys. At six, all little girls find boys hard to understand. They are loud, dirty, and messy, but that is all part of being a boy learning to be a man. Just as she is a girl learning how to be a woman. Today she wants to be a mommy, tomorrow, she may want to be a unicorn or a fairy. Either way, we encourage her to discover her imagination, grow as she wants to grow, and love her no matter what. She is our angel baby, and one day, she will be a mommy who knows how to care for and love her children. She makes us proud every day.

Toxic Male


I am married to a toxic male. There, I said it.

And I thank God every day for him. I know it isn’t the in thing to want to be with a man and not feel required to change him from an uninhibited male, but something between gay and a metro-sexual pretty boy. But he is exactly what the real woman in me needs and wants in my life.

Let me tell you some of the things my toxic male does that drives the far left folks insane.

He has a job. A real job that pays all the bills and then some. He has held a job every day since we got married nearly 48 years a go. During all the years he has worked, he has built his career in such a way that we will always be provided for, and when he retires we will have a small business to keep him busy and provide income. To him, it is the responsibility of a man to provide for his family.

He was a hands on father and is an involved grandfather who loves all our progeny. He has taught them to be strong people who are able to think for themselves and determine who and what they are in life without depending on popular culture to tell them what to do. Because of his leadership as the head of our family, our children and grandchildren come to him to talk over their decisions and life issues. He gives them advice then gets out of the way and lets them follow their own paths. Because he believes that is how a man should treat his family.

He is my equal in all things. Not only does he work outside the home, he helps me in the home. He has always helped with the kids, but he also helps with the housework, especially since I have had health issues. For decades, he has always done the dishes. I cook, he cleans. He does laundry, and cleans when needed. And he does all the vacuuming of the floors, since it is a chore I hate doing. In short, he takes up my slack, and being a man, he takes care of me. Above all, my toxic male has encouraged me to do what I wanted and supported me in all things. He is my biggest fan and he believes in me when I falter in my goals. He thinks I am something special, even when I don’t. He loves me, and treats me like I am a treasure because he believes no man is complete without a woman who loves him as much as he loves her.

He protects our home and family. He believes it is his responsibility to make sure we are safe from harm from others. He made sure all of us are trained in how to use weapons to protect ourselves if he is not present. He made sure that our home is protected by installing alarms and equipment to insure our security. And he stands between all of us and the evil out there in the world, ready to take up arms and do what must be done to ensure our safety. Because that’s what a man does, he protects his home and his loved ones.

He is religious, believing in his God and in the church in which he is a member. He stands as the head of our family, holding me by his side as his equal as he teaches our family how to stand firm in their beliefs as well. Although we do not expect our family to follow blindly, we do always offer them a place to learn and worship as needed. He does this because he firmly believes a man must set an example for others to follow, and he must stand by that example – always.

Like many toxic males, he loves guns, rides motorcycles, loves the outdoors, and enjoys hanging out with other males, mostly his brothers. He is political, staunchly conservative, patriotic, and loves America for all it stands for and does for the world. He is unwavering in his standards as an American. And he is this way because that is what a man, a strong independent male, does.

My man is a toxic male according to the leftist agenda. I can guarantee every single woman out there who has to put up with the cry baby males of the left envies every last one of us women who has a real man in her life who isn’t ashamed to be an uninhibited male. I know I am thankful to have mine.

A Girl and A Horse


On Saturday our Addie had a great day. She is quite horse mad right now, and wants riding lessons. Its a long story, but the other grandparent with whom we share custody, isn’t keen on the idea. To help Addie learn about horses and have the chance to be around them, we try to get her to events that will give her hands on experience.

The woman who trained our granddaughter and her horse in the hunter/jumper events put on a program for her younger students called a play day. The girls got to groom and bathe a small horse, lead and ride a horse, and play together in the outdoors on the farm. It was, as Addie said, “Totally Awesome!” And for my husband and myself, brought back happy memories of her mother learning horsemanship from one of the best trainers in our area.

There is something magical about being around horses. I know they seem huge, and they can be scary to little kids, but give them a minute or two with a horse sniffing them, nuzzling them, and kids just fall into love with the animals. There is nothing more sweet that seeing a child reaching up to hug a horse, and the horse all but climbing in their lap to hug them back.

Horses are wise, gentle, ornery, funny, goofy, spirited, and stubborn, just like people tend to be. A good match between rider and horse is a beautiful thing to see. It seems girls are more drawn to ponies and horses than boys, and it isn’t unusual to see a young girl out in the pasture with her best friend lying across his back and telling him all her troubles.

We used to live near a stable and on Saturday the parking area was filled with cars, trucks, and trailers as a gaggle giggling girls between six and womanhood took lessons, competed in events, cared for their horses and spent time making friends and enemies. Between the horses, dogs, people, teachers, and competition it was a noisy, joyous affair.

Girls learned responsibility, and how to work hard because their horses needed them to be able to understand and be aware of problems. Horses learned to work with the girls, treating them with gentleness and making them earn their respect. Having a horse is a lot more work than most people expect. It is an every day responsibility, and there is always something to take care of, be it making sure they horse stays healthy to keeping up with the maintenance of the animal. Brushing, shoes, trimming, checking for sores, cuts, making sure their teeth are in good shape, it is always something. Then there is the equipment that requires care. A good trainer will make sure the girls know how to keep their saddle and bridal in good condition, how to choose the right bit for their horse, and how to get their horse ready to ride.

Some girls have full board horses, where farm hands feed and water the horses, and clean the stalls for them. Personally, I think it is important that a horse owner take care of their own horse every day themselves. Nothing like cleaning out a dirty stall to teach a child hard work. Hauling in hay, grain, and water gives them a chance to understand horse nutrition and health. Overseeing the horses makes them more than a weekend owner, it makes them understand the needs of their horse and how to relate to him better.

I always get a kick out of watching a girl learn to make her horse do as she asks instead of doing what he wants. It gives a girl courage to face down a stubborn 1500 pound animal with nothing more than grit and her 100 pounds of determination. I have seen girls take a jump and go head over heels off a 16 hand horse, just to get up, brush off the dirt and climb right back on to try again. No tears, no self pity, just hard core determination to learn how to do things right. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

So, our Addie isn’t taking lessons, yet. But she is learning her way around a horse and how to care for one from the hooves up. One day we will watch her compete like her mother did, and bring home a blue ribbon. But the point of competing, to us, isn’t the winning, it is learning how to cope with losing, and still getting back on her horse and trying again until she conquers everything ahead of her. And until then, she will have fun loving on horses every chance she gets. I love being a Nana.

Old Lady Rant


Warning: Old Lady Rant

I was in the grocery today. I was standing in the produce section, picking out grapes when a kid ran into me with one of those child sized shopping carts. It hurt when the little )(*($!! jammed his cart into the back of my legs. I turned and told him so. His father, who was pretty much ignoring his spawn, said, “Oh it was just an accident.” “Really?” I said, “Accident or not, it still hurt.” Dad got indignant, “Well he didn’t mean to hurt you, he couldn’t have hit you that hard.” “So, it was okay he ran into me, because it wasn’t a purposeful action, and it didn’t hurt me all that much?” Dad shrugged, meanwhile the kid is tearing around pretending his cart is a race car. “No apology? Your son is allowed to hurt other people and not even apologize? Really? So, I guess if you run into someone with your car and injure them, no harm, no foul because you didn’t mean to and you need not apologize.” About then his spawn ran into one of the displays. Lucky for the little )(#*%#!! nothing got knocked over. I can only imagine how much the Dad would have sued the grocery for if his spawn was hurt. He never answered me, by the way.

That was only one of the times a kid with a child sized cart nearly cause a disaster while I was at the store today. I was walking along headed toward the dairy section when a brother and sister, each with one of those damned carts came running from a side aisle at full speed. I barely got stopped in time, and had I been in one of the motorized chairs, I would have ran them over. No apology, just a dirty look for getting in their way as they continued down the store at full speed, running into each other with their carts – on purpose. No parent in sight, and lots of people trying to dodge their stupid game. I am writing to the grocery owners, those damned things are dangerous, and so are the carts. They should be banned. As should the parents who don’t make their children behave.

Hope For The Future


Recently we attended the Kindergarten program that our great granddaughter’s school put on. It was cute, the kids were great and well prepared, and they all sang their hearts out. As I looked around, the gym was filled with parents and grandparents cheering their babies on. This was a big event for many because it was either their first, or their last, child to do one of these programs. For grandparents, it was a joyful continuation of family, tradition, and community. Applause couldn’t have been louder for the most famous artist in the world. It was their kids up there doing an outstanding job.

Those little children, five and six years old boys and girls, are the future of our country, families, and communities. In the year 2031, they will graduate High School, hopefully, and move on to adulthood. As they go to college, trade school, military, or simply working in one of the many blue collar jobs across the country, they will make up the men and women who will carry on our traditions. Some will make a good life, some will fall to the temptations of drugs, alcohol, and violence. Some will turn to crime as a way of life, some with struggle, and some will sail through life without a problem. All of them will have to grow up, mature into the men and women on whose shoulders the responsibility of freedom, strength, and leadership fall.

When we looked at them standing on those risers, all so small, we see our little babies, filled with hope, excitement, and the desire to do well, performing as their teacher asks them. In the years ahead, they will face bullies, struggle with learning, work to become their individual selves. They will fight with others, stand firm as loyal friends, and fall in and out of love with someone. It will be an uphill battle to learn to listen to their conscience instead of their friends who will lead them into trouble. They will have to find their path to faith, religion, and beliefs in God, or not, and they will have to believe enough to stand firm in the face of those who would hate them just because they dare to think for themselves. It will be hard, but thankfully, it happens in small increments of time, over a long time, so they can focus and learn what they must at the moment.

They were all so small, so cute, in their excitement. We watched our great granddaughter as she sang her heart out, proud of each word she uttered. When she saw us afterward, she threw her arms around us and nearly shouted, “I love you!” This is our third generation of children to be part of raising. The feeling we had when our first child was in a program still holds firm today. We told her how proud we were of her, how she did a great job, and how we applauded her efforts. She beamed with joy, practically dancing in her happiness. In her, we see the future, and we pray we can help her on her life long journey. We also pray for all the other children on that stage, that they may have loving parents, security, and a firm belief in themselves and their value to the world. God Bless them all, the hope for the future.