To My Children and Grandchildren


If I should die in the spring, plant flowers on my grave, bright yellow and pink. Watch them grow, and enjoy them blooming each year, bursting with color, life, and love as a remembrance of my life.

If I should die in the summer, plant a shade tree next to my grave, one that will grow, spreading its branches wide to give shade and comfort to those who come by to say hello. Remember that I wrap my love around you every moment of every day for eternity.

If I should die in the fall, place a bench next to my grave, so those who visit will have a place to sit comfortably. Then maybe they will stay longer to talk about their life – good and bad. Remember that I will always be available to listen forever.

If I should die in the winter, place a small brazier next to my grave and place a fire in it. Let it give light in the dark, warmth in the cold to all who come near. Remember that even in the darkest night and coldest day, my soul will watch over yours, you will never be alone.

When the time comes, and I must go, remember to bloom where you are planted, share your love, take time to listen, and bring those who are lost and lonely in from the cold and give them a warm place to rest.

When I go, I will be waiting for you to call my name. Look for me, when it is your time to leave this earth, and I will be there to meet you. I will find you in the moonlight, or bright day, and we will rejoice. Above all, my beloved children, remember that I love you and always will.

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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.

Dealing With Mortality


I am a fatalist, when it is your turn to die, you will die because there is no escaping it. I am sixty-four years old, and I have had to face the fact that mortality is a finite thing. I have diabetes, heart disease, and kidney failure – any of which will literally be the death of me. Oh, not today, probably not for years with all of the modern medicine and surgery available. But, I have a use by date stamped in my DNA somewhere and my body is making me very aware of that fact on a daily basis.

I decided that living with constant pain is something I can do, because life is worth it. I can live with the next thing to go wrong, because life is worth it. I can live with the unknown because life is worth it. As long as life is worth it, I will keep going. It may be slower than I am used to, it may frustrate me not to be able to do what I want because of limitations – both physical and emotional – but it is still living. I have long since come to terms with the idea that if I wake one day and nothing hurts, I will have died in my sleep.

I don’t fear dying, for many reasons from my faith to knowing I will get to be with my loved ones and friends who have gone ahead of me. I am also too stubborn and opinionated to let something as natural as death intimidate me. It happens to everyone eventually. I have thought a lot about what I want done at my funeral. No crying, no wailing, no feeling depressed. It is a celebration of my life, my death, and my eternal life! So I don’t want sad music, speeches about how good I was, or more likely, how difficult I was in life. I want loud music, and people dancing as the escort me to my grave. I have already told my husband that at my graveside, the song by the Muppets, “Moving Right Along” must be played as my final thoughts. I love that song, we always played it when we drove off on an adventure when my boys were small.

I don’t want people to sit quietly, whispering to each other, get up and greet each other with a hug and talk to each other in a normal voice. It won’t bother me, that’s for sure. Laugh, oh, please laugh. Laugh about the silly things I did, my stubborn slant on politics, how I would drive my car and smoke those idiot teenage boys who thought they could out drive an old woman. Tell jokes, and share stories. For heaven’s sake, whoever delivers the eulogy, don’t be preachy or maudlin. And above all, don’t be boring.

I want to do a video before I die, one to be played at my funeral. My last word on everything from love to death. Why? Because it is my funeral, damn it, and I can. I want the last memory people have of me, especially my loved ones, to be one of me telling them what to do and how to do it just like I do every day in my life. More than that, though, is a last chance to tell them not to cry, because I have gone on to a better place.

A place where I will have to answer for my mistakes, a place where I can hug my son, and then sit down and have a conversation about his daughter and her life. I will see my Grannie Vandenburg, and tell her how much I missed her. I will see my father, who left his world without giving me a chance to say goodbye. There will be so many ancestors I have questions for about genealogy and family history – and most importantly, I have a few questions for the big man himself, like why did he make platypus, and what was he thinking when he made dinosaurs.

Mortality is something we all need to address eventually. But I want a say so in what happens when and how things are done when I leave this world behind. And I do plan on haunting a few folks who need a swift kick in the attitude just for the fun of it. I may have died, but I will still be me.

Idiot Genes


What is it about human beings that brings out the idiot gene when driving in bad weather? I had a doctor’s appointment today on the other side of Memphis. I hate driving over there, but it is always more stressful if I hit any sort of traffic. Today, due to the time of my appointment I hit the worse area at after school rush hour. Kids everywhere, running across the road in front of traffic, idiots who do not think they need to obey the school speed zones, and parents who think it is just fine for them to stop in the middle of the road to let their little darling get in the car, while chatting on their phones. And, to make it even more peachy, it was pouring rain. Lovely.

The appointment went well, and I got out of there just in time to catch the evening rush hour that starts at four p.m. In Memphis, every road is full of pot holes, some shallow, some deep. If you don’t know where they are, especially when it rains and fills them with water, you will be taking a chance on losing a tire and messing up the suspension on your car. Today, adding to the misery of too many cars in too small a space, we still had pouring rain. Roads were starting to flood, and all the pot holes were filled to the brim. So what do we have to deal with? A big delivery truck, one about the size of a large U-haul truck, decides to make his own space on the road.

He was in the far right lane, between him and the left turn lane were three lanes filled with people driving ten to fifteen miles over the speed limit. What does the knuckle dragging, chest beating, cave man do? He decides to pull across all three lanes, with no warning – like a signal – making cars do their best to dodge and weave around him. Then to make it even better, he made a left turn on a red light. Fortunately, I had an idea something would happen and slowed down to avoid the other cars. Behind me, I heard two or three big bangs as cars careened into each other. I guess they weren’t paying attention because they were too busy jockeying for position to make it through the stop light before it turned red. I just kept going, I was so stressed by then that I just wanted to get home.

Further down the road were cars filled with moms and kids getting from point A to point B in the shopping district. Why, may I ask, do people drive gray, black, dark blue, dark green, and maroon cars in the pouring rain and refuse to turn on their lights? Maybe they can see in the dark, but the average person does not have cat genes that allows them to do so. Maybe there would be less horn honking and swearing if they bothered to turn on the damned LIGHTS!!! Oh, and using turn signals, you know those funny little stalks on the steering column that indicate which direction you want to turn, would help everyone get out of your way before you run them down.

As I got to Pleasant Hill Road, preparing to turn left from Goodman Road, an old fart moron, the worse kind after young smart ass morons, cut across two lanes of traffic to cut me off so he could get in the turn lane first. No, I wasn’t nice, yes I used the horn and a few choice swear words too. If I hadn’t had great peripheral vision, I would have ended up T-boning the moron. As it was, I narrowly missed the old fart. The HE had the nerve to put his car in reverse and try to back into me. Holy CATS! What is WRONG with people when the weather gets bad? They must save up all their aggression just for a day that is dangerous in which to drive anywhere over the speed limit in bumper to bumper traffic, while it pours rain leave about ten feet of visibility. The idiot gene may be regressive for many, but it comes full force on days like today.

I walked in the door and told the Mr. I was DONE driving in this crappy weather. I was so stressed, he took me out to dinner. I think we now have the weather from California that flooded them last week. I think it brought along its own idiot gene just to rile up the resident idiots. Today, I wished I still drank booze, I could use a glass of wine, chocolate, and time out to watch an entire season of Criminal Minds.

Trying To Explain Love


Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. The one day for lovers on the calendar world wide. I find that phenomenal. Of course, it is commercially driven, but the idea of love being celebrated makes me smile. Every year I search for the perfect gift for the love of my life. Every year I end up getting him something boring, like a wrist watch. What I want to give him is something that represents the love I have for him, the memories we share, and the passion that we have for one another. How can I find that and wrap it up in a bow? I get tongue tied when I try to use words, and even though I write them down, it still comes out stilted and awkward. I can bring myself to a bright red blush trying to explain what our marriage means to me. I often use music to describe my feelings, my needs. And that works to a point, but I still feel that I don’t quite make the point. He knows I love him, but I don’t know that he understands how much more there is in my soul.
 
Today, the words soulmate is bandied about a lot. I suppose we are soulmates, but like all lovers, we started out as two very young people who were attracted to each other, and we enjoyed time together. We made each other laugh a lot, and we discovered passion together. He was my first and only love, and he always will be. Through the years, we have fallen in and out of love many times, until we learned, at last, that we were destined for each other, good or bad, and that our souls and hearts were intertwined so closely that without one another we weren’t fully able to find happiness. He is my soulmate, lover, closest friend, confidant, and the one person I can pick a fight with who will stand up to me, forgive me, and still love me through good and bad.
 
He believes in me. He pushes me to the next level when I falter and give in to fear. He teaches me things, and he doesn’t laugh when I balk at taking a step into the unknown. He makes me laugh out loud, and he has taught me to laugh at myself and let go of the need to be perfect and simply be myself. He is the father of my sons, grandfather, and great grandfather to their progeny. His love for them makes me love him even more. He is my lover, who taught me how to be a woman. He is still able, after all these years together, to make my knees weak with his touch. It is how I always thought love was supposed to be.
 
Who knew a blind date all those years ago would lead us to this? Who knew that a soft kiss in the darkness of a drive in movie would bring us such long lasting passion? Who knew that as we neared the end of our lives we would cling to one another more and need each other as deeply as we do? We didn’t, neither of us expected a great and abiding love that would guide, design, and create our lives from young to old. But, here we are, forty-eight years after we met, still madly in love, and finding joy in one another.
 
I spent today listening to love songs, trying to find the perfect song to share with him on Valentine’s Day. There are hundreds we have heard over the years. So many bring memories, good and bad, tears and laughter that choosing one is nearly impossible. There are the love songs from the days we met. There are songs from when we were parents of young children, songs that we listened to when we were trying to navigate the distance that grew between us, songs that we danced to, songs that made us look at each other with tenderness. How does someone hopelessly in love choose only one song when every song seems to speak my feelings? I can only try. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJs5cT4HwjA
 
Happy Valentine’s Day, to all lovers out there and especially to the love of my life.

Road Trip, Or Not.


Going on a road trip with the Mr. is always a challenge. It begins when we decide we are going to go visit our son or my mother. First there is the decision on what route to take. I hate driving on the interstate. Boring beyond words, especially in southeastern Arkansas. It is so flat there it makes Oklahoma look like it has mountains. The Mr. however, loves to drive on the interstate because he can drive faster than on regular state roads. He doesn’t care about the scenery or small towns. But that is because he gets tunnel vision and becomes totally focused on getting from point A to point B as fast as possible.

Because he is driving, he has something to concentrate on. I am one of those people who gets miserably car sick. I can’t so much as read a map in the moving car without my stomach trying to turn inside out. So I am sitting in the passenger seat with nothing to do but look out the window. I can try to have a conversation with the Mr. but his brain generally isn’t into it. I get bored fast on the interstate. On the state highways, there are things to see like odd small towns, landscapes, and the occasional animal. Sometimes I get to drive if we are on state roads, mostly though, the Mr. drives. Not because he likes to, and not because I am a bad driver, I am actually better at it than him. But, I get tired easily, so I don’t often get to chose the route.

The second issue, once in the car, is the music. The rule in our family is the driver gets to pick the music. Except he doesn’t choose music, he listens to talk radio. Which is fine for a bit, but on an eight hour drive, it gets old and repetitive. With satellite radio, there are hundreds of choices for music. And we have the MP3 options as well. If he does choose a music station, it stays on that station no matter what they play. I, however, like to switch stations -a lot. Why listen to a song that is boring or by someone you can’t stand when there is so much to choose from? But the Mr. hates it when I do that. He also hates the music turned up loud. Why the heck bother to have it on if you can barely hear it? Makes it hard to sing along.

The third issue, do we stop for the night or just keep going? Its a toss up whether the Mr. will stop or not. I can pull the “I don’t feel well” card and he will stop no matter how close we are to the destination. Sometimes, I just get worn out and claustrophobic being stuck in a car for hours on end. We generally manage about eight hours in the car before I start getting stressed and antsy. The Mr. will keep driving until he is too tired to see straight or we get there.

The fourth issues, one that many women of a certain age deal with is the bathroom stops. Look, a woman my age has a bladder the size of a walnut, and we have to have a pit stop every hour or so. We hold it as long as possible, really we do. We can’t help it if that means we stop fifty miles down the road from the last stop or two hundred. Either we don’t drink anything and dehydrate, or we have to stop as often as our body demands. And no, we can’t just stop on the side of the road like guys can, not and be comfortable, private, or safe. So just get used to a pit stop every hour or so, or have a dehydrated, hateful witch on your hands. Your choice. The Mr. stops. He knows better than to suggest anything else.

We haven’t been on a long road trip in a long time. We try to keep it within a day’s drive when we go on short vacations. Once we retire, I want to travel to the seven states we have never been to out of the fifty in the US. Some how I don’t know that we will do that and keep from annoying each other. I guess we will have to give it a go and see how it works out. One thing for sure, I am going to drive as much as possible, take back roads, and turn up the music while I switch stations regularly. The Mr. can just deal with it.

I’m WRITING Here!


This morning I was deep into the new book I’m writing. Totally involved with my characters who are at a pivotal moment in the story. They were This Close to resolving an important problem, and the phone rang in my real world. Poof! The imaginary world I was living in just went Poof. Rats. And a whole lot of other not nice words escaped control and ran around my brain like squirrel in a trap. I hate when that happens, the interruptions, not the words, well as long as no one hears me say them out loud.

Writing, for me, is hard work, unless I am in the groove and the story writes itself. I get so involved with my characters and the story they are telling that their world seems more real than mine. I know I am sitting at my desk typing words on the screen. I know I am in my messy, really need to clean one day, house. I know I am wearing my ratty pajamas and three sizes too big sweater. I know I need to comb my hair at some point. I KNOW all of that, but the world I am telling about in the story is so much more interesting. So when the real world intrudes on my imaginary world, it really, Really, REALLY annoys me. And then I think not nice words and snap at whomever is on the other end of the phone.

The Mr. has learned, when I say I am going to write, not to bother me with unimportant stuff. His hair had best be on fire if he bothers me. He knows I will glare and snap at him, especially if I am at what he calls a good part in the story. He gets involved with my characters as much as I do when he reads my daily pages. Recently, he told me that he didn’t like what was happening to the hero of the story, it was depressing. I had to point out that in real life everyone has bad things happen so there can be a happy ending. He understood, but he still grumble for three days that it wasn’t fair the poor guy couldn’t just be happy. Of course, when I killed off one of his favorite characters, he was really ticked. But hey, it had to happen if the story was going to move forward. Once again, the real world interrupted my imaginary world. Critics. They are everywhere, even among those I love.

I am going to give writing one more go today. If the phone doesn’t ring, the dog doesn’t start barking, nothing breaks, and no one knocks on the door, maybe I can get back into that groove. I am anxious to see what the characters are going to do about their problems. I am going back into the world of imagination, wish me luck.

Its The Music


Today I was listening to music I grew up hearing my parents and grandparents sing, and some that I grew up singing as well. Music is as much of a part of my heart and soul as my love for my children. I can’t imagine not hearing music every day. Sometimes it makes me smile, sometimes it makes me cry, sometimes I want to dance, and others I listen for the emotions the song imparts to everyone.

My mom and dad were in a band most of my life in one place or another. There are certain songs I heard them rehearse many times, songs that always remind me of them no matter who sings it or where it is performed. My mother has a unique voice and she can sing just about any song from her lifetime, but when I think of the song that reminds me most of mom, it is always a Patsy Cline song called Walking After Midnight. Hers is one of the best renditions other than one by Patsy herself. Here’s Patsy from Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owpdDjsErA4 My dad sang a lot of good Country music. I learned to love George Jones, Ray Price, and Johnny Cash along with many others from Dad.

When we were little kids, he sang a song called Old Shep. Every time he sang it all four of us girls would cry. This is Johnny Cash, singing his rendition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=km0zHbxvwZQ But, I think my favorite songs were the ones Mom and Dad sang as duets. They had an uncanny ability to harmonize as beautifully as the Everly Brothers. They could bring an entire audience to their feet when they sang the old love songs so many grew up with in their generation. One of my favorite songs is one I often sing to my husband. This is Let It Be Me, by the Everly Brothers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYpdLb6eKg8 When I hear that song, all I want to do is slow dance with my Mr.

My dad is gone now, probably having a great time playing and singing with the great stars that went ahead of him. My mom still sings occasionally at various venues. She still has, at the age of, ahem, never mind, a strong, solid mid range voice. Hit the right intro key and she can sing the song as long as she knows the words. She still gets standing ovations, and she will always have the soul of a natural performer. I wish I didn’t get stage fright so bad, I would love to do a duet with her just once. Something from the greatest singers of her generation, its a dream.

One of the earliest memories I have is my paternal granddad playing his guitar in the evening as the sun went down. Ingrained in my memory, I see him sitting on his old rocking chair in the yard, softly picking out a tune, sometimes singing, sometimes humming along. It was easy to see in his face that music brought him calm and peace. He loved the melodies of his era, and he shared them with everyone. He was always willing to teach someone to play the guitar, or to learn a song. My mother has an old school book in which he pasted the words to songs he wanted to learn. Some of them have long since been forgotten by most people, but there, in black and white, are the songs my granddad loved. I am still searching for recordings of many of them.

I hope my grandchildren will remember that their slightly crazy Nana loved music. I will never be a performer, but I will always sing in my home, my car, back yard, and to every baby who comes in my home. Babies aren’t critics, they just want to hear music and rock with Nana. Meanwhile, I will go back to listening to the music of my childhood. Sonny James seems like a good choice. This is for my Mr. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pU_8D5jBqd0 because he is my first and only love.