Another Welcome Home


We live in a neighborhood with three streets. The families are made up of thirty something parents with children and older retired folks for the most part. It is a tight knit group of people who have known each other for years and everyone watches out for each other. In July we found a note on our door inviting us to a neighborhood block party. We thought it would be a good way to meet everyone and for Addie to have fun with her new friends.

There would be, according to the note, a bicycle parade for the kids, hot dogs with all the trimmings for everyone, swimming for the kids in one of the pools, and when it got dark, popcorn and a movie on the lawn for one and all to enjoy. Sounded like something out of the 1960’s when I was growing up.

You see, in our little neighborhood, it is very much like it was when I was growing up. All the kids run free from house to house riding bikes and playing games. Everyone keeps an eye on the kids, and the idea of something as artificial as a set play date is laughable. Kids just gather and play, swim, and have fun. The girls who took Addie into their group are great kids. Friendly, kind, and downright loving, Addie was welcomed and treated like she had lived here all her life. One particular girl, A.J., was Addie’s age, blond, wore glasses, and loved the same things Addie does. They were immediate best friends. It was everything a child could want out of summer break. And we were thrilled to see her so happy.

We all gathered, met and chatted with almost everyone, enjoyed the hot dogs and drinks, and had fun watching the kids ride their bikes. I counted 25 children between 18 months and young teens at the event. That is a lot of kids for three blocks, but a few of them came from areas around us who had either friends or family in our neighborhood. Addie had a great time, and the Mr. wore his outgoing personality hat. It was good to see him talking to everyone from young to old. I was exhausted from dialysis so I only stayed for a bit, but it was nice to see what child belonged to which family and to get to know folks who have lived here for ages. I went home early, but the Mr. and Addie stayed until the end of the movie.

They came wandering home well after her bedtime, and it took an hour for her wind down enough to get ready for bed. As I kissed her goodnight, she looked at me with a happy smile and said, “Nana, this was the BEST day EVER. I had so much fun I didn’t want it to end. I love this place!” That made the whole summer the best for me too. We moved here because we fell in love with our new home, we were simply blessed to move into a neighborhood filled with loving families who extend that love to strangers, welcoming us with kindness and acceptance. I guess that is part of living in a small town in the middle of the country in Oklahoma. Another welcome home that blesses us for moving here and gives us a feeling of peace.

Armchair Critic


Lately I have become addicted to cooking shows on the Food Network. I have learned a lot about food that I didn’t know, and I have become the armchair critic about how I would make a dish out of the contents of a basket or the crazy items from Guy’s Grocery Games. And, yes, I have made some of the recipes from various shows. They were pretty darned good too.
I have learned other things too:

For instance, never try to bake a cake of any kind in 30 minutes. The majority will not bake in time.
Never, EVER try to bake a bread pudding. You WILL NOT get it done 99.9% of the time and you will lose the game.
Do not make the mistake of using oils like Sesame oil or Truffle oil as a garnish or last minute sauce, it will over power the entire dish and you will lose the game.
Don’t get in front of the camera and brag that you KNOW your dish will win the game because nine times out of ten, the braggart ends up being the one chopped from the game. It happens all the time.
Do NOT be the cocky smart ass chef with a holier than thou attitude. The judges don’t like that at all, neither do the other contestants, get ready to lose the game in one or two rounds.
Learn to be humble and listen to the judges comments on your cooking without getting defensive and copping an attitude. It annoys everyone, including the audience. It makes me shout at the television to tell off the contestant even if it makes me look silly.
Work hard, or at least make it look that way, right up to the last second. Don’t get done early and stand there with nothing to do, you can always make an improvement. Just don’t use fancy oil to do it.
Learn plating techniques. Choosing the right plate is vital to serving a perfect dish.
Learn to make your plate or bowl pretty. The contents need to look like a magazine photo. The kind that makes a person drool and want to make your recipe.

Learn time management under pressure. Focus, focus, focus.
And most of all, don’t be a poor loser. After all it wasn’t the judges who cooked and plated the food, it was you. No pouting or bad mouthing the judges, it makes you look childish and petty.
Many people will watch you. They will know where you work and many will vote not to go there because you want to be a star and you are simply nothing more than a moon.
There are more things I learned about people who are in a cooking contest, some good, some make me want to reach through the television and smack the contestant cross eyed. But, at the end of the day, I learn more about cooking in every episode and that benefits my family because I have new and better ways to cook things that they like. Works for me, the armchair critic.

Two Stop Lights


We finally retired. Something the Mr. has looked forward to doing for the past three years or so. We packed up everything we felt was important to keep with us, loaded up a big old moving truck and moved to our final home until we take up our plot in the cemetery near our son and my mom and day.

We lived in a pretty big place, just south of Memphis, Tennessee. Lots of traffic, loads of school buses and a constant hectic pace was normal for us. We lived there for twelve years, and it became the way we lived. The Mr. had his morning commute into Memphis from the neighborhood we chose to live in, and then would reverse the trek every evening. I hated it, he hated it, but it meant we had a pay check every pay day. And, like most folks, we got used to it and it became part of our life. But as time went by, we began to yearn for a life where we could spend time together and with our family without rushing anywhere.

We have been retired for about a month. Our new home is in a small town in Oklahoma. There are two stop lights, one at either end of town. The only fast food is a Sonic Drive-in, and there are two restaurants, one traditional southern food, the other Mexican. Both are quite good, but we had to learn the times they are open because the hours are erratic compared to some place like Chili’s. Mother Juggs breakfasts are great (bisquits and gravy are highly recommended.) The Mexican place has great fajitas. The only grocery in town is a very small family run place that always has a place to park and they even carry out your groceries for you if you are old like me.

Our house is in the ‘nice’ side of town. Read that the houses cost more that the average home in this town. The town was founded by the Black Seminole Indians after the Civil War. Their reservation runs right along the road that goes past our house. On our side is the Creek Reservation, on the South side of the road it is fully Seminole. One of the most asked questions is what tribe we belong to. Doesn’t really matter, the Mr. is a card carrying Creek, so he is more than welcome. We love our house, it is exactly like the kind we used to visit when we were first married. We never dreamed we would be able to afford one, but here we are, living in one, unpacking boxes, and slowly making it our home.

It is interesting the things we find, like a very fancy restaurant just out side of town with amazing food. It may be fancy, but we can afford to each there several times a month if we want. There is a museum about the Seminole Tribe in town, a library, and a genealogical society available to everyone. This is the county seat for Seminole County. The old part of down town and much of the old neighborhoods are run down and empty. But new growth in the county is making a difference. The folks in charge are welcoming and friendly. Looks like we might get a bit involved with the local activities.

Last night we went to Mother Juggs for supper. As I tried to get out of the booth to leave, my legs gave out and I nearly fell. The lady in the booth behind me got up and helped me stand. She didn’t know me, I had never seen her before. It didn’t matter, she just got up and helped. As I thanked her, embarrassed that I couldn’t just stand up and walk out, she just shrugged and said she would help anyone in need. She patted my hand and told me I would be better soon and to take care of myself. The Mr. came back from paying the check to see me and a strange lady holding hands. As I hobbled to the car, I told him what had transpired. He was pleased someone offered help. I realized that people in Oklahoma stand back and watch the new folks with a bit if suspicion, but if in they are truly in need they will step up and make a difference in their day.

We live in a small, quiet town filled with the under privileged and poor, but they have pride, traditions, and a sense of community that is admirable. We may only have two stop lights, but folks here have a lot of go.

Looking At The Past


As I was packing up the bookshelves, I found several Junior High and High School year books. I started looking through them, boy did we have ugly hair styles and uncomfortable clothes in Junior High, but by the time we were in High school, the hippie look of long hair, peasant blouses, and jeans were in style. It was definitely a solid change in how one style changed the way we dressed. In fact, I know many people my age who still live in jeans and peasant blouses. Guys still wear long hair and jeans and T-shirts too. Although I think any guy over forty needs to rethink the long hair and bald spot look.

One think that was clear in the yearbooks was who the popular crowd was. Their faces were plastered all over the books. Cheerleaders, class president, football players, all were involved in every sort of club and activity. Well, there were the nerdy groups like chess club and the motor heads (aka greasers) who were big in things like shop and band. But it was always the popular kids, those that were the favorites of the teachers and administration who were front and center, even in crowd photos.

I remember that there was one table in the cafeteria where they gathered and spent lunch putting down the rest of us pathetic losers who simply didn’t measure up to their beauty and power. And they did have power. One hint from them that someone in their group no longer belonged and that person was immediately personae non grata. The girls were much more vicious in this behavior than the boys. It was a sad thing to observe.

I wasn’t part of that group, I was a nerdy kid who stayed in the background and simply observed the world around me. I didn’t exist in their world, I was a total non person to them. Fine with me, I didn’t have to deal with their behavior and attitude. I wondered, as I flipped though the pages of the yearbook, what happened to the school leaders and popular crowd.

The internet is an amazing thing when it comes to finding people. A few stokes of the keyboard keys and low and behold, they are found on various sites. Interestingly enough, most of them had their glory days in High School and haven’t really done a great deal since then. Thye mostly still live in the same area, working regular jobs, married with kids. Some went to college and hold white collar jobs doing the mundane white collar things. Not a one of them has burst out of the shell around them and become an outstanding policeman or woman, a military hero, or a political leader in their home town or state. What a waste of potential and ability. Not that I am all that different.

However, I have met most of my dreams and items on my bucket list. A college education, living abroad, traveling the world, raising children, and staying married to the love of my life. I’ve written two books and published them on Amazon (under the name Jo Calhoun). I have lived every day to the fullest, and in my aging days I am still trying to learn, grow, and make a difference in my world. When I look at folks who never tried to fulfill their potential, it makes me sad and a bit frustrated.

Not that there is anything inherently wrong with staying home and raising kids, I did that for years. Not that there is anything wrong with being a hands on kind of guy or woman who stays at the same job for years. It is a comfortable way of life. But there is so much more to see and experience in the world. Sometimes, all it takes is one step out of the comfort zone and the power of discovery takes over.

Now that most of the folks my age are retiring, it is a great opportunity to step out of that zone and step into discovery of a whole new world. Maybe I will see you there, Mr. or Miss Popularity, and this nerdy girl will be able to enhance your life too.

Moving


In the first thirty-six years we were married, we moved, on average, every two years. We lived in Arkansas, Oklahoma (multiple times), California (also multiple times), Nottingham and Debden in the UK, Hong Kong, Karori and Pukekohe in New Zealand, Virginia, Missouri, and the last twelve years in Mississippi so it doesn’t count in the averages. Now we are retiring and moving one last time to our final home. We are moving to a small town (read that, blink and you miss it) in Oklahoma. Our home backs on to a golf course, which means a small yard to care for but a great view of rolling hills, grass, and trees. It is ironic we will live next to a golf course because neither the Mr. nor I care at all for the game. But the house is exactly what we want, so we are off on a new adventure.

After all the years of moving, I had it down to a science and lists of how to do it. Now, I have to start all over because it is shocking how much stuff, read that junk, a family can collect in twelve years living in one place. Over the past few weeks, I have said over and over, “What is this? Where did we get it? Who bought it? Why do we have it? Keep it, dump it, or sell it?” Honestly, we have stuff that we have no clue concerning any of that. On the other hand, I have things that mean the world to me, things that mean little in monetary value, but I simply can’t part with them. Baby blankets for kids who are now in their 40’s. Art, music, books, and trinkets that my children and grandchildren have given me, easily replaceable, but not if they gave it to me. And I collected things, from all over the world, not giving those up either. Decisions, decisions, a royal pain in the backside.

In all the years we have lived here, I have made very few friends. I could count them on one hand, but they are the kind of friends who will still be friends in twenty years from now. The new term for this kind of friendship is bonded. I just call it true friendship. I made many of those kinds of friends over the years and all over the world. I will miss my friends here, even though we will keep in touch. But, I will get to see my forever friends in Oklahoma, some of whom I have known since junior high school. (For you youngsters, that means middle school.) And that is a good thing. I will also be closer to grandchildren and my mother.

On the one hand, I am not upset about moving since it will bring us closer to family. On the other, I am still not excited about all the work involved. I have no idea how long we have left to live our lives, I have to wonder if we will get bored living in the same place for years like we did here in Mississippi. The only way to know is to suck it up and do what has to be done. Back to sorting and packing. Grumble.

You’re WHERE?


Old people complain about how things have changed all the time. I used to let it go in one ear and out the other, never really registering what they were really complaining about. That is simply this, the loss of manners, traditions, and common sense values.

It used to be, when we got a chance to take a bathroom break, as soon as we sat down the darned phone would ring. Back in the day, the phone was on the wall in another room, so we figured whoever it was would call back if it was important. Then we got the phones we could carry around in the house and yard, and it would still ring on our bathroom break but it would have the phone number of the caller and we could call them back at our leisure.

Now we have cell phones. When they first came out, we didn’t take them into the bathroom, it was rude and tacky to talk on the phone while doing our business. We weren’t attached to the phone at the hip and many of us could actually not rush to answer it day and night as if our life depended on it. It was a tool, a convenient tool, but nothing more than that.

At this point, we have a second and third generation who grew up with cell phones in their hands. And God forbid they miss one second of phone activity. It is no longer unusual to hear a phone go off in a bathroom, even in a public place, and someone answer it. And the tacky part, they tell the caller they re in the bathroom. Instead of getting off the phone, they carry on a conversation as if they are sitting in the car or in their home. What the hell happened to manners and common sense values on phone etiquette? Since when is it imperative that the phone be answered or a text be sent immediately, no matter where we are or what we are doing?

Back in my day, (there is that awful phrase that makes the younger generations stop listening) no one wanted anyone to be aware they were in the bathroom, let alone what they were doing. It was rude, immodest, and well, gross. Those of us who were raised in that era of modesty and morals generally will not answer the phone while in the bathroom. Generally, because there are always exceptions to the rule. I won’t even answer my house phone while in the bathroom, nope, not happening.

Other than technology, what has changed to make even the most old fashioned manner driven people do something so low class? Is life so hectic and busy that the only time to talk on the phone is while you are in a compromising situation.? Is that the only time folks have time to simply talk on the phone? I don’t understand that sort of behavior.

It used to be that if we wanted privacy on the phone, we would stretch the cord as far as it would go and sit in a place with a door we could close. Generally it was a closet or a small room next to the phone, but it was never the bathroom while we were using it. I still spend more time searching for the house phone that I left in an obscure place when I need to answer it then I do talking on it. But you won’t see me running to answer any phone, I am not a good study for Pavlov’s theory. ( Go look it up kids, I imagine there is an App for that somewhere on your phone.)

A phone, to me, is a convenience, nothing more. I am not a slave to the darn thing, and most of the time they annoy me with all the ringing and such – especially phones with irritating songs as ring tones. To many of today’s younger people and to some old folks like me, they are a life line of some sort, like oxygen is to heart patients. Life cannot go on without their phones attached at the hand. And as such, folks are becoming slaves to the technology around them. I expect we will soon have tech built into our bodies from birth. But I still want to know why common sense is gone when it comes to private things like bathroom breaks. I don’t like how things have changed in this area. Not one bit. It makes me feel old and cranky about things.

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.

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.

Worrying


I saw a meme on social media that basically encouraged the reader to remember back to the days when they had no worries and simply played barefoot in the sunshine. I suddenly realized that I never had days like that as a child. In fact, I can’t remember when I didn’t worry about things in my life. It was, I think, a built in reflex, like breathing. I even worried in my sleep, come people call them nightmares. Now I wonder, is that normal, or is it something specific to me?

I can remember always worrying about being late for school, even though I don’t remember it ever happening. I was always afraid I would have to walk into a classroom late and draw attention to myself, making me open to ridicule and teasing from the other students – and heaven help me from the teacher. I worried about failing subjects, I worried about making a mistake, and I dreaded, above all, making myself a laughing stock. Nothing upset me more than for other kids and adults to laugh at me.

I worried about forgetting to do things, or doing things and messing it up. I worried about homework, chores, and taking care of things that were my responsibility. In fact, I still worry about those things. I worried about doing something or saying something that would upset other people. Even worse was trying to express myself and messing it up. So I just didn’t say anything to anyone most of the time, even if I did know the answer to a question, or had a different opinion than others. That has completely changed now, I say what I want, when I want no matter what others may think. But, back when, I was always self conscious and fearful of consequences, so I simply didn’t speak up.

I worried a lot as a young wife and mother. I worried that the Mr. would fall out of love with me and in love with someone smarter, prettier, sexier, and more interesting then that plain old boring girl from nowhere Oklahoma. I wanted to be everything he needed in a wife, but always felt insecure in my value as his wife. I was always aware that his parents never thought I was good enough for their son, and it made me both angry and frustrated. I always worried he would believe the gossip and idiotic nonsense spread around by those who didn’t want me in his life. But somehow, we found our way back to each other time after time.

I worried that I wasn’t a good mom to my boys, fearful that they would be bratty little monsters around others and fingers would be pointed at me for being a bad mom. I worried about their health, eating habits, and all the other things mothers worry about when trying to be a positive influence on their children. I worried when my oldest started driving and hanging out all night with his friends, I worried that my youngest would follow in his footsteps, but he never did. I always worried that I would lose one of my boys, and when we did, it nearly tore us apart.

So, no, I don’t remember playing in the sunshine without worries, because I have always been a worrier, and that hasn’t changed much over the years. Only now I worry about my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I worry about the Mr.’s health, I worry abut being becoming decrepit, I worry about my mother living on her own at her age. I worry about the state of the country and the America haters who wont’ live elsewhere, but still hate what we stand for as a country. I worry about money, health care, and getting old. And I still worry that the Mr. will find someone prettier, smarter, more interesting, and younger that he will fall for. Silly of me, but it is a bad habit left over from years of worry. Folks say, “Don’t borrow trouble.” I always look at worry as a way to be prepared for what ever might happen. Then I am prepared for the worse, but joyful for the positive things that happen, no matter how much worry I put into it.

I wonder, am I too old to play barefoot in the sunshine and learn to leave the worry behind for a few blessed moments in time? Now I will probably worry about that too.