Posted in Faith

A New Body

It made many trips down I-40 from Tahlequah to Pampa.  It rode in the passenger seat of a red dodge pickup and when that vehicle wore out, a yellow Chevy pickup. 

When he died, it rode in the back of my vehicle one last time along with the potted plants sent with condolences and a couple of cardboard boxes of belongings.

When we arrived home, it sat in the floor of the spare bedroom right behind the door.  I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away.  I went about my day-to-day life and when I found time, I sorted through the cardboard boxes that had made the trip,  discarding unnecessary things.  But still, it remained. 

When the spare bedroom began changing into a nursery, it sat on the floor watching while paint went on the walls, and office furniture was replaced with a crib.  Like a child’s teddy bear with the eye missing and the stuffing coming out, it remained as a reminder.   

It wasn’t valuable.  It wasn’t decorative.  It wasn’t useful to anyone.  But it was such a part of him that I kept it around.  It’s funny how when someone dies, their everyday things become such strong reminders of them.  For my grandmother, it was a silver fingernail file that sat beside her chair.  She probably used it every day.  For my dad, it was a grimy, white Easter basket he used to carry his medication.  An Easter basket.  While other men have a satchel or a tote, or even a gallon size Ziploc bag, my dad used an Easter basket. 

“Take one daily with a meal.”  “For management of high cholesterol, take one each day.”  “Take each morning and evening.”  The instructions on each bottle kept him going for several years.  High blood pressure, cholesterol, blood thinners, aspirin.

When New Year’s Day 2012 rolled around, sadness overcame me.  A new year, a new beginning, only without him.  Moving ahead, moving on, I knew I must.  But I didn’t know how.  And then I was reminded: 

“For instance, we  know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—-and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again.” 2 Corinthians 5:1 The Message

My dad no longer needed his pills.  It was just a sad reminder to me of the temporary body that burdened him.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 

On Monday January 2, I carried the basket to the dumpster and set it in.  Don’t think I didn’t consider taking it out and bringing it back in the house throughout the day.  I was home on Tuesday, the 3rd, when the loud roar of the trash truck pulled up.  I heard the lifting of the dumpster, the bang of the lids as it flipped over.  I imagined the dirty Easter basket and the bottles of pills scattering as they fell.  I sat on the couch as the truck roared away, thinking of my dad and his new body.  No longer sick.  No longer burdened.

Today, he would’ve been 69 years old.  He left this world February 26, 2011.

He is dancing. 

Happy Birthday, Dad. 

I love you.

Posted in Uncategorized

In Memory of My Dad #40—A Lizard Story with no Ending

I first saw him as I was putting my portable air tankup up for the summer.  At first I thought he was a snake, “Omigosh!  Mister no shoulders,” I thought.  Then I saw it was a harmless brown lizard.

Since that time, we have become friends of a sort.  Well, good enough friends that we don’t infringe on each other’s territory while drinking our morning coffee. 

I named him Lucky.

Lucky is a sleek, fat, brown lizard who enjoys taking in the morning sun on my front porch.  As far as I can tell a lizard’s age, I guess Lucky has been living here at Stonebroke Acres several years.  I prefer to think of him as an old tenant and us, old friends.

Lucky is afraid of people.  He lives under my front porch and comes out only to sun himself each morning, during the early hours.  He lies there with his eyes closed until some sudden movement will send him scurrying back into the dark recesses from which he came.

He lies there on the porch awaiting the arrival of the many insects that come around my digs.  He flicks out his rapier-like tongue almost too quick for the eye to see and he makes a quick breakfast of some unlucky gnat or fly that comes into his territory.

His reactions are instantaneous with insects and when I come too close he scurries away in a quick, brown flash.  I like to think of Lucky as a bachelor or at least, a loner of some sorts.  I’ve never seen him in the company of any female lizards.  His chief pleasure seems to be laying there in the sun and dining on errant insect tidbits.

It’s impossible to tell if Lucky is happy or sad with the living conditions offered here.  He has what some of my friends might call a poker face.  His beady eyes betray no emotion.  He just sits quietly with no expression.  He would make a heck of a poker player.

But I am fond of Lucky.  He’s much better than a pet dog.  You don’t have to feed him or take him for walks.  There’s no messy litter boxes to clean up, and he’s better company than a fish or a bird.  He never pries into my affairs and he certainly doesn’t allow me to pry into his.  And the best part, he never asks me where I’ve been when the

Yep, the same thing happened to me.  I was enjoying that story too, typing away from an old newspaper from 1996, wrapping up the last paragraph of my dad’s story and that’s where it quit me.  Right in mid-sentence.  Right where I’m dying to know the rest.  The story has no ending. 

So I considered my options:  abandon this story and never let others know what a great writer my dad was by the sheer fact that he can create a personality and 500 words for an average brown lizard.  I decided against that.  I looked through the rest of the paper for a continuation.  Fail.  I looked through the box of newspapers for the scrap piece from August 10, 1996 that might have the last couple of sentences.  Fail.  I thought I might just leave it “as is” and  explain the problem to you my faithful readers.  I considered making something up myself and pretending my dad wrote it, in turn deceiving you, my faithful readers, or I could ask my faithful readers to finish the story for me and my dad.

I have settled on the last option.  So, show me your writing skills….how would you finish this line?

And the best part, he never asks me where I’ve been when the…………………………. 

Leave a comment!

Posted in Pregnancy

Preggo Update

We are officially on the countdown.  Tomorrow we hit the 39 week mark.  Only one more to go.  Maybe.  And I am pleased to announce that I have finally crossed over into the land of excitement. 

We went to the doctor yesterday for a sonogram and a check-in.  While I was working yesterday morning and anticipating the idea of seeing her face, I became overcome with joy and excitement.  As I laid on the sonographer’s table, I imagined a little face that would look exactly like the one we will behold in just a few more days.  How lucky we are to get a sneak peek.   The sonographer lubed my belly up and began rolling her wand around as we gazed at the screen.  We saw her kidneys, her bladder, the umbilical cord.  We heard the heartbeat and saw the blood flowing through the veins and arteries of the cord.  We discovered that she is head down (locked and loaded) as I like to call it.  She is estimated to weigh 7 lbs 11 oz, but that estimate can be off by a pound either direction.  And then the sonographer rolled her wand on her face. 

I would love to show it to you, but she doesn’t like having her picture taken.  Her hands were covering her face.

Here is a side profile we got with her hands as the big blob in front.  That is a beautiful eye though, isn’t it?

I’m beginning to think she might be a stinker.  When we wanted to find out her gender, she didn’t cooperate by keeping her legs crossed, now when we’re dying to see her face, she decided to play peek-a-boo instead. 

So the sonographer applied this vibrating buzzer to my belly to try to scare her, and when she finally moved her hand,we got a picture of her.  However, my dreams of seeing a beautiful baby vanished.  I can’t tell whether she looks more like an orangutan or Mike Jagger.

The smushed-nose, big-lipped baby

It’s the nose.  And the lips.  Some wise people I work with told me she’s all smushed in those tight quarters and it can’t be an accurate picture.  So, tonight I stood before the bathroom mirror and I smushed my own nose to compare it with hers.  Then I made my husband smush his nose.  There we sat staring at each other with our noses smushed flat trying to decide whose nose she has.  I’ve decided she has Mick Jagger’s. 

Remember, we have no TV here.  This is what people with no TV do.

But look at these older pictures.  They were taken on the same day back in October. 

The pig-nose, receding chin baby
 

The nose doesn’t look the same in any of them.  In fact, the baby doesn’t look the same in any of them.  So basically, we won’t know what she looks like until she slides out and hollers.  Still,  I’m preparing myself to feed her lots of bananas and teach her to the words to “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” 

When we saw the doctor yesterday, we were pleasantly surprised to discover I am dilated 2-3 cm.  He said it could be any day now.  

And so we wait to meet our little girl. 

And she’ll be beautiful.

Posted in Pregnancy

My dream

Upcoming monumental events cause me a bit of angst, anxiety, and apprehension. 

For example, each August I methodically prepare to meet a new group of second graders.  I hang posters, write out name tags, copy wonderfully engaging papers, plan ice breaking activities, and decorate my classroom door all in eager anticipation. 

It seems that no matter how long I’ve been teaching, every August I still get nervous.  With those nerves come dreams.  My anxiety permeates my subconscious.  It never fails, that my dreams are unpleasant.  No matter how prepared I am in the real world, in dreamland I am usually very unprepared for the first day of school.  My papers are not copied, the children are rowdy, no one knows which seat belongs to them, I’m late to class, or simply have no control over the students.  After a dream like the aforementioned, I usually wake up, mop my brow, and expel a big “Whew, glad that was only a dream.”  And then the first day of school comes off without a hitch.

Considering my past, I’ve been a little concerned as to why I’ve only dreamed about my baby once, and I haven’t dreamed about the labor or birth of my baby yet.  I mean, it’s not as if this is not an upcoming monumental event!  Or it’s not as if I’m not experiencing some angst, anxiety, and apprehension.  By now I should be riddled with night terrors.  But I’m not.

 I woke up this morning with a smile.  Why?  Because she visited me in my dream, and it wasn’t a horrific labor that caused me to sit up with sweat gluing  my gown to my back.  Nor was she sick or crying.  She was sleeping, and I walked into her nursery and there she was lying on her stomach (yes I know, she should be one her back). 

She was a tiny little thing sleeping peacefully.  I reached down into her crib and placed my hand on her back to rub her gently.  She awoke.  Not the sleepy-eyed, grumpy kind of awakening, but rather a “yea, my mommy’s here!” kind of awakening.  You know how weird dreams can be, so although her body was small, she was much older and developmentally capable of more.  She sat on her knees with her arms outstretched.  I picked her up, but I couldn’t see her face.  Her hair was brown and mussed and it grew down into a point on her forehead, kind of like Dracula needing a haircut in the worst way.  I remember wanting to see her face so badly, wondering what she looked like.  I was seeing her for the first time.  I reached my forefinger towards her hair and swept it to the left out of her eyes.  And there she was.  She wasn’t anything spectacular or breathtaking to behold.  She was a baby.  My baby.  A baby I’ve never seen before until last night. 

She had small brown eyes, and chubby cheeks, and a pudgy little nose.  And when she smiled, two little bottom teeth appeared.  She was happy and energetic and glad to see me.  It was as if she’d been waiting to see me as long as I’ve been waiting to see her.  But what made the dream so realistic was the fact that her nose was dirty, and her eyes were sleep-filled.  Little dried sleepies rested in the corner of her eyes, and her nose had run in the night and she had dried crusties on the edge of her nostrils. 

Then I carried her to the living room and handed her to her daddy because I was late for work.  My house filled with people, strangers that I didn’t know.  I was upset because no one had woken me for work, and my face scrub was missing out of my shower, and someone had rummaged through all my cabinets and nothing was where is was supposed to be.   Then I was running a race on the highway.  You know how weird dreams can be. 

I wanted to write my baby dream down however, because I am clinging to that image in my mind.  As the hours pass, it’s vanishing, ever so slowly, because that’s what a dream will do.  There will be a fading, and then a fragment here and there, until it’s forgotten completely. 

We’re down to 11 days until her due date.  On Thursday, I’m having a sonogram.  There isn’t any concern, but the doctor would like to get a birth weight estimate and check my fluids.  I think it’s just a way to get more money, but at least we’ll get to see her little face and I’m sure I’ll post the pictures.

And then, a few days after that, we’ll get to see her face for real.  It won’t be long until we’ll stumble through the house in the dark, sweep her hair off her forehead, pick her up from her crib, clean her crusty nose and boogery eyes, smother her in kisses, tell her how glad we are to see her, and how much we love her. 

It won’t be long.

 

Posted in Stories by my dad, Uncategorized

In Memory of My Dad #39

“What’s old Duane doing now?” I asked.

“Seventy-five years.”

“Say what?”

“Yep, 75 years in the Huntsville pen.”

“He must have done something heavy.”

“Yeah, it seems Duane got mixed up with some dope dealers down around Houston and they leaned on him a little, and you know ol’ Duane, he started to shove back and—well there you have it.”

“That’s way uncool man.”

“Say, did I ever tell you about the time that Duane and I stole a U-Haul trailer?”

I sat back and relaxed while he got his thoughts in order.  This man was an excellent story-teller, so I hit on the extended bottle of Jack Daniels and prepared to listen to a a good story.

“It was about 25 years ago, give or take a year or two, me and Duane were running wild there in West Texas.  We were runnin’ the bars, playin’ guitar for beer and whatever the kitty would bring in.  When all of a sudden one day, Duane said he had us a gig over in Borger. 

Now the only wheels we had was that little 1958 Metro that I used to drive.  You remember it.  It wasn’t big enought to cuss a cat in.  We needed something bigger so ol’ Duane says, ‘heck , we’ll steal us a U-Haul.’

I was young and dumb in those days, so I jumped right in there on a deal like that.  So I agreed to a midnight run on the Depot Service Station, they had the local U-Haul concession, and we’d just pick us up our U-haul and be on our merry way.

We picked the trailer up around two or three in the morning and we took the thing over to Lefty’s Garage and painted the trailer.  We only had two colors of paint, a sort of institutional green and a day-glo orange.  Duane had a few purple stickers, so we put them on there for a touch.  We painted stars and bars, and a big ol’ half-moon, then we got ready for the gig that night by drinkin’ a half-gallon of Black label and eatin’ fistfuls of pills.

‘We’re doing it just like Hank Sr. done it,’ Duane kept saying.  We partied from the Pair ‘O’ Dice lounge on out to Rocky’s and back–then we was eating more pills and drinking more whiskey.  Duane was in a jovial mood and I wasn’t feelin’ no pain as we loaded the guitars and amps.  The only thing we were worried about was some oily holding knuckle drill on us that night.

So with the evening star twinkling in the western sky, and the little metro tying every bundle, me and ol’ Duane set out to make our name in the country music business.

We were laughin’ and drinkin’ and just having a big ol’ time when up ahead you could see these flashing blue lights.  ‘Insurance check’ Duane says ‘let me do the talking’ and I readily agreed as we pulled up to a stop opposite the state troopers.

“Hey officer, my names Duane and this ol’ outlaw’s my sideman, and yeah, we got insurance papers on this trailer but we just borrowed it from my brother-in-law.  We got us a country music show.”

It didn’t impresss the highway cop one bit.

One trooper walked to the back and pretty soon he came back and whispered something to the cop that was talking to us.

No kiddin?  I heard one say.  Then he said, “better unload boys, we got something we need to talk about.”

They arrested  us and took us to the Gray County Jail where we pled the grand larceny charge down until we didn’t have to serve but ninety days.”  Old Rufus was the high sheriff then so he’d let us wash the county cars and keep the courthouse grounds lookin’ neat.  So the ninety days passed pretty fast.  Saturday nights he’d let us take the guitars out of the evidence room and pick for the prisoners and we kept in practice that way too.

“But I’ll tell you this, Shoe”, he said standing up and dusting off his pants before heading back to where his dogs and parrots slept in the shadows.

“If you ever steal a U-Haul trailer, make sure that somebody paints the back of the damn thing.”

Written by Bob Briggs
August 24, 1996

Posted in Faith

Change and Creation—my year in review

I’m three days late, but I wanted to take some time and reflect on the year 2011. It’s long gone now,  but still deserves some time of remembrance. Any blogger worth their weight in blogging ability has already accomplished this feat, however, it’s me we’re talking about here.

I began this post a couple of days ago with the best of intentions, but I was (and still am) having trouble getting my thoughts nailed down to make it coherent, but alas, I’ll try. 

I’m experiencing mixed emotions about the new year, and about saying good-bye to the old.  This is a new phenomenon for me.  I usually wake up on January first of whatever year it happens to be, and go about my usual life.  Just another day.  But this January 1st, 2012, I found myself  at a crossroads.  There’s a song by the Bellamy Brothers where one line says, “he’s an old hippie and he don’t know what to do, should he hang on to the old, should he grab on to the new.”  Oh how I can  relate.

 Last January there was a movement if you will, instead of resolutions, choose a word for the year. A word that will define you. A word that you will focus on during the year.  Like hope or faith or happiness or fitness.  My friend Suzanne asked me what my word was.  I took a while to think, and finally I chose the word create. I wanted to create great writing.  I wanted to create a home for J-Dub and myself in our new country dump, I wanted to create a wonderful garden, a chicken coop, so many  new things. 

How little did I know that with creation comes change or perhaps change begets creation.  But I can look back now and affirm, create was my word. 

We lost my dad to a heart attack in February and I began to create a life of only memories.  Whether through facebook or blog comments or email or phone calls, we spoke daily.  I’m thankful for technology, for through that our relationship grew closer and we knew each other better than ever.  Creating a new life without him has been hard for me. 

Less than a month after burying my dad, J-Dub and I packed our horse trailer with boxes and furniture and moved to a place outside of town.  A place that needed (and still does) a lot of work.  We had spent the previous winter attempting to create a home for ourselves along with a  plethora of mistakes, problems and money that come with home improvements.  Moving is life changing and not knowing where the dadgum lightbulbs are kept is more than irritating.  Shortly after moving in, like 4 days, I got a box of little chicks in the mail and my life was changed forever!  I spent the spring and summer, raising those babies and adjusting to the country life with snakes in the front yard, water wells breaking, drought, wild fires and wind.  And with wind, lots and lots of dust. 

In May, I felt like I was losing my ever loving mind.  I believed Satan had come in and taken control of my body.  I felt like a raging lunatic, and then while on a trip visiting my dad’s grave for Memorial Day weekend, I discovered the cause of my angst.  I was pregnant.  So the summer was spent in shock and adjustment.  And the fall was spent in shock and adjustment.  And now that we are three weeks away from giving birth, I’m still in disbelief and adjusting.  Someone told me in a comment on this blog that God gives us nine months to prepare for childbirth.  I’m here to tell you, I probably could be a pretty good elephant because nine months isn’t enough time for me.

Although I desired to create great writing, and a wonderful home, and new and beautiful things in 2011, I never would have fathomed that I would create a daughter. What a change.  What a creation. What a scary experience.

Plans for building a new fence and putting up a barn were replaced with painting a nursery and choosing a name.  A whole new dimension has been added to my life.  God has given me a great task.  He has chosen me to be the mother of a little girl who I worry I won’t do right by. 

With this great task ahead, I find myself fearing the new year. Afraid of what it holds. I find myself walking by sight rather than faith, fearful of the next step.  And the one after that.  And the one after that. 

My 2011 was a year of adjustment. Lots of changes took place, the kind of changes that rate high up on the stress level list.  So why don’t I want to move on?  As I ponder, I decide it must be the familiarity of  the old and the fear of the new.  I am embarking on this new year,  expecting more changes and I’m frightened that the struggles I faced in 2011 will follow me into the new year. 

I’ve been weepy the last two days and it appears this day is no different.  My present prayer is that my sorrow will be turned to joy, my worry will be changed to rejoicing. 

Like the old hippie, should I hang on to the old or should I grab onto the new?

If I look to the scriptures, I am instructed to remember the days of old, remember what God has done for me, how He has carried me through, and then press forward to what is ahead, walk by faith, finish the race, and trust in the Lord.

Hang on or grab onto?  I’ll try to do both.

And so I go.

Happy 2012.