In Your Name, we ask these things

This post may not apply to you tonight.  But it’s heavy on my heart.

Tomorrow many children all across my town, and my state, will be taking their state assessments.  And although I don’t have children of my own, I have gobs that have passed through my classroom doors in the past.  I also have one very special student on my mind tonight, my niece Ashy.

Even though it’s “just” a test, for many it causes stress and worry.  The students have been working hard all year preparing and the tests are often long and laborious, taking several hours to complete. 

Ashy and I have been spending the last several days tutoring for the math test. Tomorrow is the big day. I called her a little while back to wish her luck, and to tell her I’ll be praying for her throughout the day tomorrow.

I do believe my anxiety is greater than hers.
I believe in prayer.  I believe it holds great power. Jesus himself intercedes for us to the Father.  I believe in praying scriptures. Jesus himself quoted scripture when tempted by Satan.

I compiled a few scriptures that I will lift up on behalf of my niece tomorrow while she is figuring circumference, finding common denominators, and choosing which expression can be used to solve the problems.  Perhaps it may be helpful for others as well.


Scriptures for peace: 1 Corinthians 14:33a For God is not the author of confusion but of peace. 

Isaiah 50:7 For the Lord God will help me, therefore shall I not be confounded.

Dear Lord, grant her peace of mind.  Clear any confusion she may have during the test.  Make her mind free of hinderances.  Keep her focus where it needs to be and free the room from distractions that may interfere with her thinking.


For confidence: Romans 8:37 In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Father God, in you, help Ashy to be more than a conqueror.

For Anxiety:  Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Dear God, take away any anxiety or fear she may have while taking the test.  Lord, give her  peace from You in her heart and her mind.


For Stamina:  Matthew 11:28  Come to me all those who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 

Dear Lord, when Ashy gets tired, grant her rest and renew her so that she may finish strong. 


For Success:  Phillipians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. 

Dear Jesus, strengthen Ashy.  Grant her success with her tests.  Remind her, Lord,  that she can do all things through You.


For myself: Matthew 6:34  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. 

Thank you Lord for your word and that You hear us when we pray.


Home Before Dark: A story written by my dad


The benches were damp that morning along the hike ‘n bike trail there in Clearwater, Texas.  Remnants of an early morning storm lingered and kept away the usual occupants of the park.  No kids, no squirrels, no homeless people.  Just me and the thin morning light kept each other company that day.

I was recovering from a small stroke if there is such a thing and was following my doctors orders to try to exercise a little bit.  Tired and worn out from the mile or so I had walked, I sat on a park bench to blow and catch my breath.  That was when I saw the old man approaching.

I watched him coming up the slight incline from the old folk’s home, he was swinging his head side to side as if expecting someone to appear out of the fog.  His face was wrinkled and was lit by a ray of sunshine that quickly peeked out and hid itself behind a cloud.  It would be a bright day as soon as the sun burned off the mist.

“Have you seen Bill?”  He asked in a quavery voice.

I guessed his age at around eighty.  He was sweatered under a heavy Carhart coat, the kind that construction workers wear.  A cap with loosened ear flaps met the old gray tattered muffler ’round his skinny neck, black buckled overshoes completed his ensemble.  A checkerboard wrapped tightly in plastic was cradled under one arm.

I told the old gentleman that I guessed I had not seen Bill.

“He’s a big fellow, kind of stooped and he wears a cap just like mine.  Sort of our trademark.”

No, I had not seen him.

The checker player started to sit down beside me and then changed his mind and kept looking up and down the bike trail. 

“Bill hasn’t been feeling good.”  The old man continued.  “He said he might go on up to Kansas to visit his son.  Wouldn’t you know, it’s a damn poor time for him to go traipsing off.”  Over on main street I could hear the honking of horns, but they were invisible to the elderly checker player and myself.

“If you see ol’ Bill, tell him his partner is lookin’ for ’em.” 
I assured him that I would, and the old man shuffled off up the gentle incline.  He was wavering a little and the pigeons scuttled off to either side of the trail.  The sun was beginning to come out now and thirty yards away the old man sat down in the sunlight with the checkerboard resting on one knee.

A young couple, obviously in love, strolled by without a second glance.  Then another pedestrian, this one a middle-aged man with an umbrella came walking by.  The elderly checker player stood and watched him approach and when he drew even, stopped him.  They held a conversation there in the middle of the trail.  The checker player lifted one hand, no doubt to show the middle-aged man his partner’s height.  After the middle-aged man started on, the old man started back to where I sat.

“You see I don’t know his whole name, ‘ol Amos knowed ’em, but he died.  Ol’ Ray mighta knowed what it was, but he’s gone too.  Yeah, they wouldof knowed how to get aholt of ’em.”  The sunlight looked small and puny through the early April foliage.

“You see Bill didn’t show up Monday or Wednesday and now he ain’t showin’ up today.  I’m ‘fraid somethings happened.”

I said he would probably show up soon, trying to put a ray of hope in the old man’s existence.

“No, I don’t think so,”  the old man said before rising to his feet and starting back towards Restful Pines nursing home.

I remember standing under the long shadow of a street light, one handing a baseball into the air, trying to decide…..was it really best to be the last one home before dark?

Bob Briggs 1943-2011

written January 27, 2001

Ketchup is to Icecream as I am to skiing

A small van loaded with church youth kids is on a ski trip to New Mexico as I write this.  Probably sitting in the front, the smallest and youngest of the bunch, sits my sweet niece Ashy (as my dad called her).  She’s never been skiing before.  I don’t know how she’s feeling right now, but I’ve chewed my fingernails to the quick.  I took her roller skating a couple of weekends back and it’s a wonder she didn’t end up in the ER with a broken tailbone.  What the child possesses in energy, she lacks in coordination.  So please, send good vibes and prayers her way.

skiing pinup

I remember my first time skiing.  And my last.  They happen to be one and the same.  My memory of that ski experience is quite foggy, as it is with all bad memories after we’ve blocked them out, not wishing to recall such trauma and suffering.  I was 100% convinced that I would be good skier, which only added to my humiliation when it was proven I wasn’t.  I was young, in my twenties, and fit.  I’d been eating healthy foods like cottage cheese and tuna, and my cabin mates laughed at me because I packed my “diet food” for the weekend get-away.   I was prepared mentally as well.  I had read up on the internet how to “snow plow”.  I had interviewed others and they all said skiing was easy, a piece of cake, I had nothing to worry about. 

 Me and skiing went together like bean dip and a long car ride.

To begin with, the ski weekend fell on a holiday, like President’s Day or something.  I enrolled in a free ski lesson with about 200 other skiers.  With a large student/teacher ration,  I didn’t get a lot of practice or one on one attention.

Added to my lack of instruction was the whole issue of snow.  Me and snow go together like mini-skirts and cellulite.  Yes, one would imagine that I would be aware that in order to snow ski, there must be snow.  But it was snowing on me, and I was cold and miserable.  Then the sun would come out and I would get hot and sweaty.   

 After about 1 hour of waiting my turn to go down a small hill that was strictly a training mountain, my face was cold, my hands were sweaty, and my abductor muscles were screaming.

I’d like to tell you I couldn’t ski because my boots were too small, or my skis were too long, or my pants were too tight, but the fact of the matter is I just sucked.  My husband came back to find me.  Oh yes, he was there.  He had deserted me at the ski lesson and gone up the mountain with his friend.  I told him I was not having fun.  He suggested we go up the bunny slope and try it out.  Maybe having a longer distance might help. 

The bunny slope was littered with people.  We started off and I didn’t know how to steer.  I had only learned how to snowplow, and everytime I turned my feet inward to slow down, my hip muscles cried out in pain.  I was having so much difficulty, my frustration was at an all time high.  The only sensible thing left for me to do was to take off my skis and walk down the bunny slope, expletives flying.  I was glad to go and the three skiers I had taken out were too.  I was miserable and crying and I vowed I would never ski again. 

And I haven’t, nor will I. 

Ashlynn, however,  is cut from a different cloth than I.

She’s got fortitude.  And determination.

And we’re hoping strong bones.

The Funeral

This morning I opened my eyes and the world was still turning.  It still is, and more likely than not, it will continue to do so.  Everything is real.  Nothing has been a dream.  Although it seems surreal, we laid my dad to rest yesterday in a beautiful service.  A service I hope he would’ve been proud of.  My sweet husband J-Dub said even though funerals aren’t cool, that was the coolest funeral he’s ever attended.

My dad’s nephew, Kevin,  delivered the message and told stories that  reflected his life.  Although many weren’t told, or couldn’t be, I hope they are being told somewhere.  Remember stories only happen to those who can tell them.  Tell your stories.

My dad had a t-shirt  he loved to wear and wore often.  It read, “Being Bob is my Job.”   Everyday was Saturday to him, and all he had to work at was just Being Bob, and he did it like no other.  His nephew spoke about him being Bob the Parent, Bob the Patriot, and Bob the Provider, providing us with an abundance of laughter, joy and memories.   A beautiful slide show remembered his life.  Bob Seger sang, “Like A Rock” and that’s what he was.  As strong as he could be.  My brother Stan said he was a Superman, and that’s true, nothing could get to him.

The Patriot Riders, a group of veterans, honored him by lining the walkways and leading the procession of cars to the graveside.  A very long procession of cars, I might add.  His sister Jeanne said Bob would’ve enjoyed knowing he stopped all that traffic. 

His pall bearers donned Hawaiian shirts in his honor, I know he would’ve gotten a kick out of that. 

The Marines played Taps and presented the flag.  It was a proud moment.

At the conclusion a white dove was released. 

It lifted itself to the heavens, I watched it as long as I could, and then it was gone.  Just like him.

His friends have made a facebook page in his remembrance, and it is a comfort to read the stories and see the love people had for him.  One friend wrote it perfectly, “It is clear that Bob was well-loved, and has loved well.”  How true, how true.

The tears that pour down my cheeks and fall on this keyboard aren’t tears for my dad.  Why cry for him? His struggles are over.  My tears are selfish tears.  Tears of hurt.  Tears of loneliness and sorrow.  Tears of missed opportunities and dashed plans.  I am grateful to have had nearly 36 years with this man. 

This man who held me, laughed with me, encouraged me, danced with me, who never judged me, never spanked me, who gave me horsey rides and sloppy kisses and insisted I was rubbing them in instead of rubbing them off, who prayed for me, who believed in me, who taught me the important things without knowing it, who loved me bigger than Hog Eyes and Sauerkraut, Alabama.  (I’ll have to tell you the meaning of that someday). 

I know I’ll see him soon, but I can’t see him today.  I’ll have to wait and press onward.  He would want me to.

The prayers of friends and loved ones have reached the ears of God, and He has carried me and my family past this hurdle.  But as I gaze down the road I’m traveling today, all I see is a path of hurdles ahead.  tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.  Today.  Right now.  We still need your prayers, please.

When hanging up the phone or in emails to him, he would tell us, “Love you back.”  I hope he knew how deep my love was for him, and still is. 

Love you back, dad.

P.S.  The pics of the funeral are from the Patriot Riders,

Reblog: In Memory of my dad #1

Today, I’m remembering my dad. I hope that’s alright with you.
It’s been 2 years, probably about this time exactly, that he died.
I miss him. A lot. Some days it hurts, and other days are just days like every other one  that has come before.
There’s a lot of good in this world, we shouldn’t dwell in sadness, so on a sad day,  I’m reposting this blog from a couple of years ago. It makes me smile. Hope you do too.

This is a repost.  It’s about my dad.  It’s bits and pieces from his emails, all compiled into one.

Ignore the punctuation and spelling, because he does too.

Even though you may not have known him, he was good at his job, so listen to him.

About Exercise:

“i’m really enjoying it, although i’m sooo tired by the end of the week. hope i can stay focused and motivated. i kno i’m never going to be small again, but, who wants to be a little old man, then everyone in town would be beating me up.”

On Learning How to Use Email/computer

“hey ang, got your email earlier and just found out how to get back to you.  how ya’all doin’. can’t find the question mark.”

On grandchildren:

“i’m getting awful anxious for little hannah to make her appearance soon, aren’t you?  That little ashlynn is such a little apple dumplin’ aint she?  this grandpaing is getting to be quite a kick.  think i’ll just live forever.”

On pictures he doesn’t want posted on facebook:

“my gosh, angel, lets get rid of that pic of me and you sitting outside your house. it looks like i forgot to p-ut my teeth in or sompin.”

When my brother lost his artificial leg floating on a raft in the Illinois river:

“i’m so sorry that stan lost his leg. at least he has another one
at home,”

On gangsta talk:

“hey ang, what up, homes?”

On poker

“hey girls, i played in a million dollar freeroll tournament yesterday, and
only made one bad play, and it cost me. i was about 2, 800 in chips and we
were down to about 1100 players. i was dealt pocket nines, and bet out for
about 800 bucks. the guy smooth called, and i put him on A-big, or a pretty
good hand like that. over the next two cards we got all our money in the
middle, i turned over the nines and he had aces in the hole. i say i made a
bad play because i led out bettin on the turn and river. i let him trap me,
i should have been checkin on the 4th card, and if he bet big, i could lay
the nines down. but, i wassn’t thinkin. i find a lot of people doin this in
a game with over 5,000 people in it. also people playin, 9-2 off suit, or
5-3 suited and suckin outon people. people that really have no idea what
they’re doin.”

I actually have no idea what you’re talking about, dad.  I take it you didn’t win me an inheritance?

On pets:

“so, you have a new dog…well, y’all be good to him and make sure he earns his keep. it sounds like he has more training then i could ever give him if he knows what “whoa” means. our stupid dog thought it meant “go at a high speed away from here” because that’s what he did when the gate was opened. i still miss him tho.”

On coming for a visit:

“I’m just going to drive all the way out to gray county, then i may get a room if i am
so tired i can’t continue. Once my truck gets a whiff of Pampa, it’s awful
hard to shut down, so i’ll be coming in at a high lope. Hope that your old
General Moters product don’t shake its self to death on that one stretch of
hi-way. Angel if you can put me up (with out me having to do anything)(and
for free) lemmee know, ok?………………… you’ns, ”

On Whining:

“i’m so lonely. noone ever emails me. i wonder what my kids are doing. probably eating icecream.
no body ever comes to see me. the neighbors won’t speak to me. my dog ran away. woe is me.”
On Advice:
“my best advice i can give is this: DON’T GET FAT.PERIOD.”
On Falling:
              “the thing is you’ve got to know how to fall.  Forwards, not backwards, and preferably into something soft, like a fat lady at       Walmart.”
On Love:
“remember i love you both. so love me back…”
I love you back, forever.

love, love, love, love, love

This won’t be eloquent.  I don’t have the energy to make it sound pretty. 

My dad is gone, and my heart is broken.  A million shards. 

People say cherish the memories.  And I do, and I will.  But what about our plans? 

You may think I’m stupid, but I wanted him to see my chickens.  They’re coming in 2 weeks you know.  I wanted him to read my blog everyday and leave me snarky comments about how it has no plot.  I wanted him to enjoy my new place with me.  Even if it is a trailer house.  I wanted him to dribble his coffee on my carpet as he staggers down the hallway with his unsteady gait.

I had so much more to share with him. 

I will write about my dad today, and I will write about him tomorrow, and the day after that.  I may write about him for the next 19 years. 

So please be patient.

 Bob Briggs

January 16, 1943-February 26, 2011.

I love you, Dad.

A Cowboy’s Hat

This morning I stumbled out of bed and stumbled to the kitchen, poured myself a cup of ambition, yawned and stretched and tried to come alive.

Not really.  It’s Saturday.  I slept later than usual, I awoke refreshed and feeling great, and meandered to the bathroom.

Then I peeked out the window to see if my husband’s truck was outside which meant he hadn’t left for work yet.  I didn’t see it, and I couldn’t hear any rustling around the house, so I assumed he wasn’t home.

Until I saw his hat on the kitchen table.  Then I knew he was here somewhere.


His dirty, black hat,  equipped with a toothpick, only goes where he goes.

It’s pretty crusty, wouldn’t you agree?  Some people think he needs a new one.  But why?  This one is nearing the point of perfection.

He catches some grief from others about this dirty hat.  Not long ago, a friend asked him when he was going to clean it.  Never, that’s when.  It takes a long time, years in fact, to get a hat to fit right and feel right, and cleaning it might mess with the dirt, sweat, and grime that has made it the hat it is today.

My mom has finally resigned the issue.  She gave up the cause for a  new hat.  For years on his birthday or Christmas, she would give him gift cards to a western store in hopes that he would buy a new hat.  He bought jeans and socks instead.

She hasn’t complained about this hat, but his last hat she hated.  She even let him know she hated his hat.

This is his old hat.  It’s pretty bad.  To the untrained eye, it might look identical to his present hat, but look closely.

There are no toothpicks , the buckle is badly bent, and the dirt is thicker.  Much, much, thicker.

On Christmas morning, we opened the door to find a present, wrapped and sitting on our porch.  We assumed it was from my brother and his wife Janene, because that’s their style.  Just leave it on the porch.  But upon opening it, we discovered a brand new black felt hat.  It was from J-Dub’s friend Ol’ Earl, who pitied him for his dirty, black hat.

Of course J-Dub has a going-to-town hat too.   That’s what he calls his dress hat.

It’s stocked with toothpicks as well.  He wears it with his going-to-town watch and his going-to-town belt.

This is my husband’s hat.  It has character, it fits right, and it stays on his head.  Except for the day I had to chase it across the prairie in -34 degree wind chill.  But the only reason it blew off that day was because he had a scarf on his head.

Not an old lady scarf, but a cowboy scarf, otherwise known as a wild rag.  I love this picture.  He hates it.  He looks like  an old lady to me. A babushka, an old Russian grandmother.  Generally he doesn’t leave the house looking like this, but the bitterness of the cold that day was unbearable.  He needed to protect his ears, and the silkiness of the wild rag caused his hat to blow away.  Which didn’t make the day any more enjoyable.

While others look at this hat and see a dirty, black hat in desperate need of the trash can, I see a hard-working husband.  I see the sweat from his brow on a summer day, the mud from the pens where he’s sorting cattle, the dust and dirt caking his face.  I see him rolling out hay in frigid temperatures, breaking ice on frozen water tanks, doctoring sick calves.  I see him branding cattle, building fence, shipping yearlings.  I see the his love for the occupation,  the land, the lifestyle, and his love for me.

I admire this dirty, black hat.

But much more, I admire the man who wears it.


Sometimes I get tired. 

Physically tired.

Emotionally tired.

Spiritually tired.

I don’t like myself  like this.

Days like today, when all I want to do is vomit hate, bitterness, rage, and tears all over my keyboard, I must restrain.  I must filter. 

My stable self says, Read your Bible, Count your Blessings, Breathe Deeply.

My irrational self says, Eat chocolate, Yell at the dog, Screw the world.

I must focus in order to let my stable self prevail. 

Tonight I thought it might help if I found my gratitude journal.  Oprah.  I can’t stand her, but I learned about a gratitude journal when I used to watch her.  Each day write down 5 things you are grateful for.  I haven’t written in my journal in years, but I knew where to find it.   

I rummaged through my closet looking for my gratitude journal and found my prayer box instead. 

 It contains  prayers I wrote down from the year 1998. 

I can’t share all of them because some reveal a very pathetic, desperate side of me and are much too personal. 

This one is for my sister prayed on 7-2-98 “Dear Lord–please reward Jolea and John with a precious, beautiful, healthy child—-all in your time. 

Two years later she was blessed with a daughter, and then two years after that, another.  All in His time.

This one is asking for help in learning to say I’m sorry.  It’s a work in progress.  Pride is an ugly thing.

As I unfolded these papers one by one, I found prayers for marriages that were never restored.

Prayers for people whom I don’t even know or remember, but at the time, I believe they were on my heart for a reason. 

There are prayers of loneliness, prayers for salvation, prayers of relationships, prayers for forgiveness, prayers for healing.

Some have been answered. 

Some weren’t. 

Some I’ll never know. 

Some I’m still praying.

Like this one:

“That God will use me as a witness for Him”


As I look back on these prayers, I experience God’s sovereignty.  His faithfulness.  His forgiveness and love. 

I am encouraged, my burdens are lifted, my heart is lighter.  I even added two new ones tonight.

It’s funny.  My mom always taught me never to put anything in writing. 

Obviously, I didn’t listen.

 I never found my gratitude journal in my closet.  It doesn’t matter. 

1.  Thank you for my health.

2.  Thank you for my husband and family

3.  Thank you for my job.

4.  Thank you for my salvation.

5.  Thank you for always knowing best.

6.  Thank you.

7.  Thank you.

8.  Thank you.

9.  Thank you.

10.  Thank you.

Warning: Roller Skating May Lead to Gullible Bones

This is a great song.  I first heard it at a teacher training about 4 years ago for incorporating music in the classroom, and I bought it as soon as I got home.  It’s by a girl named Melanie, whose voice is a little Janis Joplin”ish”.   That makes me love it even more.


Me and my niece Ash laced up our roller skates last night.

She’s been hounding me to take her skating for a couple of weeks now.  Yesterday I conceded. 

Since it’s a 30 minute drive to the nearest roller rink, I thought it would be wise to call ahead for the times and cost, so I handed Ashlynn  the phone book and asked her to look up skating in the yellow pages.

  Please note, she is an eleven year old who likes to get out of doing brain related activities as much as possible.  She likes short cuts and tasks that don’t require much thinking.  She’d rather look at a digital clock or ask you what time it is, than to study an analog clock.  I might even go as far as to say she is gifted at the art of manipulating others to do for her instead of having to do for herself. Add to that a touch of argumentativeness and a lot of energy and you’ve got Ashlynn in a nutshell.

I handed her the phone book and here’s how our conversation went:

Me:  Look up skating in the yellow pages.

Her:  What does it start with?

Me:  (dragging it out with an air of astonishment, knowing how lazy she’s being) OOOOHHHHH.

Her:  O?

Me: (very sharply) Ashlynn!!  Skating????

Her:  (matter of factly)  You said O.

So, after three hours and thirteen and a half lessons of “Hooked on Phonics Worked for Me”, we arrived at the skating rink. 

Roller skating today and roller skating when I was  just a sprout has changed some, except maybe for the skates.

I might have nightmares if I think about  how many people’s stinky feet (including mine)  have been in this particular pair of skates. 

Although the lights, the rink, and the skates carried an air of familiarity, I was disappointed to find there was not Another One Bites the Dust playing like there was in “my day”.  Rather the bass was heavy, the techno was loud, and Lady GaGa was in da house, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

The skating commenced.

At times I felt like I was in a club, especially when some teenage girls showed off their dancing skills with a pole over in the seating area. 

I was one of 4 grown-ups there.  Apparently most parents drop their kids off, which I might too if I didn’t have a 30 minute drive home.  Even with a lack of chaperones, with the exception of the Dirty Dancing episode, the kids were very well-behaved.  I didn’t see any fighting.  Or kissing.  Or hear any bad language. 

Which is more than I can say of the skating rink in “my day.”

Before the night was over, Ashlynn was already asking if we could come back next weekend.  It was good clean fun and despite falling and busting her butt more times than I could count, she skated her heart out, feet scooting and arms flailing wildly about.  As the evening progressed, so did she.

This morning at breakfast she made sure to report that her wrist was really sore and possibly broken.

Me:  It’s not broken.  You have strong bones.

Her:  But I’m skinny.

Me:  So.  Your bones are still strong.

Her:  But they’re little.  They’re very gullible.

(Me and Jason glance at each other and bust out laughing.)

Her:  Whaaaatttt?  They fall for things easily.


Oh dear me

I’m considering writing a new program.  I’m calling it “Hooked On Vocabulary Worked for me”.

Let’s pray it works for Ashlynn.

Goulash, Grandparents, and Regret

Last night I attempted cooking, which in and of itself is a feat.  I can honestly say, of the things I have been complimented, cooking is not one of them.  There are people who are renowned simply for being a good cook.  If their name comes up in conversation, people’s eyes roll back in their heads as they utter the words, “oh, she’s a good cook, Have you ever tried her carrot cake, she can make the best homemade rolls I’ve ever tasted.”  Etcetera, etcetera. Blah, blah.

Not me.  Okay.  It’s not something I’ve ever learned to do or really enjoyed doing.

Last night, my little drummer boy husband grabbed his drumsticks and headed out to play a  gig, so it was just me and my niece Ashlynn at home. 

I wanted goulash.  J-Dub doesn’t like goulash, but I love it.  Mind you, I’ve only ever had one person’s goulash in my entire life, and that was my grandmother’s.  If she ever used recipes for cooking, I haven’t the foggiest as to where to locate those.  So when I searched the internet for recipes similar to her goulash, I was met with an assortment of crap.  Crap, I tell you. 

Obviously, goulash is a Hungarian dish, not a southern poor man’s dish as I always thought.  The  recipes called for ingredients that I’m sure my Grannie never had in her pantry at any time, like Rotel for instance.

So I text my sister, and she immediately texts back with a bunch of rigmarole ingredients for so-called “Grannie’s Goulash”. 

I had an idea that she was crazy.  Mustard really?  So I called my Aunt Bert (my Grannie’s daughter).  She thought it was a little this, and a little that, and maybe some of this. 

Well that seemed closer, but it just wasn’t good enough for me.  I need a recipe!!!  I need to know how much of this and that. I operate in teaspoons and tablespoons, people.

I returned to the internet, and googled Southern goulash.  Recipes popped up with okra in them.   Who in the world puts okra in their goulash???? Huh?  Huh?  Just answer me that.   Next I googled Old-fashioned goulash.    Marjoram and tomato soup?  Puh-lease!!! 

Then when my frustrations were at an all time high, and my stomach was growling, I got the crazy notion to google my grandmother’s name and goulash.  Just hoping maybe, just maybe, someone had published a long-lost recipe of her goulash. 

And to my surprise, that brought up absolutely nothing. 

Except it led me to an ancestry site. 

So my search for goulash took an unexpected turn to ancestry on my mother’s side.    And I’m fascinated.  I’ve never given much thought to my ancestors, but now that I’m getting older, my brain is changing, along with my priorities, and I’m understanding  the impact of my lineage. 

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of “old” family.  There are people my same age, who grew up with a great-grandmother, a great-great grandmother even, but not me.  I’ve only ever had grandmothers.  My great grandparents died before I came into this world, and I never even knew a grandfather.  Sad huh?  I guess my people died young, or procreated old, and too many years are in-between.

I’ve heard my Grannie talk about her parents, but I’d forgotten their names until last night when they started showing up on my computer screen.  Suddenly they became real people, with dreams, and love for one another, and hopes, and journeys, and trials. 

Just like me. 

Now I wish when I sat in the TV room with my Grannie,  while she rattled on with stories I’d heard before, about people who were cold in the ground, with events that were unimportant to my teenage ears, that instead of slumping over in my chair and wishing she’d stop droning on, that I’d had a cell phone with voice recorder, a video recorder,  a tape recorder, shoot even a pencil and pad and would have written down her stories.  But of course, I never thought they’d matter to me. 

How foolish we are in our youth.

Since I’ve begun blogging, I’ve been forced to dip into my memory banks.  Often I find them empty or half erased, and I must fill them in with how I believe it must have been.  Was I wearing tennis shoes in that blizzard, or were they high heeled show girl boots like my dad remembers? 

I have stories to tell, people to remember, events to unfold.  Other people may not care about them, but I do.

“You and your husband might have looked out the same kitchen window for twenty years, your eyes might be as green as  your uncle Harry’s, but twenty bucks says you don’t see the world as they do.  Start writing to save your life.  Stories only happen to those who can tell them.”—-Lou Willett Stanek



And then others must remember them, and in turn, tell them.

My great -grandfather Eugene “Gene” Ira married my great-grandmother Emma Olive (oh my gosh I love that name) and had 2 daughters, Mary and Imogene, my grandmother. 

I want to talk to those people.  I want to talk to them real bad.  I imagine their black and white faces, their frumpy clothes, their aprons, their weathered hands.  They were tough.  They had to be. I want to hear their stories, and share their stories.  It’s like instantly, I realize I am on this earth, in part because of these people. 

They are MY people.  

My great-grandparents:

Eugene “Gene”  Ira: Aug 22, 1883-Jan 15, 1966  Age. 81

Emma Olive:  Dec 7, 1879- Aug 7, 1911 Age 32

My grandmother Imogene, whose name came from her dad Gene and her mom Emma loved me, cherished me, delighted in me and made the best goulash of which I can not recreate.

And me?

I’ve forgotten her stories.

 Stories only happen to those who can tell them.