Friday, September 30, 2011

Shhhhh...Gracie's sleeping


Okay, I know I'm a great-grandma.
I know I'm a little bit prejudiced.
But don't you agree that this is about as sweet as it comes?

Be still my heart.
Sleep tight, Little Gracie.
May bands of angels watch over you.

Today I'm grateful for babies and soft little nightgowns.
May your world be so blessed,
Merry ME

Thursday, September 29, 2011

All Roads Lead to Rome ... Or God?

Photo: squidoo.com

"Serendipity.
Look for something, find something else,
and realize that what you've found is
more suited to your needs than
what you thought you were looking for.
Lawrence Block

A few months ago I had a psychic reading by Dani's friend, Brett Arras*. Since I was still in the throes of some pretty heavy grief, I'm surprised he could sense anything about me other than extreme sadness. But he did and offered me a peek at a few things that could come into my life later in the year. A spiritual awakening was one of them.

When talking to my therapist the subject of spirituality came up again.
At the same time I began reading Homecoming by John Bradshaw. In it he says "children are naturally spiritual. (pg. 38) Spirituality involves what is deepest and most authentic in us - our true self. When we are spiritual we are in contact with our unique-ness and specialness. Spirituality also involves a sense of connection and grounding in something greater than ourselves."

Healing ... Inner child work ... (re)connecting with a power greater than myself ... a recurring theme seems to be taking shape. Memories of my 12-step days come flashing back. I shouldn't be surprised that it's all seeping up through the layers of emotions that have piled on themselves while taking care of then losing my dad.

Another thing Brett told me was "helping others would help me." Bull's eye right to the heart of things. I feel so in touch with me and with the Divine One when I am in giving mode. Lately I have been reaching out, as well as stepping out.

A month or so ago, I got a random email from Family Christian Stores, an advertisement trying to lure me into the store. Usually I dump those without even opening them. Serendipity #1: I opened it. I read it. I followed some links. And ended up at a site announcing mission trips via the Good Goers Mission Based Adventure Trips.

When I think of mission trips I think of third world countries, starving babies, hovels instead of homes. I think of zealots handing out Jesus loves you pamphlets to people who would probably prefer a piece of bread. I think of conquistadors invading native lands under the banner of a cross. I think this is probably would not be my cup of tea. Serendipity #2: I said why not? Or in the words of a song, "Here I am, Lord." (Or maybe it's Here am I, Lord - I always get it mixed up!) I corresponded with Good Goers, got more information and signed up for a trip to a Native American orphanage in Oklahoma. Not exactly a 3rd world country, but not exactly Utopia either. I don't have the statistics but I think it's fair to say Native American reservations are some of the poorest places in the United States ... home of the brave and land of the free.

And Serendipity #4: Sweetie jumped right on board and signed up too. Neither of us knows what we're getting ourselves into other than it's an opportunity to move the limits of our comfort zones, open our eyes and ears to the plight of those less fortunate than us, and step out in faith. All that and adventure too. The bonus is we are not leaving the good ole US of A. We don't have to get a battery of shots before we leave, and we'll know the language. (Sort of, we haven't spoken "teenage" in many years!)

According to our team leader, Steve, our main goal is to spend time with and love up on kids from 5-19 years old. Most, but not all, are from the Cherokee Nation. Our secondary goal is to work on a "project" which in our case might be laying concrete. What? I have expressed more than once that Sweetie and I may not be the typical missionary, that we are old and out of shape. And just as many times, we've been assured we won't be asked to do anything we aren't capable of.

[ An aside: I seem to remember when our neighbor was getting a new driveway there was a person whose sole duty was to stand there with a stick. I don't know what the stick was for, but hey, I'm pretty sure I could be a stick holder for awhile. There was also a person who was right there in the wet cement with boots up past his knees. I've always wanted a pair of bright colored Wellies. Maybe this is my opportunity.]

Since my blog is where I pour out my heart and soul it shouldn't come as any surprise that this is where I will report, hopefully on a daily basis (not sure if there will be Internet connection so it may have to be after I come home) how things are going. My inner Katie Curik can't wait to get there and put on her reporter's hat. Hmmm, I wonder if I can hold a stick AND take notes at the same time! My inner child, who I confess is part of the reason I'm doing this, is chomping at the bit to play with kids her own age. I need this time with children for my healing as well as theirs.

The Creator works in mysterious ways. I believe I'm/we're being led by the One who sees a bigger picture than we can ever imagine. I ask that you keep Sweetie and me in your prayers, cover us in light, or just send good vibrations our way during the week of October 8-15.

Stay tuned!

Today I'm grateful for many things, mostly a giving heart.

May you give when you have plenty, and receive when you are in need,
Merry Me

* I think you can find Brett at Dani's store Three Sister's Uniquities in Waukesha, WI

Friday, September 23, 2011

Grocery Store Encounter

"We sometimes encounter people,
even perfect strangers,
who begin to interest us at first sight,
somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken."
Fydor Dostoevsky

A few weeks ago I made mention of the fact that I preach the stranger danger rule to most anyone who will listen. Don't talk to strangers I tell my daughter when she tells me she's setting out for some new adventure. Don't talk to strangers I tell my sister, or my son, or my Sweetie. There are boogie men out there and I want the ones I love to be aware of them. Ever since I wrote that post, I've become aware that as my Sweetie says, I really don't know a stranger. I seem to feel it's okay to talk to old people and babies and little kids who have been warned not to talk to strangers so we're both breaking the rules. I guess if you smile at someone in the grocery store and they smile back then there's a good chance they aren't serial killers. Although, if I was a serial killer I'd probably smile at everyone so not to draw attention to myself.

Okay, I admit it. I do talk to strangers. The people I find I can't talk to are the ones I've known for years and years, but when we're standing over a table of pastries at fellowship hour after church, I swear I can't think of a word to say. And Lord spare me from cocktail parties where chit chat is required with people you know are no more interested in you than you are in them. I'm okay with smiles and hellos, not so good at chit chat.

So there I am minding my own business in the grocery store this afternoon and I spy a woman in line with this strikingly beautiful head wrap. It was a bright rosy pink and stood about 6 inches off her head. I was mesmerized. Not just at her scarf and the way it covered her head, but at her overall stature. She could easily have been an African Queen. Her beauty was in stark contrast to the boys I see in the neighborhood whose trousers hang below their boxers which hang below their butt crack. Ah, but I digress.

I was in line checking out when the woman piled her bags in the cart getting ready to leave the store. I wanted to ask her about her scarf but thought it might be a tad disconcerting if I ran after her in the parking lot. She might have thought I was a serial killer! As luck would have it we exited the store at the same time. My moment had come.

"Your head piece is so beautiful, " I tell her.
She started laughing and told me it was just 3 yards of cotton fabric no big deal. Apparently others had commented about how beautiful she was. She might have been thinking me? Beautiful? I'm not dressed up or anything. I've just wrapped a piece cloth around my head so I didn't have to comb my hair. As she spoke, she reached up, pulled one end of cloth loose and untwirled it. Then, with me watching and her going slow enough for me to catch on, she wrapped and tied, wrapped and tied, wrapped and tucked. Voila, just like that, the scarf was back on her head. No mirror, no pins, not problem.

I stood mesmerized, struck dumb. At that moment I wanted to be so carefree with myself and my beauty to share it with a stranger. She told me how if she want to get dressed up for something special at church, she might wrap it a different way, but every way is just a twist (pun intended) on the same theme. I told her again how beautiful she was, and she blessed me and we went our separate ways.

I managed to drive home wrapping and rewrapping my head, in my mind so I wouldn't forget. Once in the door, I headed straight for my drawer and grabbed the pashini I bought in Charleston last spring. The one I thought I got a really good deal on when I paid $20 that are now selling at Walgreens for $1.00. Well, the Chinese version of the Indian scarf are selling for a dollar. I must say the lady made it look a lot easier that it was. Maybe I didn't have enough cloth. Maybe I have a skinnier head. Maybe I'm just not the African Queen-type. When I first walked out of the bedroom, all wrapped up, Sweeite laughed and Johnson said I should be at the gas station selling cigars. Not exactly the look I was going for.

What do you think?

Except that I don't look pale and thin and sickly I think I more closely resemble a woman who lost her hair from chemotherapy than African royalty. It does not take away, however, the joy I felt from being in the presence of one.

Today I'm grateful for rules that can be broken with no harsh consequences. I'm grateful for being able to spy beauty in the unlikliest of places. And I'm grateful that this self-portrait did not show the mess on the desk behind me.

Wishing for you all kinds of beauty,
Merry ME


"As I look through every moment of our history, we as Black women have worn hats. We have marched in them, we "sat-in" them and we worship in them. ALthough hats change in shape and size over the years, one thing remains the same: Our love for them." ~Harriet Rosebud

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lilies

"For fast-acting relief
try slowing down."
Lily Tomlin


Looks like it's been a while since I last wrote here. And if you asked me what I'd done in the interim I'm not sure I could tell you.

Well, maybe that's not exactly true. My muscles, my sciatica and my arthritic thumb could tell you I did something I rarely do. I worked in the yard. My dad had a lily bed out front that was in desperate need of thinning out. I'm not sure how I new that, except that it looked crowded and tight. Plus there were two seemingly immaculately conceived maple trees smack in the middle of all the lilies. To get to them, I had to dig up lilies. And one can't just dig up one lily. One leads to two and two leads to four. And four often leads to whole lily families in one bulb.

It was hard work. I broke a shovel and Sweetie broke a rake. FYI: If you are digging something that is apparently bigger than what you think it is and you lean on the shovel handle with all your might trying for some leverage, sometimes the handle moves but the shovel stays put. That might be when I threw my back out.

It was hot. I waited til the temperatures had dropped from the high nineties to the high eighties. When it's that hot and you're up to your elbows in dirt, you are soon covered in mud. I was grateful for the pool to jump in when I felt on the verge of heat stroke. FYI: Ten degrees may not mean much from the stand point of how much sun shines down on you. It does, however, make a big difference in the temperature of pool water. Brrr! But there is a glorious feeling of cool relaxation once your body adjusts to the stark difference between hot and cold.

After the lilies were dug up, I had to figure out something to do with them. Since I don't know anything about replanting bulbs - all that stuff about drying them out, storing them in a cool dry place for the winter, replanting in the spring, etc. I've tried it before and as I recall when I found them at the end of the winter season all I had was little daffodil mummies, dried up and brittle. So I picked another day to dig holes, plant lilies and talk to worms in the front flower bed. If I were a fisher woman, I'd have enough bait for a full day of fishing. I can remember going fishing in Vermont with my grandfather one time. Digging up the worms wasn't bad. There is something to be said for the dank, earthy smell and feel of woodsy dirt. Contrast that to the curling a wriggly worm and piercing it with a hook. It seemed cruel even to my childish eyes. God bless the person who invented plastic worms.

For each day that I worked in the yard, it took a couple days of recuperation. I swear I'm just not as agile as I once was. I suppose if I exercised a little more (I've found walking the dog is NOT an exercise in anything but frustration) and gave up making and eating baked goods I'd find crawling around on all fours a lot easier that it is. Truth be told, the easiest thing by far is to leave things the way they were when my father was alive.

When I sat down to write I had something else in mind all together, but I think I shall leave this as it is and save another story for another day.

Today I'm grateful for the ladies in my writing group. I'm prayerful that one of our member's husband will return to health quickly so she can regale us with stories of hospital life. I'm grateful for EMDR - I think. I'm grateful for the rain that has been falling down on my newly transplanted lilies, helping them to settle in for a long winter's nap.

Wishing for you a place that is cool when you're hot, and a place that is warm when you're chilled.
Merry ME

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Sigh is Just a Sigh

"... then sigh not so, but let them go
be you blithe and bonnie
converting all your sounds of woe
into hey nonny nonny."
Shakespeare

I've noticed lately that I seem to sigh a lot. Not ho hum kind of sighs, but deep-breath-in-woe-is-me sighs. I wonder if it's because I'm not breathing deeply enough so I have to fill my lungs to the top every once in awhile. Or maybe it's like sleep apnea (which I've been accused of having, thus turning me into a chain saw-sounding snorer) that I have to gasp for a gulp of air before I fall of my chair. Really, I find it weird and a little disconcerting especially now that I'm aware of it. Silly me, it never occurred to me that it could be just one more symptom of grief.

In his discussion of repressed emotions and defense mechanisms (pg. 70) John Bradshaw says that body therapists have been able to describe the way some of these work.
"Emotions, for example, can be numbed by tensing muscles. People often grind their teeth and tense their jaws when they are angry. Emotions can also be stopped by holding one's breath. Shallow breathing is a common way to avoid emotional pain. "

Putting one and one together for a light bulb moment I bet shallow breathing leads to deep sighs. Makes sense don't you think?

Another book from my stack of light nighttime reading is The Long Goodbye, a memoir by Meghan O'Rourke. As you might guess it is a story about loving, losing and (hopefully by the time I finish it) living again. It might sound like I'm just continuously hitting a sore toe with a hammer. But for some reason I find a strange solace in what others have to say about their experiences with death. It's a kind of validation, I suppose. If someone else felt this way, then perhaps I'm not going crazy after all. And if I read enough books where there is an end to grief and a beginning to what comes next, then maybe I'll begin to believe it.

Naturally I agreed with O'Rourke when she wrote:
"I had been sent healing workbooks and Buddhist texts about how to die. I had been sent On Grief and Grieving and On Death and Dying and the Bible and memoirs about deaths of parents. I read nearly all of them; I was hungry for death scenes." (pg. 126)

She quotes CS Lewis as saying,
"Grief is paradoxical: you know you must let go, and yet letting go cannot happen all at once. The literature of mourning enacts that dilemma; its solace lies in the ritual of remembering the dead and then saying, There is no solace, and also, This has been going on a long time." (pg. 126)

"No one ever told me grief felt so much like fear" wrote Lewis at the beginning of A Grief Observed. In a 1942 study on grief by Erich Lindemann found that
"grief, like fear, is a stress reaction attended by deep physiological changes - tightness in the throat, choking with a shortness of breath, need for sighing and and empty feeling in the abdomen, lack of muscular power, and an intensive subjective distress described as tension or mental pain. It is brutally physiological. It literally takes your breath away." (p152)

It literally takes your breath away. In the seven months my father has been gone my breath grabbing moments have lessened some only to be replaced by sighs and intense dreams that leave me feeling weighed down and heavy all day. My father is not in the dreams. By that I mean, I do not see my father, but I always know he's there. The dreams are full of unresolved conflict. Yup, that would be part of my dad's legacy.

I don't really have to read it in a book to know that grief is not a straight shot from start to finish but more of a curvy road with potholes and creaky bridges. But it's good to know others are kind of bumping along too. The thing to remember, I think, is to take care me. When I feel my jaw lock or my teeth grinding against each other perhaps I could stick a donut in my mouth. If I find myself arguing with Sweetie over the checkbook balance I should remember that we are both on the same side. And if I find I'm sighing more than usual I'll remind myself that sometimes a sigh is just a sigh. And that's okay.

Today I'm grateful for new understanding. I'm grateful that even in my own sadness, I can gently reach out to others. And I'm grateful for really dumb insomnia-busting shows on TV at 3 o'clock in the morning.

Wishing for you an opportunity to say "hey nonny nonny."
Deep sighing, Merry ME


The Long Goodbye a memoir, by Meghan O'Rourke, Rierhead Books, 2011
Homecoming Reclaiming and Healing Your Inner Child by John Bradshaw, Bantam Books, 1990

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My 2 Cents


"Blue skies smiling at me, nothing but blue skies do I see.
Blue days, all of them gone, nothing but blue skies from now on."
Irving Berlin
I wasn't going to write about 9/11 today. Partly because between the "media" and the blogosphere I doubt there is anything else that can be said, and partly because even though I am a go-with-the-flow kind of person, I do have a stubborn streak in me (handed down on a silver platter by both my mother and father) that kind of likes to step on the brakes and turn in a completely different direction from the flow. For instance, if I were a salmon, I truly believe that as important it might be for me to join my other salmon school mates swimming upstream to salmon nirvana, I think it would be a whole lot easier to let the natural current take me to places my buddies might never see.

But in her blog this morning my friend Amy said it would almost be disrespectful to write about anything else besides 9/11. I get that. And while I might be wrong-way-Sally, I do not want to be disrespectful to the people who are still feeling the tremendous loss of that day. I'm reminded of what my therapist told me about my grief journey. That one of the things that died when my father took his last breath, was my little girl's ability to hope. I think when those planes hit the twin towers hope died , along with the all the lives, and 10 years later we're still trying, individually and collectively as a nation, to find it and/or redefine it.

"Hope that thing with feathers that perches in the soul"
Emily Dickinson

Like everyone else, I remember that morning well. The second plane was taking aim at the buildings about the time I wandered downstairs to see what was going on. My mom sat in her chair, dressed in her blue velour robe, the coffee cup (a white mug with a rim of tiny blue flowers ) sat on the table next to her. The TV was on. Dad sat at the kitchen table reading the newspaper, oblivious to what was happening in the world. I remember my mother's eyes that spoke of horror, terror and disbelief. My mom's eyes twinkled when she was happy, turned black as the Devil's henchman when she was angry, and when her world was threatened Mom's eyes showed fear even if her body withstood the storm without bending.

I remember, too, the phone call from my son who was stuck in traffic only a few blocks from the Pentagon. My big, strong, unemotional, take-no-prisoners son who called "mom" and cried when he thought one of his best friends was on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

As in all the other homes and businesses and schools across the country, our TV was left on and even though what happened was too horrible to believe we kept watching as if the talking heads might say something that would suddenly make sense. However, once the news stations started the repeated showings of the planes, the explosions, the cell phone recordings and the faces of evil, I had to cover my eyes. Then I had to leave the room. Then I had to say, "la la" in an effort to protect myself from the insanity of it all.

Call me an ostrich, but today I don't feel much like remembering. I don't want to hear from politicians whose words, no matter how heartfelt, are going to sound like the well-written and rehearsed political rhetoric they are. I don't want to hear from the people whose hearts are still hung with the black mantle of grief. I don't want to give hate-filled Americans another platform for deriding another's religion, color, sex, or choice of sexuality. And I sure don't want to hear threats against our country from bearded zealots hiding out in middle Eastern mountain ranges. I don't want to hear the cries of the families who have lost sons and daughters, husbands and wives in a war that has lasted for the ten years. I don't want to hear the wails of mothers whose babies continue to die.

It seems that Americans are good at rallying around a "Remember" slogan. And I agree it's good to remember. It's good not to forget and be prepared so whatever it is that we're not forgetting doesn't happen again.

Remember the Alamo
Remember the Maine
Remember Pearl Harbor
And now ... Remember 9/11

As today draws to a close, however, I'd rather look forward rather than look back. I'd rather people step on the hallowed ground where memorials have been built and say a prayer for peace. I'd rather politicians get back to work and fix our healthcare system so first responders can literally breathe a little easier and not have to worry about what it costs. I'd rather every veteran who has ever served his/her country be welcomed home in style - brass bands playing, people waving and ticker tape falling like rain - instead of in flag draped coffins. I'd rather people around the world reach down to help someone up. And I'd rather go to sleep tonight with a new kind of hope instead of fear.

Today I AM grateful for the American spirit that rises up when our homeland is threatened. I'm grateful for a home that hasn't been rocked by mortar fire. I'm grateful the men and women who lay under precision rows of granite markers in National Cemeteries all around the world. I'm grateful to a Mysterious Master who still breaths life into new babies even though this planet is kind of wacked out and bent on destruction. May the day come when we realize the heart of the same Creator beats in us all.

Koombaya,
Merry ME

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Move Over Lassie

"The people who gave him CPR are what gave him a chance at all.
Dave Cook

My uncle sent me an email today about a new way to do CPR. Here's the video. Check it out because you never know when you might need to have the information in your back pocket. After watching it I asked Sweetie if he'd let me try it on him so I could have a feel for what it would feel like.

Put one hand on top of the other, fingers entwined.
Lock elbows
Find the sweet spot in the center of the chest, between the nipples.
Fall on to the hands.
Don't stop.

Good Sport that he is, Sweetie stopped what he was doing and laid down on the floor. Once down there, I assumed the position with Suzi Q looking on. Once I put my hands on Sweetie's chest Suzi could tell something important was happening so she joined in.

[The way this dog sits cracks me up!]

The cool thing about this type of CPR is you don't have to do mouth to mouth breathing. All you have to do is keep doing compressions until help arrives. Suzi wasn't sure about this method so she went ahead and added a few quick breaths just in case Sweetie needed some air.

[I swear I love this dog! But not as much as I love my Sweetie.]

Today I'm grateful for smile opportunities that came out of nowhere. I'm grateful for the dirty but divine feel of dirt, and a cool pool to jump in after getting dirty. I'm grateful for a Sweetie who helped me dig up lilies. And I'm grateful for a silly brown dog.

Wishing for you a great big smile,
Merry ME

P.S. I believe when you are doing CPR you are supposed to do it a rather rapid pace. It is suggested you do it to the beat of Staying Alive by the BeeGees. I'm not sure it's possible to happen upon a person who needs CPR, do the things listed above or in the video AND remember the Staying Alive all at the same time. Here's a little reminder from one of my Top Ten favorite movies. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Feeling the Love

"The dew of compassion is a tear."
Lord Byron

So I'm waiting at the photo counter in Walgreens (for the third time today) when a nice looking, well-dressed, clean and smelling good man announced that it was his birthday. He had a big ol' birthday smile on his face and two twelve-packs of beer for celebrating.

Even though I preach "don't talk to strangers" Sweetie says I rarely practice it. So of course, I smiled right back and told him congratulations. That might have been the end of the conversation except the birthday boy kept praising the name of Jesus and I had just come from church so I could relate to his spiritual enthusiasm as well.

Then as if a switch had been flipped, he told me tonight he'll celebrate his birthday and tomorrow he'll bury his best friend. His voice cracked. When he got close to tears, he'd praise Jesus. Since I'm still pretty raw emotionally when it comes to grief issues, I put my stranger danger warnings in my purse and told the guy how sorry I am for his loss. And just like the door between hurting human hearts opened and compassion walked in.

When dad was dying angels appeared when I least expected but most needed them. It might sound a bit egocentric to call myself an angel, but I believe the Divine Comforter used me to ease a stranger's pain in the least likely of places. Not a hospital, not a church, but in a drug store photo department.

The man's friend was 85 but didn't look a day over 60. They'd known each other since the birthday boy was a child. He'd been in really bad pain.

"It's hard to think of him as dead," choked the man, " he looked like he was sleeping. Jesus is so good. I saw him in church and then my mom called to tell me he was gone. Jesus is good. I haven't cried in front of his wife." Silent tears began trickling down his face. Without giving any thought to personal space, boundaries, or danger, I reached out and hugged this perfect stranger. I held him while he quietly sobbed. It wasn't a long embrace, but enough for both of us to feel the tiniest bit better.

The man dried his tears, and blessed the Lord one more time. I turned back to the photo desk. The man said he was going to go home and celebrate his birthday. Don't drink and drive, I warned. Oh no mam, I've got studying to do yet. I'll just go straight home and have one beer.

And as quickly as it had begun the connection was broken. I'm thinking, however, that it was a holy experience.

Today I'm grateful my heart is opening back up so I can pay forward the compassion that people showed me. I'm grateful for Robert in the photo department at Walgreens who helped me three different times to print the picture I wanted. I'm grateful for time spent with the Le Chat Noir Writing Circle. Oh how delightful it is to be back with my peeps.

Wishing for you someone who understands what you're feeling.
Merry ME

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tears of Joy



"One of the most powerful handclasps is
that of a new grand baby around the finger of a grandfather."
Joy Hargrove


I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It seems like my emotions have turned upside down. Ever since I got the news yesterday that Gracie had been born, I've smiled like crazy on the inside and cried like a girl on the outside. I've tried to figure if it's an inner child issue, hormones, or the tears that come after finding out what you've been anxious about for months turned out okay.

The baby was born quickly and safely. Her mom is a natural at giving birth. Her Grandpa arrived safely in Virginia after a 9 hour drive through the remnants of Hurricane Lee. What is there to cry about? Who knows? But I've been crying anyway.

Grandpa Johnny called earlier to say he'd been given baby duty tonight which means he'll try to sleep in between bells ringing, nurses turning on the lights, and "Squirt" (as he affectionately calls her) announcing she's hungry, all the while trying to balance on one of those blow-up beds. I'm guessing this might be the night that the excitement and adrenaline wear off and Momma Ashley falls into a deep, coma-like sleep. She'll learn soon enough, but for this one night, GJ is on duty.

There's something that happens when your child becomes a parent. It feels sort of surreal. You look at this man and try to figure out how the one who would rather throw soap into the toilet than tinkle in it has somehow become old enough and willing enough to change diapers. He survived chicken pox, flying over bike handlebars, middle school, sneaking across the Mexican border (I still think this is a made up story), driving like a maniac and climbing extension ladders but trembles a little as he holds his newborn daughter in his arms and knows he'd slay dragons to keep her safe.

And then, as if in the blink of an eye, another generation begins. The little boy you rocked to sleep, the father who rocked his daughter to sleep, now holds his granddaughter and sleeps to the sound of an angel lullaby. It's enough to make Great Grammy cry with pride and joy and wonder.

[The picture that started this whole post. Do I laugh or cry? The blanket that you see is the "wubby" Grandpa Johnny has slept with for over 30 years. My mom made it for him when he was just a little kid. It goes everywhere with him. EVERYWHERE! The only person he's ever shared it with is his daughter. And now it's wrapped around Gracie. When I look at this picture I can almost picture Great Great Grammy holding her. Dang! Here come the tears again!]

Today I continue to be grateful for the love that is Baby Gracie. I'm grateful for nice people cause this world would be pretty stinky without them. I'm grateful that the price of gas has gone down enough to be able to fill my tank for ONLY $50.00.

Wishing for you Kleenex in your pocket so no matter if you are happy or sad, if you feel like crying you're prepared,
Merry ME

Monday, September 5, 2011

Welcome to the World Little One!


Eleyiana Grace Ellington
Born: 1:05 pm
Sept. 5, 2011
7lb. 5 oz.

Be still my heart!

Today I'm grateful for new life. I'm grateful for easy labors and safe deliveries. I'm grateful to the Divine Babymaker who keeps giving us little tiny bundles of love as a reminder that the world should go on.

May your day be filled with newness and joy.
Merry ME aka Great Grammy

We're Having a Baby

NewNOMG!
Boil some water! Start pacing the floor!
Ashley's in labor.
John is enroute.
I'm sitting here feeling like the parade has passed me by. Gone are the days I could think fast on my feet, grab my purse and head out for a road trip. Dang!
Stay tuned!

Almost Great Grammy,
Merry ME

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Happy Birthday Weneki (with pictures added)



Making a wish!

I'll huff and I'll puff ....

I did it!

"This is the day the Lord has made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118: 24

It is also the 40th anniversary of the day my daughter, Weneki, was born. Let cymbals and bells and whistles proclaim it is a day for celebrating. It is really hard for me to figure out how the years that seemed to stand still at times have passed by so quickly. How is it possible that my bald headed baby girl is today a grown woman who laments all the gray hair showing through her color treated hair? How is it that she can on the West coast celebrating with her friends while I'm on the East coast getting ready to go to bed without bestowing one birthday hug?

There are many things I could tell you about Weneki. I've already done that in several posts since I've been writing this blog. To say the day she was born was a highlight of my life would not be an exaggeration. She makes me proud. She makes me happy. She makes me laugh.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl. I love you more than a marching band that spells out your name in the middle of a football field.

Today my heart is full of gratitude for the gift of WE. I'm grateful for surgeries with good outcomes.

Wishing for you wishes that come true,
Merry ME

Thursday, September 1, 2011

That's What Friends are For

"Long after the price is forgotten ...
you still have your tattoo.
Doc Webb, San Diego*


My friend Dani told a story on her blog today of shoe love and friendship. She asked her readers to share their personal stories of either or both subjects. I was immediately transported in time to the day my friend, Fluff, accompanied me to almost skid row in downtown San Diego to get a tiny little tattoo on my thigh.

Tattoo parlors and tattooed people have come a long way from the colorless days back in mid-1980's when only drunken sailors and women of questionable repute used their skin as a canvas. So much so that it is hard to believe the tattoo in question packed the same punch as the "shot heard round the world," that started the American Revolution. The day I walked into Doc Webb's tattoo parlor, pulled down my pants to expose my salon tanned, virgin-skinned thigh and asked for a $20 heart was the day I fired the first salvo in the war of my independence.

When I look back on it now with the hindsight of wisdom and cultural shifts, I can see it for what it was - the way I chose to take a stand against my father and my husband. In essence my inner teenager grabbed the keys to the car, slammed the back door when she left, and screamed FU at the top of her lungs once she was down the street. The same girl, who after a few hours of cooling off, had to tuck tail and apologize when she got home.

Ok, so much for metaphors. Here's the story.
On a night shortly before then-hubby was to be gone for three months we were out to dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Somehow the subject turned to tattoos, how or why I have no idea. (Remember this was before kids and wives were pierced and colored, and waxed and talked back).

Me: Hmm, maybe I should get a tattoo.
Him: No wife of mine will have a tattoo, throwing down the gauntlet.
Me: What did you just say?
Him: You heard me, no wife of mine will have a tattoo.
Me: Even a small one where no one can see it?
Him: Not even a small one.
Me: Why?
Him: It's too dangerous. yada yada yada (This was when AIDs was coming out of the homosexual closet and needles of any kind were suspect. In then-hubby's defense, this argument probably had merit, but I was beyond listening)
ME (in my head): No husband of mine will tell me what I can't do. Who does he think he is, my father?

And so it went. Back and forth. I was unwilling to let it go. Like a little kid picking a dried bugger out of her nose, I just kept digging at it. Then-hubby left, and every time he called the conversation turned to the whys and why nots of having tattooed skin. I asked every one I knew their opinion. I was kind of on my own with this one. I was a Navy wife in a military community. No one was going to join me on this bandwagon.

However, my friend Fluff, while having no desire for a tattoo, was with me on the "he can't tell you what to do" subject. We fueled each other's fires against husband control that smacked of parental authority. We had plenty of time to do so because she was recovering from a skiing accident and I was her official driver to and from physical therapy. We were big and bad in those conversations even if we cowered once I pulled into the driveway.

Time marched on, and the day came when I had to put my words into actions. Then-hubby had planned a vacation and we were to meet in Denver after a 24 hour train ride through the Sierra Nevada mountains. (This trip was doomed from the start and in the history of family travelogues could be known as worst ever.) I had only a few days left to either get a tattoo or let the subject die the death it deserved. As you know by now I opted for the tattoo. It took then-hubby three days to see the tattoo (remember this was a family vacation) and let me just say it put a bit of a damper on things. In then-hubby's eyes my dainty little vine encircled heart was bigger than the Grand Canyon outside our hotel.

Back then there Tattoo "Galleries" did not dot on every corner. And downtown San Diego had not yet been turned into an urban shopping mecca. The streets were still kind of seedy and even women on a rampage knew it was foolhardy to walk them unescorted after dark. I wish I could plead insanity or say I was under the influence of some kind of mind-altering substance, but the truth of the matter is I was driven by an overwhelming desire to feel my own power, rather than cow-tow to another's. I took myself and my best friend to the heart of downtown, parked my car a block away and headed down the sidewalk to a small shop with inked drawings covering all the walls. I walked with deliberate steps. Fluff hobbled along on crutches. Had we been accosted our only defense would have been a thrust and a jab of a rubber tipped crutch. After three months of fighting about it, getting a tattoo only took about 15 minutes and in those 15 minutes my marriage which sat on a California-sized fault line, began to tremble. It would be a couple more years before it fell apart completely. During those years I wore that tattoo like then-hubby wore his chest full of medals.

Fast forward 26 years and you'll find me in a recliner watching LA Ink, wondering why in the world people are doing that to themselves. The smeared and faded heart on my leg has an invisible crack in it (okay, maybe it's cellulite). I grieve for the relationship that could have been better if I'd known then what I'm trying to learn now.

The point of this post which I sorely lost before I ever got started was about friendship. I think people are placed in our lives to join us on the journey - for a day, or a year or a lifetime. Like the years and lifestyles that separate us, Fluff and I have continued to evolve. Today I'm not sure she'd feel the need to join me on such an adventure, and I hope I'd think it through to the end before I'd put us risk for the sake of childish stubbornness.

Today I'm grateful I don't need to push so hard to be ME. I'm grateful for people who've shared the rocky road with me. I'm grateful I chose a non-descript little ink spot on my thigh instead of a portrait of Gloria Steinem on my forearm.

My wish for you today is to have a friend and be a friend.
Merry ME

P.S. Do you have a friendship story? Feel free to share it here.