Forgiveness for Better Memories

My sister Annie lives with our 88 year old mother in Columbia. Annie asked if I would come and stay for a week with our mom while she took a vacation in her hometown of Mill Valley, CA. Absolutely! Because I only live an hour and a half away, it is easy for me to run down here for a day or two to see my family. This was going to be one of the longest visits in my childhood home since going off to college 34 years ago. During this week with my mom, I would take my sister’s dog, Kobe, for a walk a couple of times a day. I’d let him lead me left or right out of the driveway. It was interesting that during the first days of our walks I would be transported back to the sad memories of my years in middle and high school. I’m not sure how your years as a 13-18 year old were, but mine were filled with pimples, awkwardness, bad fashion, and feeling like an outsider wanting to be “in”. Don’t get me wrong…I had a loving home, friends I would pass notes with in class, read “Tiger Beat” to keep up with all the latest heart throbs and twirled a flag in the marching band.

But during those first walks around the block with Kobe, my heart would sink as I passed the houses where I went to my first girl-boy parties. I’m not quite sure how it always happened, or why I even went, or even why did my parents let me go?!?Innocently enough they happened. A dozen or so kids would show up at someone’s house for pizza, chips, soda and music. It always started out fun, then the lights would go dim. The couples would pair up and old Mar would literally sit in the corner alone. Every. Time. No pimple faced boy would ever pick me. Why would I keep torturing myself by continuing to show up? Because there was always that one friend who would just have to have me there.

The next walk with Kobe I would remember never being asked to go to prom. I would think about the unkind things I did or said.

I passed by the house where I was a mother’s helper a couple of times a week. I would do the grocery shopping, light housework, change diapers, play with the four children and then get paid in CHANGE! Yes! I would come home with a bag full of coins!

These walks were emotionally killing me.There was no way I was going to be able to last a whole week doing this, so I decided to concentrate on the good things.

Here is the light post covered in gorgeous purple clematis that I backed right over the first time I was behind the wheel of a car. My daddy was going to teach me to drive. “Everyone needs to know how to drive a stick shift”, he said. So he stuck me in my sister’s car, which was parked on an angle to the driveway and he sat in the passenger seat. So not only was I learning to drive, I was learning to use the clutch AND I was backing up on a curve. Needless to say, we took off like a shot when the gas met that sweet spot in the clutch and we sailed right into this light post, pulling it right out of the ground and right through my mother’s brand new bushes. I was horrified! I ran inside, threw myself on my parents bed and sobbed. My father came up behind me laughing so hard he was crying, and said “the light post went right back in the hole. You somehow missed the bushes, so come on, we need to learn to drive a stick shift.” (I did and drove that little blue Honda hatchback until it died.)

I smiled as I passed this house where in the upstairs playroom/attic, Kathleen and I played school. She would always be the teacher and I would be the most dutiful student. Kathleen recently shared with me her memory of learning how to diagram sentences and COULDN’T WAIT to get me in that classroom and teach me! Down on Kinlock Road, my friend Pam introduced me to sweet iced tea. My family being Yankees never had that southern nectar in the house. Every day, it was Pam’s responsibility to get dinner started and make the tea. She had a “tea pot”, in which she would boil the water and three large tea bags, then pour it into the designated Tupperware “tea pitcher” with a cup of sugar. Sweet, glorious tea.Around the back corner of the block, where these houses are now, there used to be a ditch of white sand and an open area which led to our elementary school. Every morning I would walk to school with my friend Melanie. Wearing our school dresses, carrying our metal Partridge Family lunch boxes and our two dogs by our side, we would take off down the street. I remember being in 5th grade, our classes were in portable trailers, Melanie, Dipper and Taffy and I walked to school as always. Then about 10:00 that morning our principal asked if I would please walk the dogs home, for they were sleeping outside the the class. So I did. (I’m not sure if that would happen today.)Kobe and I passed this beautiful mess of honeysuckle. Oh the memories of pulling out the stamen and licking the touch of sweet nectar from the end. (Here is a Link that tells you how to collect this nectar….you’re welcome.😊) Which took me to the summer days of running barefoot all day long; going from house to house to jump on neighbors trampolines; packing up a bag lunch to take with us on our daylong bike riding adventures; and creating very detailed storylines with our Barbies. I had a wonderful, happy childhood.As this week went on, the house itself became more comfortable. It became more natural to move around in. The walks with Kobe gave me time to think, pray and listen to God. No, my teenage years were not filled with the happiest memories, but they are my memories. I can choose to dwell on them and make myself miserable or offer forgiveness, not only to those who tore me down or hurt my feelings, but most importantly to myself. I forgave myself for the bad decisions, awkwardness, and ugliness that I allowed. Then accepted the grace that I undeservedly am given. This grace allows me to make mistakes and know that I am loved. Grace is freely given to me because of God’s perfect love. Because of this undeserved love, I can make more beautiful memories.There is joy in sharing the discovery of a nest full of eggs in the geraniums with my mom.Treating my mom to a relaxing and beneficial pedicure.It’s never too late to make new memories. My sisters and brother have created this little garden oasis. This is a perfect spot in the late afternoon to have a sip of wine while watching the garden grow.Our past has a tremendous power over our lives. My mom has allowed events and people’s words said decades ago to continue to influence how she reacts to the world around her. The words and actions from friends and family send her reeling back to anger and self doubt. I, too, have let painful memories shape who I think I am.

When I took my mom to see her doctor this week, he asked her how she was doing. She responded, “You know what? I think this is the happiest I’ve ever felt in my entire life.” After 88 years, she feels happy….choose today to forgive. Choose today to offer grace and accept it too. Choose today to love. Choose today to just be nice, because being nice is always the better answer.

Thank you for dropping by!

The Coconut Chronicles

IMG_4346This handsome 2 year old fella is Coconut or One-Eyed Jack or Cokie or Coconutty. He belongs to Mary Claire and Tyler. They have their house up for sale and asked if we would take care of sweet orange kitty cat until they get their house sold.

Of course we would! What fun!IMG_3993Now this is Lilly. She is our 12 year old beautiful girl.

Any way, she is queen of the house. If you have this completely understood then things go just fine. First thing in the morning, her bowl must be filled. No really… don’t make coffee, don’t feed Sam, don’t even think about going to get the newspaper…immediately! Or else she will carry on and on until you do. Ask Superman.

One weekend I was away and Superman was in charge. Lilly started in on him about her empty bowl. Well, Superman is NOT going to take orders from a cat, no way. So he proceeded to make coffee, put a bagel in the toaster and mill around a bit. Meanwhile Lilly is doing her best to let him know that this was not acceptable. Finally he had enough. He put some kibble in her bowl, then went to get the newspaper at the end of the driveway. (I’m sure he was calling my sweet girl some awful names as he shut the door.) He came back to…(hee hee…I’m sorry, but this ALWAYS cracks me up) to Lilly having pooped in her bowl!!! She has never missed her litter box. I mean NEVER! And here she aimed to show him who was boss. I got a call within a minute from him saying “YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT YOUR CAT DID!!!”

To this day, I get the biggest laugh remembering this story.IMG_1844So, now back to Coconut. He is pretty much opposite of Lilly. Where she will spend the majority of her day on Thomas’ bed sleeping, Coconut is exploring and getting into mischief.IMG_4422

For instance, he eats Sam, our dog’s, food.IMG_1850He eats Lilly’s food. Look at her. She’s like “Hey! What the heck!?! Why is my bowl empty?!”

Now maybe this wouldn’t be so bad for any other cat, but his mommy and daddy were very adamant about Cokie getting a quarter cup of food in the morning and a quarter of food in the evening. Superman and I want to show Mary Claire and Tyler that we can be trusted with their precious babies, both the 4 legged kind and 2 legged, whenever that time may come. (Now I’m not pushing the grandkid idea at all. NO way! Not me.) We want to follow the way they choose to raise their youngin’s. You say 1/4 cup, then by golly, he will get a 1/4 cup.IMG_4368Let’s just say that with this 1/4 cup situation this kitty gets very hungry at dinner time. One evening I was watching a movie in the basement. He came down meowing to let me know it was time to be fed. I told him he would have to wait until the movie finished. Unlike Lilly, he waited patiently. He climbed in my lap and we snuggled a bit.IMG_4369And he busied himself by exploring under the couch. (yes, that’s dust and an old kleenex).IMG_1846He likes to come down to my craft room and play around.

When the men came to install my cooktop, they asked me if I had a roof cat.

“Huh? A roof cat?”

“Yes, m’am. We hear a cat meowing up high, like on the roof… You know my cousin had a cat that would climb up top of his roof.”

“Hang on, let me see.”

I went upstairs to Thomas’ attic space and sure enough when I opened the door, out came an orange kitty.

After his belly is full of kibble and he’s had a good nap, his greatest game is to annoy Lilly. Now Queen L is not really keen on this idea. He will chase her up and down the stairs. Here he is practicing his hunting skills. Needless to say, there is a whole lot of hissing and fussing going on. Many times, one of us will have to put him in time out, which is in Mary Claire’s bedroom with the door shut. Poor old Lilly.IMG_1849Not only have we come home to an orange cat on the kitchen table, but he has the nerve to walk all over our counters too! I asked Mary Claire about this behavior and she says he most definitely is not allowed to do that. I told her what I say and do, and she said I needed to put in a higher octave in order to mimic her disciplinary actions. And say something like “KA-KA-KA!!!” and clap real loud…. Okie dokie, next time.

Here is Lilly trying to get away from the little pesky boy by sitting on top of book case in the den. But even there you see him messing with her through the bars. In the last picture, she is looking at me like “Do you see him? Do you see him bothering me?” As Coconut sits back cleaning his paws because he just got Lilly cooties.IMG_4388What I find funny is that everyone was so afraid that Sam was going to be the problem. People had the NERVE to call her the Black Beast. What!?!IMG_4389Sam loves kitties. She is quite misunderstood.IMG_4390All she wants is a good sniff!

Every day has been an adventure with him. He knocked some glass vase off the counter, shattering it to pieces; he’s hidden himself so well that it took me a couple of times around the house to find him. He was under Adam’s bed behind a box and some stinky socks. Coconutty is such a boy.IMG_1848

I was playing with him the other day on the bed with one of those fabric-on-a-stick kitty toys. He wrestled that thing into knots. Then all of a sudden he hopped off the bed. I looked for him and found him, completely inside the toilet! I didn’t realize that in the few weeks he has been with us, he’s been drinking out of there.  He was sitting in an empty toilet bowl. Forget that he has a bowl of water by his food or a bowl of water by Sam’s bowl or EVEN the bowl beside Lilly’s food! He likes toilet water. Lilly would never lower herself to such fraternity/pub style drinking. Bless it. I flushed for him. He now has a fresh clean bowl to quench his thirst.IMG_4428Finally, today I woke up and went upstairs to feed this boy his 1/4 cup of food, but he wasn’t around, which is surprising. As soon as he hears a bag rustling, he comes running. I shrugged and went downstairs to find him. I looked in every room, calling his name. I went outside and asked Superman if he had seen Coconut this morning, but he hadn’t. We came back inside to look again. All of a sudden Superman sees Lilly sitting at the kitchen window that reaches to the floor. She is cocking her head back and forth. You could almost read her mind: “Why are you out there?” Sure enough Superman looks and there is that rascal doing an army crawl with his ears laid back. Superman opened the door and in flew Coconut! The question is “How did he get out there?” He was inside when I went to bed. Superman saw him last night. Thomas was the last to come in and he for whatever reason kept going in and out the door when he got home. We think he was outside all night long. oops! He’s fine now. He’s been sleeping under this bed all day long.

I look forward to sharing more Coconut Adventures with you.

Well, thanks for dropping by!img_0403-32