Home

Today, I heard you calling my name

A few notes from a familiar song

In the passing of minutes, maybe seconds

A few notes, but only one word

Each new song the same

One after another, after another

Only a few notes, still the same word

I heard you again even after the music stopped

This time, a whisper from the row of pines across the road

I could smell their fresh, clean scent in my memories

See their lovely green against the blue sky

As in the songs, also in the pines

I heard you calling my name

At the end of my fifth-grade music class today, we watched the Pentatonix video, Home. It is a medley of songs all about, you guessed it, home.

I asked students to count how many different songs they heard. I counted right along with them. The total was fourteen! ( I missed one. 😉)

Though our purpose was listening to count, the activity had a slightly different impact on me. I found myself wanting to make a list and listen to each individual song. Maybe another day…

Kick Off Your Shoes

We used to live in a two-story house. It was great for growing kids. All their bedrooms were upstairs, making it quiet for mom and dad downstairs.

Whenever they would get home from school, shoes were kicked off at the bottom of the stairs. This was not an expectation or house rule. It is just what they did. At some point, we placed a small storage bench at the bottom of the stairs. A place just for shoes.

I can picture them now. Shoes off, heading up the stairs. It was time to relax after homework and a snack, of course.

Hi, Mom!
Hi! How was school? Homework?

Kids are all grown up. We no longer have stairs. Nor the same number of shoes.

Today, I decided to clean the laundry room. Ours is attached to the garage. And often becomes the drop zone for lots of non-laundry stuff. It is small, but there is a counter for folding.

Once the counter was cleaned off, I knew it needed a little something. Maybe a cute laundry sign. Something small, simple. Just enough to encourage us to keep it clean.

My daughter, Rachel, and I went shopping this afternoon. Looking at Christmas decorations and possible décor for the laundry room. I had just about given up when we saw the perfect sign.

Not at all what I had pictured, yet, perfect!

I know only close friends and family will likely enter our home through the garage. But I hope those that do take the message to heart. Like the kids when they were little, kick off those shoes and let go of their worries. If they’re lucky, there might even be snacks!

Simply Sunday

Today I will be driving back home to Oklahoma from Arkansas. It is hard to say goodbye, but I am grateful for these past two weeks with my parents. I leave with a thankful heart. Thankful for doctors, nurses, family, and friends. Thankful my Dad will be going home from the hospital today. ❤

Love this tree near my parent’s house.

Coming & Going

This Labor Day weekend, I am looking forward to an extra day of rest following the two first weeks of school. I need to relax and take care of myself. Part of that care includes time with family.

That is one of my first thoughts when it comes to holidays-who is coming and who is going.

This time, Gart and I are staying put. Though not always the case, a welcomed choice this weekend. Even after our recent extended time here, we need to be home. Sleep in our own bed, sit outside in our own backyard…welcoming the ones who are coming.

On this Saturday morning, the house is quiet. Our youngest, the last one at home, is at a friend’s. Our daughter, who recently moved out, is traveling. Our oldest and his wife will be here this afternoon.

Witnessing my kids at this age causes me to reflect on my own younger days. Days when I was the one always coming and going. Days when my Mom and Dad were the ones staying put.

It’s a funny thing, seeing myself through my parents’ eyes. Waiting patiently to hear about a friend, that recent trip, or to actually be together in person.

These are the moments that remind of the beauty of life-moments of growth and understanding. Realizing what a privilege it is to be the one staying put. To be the one watching and waiting, experiencing all the comings and goings from my front door.

Home to Home

I left home at the mature age of seventeen and, except for one summer, never came back. My mom often reminds me. 😉

Before college, I had lived in the same house my entire life. I attended the same school, first grade through senior year, and was surrounded by extended family.

And even though I needed to find my own path, the place where I grew up would always be home.

A recent visit with my parents caused me to think about the word home. Especially the idea that home has little to do with the actual place.

As I pulled up in the driveway, my dad was waiting under the carport. Mom came right out as if she’d been listening inside for my car. Soon, we were talking about everything from the kids to work, politics, church. And, of course, the pandemic and quarantine.

They’re so cute. ❤

As an adult, I enjoy this time alone with my parents. Being there by myself means my only role at that moment is a daughter. Even if this visit brought some adult daughter anxiety.

Due to the current pandemic, I had to be very careful about where I stopped on the four-and-a-half-hour drive from our house to theirs. My parents are over seventy, Mom a breast cancer survivor and Dad with diabetes and kidney disease. Their health is currently good, and I couldn’t bear the thought of exposing them to this virus.

My anxiety quickly faded as Dad asked, “How’s my little girl?” Mom said more than once, “I’m so glad you came.” At face value, simple phrases. Yet, they wrapped me in the love and security I experienced growing up.

When going to visit my parents, I say I am going home. And when it’s time to leave, I use the same phrase. I guess both are true. Home is about the people not the places.

I may have to leave tiny pieces of my heart behind when leaving one, but I know they will be refilled upon arrival at the other. Not the same, but new, and whole.

A sweet paradox, traveling from one home to another. ❤

Green Green Grass of Home by Claude “Curly” Putman, Jr.

The old home town looks the same
As I step down from the train
And there to meet me is my Mama and Papa…
It’s good to touch the green, green grass of home


Welcomed Guest

Computer screen
A dozen windows
Energetic teacher
Excited students
Smile and wave
Learning together
Finding their way
In this new normal
Students engaged
Sharing projects
Listening intently
A read-a-loud
Started before
Quarantine
Now continued
...during
In this new
Familiar
Yet, unfamiliar
Space
Older siblings
Quietly sneak 
In the background
Hoping to be seen
Younger siblings
Sit in laps
Soaking up
Extra attention
And me?
Grateful to witness
The energy of
A dedicated teacher
Grateful to see
Smiling faces
Hear familiar voices
To say, “I miss you.”
Grateful to be
A face in one
Of those windows-
A welcomed guest

Cues

Cue-a signal (such as a word, phrase, or bit of stage business) to a performer to begin a specific speech or action.

When I think of the word cue, it is usually about music. As a pianist, I’m very good at giving and receiving cues. For example, I might follow a singer’s breathing or lead them into an entrance with tempo/musical changes. The cues help us stay together, resulting in beautiful music.

This week, I’ve been forced to listen to a different kind of cue. It actually took several days for me to even recognize that it was a cue. 

If only it had been a musical cue. 

But no, this was an emotional cue manifesting in a physical symptom.

The first time it appeared was around 5:00 p.m. I had planned to cook dinner-homemade meatballs, roasted veggies, and pasta. 

All the ingredients were ready.  

Suddenly, I began to feel a little nauseous. “Hmmm, that’s weird,” I thought. I immediately began to worry about getting sick. But I hadn’t been anywhere, and it was not likely. I almost changed dinner plans to take-out.

But then, I decided to push through. We needed a home-cooked meal. It would surely make us all feel better. So, I cooked. It was yummy. I even baked cookies. When the cookies were done, I realized the nausea was gone.

The same thing happened the next day, at the same time. Curious. 

“I wonder if this is stress?” I asked myself. This time, my daughter and I took a short walk around the neighborhood. Guess what? Nausea once again disappeared.

That night, I told my husband what had happened. I also expressed that I thought it was a reaction to stress over all the changes occurring right now. He agreed. 

Somehow, just sharing how I was feeling helped.

As I thought about this more, it made sense. I may be putting on a good front, staying calm, and saying I’m not worried. But truthfully, these are unsettling times and they are affecting my emotions. This little cue was trying to get my attention. Trying to tell me it’s ok to not be ok.

The time of day also made sense. Each time I noticed this feeling, it was around 5-5:30 p.m. This is the time of day we would normally be getting home from work. Everyone would be sharing about their day, talking about what went well and what didn’t. Talking about students and what we were planning the next days, weeks, etc.  

That has all changed. We are together most of the day at home. Not knowing when we will go back to work. Worrying about our friends and family. Worrying about our students. All things that are out of our control.  

No wonder my physical cue was nausea.

The most important thing about cues? They require a response. How could I respond to this one? Well, I’ve found a few things to be helpful.   

  1. Take a walk
  2. Tell someone how I’m feeling
  3. Cook
  4. Play piano

This experience also made me think of our kiddos. How do they react to stress? What is often their first complaint? “My stomach hurts.” I guess some things never change. 😉   

Take care of yourselves, friends. Listen to your body and pay attention to your emotions. Don’t be afraid to say how you’re feeling.  ❤ 

Jumbled Thoughts

These are interesting times. So many questions. News stories concerning illness reported all over the world and right here at home. Despite the great distances, the stories connect us all, as if we all lived next door to one another.

I try to limit my news intake, choosing often to read instead of watching the news. However, I found myself watching more the past few days. And last night, I believe this choice had a negative impact.

I woke up several times during the night. None of the dreams I had made any sense. I could not even describe them. All I could think was, “Why are my thoughts so jumbled?”

And that’s when I realized-too much news. Even though I remain calm on the outside, I feel restless. Changes are coming. And that underlying knowledge, infused with so much information, caused my brain to overload.

I did watch the morning newscast today. But then I chose to turn everything off and do something productive. My bedroom is now clean. Laundry is folded and put away. I even vacuumed the floor, cleaned the bathroom, and took a nap.

No, my activity did not take away the stress of the unknown, but it did help me take care of myself. It provided a distraction as well as positive results. Results that gave me a feeling of accomplishment.

The evening news could not be avoided. School closings until April 6 were announced. As a teacher, that brings a whole new set of concerns. But we are all in this together and that brings comfort.

Hoping for a better night’s sleep tonight. Clean sheets should help. 🙂

And just maybe, my thoughts will be less jumbled and my dreams memorable.

An Old Toy Box

Today was moving day. My family expected me to be crying at some point. It wouldn’t be unusual. Even my oldest son, Robert, called to check on me this morning.

While I drove to the new house with Rachel and Ryan to unload cars, Gart stayed back with the movers. Soon he sent a text, a picture of the empty house. I felt a little sad, but no tears.

Once everything was unloaded at the new house, we made one more trip back to the old house. Now I was standing in the middle of the emptiness. Rachel commented, ”It hasn’t looked like this since we moved in.” That was 16 years ago. The kids were 8, 6, and 3.

I remember them running around inside the house. I remember worrying about Ryan falling down the stairs. I think about how proud I am of the young adults they’ve become. Still, there were no tears.

We backed out of the driveway. Gart and Ryan in the truck, Rachel and I following in my car. Something caught my eye-the old toy box my dad built when Robert was a kid. It’s a little bench seat with a lid which lifts for storage.

This wooden box has been through many moves, sat in many rooms, and served many purposes. Today, it caused my tears. ”Of all things,” I thought to myself, ”Robert’s old toy box.”

I suppose it makes sense. We are preparing for that empty nest. This move represents a culmination of changes for our family. The kids are all grown up. They don’t need that space to run and play anymore. They are too big to sit on that seat or play with the toys it once held. And that is a good thing.

I love our new house. I look forward to making memories here with our grown-up children. Maybe one day, there will be other little ones sitting on that seat. No hurry. The memories we carry will soon fill the empty spaces while leaving room for new ones.

This house will soon feel like home because of the people who live here and the people who will visit. In the meantime, I will look back with fondness and forward with hope. And maybe I will find a special spot for that old toy box. 😉

Carry Them With Me

My daughter, Rachel, and I made a trip to Hobby Lobby yesterday. Her goal was to purchase frames for her newly acquired teaching certificate and college diploma! They are now ready to be proudly displayed.

I was also shopping for something to display. A storage box or pretty container for storing letters. Not just any old letters. Letters which were written by my husband, Gart.

We have moved many times over the last twenty-six years. Somehow, I managed to keep up with the letters. They have occupied several different boxes and resided on a variety of closet shelves. As we prepare to move from our current home after fifteen years, I decided they need a more prominent location.

Rachel and I walked down the aisle of decorative boxes. There were many shapes, styles, and colors. One immediately caught her eye. “Ooh look. This is cute! It looks like a mini-suitcase.” After exploring several others, I returned to Rachel’s pick. Perfect!

Once home, I carefully transferred Gart’s letters to their new home. I couldn’t walk away without reading several. Sweet memories.

Some were typed, carefully folded, and placed in envelopes. Others hand-written on notebook paper and folded in half. Each marked with his unmistakable signature. 😉

The messages were just as varied as the paper on which they were written. Notes from when we dated, the rest scattered throughout our twenty-six-year marriage.

I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry.

The new box is proudly displayed on my dresser. As I glanced at it this morning, my first thought was, “How perfect! My collection of love letters carefully placed in their very own suitcase.”

I will always carry the sentiments expressed by the words in my heart. And the papers on which the words were written? I will continue to carry them with me, in their very own suitcase, wherever this life leads. ❤