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. ❤

Front-Yard Goodbyes

I’ve had many experiences, too many to count, with front-yard goodbyes. A close friend or family member prepare to move away or go home after a visit. I walk them to the door. Hugs given and received, well-wishes spoken, but it doesn’t end at the front door.

We walk outside together, down the sidewalk. One more hug, one last “be careful,” conversation continuing until the car door closes. As they drive away, I stand firm in the yard. We wave, and I watch until they are out of sight.

These memories range from my childhood all the way up to this very day. Each filled with images of people I love. People I hope to see again soon. People who are difficult to watch drive away.

An emotional reaction from me is pretty much a guarantee. Sometimes it is immediate. Uncontrolled tears flow for all to see. Attempts to dry them to no avail.

Other times, my reaction is delayed. Although I feel sad as they drive away, there are no tears. And just when I think, “Wow! I didn’t cry” they are mentioned later in the day, and I’m suddenly fighting back tears.

Whether the emotions are instantaneous or deferred really does not matter. What matters is time. Taking the time to say goodbye not only once, but two or three times. Taking the time to follow, stand firm, wave, and watch.

Showing them how much they are loved through a simple front-yard goodbye.

When Your Dad is the Principal

As I reflect on yesterday’s graduation ceremonies, my thoughts keep floating back to my husband, Gart. He is a career educator, twenty-six years now. His path began with band directing and moved through various levels of administration. Because of this, our kids’ educational experiences included “Dad as principal.”

What is it like when your dad is the principal? I’m sure my kids would have things to add, but today I’ll share my perspective.

When the kids were younger, elementary and junior high age, it meant riding the bus to his school in the afternoons. It meant exploring every inch of his building. It meant finding all the secret hiding places while staying out of trouble.

As they got older, the meaning changed. The following questions should help paint the picture.

  • Do I need to spend the day with you at your school?
  • Do I need to contact your teacher?
  • Exactly why have you not turned in your assignments this week?

Those questions and the conversations which followed carried a heavier weight than their earlier building adventures. They were only matched by statements like these:

  • I received a call/email today from your principal/teacher.
  • I contacted your teacher today, and you will be…
  • Due to your choices, you will not be able to…

Thankfully, these did not happen often. But when they did, they were not taken lightly. There were some difficult, uncomfortable conversations around the dinner table. But we all survived and are stronger because of them.

Experiencing their dad as principal also meant wisdom and guidance in planning for the future. He witnessed the impact poor choices can have on a student’s future many times. And although he was always ready to share advice or answer questions, he encouraged them to choose their own path.

“Just do you,” he still loves to tell them.

There is no question as to the best part of “dad as principal.” When each of them completed high school and walked across that graduation stage, Dad was waiting there to greet them. He stood with open arms, ready to hand them their diploma, and say, “Congratulations! I’m so proud of you!” And just as quickly, he watched them walk away.

Of course, Gart is much more than “principal” to our three kids. But the impact that title had on our family will be felt for years to come. It helped shape the three of them into amazing young adults.

Each of our children has their own goals and aspirations. Each shows the determination to see them fulfilled. Most importantly, each of them loves their dad. And from my perspective, that’s what happens when your dad is the principal.

Baby Number Three

When Gart and I moved to Guthrie, Oklahoma in 1997, we were a family of four. Our son, Robert, was 2 ½ and our daughter, Rachel, was only a month old. Although I do not recommend moving with a one-month-old, we were excited about this new adventure.

The house we purchased was built in 1924 and only had around 900 square feet. The outside was red brick with an arched front porch. Inside, there were wood floors, lots of character and only two bedrooms. Though it was small, it was perfect for our little family.

At that time, I was a stay-at-home-mom. Our one boy and one girl was the perfect combination. Friends and family assumed we would not have any more children, and we pretty much thought the same thing. That is until around the time Rachel started walking…

Suddenly, I wanted to have another baby. I just knew our family was not complete. When I mentioned it to Gart he asked, “Where in the world would we put another baby?” His argument was logical. We did not have room, nor could we afford to have another baby.

Despite his logic, I could not shake this feeling. It did not help that my closest friends were pregnant. Everywhere I turned, it seemed as if there were more babies. I would often cry, but discussions with Gart were not successful. We would only end up arguing.

I soon realized that this was not the right time for discussions and began to pray. My prayer was simple, “Take this desire for another baby away from me or give Gart the same desire.” Sometimes I felt silly praying the same thing over and over, yet I continued.

Almost a year passed. Although the desire was not completely gone, at least I was not crying all the time. My restlessness was easing. I was about ready to accept that the answer must have been no, and I must have missed it. Though a little sad, I knew it would be ok.

About a week after my revelation, the most amazing thing happened. Out of the blue, Gart said to me, “You know, I think you were right. We should have another baby.” What a surprise! And Ryan Lee Morris was born in November of 2000.

Now we were a family of five, still living in a 900 square foot house. We remained in that house for two more years until a job change took us on another adventure. What a sweet two years. I still miss the times we had in that tiny cottage home.

Well, baby number three graduates from high school tomorrow. He is 6’3 and handsome. A kind, sensitive and funny soul. He is also an artist. I am so proud of the young man he has become and can’t wait to see what the future holds. Our family would not be the same without him.

We love you, Ryan! ❤

On the Horizon

This current season of life brings many thoughts about the future. Especially the futures of our three children. I want them to experience contentment in today as they plan for tomorrow. Not an easy combination.

Next week, our family will celebrate both a high school and college graduation. Preparation for these events leads to many conversations concerning the future.

Our youngest son, Ryan, plans to start college in the fall. Our daughter, Rachel, will begin teaching next school year. Both plans require a commitment to the present, finishing the work at hand.

These are exciting times in the Morris household! And this past weekend, more excitement was added. Our oldest son, Robert, proposed to his girlfriend, Erin! ❤ We are beyond excited!

Several months back, Robert created a plan and got to work. He needed to purchase the ring, talk to her parents, choose a time and location. With everything in place, it was time.

Gart and I knew last week that he planned to propose over the weekend, but we did not know the details. And that was ok. This was his plan.

Then one night my phone rang. It was Robert. A call instead of a text usually means something important. 😉 Nervously he asked if we would like to drive to Dallas for a family lunch after the proposal. Yes! Of course!

Soon after that conversation, Gart walked in. I relayed Robert’s invitation. We smiled, both a little teary-eyed. ”We are going to have a daughter-in-law, ” he said. ”I think we did ok, Mama.” “I think so too.”

So here we are. Excited to see Ryan begin working toward a degree in animation and 3-D modeling. Excited to watch Rachel embrace a classroom full of new students as a special education teacher. Excited to witness Robert and Erin begin their journey together.

Gart and I will be their cheering section. Always here when they need us. And as we prepare for big changes on the horizon, we will remain content in the present. At least, that is our plan…

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5

Good Girl

I never thought I’d have a dog inside the house, much less two. But we have now for about 13 years. Poppy, a runt miniature dachshund, was our first.

We adopted Poppy from an animal rescue group and surprised our kids. She was tiny and sweet. Slept in the crook of my arm for the first several months of her life.

Several years later, we decided Poppy could use some company. My husband really wanted a bigger dog. Some dear friends needed to find a new home for their chocolate lab, Ginger. We were the perfect fit!

Poppy and Ginger got along. I’d say they eventually became friends, though others might disagree. Maybe it was more like sisters who tolerate each other. 😉

Poppy often reminded Ginger who was in charge. She would stand by Ginger’s bed and stare until Ginger moved. Of course, Ginger also liked to sneak by Poppy’s food bowl and take a bite when no one was looking.

Over the past couple of years, they both turned gray and started to slow down. They were a little fussy but still sweet and much more mellow. My daughter often laughed, ” It’s like we have two grandma dogs living with us.”

Ginger’s eyesight began to fail as well as her hips. Although she still had moments of spark, most evenings she would whimper and cry. There was no doubt she was in pain. A couple of falls solidified the decision to visit the vet.

Gart took her yesterday for an evaluation. We all knew it was probably time. She did not come back home with him.

Our house was too quiet last night. Poppy was confused. She sniffed everywhere as if she were searching. I believe she was missing her friend.

This morning’s routine was different. Ginger wasn’t there for me to let outside and feed. Her bowl sits empty. There’s an air of sadness.

We will miss you Ginger girl. We will miss the way you would walk by us. Walk by and lick our shoes. Walk by and lick our jeans. Walk by and finish Poppy’s food. But mostly we will miss the way you would walk by, wag your tail, and lay your head in our laps.

You were such a good girl. 🙂

Endgame: The Mom Perspective

My husband and I saw the much-anticipated Avengers: Endgame last night. He saw it the night before with the kids, but I was not able to go. No discussions were allowed until I also saw it, so that meant a 10:00 P.M. showing for us! I think we were the youngest people in the theater. 😉

Wow! It was amazing!

Today has been peppered with many discussions concerning the movie.

“Did you notice _____ ?” “Yes! What do you think happened to ____?”

Of course, many of the discussions went right over my head. There are some Marvel movies I have yet to see. And although I am able to appreciate the insight and knowledge of the Marvel world experts in my life, I don’t know all of the character origins and intricate details.

My take away from the movie was a bit different. As my daughter and I discussed our favorite scenes this morning, one thing stood out; the emphasis on family. There were multiple, meaningful parent/child moments woven beautifully throughout the film.

The perfect placement of these scenes created a powerful common thread through this tale of superheroes battling evil…the love of family. Some scenes showed previously established relationships.

• Scott Lang (Ant-Man) and his daughter
• Clint Barton (Hawkeye) and his daughter
• Thor and his mom, Frigga
• Thanos and his daughters, Nebula and Gamora

Other relationships were new and pleasantly surprising. Don’t worry. No spoilers here!

Looking at the above list, all but one represents a positive, loving relationship. Relationships where the parent is the provider, protector, or comforter. In number, the positive outweighs the negative. Again, no spoilers.

I hope to watch the movie again soon. New things will certainly catch my attention the second time. Maybe I will even gain a little more understanding of this Marvel universe.

One thing is for certain, I will pay even closer attention to those parent/child scenes. I don’t want to miss even one.

And yes, I am aware that this is an epic sci-fi superhero action movie. What can I say? I’m a mom. 🙂