Pack a Bag!

We are preparing to put our house on the market. Work to be done-minor repairs, small updates, painting. The tallest order being the painting of the entire interior. We’ve never experienced this before. We have painted a room or two, but not an entire house. Definitely a job for the professionals.

So, the professionals came yesterday. Originally they were coming later in the week. Not that any of the following would have changed…

The crew came early in the morning. We headed to school and work, not giving much thought to this process. Fast forward to the late afternoon. Drywall repairs all done. Windows covered and taped. Trim taped. Plastic tarps covering everything else, and I do mean everything.

The closet, bathtub, shower, and bathroom cabinets all sealed shut. I couldn’t get to my clothes, makeup, hairstyling stuff-nothing. Only one thing to do. Laugh and have a little adventure. Not too far, of course, we had work the next day.

Ryan headed to his friend’s house for the night. Gart and I made a Target run. A blue t-shirt for $8, underwear, toothpaste, and some inexpensive makeup. I would wear my jeans again but had to have a clean shirt and underwear. Deodorant? There was some in my desk drawer at school. Hair? Ponytail for the second day in a row.

After Target, we were ready to crash. A quick stop at Sprouts and we had dinner to take to the hotel. Thank goodness, our room had a microwave, coffee pot, and some decaf. The decaf a necessity to accompany the brownie we bought to share.

Getting ready the next morning, I realized my new blush and powder did not come with any brushes. Who knew Kleenexes could substitute? I glanced in the mirror-it would have to do.

Extra coffee helped me get through the day. A sweet kindergarten boy said, “I like your shirt, Mrs. Morris.” If he only knew. A 4th-grade girl gave me a hug and asked, “Are you okay, Mrs. Morris?” “Yes, I’m ok. Just a little tired,” I smiled. Pretty sure she could tell I was a little out of sorts.

Tonight our adventure continues. I’ve only cried once-Sorry, Gart. ❤ Ryan is at his friend’s house again. Another night in a hotel for us. This time I have a change of clothes, my own makeup, and flat iron. Oh, and I don’t have to wait until I get to school to put on deodorant. 😉

The painters will be finished tomorrow. Things will go back to normal. We will be one step closer to selling our house. The result will be well worth the little inconvenience.

I hope we never have the need to paint a whole house again. One thing is certain. If we do and the painters call to say, “We will be there tomorrow,” the first thing I will do is pack a bag!

Flat on my Face

Flat on my face, not a position I would intentionally choose. This phrase conveys negative connotations and feelings of discomfort. Though it was not from a fall, I spent some time in this unpleasant position today.

I had an MRI this afternoon as a follow up to some previous tests. The check-in was not unusual. I filled out forms, answered questions, reviewed history, signed consents…donned lovely hospital fashions and prepared for an IV.

For this particular series of images, I had to lay flat on my stomach, face down, arms stretched out above my head. Towels covered everything and cushioned my face and elbows. As I said, not a position I would purposefully choose. But necessary, at least for a short while.

Earplugs in place and a panic button in hand, the table begins to slide into the tube. I would hear no voices until the test was finished, about thirty minutes unless I squeezed that panic button. And even though there were moments I wanted to shout, “Is anybody there? Are we almost done?” I remained still and silent, the panic button un-squeezed.

As the machine began to do its job, loud noises surrounded me. Many different timbres, volumes, and tempos filled the small space. Feelings of panic filled my head. “Just breathe. You can do this.” I began to pray. I silently sang some favorite hymns.

When anxious thoughts crept back in, I would start the whole process over. I must have repeated the same three hymns several times, not to mention Psalm 23. The words, “We’re all done,” never sounded so sweet. Pretty sure my response was, “Thank goodness!” 🙂

Changing back into my clothes, I looked in the mirror. Towel marks imprinted on my face. Gart noticed them as soon as I entered the waiting room. They wouldn’t last but provided a temporary reminder of the previous thirty minutes.

Tonight, those marks have disappeared. The loud noises quieted. Some amazing truths remain. Prayers are powerful (my own and my friends). Hymns and pep talks are powerful. Knowing Gart was in the waiting room the entire time, also powerful.

These truths all worked together to provide assurance. Assurance that I could keep from squeezing that panic button, and that I would not remain flat on my face.

Thinking of summer! 😉

Geneva’s Daughter

”You remember Kelley. She’s Geneva’s daughter.”

Gart and I drove to Little Rock this weekend to visit my family. My mom and her siblings had a cousin reunion on Saturday. My memories of my mom’s cousins are vague. But what fun to watch and listen as they reminisced.

Also, my Aunt Elizabeth made a mayonnaise cake. Yummy! But that is a story for another day.

Sitting outside on the deck, I listened, chatted with family, enjoyed the sunshine. In the middle of all that, overheard the following. ”You remember Kelley. She’s Geneva’s daughter.”

Geneva’s daughter. I love that description. But what does it mean?

First, I have to tell you about Geneva. She is the fourth of nine siblings. Growing up, she never liked her name. Diagnosed with rheumatic fever as a child, she remembers being sick. In high school, she excelled in her classes and was a basketball star.

As an adult, she took care of our household. Worked successfully as a secretary in a variety of fields-business, education, church. Suffered from rheumatoid arthritis. Has been married to my dad for over 50 years.

Geneva bravely faced breast cancer. She is now a five-year survivor.

Even at 73, she does her hair and make-up every day. If someone asks why, “Because it just makes you feel better,” she replies. Within her family, known for writing poetry.

But what about her role as my mom? She taught me to sing “Jesus Loves Me” and took me to church. Purchased every Dr. Seuss book there is and helped me learn to read at a young age. Ordered Highlight magazines for me and my brother.

My mom spent hours waiting in her car while I was taking piano lessons. Found a way to purchase a violin when I came home in 4th grade announcing, “I signed up for orchestra today!” Encouraged me to go to college and graduate school.

Mom never gave up on me during difficult times. Ones due to poor choices on my part. She demonstrated the importance of family in her roles as sister, daughter, wife. Prayed faithfully (and continues to pray) for me and my family.

Is she perfect? No. Neither am I. She often frets too much. She sometimes struggles with relinquishing control. She has trouble letting go. So do I.

She is my mom, Nana to my kids, my friend. Her life experiences affect mine, as mine affect my children’s. Not a picture of perfection, but a picture of love. A ”no matter what” kind of love.

I’m proud and grateful to be described as Geneva’s Daughter.

Depleted

I had brunch with my dear friend, Marina, this morning. We caught up over coffee and yummy food. It has been a busy couple of weeks, and friend time has been scarce. I don’t think I realized how much I needed this time until it was over.

Near the end of our visit, my friend looked at me and said, “You really are depleted, aren’t you?” I chuckled at first. She tends to use what I would call formal words in casual conversation. It is her way, and I love it. This term, however, stuck in my head. Depleted.

When I got home, I wrote the word down. Hmmm…an interesting word. Looking up the definition lead to a list of synonyms: exhausted, sapped, drained, expended. Yep, that’s how I’m feeling. (Honestly, I might have stayed in bed all day had my friend not called.)

Then I scrolled down to the definition part you never take time to read-the Latin word roots, etc. There I saw these words-emptied out. Wow! An entirely new perspective. In order for something to be emptied out, it must have been full at one point. This must also have been true of me, even if I can’t remember when right at this moment. 😉

Instead of thinking, “I’m so tired, there’s so much still to do.” What if I take the time to be refilled? What would that look like?

The upcoming week is musical performance week. Double responsibility. However, I can’t wait until it’s over to begin this process of refilling. So, what is my plan?

Take each day as it comes.
Pray and read-things that calm my thoughts.
Eat a healthy breakfast.
Drink more water.
Take short naps after school each day before call time.
Go to bed early.
Enjoy playing for this amazing show!

By the way, antonyms for depleted are energized and full. I know it will take more than a day to get there. Nevertheless, hopefully, this fresh perspective will remind me that when I am feeling depleted, it is time to slow down and remember to take care of myself. That is the only way I can go from depleted to full.

And this process might just begin by having brunch with a friend. 🙂

Purposefully Remembering

Today marks three years since my father-n-law, Bob died. Each of us remembers him in our own way, with our own actions. Most importantly, we purposefully remember. We choose certain things that to others might seem insignificant, but to us say Papa, Dad, Bob.

Here are a few:

Peanut butter on pancakes
Wild Cherry Pepsi
Chocolate covered cherries
Lego sets
Family photos
Catholic Mass
Barbecue rib dinner
Extra whipped cream on your dessert
A cigar and sip of Drambuie

Finding words may be difficult, but incorporating these little things into our day help us remember him and smile. Each item represents something we know he enjoyed or something he would often get for us. He was always generous. Always thinking about his family. Loved to spoil his grandkids.

We miss him…grateful that the life he lived continues to influence ours.

Time Apart

”Absence makes the heart grow fonder”

Does time away from a loved one really make us feel closer to them? I can only speak from personal experience.

Our married life began with time apart. Soon after our May wedding, my husband, Gart, was hired as the band director in Hominy, OK. He would need to begin working in July to prepare for marching season.

We were so excited about this new chapter! Then reality hit. His first paycheck would not come until late August. We could not afford to go without income. I would need to stay with friends in Fayetteville, AR and keep working while he moved to the apartment where we would both eventually live.

During this time apart, we saw each other most weekends. Weeknights consisted of long, tear-filled phones calls. It was a long two months, but we survived. Looking back, I’d say the experience made us stronger.

Spending a week apart became part of our summers as well. While Gart worked at a summer band camp, I would spend a week with my parents. Once we had kids, it became a perfect opportunity for them to spend time with grandparents.

I believe those times apart early in our marriage helped us truly appreciate one another. It laid a foundation of security and trust. Knowing that even when we were apart, we were okay.

Fast-forward twenty-five years. Our kids are practically grown. That empty nest time is just around the corner. As I type, Gart is out of town for work. Not quite the same as our previously planned time apart.

Honestly, these days I prefer when we are both at home. Maybe it’s because I am getting older. This new life stage. Selfishness. I’m not certain. I only know that when it comes to time apart now, less is more.

As I drove my husband to the airport early this morning, all I could think was, “I’ll be so glad when he gets home this weekend.” ❤️

Pieces of Your Heart

Grandparents are special people. My grandparents were an essential part of my childhood. Spending time with them was important. As a child, you don’t really think about losing them. You imagine they will be part of your world forever. Then you become a young adult, or in my case, a high school student and that idea is shattered.

When my Grandpa Mahar died, it was very sudden. Early on the morning of July 4th, he woke up before anyone else, sat down in his favorite chair, and did not wake up again. We had seen him the day before. The family would be gathering on the 4th to celebrate. How could he be gone?

I mostly remember shock and tears from that day, almost thirty-five years ago now. The reality of my mom losing her dad brought a new perspective on the frailty and brevity of life on this earth. And it was made even more difficult because there had been no chance to say goodbye. This seemed especially hard for my mom and her siblings.

This was not the case for my own children with their first loss of a grandparent. Before my father-n-law passed away, we knew our time was limited. Watching as death approached was not easy, but we found comfort in having time to say goodbye. He will have been gone for three years this coming week, and we miss him more with each passing year.

One circumstance is not easier than the other, just different. Grief is present in both. We hang on tight to memories. We look at photos, share stories, cling to anything that reminds us of the person we lost. And as soon as we think our grief is fading, a birthday, holiday, or other event brings it right back to the forefront.

Sometimes the grief catches us off guard, and we are encompassed by unexpected emotions. How do we respond? That depends on the person, for we are all different. But here are a few personal thoughts:

When tears well up
Let them fall
When your heart aches
Let words flow
When a friend is near
Lean on them
When feeling motionless
Take one step
When tempted to forget
Remember
For that memory
Is a piece of your heart

A memory of my Grandpa Mahar: He is wearing overalls and telling me if I do him a favor, he will dance at my wedding. 😉

A memory of my father-n-law: He would always bring me a box of See’s candy when traveling to California. We both had quite a sweet tooth. 🙂

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4