Wednesday, December 31, 2014


I saw my doctor last Friday and my cardiologist on Monday. After they discussed everything, I finally had some results from what sent me to the hospital a few weeks ago. It appears I suffered from a Transient Ischemic Attack aka TIA. Basically it's a mini stroke which resolves itself and leaves no permanent damage. They can be caused by several things. Mine was caused by a piece of plaque that broke off my carotid and traveled  to my brain. Yesterday I had a heart catheterization to see if there were any blockages in my heart. Thankfully, my heart looks great! My cardiologist said it was the best heart he had seen all day.:)  My blood pressure is crazy low, and they aren't sure what to do about that yet. Most medications they would prescribe lower blood pressure which is definitely not what I need. My vision is still extremely blurred, there is loud ringing in my ears and I am struggling a lot with memory and staying focused; but I'm thankful my not so perfect heart is more perfect than I originally thought.  This year, I am diving in to many things I might not normally do; and I am excited about the experiences and adventures ahead.  Life is it!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Senior Session I'll Never Forget!

I lay in my bed most of today, and it was GOOOOOOOD!  I enjoyed looking at Pinterest and watching multiple episodes of Property Brothers and Chopped.  I was trying to motivate myself to get up and go to the photo shoot that was scheduled for 4:00.  Fortunately the weather was quite nice which made it a little easier to get up, showered and ready.  It's not that I wasn't looking forward to the shoot, it's just that I was enjoying being lazy.  I arrived at the park right at 4:00 and promptly received a text from her....the senior I had never met but was about to photograph.  I always get a little nervous shooting people I've never met....even seniors.  When you don't know someone, you have NO idea what to expect as far as their demeanor and personality.  What I did know was that she was very courteous and polite from our email exchanges.  Right away I liked her.  She was very gracious and easy going.  She reminded me a lot of my Addi.  We chatted a bit and made small talk about  how the session would go.  We walked for a long time to get to where I wanted to start the shoot...stopping along the way to capture an image or 2.  Somewhere along the way back, she told me that her dad had passed away last January.  When she said this, I felt a big lump form in my throat.  I wanted to throw my arms around her and squeeze her tight and tell her "I know how you feel", but I stopped myself.  She probably would have thought I was even quirkier than I come off during small talk.  We finished the session, and it was such an enjoyable experience for me.  I kept looking at her face, wondering if I really "knew how she felt".  She seemed so strong.  Her dad died when she was a junior in high school.  Mine died when I was 38....he got to watch me graduate, walk me down the aisle, meet my wonderful husband, enjoy 4 of his 5 grand babies.  We had 38 years together.  She had less than half that time.  We bid our farewells, and I walked to my car. As soon as I got in, I text Addi to tell her that her friend from school was such a lovely person and reminded me of her.  She text me back...."I like her."  Then I sat there a minute pondering what had just happened, thinking about her last year after losing her dad;  and I kinda wished I had thrown my arms around her and squeezed her tight.  I think she probably would have held on and squeezed back, and then tears would come....mine for sure...I don't know about hers.  I kinda feel like she would be strong for me instead of me being strong for her.  I spent an hour with her, but I felt like I had known her a long time.  This time next year, she probably won't remember who I am; but I think I'll hold onto that hour for the rest of my life.  And then I cried all the way home.

Thursday, December 25, 2014


Every year for as long as we have been parents, we have kept Christmas as much on the down low as possible as far as gift giving goes.  We reeled in my parents many years ago and explained that it wasn't about the gifts.  Sure they knew that, but these are their grand babies for pete's sake; and they enjoyed watching them open a plethora of gifts.  From the time Addi was old enough to understand Christmas, she always asked for a "surprise" from Santa.  I admit, ahem, that was coached on our part; but it worked out well for us.  Never a disappointment with a surprise.  I's a surprise, so she was always happy.  Over the last few years, the kids have gotten more specific on their wants; and as they've gotten older....the gifts get a little a lot more pricey.  What they do know is that they receive one gift from Santa and one gift from mom and dad....2 gifts on Christmas Day.  They usually get a modest individual gift from grandma and one big group gift from her, and until this year they each received a modest gift from Moo (my mom).  Aunt Melinda gives them spending money, and my cousin and aunt get them a little something too.  We have been very deliberate in not going overboard with gifts or expectations.   They may have had some disappointments in the past, but they have always been very good about not showing it if they did.  They respect our financial limitations and decisions about gift giving, and they know that there are so many who don't receive near what they do.  This year was our fist year without my mom, and I can say that she probably loved Christmas more than anyone I know.  She loved the meaning, but she really really loved the giving.  She was always very generous with so many....including those she didn't know.  Being an only child, I was showered with gifts each Christmas.  My mom always use to say that I was spoiled but not spoiled rotten, because I never asked for anything in particular and was happy with anything I received.  When I think back, that was pretty much true...especially as I got older.  The gifts aren't what I remembered or looked forward to. I loved going to my Mamaw's and Papaw's house and waking up there on Christmas morning....not for presents but for presence.  My grandparents were instrumental in helping me form my faith, and they were also very frugal.  They made sure I knew the meaning of Christmas.  I loved how they lived so richly but yet so simply.  I actually enjoyed washing dishes in the sink, because they never owned a dishwasher.  I loved picking vegetables from their garden and shelling peas to eat for supper.  I loved my Mamaw's tiny silver Christmas tree and never watching TV, except Johnny Carson (and it had nothing to do with the fact that they only had 2 channels).  I loved picking cotton with my Uncle Mike and my hand and then one day on the tractor...when they finally bought one.  I loved walking down to the railroad tracks, right next to the house where I lived as a baby, to put pennies on the tracks.  I loved that my Papaw took me fishing and let me sit in his lap to steer the boat.  I loved that he let me swing his gavel in the courtroom of the Anson courthouse where he served as the judge of Jones County for as long as he was allowed.  I loved going to the beauty shop that my cousins (on my dad's side) owned while my Mamaw got her hair done every Friday.  I loved the drugstore for coke floats, and driving into Abilene to go to the mall to buy Easter shoes.  I loved that old farmhouse that Papaw built on his own, and my Uncle Mike's old pickup truck.  I loved that Mamaw and Uncle Mike loved cats and had plenty of them.  I loved that Mamaw would sleep with me when I visited, and I would fall asleep to her telling me nursery rhymes and tickling my arm.  I loved helping her find rocks for her rock garden, and I loved showing people her rock garden when they would stop by for a visit. So I guess my longing for living more simply has always been a part of who I am, and I want it to be a part of who they are.  I want my kids to know that it isn't about the presents but about the presence.  NPayne, on the other hand, grew up without a lot.  His mama worked hard to take care of her family, but sometimes they did without.  He LOVES to be able to give to the kids, and we have had to compromise on this throughout the years. He agrees that it's not about the presents but the presence as well, but he does want to give the kids something grand; since they only get 1 gift from us and 1 from Santa.  These 2 gifts usually take a lot of planning and discussing before we agree on what to get trying to keep it simple, and he trying to make it big.  We grew up very never doing without, and him doing without a lot.  Neil works hard for his family and really wanted to give the girls something that would be way out of the norm and lift their spirits.  We shook things up a bit this year.  Since there would be no gift from my mom, we let the kids draw names and buy a gift for each other.  They were into it and really seemed to enjoy it.  But then we really surprised the girls.  They each got their one gift from Santa, some specified and some not, and a group gift from mom and dad instead of grandma.  When they saw the group gift from us, they assumed that was all (since they usually get that from grandma); and they were happy with what they had gotten.  Recording equipment is a very nice group gift if I do say so myself, and they knew this right away.  Then I handed each of them a small brown lunch sack...trying to keep it inconspicuous.  They were so overwhelmed and surprised by what was inside that they stared in amazement and then the tears came.  They would have gladly given back everything they received for this one gift (except maybe Elli, who really loves her baby doll), but they won't have least not this year.  Next year, it will be back to a little more simplicity.  One of the good things about this gift is that it covers the presents and the presence, since we will be going to see TAYLOR SWIFT together.  There will be a lot of loud singing and dancing involved which we are pretty good at already, and I can't wait to see the excitement on their faces come next October.  The most ironic part about it all is that those concert tickets didn't cost as much as a used guitar from Santa, but you would have thought we bought them the world. And this year....we did!

Mother of the Year....I Am Not!

I'm coming clean....I'm not a Christmas person. I trudge through the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Tonight, CHRISTMAS EVE, I yelled at my daughters. It wasn't because I'm not a Christmas person, or because they did anything wrong; it was because I'm head over heels grieving. I miss my parents. I'm concerned about so many of my loved ones who are dealing with loss too. Christmas Eve is suppose to be spent with my mom and dad, and for the first time in my life; it was spent with neither. I planned on looking at Christmas lights with a warm drink and comfy clothes, and I thought that would mask that empty feeling. It didn't. So tonight, I am definitely not mother of the year. But I am a blessed mother, because my girls each gave me a kiss and accepted my apology.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Birthday Mom, Sandy, Moo!

Yesterday was my mama's birthday.  The kids and I went to the cemetery to leave some flowers and share some of our favorite memories.  We laughed some and cried a lot.  I hadn't been to the cemetery since her funeral.  It was good to go.  On the way, Drew asked me why I chose that particular cemetery for Moo and Papa.  I told her that I have never thought of cemeteries as creepy places but more of a beautiful, spiritual place; and this particular one was very private and very lovely.  My girls are really deeply sad, I would ask that anyone reading this would pray intentionally for them.  My mama is celebrating with Jesus, and that helps fill up my broken heart.  After all of those years of not being able to walk, I can imagine her dancing.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Not So Perfect Heart

Been under the weather, not as in a cough (although I've had that), or stuffy nose, or temperature or tummy bug; but as in I can't focus, have blurred vision, a distant (very distant pulse), chest pain, shortness of breath, tingling and numbness in my arm and face.  After some odd symptoms and abnormal tests, I spent 2 days in the hospital last week.  I was released with no results or information, except....go see your cardiologist.  The hospital staff was amazingly kind and helpful, but I came home with nothing more than I entered with except a few more holes in my arms and a huge bill.  While Neil was driving me to the ER, I was scared...maybe one of the most scared times I can remember in a long time.  My mind was not working right, and I couldn't speak; but I was trying so hard, so so hard to remember the last thing I said to each of my children.  I couldn't, and I began to pray...."Lord, give me one more day; so I can see them and write them that letter and tell them goodbye.  Lord, let me kiss and hug them one more time.  Lord, PLEASE!"  And He did, because here I am.  When I was being transferred from the ER to a private room, the nurse Jim came in.  I immediately recognized him as the same nurse who rolled my mom up to her private room from the ER 10 minutes before she died.  Through the tension, he made me feel at ease last week and last spring; but still the tears fell.  When I saw the on-call cardiologist, it was Dr. Arora....the same cardiologist who treated my mom back in May.  The one who said, "There is nothing we can do for her", but for me...he said, "I think you are going to be just fine".  I lay in the hospital the first night barely able to stay awake, my blood pressure was low and my heart beat was faint.  So now I am home waiting for my next appointment, hoping there are no more "episodes" and there is nothing seriously wrong; but so thankful for that more than one more day!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas....not the most wonderful time of the year....there I said it!

My mom died.  Sometimes I think that or say that, and I still can't believe it.  I thought all was going pretty well during this season of celebrations, but if I'm very honest; it's a struggle.  My girls are struggling, my son is confused and I am struggling.  Christmas is not my favorite time of year, it never has been; but I had been sort of looking forward to it until a few weeks ago.  Then it and lots of other stuff hit's going to be hard!  The good in this, because I've been searching...and God always brings that I'm clinging, leaning and holding fast to His hand.  I do feel His presence and sometimes the comfort and joy, in the midst of this pain, is overwhelming!  Thank you Jesus for coming for us so long ago.  You are my rock!